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http://daylaarabella.com Mon, 09 Apr 2018 20:49:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 MY ONE RESOLUTION THIS YEAR: KILL MY 24/7/365 BUSINESS MODEL http://daylaarabella.com/my-one-resolution-this-year-kill-my-247365-business-model/ Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:53:54 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=3166

Call me, message me, FaceTime me, email me —anytime, anywhere, holidays too. I’m here, just for you.
Doesn’t that sound so 2003? The problem is, this is me right now. The biggest gift the Millennials have given to Gen-Xrs like me, along with some headaches, is to show us it does not have to be that way. “Balance” — in life, love and work isn’t a dirty word. It’s not something to be embarrassed about pursuing or even demanding.

Six years since ago I started my own public relations and event consultancy and I love it. Out of the gate I had wonderful clients, most of which are still with me today. With hard work and a reputation for delivering results, I’ve added more. I consider myself fortunate to work with clients with a mission I believe in and with values that mirror my own. I never thought that would mean as much to me as it does. It does.

Not every solopreneur has this luxury, and believe me I don’t take it for granted. That is why you work harder, you come up with ideas you know will expand your duties without a thought to additional compensation.

So what is the problem? Endless accessibility. That is always right at the top of the list when clients refer me to others. You get Dayla and she’ll be there for you 24/7/365. You can contact any one of my clients and they’ll tell you about our 1am calls, or email exchanges, phone calls and video chats after Sunday mass, and late night meetings over espressos still wearing a ball gown from the event I just left. But as everything else in life, the aforementioned comes with a price tag — and I was ultimately the one who paid it.

As my client list has grown, I’ve been forced to make real sacrifices in my personal life. My partner and I have suffered from too much time apart, either from traveling or holing up in my office on nights and weekends we were actually together, finishing projects until the wee hours. There were missed holidays, family gatherings, workouts and a great deal of missed sleep.

Then, I experienced what can only be described as the ultimate sign from the universe: I fell nearly 20 feet at an event site, and was incredibly lucky to have walked away with only (did I say only) two back fractures and some bumps and bruises. I was scheduled to leave two weeks later to Newport R.I. where I had 60 concerts happening over 17 days at the Newport Music Festival. Guess who was there back brace and all?

The real scare came later in the year. I got sick. I had bronchitis and pneumonia. I NEVER get sick, but I had noticed I was getting these little signs that I was just run down. As soon as I got that under control, I started losing my decade-long battle to keep my migraines at bay. This was it, time to change.

So that’s the story, now here is my 2017 resolution. I am going to have office hours. Sounds sexy, I know. It’s a challenge for me and a promise to my clients. By having shorter (dare I say a traditional) daily availability, you just have to work smarter. I’ll no longer say I’ll get to this after the 11 p.m. news. I won’t be a slave to my inbox. I’ll focus on one task at a time, one client at a time. I’ll expand and detail my daily, weekly and quarterly strategic plan and map out tasks with each of my clients, and we’ll stick with it. I will enlist that same determination and schedule my personal life too — to workout, to meditate, to read (boy do I miss reading anything that is not a trade journal or arts press release), to be with the love of my life and truly be present, and to spend more time with my friends and my parents who I am so blessed to still have in my life.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? I know it won’t be and I also know the biggest challenge will be me, but I have a plan. I’ve been passionate about New Year’s resolutions my whole life, I take months to put them together, I devise a plan and I get them done (you can read about my love of resolutions here).

I love New Years because it gives us all a reset button. It’s a clean slate, ready to be embraced.
So here’s to focus, here’s to balance and here’s to life!

Happy New Year everyone!
Dayla

P.S. As always I’ll be reporting on my resolution progress quarterly, so stay tuned for a March 15 update. And if you are interested in sharing your resolution plans, I want to hear about them. Then you can join me on March 15 for a progress party.
You can reach me at Dayla@DaylaArabella.com

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After the Fall—How an 18-Foot Fall Reinvigorated My Passion for Powerful Networks http://daylaarabella.com/after-the-fall-how-an-18-foot-fall-reinvigorated-my-passion-for-powerful-networks-2/ Fri, 05 Aug 2016 01:31:40 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=2890

DaylaFlowerShow

It’s hard to believe six weeks have passed since a rather routine event setup became one that I won’t ever forget. A historic home, a floor collapse, and a fall through to the basement, more feet than I care to remember. The details have been circulating for several weeks now, and many people have heard the story. However, that story is not the purpose of this one. As it happens sometimes, it takes an event that sudden, that serious, to reveal something we should have known all along.

