Devote Yourself to creating something that gives you purpose . . .

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

Tuesdays with Morrie, author Mitch Albom

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Events for November and December 2010

Check out the following events to keep your finances in check during the holidays:

 Upcoming Events - November & December

Thank you for sharing Bobbie Twa, Changing Directions

January 21-22, 2011 - Another Event for Women

Thank you for sharing Cindy (Marinko) - West Michigan Spa & Wellness

November 13, 2010 - Pamper and Protect

Thank you for sharing: Dr. Sara Young, Lakeshore Family Chiropractic Health & Wellness

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Books Needed

Do you have books that your kids no longer read? Do you want to do something amazing with those books that will help children who want to have a library in their school?

We have an opportunity to donate our books between now and Thanksgiving.

Pat VanSlooten has brought it to my attention that she is on a mission to start a small library at Rainelle Christian Academy in Rainelle, West Virginia (population 1513). This small community could use our help. We are in need of books for all grades K-12.

If you would like to make a donation, please bring your books to Spring Lake Presbyterian Church at 760 E. Savidge Street, Spring Lake, MI 49456.

All books will be accepted whether new or used, classic novels, biographies, history, educational, or just plain fun.

If you have any questions, feel free to give Pat a call at 616 847-3604 or drop off your books at the church.

If you are coming to the next 3 Degrees Connected Event, November 9, 2010, feel free to bring books with you.

Thank you,

Rhonda Geneva

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Four "IF's" by Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn is one of my all time favorite speakers who not only knew how to communicate, but how to communicate well. The Four "If's" shares some insight that he has about making life worthwhile.

Over the years, as I’ve sought out ideas, principles and strategies to life’s challenges, I’ve come across four simple words that can make living worthwhile.

First, life is worthwhile if you LEARN. What you don’t know will hurt you. You have to have learning to exist, let alone succeed. Life is worthwhile if you learn from your own experiences—negative or positive.

We learn to do it right by first sometimes doing it wrong. We call that a positive negative. We also learn from other people’s experiences, both positive and negative. I’ve always said that it is too bad failures don’t give seminars. Obviously, we don’t want to pay them, so they aren’t usually touring around giving seminars. But that information would be very valuable. We would learn how someone who had it all, messed it up. Learning from other people’s experiences and mistakes is valuable information because we can learn what not to do without the pain of having tried and failed ourselves.

We learn by what we see, so pay attention. We learn by what we hear, so be a good listener. Now, I do suggest that you should be a selective listener. Don’t just let anybody dump into your mental factory. We learn from what we read, so learn from every source. Learn from lectures. Learn from songs. Learn from sermons. Learn from conversations with people who care. Always keep learning.

Second, life is worthwhile if you TRY. You can’t just learn. Now you have to try something to see if you can do it. Try to make a difference. Try to make some progress. Try to learn a new skill. Try to learn a new sport. It doesn’t mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do if you just try. Try your best. Give it every effort. Why not go all out?

Third, life is worthwhile if you STAY. You have to stay from spring until harvest. If you have signed up for the day or for the game or for the project, see it through. Sometimes calamity comes; then it is worth wrapping it up and that’s the end. But just don’t end in the middle. Maybe on the next project you pass, but on this one, if you signed up, see it through.

And lastly, life is worthwhile if you CARE. If you care at all, you will get some results. If you care enough, you can get incredible results. Care enough to make a difference. Care enough to turn somebody around. Care enough to start a new enterprise. Care enough to change it all. Care enough to be the highest producer. Care enough to set some records. Care enough to win.

Four powerful little words: learn, try, stay and care. What difference can you make in your life today by putting these words to work?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

3 Degrees Connected Event - How Well Do You Handle Stress?

Maybe perfect timing for the upcoming holiday season . . . or maybe just great timing for any season. We would love to have you come to our event. Click Register for this event to learn more.

Step by Step - Achieving One's Goals

If you've ever set a big goal and took the steps necessary to achieve it, you will find the excel oration in sharing your accomplishments with others and the interest in helping others to do the same. Early in June I was attending a camp with my daughter and volunteered to work in a marketplace. A gentleman walked up to look at items that were for sale and he was wearing a tee-shirt which read "Million Step Club". I was intrigued by what he had accomplished so I asked him about his shirt. He was more than happy to explain that he and his son had set a goal to walk 1 million steps. After he achieved this goal, he got a tee-shirt. I didn't learn all the details to see if this was an official club, or just a recognition of his accomplishments. That evening I resolved to become part of the 1 Million Step Club.

Knowing that it is recommended that one walk 10,000 steps a day I figured that I could accomplish this goal in about 100 days. Deciding to be generous with myself I resolved to walk 1,000,000 in four months or 120 days.

The first week I found myself chanting "Winners never Quit" and "Quitters never win" as I put on my walking shoes at the end of the day to finish up the last 3,000 to 5,000 steps that I needed in order to meet my daily goal of 10,000. At least a half dozen times I got those last two to three thousand steps by my bedside during the evening news as the mosquitoes were to hungry, or the weather was not desirable to finish my steps. One evening my pedometer wasn't working so I actually walked an hour and a half bedside to get the remaining 4,000 steps I needed. The next morning my electronic devise decided to tell me the truth about the steps that it didn't register the night before. I had actually walked 15,000 steps. No wonder I slept so well!

Now it is day 82 and I started the day with the realization that I have less than 25,000 steps to go. It is remarkable what you can accomplish when you stick whole-heartily to achieving your goals. Remembering the story "Around the World in 80 Days", I started pondering what I had actually accomplished in a little over 80 days myself. On average I walked about 5 miles a day x 80 days; I've actually walked 400 plus miles. My weight has changed by more than 2 pounds since I started this process, but my legs, waist, and face all show signs that I've been up to something good.

