Author Archives: Stephanie Hawk

Six Things to Do to Create Change and Opportunity

How does a person create change and new opportunities? Most business people are consumed with just taking care of their customers, inventory, equipment, employees, bills, taxes – and the list goes on. They hardly have a chance to think about new opportunities or innovation. The challenge for “flat and thin” organizations is: “How do you do all the things that have to get done for your business and still create and bring about change to make your organization or business successful?” Some experts believe some people are “hardwired” to create and see opportunities that other people don’t see. Still, other experts believe you can train yourself to see new opportunities. I think it is a combination. Part of that ability to see new opportunities or to create new opportunities can be built into the culture of a business or organization. Here are six suggestions to create change and opportunity: 1.…

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Entrepreneur Summit “Growing Entrepreneurs and Creating Entrepreneur Ecosystems in South Texas”

Thursday, February 28, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the Entrepreneur Summit at the Embassy Suites in McAllen. The event is powered by Texas Regional Bank, Texas A&M, Burton McCumber & Longoria LLP and the Federal Reserve Bank Dallas – San Antonio. The summit will support our efforts in developing a dynamic entrepreneur ecosystem in McAllen and throughout South Texas. Fostering innovation and new ideas is a foundation for creating wealth for a community or a region. So many times, groups and cities focus only on what I call the ingredients – incubators, accelerators, angel investor funds, and grants. The real challenge is figuring out how to create and blend the “right” recipe for success. The most critical elements and the most significant “X” factors for success when creating an entrepreneur ecosystem are people. Are we bringing the right people together that…

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Five Key Factors to Selling, Part II

Last week, I wrote about several fundamental basics a good salesperson does every day. Good salespeople are working when others are sleeping, watching TV or wasting time on Facebook or other social media platforms. The most fundamental aspect of selling is understanding your customers’ wants. If a successful salesperson can master the “wants” of a customer, they are halfway to making the sale. Here are some of the things customers may have at the top of their minds: more profits, more sales, better image, more customers, better brand recognition, no hassles, less stress, more value, more success, and recognition. The good salespeople learn these key drivers by researching their customers and understanding their customers’ markets and business models. If you are still cold-calling customers, you are wasting your time. A salesperson who is cold calling is making a “Hail Mary” effort. Networking is the difference between success and failure. Spending…

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Five Key Factors to Selling Part I

There are some people who just seem to be natural-born salespeople. There are others who dread the thought of having to try to convince someone else to buy something. The reality is that all of us are selling something. We are selling our skills, our contacts, our ability to get something done, or a product or service – but we are all selling. The one key difference – and this is important – is whether you are helping someone solve a problem or whether you are just trying to get their money. We have all dealt with people who are just trying to get our money; the high-pressure salesperson who is more focused on what they can get out of a deal than actually helping a potential customer solve a problem. Here are five things a good salesperson focuses on during the sale process: It is not about you. If…

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Seven Things My Kids Have Taught Me

This past holiday season gave me a chance to reflect on the many things “having kids” has taught me over the course of watching them grow and develop. I am now entering the next phase of life, watching grandkids grow and develop, which I must admit is not as stressful as raising kids. So, I started to think about what “having kids” and “having grandkids” has taught me about life. Here are seven things I have learned from kids: 1) Be curious. Kids are curious about everything. One day it can be dinosaurs and the next day it could be horses. Kids remind us that curiosity is a key ingredient to loving life. Ever been around an adult who has lost the ability to be curious about things? There is no spark, nothing that makes them interesting. Kids have taught me not to lose my curiosity about life. 2) Be…

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Global Competitiveness Report 2018

The World Economic Forum recently released its Global Competitiveness Report 2018.  The report shows that the United States has returned to the #1 position in overall competitiveness. Singapore was #2, Germany was #3, Japan was #6, China was #28 and Russia was #43. There are twelve key benchmarks that measure a country’s competitiveness and they include the following: Intuitions. Includes the rule of law and ensuring fair and equal treatment. The U.S. was ranked #13. Infrastructure. The benchmark includes everything from broadband to airports to highways. With some of the oldest legacy infrastructure in the world, the U.S. needs to invest much more to move up from #9. Internet, Communications and Technology. America’s diversity and individualism hurt, as too many people opt-out of state-of-the-art technology. The U.S. was ranked #27. Macroeconomic Stability. This benchmark refers to safety provided by monetary and fiscal policies. The United States is ranked #34. This…

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The Power of Focus

When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than to a get a magnifying glass and burn stuff. I think my parents were concerned I was a budding arsonist. I loved taking my $4.99 magnifying glass outside and burning paper, plastic soldiers, and leaves. I even stuck my finger under the magnifying glass. Trust me – it hurts and you don’t need to try it. The magnifying glass is a great example of bringing focus. If you can remember back to your childhood, it took a little skill (angles and light) and time to get the glass focused on the right spot. Our ability to get things done is like the magnifying glass – it takes a little skill. When I need to get things done, I have found improving my focus improves the outcome. When my focus is diluted, I get diluted results. There are three kinds of…

