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Life Management 101

Say “No” and Mean It

This article shares some ideas you can use to make sure you don’t find yourself doing something you’d very much prefer not to do.

How can you confidently respond when someone makes a request you’d prefer not to accommodate?

The question has just been posed.  Pause.   Was your inclination to say yes, even though there’s a voice deep down saying “no.”   Well, let’s raise the volume on that voice.

What possible reasons could there be for saying no?

  • It’s beyond your means?
  • It’s beyond your comfort level?
  • You have no interest?

Identify all the reasons you have for saying “no.”  Identify which stem from a lack of confidence, versus a sincere disinterest in fulfilling the request.

What would happen if you said yes?  Perhaps:

  • You would be considered a teamplayer
  • It would make your boss happy
  • Your visibility with higher-ups would be improved

It’s comes down to a simple cost/benefit really.

Would the discomfort involved in saying yes outweigh the benefits of possibly going along with the request? 

Or, do the benefits outweigh your temporary discomforts?

The role of guilt

Saying “no” is hard for many of us.  Guilt often comes into play.  Whether this guilt has its foundation in religion, a proper upbringing, or a worldview that simply says “it’s not nice to say no”, we often recognize it and make decisions we’d rather not be making, based upon it.

Saying “NO”

You’ve made the decision, after scientifically weighing the results of your cost/benefit analysis, do honestly say “NO”.   Well, go ahead and say it clearly, and self-assuredly…in the mirror.  Look yourself in the eye, and do it.  Just say “NO.”   Say it like you really mean it, and then say it again as you would to whomever made the request of you.  When you pretend you’re speaking to the person who made the request, does it come out differently?  Practice and experiment with different ways to say “NO” until you find one you’re comfortable with.

Then go, and say “NO.”

 After you say “NO”

 If you’re used to giving in to others, then guess what?  After all that practice, you may just be surprised to find that they are not willing to accept it!  They may push, rephrase the question, or make a new, not altogether different, request.  Be prepared for this!  Know your boundary—what ARE you willing to do?  Revisit the questions you asked yourself before—what would happen if you said no, or yes?   If you are serious about saying “NO” then stick to your guns.   Tell the individual making the request that you would appreciate it if they respected your wishes, and ask them to refrain from pursuing it further.  If you are comfortable expressing your “reasons why” then do so speaking from your personal perspective.

 Tips on how to say your ”NO!”

 1.   The “Wet lettuce NO”

 If you are going to say NO, you must say it in a way that means NO!  Saying NO in a quiet, unassuming voice is like a hand shake that is floppy and limp.  By saying NO in a non confident manner it will make you feel as though you have got to convince the other person about your decision and the reasons why you have said it!

 2.   The “Mr Angry NO”

 This is at the other end of the spectrum in how to say NO.  It is done in an aggressive manner and usually said with contempt.  It is not an effective way to communicate your NO.  Here are a couple of examples:

“NO. I’m not doing that rubbish. You’ve got to be joking aren’t you”
“NO. I wouldn’t lower myself to do that piece of work”

3.   The assertive NO

This is the best way to say NO!  In a firm, yet polite voice say: “No. I will not be able to do that for you”  Also, if you want to say the reasons why, keep it short and sweet.  “No. I will not be able to do that for you. I will be having my hair done at that time”

 4.   Use effective body language

When saying NO remember the power of non-verbal communications.  Look the person in the eye when you say the NO.  Shake your head at the same time as saying NO.  Stand up tall.  Use a firm tone in your voice.

 5.   When all is said and done

Don’t forget that when anyone asks a question of you, you are perfectly OK to say, “Can I think about that and get back to you.”  No-one should be pressurised into giving an immediate answer, even if the delay is only a couple of minutes. It will give you some time to think it through and to gather your thoughts.  It will also give you some time to think about how you are going to say it, the words to use and your body language.

Saying NO exercise

Practice makes perfect as they say!

What I would like you to do for the next 7 days is to start to say NO more often.  So whether it is the double glazing salesman, the cold call, “Would you like fries with that” or the shop assistant – practice saying NO to one person for at least the next 7 days.  You will be an expert come the end of the week!

What will happen?

  • You will feel much more confident and proud.
  • You will find that practice makes perfect—the more you confidently say “NO” the easier it becomes.
  • Others will respect your wishes and take you seriously the first time you say “NO.”
  • You won’t find yourself doing things you never wanted to do in the first place.
  • You’ll have more time to focus on the things you do want to be involved in.
  • The list goes on from there…

Communicate Effectively To Achieve What You Want

In a world where quality relationships are dependent upon quality communication, coaching helps you identify your communication strengths, and weaknesses, including how to study your own body language as well as others.

