Author Archives: Stephanie Hawk

Tocqueville, Pascal and Existential Angst

The last 15 months have caused each of us to question our purpose and what we are trying to accomplish with the constant pursuit of so many different things and activities. As Americans, we appear to be pursuing diversion and distraction for their own sake, making us miserable. We appear to be in a frantic search for something beyond ourselves. We seem to be on an endless search for happiness and contentment, but the search leads us to envy, loneliness, and acrimonious political debate. We spend a great deal of time running around, taking kids to youth sporting events, piano lessons, planned get-togethers, school, and tutoring.  We go to work, we take care of the family, we attend meetings, and we take care of the house and yard. We live in this frenetic state of activity and then realize there is no satisfaction in the life we live. We are…

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What Is Causing Inflation and How Long Will It Last?

Globalization typically depresses prices of goods, but the pandemic changed that. Because fewer people were working in production and distribution facilities over the last 15 months, supplies were constrained and the supply chain lengthened, causing a sharp rise in prices. All the experts point to this inflation as being temporary and believe it will return to the normal 2-3% per year range.    I wrote about the chip shortage two weeks ago. Another big part of this temporary inflation deals with the service inflation. Most inflation is labor related in the service sector and is connected by six inter-related constraints that affect the labor supply. These six constraints are: 27% of the schools were still closed in April, forcing parents to choose between employment and taking care of their children. Many jobs are entry-level jobs and they are traditionally low-paying Generous unemployment benefits have affected the decision for parents to…

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Opportunities During the Chip Shortage

Underlying vulnerabilities in the global supply chain became apparent in the recent chip shortage. Chips are the indispensable core product for autos, personal electronics, and home appliances. Because of the shortage and delays in the supply chain, the auto industry could experience a $61 billion loss in revenue.   The problem has escalated to the point where governments are getting involved to help alleviate short-term bottlenecks and to develop policies that protect the stability of the semiconductor supply chain in order to avoid disruptions over the long run.  The United States is the global leader in chip design, with American companies accounting for 47% of global chip sales in 2019. America has the edge because we still attract top talent from around the world to design chips, and also because American companies invest over 16.5% of their R&D spending on semiconductors.  The key challenge comes from the fact that the…

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Business Promotion Spending Guide (Part II)

  Last week I wrote about promotion of your business, in general, and cost-effective ways to promote your business. This week, I will talk about one promotion spending guide that helps you determine how much to spend in promoting your business. First, answer the following questions by checking “Yes” or “No” to the questions. If you don’t know, it is a “No”.  1. Our sales are increasing each year?    Yes No 2. Our profits are increasing each year? 3. The number of walk-in customers is growing? 4. Everyone in our trade area knows we are here? 5. Our location is visible and easy to find? 6. Everyone in our trade area knows what we sell? 7. Our location has “high drive-by” traffic and lots of parking? 8. We have been in the same location for more than three years? 9  We have very little competition in our trade area?…

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How to Produce a Good Day

We have all experienced it – a bad day! Many times, it starts before or on our way to work. Our spouse says something or we get cutoff in traffic, and our minds are set – we are having a bad day. Things go downhill from there. Everything becomes an issue, and by the time we get home, it has become a terrible day.   What if I could show you there are ways to have a good day, even when bad stuff happens? You want to ask yourself three fundamental questions when it comes to your workday: 1) Do you feel you have spent your time and directed your attention to things that matter? 2) Do you feel you did a good job and enjoyed yourself? 3) Do you feel you have enough energy at the end of the day to wake up the next day and do it…

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Four Negative Traits in Leadership

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about jumping the chasm and the challenges of staying relevant and impactful in your business or organization. A couple of those key points were being a life-long learner, having a sense of curiosity, being willing to commit resources in technology or people, and taking action.   On the flip side, some weaknesses can be addressed through thought and self-awareness. Here are four things to watch for in your leadership style: ① Lack of vision. There is nothing more frustrating than being in a business or organization with no vision or that is stuck in the ‘90s business model. The business feels listless and rudderless. Employees pick up on the lack of direction or “no true cause.” The organization may be making it now, but in short order, things will change, and the money will stop flowing; then a crisis will come. A smart…

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How to Effectively Promote Your Business, Part I

