Author Archives: Stephanie Hawk

$1.5 Million in Grant Money for 2nd Round of Funding for McAllen Small Businesses

The City of McAllen and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce are now offering an additional $1.5 million in its COVID-19 Small Business Grant program to help McAllen small businesses relaunch and reignite their businesses. Grants up to $5,000 will be given to small businesses with revenues of less than $2 million. Mayor Jim Darling said, “Small businesses are the foundation of McAllen’s economy. The City of McAllen wanted to do everything it could do to have a positive impact on local small businesses during this pandemic recovery.”  The program will be available to McAllen-based businesses, for as long as the funds are available. The grants are free money and do not have to be repaid.  The money can be used for the following: Launching online presence and sales Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitation supplies and equipment Short-term marketing campaign Limited interior modification for health and safety purposes Delayed rent/mortgage…

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Why I Wear a Mask

Though different studies reach varying statistical conclusions about wearing masks, the overwhelming consensus is that masks help stem the transmission of COVID-19. Jeremy Howard of Australia has found 34 scientific papers (Masks4all.com) showing masks are effective in stopping the spread of the virus, and there are no documents or studies proving otherwise. The National Institute of Health performed a video experiment that used lasers to illuminate the shower of droplets emitted when someone speaks and how a mask blocked nearly all of the droplets. A statistical study done by scientists in the United States and Europe shows that if 80% of the population wore a mask, the infection rate for COVID-19 would drop by 90 percent. Obviously, the N95 masks have the best rate of stopping the virus, followed by surgical masks, and then cloth masks. Scientists theorize that wearing a mask reduces the amount of exposure to COVID-19 virus…

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Thoughts During COVID-19

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter defeats, so you may know who you are, what you rise from, how you still can come out of it.” Maya Angelou We are all experiencing hard and difficult times. Our routines and daily ways of doing things have all been disrupted. Our sense of “normal” is gone, and we struggle to find a new path forward. Some of us have lost jobs and income, others have seen loved ones sick and struggling, and still, others have been overwhelmed by anxiety and fears. None of us are alone at this moment in this pandemic.  This pandemic is just a moment. Understanding and recognizing what is happening around us is the first step to leaning into this moment and dealing with our fears and thoughts. So many times, we want to numb…

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$300,000 in Grant Money Available for McAllen Small Businesses

The City of McAllen and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce are offering a program designed to help McAllen small businesses relaunch and reignite their businesses with a grant program to assist with some of the essential things to getting reopened. Grants up to $5,000 will be given to small businesses with revenues of less than $350,000 and grants up to $10,000 will be given to small businesses with incomes of more than $350,000. Mayor Jim Darling said, “Small businesses are the foundation of McAllen’s economy. The City of McAllen wanted to do everything it could do to have a positive impact on local small businesses during this pandemic recovery.” The program will launch June 1 at 9:00 AM and will be available to McAllen-based businesses for as long as the $300,000 is available. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is expecting the funds and grants to go quickly. The grants are…

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What You Can Do to Support Local Businesses

In tough times, our community has a record of pulling together. Today, and in the coming days and weeks, we will be having another one of those moments. Do we rise to the challenge, or do we seek to shelter in and practice non-involvement and isolation? This flu season and COVID-19 are severe and are impacting communities in different ways. This season will also be a great opportunity for us to come together and get through this moment, collectively and not individually.  The economic impact of this challenge could be severe. Supporting our local businesses is essential. There are ways to be safe and not spread the flu, but also make sure restaurants, bars, hotels, retail stores, and every other kind of business can survive this moment. Here are some simple steps to support our local businesses:  Order take out or curbside. Support your favorite restaurant by ordering from them…

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Seven Things to Do to Connect and Network

Connecting to people and building networks of contacts and connections are critical for any business’s success. One of the key benefits we offer at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce is the ability to connect with a wide array of people and businesses. At our core nature, we want to do business with people we know or have met.  Some people find connecting and networking easy and almost second nature. Others may find networking and connecting uncomfortable and hard to do daily. There are some basic things a person can do to communicate with other people. Here are seven things to do: Show interest in others. People know pretty quickly if you are “not really interested” in them and you are just trying to make a sale. The quick connection and sale mentality are a big turn-off. People who can carry on a conversation with everyone and show genuine interest are…

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Sharing Bad News

Communication can be a challenge for any business or organization. Some companies are good at sharing information and others, not so much. Effective communication can be the tipping point between success and failure. Ineffective communication in an organization creates rumors and a needless waste of time that affects morale and productivity. Sharing news good or bad, if done the right way, can help achieve a high performing business. Here are six key ways to communicate and share good or bad news: Don’t wait. Our human nature tends to make us wait when it comes to bad news. It is better to share information immediately, as opposed to waiting. In today’s work environment, there is constant discussion of “transparency.”  Giving people information in a timely fashion is acting transparently. The other key is trust in leadership. By withholding critical information, we quickly destroy faith within an organization.  Make the meeting face–to-face.…

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The SCAMPER Method (Part III)

