Business Etiquette – Class Versus Crass

Remember growing up how your mom reminded you to wash your face, brush your teeth and say ‘thank you’? I think we still need to be reminded ever so often because every day etiquette which is an integral part of the business world appears to be murky and a bit convoluted.

During my days in media sales when I first arrived in Miami I dressed head to toe in black, with pearls and pantyhose in 95 degree weather. And while the sweat rolled down the side of my face and down my back causing me to itch, I maintained a smile on my face even when the Account Director of Ogilvy & Mather came out of her office to fetch me for our Kodak presentation wearing a white tube top with no bra, stilettos and tight Brazilian low-rise jeans. I remained stunned as I marched behind her struggling with media kits and briefcase in hand unable to stop staring at the crack of her ass. Despite this lack of professionalism I proceeded to pitch the Kodak client on a multi year media deal though his interest laid primarily in being hand fed chocolate chips cookies by the Account Director who in between discussions of brand integration and CPMs could not stop giggling.

I learned two important lessons that day – you really can put your money where your mouth is and secondly, the standard of conducting business had faded into a bolder realm of inappropriate behavior. Are we so caught up in ourselves and our egos that we have forgotten how to present a professional decorum? Is it surreal confidence or simple ignorance?

I believe it is both which I will be discussing in my next blog. At this time I am presenting you with my top ten pet peeves on business etiquette which should NEVER be forgotten:

1. Never chew gum in a meeting. It’s difficult enough to presenting your ideas, but you should always sound as audible and articulate as possible. Besides which -it’s distasteful, distracting and the other person is always left wondering – I am going to step on this gum later or will I find it underneath my desk?

2. Always pay attention to the person speaking. People have a tendency to feel insulted if they do not feel you are listening to them. Meaning – don’t twirl a strand of hair or look dazed and confused. If necessary excuse yourself and get a cup of java to wake up.

3. Provide a firm hand shake. I am not saying break a hand, but look at the person and shake their hand so they see you are serious and enthusiastic.

4. Dress appropriately. Eyes should be riveted on your face and presentation – not on your cleavage, crotch or buttocks. A professional atmosphere should be matched by business attire unless you are told otherwise.

5. Do not fiddle with your Blackberry or answer your cell phone while you are in a meeting. I have seen this often and frankly, it is a tremendous distraction to everyone and it’s rude. If you are expecting an important call, tell the person ahead of time and then excuse yourself.

6. Be punctual. Everyone is busy and so their time is valuable. If you are running late call the person you are meeting and let them know how late you are going to be. If necessary, reschedule at their convenience.

7. NEVER have alcohol at a business meeting or meal unless the other party/client is having a drink. I have seen many people drink and slur their way through lunches and dinners. This only shows your ability to lose control, be sloppy and is a complete turn-off for the client in trusting and doing business with you.

8. Avoid foul language and dirty jokes. This is only appropriate if the client is your best friend or cousin and you are not in front of others. Naturally, if the client uses this type of language or tells a joke, there is nothing wrong in laughing to let them know you appreciate their humor, but this does not mean you should actively participate. Remember – you need to show them you are serious and a professional at all times.

9. ALWAYS bring your own pen and paper. The client is not a stationary store and you should ALWAYS be prepared. I believe this says a lot about you. If you are a wealth of information and resources, then carry your own supplies!

10. SAY THANK YOU…I can’t stress this enough. Showing gratitude and humility are very enticing qualities and let’s the client know their time, energy and money are valued.

The Surreal Aesthetics of Architect Furniture

The furniture business is one industry that never goes out of business. There is an increasing demand for new alluring styles of furniture at the moment and this has set the tone for the emergence of a new breed of furniture artisans, known as architect furniture designers.

Furniture designed by architects is designed keeping in mind the parameters of comfort and functionality. Also called cross section furniture or modern furniture, this type of furnishing employs the use of cutting edge technology and unconventional processes in creating mind-blowing pieces of art. Furniture designed by architects is characterized by their complex and almost futuristic shapes that set them apart from regular furniture.

Many architect furniture designers have realized the beauty in creating imaginative shapes that resemble modern art. This trend has translated in the creation of some of the most spectacular pieces of furniture. Some of the most popular pieces of furniture designed by architects are egg shaped beds, spherical and spaceship like sofas and couches. These futuristic science fiction inspired styles of furniture has transformed decorating your home into an art form where the presence of ergonomic shaped designs add luster and add a fantastic visual appeal to your home.

One of the major advantages of furniture designed by architects is that it makes the interiors of your home look very plush. The diversity of shapes that is so typical of architect furniture gives your home a very progressive dynamic. Architect furniture is known for its emphasis on comfort as well as functionality while creating a surreal visual experience for the beholder. Thus architect furniture instills a sense of prolonged intimacy in your home.