With the pandemic end in sight, I hear and see more businesses working to develop new promotional ideas and concepts.  I am occasionally asked what would work best, and my response is – it depends. What works best depends on your business, your specific products or services, your community, your competition, and your skills to promote your business. Keep in mind these six critical points as you think about promoting your business:   ① Promotion’s one primary goal is to get the right message to the right people at the right time. ② The cheapest promotions are word-of-mouth referrals. Keep your current customers happy, because it is cheaper to keep customers than to go get new ones. ③ Great promotions will never make up for inferior quality or poor service. ④ Promotion is an investment in the future. ⑤ If your promotion doesn’t point out benefits to your customers, it’s…

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Naikan and Three Questions

Our world has become such a rush! We jump from one thing to the next. We are trying to manage meetings, work schedules, kids, spouses, and a myriad of other things that demand our attention and efforts. The stress of daily life is taking its toll on us physically, emotionally, and mentally. The ability to step back and reflect is more crucial than ever before in our world. The Japanese have a psychology called Naikan that challenges an individual to self-reflect. The idea is based on the psychology of action, which means doing things you can control and letting go of things you cannot control. We live in a complaint-based life. We complain about people, work, situations, the world, and even the drive to work. Where you focus is where your mind is. When we think and talk negatively, guess what you become – negative. The challenge in the modern…

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Jumping the Chasm

History is replete with businesses that could not adapt or change to stay relevant and make money, such as Sears, K-mart, Blockbuster Video, Service Merchandise, Pier 1 Imports, Toys R Us, Payless Shoes, and the list goes on. So, what happened? There are varying degrees of issues: too much debt, not making critical investments, or losing sight of customers. All of the above businesses had intelligent people running them, but there comes a moment when things change. I call the moment “jumping the chasm” when a dramatic change or risks has to occur, or failure and demise is the end game. Human nature allows us to get comfortable with the status quo. Things are working fine, money is being made, customers are walking in the door, and good things are happening. Then slowly, or sometimes instantly, change starts. Change is hard. If we do not build change into our DNA…

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My Parents Didn’t Love Me

Growing up, I was convinced my parents didn’t love me. They were not much into “wildly praising” how smart I was, or how great I was, or even some of my significant childhood accomplishments. Sometimes I would get a polite nod or smile, but not much more. I don’t think my parents were much into developing my “success ego.” I don’t think my parents loved me. At the age of 11, my mom informed us kids she would no longer do our laundry. She explained to us that white clothes should be separated from the colored clothes, and you should not wash white clothes and colored clothes in the same load. After I turned my underwear and socks pink a couple of times, I learned to wash my whites and colored clothes separately. I don’t think my parents loved me. In middle school, my mom stopped making our lunches. She…

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Why We Lack Focus

We are distracted people. We are becoming more distracted and less satisfied with what we are doing and how we are doing it. We see evidence of our distraction with the growing epidemic of depression, despair, dissatisfaction with work, dissatisfaction with relationships, and questioning our very purpose. One of the biggest challenges to our ability to focus is how to “quiet” all the technology we have at our finger-tips.  It is easy and enjoyable, in one sense, to jump from our computer to our smartphone, to Facebook, to an app, and then back to our computer. We have developed a “hyperactive mindhive.” We think multitasking is the way to be successful in the 21st century. We jump from task to task, thinking we are getting a lot done, but we are just making ourselves miserable. The reality is we are busy, but not getting anything of importance done.   Focus. The…

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Living Intentionally

Are you living life intentionally or just coasting? It can be a hard question to answer, especially during a pandemic that has turned our daily lives and connections and relationships upside down. These eleven months have forced me to examine how I live and what I think. What I have learned and thought about these last 11 months is that “stuff” doesn’t happen all of a sudden.  It happens little by little, and then the wheels come off. Think about your health, your relationships, your work. You don’t walk into your job one day and find out you are fired. You don’t one day wake up and suddenly have a heart attack. It is little things that have been happening day after day.  You are missing deadlines, not being a team player at work, difficult to deal with, or eating large amounts of fats, sugars, and not exercising, and then…

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The Story Behind “I Have a Dream” Speech

This past Monday, our nation celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day. The day is a moment to recall how far we have come as a country and to reflect on how far we still have to go in dealing with racism. If the United States has a legacy sin – it is racism. The greatest speech Dr. King was known for giving is the “I Have a Dream” speech. Surprisingly, it did not become a defining speech of his legacy until after his death. With time, the “I Have A Dream” speech has grown in significance and impact. Many people don’t know that the “I Have a Dream” part of the speech was not originally included in the prepared text for his speech at The Freedom March on Washington in 1963. It would be the first time the nation would hear a full speech given by Dr. King. The…

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