This post is to share my accomplishment (two days to go for my million steps), and also to encourage you to take on at least one new goal before the end of September. Write down what you want to accomplish and what will be required of you in order to meet the challenge. I am now formulating my next million steps and setting an additional goal of keeping a journal. Having an account of obstacles and accomplishments will give me more insight to achieving success.

For my next million steps, I'm actually going to see if there is an official million step club that I can join.

Stats: Day with the most steps 18,451, Day with the least steps 9,000. Average steps over the 82 day journey 11,795, Self-esteem - PRICELESS!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Compliments of a Friend

This article was shared by a member of 3 Degrees Connected. The author is unknown.

I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection--the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.
Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality "girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin--a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women …share from our souls with our sisters, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged--not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health!
We are indeed very very lucky.
Sooooo let's toast to our friendship with our girlfriends.Evidently it's very good for our health.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Money - What is Your Relation to It?

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live in a society that did not use money as a means for livelihood?  There are countries in the world where reciprocal arrangements are made to care for the needs of those within a community.  Knowledge of how money works is not a concept that they are familiar with.

In Lynn Twists book, The Soul of Money, she describes a situation where a member of such community moved into our realm and had to learn from scratch how to survive.  In her words,  He began to see how it is in America:  that virtually everything in our lives and every choice we make-the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, the schools we attend, the work we do, the futures we dream, whether we marry or not, or have children or not, even matters of love-everything is influenced by this thing called money.

As foreign as a concept of money is to such a community, it is also a topic that many of us do not question or think twice about . . . money is just money and remains a way of life.  Gaining better insight to the purpose of money and the value we place on it is something we should endeavor to understand.  Lynn says:  We all have an identifiable through largely unconscious and unexamined, relationship with money that shapes our experience of life and our deepest feelings about ourselves and others.  She goes on to say Money has become a playing field where we measure our competence and worth as people. 

Lynn’s books provides great insights on how our society has come to not question the relevance of money and how it drives our lives, our decision, and our self-esteem.  If you would like to question your own ideas of money, I think you will find this book very insightful.  We challenge assumptions about every other facet of life:  race, religion, politics, education, sex, family, and society.  But when it comes to money, we accept it not only as a measure of economic value, but also as a way of assigning importance and worth to everyone and everything else in the world.  

Often times we use the term success to mean wealth, maybe success is a concept that we should also evaluate?   

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lesson of Two Wolfes

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
"One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
 "The other is God - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea

Have you read the book 10-10-10? This book is a very short read, but provides the basis from which we can more clearly evaluate decisions that impact our business or personal lives.  For each decision you make, think of the impact this decision will have in the next ten minutes, ten months, or ten years.  You might find from doing this little exercise that you gain better clarity on how to make wise decisions and may find that some decisions lose their relevance based on looking at them within this context.  Some decisions may have no impact in the next ten minutes, or even within ten months; others may have more relevance on the short-term, but no impact ten years from now.  This book should help one stress less over the decision one makes.  

This book was written by Suzy Welch.

Strength Finder 2.0

Do you know your strengths? Recently a friend recommended a book that she was reading called Strength Finder 2.0 written by Tom Rath. The premise of this book is to help you evaluate your areas of strength and focus more fully on the things that you are good at. The book is organized by 34 Themes, so when you know your strengths you can concentrate on the sections that are most relevant to you. This book provides insight as to what someone with this strength might sound like. It also provides ten insights on ways that you can increase your aptitude in your area of strength and who you might pair yourself with to become more successful.

The book does not encourage anyone to focus on their weaknesses. It also points out that from early childhood, we have been encouraged to spend more time on things that we don’t do well. A child who does not do well in math is instructed to spend more time in math to master the skill. This conditions us to focus on our weakest areas, which although makes sense in education, it might not be sound principles on which to build a life or a career.

In our network, 3 Degrees Connected, it is our hope that we will encourage you to seek out individuals who are good in the areas you either do not have skill or interest. For example, as a business owner, you might find that math/finance is not your strong suit. Instead of trying to master this skill, hire someone to help you who has been trained and has interest in this detail work. Spend your time on areas where you can be more productive.

When you purchase the book Strength Finder 2.0, read part one. Go to the back of the book and get the access code which provides access to testing on the Internet. Take the short 35 minute quiz and within minutes you will have a report listing your “top five areas”. For less than $25 (the cost of the book), you will gain new insights that can improve your chances of success. Enjoy improving skills in areas that you already have a natural talent.

If you are reading a book that has given you more insight on how to succeed in business, please don't hestitate to share it with us and tell us how the book inspired you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Most Important Time

The wait is over. This moment is here and it is time to live.

Whatever could have been or should have been, doesn't
matter. This moment is here and now for you to live.

Live it fully and richly, as if this is the only time there
has ever been and the only time that will ever be. This is
not a time for regret or blame or putting off until later.

This is your time to live. Feel how exquisitely amazing it
is to be, and give the best of yourself to right now.

This moment you can stop giving energy to your limitations.
Give your energy to joy and creation and authentic

The most important time in your life is here right now. Live
it like it really matters, because it absolutely does.

Ralph Marston

Submitted by Becky Forton, Mary Kay Cosmetics Consultant. Thank you Becky

Athena Awards - Nominations

Lakeshore ATHENA Award Program is Seeking Nominations!
On Tuesday, October 5, 2010 the sixth annual Lakeshore ATHENA Award Program will present the prestigious ATHENA Award to an individual who has attained and personifies the highest level of professional excellence in her/his business or profession, has devoted time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community while assisting women in reaching their full potential and one who exhibits the spirit of regional collaboration. The Lakeshore ATHENA Award Program was created to seek out and honor shoreline leaders who exemplify the ATHENA philosophy.
The recipient is selected from nominations; we need your help indentifying those potential candidates! You may nominate yourself or undoubtedly within your network, there are individuals who are outstanding professionals and community leaders. We strongly encourage resubmitting names of past nominees. Although there is only one recipient recognized annually, the honor is in the nomination. Click here for Nomination Form. Forms must be completed and returned to the address listed on the Nomination Form by July 16, 2010.

