A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006

Personal Budgeting: An Imperative

Budgeting is a basic part of accountancy.

Nations, states, cities, towns and every incorporated company have budgets. Every private company, or other commercial entity, worth its salt has a formal budget. So why is it that the vast majority of people do not use a formal budget in their private lives? They do budget of course. We all do in one way or another. But very, very few people have a good enough memory to successfully budget informally – that is, without writing it down. And it's when we forget to allow for some expense that we get into trouble. We get into debt. Is not that just about the worst feeling in the world – to be in unplanned debt?

To be poor is a sad experience – it's a state of mind. To be broke is an uncomfortable experience – but it's a temporary condition. To be in unplanned debt can be gut wrenching. And generally speaking, unplanned debt is just plain carelessness.

Why then does it happen? Simply because in the days before computers and calculators budgeting was a boring and time-consuming task. There was an awful lot of adding up to do and the darned thing had to be continuously adjusted as time went by, usually every month at least. So it was not surprising that most people just did not bother and as the generations passed by, so did the practice of ordinary people not preparing budgets for their personal finances. They just did not think that the value derived from maintaining a personal budget was worth the time consumed.

So what's changed? One very important factor: personal computers – they've just made it so easy that if you do not budget, you're making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself. It is now well and truly worth the very small investment of time to input a few lines of data every week. Because from that the computer can give you more financial reports than one person is ever likely to need. It will produce reports on tax payments; about what you've sent; about where you've spent it, about what you've spent it on and it will do that for any given period of your choosing. It'll find transactions that you've forgotten about but that suddenly you really need to know about. It will tell you how much money you will have in the bank next Christmas (or what you've got to stop spending money on so that you will have the amount of money you need in the bank next Christmas.)

The really big thing is that you will be in charge of your finances. It makes it so easy to explain to your dependents – be it spouse, partner or children; just exactly what the household can afford to spend, on what and when. Ninety-five percent of the arguments about money will go out the window because people will be able to see clearly what can and can not be done. If we buy you that cell phone, we will not be able to buy that game. You get the idea.

What software is best? Well there's no shortage of it. It's not expensive. The best is less than a hundred dollars and you'll save that in no time flat. Check out the choices available, and choose the one which best suits your personal needs. It will be well worth whatever you decide to invest in it. And it will most definitely save you lots of headaches and heartaches in the long run, if used properly.

4 Ways to Lose Weight Before and during the Holidays

Here are 4 tips if you are trying to lose weight before or during the holidays.

When the holidays are approaching, you might be worried about how much weight you might gain. Perhaps you started a diet during the summer and are doing well, but now the trips and big holiday dinners are causing concern. Or you lost weight in the spring and now all those July 4th and summer barbecues are looming. Do not worry! You can still lose or maintain your weight through any holiday season.

Drink Only Water

One of the best ways you can lose weight and continue losing even through the holidays is by drinking more water. The majority of what you drink on a daily basis should be water. We have all heard the 8 cup of water a day rule, right? Another recommendation is to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. Also try to drink a glass of water before and after any other type of drink. So if you are at a holiday party and want a glass of champagne, drink a full glass of water beforehand. You are not allowed another glass of champagne or wine until you have another glass of water. This helps to limit how much alcohol you end up drinking.

Indulge, But Not Too Much

The problem with wanting to indulge during the holidays is that you feel left out if you can not have trees. If you keep denying yourself too much, you might find yourself on Christmas Eve, (or New Year's Eve, or Labor Day weekend), eating everything in sight because you went without for so long. A good way to remedy this is by letting yourself taste everything, but not over-indulging. If you are at Thanksgiving dinner, have a small small portion of each food item, but not a full portion.

Remove 1/3 of Your Meals Immediately

When you are eating out for the holidays, this is another time when you might indulge a little too much. This can make it really hard to lose weight. If you decide to order something that is not as light and fit as it could be, separate your meal immediately. Ask for a to-go container when your food is served. Then take 1/3 of the meal and place it in the container. This decreases how much you end up eating. It also lets the meal last longer.

Top Food With Salsa

Instead of putting cheese, sour cream, or guacamole on top of your food, consider adding some salsa. This adds a lot of seasonings and is extremely low in fat and calories. The majority of salsa is just tomatoes, jalapenos and onions, so there is not much to it.

Domain Names – Selecting The Right Domain Name For Your Online Business

Domain names unrelated to your topic can easily deter potential readers from clicking on your site. As an example, consider a situation where you may decide to invest in an AdSense campaign, or paid search engine placement. Irregardless of where you advertise your site, the domain name is likely to be visible to the reader. If it is unrelated to what they are looking for, chances are they will not click on your site.

Unfortunately, in some cases, the main keyword for your topic may already be included in a number of other domain names. In these instances, you may want to us a domain name that still includes your main keyword, and also a secondary one. That said, it is important to keep your domain name to a comfortable word length, so that it is easy to remember.

Finally, even though hyphens in a domain name may make it possible to use your main topic keywords, they can be very annoying to your potential reader. For various reasons, a potential site viewer may want to type the domain name into the address bar. If you have hyphens in the name, it is easier to mis-type it, and then receive an error message. In all cases, it is important to realize that web surfers rarely have the patience to wade through long domain names, let alone figure out why the error occurred.

Many people want domain names that are fresh and live. Unfortunately, even if the name is very creative, it may not be related to your product or site topic. Aside from this, long or tedious domain names can inhibit potential viewers from returning to your site at a later time.