Category Archives: Success

What Mentally Strong People Do

13thingscover-e1407853185250This post will highlight the book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success by Amy Morin.

The author defines mental strength as being able to regulate your emotions, manage your thoughts, and behave in a positive manner.  Anyone has the power to improve their mental strength.  The benefits of mental strength include:

  • Increased resilience to stress: better equipped to handle problems more efficiently and effectively
  • Improved life satisfaction: behaving according to your values = peace of mind, recognizing what’s really important in life
  • Enhanced performance: helps you reach your full potential

So what are the 13 things mentally strong people don’t do? Then we look at what they do instead.

1) Mentally strong people don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves:

  • Focus on what they can still accomplish with their life
  • Choose to take control and change their attitude
  • Make a conscious decision to celebrate life’s gifts
  • Feel grateful for what they have
  • Volunteer, stay active, and continue to learn new things
  • Look for the silver lining in circumstances
  • Actively problem solve to improve situations
  • Participate in experiences/activities that help them feel better
  • Stay focused on what they do have rather than what they don’t have

2) Mentally strong people don’t give away their power:

  • Set limits to create healthy boundaries
  • Don’t depend on others to regulate their feelings
  • Don’t let others define their self worth
  • Don’t avoid addressing the real problem
  • Don’t become a victim of their circumstances
  • Don’t give other people’s words more power than they deserve
  • Don’t lose sight of their goals
  • Speak up when people hurt their feelings so they don’t grow resentful
  • Forgive those who attack them so they don’t have any more power over them
  • Forgiveness reduces stress, increases tolerance to pain, and can lengthen life
  • Let go of their anger to focus their energy on a worthwhile cause
  • Don’t allow any one person’s opinion to define them
  • Evaluate feedback to determine if it has any validity
  • Remind themselves they have a choice in everything they do, think, and feel
  • Choose to define who they are going to be in life
  • Realize no one else has the power to control how you feel
  • Set healthy emotional and physical boundaries with people
  • Behave proactively by making conscious choices about their responses
  • Take full responsibility for how they choose to spend their time and energy
  • Are willing to examine feedback and criticism without jumping to conclusions
  • Don’t blame others for their own behavior
  • Don’t allow criticism to control how they feel about themselves

3) Mentally strong people don’t shy away from change:

  • Know that staying the same often means getting stuck in a rut
  • Open to learning new things, improving their life, developing healthier habits
  • Focus on what they can do to make a positive difference
  • Make changes based on what is best
  • Don’t allow emotions to make the final decision
  • Create a successful plan for change
  • Create goals they would like to accomplish in the next 30 days
  • Establish accountability and monitor their progress
  • Behave like the person the want to become
  • Set realistic time frames and reach their goals

4) Mentally strong people don’t focus on things they can’t control:

  • Focus on what they can control
  • Don’t waste energy worrying about what they can’t control
  • Point out the positives in others making a genuine effort to create change
  • Stop trying to force people to be different
  • Ask for help when they need it
  • Keep the emphasis on influencing others rather than controlling them

5) Mentally strong people don’t worry about pleasing everyone:

  • Don’t base their self-worth on the way other people seem to perceive them
  • Don’t make decisions based on trying to please everyone
  • They are authentic to who they really are
  • Recognize that worrying about trying to please everyone is a waste of time
  • Know exactly what their core values are so they make the best choices
  • Have more time and energy to devote to their own goals
  • Say no when they don’t want to do something
  • Behave assertively even when speaking up may not be well received
  • Don’t lose sight of who they are and what their values are
  • Don’t automatically say yes to an invitation, they consider if it’s a good choice
  • Don’t agree with people and comply with their requests to avoid confrontation
  • Know that they do not have to go along with the crowd
  • Can express their own opinion even if it goes against what the majority of people think

6) Mentally strong people don’t fear taking calculated risks:

  • Make decisions based on logic
  • Know that emotion interferes with making logical choices
  • Weigh the potential costs against the potential benefits
  • Decide if it will help them achieve their goals
  • Consider the alternatives
  • Ask, “How good would it be if the best scenario came true?”
  • Ask, “What is the worst thing that could happen and how could I reduce the risk that it will occur?
  • Willing to do more research in order to calculate the risk better
  • Resolve to make the best decision possible with all the information that is available
  • Monitor the outcomes of the risks they take
  • Make strategic judgments not blind gambles
  • Are willing to take risks that cause them discomfort
  • Don’t allow irrational thoughts to influence their willingness to try something new

7) Mentally strong people don’t dwell on the past:

  • Shift their thinking to move forward
  • Give themselves something else to think about
  • Establish goals for the future
  • Focus on the lessons they’ve learned
  • Think about the facts, not the emotion
  • Look at the situation differently
  • Make peace with the past
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Accept experiences so they can live in the present

8) Mentally strong people don’t make the same mistakes over and over:

  • Learn from their past mistakes and don’t repeat them
  • Find out what went wrong and what they could have done better
  • Know what they will do differently next time
  • Create a written plan to prevent repeating the same mistakes
  • Establish behavior that will replace the previous behavior
  • Hold themselves accountable and think about alternatives
  • Use positive self-talk and keep their goals in mind
  • Create a list of reasons why they don’t want to repeat your mistake
  • View mistakes as an opportunity to improve themselves for the future
  • Acknowledge personal responsibility for each mistake
  • Don’t make excuses or refuse to examine their role in the outcome
  • Don’t put themselves in situations where they are likely to fail

9) Mentally strong people don’t resent other people’s success:

  • Secure enough not to be threatened by the success of others
  • Avoid comparing themselves to others
  • Focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses
  • Don’t insult other people’s accomplishments
  • Stop trying to determine what is fair
  • Focus on cooperation not competition
  • Happy about others’ accomplishments
  • Create their own definition of success
  • Replace negative thoughts with more rational thoughts

10) Mentally strong people don’t give up after the first failure:

  • Don’t allow failure to define who they are
  • Know that deliberate practice is more important than natural talent
  • Accept that failure is part of the process that helps you learn and grow
  • Realize failure is often part of the journey to success
  • Learn from their failures
  • Understand they will be okay even if they fail repeatedly
  • Rest assured that they are becoming better with each failure
  • Resolve to try again even if previous attempts were not successful
  • Develop a new plan to increase their chance of success

11) Mentally strong people don’t fear alone time:

  • Use alone time to reflect on their goals and set future goals
  • Write in a journal
  • Learn meditation which can improve health, emotions, memory, etc.
  • Take a few minutes every day to be alone with their thoughts
  • Reflect on their goals and progress every day

12) Mentally strong people don’t feel the world owes them anything:

  • Know that life isn’t meant to be fair–that some people have more positive experiences than others
  • Realize they have choices in how they respond to disappointments
  • Spend more time helping others
  • Behave like a team player
  • Focus on their efforts, not their importance
  • Acknowledge their flaws and weaknesses
  • Stop and think about how others feel
  • Don’t keep score
  • Practice humility which makes them stronger
  • Have a healthy amount of self-esteem
  • Focus on what they have to give, not what they want to take
  • Give back to other people in need

13) Mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results:

  • Don’t underestimate how difficult change is
  • Recognize that progress isn’t always obvious
  • Know what kind of results to expect to see in a specific time frame
  • Practice delayed gratification
  • Keep their eyes on the prize
  • Remind themselves of their goals in creative ways
  • Celebrate the milestones along their journey
  • Deal with the feelings of frustration and impatience in a healthy way
  • Pace themselves for the long haul
  • Establish realistic expectations and don’t expect results tomorrow
  • Look for areas in their life where they can improve
  • Focus on finding strategies to help them develop the skills to make progress
  • Develop a plan to help themselves resist temptation
  • Find accurate ways to measure their progress

Maintaining mental strength means…

  • Incorporating mental strategies in your life that will help you reach your full potential
  • Looking at what you’re doing well and build on your strengths
  • Identifying the areas that need improvement and challenge yourself to get better
  • Monitoring your behavior and identify strategies to help you be more productive
  • Regulating your emotions to change how you feel
  • Changing how you think and behave
  • Evaluating your thoughts to make sure they are realistic and productive
  • Asking for help when you need it and surround yourself with supportive people
  • Committing to being a healthy role model for others

Developing mental strength is not about being the best at everything–it means knowing that you will be okay no matter what happens!

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Extraordinary Productivity

extraordinary-productivity

I love the book, The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity by Kory Kogon, Adam Morrill, and Leena Rinne.  The authors explain what they mean about there being a “productivity paradox”.  It is both easier and harder than ever before to achieve extraordinary productivity and feel accomplished in our lives.  We all experience three challenges:
  • The overwhelming flow of decisions we have to make in daily life
  • That our attention is under unprecedented attack with modern technology
  • We feel a drain on our personal mental energy

The authors propose that we make five choices in order to experience extraordinary productivity. Choice 1 is to act on the important, but not to react to the urgent (what feels like it has to be done now, but may not lead to any results).  Borrowing from Stephen Covey, they use his 4 quadrants of how people spend their time.

  • Quadrant 1: Necessity: crises, emergency meetings, last minute deadlines, pressing problems, and unforeseen events
  • Quadrant 2: Extraordinary productivity (what we want to focus on): proactive work, high-impact goals, creative thinking, planning, prevention, relationship building, learning and renewal
  • Quadrant 3: Distraction: needless interruptions, unnecessary reports, irrelevant meetings, other people’s minor issues, unimportant emails/tasks/phone calls, etc.
  • Quadrant 4: Waste: trivial work, avoidance activities, excessive relaxation, TV, gaming, internet surfing, gossip, and other time wasters


They explain that the results we achieve in life are impacted by our discernment.  With practice we can rewire our brain to become more discerning and less reactive.  They recommend settings these goals:

  • Minimize the time spent in Quadrants 1 and 3
  • Eliminate entirely all of the Quadrant 4 time
  • Maximize what we invest in Quadrant 2
  • Speak the language of importance to those around you

The authors say that it takes three steps: pause, clarify, and decide.