From my days in the corporate world to my life now as an owner of an event and public relations company, July has always signified the start of my summer as my workload lightens, and I get ready for a month of rest and rejuvenation. This year, mighty July started my season of gratitude, and with good reason. Since the accident, I’ve had at least a dozen doctors remind me that the accident could have been much, much worse. Believe me, I know. I was there! I am determined to hold on to the gratitude and relief I felt that day when the doctors came in to tell me the extent of my injuries.

The outpouring of well wishes, cards, flowers, wine (!), and creative care packages has been overwhelming to say the least. I’ve already told the concierge in the building that I’ll have to send him flowers for all the trips he made to my apartment with gifts. The senders were friends, family, clients, colleagues, and my Boston Women in Media and Entertainment (BWME) sisters.

This latter group is the newest to me. They are members of a group I co-founded in August of 2012 with beloved Boston broadcaster Candy O’Terry. The group consists of women in the media and arts fields in greater Boston. It astonishes me that in less than 4 years we have grown to over 200 members.

When Candy and I created the mission, we knew we wanted to educate, inspire, and connect women in our ever-changing, fiercely competitive fields. The goal closest to my heart was to build a solid network of entrepreneurs and industry professionals with varied areas of expertise who would partner on projects, hire and mentor each other, provide referrals, and work together to achieve their personal and professional goals. I’m delighted to report this is happening.

Candy and I have invested an enormous amount of time cultivating a strong network that met the professional needs of our members who were coming from all over our industry’s ever-widening landscape. We were determined to be available by phone, in person, or through email for our members to guide, listen, refer, assist, and accept tons of great feedback. We labored over the services we offered and the timing of and takeaways of our events and are constantly measuring the ROI of our membership plan.

But what we built was much more.

So many BWME members have reached out to me with heartfelt words, referrals to doctors, and offers to deliver meals and provide transportation to physical therapy appointments. They’ve chatted with me about what I can expect on the road to recovery and made sure I knew what my priorities should be. They also assisted with staffing my events and moved my projects along the pipeline. I can’t explain here how much this has meant to me.

What BWME ultimately has become—and honestly, I think I’m the last one in the group to realize it—is a much more meaningful group of women who care for each other beyond the workplace and office hours and who understand how vulnerable you can be when you work for yourself, by yourself, or work for a bigger institution that has little regard for what life may bring your way.

I’m grateful beyond words to be a part of this group and to have so many exceptional women in my life … in good times and bad, and in sickness and in health.

Here’s to the power of networking!
Dayla

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I have a strange name, fat face and crooked smile. Thanks Mom. http://daylaarabella.com/i-have-a-strange-name-fat-face-and-crooked-smile-thanks-mom/ Fri, 06 May 2016 02:44:51 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=2740

When I was 8 years old, I told my mother I didn’t want to have kids, ever. When I was 15, I told her I was never getting married because I was going to do things my way. At 21, I told my mother that I completely understood what Joni Mitchell meant when she sang, “You love him, a lot like you love your freedom.”

From Mother, there was never an eye roll. Never, ever, a “Wait until you get older.” Instead, she would say just enough to leave me feeling that she understood. The words she did share led me to believe that she knew where I was coming from, yet there would be no questions asked if we revisited these conversations years later, and I did a 180 degree turn.

I had an enormous amount of freedom in the way I grew up. While a few people (friends, lovers, etc.) sneered that I could have used more structure, it was empowering. I really felt that I held all the cards to make my own choices, to shift gears, to succeed, to fail. To do anything.

My mother has a fascinating story, one that deserves to be told. I have no doubt when she is ready, she will, or perhaps we will.

Here’s what I will tell you. She married young and was a mother of two by the time she was 24. A hairdresser, then stay-at-home mom turned bank vice president by day and cabaret singer by night. The fondest memories of my mom bring me to her coming home, shedding her pantsuit and pumps, and putting on her halter dress and stilettos (it was the ’70s, mind you) to get to her gig. Clark Kent in the phone booth comes to mind.

I never felt sad she couldn’t be around; I was inspired. In today’s vernacular, it was more “You go girl!” From the sidelines, I cheered her on.

She’s been my cheerleader ever since.

I was always different. I was happier alone, really book smart, highly opinionated, maybe a bit of a snob. I could gain weight quickly. I never thought I was ugly, but I always thought I was kind of different looking with a fattish face, big teeth and crooked smile.