The Lakeshore ATHENA Program is a collaborative venture presented by the Chamber Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, Holland Area Chamber of Commerce and the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce. The program luncheon will be held at the Trillium Banquet and Conference Center 17246 Van Wagoner Rd, Ferrysburg/Spring Lake from 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm. on Tuesday, October 5th where the recipient will be announced!

Information provided by Pamela Blake (Grand Haven Chamber of Commerce)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why Businesses Fail

Business survival rates are bleak . . .
I've seen figures between 80% and 90% of all business start ups fail within the first five years.  Knowing the reason why so businesses fail should help a new business avoid falling into the same trap. 

According to the author, Michael Gerber, when one becomes self-employed they take the "technical" mind-set into business which is the personality that is associated with getting tasks done.  When a "technician-turned-business-owner" runs  a business, the focus of the business is upside down.

There are three personalities that one must balance in order to succeed in business: 
  1. Entrepreneur - the visionary
  2. Manager - the pragmatist
  3. Technician - the doer
As a new business owner, one believes that they are their business; however, according to Michael Gerber it is important to separate yourself from your business.  Your business must be customer-focused, because without a clear picture of your customer and what they expect from your business, no business can succeed.

Rather than paraphrase his book, read "The E-myth Revisited" to see if there might be a clue why your business is not progressing the way you think it should.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Women's Support

There was a time where women stood together in a bond of sisterhood, women supporting women . . .

This article was submitted by Bonnie Braun, and has a lot of relevance to the mission of 3 Degrees Connected.  Thank you Bonnie for passing this on to us.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One of Our Members - New Website

If you’re looking for a great photographer, or just looking at ideas on how to create a great website, check out Jennifer Morse's site. Her husband did a phenomenal job helping her with the design layout.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Have You Considered Going Online with Your Business?

Have you considered going online with your business.  Attached you will find a helpful link to show you the benefits of getting an online presence

Click the link:  Establish Your Online Presence to watch this video. 

Other helpful videos includes:

Display Imagery on Your Website
Engage Customers with a Website
Interact with Your Customers Using Free Marketing
Promote Using Free Online Marketing
Educate Your Customers Using Free Marketing
Grow with Paid Online Advertising
Measure Results with Web Analytics
Google & SBA

This video series is made available through the support of Google and the SBA

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This is my Why

This Sunday I've been invited to speak to our church family about the mission we've adopted to collect pennies over the summer from our lakeshore community. This is what I plan to share:

Happy Mother's Day,

On March 26, 2004 a tiny baby girl was born in Yangjiang City, Guangdong Province China. On April 10, 2005 a baby who was conceived in my heart, but not in my tummy was placed in my arms which became the happiest day in my life, next to my wedding day to Pete, of course. For nearly three years, my husband Pete and I talked about becoming parents, and on that day we held a 17 pound, 12 month old baby girl who was and still is the most precious child in our whole world.

For nearly a year while we waited to bring Yang Guo Qian home, I had read as much as I could to understand the circumstances that led so many women in this area of the world to relinquish their rights to be mothers. And I’ve cried many tears for them. In the past five years I’ve continued to read about the plight of women and children in other parts of the world, not just in China.

This past year I came across the book 3 Cups of Tea, a story about Greg Mortensen, who learned of a condition in the Middle East where nearly 130 million children had no access to a formal education. Many of us may never truly understand the hearts and minds of people from this area of the world who are desperate for a better life, but in early 1993 Greg learned of 84 children in a small village in Pakistan who wanted an education, who had to share a teacher with a neighboring community. They had no school building, no desk, no chair, no pencil, paper, or school books. These children were writing with sticks in the sand hoping some day to have an education that would lead to a better life.

Now Dr. Greg, as he is called by the children, has built 131 schools in this region of the world where 118 million children are still waiting for a school and a teacher. 78 million of those children are girls. Through a program called “pennies for peace”, school-age children have raised the vast majority of the money that has helped him build these schools.

When I became a mother in 2005, I move away from a 20 year career working for large corporations and another 7 years installing software in nearly 300 automotive based supply companies. In 2007 I started my own company after inventing a product, and last year, I created an organization called 3 Degrees Connected, which is a women’s network aimed at helping business women in West Michigan make connections to help stimulate the growth of their businesses, and to share lessons learned. We want to help women to not feel alone in the learning process.

In a little more than a year, this organization has become a non-profit organization and we have grown to about 300 women interested in making connections. We meet 3 times a year and talk about things like setting goals, time management, networking skills, marketing, dressing for success, and how to run businesses on a shoe-string budget. We would like to become a 501(c)3 organization when we come up with the funds to do so.

We have a local interest in helping women, but as this organization has developed, I’ve tried to help women understand, that our lives with our stresses is so much more appealing than the life given to women and children elsewhere. We have the ability to make a difference. We have taken on the service project to raise awareness, and raise pennies through the program “pennies for peace”. You will see canisters in local stores throughout our community where we will be saving pennies to help purchase school supplies, or build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We will be collecting money from May – August this year, and with the help of young girls through Girls Scouts Troops or Girls on the Run, we hope to count those pennies. We hope that we will teach people the value of a penny creating an opportunity for educating children, where a teachers salary is about a $1 a week.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is, we would like families within our church to collect pennies for the next 3 months. We would also ask that you share this message with other families you know outside this church. Take a recycled water bottle, place it on your kitchen counter and begin to fill it with pennies. Bring it back to church or deposit at one of our local businesses that has a canister, and let’s see what a difference our community can make to improve the lives of others. If anyone has a business where they would like a canister, please look me up, give me a business card, and we will make sure you get a canister.

Within a year, you will see many more signs of this mission showing up in the community through book clubs, tea receptions, and school district involvement. We’ve already made some great connections with two universities and hope to develop more understanding of the plight of women in children in our world.