  • Is this important?
  • When does this really need to be done?
  • How will this impact what we are currently working on?
  • Is there another resource for getting this done?
  • Where does this fit relative to the other priorities I am working on?

Choice 2 is to go for the extraordinary and not settle for ordinary.  They quote brain expert, Dr. Daniel Amen, “To harness your brain’s power, it needs direction and vision.  It needs a blueprint.”  According to the authors, most people do not take the time to clarify what is most important to them and do not end up spending their time on those things.  They recommend that those seeking to be more productive identify our few most important roles and define what success looks like in each role.  These roles should be:

  • Represent our key relationships and responsibilities
  • Be relevant to our life right now (not the future)
  • Be meaningful to us
  • Give a balanced perspective of our life
  • Be limited to about five to seven (maximum)

We should then determine our vision of success in each role.  Anchor our purpose and passion in a role title and craft a role statement for each role.  Decide what contribution we want to make in each role.  As (role title), I will (extraordinary outcomes) by (specific activities).  The authors remind us that roles are dynamic therefore constantly changing. They discuss the importance of setting SMART goals.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Extraordinary productivity means going to bed each night feeling satisfied and accomplished.  By identifying the few most important roles we play, this gives us a framework for balance, motivation, and fulfillment.  Anchoring our role titles and statements strengthens our ability to make good decisions about our time.  Setting specific Q2 goals helps us direct our brains in the most productive ways.

Choice 3 is to schedule the big rocks, and don’t sort gravel. This is a figurative illustration.  The big rocks represent the important Q2 priorities in our lives.  We are to put those first.  The gravel represents the distractions (Q3) and time wasters (Q4).  If you start with the gravel, then there is no room for the rocks.

Everyone has the same amount of time, but some people can cram more in the spaces than others.  The key is to focus our very best attention and energy on the few priorities that really matter. The authors recommend that we spend thirty minutes each week and ten minutes each day in Q2 planning so we can dramatically increase our ability to be and feel accomplished at the end of every day.

  • Review our roles and goals to see if they connect with our vision for our Q2 life
  • Schedule the big rocks (the 1 or 2 most important things you can do this week)
  • Scheduling a specific time and place to do something represents our higher-level commitment
  • Organize the rest of our time

The bottom line is that we should decide what is most important and get those activities already scheduled before our week begins.  Schedule Q2 times during the week to proactively protect your Q2 priorities.

Choice 4 is to rule our technology and not let it rule us.  Technology in and of itself is not the problem.  It is how conscious and deliberate we are about how we use it that can be a problem.  The book discusses sorting tasks into one of the Core Four.

  • Our appointments set at specific times
  • The tasks we need to do that are not scheduled
  • Our information about people we interact with
  • Other information we want to keep track of that does not fit into any of the other 3 categories

The book asks readers if we know that over 196 billion emails are sent and received EVERY DAY?!  At the moment of choice, we can act to make an appointment or schedule a task or file away contact information and notes.  If this is not something we need, we can trash or delete the email.  No need for our emails to pile up!

Choice 5 is to fuel our fire, but not burn out.  The book discusses five energy drivers:

  • Move (exercising improves memory, brain health, and physical fitness)
  • Eat (choosing healthy foods and supplements over junk food and sugary food)
  • Sleep (we must get enough rest and not be sleep deprived which leads to poor decision making and even accidents)
  • Relax (to turn off our stress responses and restore our energy by taking regular breaks)
  • Connect (to make positive social interactions)

The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity states that our brain is our number one asset in a knowledge-work world.  Being conscious and intentional throughout the day takes a lot of energy.  We need to have a clear and motivating purpose and a healthy physical body (be as healthy as we can be) in order to fulfill our purpose.  Thus, we should invest regularly in the five energy drivers above to keep us from burning out. By implementing the five choices recommended in this book, we can be on the path to extraordinary productivity!

  • Act on the important and do not react to the urgent
  • Go for the extraordinary and not settle for the ordinary
  • Schedule the big rocks and do not sort gravel
  • Rule our technology and not let it rule us
  • Fuel our fire to not burn out

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How Bed and Breakfasts Can Win Like Amazon

win like amazon

Think about how your inn can win like Amazon and uniquely excel in hospitality, cuisine, and accommodations. Fast Company ranked Amazon the World’s Most Innovative Company in 2017.  Amazon is the largest American e-commerce company.

 

Founded on July 5 of 1994, Jeff Bezos selected the name Amazon as he looked through the dictionary.  He settled on “Amazon” because it was a place that was “exotic and different” just as he envisioned for his Internet enterprise.  Bed and breakfasts should each strive to be different and stand out in a unique and impressive way.  

