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

Video Professor

Video Professor Review

Whether you are trying to learn how to work with popular word processing programs, or navigate the difficult paths towards selling items on eBay, video professor is there to teach you everything you need to know about computer applications and the internet. With over fifty tutorials available on an easy to view disc, it is easy to learn everything that you need to know.

Never again will you be accused of being non-computer friendly, or be behind the times with the applications you are expected to use in the office on a daily basis. You can learn at your own pace, on your own schedule – about programs that you want to learn about. Whether you are trying to learn a program without any background knowledge, or just brush-up on the techniques of the program – these tutorials are suited for beginners to those with novice experience.

With interactive lessons, many find themselves learning sooner than they have with other programs – which they spent hundreds of dollars, and hours upon hours of study on. Now, the courses are available on the internet, so even those with the most basic of internet skill are able to learn with ease, on their own schedule, through the use of the convenient internet applications that demonstrate examples and teach lessons as each tutorial evolves.

How do you know these lessons are right for you? An hour is the average length of the video professor tutorials, and people are always shocked at how much they were able to learn within one short hour. Although many of the lessons go over an hour, the information presented is organized in such a fashion that it teaches as much as possible in the shortest period of time. Each lesson has been fine-tuned to be as effective as possible, and can be watched again and again to brush up on the skills learned within the interactive tutorial. Even one of the most difficult programs to master, Microsoft Excel, sees success when students are taught by video professor.

Programs difficult to master, like Photoshop could cost up to five hundred dollars to learn in a classroom environment. Considering, that lessons can be obtained for a percentage of that price, why wouldn’t you want to try that out? Whether you are an aspiring photographer or an amateur trying to brush up your photo retouching skills – video professor is for everyone! With detailed tutorials, learning tools and interactive features that debunk the myths of the internet, it is possible to learn any program within the program!

There are many benefits to taking these tutorials on the internet. Not only can you take them when you have the time, but you can get the same information that is taught in many college classrooms throughout the country, for a fraction of the price.

Video professor is so sure about their services that they offer a free tutorial to new customers, to gauge how much can be learned from only one session of video professor. These samples are well-placed and should be tried before you choose which program you are going to learn about next. Get a free trial of the Video Professor [http://couponredeemer.com/videoprofessor] program with our coupon plan.

Spruce Up Your House by Gardening!

It’s a good time to start thinking and planning ahead for your garden. A neat and tidy front yard can enhance a property, but a beautifully planned one can really make an ordinary house look special.

Some accessories that will make your yard look really good can be very inexpensive. Most of us are on a budget, especially these days when we never know how much it will cost to fill up our gas tank. Sometimes at this time of the year, you can find last year’s garden accessories discounted. Benches or garden lights may be listed for sale before the new stock comes in.

There are some basic rules which apply to every garden. Before you start you should try and afford a soil test. This is quite inexpensive and either your local nursery or the Internet will tell you how to go about it. You can also buy do-it-yourself kits. The second thing is to dig compost into your garden, and now (winter) is a good time.

If you are having a soil test carried out, you will know from the results if you should add any other nutrition to your soil. A soil test will mean you will not be buying the ‘wrong’ shrubs, plants etc for your soil type.

There is one last thing that you should monitor: how long and where the sun shines on different parts of your garden. Plants can thrive without direct sunlight, but only if you plant a type that likes the shade. This can still include many bright, colorful plants (i.e. impatiens), so you can still brighten up dull areas.

Once you decide to buy, you do not want to waste your money by having the plants or shrubs die on you. The soil test will curb some of these mistakes. The other thing to do is to look up, on the Internet or from a book, your particular growing zone. If you live in an area where, for instance, you come into the ‘Hardiness Zone’, it will enable you to pick the type of plant that has the best chance of surviving in your type of climate.

Always put short and stocky plants in front of taller ones. Remember to check the expected height to know this information – do not decide by the height at purchase time. Remember that short and stocky plants are generally tougher and more resilient, so choose more of these.

Try to resist buying plants in bloom at the time of purchase. The ones that still have to bloom will probably be stronger for the transplant process. If you have more shady areas than you wish, think about drastically trimming a tree to get more sunlight onto certain patches. Remember that some plants like a lot of water, so group these together to make the watering less laborious for you.

There are many small accessories that will really make your yard stand out. Obviously a strategically placed bench -or chairs and small table- under a tree will look welcoming and relaxing. A small bridge can really enhance a yard, and you can use it as a focal point for a few reeds or grasses to give the impression of water. Or if you feel daring you can try digging your own long shaped pond. Instructions on this are easy to find in books or on the ‘net.

For cheap plants (in fact free ones!) buy a can of ‘rooting powder’ and offer to swap cuttings with your neighbors. It is not recommended to sneak out at midnight with your scissors in hand!!

Credit Card Debt Consolidation – The Hidden Dangers

Credit card debt consolidation sounds great, pay off high interest bills, but credit card debt consolidation has hidden dangers that you must be aware of before you proceed. Drowning in debt can be frustrating and anxiety filled but make sure the relief you seek is truly beneficial to you, let’s discuss what to watch out for.

Credit card debt consolidation loans offer the ability to swoop in and pay off your high interest card debt, allowing you to apply more of your payments towards your balance owed and seize control of your finances back from your creditors. It seems like an easy choice on the surface, and in most cases it is beneficial but there are some common financial traps you must avoid if you get a consolidation loan.

Remember that your new loan is just that, a loan, with financing fees and charges for the approval of your new consolidation loan. This in and of itself is normal, but be wary of companies that charge very high financing charges for the privilege of your loan. You may be reducing your rates with the new loan but there is no reason that you should pay more than you have to finance your consolidation.

Many credit card debt consolidation companies will offer to negotiate settlement of your debt on your behalf with your creditor. What this means is they will negotiate with your debt holder to have a portion of your debt forgiven in return for an immediate pay off of the remaining amount with the consolidation loan. This is very commonly accepted by credit card companies for delinquent accounts as they would rather write off the debt and get paid a little than risk your bankruptcy and non payment in full.

If you choose to settle your credit card debt, simply be aware of the tax ramifications for doing so, forgiven debt is typically looked upon as income come tax time with the IRS. For large settlements you might wish to seek the consultation of an accountant or tax attorney in order to receive a professional consult for your situation.

Also be aware of the affect settlement and consolidation will have on your credit score. You may already have bad credit, and are not in the process of rebuilding yet, then this won’t concern you much. Settlement of your debt has a negative impact on your credit score, and can take years to rebuild from.

Lastly, always be sure to work with a reputable and trusted online credit card debt consolidation company. There are many services fighting for your business, some promise more than they can deliver. There are companies that have earned their trust over many years through hard work and service to people just like you, stick with them for your next consolidation loan.