Saturday, March 25, 2006

Slain Minister's Father Asks for Prayers

While on vacation in Gulf Shores this week, we stumbled into the midst of the Matthew Winkler murder investigation. My mother-in-law knew Matthew's family so we were interested in knowing the details. I had received an email on Thursday morning telling us about Matthew's tragic death and that Mary and the children were missing.

Never did we dream we would be in the same town as to where Mary fled, but we ended up having breakfast Friday morning in Orange Beach as the story was unfolding. We were adjacent to the Winn-Dixie parking lot where she was first spotted.

We later heard on the radio that Mary was being transported to Foley, Alabama for a hearing about the children and we drove to Foley to see her. What we witnessed was a heartbroken father and mother making a statement to the press and asking for prayers for the family.

This is a picture I snapped of Matthew's father. I don't know how he kept his composure while making his statement. He and his wife were obviously disdraught and overwhelmed. Soon after this, Mary was secretly sneaked out the backdoor of the courthouse and taken back to the detension facility.

We don't know Mary's side of the story yet, but we can only pray that she will be treated fairly and justly.

Sharon Cawood

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Home Safe from Iraq - Afghanistan is Next

My son, Shaun arrived back in the States from Iraq a couple of weeks ago. He finally had a chance to take off from work and come home to visit with the family last week. After a couple of months of NCO school in Florida, his next assignment will be Afghanistan. It amazes me at how casually he and other military folks make these foreign assignments sound. He says I worry too much. Personally, I don't think a mother can worry too much.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised at his physical appearance upon return from Iraq. He gained 22 pounds, so he finally has some meat on his skinny bones. He has started eating fruits and vegetables and drinking water instead of sodas. The stay in Iraq turned him into a health nut.

Shaun is working out several days a week, running 9 miles a week and eating health food. I had imagined he was existing on MREs and snack food. He said while in Balad he had 24-hour access to all the meat, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables he wanted to eat. I think he got spoiled with the variety. But that's a good thing. Maybe I will worry less about him with his next assignment.

Sharon Cawood
Director of Business Development
ScanStore &

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Iraq Hits Home

My son, Shaun is in Balad, Iraq. He has been there about two weeks now. Shaun is lucky in that he will only be in Iraq for a couple of months and then gets to come home. I still worry about him and the others who are with him. Here is information about the base in Balad.

He is living in a tent and says if he goes outside the tent he is in full gear - helmet, bullet proof vest, etc. Most of his time is spent waiting for an event to happen. That's when his group goes into action. They maintain the aircraft that do search and rescue operations.

Shaun is in the Air Force and stationed at Moody AFB in Valdosta, Georgia. Pray that all our sons and daughters come home safely. Their lives are too valuable to waste.

Sharon Cawood
Business Developer & Community Relations Professional
Knoxville, Tennessee

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Talking to Strangers

My Daddy always said he never met a stranger and I believe he truly looked at life that way. He was comfortable talking with anyone; it didn’t matter who they were. Claude Castleberry was one of fifteen children my grandparents raised, so there was always a crowd around him. Actually, my grandmother raised one of my cousins too and I thought as I was growing up that she was my aunt.

Back to Daddy. He once told me about when he owned a dry cleaning store. Daddy always had a business; he was an entrepreneur before we used that word in East Tennessee. Daddy told me sometimes it would take him a long time to get to know a person well enough before they would trust him to do their dry cleaning. He told me he drove his van by this old man’s house for six months and stopped and talked with him every time he found him sitting out on his porch. One day, the old man finally asked Daddy to take his hat and clean it for him. Daddy knew how to build relationships.

Relationship building comes naturally for some people, but not for me. My personality was more like my Mom’s. I was reserved, quite and shy and learning to build relationships was a challenge for me. Over the years, I have developed my skills and here are some of the things I did to learn what my Daddy was born with.

  1. Take baby steps. Talking with people I didn’t know was frightening for me, so I decided to make myself speak to at least one person on my way from the parking lot into my office each morning. I increased the numbers as I became more comfortable and expanded to include all the trips between the office and my car.

  2. More baby steps. I decided to start talking with people at the grocery store. The check-out clerks were my first hurdle. I wanted to get to know their names and ask about their families and where they were going to school. I now know the store managers too.

  3. Join a professional or business organization. My office was a member of the local Chamber, so I decided to attend some of the networking events to get to know folks in the business community. At first, I didn’t know what do to at these functions and becoming a wallflower was easy. I needed a way to make myself talk with people. I devised a game to play and that made the events a challenge for me and fun. Here’s the game – put a handful of your business cards in your left jacket pocket. As you are talking with folks and find the opportunity, exchange business cards with them. Put their card in your right pocket. Empty your left pocket and you are ready to go home.

Those three steps sure helped me and hopefully that will give you some ideas to get you started building relationships. Susan RoAne has two excellent books you could use as additional resources: How to Work a Room and What Do I Say Next? I recommend putting them in your personal library.