 

Bezos also noted that the Amazon river was by far the “largest” river in the world and he planned to make his store the largest in the world.  Amazon, as a company, has achieved enormous success. Back in 1996, Amazon was only a $16 million company while Barnes and Noble was at the time a gigantic $2 billion company.  However, Amazon was the fastest company to reach one billion in sales. In 2016, Amazon’s revenue was $136 billion United States dollars while Barnes and Noble increased to a significantly smaller $4.16 billion.  

 

How did Amazon do it?  Amazon set goals to create something superior and completely new.  Jeff Bezos, who continues to record ideas as he thinks of them, made a list of 20 possible categories for his business and then decided that his best option was to start with books.  Years later Amazon would become one of the world’s best known companies and be referred to as “the everything store.”

 

While publishers complained when Amazon let its users publish book reviews (showing both the positive and negative comments), Jeff Bezos stated, “We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”  To him, it was so people could make informed choices.  The user-generated content did give Amazon viewers an extra reason to visit their website: actual buyers of books were giving their honest opinions.  Now consumers can leave written evaluations of any of Amazon’s products.  Bed and breakfasts would do well to encourage their happy guests to leave reviews as well.

 

Amazon strives for continuous improvement and efficiency.  While you may be satisfied with the size of your business, there are always things innkeepers can do to make more money with each guest who visits.  Whether through added packages, special retreats, retail merchandise, or other extras, make it a goal to win like Amazon by gaining more business from every customer (guest) who contacts your inn.

 

Names are so important for both people and places. Names help define people and brands. One of the most successful brands is Amazon.  Bed and breakfasts can look to Amazon for its success as a brand and its successful brand name.

 

Since June 19, 2000, Amazon’s logotype has featured a curved arrow leading from A to Z, representing that the company carries every product from A to Z, with the arrow shaped like a smile.  A good bed and breakfast logo can appear on merchandise you sell like coffee mugs, cookbooks, and aprons.  

 

Amazon carefully selects who they hire to join the company.  According to Amazon, they hire only the best and the brightest.  Some interview questions have been known to catch people off guard like, “Do you know why manhole covers are round?”  This is to judge the reasoning skills of interviewees as much as it is assess their intelligence.  This sets a high bar for the talent they hire.  

 

While they have had some personnel issues as far as people electing to leave the company, many employees have done very well for themselves by staying.  Bed and breakfasts can win like Amazon by being selective when hiring more staff members.

 

One of Amazon’s core values is innovation.  They remain on the cutting edge of technology with their products and services.  As a company they love inventing things.  They are not held back by conventional thinking. They will quickly abandon old notions and embrace new ones when better options present themselves.  Likewise, innkeepers should stay on the cutting edge with their online marketing, reservation software, and so forth.

 

Amazon is known for their excellent customer service. They offer a generous 30-day return policy. They are resolved to offer the lowest prices anywhere.  Amazon has expanded not only the types of merchandise it sells, but also the programs it offers.  

 

With a focus on long-term customer loyalty, those who are Amazon Prime members get several perks including free shipping.  Bed and breakfasts can win like Amazon by rewarding returning guests and guests who make referrals.

 

Amazon is obsessed with customer satisfaction.  This online giant offers a personalized version of their website and gives recommendations to each shopper based on their previous searches and purchases. Amazon’s wide selection, low prices, and excellent customer service is remaking industries.  

 

Through strategic marketing, including blogging, social media, and phone conversations, bed and breakfast guests can win like Amazon by persuading guests to spend more money during their visits on custom packages and other options. 

 

Amazon arguably has the most authoritative online product catalog.  To make it easier for customers to learn more about the products on Amazon, they offer the following lists and tools:

 

  • Amazon Bestseller Lists
  • Amazon Sales Rank
  • Amazon Wishlists 
  • Amazon Look Inside The Book
  • Amazon Search Inside The Book

 

Amazon’s overarching goal is to be the first place people look to buy anything. Amazon is also referred to as the “unstore.”  According to Bezos, Amazon is not bound by the traditional rules of retail. This is a list of some of Amazon’s products and services:

 

 

Perhaps having a company name beginning with “A” was preferential due to the probability it would occur at the top of any list that was alphabetized.  Does this mean that your bed and breakfast name must start with the letter A?  No, absolutely not.  You can think of a clever and profitable bed and breakfast business name by taking into account: your location, your inn, your decorating theme(s), and so on.

 

Maybe I should rename my company name from Bed and Breakfast Blogging to something else?  Any suggestions??  Feel free to comment below with positively creative suggestions!

 

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Reach More Success By Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

reach more success

 

Reach more success by applying the lessons found in the new book, Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence by Andy Molinksky, Ph.D. Professor Molinsky teaches psychology and organizational behavior at Brandeis University.  

 

He starts out by asking how many of us have avoided opportunities that could have potentially led to real growth and development?  I would say all of us have shied away from doing something because we felt it was outside of our comfort zone.  

 

So what makes us hesitate to do things?  We have a tendency to avoid what makes us uncomfortable. Molinsky lists five challenges to overcome in order to step outside your comfort zone, rise to the challenge, and build your confidence:

 

  • Authenticity challenge: it may feel unnatural to you do this, but the more you do it the easier it will be

 

  • Likeability challenge: you fear that others won’t like you; don’t let what others think of you prevent you from doing something that will lead to your own improvement

 

  • Competence challenge: you fear you don’t have the skills or that you won’t be good at it; remember we are our own worst critic!