The reason that I have posted this story on our women's network, is that I want to encourage all women to "know their why". "Why are you running your business, why are you involved in a women's network, why would you give to a good cause." When you know your "why" it makes all the difference in the world. Don't just know it in your head . . . write it down on a piece of paper.

Written by Rhonda W. Geneva, President of Geneva Girls Designs, LLC, wife, and mother

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fundraising Campaign - May through August

3 Degrees Connected LLC,

Founded in 2009 is a non-profit women’s network created to support women-owned, women operated businesses in West Michigan. We holds 3 events a year with the mission of stimulating the local economy, building relationships, and providing resourceful information that helps women succeed in running small businesses. We support women both locally and abroad. We have formed a KIVA lending group that contributes loans to women run businesses in other parts of the world, and now are beginning a lakeshore fundraising initiative to support educating girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan through the program called “Pennies for Peace”.

This group has grown from one person to nearly 290 women in less than a year. To learn more about our organization 866 587-2963 or email:

Visit us on the web at:

Pennies for Peace,
A program of the 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, Central Asia Institute, founded by Greg Mortenson. Greg is the co-founder and executive director of Central Asia Institute, and co-author of the #1 NY Times Best-sellers, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School At A Time.

The Pennies for Peace service-learning program began at Westside Elementary School in River Fall, WI in 1994, when students, through their own initiative, raised 62,340 pennies to help Greg build his first school in Pakistan. Greg came to Westside at the invitation of his mother, Jerene Mortenson, who was the principal at Westside. This initial fundraising event, children filled two 40 gallon trash cans with pennies. While a penny is virtually worthless, in impoverished countries a penny buys a pencil and opens the door to literacy.

Learn more about this program at:

Look for our canisters at local West Michigan businesses.  We are pleased with the great response to participate with us on this fundraising effort.  100% of the proceeds will go to the pennies for peace program.  Area students and girl scout troops will contribute their time to helping us count the pennies we collect.

3 Degrees Connected - Event Give Aways

Three people attending our fifth 3 Degrees Connected networking events walked away a little richer for the experience.

Our door prize a Scentsy Candle Warmer donated by Betty Bickford, Independent Scentsy Consultant went to Mary Teitsma, Keller-Williams RealtyTeitsma-Team

Our new member drawing(s) went to:

Randi Lynn Talsma, Second Chance Design in Holland won a reversible canvas embroidery tote with the inscription "Grow"  in English and Chinese Characters from Rhonda Geneva of Geneva Girls Designs, LLC

Suzanne Thompson of Fruitport Schools won a Satin Hands kit from Yvonne Viera, Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Items will be delivered this week to our new members.

We welcome for our six new members joining 3 Degrees Connected:

Cara Fisher, Cara L. Fisher, PLLC
Mary Teitsma, Keller Williams Realty
Sheila Gonnella, Kicked Up Catering
Randi Lynn Talsma, Second Chance Design
Suzanne Thompson, Startup Business TBA
Bonnie Braun, FHMT

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tea Reception

If you've been listening lately you may have discovered a link between "3 Degrees Connected" and "3 Cups of Tea". 

If you not heard about our organization, we would like to tell you that we are a group of women in West Michigan who are learning that by making connections, we can encourage women to follow their dreams of owning their own company or being responsible for their own destiny.  These connections are a vital part of creating word of mouth referrals for local owned or operated businesses.  This is only a small part of what this organization stands for.  Although we are focused on West Michigan, we also help women and girls a world a way by becoming more educated on the plight of women throughout the world and assisting where we can.  

If you've not heard of "3 Cups of Tea", you've missed a New York Best Seller, and an excellent account of how one man pursued a mission to build a school in Pakistan primarily focused on meeting the educational needs of girls.  Since 1996 his dream to build one school has turned into a mission to educate as many children as possible.  As of his last writing, in the book "Stones to Schools", Greg Mortensen has built 131 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

You might think that is a great accomplishment in such a short amount of time and indeed it is.  At a recent program at Grand Valley State University where Greg spoke, he indicated that in 2001 there were 800,000 children between the ages of five and fifteen who were enrolled in school.  By 2010 this number has increased to 8.5 million children with 2.5 million of those children being girls.  While Greg was growing up in Africa, he learned an old proverb that went something like this "Educate a boy and you change an individual, educate a girl and you change a village". 
Although the availability of education in Pakistan and Afghanistan has greatly improved in the past decade, there are still 118 million children in Pakistan and Afghanistan who have no access to education.  Of those school-aged children 78 million are girls.

Why do we care?  Well, as a non-profit organization, 3 Degrees Connected has set forth a mission that we want to help women.  The Pennies for Peace program is a way that we as an organization can involve our community, by collecting pennies.  When Greg first started his mission to build one school, his largest donation was made by school children in Wisconsin.  They donated 63,000 pennies.  Realizing that in our society pennies are viewed as worthless coins, we would like to collect those "worthless" coins and make a difference through purchasing school supplies and/or contributing toward the building of a school.  The Central Asian Institute is the organization behind the Pennies for Peace program and they provide a wealth of resourceful information to show how these pennies are changing the world.

We will kickoff our Pennies for Peace campaign by sharing our first cup of tea on Saturday, May 22, 2010 at KP Galley in Spring Lake Michigan.  Anyone wishing to help us with our pennies for peace campaign can come by KP Galley at 9 a.m.  We will begin planning our community-wide tea reception slated for next spring.  We had planned a community-wide tea reception, but circumstances indicated that it was wiser to put all our efforts into our penny collection this year and having a larger kickoff event in the spring of 2011. 

We will be collecting pennies along the lakeshore from May through August 2010 and with the aid of several local Girl Scout troops, we will count and roll pennies throughout the summer months.  If you would like to help us count, please stay tune for date and location.