Furniture is one of the most pivotal features in a home as it is responsible for enhancing the aura and ambiance of a home. By installing architect designed furniture you can create a panoramic appearance for your home. Before you go ahead and install architect furniture in your home you should choose a particular style that is in consonance with your existing decor and go along with it. You should bear in mind the contours of your home and accordingly select the matching ergonomically designed architect furniture. Also the color of your room should be in sync with the color of your furniture. A stark color contrast could change the ambiance of your room drastically. These finer points should help you select wisely. After all the best results come from a home that is well integrated with its decor.

The salient concept behind architect furniture is to personalize your dwelling space apart from beautifying your house. Furniture designed by architects achieves this objective by staying true to its assortment of styles and designs. This is one of the defining facets of architect furniture in the 21st century. Compared to previous furniture trends, which were very limited in their composition, architect designed furniture has expanded its range through constant experimentation.

Architect furniture can be regarded as more than just a work of art. It can be called a melange of aesthetics and styles all combined together to create this riveting new concept that borrows heavily from modern art and contemporary furnishing styles. For the discerning homeowner, architect furniture can provide a whole host of furnishing options ranging from the conventional to the bizarre. However, it is of paramount importance to choose the appropriate variant of architect furniture to create the desired aura and ambiance in your home.

Branding For Business

Dear new and old business owners. If you are like me, then you are here because you get a thrill out of creating something that is successful, substantial and an extension of who you are and what you have to offer the world, or at least the economy. Business is not for the feint-hearted, it is a risk, it is stressful and with the current obstacles of inflation and competition, the challenge has become surreal. Don’t let this put a damper on your quest though, if initiated intellectually and with the utmost optimism, the sky’s the limit and you have exciting and prosperous times ahead!

One such concern that needs to be approached with this said intellect and enthusiasm is business branding. You would be surprised how many start-up businesses fail to get this one right. Business or corporate branding is the process of developing an identity for your business, an identity that makes a lasting impression and perfectly portrays the goods and or services that you have to offer. This branding is a process that begins from the moment the “business idea” light bulb lights up your brain and is truly never ending.

From the get go you need to put thought and creativity into your business’s name, logo, slogan and other crucial strategies which are incorporated into your marketing choices. Owners of smaller businesses often have the mind-set that branding is something that is done only once the money starts rolling in and there is a budget for it. This is a misconception however, branding is vital for these businesses to have at least an opportunity to stand out and capture potential clients and it needs to be included into your capital right from the start. No matter how original and popular your product might be, the masses won’t hear about it until an identity that is recognizable and effective has been established.

Here, in my opinion, are five branding tips to consider:

Tip 1: Conceptualize Your Brand

Other than being tip one, this is also step one in the branding process. You have decided on the product/s you would like to sell or the service/s you want to offer. Now you have to consider who your target market is and how you would like them to react to your business model.

Consider the following questions:

• What do you want your brand to be known for?
• What will make your brand different from your competitors?

Do you want to be known for your professionalism or do you want to incorporate humour and light-heartedness? Perhaps you want your ethical standards to be the backbone of your identity? Answering such questions will give you a clearer indication of your vision, purpose, and value of your brand.

Tip 2: Keep It Simple But Quirky

We are a very busy human race and our tiny brains don’t have the ability to absorb every bit of information around us. So simplicity here is key. Keep names, logos and slogans uncomplicated but ensure that you include popular design trends that offer a touch of quirkiness. Something catchy and easy to asses will leave audiences pondering about your business and you will have their attention.

Tip 3: Keep It Consistent

This mind sound boring and uniform, but really it offers a feeling of stability and success. From colour schemes and designs to staff uniforms and final touches – keep things consistent. What I mean here is that you need to decide on a name, a logo and a colour scheme and then maintain this decision throughout all of your branding endeavours. Your company website should complement the design of your actual store-front and the purpose of your business needs to be reflected in your logo.

Tip 4: Market Your Brand

In business you have to advertise your advertising. Yup, nothing is ever simple. Don’t assume that because you have established an amazing corporate identity that the money will be shipping in by the ton. Like mentioned before, we are busy people and we don’t all have the time to absorb information, unless it is forced upon us. Take your brand and offer it to the world. Include it on your business cards, add it to your email signature and splash it online. Your marketing opportunities are almost endless.

Tip 5: Be Proud Of Your Brand

If you are satisfied and proud of your branding, then you will promote it as such. Don’t settle for something you are comfortable with, settle for awesome! Budget for quality and this will ensure that the quality of your business will shine through. No one ever said running a business is an affordable venture, so expect to pay for solutions that will surpass your expectations.

Don’t think of all of this as effort and please don’t let it daunt you! This is an opportunity to get creative and make your business unique, to make it your own! Choose colours you love and a logo that fills you with pride. All of these additions might not seem very important, but they really really are. They set you apart from the rest; they attract your customers and establish the standards which are truly the backbone of your business.