 

  • Resentment challenge: you are annoyed that you have to adapt your behavior; focus on what you are trying to accomplish and the annoyances will fade away 

 

  • Morality challenge: you may feel unethical (the example the author gives is that of a pediatrician who regrets seeing babies cry when he/she is injecting them with necessary vaccines to protect their long term health)

 

Molinsky details the following solutions:

 

  • Conviction: have a deep sense of purpose that it is necessary to make these changes; focus on how this behavior is actually helping 

 

  • Customization: change the way you do it so that it is more comfortable for you

 

  • Clarity: take an honest account of your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses 

 

  • Take the leap: when you willingly take the leap, you will discover that this isn’t so bad and this will reduce your anxiety and make you more likely to take leaps in the future; the more you do it, the more your anxiety diminishes

 

Possible examples of how these solutions can be applied to the bed and breakfast inn-keeping world:

 

  • Conviction: you may decide to focus on how your excluding guests under 12 is helping you cater to your adult guests who visit for a romantic getaway

 

  • Customization: you may decide the best way to prepare for the next morning’s breakfast is to have your guests check or circle a designated # of items from a list of food choices (ex: French toast or pancakes or waffles) when they check in

 

  • Clarity: you may realize that it is worth the extra money to employ a housekeeper so you can focus on what you like and do best

 

  • Take the leap: when you speak to potential guests over the phone, the more often you talk about your inn’s custom packages, the easier and more natural it will become to regularly mention them in future phone calls (and more revenue should come as a result)

 

While innkeepers are known for being warm, gracious, and outgoing, there are always more things we can do to step outside of our comfort zone.  Innkeepers, how did stepping outside your comfort zone improve your bed and breakfast inn business?  Please feel free to comment below.  

 

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The Four Doors Of Innkeeping

four doors of innkeeping

 

The Four Doors of Innkeeping is based on the book The Four Doors: A Guide to Joy, Freedom, and a Meaningful Life by #1 New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans.  There are more than 17 million copies of his books in print worldwide, translated in more than 24 languages.

 

Door #1: Believe There’s a Reason You Were Born

 

Never underestimate the power of belief. Not only is there a reason you were born, but there is a reason that you are an innkeeper.  Just like teachers with their students, you will never know the amount of lives you touch for the better as you host and serve your bed and breakfast guests. Remember that as you extend warm hospitality to each of them.

 

Door #2: Free Yourself from Limitations

 

Most of our greatest learning experiences (and successes) come because of adversity (and failures). Everyone has problems.  It’s how we deal with them that matters. If you had to deal with (or are in the process of overcoming) zoning issues, renovation problems, or even a public relations nightmare, you can come out better on the other side.

 

Door #3: Magnify Your Life

 

Dreaming is the first step to making our lives greater.  Ask yourself, “What if…?” Be willing to take risks. We should use our talents and gifts to make more out of our lives.  This could mean that in addition to running a bed and breakfast inn, that you may add a restaurant, a gift shop, or even a spa.  

 

Door #4: Develop a Love-Centered Map

 

Love is the secret to joy.  The greatest source of happiness comes from giving and receiving love. Love is what love does. We develop love through service.  Love is both the destination and the journey.  As you appropriately love your guests, they will come become repeat visitors as well as spread by word of mouth (and hopefully online reviews) their enjoyable experience as your guests.

 

The author reminds us that we have a choice to live a more abundant life, a life of joy, freedom, and meaning.  We can improve our lives by opening these four doors of innkeeping. Feel free to comment below about how these four doors relate to you and your innkeeping experiences.

 

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How To Accomplish Your Bed and Breakfast Goals

your bed and breakfast goals

 

 

 

Consider writing down your bed and breakfast goals for next year.  Use the famous SMART acronym to make decisions.  This will help you accomplish your bed and breakfast goals.

 

Specific: Make sure that your goals are very specific.  First, ask yourself some questions.  

  • What are we trying to accomplish?

 

  • What types of repeat guests would we like to attract?  

 

  • Are guests coming to our local area for a specific reason or activity?

 

  • What types of local events in our area attract guests?  

 

  • What do guests tell us they like about my inn?  

 

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable to know if you have reached them. Quantifying your goals gives you something to strive for.  

 

  • By what percentage do we want our occupancy rates to go up?

 

  • How many more B&B packages could we sell this year?

 

  • What number of local business partnerships do we want to add this year?

 

  • How much money could we set aside to sponsor a local event?

 

  • How many private events should we host?

 

Attainable: Goals need to be reachable to motivate you do achieve them.  Setting impossible goals does not help you.  Make it a goal that is a stretch but doable.  

 

  • How many blog posts could we do this year?

 

  • How many e-newsletters would we produce?

 

  • What social media campaigns could we do?