You’re In Control

Eliminate negative habits
Sometimes you know what’s wrong. You have a weakness and you can’t seem to break the habit. Coaching helps identify the underlying root cause of such barriers to change.

Feeling Stuck

Are you feeling stuck?

Are you ready to grow your business beyond where you are now?

Are you looking to have more free time outside your business?

These questions point to challenges in having the business that you have always envisioned. Moomtaz Coaching supports solo entrepreneurs (a.k.a., solopreneurs) by creating the time to find ideal clients and serving them with “purpose”. My  experience with solo entrepreneurs spans back many years, including my personal experience of growing my business from zero to multi-million in sales, and I’ve faced many similar challenges that you have today.

Appearance on WABC-TV

Appearing on WABC-TV along with Andrew Rigie of the New York City Hospitality Alliance on Up Close with Diana Williams on WABC-TV.

Full description of 5 new measures announced:

Identification of violations for which businesses should receive a warning or opportunity to cure the violation instead of an automatic penalty or fine.  Most business owners want to and try hard to comply with regulations, but sometimes because regulations may be complex or confusing, are unable to do so.  More emphasis needs to be placed on educating business owners on how to better comply with regulations, not on punishing business owners when they fail to do so.  Legislation being introduced in the Council will require agencies that interact with businesses to identify any violations for which a cure period or opportunity to receive a warning does not exist, and to make recommendations for whether a cure period should or should not be adopted for each such violation.

WABC TV Diana Williams, Farid Ali Lancheros, Andrew RigieElimination of obsolete violations.  There are countless regulations that small businesses must adhere to, some of which have become obsolete.  Potential violations that remain on the books, but are no longer enforced, can be a source of confusion and a hindrance to small businesses unaware of informal agency practice.  Every agency that interacts with businesses will undertake a review to identify violations that are obsolete, and to recommend those that should be eliminated.  Once these violations are identified, the Council will act through legislation to wipe them off the books for good.

Streamlining of regulatory processes; Simplification of the Place of Assembly permitting process.  Through the feedback received by the Regulatory Review Panel from small business owners, the Mayor and City Council are working together to streamline regulations that are unduly burdensome or inefficient.  The first reform from this ongoing effort is simplification of the place of assembly permitting process, which is currently an overly complicated process that involves duplicate work by the Department of Buildings and the Fire Department.  Legislation being introduced in the Council will simplify this process, so that business owners need only interact with one agency in order to receive and later renew a place of assembly permit.

Standardization of customer service training for all agency inspectors. Presently, some agencies incorporate elements of customer service training into their inspector training programs, but others do not.  Legislation being introduced in the Council will require the Mayor’s Office of Operations to develop a standardized customer service curriculum for training agency inspectors, to review each agency’s inspector training program, and to certify agency training programs that include the standardized customer service curriculum.

Designation of agency liaisons to serve as points-of-contact with chambers of commerce and industry groups.  Legislation being introduced in the Council will require every agency that interacts with businesses to designate an employee to serve as the agency’s liaison to the regulated community.

5 New Measures To Help Small Business

New Legislation developed by the City Council and Mayor will eliminate unnecessary obstacles that hinder business growth City Hall, NY – Today, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Committee on Small Business Chair Diana Reyna, Council Minority Leader James S. Oddo, Committee on Government Operations Chair Gale A. Brewer, Council Member Inez Dickens, Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie, Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh and Chief Business Operations Officer Tokumbo Shobowale announced several measures to ease the regulatory burdens on the city’s small businesses.

These measures are a result of the Regulatory Review Panel, a joint effort by the Mayor and the City Council to scrutinize City regulations and how they are developed and make recommendations to recast them, eliminate unnecessary obstacles that hinder business growth, and enhance public participation in rulemaking. These new measures follow up on and further the initial 14 measures announced by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn based on the Regulatory Review Panel’s April 2010 recommendations.

Speaker Quinn was also joined today by Assembly Member Michael DenDekker, Robert Bookman and Andrew Rigie of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Carlo A. Scissura, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Ploeger, as well as representatives from New York City small businesses including second generation newsstand operator Bernard Uhfelder, Paul Seres of the Lower East Side restaurant the DL, Jeff Bank of Carmine’s, former Brooklyn business owner Vinnie Mazone, and Farid Lancheros of Bogota Latin Bistro in Park Slope.

The measures announced today include:

• Identification of violations for which businesses should receive a warning or opportunity to cure the violation instead of an automatic penalty or fine.

• Elimination of obsolete violations.