She, of course, knew all of this. We didn’t talk about it. But she showed me that embracing all of it, your true self, is the best gift you could ever give yourself. It liberates you and everyone around you to embrace your uniqueness.
“Better to be unforgettable and to leave a mark than just be some pretty girl,” Mom would say. “They are a dime a dozen. They get old.”

I suppose it all started when she named me Dayla. Nearly every day someone compliments me on my name. It was my first mark.
It surprises me now just how much I am the sum of those life lessons. Some she willingly taught me; some I learned peering around corners and eavesdropping on conversations.

However, what I find the most surprising is that I’ve never taken a minute to tell her any of this. So here it is. Thanks, Mom … for everything.

Happy Mother’s Day,
Dayla

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I’m Not Busy. The Art of Unbusyness http://daylaarabella.com/im-not-busy-the-art-of-unbusyness/ Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:19:32 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=1744

This is tough. I’m tackling my first resolution of the year. We’ve all heard colleagues and friends overusing trite expressions like “I’m drowning” or “I’m just crazy right now.” Maybe you do it too. That’s so 2014.

I decided I want to be one of the new cool kids who have mastered the art of unbusyness, no longer running around touting how busy, important, and in-demand I am to boost my own sense of self-worth.

I’ve identified these items as my launching point:

  • I never tell anyone how busy I am; 
  • I keep my phone “off the table” at meetings;
  • I am reducing multitasking and focusing on individual tasks one at a time; and
  • I am dedicating specific time periods for email throughout the work day and breaking free from the stream for the remainder of my time.

I told you it’s tough. Have you tried this? Going gluten-free was easier.

The Resolution Is Focus

Everyone who knows me knows I am serious about New Year’s resolutions (see my recent post here). They have been a big part of my success thus far. So when I read several recent articles on how we often tout our busyness, I realized I do this myself too often and decided this is where my resolutions would begin.

When I took an inventory of the people in my life I admire the most, the one trait they all share is the ability to focus. They are some of the most in-demand people in my business, yet you would never know it. They are engaged with the task at hand; they are devoid of excuses, and the time that they have allotted for you is just that—yours.

Something happens when you spend time with these folks and dial back your own busyness to join them in that space.

  • First and foremost, a good amount gets done.
  • Secondly, an unspoken respect for each other is conveyed.
  • Lastly, and perhaps this speaks to the first point, everyone steps up their game. We are more focused.

You may have heard this story, but it bears repeating. When Bill Gates first met Warren Buffett, their host at dinner, Gates’ mother, asked everyone around the table to identify what they believed was the single most important factor in their success through life. Gates and Buffett gave the same one-word answer: “Focus.” (See more in The Snowball by Alice Schroeder).

What else is there to say?

Status Check

Well, we are only a few weeks into the New Year, and my schedule has been rather robust. (Note: I did not say, “I’ve been crazy busy.”) I’ve employed all the aforementioned tasks with these results:

  • I haven’t told anyone I’m busy. So far I’ve gotten a few quizzical stares; for the most part I suspect they think I’ve fallen on hard times.
  • My iPhone is off the table. Literally. I bury it in my purse or in the back of my desk drawer for all meetings. Small problem, though: I haven’t worn a watch in about 15 years. Now that I don’t have access to my phone, I’ve nearly been late to my next meeting.  It does feel counterintuitive to ask my colleagues around the table, “By the way, what time is it?”
  • Numbers 3 and 4 are works in progress, folks. I’ve always prided myself on my quick response time to email. But I realized before, and more so now, it comes at a major cost. A constant shift in focus (aka multitasking) ultimately slows us down and robs us of the ability to fully engage with the task at hand.

Big Takeaway:

When you attempt this, you are amping up your game. You are producing better results for your clients and presenting yourself in a way that brings out the best in your team and everyone around you.

My professional life spans 20 years. What I am undoing now is much of what I learned it takes to succeed in business. But it’s a new day. Here I come.

Dayla Arabella

P.S. Have any tips on how to get unbusy? Let me know at Dayla@DaylaArabella.com

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Your Resolution Resolution. Start Early, End Strong. http://daylaarabella.com/your-resolution-resolution-start-early-end-strong-2/ Tue, 23 Dec 2014 18:12:12 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=1742

It is the most wonderful time of the year, but that shouldn’t just extend to holidays and all that they bring. For me (and for you) this time of year is ripe with professional and personal opportunities, where we all press the re-set button with a new sense of excitement and energy as the new year approaches.