Monday, April 12, 2010

20 Ideas You Don't Want to Miss

Recently my husband, who is a tax accountant, share this article with me.  The article shared many things that I have tried, but it has shared tips that I had never heard about.  This informative article was written by Alan Half and published in the AICPA newsletter on March 15, 2010: 

20 Ideas You Don't Want to Miss

I especially like point number #16 Get More Clients.  The tip is "send out cards".  If you would like to know more about "Send Out Cards", come see me on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at KP Galley in Spring Lake, MI at 5:30 p.m..  I will be showing the product, talking about the business opportunity and changing lives one card at a time.

For directions click on the map link below:
KP Galley

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pennies for Peace

3 Degrees Connected Women's Network is gearing up for a fundraising event.  Mark your calendars for May 22, 2010 for our kickoff program at Spring Lake Presbyterian Church.  We are hosting a tea reception with the message of making a difference through supporting the program "pennies for peace" and focused on the mission of Greg Mortensen to promote peace through education. 

Greg Mortensen spoke at GVSU on Tuesday evening, April 6, 2010 to a packed field house.  His speech included not only his mission, but he spoke of a fourteen year old boy in Tampa, Florida who was raising funds for his own cause by walking with his "little red wagon".  What a great inspiration to school children giving them the message that they can make a difference in our world.

To visit a photo gallery, follow the MLIVE link below: 
Greg Mortonsen visits West Michigan

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So You Want To Start Your Own Business

Brain Tracy has written an insightful article in Success that I have shared below:
In this age of rapid economic expansion, it’s currently easier than ever to start your own successful business. People from different backgrounds, with varying degrees of limitations, have all started and built thriving businesses. And they’ve enjoyed varying levels of success by focusing on three key components.

First, you must find the right business for you. Next, you need to be passionate about the business you choose. And lastly, you must be willing to dedicate time and effort to the business before realizing any fruits from your labor. Follow these basic principles, and you, too, can be an entrepreneurial success story.

To read the rest of the article, click the link below:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Free Webinar Today

The Correct Way to Set and, more Importantly, Maintain Vision and Goals

City: West Michigan Business Owners Webinar Series #3

date: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Time: 11:00 AM Eastern


Click Here to Register: The Correct Way to Set and, more Importantly, Maintain Vision and Goals

REGISTER ON LINE When you first opened your company you were probably excited and nervous all at the same time. You did your due diligence of creating plans for your company envisioning where you would like the business to go. Over a small period of time you quickly found that the operational work put you into a conundrum which was balancing working IN the company and trying to" market it" in order to grow it. While working IN the company all of those plans and goals took less precedence as all of the "fires" took your vision away from the end goals. The vision now turned into getting through the next day and the goals became month to month sales. The ultimate vision was now a far off goal that you think of every once and again.

On Wednesday the 24th, our presentation will be to help business owners get back to the re-establishment (possibly even re-structuring) of their ultimate vision of the company, establishing goals to keep the vision at the forefront at all times, and set milestones to measure their success. We will give examples of how many companies consider their vision an impossible dream or a blurb on the wall and we will demonstrate how, if created and monitored in the correct ways, the vision serves as a guide for the entire company helping the company to work in unity towards the same purpose.

If you feel that your company is not being strongly guided towards your vision or that your vision isn't clear enough to those in the company, or yourself, then this webinar is for you. Be sure to tell others that you feel would greatly benefit from this webinar to attend and/or post it to your groups on linked in or feel free to tweet it. Our goal for this webinar is to share the information that we have obtained through working with many business owners and to stress the need for owners to define their vision and implement it throughout the company.

"Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe". Gail Devers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Networking - the "Don't List"

On the third Thursday of the Month, a local group called "Businesses Helping Businesses" provides a free program in support of small business entrepreneurs. This month's topic was networking where we had two speakers, one focusing on face-to-face networking, and the other focused on social media. With permission, I am reprinting a list that was provided containing the "Don't of Networking".

Don't Act Desperate - people prefer to associate with successful people. If they think you are desperate, they will avoid you like the plague.

Don't Sell - Never enter into any networking situation with the intention of selling. Networking is not sales; its relationship building.

Don't Monopolize - Respect the value and short supply of other people's time. Appreciate that your contacts are also attending to meet people and build relationships.

Don't Ask too Soon - Avoid asking for help until you've developed a relationship with your contact.

Don't Solicit Competitors - Don't ask for or expect help from those who are in direct competition with you. Be realistic.

Don't Show Off or Brag - Nobody likes braggarts and blowhards, except their mothers, and even that isn't always so.

Don't Interrupt - It's rude and turns everyone off. It tells people that you think that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say.

Don't Just Talk About You - Besides irritating others, you won't learn anything by talking only about yourself.

Don't Play it By Ear - Anticipate and be prepared. Have a killer 15-second "elevator speech" prepared to deliver along with the follow-up information that they might request.

Don't Misrepresent You - The purpose of networking is to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. If you pretend to be what you are not, sooner or later you will be caught.

Don't Promise What You Can't Deliver and Don't Pry - Be clear about information you need, but don't ask questions about areas that seem confidential.

Don't Linger with Losers and "Hangers-On" - Your time is valuable and if you let them, some people will take as much of it as you allow. They latch onto you, try to take whatever they can get that could help them and are hard to shake.

Don't Over-Extend - Select a few prime targets that you think you can realistically reach and put them on your "A" List. Be realistic; concentrate your utmost efforts on a few worthy targets, and place the rest on your "B" List. (All of your fellow group members should be on your "A" List. These are the people who will see you. Your meeting should be the most important appointment for the week.)

Don't Be Discouraged - Most good things take time, patience, and work. When you try to build relationships, you are attempting to become a part of someone’s life and many desirable people won't let you right in.