 

  • Do we need to change our reservation software to give us better results?

 

  • Should we join a bed and breakfast association?

 

Relevant: Goals need to be suitable to what your inn and your local area offers.  Represent what your guests can expect from their stay with at your bed and breakfast.

 

  • What inn amenities could we promote?

 

  • Do we have any of the following: a restaurant, a gift shop, or a spa?

 

  • Do we have excellent local entertainment venues or other attractions?

 

  • Do we have up-to-date pictures of our bed and breakfast and food?

 

  • Could we support a local cause that has an event?

 

Time bound: Giving yourself a deadline makes your goals even more real.  Vague goals do not equal results.  

 

  • What are the due dates for our blog posts?

 

  • How many calls to potential local business partners do we make each month?

 

  • By what date should our bed and breakfast website be redesigned?

 

  • When do we need to finish this renovation project?

 

  • No later than what date should we put up our new bed and breakfast sign?

 

Success does not happen by accident, but by dedication and SMART goal planning.  What goals does your inn have for the coming year?  Feel free to comment below with what your bed and breakfast would like to accomplish.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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Katie Couric: The Best Advice I Ever Got

the best advice I ever got

The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives by Katie Couric is full of practical information for people from all walks of life. Each chapter features a famous person who gives us a sneak peak into what they have learned from their own experiences. At the end of this post is a YouTube video of Katie talking about how she wrote the book and which celebrities contributed their stories.

Comedian and Actor George Lopez: “If you quit, you’ll never find out what could have happened.”

Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur Mario Batali: “As you cook up your own life, never let anyone else’s recipe for success intimidate you…”

Emmy Award-Winning Television and Radio Host Larry King: “Learn how to listen.  You don’t learn anything when you are talking.”

Emmy Award-Winning Television Broadcaster, Journalist, and Co-Host of Good Morning America Robin Roberts: “Be patient and persistent.  Life is not so much about what you accomplish as what you overcome.”

Professional Football Player Drew Brees: “What is meant to be will happen for me, and all I should concern myself with is the things I can control.”

Figure-skating Champion Michelle Kwan: “Your finest moments in life aren’t necessarily those in which you finish first but, instead, the times when you know you simply gave your best–when you did it heart and soul, and held nothing back.”

Co-founder of Twitter Biz Stone: “Think about what is valuable before thinking about what is profitable and know that there’s compound interest in helping others–start early!”

Professional Psychologist, Bestselling Author, and Television Host “Dr. Phil” McGraw: “Instead of ignoring these dreams and hoping you can get around to them later on, you have to be committed to developing an action plan, to creating a “life script” with measurable goals, and to building a core of supporters around you to keep you going in the right direction.”

Grammy Award-Winning Artist, Musician, Entrepreneur, Actress, and Activist Alicia Keys: “When you make a decision because you really love what you’re doing, because you’re really passionate about it, believe in it, and because you’d do it no matter what the outcome–that’s when you become most successful.”

Bestselling Cookbook Author and Television Host Ina Garten: “You can’t figure out what you want to do from the sidelines.  You need to jump into the pond and splash around to see what the water feels like.  You might like that pond or it might lead to another pond, but you need to figure it out in the pond.”

Sixty-sixth United States Secretary of State and Stanford University Professor Condoleeza Rice: “The point is that life is full of surprises and serendipity.  Being open to unexpected turns in the road is an important part of success.  If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns.”

Four-Star General and Sixty-Fifth United States Secretary of State Colin Powell: “So it doesn’t matter where you start in life but where you finish and, along the way, whether you do something that you love and enjoy doing.  Never settle for anything less than what you love doing and do well.”

Olympic Speed Skater Apolo Ohno: “It’s not really about the destination, but about what it took to get you there.”

Taking Larry King’s advice to learn how to listen, identify at least 3 people who have achieved success and ask them to share their thoughts.  Possible questions could be:

  • What was your greatest challenge?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you know now that you wish you could have known earlier in life?
  • Was there anyone who mentored you?
  • How did you become so successful?
  • Is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
  • What are you most excited about for your future?

Essentially, informally interview them (much like Katie Couric interviewed these people) to gain more insight.  If the person you are interviewing knows you well, they will be able to relate this to your goals.

While we each need to do something that aligns with our own personal interests, passions, and goals; we can benefit by the wisdom and experience of the successful people around us.  In addition, we should all be open to sharing the lessons we have learned with those who come to us for advice.

Note: I receive Amazon Affiliate commissions from purchases made through the Amazon link.

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4 Secrets to Biltmore Success

secrets to Biltmore success

What are some of the secrets to Biltmore success?  I am referring to America’s largest private residence, the two-hundred and fifty room Biltmore Estate.  After six years of construction while collaborating with architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead, on Christmas Eve in 1895 George Vanderbilt officially opened Biltmore House.