I’ve always been a huge resolution person, and I mean huge. For the last 13 years, I’ve made and kept most of my resolutions, and they weren’t your garden variety resolutions either. They were categorized and measurable, and covered a lot of territory (health, relationships, professional development, retirement savings, personal development and there’s always one involving my golf game). Some were part of a multi-year plan, and yes of course there is always the ‘drink more water’ and ‘save more money for retirement’ resolutions.

I love this time of the year because THIS is when I do two things.
First I have 7 days or so to look back on my present year resolutions and see if there’s anything I can do to check off those last bits and pieces to get that resolution in the accomplished category. Then I get a running start into my NEW resolutions. Why wait? Once you’ve committed to the resolution, just do it! Or lay the groundwork, so you are ready to go on January 1st – (buy the gym membership, get the journal, make those doctor appointments.)
With resolutions, aka goals, they should cover several aspects of your life and cover both professional and personal areas such as health, money management, pursuing a hobby, building or improving your website, lowering your BMI, taking a professional development course, etc.

Here are three ways to stay inspired and on track:
Your resolutions should range in the degree of difficulty. Don’t set yourself up for failure right from the start, so make sure a few resolutions are quick and relatively easy. (Pick up a phone and call someone you have lost contact with that you miss dearly; make sure you are up-to-date on all of your regular doctor check-ups, if you’re not, make the appointments ASAP; or set up a monthly debit for a charity close to your heart). These items you can do and check off the list tomorrow!

Your resolutions need to be measurable so when you revisit them long after the glitter of New Year’s Eve fades away, you can take pride in your accomplishments or motivate yourself to step it up.

Don’t go it alone! If you let friends and family know about your resolutions, you are more likely to keep them. You know what they say – ‘no witnesses, no crime.” (I’m doing this for the first time this year.)

This year my resolutions are hefty and are more personal in nature. The reason for this is simple, with 13 years of historical data I see the pattern – professional resolutions get done and personal resolutions, well let’s just say, not so much.

So this year I’ve enlisted some friends and colleagues to start a resolution support group (it’s really nothing more than an excuse to get together), we’re sharing our resolution lists and meeting up for drinks quarterly (March, June and September) to see how we are doing. We keep it very top-line and only hope to encourage each other. Have you thought about your resolutions yet? I hope so. It’s such a great way to make your life better, to stay inspired and to appreciate your accomplishments.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Dayla Arabella

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I Know What You Didn’t Do This Summer http://daylaarabella.com/i-know-what-you-didnt-do-this-summer/ Tue, 03 Sep 2013 17:21:24 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=1319

When I wrote “Put Down Your Summer Reading…You’ve Got Work to Do,” back in early July, I didn’t expect the hate mail. Okay maybe it wasn’t hate mail, but I did get quite a few comments that I needed to get a life and that I should really get off everyone’s (my staff’s) back.
In my own defense, I’m right. The summer time is (or should I say was) a great time to tackle your professional development to-do’s and take stock of what’s in your small business toolkit. Having these items in order allows you to be laser-focused on business development and providing excellent customer service come the fall, the holidays and through the new year.

September is a crazy month for everyone. Kids are back to school, clients and bosses are back from their vacations and need your time and talent, and invitations to fundraisers and all those networking events are piling up. And then of course you’ve only got 12 weeks before the holiday frenzy requires even more of your time. So…now that the eyes are back on you and your business, are you ready?

Needless to say, it’s never too late to at least cover the basics. In my July post I presented a more detailed list, but I’m reducing it to a quick hit list here because quite frankly, you’re out of time.

1. YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE has to be one of your top priorities.
It pretty much doesn’t matter what your business you’re in, you need to check your website and social media outlets for content, make necessary updates, check for accuracy and consistency throughout and be sure to include new photos and videos that relate to your business.

2. MONEY MATTERS it’s not glamorous I know, but make contact with your accountant, make sure you are keeping the records you need so when tax time rolls around, you’re not scrambling, taking valuable time away from your clients to deal with a mess you created.

3. STAND YOUR GROUND in your area of expertise by making sure you have all the certifications necessary so your bid doesn’t get overlooked simply because you don’t have them. A quick analysis of what you competition offers is prudent. Do you need to sharpen or include a skill set? If it’s too late to gain that yourself, find the right person who fills that gap to join your team.

4. THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME. Yes, you have to get out there. Networking is essential for everyone, regardless of where you are in your career. This is the time of the year where countless networking events pop up. Get out there, but choose wisely. Make sure your read up on the event organizer and the group’s mission and make sure it’s worth your valuable time.

5. WHAT’S INSIDE MATTERS MOST. It’s hard to maintain work/life balance. I know, I’m a straight up A personality. Taking your health for granted is a big mistake and in every way is counter-productive. While I’m the LAST to preach about taking care of yourself, do 4 things now: 1. Schedule or keep all your annual doctor’s visits; 2. Drink more water 3. Take your vitamins 4. Keep a food/exercise diary. Sounds like a lot of work, but nothing can impede your professional progress like your personal well-being.

Here’s to Health, Happiness and Prosperity this Fall!

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What’s In a Name? Your Bottom Line. http://daylaarabella.com/whats-in-a-name-your-bottom-line/ Fri, 09 Aug 2013 21:33:56 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=1118

Gladys Knight on stage Steppin Out, Boston, MABeing a talent buyer is fun, exciting and at times can be, let’s say complicated. And when you are talking about headline talent, well that just ups the ante! The high risk/reward makes finding the right artist for your client’s event a challenge with a lot of ground to cover.

1. The Basics
Start with the event goals and the mission of the organization. Make sure you have them firmly in mind before you begin. Ask the client for the results of the event’s needs assessment, and research the history of their events as it pertains to entertainment. Who did they have? What was the cost? And how was it received?  Once you have this, it’s time to get event specific.
Identify the major stakeholders (the client, lead sponsors, prospective attendees, event chairs, honorees, board of directors and executive committee) gather demographics and the influence level that each group has over the event.

Meet with your client, and discuss the event goals and what boxes the entertainment choices will need to check.

The client must agree to the entertainment footprint before you begin your search. Do you need an opening comedian, a headline musical group and a closing DJ or dance band? Do you need a mission-related keynote speaker? A roving dance troupe for the hallways or VIP receptions? You can’t go shopping until you have the list. And last but not least, what’s the budget?

2. Due Diligence
Once you’re equipped with this information, it’s on you. There is no doubt by now you have event chairs and executive committee members that have brought several, if not pages of entertainment choices to your attention. They usually run the gambit, from good to completely over-priced, over-rated and just plain wrong for their group. But listen closely, because they are giving you valuable insight to what they are looking for.
The internet has made this initial stage a whole lot easier. Getting what you want, no longer means being at the mercy of the agents. You can check agent rosters online, Google™ the genres that you are looking for to search for ideas, use resources like Pollstar & Billboard (to name just a few) to check who’s on tour, who has new material launching, how their performances are attended, and a whole wealth of other useful information and ideas.
Check out what entertainer’s align with your client’s mission (i.e.Patti LaBelle – spokeswomen for Diabetes; Sheryl Crow – Cancer related causes) Source: www.looktothestars.org Sharing a mission is a great reason to bring an entertainer into your event. Not only may they be willing to do the date, but they may give you a break on their fee.
Call the artists representatives and get the facts (are they available on the date, what are their appearance/performance fees, etc.)

3. The Devil is in the Details
So you’ve got the start of something. But it’s your job to vet potential entertainers fully. Even if they are available on your date, and they fit in your client’s budget, you are not even half way home to validating that they should make it to your client’s desk. There is much to think about:

  • THE MEDIA & POP CULTURE: Do they have a new book, recording, movie or TV show coming out? Perhaps consider someone who will be featured on the next seasons Dancing with the Stars or Celebrity Apprentice? Find out now what you’ll have in terms of PR hooks to get the word out about your event. Your event publicist will thank you later.
  • MISSION-RELATED: Do they have a connection to, or an affinity toward the work that your group does?
  • PERKS: Are they willing to include in the contract a meet and greet with attendees or sponsors during the evening, or are they willing to come into town the day before for a special sponsor/media event.
  • PRIZES: Are they willing to donate memorabilia, concert tickets, personal appearances to your auction?
  • THEIR PERSONAL STORY: If applicable, will they share a cause-related story on stage that will enhance their appeal to your audience?
  • THEIR PROFESSIONAL HISTORY: Call colleagues in other cities where they performed. Ask how they were to deal with, before, during and after the event. How they related to the audience and how they were perceived by event attendees. Of course the real question is whether they were satisfied with their return on investment?
    Also, and especially if we are talking about headline talent, make sure they haven’t appeared in your market in the last 9 – 12 months.
  • DO NOT FORGET THIS: Make sure they are willing and able to do a ‘corporate show’. With corporate clients it is always best to AVOID ANY PERFORMERS OR CELEBRITIES THAT USE RACIALLY INSENTIVE OR SEXUALLY EXPLICIT LYRICS OR JOKES, VOCALIZES STRONG POLITICAL OR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OR DEMONSTRATES INAPPROPRIATE OR ERRACTIC BEHAVIOR. Even if the agent assures you they will keep it clean and behave. Sitting back stage biting your nails all night is not fun and you and the organization can find yourself in real trouble if promises are not kept.
  • TAKE A LOOK AT THE PERFORMANCE RIDERS FIRST! I’ve seen requests in celebrity riders that cost more than what they are actually getting paid. Demands range anywhere from cases of expensive champagne in the green room to chartering a private plane (at your company’s expense) to get them to and from the performance.

4. The Big Talk
Now you are ready to meet the client. Make sure you are armed with a solid list of names in different price tiers for each position that needs to be filled. All the information above that could be collected should be presented to your client in a well-organized spreadsheet.
It is equally important, if your client or any representatives have asked you to consider a certain performer/celebrity,that you do the due diligence as listed above and provide the details on the spreadsheet as well. If they clearly won’t work, it will be right there in black and white. If it appears that they may work, it’s time for you to put away your personal biases and present them as a viable option.
Clients and all of their constituents can be very passionate when it comes to entertainment choices. It’s easy to do. But a professional talent buyer must guide the meeting using the information you’ve collected and your own industry knowledge. Make sure you have on hand what you started with- their needs assessment and event goals. If an entertainer can’t check off a majority of those boxes, regardless of who they are, then they don’t belong on your list.
My last point brings to mind what my mentor, the legendary Boston-based impresario Fred Taylor once told me. I remember this always when I’m about to go into this kind of meeting. “Never forget who we are and what we are trying to do. We’re not teaching a class, we are running a business.”

As always, if I can assist you or your group in your search, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Happy Hunting!

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Put Down Your Summer Reading, You’ve Got Work to Do http://daylaarabella.com/put-down-your-summer-reading/ Tue, 02 Jul 2013 00:04:18 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/wordpress/?p=1

If you’re like me and millions of other small business owners all across the nation, summer is the one time of the year that you get a little reprieve from 14-hour days and a constant stream of deadlines.

For 10 months of the year my clients will tell you, I am available around-the-clock for them, so I don’t take the down time that summer brings lightly. As most of my clients are also getting ready for shorter business weeks, and due to vacations, lower staffing levels, we plan accordingly and keep the workload pretty light during those two precious months. I plan to have most major projects wrapped up or near completion by the end of June or on hiatus until the fall. This is where my summer plan begins.

The break from constant deadlines to me is an opportunity not just to spend quality time with my friends and family, but also to evaluate my business model and everything in my professional toolbox.

While I realize how quickly the summer can go, and while most of us can’t get to everything, we can at least put together a plan with deliverables and due dates that you’ll stick too. If you are like me, just getting a date on the books with a vendor or a client or an employee, is a great start to ensuring it will get done.

First things first, deal with what everybody sees.

Website: Do you have one? Do you need one? Is it current with good content? Does it pass the 3-second rule? What about SEO, how do you measure up to your competition? If you don’t know what SEO is or the 3-second rule, your answer is no to both.

TASK 1: Plan a consultation with a web designer to have your site analyzed, & prioritize what you need to do and in what order. If you have a webmaster, contact them. If it’s been awhile, find out if you have the best one for your business, most web folks specialize in certain industries.

TASK 2: Content is key. While a good web designer can make you look sharp, make sure people can quickly access the information they are looking for and get the most out of multi-media and the incredible array of plug-ins out there, you still need your message to be consistent and clear. Hire a great copy editor (that understands SEO) who can really make sure your message is on target and well-presented.

Social Media: How are your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. (personal & professional) accounts doing?

TASK: If you aren’t updating them regularly, and if you are not sure what outlets are best for your company, contact a Social Media professional for a consultation. Don’t be intimidated by any of this, there are great tutorials out there and a good consultant can put a great package together for you. Remember, when people Google™ you, and they do, your social media network, especially LinkedIn will come up very high in the rankings.

