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

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.

Accessories:

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 Amazon.com. 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 Amazon.com (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 (www.michigan.gov/treasury). 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 www.michigan.gov/treasury

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.

Article

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 president@3degreesconnected.org.