I continue this week with the SCAMPER method as a way to develop a new idea or to make a breakthrough with a product or service. So, here are the final three letters in the process. 5) “P” is for put to another use – Think about how you can take a current product or idea and put it to a different purpose. Many times, a concept only turns out to be great when applied differently. Here are several key questions to ask: Is it possible to utilize this product elsewhere, maybe in a different industry? Who else can utilize this product? Would this product function differently in a different setting? What else can it be utilized for? Is it possible to recycle the product’s waste to make something new? Could it be used for people with specific disabilities? Is there another problem the product can solve?  Are there applications…

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The SCAMPER Method (Part II)

Last week I introduced the SCAMPER model for innovation and creativity.  The model is used widely in innovation circles and provides a solid foundation in developing new ideas, even if you think you are not very creative or innovative. Asking some key questions is critical for success.  Last week I wrote about the letter “S” for substitute and how trying to replace materials, ingredients, or use can bring a breakthrough. The letter “C” was combining, and how bringing unlike things together, you can get a new product like rolling suitcases or phones with music and cameras.  This week we add “A” and “M” to the process. 3. “A” is for Adapt – Think of a solution for another problem you may mold to suit your situation. “Necessity is the mother of all inventions.” Sometimes conditions force us to try something totally outside the norm.  Here are some key questions: Is…

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The SCAMPER Method (Part I)

When the McAllen Chamber of Commerce works with start-ups or very early-stage businesses and discusses how they can enhance their products or services, we use the SCAMPER method. The process is a series of questions designed to start the thought process of improving or driving an innovation for a product or service. Many people think there needs to be an “AHA” moment, but most innovations or new concepts don’t work that way. A person does not need to be a Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein to have a breakthrough. The process is quite simple, and it only requires being able to ask hard questions of the product or service. At the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, we use design thinking, which requires the business owners or founders to think from their customer’s perspective, and the customer’s burning problem. Here are the essential elements of the SCAMPER method: 1.“S” is for Substitute…

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The Desire to Excel

In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie illustrated the value of competition with a story about Charles Schwab. For those of you who don’t know or remember, Schwab was the first president of U.S. Steel and earned a million dollars a year in 1920. This Schwab is not to be confused with the Charles Schwab of the investment firm. Schwab was the Steve Jobs of the 1920s. Schwab had a mill manager who simply could not get his mill to make quota. The manager had coaxed, cussed, and threatened, but the crews would not produce. One day, Schwab visited the mill to discuss the problem with the mill manager. Near the end of the day shift, Schwab asked for a piece of chalk and turned to the nearest worker. “How many heats did your shift make today?” A heat number identifies a production run and…

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Likability

Likability (without the “e” is the American spelling) is essential in the workplace. Likability has gained in importance because of the impact of social media and our lack of regular meaningful interactions. Because of limited interactions in person, likability becomes more critical. UCLA did a study on likability and found some key drivers were sincerity, transparency and emotional intelligence (the ability to understand another person). Additional studies have found that “likable people” outperform unlikable people. The simple reason is that people will work harder with people they like and enjoy. For a long time, soft skills have been under-appreciated in the workplace, but there is now growing evidence that being likable is a major game-changer for successful people. Here are eight key traits that are “unlikable”: Bragging – Nobody likes a braggart. Bragging is ego-centric and draws attention to one’s accomplishments. Humble bragging: when a person masks bragging by acting…

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Amazon’s 14 Principles of Leadership

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, IBM was the place that developed the next generation of business leaders. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, GE was the place that was the training grounds for business leaders. Today, Amazon has assumed that mantle as the “go-to” place for new and emerging leaders. Like IBM and GE before it, Amazon receives a lot of criticism of its culture and demands. Amazon is a major player in the market today. It has changed how America shops, as well as the retail landscape. Every successful organization or business has key core values or driving principles, and Amazon is no different. Successful businesses make their driving principles real and apply them rigorously to everything they do.  I came across an Inc. article that discussed Amazon’s 14 Principles of Leadership and found them insightful and instructive. Here are Amazon’s 14 Principles of Leadership: Customer Obsession – Amazon works…

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Three Key Elements for Effective Listening

Listening is a challenge. We are bombarded with so much stimulation, noise, and digital overload that our attention span and ability to listen are becoming less and less. Social media has reduced one-on-one communication and has eliminated all the small social cues we get when we listen and talk face to face. We hear, but we do not listen. Also, as we have become more divided culturally, we are quick to put people in particular silos based on labels and “trigger” words.  We do a lousy job of listening. We may hear the word coming out of a person’s mouth, but we allow internal and external distractions to steal our focus. The typical process for many people today is to speak and then, in turn, wait to talk again. We never really hear what the other person is saying because we are already processing what we are going to say…

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Three Keys for Personal Success

How do you build success for your business or career? What are those key elements that can make your business or your career stand out? Many times, people expect a complicated formula or some deep process that a person must go through to be successful. The formula for success is pretty simple; it is the execution and delivery of these key elements that can be so challenging. Here are three key elements of success today: 1. Trust – This is a trait that seems in short supply in today’s world of lies and fake news. Trust is a characteristic that can pay huge dividends or cause a person’s downfall within weeks. Every business and venture needs trust. I am fortunate to work with a group of people who work hard, regardless of whether I am standing right next to them or if I am out of sight. I trust them…

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