I can’t tell you how many people I meet who tell me they don’t have time to maintain their website and social media accounts properly. Really? It is your 24/7 virtual storefront and many people will make a decision about you and your business right from the first few entries that come up when they search you online.

BUT THAT IS NOT ALL. While you are working on your image, summer or slow periods are a great time to take stock of all facets of your business, as well as your own professional development. These areas affect your productivity and your bottom line. Some food for thought:

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YOUR OWN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Read up on magazines and other trade publications that cover your industry, and subscribe to those that are most relevant. Everything is changing at lightning speed and clients don’t want to hire someone who isn’t utilizing the best, newest, brightest, most efficient, cost-effective you fill in the blank.

  • Certifications, are you up-to-date? Would a certain certification give you an edge over your competition? Summer is a great time to figure out what is out there and what your competition has in their arsenal. Take this time to earn online CEU’s toward a certification.
  • Networking/Membership: You may have been in the industry for years, but networking is essential for everyone at every stage of their career. Look at the groups out there that are relevant in your industry. Consider joining one or two and definitely RSVP to their next networking event before you take the trouble to join. DO IT NOW.
  • Industry Conferences: Every major industry has at least one conference that gives attendees the opportunity to hear the latest and greatest from the industry’s elite and network with others in their field. This summer take time to check out what’s out there and make a real effort to get to just one, even if you can only attend online. If you commit now and put the deposit down, you’ll make the time when it comes around.
  • Career Coach: People who are fully invested in their career path scoff at me when I say this. But career coaches are not just for those looking to change gears or get that major pay raise. Find out what your real strengths and weaknesses are, and make sure you are positioned in your company to fully engage your strengths and have people around you that compliment your skill set. You might be surprised what you find out.

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MINDING YOUR BUSINESS

The summer marks the halfway point of the year, and it’s a great time to sit back and analyze your business model. From infrastructure, to staffing, to use of outside vendors, to budget and client load management – this is the time to put an action plan together to fix those items that are slowing you down, making your company less profitable and keeping you up at night.

  • Fiscal responsibility: who is handling your budget? Are your quarterly projections close to the mark? Do you have frequent cash flow and payroll concerns? What about tax time? Were you scrambling to get everything together for your accountant? Summer is a great time to sit down with your accountant and/or a development consultant (it is his/her down time too!)
  • Staffing: This can be tough, especially with small staffs that have been in place for a long time. In peak season, staff issues are usually pushed to the back burner. This is the time to analyze each role in your office and the personnel you have. These can be tough items to tackle but doing it now when you have time to carry it out is essential.
  • Contracts/Legal Issues: Are your contracts, RFP’s, certificates of liability insurance and other legal documents up to snuff? It is worth looking into this now before you have an issue. If you don’t already have an attorney for your business, and you should, find an attorney that specializes in your business to make sure you are covered.
  • Community Relations/Advertising: What is your company doing for the ‘greater good?’ It is HUGE right now; everyone wants to know what you are doing for the betterment of the community you serve, regardless of what your company actually does. Adopt a cause, either by donating goods and services and/or using some of your advertising dollars to sponsor an event. Do the research NOW, so you make the greatest impact with your donated time/funds.
  • Asset management: Do you have an office? Do you need an office? What about company cars and credit cards? This is a great time to check out your inventory and the costs associated with them to analyze the real ROI on these items.
  • Outside vendors: Just like you need to analyze your internal team, you have to do the same with all of your outside vendors. Are they competitively priced? How do their services stack up to their peers? How well do they work with your clients? How easy are they to work with? Just like your staff, just because they’ve been with you a while, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready to make changes when it benefits your company and clients.

I realize this doesn’t sound like as much fun or relaxing as a week at the shore, but I assure you, getting a handle on many of these items on your much neglected punch list can give you the peace of mind that no vacation at the beach ever will. And the lasting benefits can be more money in your pocket and ultimately as you’ll be running your business more efficiently, more time for yourself.

I’m already working on my own punch list…. poolside.

A Happy, Safe and Productive Summer to You All,

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Where’s the Boston in the Red Sox? http://daylaarabella.com/the-red-sox-need-to-find-the-boston-way/ Mon, 20 May 2013 18:42:01 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=902

With the Red Sox some forty plus games into the season, it’s hard to believe, with the “chicken & beer” legacy of the Valentine era just barely in the rear view mirror, we’d be praising the Red Sox, not for their play, nor their early attempts to put last year behind them, but the fact that they are simply an enduring tradition, one that has the ability to unite and heal the city of Boston like no other. With four vibrant sports teams in Boston, it was the iconic Red Sox ‘B’ that was used by the BOSTON STRONG campaign after the tragic events at the Boston Marathon to symbolize the city’s strength and resilience.