 

George Vanderbilt pictured the possibilities for his family and friends on his eight thousand acres of Blue Ridge Mountain beauty.  In present day, the Estate includes:

  • delightful shops
  • four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate
  • gorgeous gardens
  • romantic restaurants
  • wonderful winery

Today, with two hundred full-time employees and a total of over eighteen-hundred employees working for The Biltmore, bed and breakfast owners may wonder what they have in common this hospitality giant.  If we can understand what helps make the Biltmore such a success, then hoteliers (as well as owners of restaurants, shops, and wineries) can apply this knowledge to run their own hospitality businesses better.

Secret #1: Offer add-ons, like tours and activities, to your guests.  This caters to individuals who have the ability and desire to pay more for these additional benefits.

The visitors to the Biltmore Estate can opt for additional tours:

  • Audio Guide to Biltmore House: capture the feeling of being guided through Biltmore’s grand rooms by our curators and hosts on this ninety-minute audio tour filled with stories about the Vanderbilts and treasures in their collection
  • Behind-the-Scenes Guided Upstairs-Downstairs Tour: in this sixty-minute guided tour, descend the back stairs to explore servant life at Biltmore, discover cutting-edge technology that kept America’s largest home humming, visit the domains of the butler, head housekeeper, and lady’s maids, then continue on to a suite of guest rooms to learn about grand house parties hosted by the Vanderbilts
  • Rooftop Tour: enjoy amazing views from rooftops and balconies and get a closer look at the design and construction of the Biltmore House with this sixty-minute guided tour of areas not on the regular house visit
  • Legacy of the Land Tour: take a motor coach tour of the estate and learn about the history of the land, structures, and former residents while visiting areas not usually open to guests

For an additional cost, visitors to the Biltmore Estate can participate in certain activities (available seasonally):

  • Biking
  • Carriage Rides
  • Fly-fishing School
  • Guided Horseback Trail Rides
  • Land Rover Experience Driving School
  • River Rafting, Kayaking, and Paddleboarding Trips
  • Segway Basic, Off-Road, and West Side Tours
  • Sporting Clays School

Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast of Durham, North Carolina gives guests options for extras, such as:

  • Greta’s Girlfriend Getaway
  • Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt Weekends (only offered on specific dates)
  • Picnic in the Park
  • Romance Package
  • Spa Services

Secret #2: Variety encourages your guests to return. Always keep things fresh.  Each Biltmore experience is different.  As the seasons and their themes change, so does their décor and displays.

For example, during our visit to the Biltmore, they had a Downton Abbey theme and featured real gowns worn on that popular British television show.  They had signs informing visitors about the material of the gown and what was happening in history during the time it was made as well as more information about the character who wore it on the television show.  A Biltmore employee revealed to us that each gown was literally made in that time period or individually hand-made to be authentic to that time.

Many inns choose to decorate during major holidays, such as Christmas.  One of the Biltmore’s biggest attractions are its Christmas displays.  In addition to the obvious holidays, how about choosing a less commonly celebrated holiday like Arbor Day?  Plant a tree in the backyard of your bed and breakfast.  Then show the growth of that tree by taking its picture each year.  Many innkeepers have their inn for more than twenty years, so this could really be a focal point in your yard.

On the topic of gardening and variety, Biltmore plants things that will bloom at different times of the year.  The acres of gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the father of American landscape architecture. That way whenever people visit, they will see something pretty.  When we visited the Biltmore Gardens, the tulips were in full bloom.

Secret #3: Offer a closer look at your inn.  The Biltmore Estate is full of carefully researched stories of its past.  The people who lived and worked at Biltmore, the events and people they hosted, and how historical events (including war) affected them.  The Biltmore has many stories to tell.

I was impressed that was a huge painting of the architect and one of the gardener.  The audio guide noted that this was rare for a wealthy person to have portraits made of two people that worked for the family.  This is a testament to how George Vanderbilt honored his employees and valued their contributions to the overall look of his estate.

The Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant of Chimney Rock, NC also is full of history, including a Presidential visit and two fires.  If your inn is brand new, then share pictures of its construction and let your guests know the steps it took from the time you decided to build your bed and breakfast to the time that you opened your doors.

Find your bed and breakfasts’ story.  Some name their rooms after a significant person in history or after their official state symbols such as the state bird and state tree.  Then you can tell stories about the people who made important contributions in history or about how your state symbols came to be.

Secret #4: Make visitors feel welcomed and appreciated.  Biltmore employees are very attentive, polite, knowledgeable, and helpful.   They go out of their way to help you and smile while doing so.  Let that be said of you and your inn.  Extend to your guests your greatest hospitality, and they will reward you by returning and referring others to visit.

While there is no other place quite like the Biltmore Estate, we can implement some of their secrets to Biltmore success and apply it to achieve our own success. Innkeepers can ask themselves if they offer extras, create a variety of looks and themes throughout the year, reveal a deeper look to guests, and help their guests feel appreciated. May your place of hospitality be profitable like the Biltmore.

Do you want help marketing your bed and breakfast online?  Bed and Breakfast Blogging writes search-engine-optimized blogs as well as gives inns an active presence in social media.  Let us do that work for you so you can focus on what you do best!