Source:  Networking Magic" - provided by Pamela Blake, Grand Haven Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to Focus on Personal Success

Recently I was reading the book "When Money Isn't Enough:  How Women are Finding the Soul for Sucess" written by Connie Glaser.  In this book Connie tells of relevant stories where women learned to redefine their business success not by staying the course, but my expanding themselves beyond what they previous knew. 

A story about Debra Esparza talked she was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" by her high school classmates, and then shortly after her ten year reunion she realized that she had been living up to other expectations of her, rather than forging her own sense of what she would like to accomplish in life.  When the money she earned produced less satisfaction by the things it would buy, she decided it was time to re-evaluate her direction.

If any of you have asked "what am I here for?" or "what difference does my life make on those around me?", it might be time to re-evaluate your direction too. 

Esparza found her niche first by helping kids in a Young Entrepreneurs program helping kids form their own small businesses (similar to Junior Achievement, but probably more on an individual basis.)  As time went on she found herself working less with children, but more with small business entrepeneurs and the mission grew to help businesses grow and prosper.  This resulted in the development of the Business Expansion Network at USC in 1991.  From this basis, Esparza again refocused her energies and decided that working with kids had more of her heart and after being instrumental in building a program at USC, she returned to her passion to help kids.

Just because you head in one direction doesn't mean you have to remain the course.  Listen to your heart, listen to your calling, and respond to what is best for you.  This is the way to become a true success!

If you've written a business plan for your business endeavors, please read this informational article from Debra Esparza to see if you have developed a plan that focuses on all aspects of your business, not just the financial side.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Standing Ovation

Not So Common Courtesy - Book Review

We like to appluad loudly when something good happens to someone we know. Mitzi Taylor, Author of Not So Common Courtesy received an excellent book review. Read more by clicking on the link above.

If something is going your way, please send us a note at so that we can give you a standing "O" too!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inspiration . . .

Believe while others are doubting.
Plan while others are playing.
Study while others are sleeping.
Decide while others are delaying.
Prepare while others are daydreaming.
Begin while others are procrastinating.
Work while others are wishing.
Save while others are wasting.
Listen while others are talking.
Smile while others are frowning.
Commend while others are criticizing.
Persist while others are quitting.

William Arthur Ward

Friday, February 12, 2010

Getting to Know You

We are eager to get to know one another better. Attached is a simple survey that will help us gather information about you. Please fill out the required questions, and if meaningful to you, please answer the optional questions as well.

This survey should only take a few minutes and will provide us with information that will help us to support you.

Your survey results will not be published without your permission; after reviewing your input, we may contact you to ask if we may share your story with our other readers.

Thank you,

We are currently conducting a survey.

We value your feedback, and would appreciate if you took a few moments to respond to some questions.

Click here to take survey

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Women of the Year Nominations - by March 31, 2010

Distinguished Woman of the Year Award
PO Box 356 Grand Haven MI 49417
Nomination Form
Each year, Counterpart sponsors the presentation of the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award, which recognizes the volunteer service and leadership of one special woman in our community.

Criteria The Nominee must:
• Volunteer at a policy-making level in the Tri-Cities Area
• Demonstrate outstanding achievement in her profession
• Be a leader in the community and maintain high personal and professional ethics
• Reside or work in the Tri-Cities Area

Nominations Nominations for the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award must:
• Be submitted using this form
• Be accompanied by a letter of support in each category:
1) Volunteer work,
2) Professional accomplishments, and
3) Personal qualities
• Additional letters of support are welcome
• Remain confidential (part of the fun is surprising the nominee at the banquet!)
• Mail to Counterpart, P.O. Box 356, Grand Haven, MI 49417
• Digital copies of the completed form and letters of support may also be

mailed to
• In order to quality, all nominations and support material must be received by no later than March 31, 2010

Award Process The Distinguished Woman of the Year Committee will:
• Review all nominations and select the award recipient
• Contact the nominator to inform him/her of the successful recipient
• Work with the nominator in planning for the award banquet to take place at the Spring Lake Holiday Inn on May 5, 2010.
• The award recipient will be announced at the banquet.

Please provide the following information about the nominee (continued on the back):
Nominee's Name ___________________________
Address _____________________________________________________________
Place of employment ____________________________________________________
In letters of support, please discuss how the nominee demonstrates the following:
1. Volunteer work: Active in volunteer work at a policy-making level (e.g.,
school, hospital, non-profit, elective or appointive office). The Woman of the Year directs and shapes her community into a better place in which to live and work.
2. Professional accomplishments: Outstanding achievement and excellence
in her profession or business characterize the Woman of the Year. Colleagues endorse her and recognize her superior abilities. She may have received awards in her field. She is imaginative, creative, and innovative in her workplace. She maintains a high degree of professional ethics, and embodies qualities of leadership, responsibility, fairness, and integrity.
3. Personal qualities: The Woman of the Year is aware of her obligation to
herself, family, and society. She exemplifies a high degree of personal ethics. She is a caring and concerned person whose outstanding character, spirit, and mind are an example for all. Please list any personal obstacles she had to overcome to attain her goals.

Please provide us with your contact information:
Name ________________________________________
Address ______________________________________
Phone _______________________ Email ______________________________
Thank you for participating in the 2010 Distinguished Woman of the Year Award!

For more information about Counterpart, please visit
Please contact Chairperson Wendy Schweifler, 616-566-1437

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How is Your Relationship with Money?

Today I was having lunch with a friend who is a Financial Planner. She has great passion for her work, and even a greater compassion for the people she counsels. We were talking about people's relationship to money. With so many people out of work often the family focus is on how to improve their financial condition (credit scores, bank balances, etc.) Money can influences a lot of our thinking. She and I share the same core beliefs about money, so I felt like she would really enjoy reading a book that I've loved since the first time I read it.

Author, Lynne Twist, wrote the book, "The Soul of Money" in 2003. Since that time Lynne has added a few new titles to her accomplishments. While doing a little research about what Lynne has been up to, I came acrossed this interview. This book is a great source of inspiration and helps to put some perspective on whether money is something that one should be chasing, or whether it's influence is stronger if we merely direct it's use.