• Streamlining of regulatory processes; Simplification of the Place of Assembly permitting process.

• Standardization of customer service training for all agency inspectors

• Designation of agency liaisons to serve as points-of-contact with chambers of commerce and industry groups

Think Big Thoughts. Take Big Actions. Yield Big Results.

Inc. 5000 Conference and Celebration Awards 2011Your organization may not be a multi-million dollar organization yet but it’s a wise idea to start thinking and performing as if it were.   I was reminded of this last night when I ran into a former employee of mine who has gone on to open her own restaurant.  She kept trivializing it, comparing it to mine, stating, “We’re very small. We’re nothing like you guys.”I felt obligated to tell her that there was no need to compare her place in size and success to mine. Opening up a business is phenominal in itself.

Think about how a leader of an extraordinarily successful company must think, speak and act, both personally and professionally,  in order for the company to continue being competitive and successful.  A slogan I heard early on in my own personal development was, “Act As If.”   Pretend.  Name a few of your role models and list the qualities you admire about them. Now act as if you have all those same traits.  Act as if.  In acting as if, there will be many moments where you’ll need to be strong.  Remember, however, to be kind along the way. This same principle of Act As If can also be applied if you’re looking to making changes in any areas of your life.  Think big thoughts. Take big actions. Yield big results. Trust me on this. Act as if and see what happens.

I challenge you.

Talent Management

Talent management refers to the skills of attracting highly skilled workers, of integrating new workers, and developing and retaining current workers to meet current and future business objectives. Talent management[1] in this context does not refer to the management of entertainers. Companies engaging in a talent management strategy shift the responsibility of employees from the human resources department to all managers throughout the organization [1]. The process of attracting and retaining profitable employees, as it is increasingly more competitive between firms and of strategic importance, has come to be known as “the war for talent.” Talent management is also known as HCM (Human Capital Management).

The term “talent management” means different things to different organizations [2][2]. To some it is about the management of high-worth individuals or “the talented” whilst to others it is about how talent is managed generally – i.e. on the assumption that all people have talent which should be identified and liberated.[citation needed]

Hiring the right people is one of my biggest challenges in being an entrepreneur.  While there are plenty of great candidates out there, many of them are already employed and many of the rest are simply looking for a job and have no interest in either the restaurant industry as a whole or have no idea that they were hired by the Company to assist with business objectives.  Our main objective is not to to add fat to the payroll. Let others do that. My main objective is to promote the mission of the restaurant, move our agenda ahead and make a profit for the business.

An Entrepreneur’s Best Friend? The Brooklyn Public Library

Moomtaz Coaching / Bogota Latin Bistro / Farid Ali Lancheros / George Constantinou

Farid Ali Lancheros and George Constantinou are advocates for the Brooklyn Business Library

BPL: How and why did you decide to start this type of biz?

George Constantinou: I always had a dream of owning a radio station or a restaurant. Call it fate. Once I got laid off from my Internet job in 2001 and a friend of mine gave me a lead for a bartender position at Night of The Cookers restaurant in Fort Greene. I started off waiting tables, and within three months I was the general manager. It just felt right, and right away my plan was to someday open up my own restaurant. Definitely without the experience, we would have made lots more mistakes.

I learned:

* How the ship runs
* Customers come #1
* Food is an important aspect of the biz
* Ambiance (lighting) is key
* Music has to match the mood
* Staff has to be on top of their jobs
* If any one thing falls out of place, that’s the end of it

Farid Ali Lancheros: The idea of owning my own business never occurred to me until my partner came along and sold me on the idea. Owning your own business was something other people did. I came from a family of people who worked for others. And I also subscribed to that mentality until George not only challenged my thinking, but persistently presented me with the idea of being an entrepreneur.

The reason I finally acquiesced to the idea of a restaurant stemmed from George’s extensive experience in the business. Because I knew nothing about business, I felt confident that I would be able to go forward one step at a time with someone who had experience and the courage to do it. In life, there are opportunities that present themselves only once, and if you’re not aware of them, they pass you by. This was an opportunity that kept presenting itself over and over again. I started to believe that maybe it was an opportunity that not only was being presented to me from a higher plane, but that it was most likely meant to come to fruition.

Having said this, I do love dining out and I do enjoy gathering friends and family together and sharing a meal. I enjoy the intimacy that great food brings to an occasion and I love being taken care of when in a restaurant. I know how I enjoy being treated when I’m out and I’d love to be able to offer that to others, and hopefully, become successful as a result. I currently work in an office where there’s little communication among my coworkers. It’s just me and a computer for eight hours a day, which is very isolating. Working in a restaurant will permit me to be around people where I can access aspects of myself I enjoy in the context of work and a fun dining experience.