Recommended Reading:

  • The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home tells the untold true story behind the Biltmore Estate, which has seen more than 120 years of history pass by its front door. A story of how one fiercely devoted woman (Edith Dresser Vanderbilt) was able to save the home her husband loved (George Vanderbilt).
  • Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon tells the inspiring true story of the 35-year effort to restore this castle to its former glory and how it became a vibrant tourist destination with a working farm and distinguished winery.
  • Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt reveals that while “the Commodore” (the family patriarch) built up a fortune that made him the world’s richest man by 1877, but less than fifty years after his death, one of his direct descendants died penniless, and no Vanderbilt was counted among the world’s richest people.
  • The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt describes an improbable life, from Vanderbilt’s humble birth during the presidency of George Washington to his death as one of the richest men in American history. In between we see how the Commodore helped to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, and invent the modern corporation.
  • Willie K. Vanderbilt II, A Biography explores the life of one of its lesser-known descendats, William Kissam Vanderbilt II, known simply as Willie K. An inheritor, not a builder, Willie K. lacked the drive and ambition necessary for furthering the Vanderbilt dynasty, especially in the political atmosphere of bank failures, the dawn of progressivism, and the First World War. 
  • The Biltmore Nursery: A Botanical Legacy tells about the Biltmore Nursery, once ranked among the largest and most prolific nurseries in the world. It was part of an unprecedented horticultural, botanical and forestry enterprise on George W. Vanderbilt’s magnificent Biltmore Estate, envisioned and designed by brilliant landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.

Disclosure: These are Amazon Affiliate Links for which I receive compensation.

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Visual Storytelling: Tips

 

visual storytelling tips

 

This is the last of the series of blog posts discussing the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio.  This features their smart tips for social media photography.

 

 

Visual storytelling tips and social media photography tips:

  • Up your resolution to the highest resolution possible
  • Collages need to be of similar resolution
  • Divide your images into thirds either horizontally or vertically
  • Align your image slightly off center to make it more engaging
  • Variety matters, use a range of angles and setups
  • Take more pictures than you think you need
  • Frame your shot with less cluttered backgrounds
  • Use close-cropped images
  • Work the angles
  • Shine bright with lighting and filters
  • Show don’t sell
  • Celebrate occasions
  • Share great quotes
  • Include photos related to your company’s lifestyle
  • Inspire through the use of images by showcasing your company’s lifestyle, values, and opinions
  • Show how your products and services contribute to the greater good
  • Encourage emotion by featuring a sentimental side when appropriate
  • Propel action into a still image
  • Sprinkle in humor and have a little fun
  • Embrace creativity
  • Not all pictures have to have only one item
  • Go behind the scenes to make your customers feel like part of your brand

This is the conclusion to the blog series about the book The Power of Visual Storytelling.  I highly recommend this book.  I literally took twenty pages of handwritten notes from information in this book!  A special thank you to the authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio for letting me share some of their book.  I am not being compensated for this review, I just really think this book is great any business looking to grow their online marketing.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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Visual Storytelling: Responses

visual storytelling responses

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, authors of the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand remind us that anything can happen at a moment’s notice online. Companies need to identify common occurrences, both positive and negative.  It means looking for opportunities to create visual storytelling responses all around us.  Some strategies include:

 

  • Understand the most important factors that can influence sales and customer leads
  • Weather may be an important theme to craft content around
  • At key times of the year, companies can announce awards, rankings, events, speeches, partnerships, and make other announcements
  • Understand the most frequently asked service inquiries and comments, both positive and negative
  • Develop a robust content library to allow time for real-time opportunities
  • The best storytellers play off their audience responses to hit the message home
  • Extend the life of conversations and engagement as long as it is relevant
  • Look at the content fans are sharing each day

While on the topic of user generated content, there is a higher barrier to engagement if it is not natural for fans to share visual content.  Reward sharing behavior with a campaign, contest, and/or rewards.  Look for themes in the most common types of photos, videos, hashtags, and sentiment.

Choose a clear call to action such as a unique hashtag available across all social media channels.  Make full disclosure to customers how and where their photos and videos will be shared.  Highlight examples to show a range of creativity.  Give rewards and recognition by having an “image of the week” or randomly sending a thank you.

Customers can share their own content through videos shared on social networks like YouTube, Instagram, and the Vine.  Look at your content calendar to determine which video(s) will help tell your visual story in a way that other media cannot.  Think about your target audience, desired end goals, and what resources are available.  Evaluate the needs of your audience and show off your personality.  Mix up the content to a variety of different types and lengths of videos. Common videos include:

  • Announcements
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Case studies
  • Celebrity partnerships
  • Community involvement
  • Company overview
  • Demos
  • Event highlights
  • FAQs
  • Goals
  • How-to
  • Live streams
  • Office tours
  • Parodies
  • Testimonials
  • Video blogs
  • Visual portfolios

Fan shared content as well as company made videos can show another side to a business. The key is to make the most of what customers are saying about you.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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