If you read, or have read this book, I would enjoy your comments

A Great Invention

As an inventor, I am always humbled by the great minds that create so many wonderful things for us to enjoy. Often I think these things go un-noticed, but I would like to share what has moved to the top of my list, the Kindle. This past week I waited with anticipation for my Kindle to arrive. It was a late Christmas present since the newest version was just released. I cannot recall being so excited for a package to come, like a kid waiting for Santa to come on Christmas Eve.

What is a Kindle, you ask?

It is a "powerful electronic reading enhancement" device with a wireless features which allows you immediate gratification. Where ever you go, you have the ability to select a book, read customer reviews, determine where it is on the New York Best Selling list, and purchase or download a sample in less than sixty seconds. Watch out as your credit card charges may escaluate as it has never been so convenient or easy to read.

What features are irresistible, you ask?

Downloading and Sampling:

My favorite feature, thus far, is having the ability to download a sample of any book for free to read the first and/or second chapters. This allows me a chance to see if I like the context of the book and the author's style of writing. If they cannot impress me in the first ten pages, then I've saved time and money by not making a purchase. Often times when I'm shopping in a bookstore, the cover, the title, and what others have to say about the book influence my decision to buy. Once home with the book I learn that the book does not make a connection with me and it is left to collect dust on my end table. In the privacy of my home, I can take the time I need to sample the book to be sure I want to download and pay for the full version.

Cost of Books:

Books on the Kindle are also less expensive to buy. Books that normally costs $15 to $35 in paper back or hard cover are available in electronic version for $5 to $10. Not to mention the endless titles you can download for free. (This I have not investigated yet.) At last count, there were approximately 350,000 books available for download.

Built in Dictionary:

Another great feature of the Kindle is when you are reading and get caught on a word that you don't know its meaning. Since I'm not a walking dictionary, I often find I just let the word blend into my reading based on the context of the sentence or paragraph, but with the Kindle I have a learning opportunity. I move my cursor to the word and a dictionary appears at the bottom of the screen showing the various meanings of the word.

Saving My Page:

When you have grown tired of reading and turn the Kindle off, it remembers your page. Multiple people can read the book simutaneously, but the second reader would have to use the book mark feature. I'm not sure anyone in my household will find the Kindle sitting idle for long. We will be like kids in a classroom all wanting to play with the same toy!

Reference Guide:

When reading a passage in a book that you want to remember, often times we feel we are defacing a book by highlighting it or making notes in the margin. Some of my favorite books are heavily marked, but not often that easy to remember what was inspiring in what book and where. With the Kindle you have the ability to highlight text (underline), and jot notes using the handy keypad at the bottom of the device. This keeps track of your markings in a "My Clippings Page" which footnotes and references the items you've marked. Using the Menu option, you can select "My Notes and Marks" to see what you found interesting, inspiring, or noteworthy.

Audio Books:

Although this feature is not perfected, most books can be turned into audio books by turning on the "Text to Speech" feature. You can decide whether you prefer to listen to a male or female voice, and can also modulate the speed of the audio to match your preference. Now I will be able to continue reading my books when I'm on the treadmill five to six times a week; oh if that were only true!

Text Direction and Font Size:

The Kindle version that I purchased allows me to flip the direction of my screen to improve the resolution of pictures or text from magazines or newspapers. I can also change the font to lessen the eye strain I experience when reading too long.


Adding accessories will increase the cost of your Kindle, but it will enhance your reading experience. I purchased a leather-bound case which opens like and feels like books I've grown accustom to reading. I also purchased a clip-in nightlight. The Kindle is not a "backlit" device. Its technology appears like a computer screen, but with multiple shades of gray on gray, there is little to no eye strain. I also purchased multiple power cords so I could recharge my Kindle from an outlet or in my car. The battery will last a week without a charge, but it is also nice to know that I can read with my device plugged in. I have good intentions to purchase an earplug so that I can listen to the audio version . . . when I'm walking the the treadmill!

Why am I writing this article, you ask?

Why am I writing about the Kindle in our networking blog? Well two reasons, (1) I love my Kindle, and (2) this is an example of Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOMM).

We as a women's network should strive to create good "WOMM" for each other. Given the opportunity to learn about someone elses business from someone who has experienced with the business owner, their products or services is the most relevant data that we can acquire before making a decision to invest our time or money. In 2010, I would like to find as many ways as we can to provide good "Word-of-Mouth" advertising for not only our members, but others within our community. I will post a forum discussion to allow us to add our Marketing and Advertising ideas. If you search "Kindle" on the Internet, you will find this technique is working very well for Amazon. Add one more WOM to your list, Amazon!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Interview on WGVU Radio - Morning Show with Shelley Irwin

How do we make connections.  Listen to our interview from Friday, January 22, 2010 with Shelley Irwin to learn more about our organization and a connection that we've made for one of our members, Kari Paul, International Student Exchange Midwest Region Coordinator.

Giving Gifts

One of our members is having a birthday today, can you guess who she is? Well, she is a she . . . there's your first clue. She is also an accomplished author, has published a book, she has received four (five star) reviews on She has a great sense of humor , she loves her dog (Lucy), she's beginning a new podcasting venture, and she is one of our two upcoming speakers for 3 Degrees Connected networking event.  (January 27th, 2010)

This post is about giving her a gift. How can we support one another in this fast paced, "me-centered" world? We can reach out and give one another a connection. This esteemed member of 3 Degrees Connected would never ask (at least she hasn't asked me) to give her book an insightful review. If you want to move up the best seller lists, book reviews and word of mouth recommendations play an important part in the success of any book.

*Did you know that 20% of the Word of Mouth Marketing success happens on the Internet which contributes to the 80% (WOM) face-to-face marketing which really makes the difference? I'll share my source of information in a future book review.