Once you have talked with folks and begun to broaden your network, you need to work on building the connections you have with them. Collecting business cards is not enough. You need to stay in contact with your new friends. Follow up with each person periodically and nurture that relationship. Start thinking about how you can connect your new friends with each other.

As a little girl, I remember when Daddy was building houses. He was a general contractor and was building mainly “starter homes”. It wasn’t uncommon for me to run through the kitchen and find a young couple sitting at our kitchen table drinking coffee and talking with Daddy about the home they wanted. Daddy always said he built homes not houses. This was true when you got to know how we went about it.

Daddy would talk with the folks and get to know what they wanted in their home, get to know their dreams. He would sketch out on a paper napkin the floor plan and they would all shake hands and the deal was complete. Daddy built relationships around our kitchen table.

Sharon Cawood
Business Developer & Community Relations Professional
Knoxville, Tennessee

    Sunday, October 02, 2005

    Nurturing Your Network: Making Love With Your Hairdresser

    Over my years in business, I have learned how relationship building and nurturing those relationships are fundamentally the most basic parts of building a business. It doesn’t matter what business you are in, if you need customers to make your business successful, you need to learn to build and nurture your relationships.

    Here is a place to start. Find a good hairdresser and nurture that relationship by referring your friends and associates to her. The folks at Jackson Vocational Instrument Survey (JVIS) determined many years ago that many people become hairdressers for the social interaction with their customers. Of course, this statement is a bit over simplified, so see JVIS for the details, but here’s my point. The social interaction aspect of a hairdresser’s business could be your ticket to building your business (and hers).

    You never know who your hairdresser knows and if she understands who makes good customers for you, she is more likely to refer people she knows to you. Likewise, you can do the same for her. That’s the way relationship building and nurturing works. As you build your network, your reputation as a willing source of information and help will grow and also work to expand your network.

    An auto repair shop owner, computer consultant, educator, it doesn’t make any difference what your business is, building and nurturing relationships is the central part of growing your business. You can be the best chef, doctor, or plumber in the world and your business will not grow without building and nurturing relationships. Never under estimate the power of your relationships.

    Don’t worry about keeping score. Generosity is the key to building and nurturing relationships. As Keith Ferrazzi explains in his book, Never Eat Alone, relationships grow with actions not with making sure the scorecard is even.

    I have used this principle of relationship building and nurturing for many years now and have a mighty network of folks who regularly call on me for help and referrals and of course, I gladly call on them when I need their assistance. I try to help anyone who asks. I’ve even received requests for help from friends of friends of friends.

    I can honestly say, it never fails to amaze me how generosity pays off both in the good feeling you get when your give and also with the good feeling you get when you can ask someone for help and you see how excited they are about doing everything in their power to help you. Build and nurture the relationship you have with your hairdresser and watch both your businesses grow.

    Sharon Cawood
    Community Relations & Business Development Professional
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Thursday, September 29, 2005

    Blind Business Owners Stumbling Over Their Customers

    Business owners today do a lot of talking about serving their customers and preaching to their employees that customer service comes first. However, sometimes those at the top of an organization forget who their customers are. If you are leading an organization, your customers are your employees. If you neglect to provide excellent customer service for your employees, the customers coming in your front door will not be best served. Remember the saying “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That’s the way it works. Keep your employees happy and they will keep your customers happy.

    Rodefer Moss Technologies Group is a good example of how taking care of internal customers works. Paul Sponcia, their CEO strives to make the work environment at RM a great place to be. He wants all his employees excited about getting up and coming to work every morning. On Fridays, they have a “think tank” session where they chill out, play some games and spend time brainstorming on strategies and implementations for the upcoming week. Everyone is then looking forward to Monday, not dreading it.

    Bottom line, if you want your employees to provide excellent customer service, you must provide excellent customer service to your employees. Your workforce will reflect how they are being treated. The results will be evident in your bottom line.

    Sharon Cawood
    Community Relations & Business Development Professional
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    Teaching Common Sense

    Rhonda Jones, author of the new book Teaching Common Sense spoke at our local ASTD Smoky Mountain Chapter meeting this week. If you have a chance to hear her speak or take one of her classes, jump on it. You can relate to all of her stories and her book is one you will read cover to cover before you put it down. If you are looking for a good book for a lunch 'n learn, this would be an excellent choice. The official title of the book is Teaching Common Sense: Seven Simple Principles for Nurturing Those Around You and Reaping the Harvest of Your Life.

    Originally from Greeneville, Tennessee, Rhonda was a project manager with Philips Consumer Products and recently earned her master's degree in adult education from Tusculum College. Her book was written shortly after completing the degree. She plans a series of common sense related books so look for more in the next couple of years. Rhonda will be teaching classes for The University of Tennessee beginning Spring 2006 semester.

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