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Thanksgiving Together

Thanksgiving in our house is the best and most favored holiday. I am not slamming Christmas. Who doesn’t like getting gifts, all the festive decorations, parties, and the general goodwill that seems to prevail even if just for a momentary period? However, in our house, Thanksgiving wins. There is something about giving thanks that is reflective.  It causes us to slow down, and pause, and think about all the blessings we have in our lives. This Thanksgiving we need to stop and reflect more than ever. There seems to be a growing uneasiness and sense of being overwhelmed by things happening all around us. Thanksgiving is a time, not to pull away and retreat into our own little world of food, football, and turkey, but to come together. Together is a powerful word. It means we are not alone. We are not separate. It is an acknowledgment of the authentic,…

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Holiday Shopping in McAllen

LET’S GET SHOPPING,MCALLEN! The holiday season is just around the corner, which means you probably have plenty of shopping to get done. But no need to stress, the McAllen metro area has everything you need, from exquisite jewelry stores to one-of-a-kind boutiques and everything in between. Your team at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce have put together a quick list of some of the best shops in town. Whatever you are looking for, you’re sure to find that special gift for everyone on your list! A Block Away Quilt Shop 2706 N. 10th Street McAllen, TX 78501 956-638-1961 People love creating their very own crafts and quilts, and A Block Away Quilt Shop is the perfect store for the quilt maker in your life. Offering fabrics, quilt kits, patterns and books, batting, fusibles, and even quilt making classes, this is the one stop shop for that craft maker you know.…

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Youth Apprenticeship McAllen

This past Wednesday, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, South Texas College, and McAllen ISD launched the first of its kind Youth Apprenticeship Program in South Texas. The program is a pilot project driven by the idea of developing the talent pipeline for McAllen businesses. The program is a win-win-win-win for the students, businesses, STC, and McAllen ISD. This initiative is a Department of Labor certified apprenticeship program, which means these students are a “step-ahead” of their peers in the labor market. The training provided by STC for the apprenticeship certification is customized for each business and each student. The students follow a training pathway and the companies get the opportunity to develop talent from the ground-up. Another important factor in this program is that the students get paid as they learn. This is not an internship program or a job-shadowing program. These are real jobs with real skill sets that…

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Top Five Small Business Winners

Every year, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce honors the community’s Top Five Small Businesses, and this year’s honorees are just outstanding! Small businesses drive the success of our community. The investment, and jobs created and sustained by small businesses, are essential to the overall health of McAllen.  They are a key indicator of the economic vitality of our city. Here are this year’s winners: Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects was established in 1990 when two firms owned by Danny Boultinghouse and Bob Simpson merged. The firm is well known for its quality work and involvement in the community. The company has seen a 333% increase in employment and has also seen a steady 5% increase in business the last three years while expanding into San Antonio, Laredo, and Buda. The firm has completed numerous major projects over the years including the McAllen Public Library, the Museum of South Texas History, the…

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Four Key Elements for an Effective Briefing

Meetings can be a huge time “killer.” I am amazed at the amount of time many businesses and organizations spend in meetings. There is a fine line between communication that is needed and a waste of time. The other side of the coin is, “I am working in an organization that doesn’t communicate.” So how does a company manage effective communication versus wasting time? Many organizations have allowed their email system to become their “default” method of communication. Emails lose so much in tone, texture, and meaning. I have found emails to be the least effective way to communicate anything beyond just basic information. So how does a person grab someone’s attention without crossing that line of wasting others’ time? The military initially developed the concept of briefings – a process designed to give participants critical information, without wading too much into the “weeds.” Unfortunately, today, the military has modeled…

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Four Kinds of Words

Words are powerful. Because we are bombarded daily with so many words, we forget the powerful impact they can have on our lives. People can be flippant with words, not realizing they have the power to increase or decrease. Words have the power to set ideas into motion, movements and businesses. Words can start a relationship or destroy a relationship. Words can bring hope or despair. Words can inspire, mend, and heal. Words are important and how they are used does make a difference. Words of encouragement, that are sincere, almost always matter. You may say something encouraging and you may think it did not register with the person – but it did. Those words of encouragement come back to people in their darkest hours when hope seems lost. Integ­rity is the key to our words. When we say “yes” it should be “yes” and we should honor our commitment.…

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2018 McAllen Chamber Innovation Grant Winners

For 11 years the McAllen Chamber of Commerce has awarded the Chamber’s Innovation Grant. The Innovation Grant Awards program is designed to help inventors and entrepreneurs move their ideas one step closer to the marketplace. This program has grown every year and there are two key traits that have emerged as we engage these successful entrepreneurs. Every one of these winners exhibits two key traits that seem fundamental to their success. First, winners ask the “why” question. “Why does something have to be this way?” The successful entrepreneur never lets go of the “why.” They think about it, they research it, and they ask lots of questions concerning, “why?” Second, the successful entrepreneur never quits. It sounds simple, but it is an attitude that is the make or break for success. It does not matter how many times they are told no, the successful entrepreneur just keeps going. All the…

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