To learn more about this book visit the authors website.  One fault, if I might add is the author's generosity.  She suggests that we purchase her book, read it and pass it on to a friend. After the friend has read your copy they are to sign it and return it to you. This is a good idea in getting the message out, but it doesn't promote sales.  If you know someone who cannot afford the $16.95 retail price, by all means share your book, better yet, buy them a copy!

Let's give Mitzi a gift:

1. Purchase her book,

2. Become a fan of her "Not So Common Courtesy"  Facebook page,

3. Suggest a Friend (Facebook),

4. Write an Book Review on (give her lots of stars)

5. Spread the Word,

6. Come meet and greet her at our upcoming event, (1-27-10)

7. Make a suggestion where she might sell her book,

8. Bring a dog biscuit for Lucy!

Although I have one signature in my copy, I'm very selective on who I share it with and who I encourage to buy a copy!

Happy Birthday, January 22 . . . Mitzi Taylor, Owner: Not So Basic Training, Author: Not So Common Courtesy.

Generosity is the habit of giving freely without coercion. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait.  [wikipedia]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sales Tax - Avoiding Costly Mistakes

There are many responsibilities that come with owning your own business. Depending on the type of business you operate, one responsibility you may have is collecting and remitting sales tax to the State. The Michigan Sales tax rate is 6%. In Michigan, every individual or business that sells tangible personal property to the final consumer must obtain a sales tax license.
This is true regardless of the size of your business, the amount of sales that are made or whether your business has a net profit. This is a pass through tax that is collected from your customers and has no effect on your profitability.

To obtain a sales tax license, an application (Form 518, Registration for Michigan Taxes) should be submitted to the State of Michigan prior to or at the time the business begins. This may be submitted online by completing the registration form found on the State of Michigan website ( There are no fees associated with obtaining a sales tax license.

After completing the registration, you will receive coupons that are to be used when submitting your payments. These coupons are used to make payments for use and withholding taxes as well as sales tax. Sales, use and withholding taxes are due annually, quarterly, or monthly depending on your total tax liability for the year. Below are the annual tax liability thresholds that will determine how often you must file.

  • Less than $750 – annually
  • Between $750 and $3,600 - quarterly
  • Over $3,600 - monthly.
Once a sales tax license has been obtained, you can make purchases for resale without paying sales tax on the items. To get this exemption, you must fill out Form 3372, Michigan Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Exemption, and provide it to the seller.

Due to the economic conditions in Michigan, the need to generate additional revenue has increased in recent years. One way the State is trying to accomplish this is through sales tax audits. The books, records and papers of any person liable for payment of sales tax may be examined by the State at any time. It is important that complete and accurate records of all sales are kept, regardless of whether or not the seller feels the sale is taxable or non-taxable. In the absence of adequate records, the State can use any information available to determine if an underpayment of liability exists. If it is found that additional tax is due, penalties and interest will be assessed on top of the liability. Therefore, it is essential for taxpayers to report the correct tax liability from the start.

This article is intended to provide some basic information regarding sales tax in Michigan. Additional information can be found on the State of Michigan web-site at

This article was submitted by Rhonda Herzhaft, CPA with Conn, Geneva, and Robinson CPA Firm. Rhonda has ten plus years of tax accounting related experience.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Privacy on the Internet

You may have seen articles like the one that is attached to this post, but since so many of us are new to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Blogging, I felt it was worth sharing to avoid the pitfalls associated with open dialogue on the Internet.

Rob Douglas, of Identity Theft.Info share his thoughts in an article published in the newsletter called Bottom Line Secrets.  His article entitled "What Never to Say on Facebook . . . MySpace . . . or LinkedIn", isn't advice for the parents of children experimenting with social networking, but for the adult who may be using this tool to keep in touch with friends and family.


Monday, January 4, 2010

January 27, 2010 - Our Next Event

Welcome to 2010, as you approach this new decade . . . are you interested in revitalizing your business? Setting goals should be at the top of your priority list. 3 Degrees Connected™ is interested in your business success, so our January event has been designed to assist you in either setting goals, or re-accessing the goals you already have.

· Have you taken time to write down specific goals for your business?

· Are you goals written in such a way that you can evaluate how well you are achieving them?

· Is your success measured on a “gut feel” or do you have a method to evaluate your progress?

· Have you shared your goals with others who may be interested in helping you make the right business connections?

Many women fail to plan for their businesses, and as the old saying goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

Let’s hope not! But how can you aim for a target that doesn’t exist? If you want to make the most of networking and stimulate the growth of your business, we suggest that you start by writing down your business goals.
We would like to encourage you to pay attention to the goals you have committed to paper. Without evaluation, goals are nothing more than resolutions that are quickly forgotten.
Last we would like to share your goals with others. Whether you think of this as accountability or encouragement is up to you; however, if no one knows your goals, how can they assist you in the process or working toward achievement? Our January meeting has been set to help you create S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals for your business. This best part, this event is FREE!

And . . . who couldn't use a little help in the area of Time Management? January's meeting will also provide some insight on how to evaluate whether you are making the best use of your time. Mitzi Taylor from Not So Basic Training will be sharing advice on how to establish "SMARTER" goals, and apply Time Management principles that can help redirect your business in the New Year.

Winter in Michigan . . . where do you find your source of energy as the sun hides behind the clouds? Who wouldn't be interested in learning how to create energy in your workspace using the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water? Jenna Boyd from Elements of Harmony will discuss how to use the principles of Feng Shui to create new energy which can lead to greater prosperity, increased productivity, create new business opportunities, or amplify your business connections. Learn about her upcoming workshops. Sound interesting?

Event Registration:

To Register for this free event, Click here, space is limited to the first 100 registered guests.

Please send a link to this post to any West Michigan business women you think would be interested in joining our network or coming to this upcoming event. 

If you would be interested in contributing an article to this blog, please contact Rhonda Geneva at