BPL: What were the first steps you took to get started?

 GC: I went to Barnes & Noble to buy a restaurant book and at the time there were no opening up a restaurant for dummies type-books, which I had wanted. I came across a few books and eventually I bought a book called Starting a Small Restaurant by Daniel Miller. The book had a certain grassroots charm that I like. I finished the book in two days and was “hungry” to start my business.

I also started looking at restaurants with a different eye and started telling all my friends that I was opening up a restaurant. I created a menu and was so excited by it. Some of the early names I chose for the place were Feta, Octopus and Tamarindo.

We really wanted to have the restaurant in Fort Greene but there was no space available and the next step was Park Slope. We saw there were lots of restaurants opening there and had an early tip that it was a hot area.

In early 2003 I was going to the business library on a weekly basis to look at the notices of events on the bulletin board. There was a seminar that announced a business plan competition. It felt right to enter. I felt like we were going to win from the beginning. The competition made us “rev up” with the biz plan. We had the content, but needed to shape and mold it to what it is now. The competition gave us the discipline to do that. And then we won. Landlords were impressed that we won, so winning did affect some people. But it didn’t make much difference to banks.

We kept trying to get funding. Really, it boils down to who you know. If I owned a home, we would have gotten a loan much sooner. Having a biz partner helps. We had an excellent credit rating, but that wasn’t enough for opening a restaurant. Different industries are treated differently by banks.

FAL: One night I was lying in bed flipping through a local Brooklyn newspaper and I saw an ad for WIBO (Workshop In Business Opportunities), a 16-week business/entrepreneurial workshop that covered all the basics of how to start up your own business. I read the ad over and over again and started thinking. I called up George that very evening and said, “Listen, I’m not saying that I’m going to go into business with you or that I’m even interested. BUT, if you’re willing to take this course with me, I’ll entertain the idea. I’m not making any promises.” He agreed and it began from there.

That step led to the Brooklyn Business Library when one of the librarians visited the class. The library then led me to many free or low-cost classes that are available throughout the city for budding business people. I discovered a treasure trove of information, websites and organizations that assist people who are interested in going into business for themselves.

Winning the biz plan competition took us to another level. We met people we would not have met before. Part of the prize was in our obtaining marketing and legal services that were very helpful. The Neighborhood Law Project assists entrepreneurs in getting a biz off the ground. They loved the fact that we won the contest.

BPL: What Brooklyn organizations and resources would you recommend to others looking for help and assistance in starting a new biz?

GC: I would definitely recommend the Brooklyn Business Library. From day one when I received a tour of the many resources, I knew I would spend the first half of my start-up process in the library researching for my business plan and signing up for entrepreneur classes. (The bulletin board is a great resource. The first thing I would do when I entered the library is check out the bulletin board.)

The NYC Business Solutions Center at the Chamber of Commerce has also been very helpful. Fred Graves is a very resourceful individual.

In addition, Business Outreach Center, Boricua College, BEDC and the Pratt Area Community Council have also been very helpful.

FAL: I always encourage people to make frequent visits to the Brooklyn Business Library and to get to know their librarian. I would not have known where to get started if the library wasn’t there. One of the things the library has are flyers with information on classes, seminars, etc. Those are really helpful.

I would also encourage folks to speak to any and every organization that is out there who may be able to either provide you with some direct assistance or guidance, or lead you to someone else who can. Organizations that I would suggest include the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation, Business Outreach Center, CAMBA, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the New York Small Business Solutions Center and SCORE.

BPL: What methods have you used to get the word out about your biz? How did you select these methods? Which do you think is most successful and why?

GC: Sending email updates to friends has been key. We have involved them in our start-up process since day one. We have a blog on our website that keeps our friends and prospects updated on what’s going on with Bogota.

For restaurants, word of mouth is key. Networking was something we did early in the process. We joined the Chamber of Commerce. We learned the art of getting biz cards, the importance of showing up at meetings and then the importance of exchanging biz cards. Today have collected about 1050 email addresses through our various networking techniques.

It’s also a good idea to meet other restaurateurs. Go out to eat in their restaurants. I was nervous at first to do that, but in actuality they want to help someone out.

FAL: We are making sure we tell everyone we know that we’re starting a restaurant. Wherever I go I mention it to people and I hand out my business card. I also belong to a lot of organizations as a volunteer. I am a member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. I attend numerous networking events and do speaking engagements.