The tributes to the first responders, the ceremonial first pitches thrown by the victims of the bombing, Big Papi’s f-bomb and Neil Diamond jumping a plane to sing ‘Sweet Caroline’ on the field- it mattered, not only for the sentiment, but the fact that it happened in what any Boston resident will tell you, is our most hallowed ground.
Back in the club house, sadly, it’s been far less inspiring. The Boston Boys of Summer are being led by the nefarious and aforementioned “chicken and beer” tandem of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, the latter of the duo accused of employing “Bullfrog sunscreen” to his pitching tool chest for a better grip…hmmm?   Perhaps there is some consolation that former Red Sox ring leader and “Mr. Texas” Josh Beckett has been a bust on the west coast and is now on the disabled list with a bum groin. One has to wonder how the big Diablo will stay in shape with his six shooter on the shelf and his paunch expanding.

Another difference of note is that the former Ringmaster, AKA Bobby Valentine is now in academia as an Athletic Director – hope they handed him a parachute before that trip. Now, enter John Farrell and his crew of overly inked under-achievers.  Apparently the Farrell handbook requires everyone to sport tattoos, a beard and an unbuttoned shirt.
How about the 9th inning closer? Is it me or are these guys so fragile that they injure themselves when they sneeze?  Take Hanrahan, sounds like a tough name, and sure he has the bad boy beard, but I’m pretty sure my 5’1″ bad self could take him out with one swing of my handbag.  Can’t we find a guy that is not off the grid ala Aceves, or a complete head case like Bard, or not hurt by getting out of bed like Bailey?  All that money spent and nothing to show but the medical bills.  Seems as if the money could have been used on better amenities for the dwindling ticket buying fan base.

My hope for the next 40 games is that the Sox tighten their belts, button their shirts, shave their beards and play as spirited, passionate and strong as those of us who are proud to call Boston home. Boston Strong!

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Another Test of Faith for the Patriot Way http://daylaarabella.com/another-test-of-faith-for-the-patriot-way/ Mon, 13 May 2013 22:50:17 +0000 http://daylaarabella.com/?p=1152

In Bill We Trust. Remember? Well that mantra is being tested again Pats fans.

Picking up damaged or unwanted goods and attempting to recycle and revive careers is nothing new for Bill Belichick; think Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, and oh yeah, there’s Albert Haynesworth and Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson as well. Shall we add Tim Tebow to this list?

Admittedly, I’m as pessimistic a Patriots fan as you’ll find; after all my family is one of the original Foxboro season ticket holders-so trust me, its earned. However even I can see the potential. Tebow’s work ethic and locker room leadership is nearly legend. After the situation he just left in New York, you’d have to think Tebow is willing and able to do whatever it takes to get a fair shot at any opportunity to contribute on the field.

What is Bill thinking? Probably first and foremost, that he has absolutely nothing to lose. Secondly, …a tight end? I just can’t imagine with Brady back there that they’d have Tebow around just to occasionally pull some of the wildcat plays out of the box. And I know it’s out there, but I don’t expect he’d take the backup QB job away from Ryan Mallett either.
What is Tebow thinking? Much like Bill, that he has absolutely nothing to lose. The 2007 Heisman trophy winner’s football career appeared to be over just a few months ago when the Jets cut him after failing to trade him by the deadline. And some could say, it’s an incredible reversal of fortune, or divine intervention perhaps (sorry, couldn’t help myself), that he lands with Belichick and Brady.

I was at Foxboro stadium back in 2011, on that wintery night that marked Tebow’s last NFL start. Patriots fans were thrilled to be playing against the Tebow-led Denver Broncos instead of Pittsburgh. The blowout playoff loss for Denver nearly guaranteed Tebow would be given his walking papers.

While there are so many unknowns, this is still the Belichick/Brady era, and after all, all we need is a taming of the Tebow media circus (Belicheck’s been there, done that), a little flexibility and patience (Tebow’s middle names), and a whole lotta faith, and that’s where we come in Pats fans. Here we go again!

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ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON “ON HER GAME” SPORTS BLOG 6.28.13
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