I meet literally hundreds of new people every month and each person I meet is a potential customer. That’s something I learned from WIBO. Everyone is a potential customer. I also make sure I mention it to people in the building I live in and to coworkers at my present job. We also have a website with a blog that chronicles our journey. It makes our friends feel as though they are a part of this.

BPL: What is the best thing about being in biz for yourself?

GC: Creativity. Being your own boss. The power to run a business the way you want to run it. The start-up phase is very exciting and I can’t wait for opening day. I know that it will be one of the biggest days of my life.

FAL: The opportunity to be creative and to know that I am responsible for my own destiny. I love discovering aspects of myself that I never fully tapped into (such as faith, trust and courage) and being able to overcome the ones (such as fear) that have kept me from seizing many opportunities that have passed me by in the past.

It has been important to take a look at how I use my time. “Am I spending time effectively – filling mind with information about the field that I’m getting involved in? Is the time that I’m spending being spent in a worthwhile fashion?”

BPL: What do you think is the most difficult aspect of being in biz for yourself?

 GC: Bills, bills, bills. Paying bills and being responsible for every aspect of the business. As manager of a restaurant, you run the business without the stress of paying the bills. I can do my job and go home at night and sleep without financial stress. It is easy for me as manger to say the light switch needs to be fixed now or the wall should be painted ASAP without thinking of the bigger financial picture. As owner, I now have to plan and strategize which expenses get top priority. I know once the restaurant opens I will sleep differently.

FAL: Being responsible for much more than I am when you’re working for someone else. Every decision I make has an impact on someone else.

BPL: If you were to do one thing differently in starting your own biz, what would it be?

 GC: Not sure. It has been a journey filled with ups and downs and I needed to experience the downs to fully appreciate the ups. I needed to make mistakes to learn not to make them when my business was open.

FAL: This road has been what it’s been. I trust that everything that has happened so far was meant to be the way it was. If things had been different, I would not have learned the lessons I was meant to learn or have met the hundreds of incredible people I’ve met along the way.

BPL: What’s the one most important piece of advice you would give someone else about starting a biz?

 GC: I have a lot of advice.

Do it and don’t give up. There will be a lot of ups and downs – rejections and excitement. One minute it all makes sense and the next you have no clue. But just move forward one step at a time and it will work out.

You have to believe in yourself and make yourself do things you are uncomfortable or scared to do. Be gentle to yourself. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move ahead.

Ask for help, there are people out there to help you. I have met so many great restaurateurs that have opened up themselves for questions, etc. and sometimes I would not want to call them because I thought I was bothering them. I made myself get over that because you have to in order to move forward. I can’t spend anytime being blocked, I need to spend my time furthering myself and my business.

FAL: I would say, ask for help. You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. There’s so much help out there available. Have faith.  You have to be patient. Learn that hearing no is part of the process. You don’t have to give up.


“I Don’t Do Voucher Discount Programs”

Bogota Latin Bistro: New York's Best Colombian Restaurant

Bogota Latin Bistro

Yes, I am a restaurant owner and ‘No’, I have not participated in any voucher programs. I recently attended an event sponsored by Culintro here in New York City discussing voucher discount programs. I wanted to know if these programs worked for any of the panelists in attendance and what their view on them were. I left unconvinced that vouchers would be beneficial to my business.

As expressed by one of the panelists representing Tribeca Grill, I don’t feel like sharing a piece of my pie with anyone at the same time that I’m discounting my food and, in my estimation, cheapening my brand, in exchange for exposure when I feel the best exposure I can get is from doing all the right things right here within my walls.

I believe that these vouchers work well for start ups and possibly for new concepts but I’m already sitting on a restaurant that people have no problem patronizing and paying full price for in exchange for the great food, drinks and service we offer here. Bottom line: we offer a great value here as it is. We have an atypical restaurant: we defy the odds of most places. We could easily be busy (and often are) on Mondays and Tuesdays when most places have employees standing around doing nothing and going home with empty pockets. Do the right thing inside your walls, stay on top of what the competition is doing, treat your guests correctly, hire the best, train them, surprise and delight guests inside the restaurant through specials, freebies (we call them ‘promo’s”’), keep the place clean (especially the bathroom), reach out to them via Facebook and Twitter (as we often do), make them feel absolutely welcome when they walk in the door and absolutely appreciated as they walk out. Do this, among a host of other things (and I can assure that the MAJORITY of restaurants in NYC don’t do half the things I’ve mentioned here) and you’ won’t have to resort to voucher programs. Running a restaurant is hard work. It requires a huge investment of time, energy and money to stay ahead of the competition. If you can’t play with the big boys by doing all or most of the right things, then voucher programs might just be for you.


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