REAL Wellness: A Key Element In Strategic Planning During Challenging Economic Times

“The change in the world economy is of a magnitude that comes once every hundred years. We are facing an unprecedented emergency.” Katsuaki Watanabe, author of this remark, is the president of Toyota. This statement was offered on December 22, 2008 while announcing the company’s first operating loss in 70 years – $1.7 billion.

Tina Turner made famous the question, “What’s love got to do with it?” This might be a good time to ask, What’s wellness got to do with it? Is a wellness philosophy as significant in the context of economic ruin as in times that pass for normal?

America and the rest of the world are beset with burst bubbles, bailouts and bankruptcies. Conditions are beyond serious – they’re a fright. There are multiple, interrelated crises – a loss of faith in markets and the economic order, a loss of hope for the future and a diminution in social connectedness. The daily news reflects high levels of worry, fear, insecurity, stress, self-doubt and negativity. This is the context for my question: Is the wellness concept as important now as before? Or, is wellness more of an option than ever, even a luxury of sorts with appeal mostly to privileged elites with the means to get their needs met AND aspire to a good and fulfilling life?

Consider a bit more detail on the extent of the current crisis. The American economy is sinking into a recession just this side of a depression. Frustration bordering on panic is evident throughout the land. Distress marks the national mood. Job losses (533,000 of them disappeared in November), the unavailability of credit from banks (despite massive taxpayer bailout funds later channeled in part for executive bonuses), the presence of pockets of severe unemployment (almost 14 percent in South Carolina), business failures, big losses in household worth due to market declines and the burst housing bubble – this is the context for the question posed about the viability of wellness as 2009 looms. If all this does not get your attention, consider the fact that Russian academic Igor Panarin predicts a US collapse by 2010, followed by a civil war and the breakup of the nation into five different countries. (The only good news is that Alaska will revert to Russia, thereby making Sarah Palin Russia’s problem, not ours – see Andrew Osborn, As if Things Weren’t Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S., Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2009.) In summary, in case you had not noticed, the world’s coalmine seems littered with dead canaries.

On a bright note, Americans will have new leadership in a few weeks. The president-elect is amazingly popular at the moment (73% approval), but even the most optimistic Democrat knows Obama is no fiscal Superman or supernatural economic turnaround messiah sent from above. Obama’s $775 billion economic recovery plan, announced a month ago, already seems too little, too late. Rebuilding the infrastructure with WPA-like bridges, roads and other projects will be helpful, but some economists predict it won’t be enough to arrest a national slide toward a deeper state of crisis. (I will refrain from expressions like ruin and despair.)

Given this context, let’s pause for a hard, cold look at where wellness fits, if indeed it fits at all. Of course I refer to REAL (reason, exuberance and liberty) wellness, a mindset or philosophy of personal responsibility, optimism and commitment to affirmative, evidence-based principles for making choices small and large. Not the same as prevention, risk reduction or illness management – REAL wellness is a unwavering focus on exceptional health and quality of life.

Little public attention is given, in good times or bad, to positive health and life satisfaction. Instead, the focus always seems to be on the many frightful consequences of NOT doing the right thing. At a time of financial crises unknown since the Great Depression, it is fitting to ask if our philosophy for good living has a place, alongside the struggle millions are experiencing to feed their families, pay their bills and provide for the welfare of their children. Is this an appropriate time to proclaim the applications of a wellness lifestyle and, if you think so, how is this communicated to those struggling at the lower rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy?

I suggest a REAL wellness mindset is always important. In hard times, little else will make a quality difference, for the better. REAL wellness will liberate those who embrace it and enable advances toward the most important kind of prosperity, namely, physical and psychological well-being. Given the stresses of today’s fiscal turmoil, perils await those who seek only comfort and relief. The best ally in the quest for economic recovery is a positive lifestyle that promotes personal health and builds upon positive social connections. Economic perils are best faced with positive attitudes, high resolve of mental discipline and peak physical strengths, not while mired in a struggle against negativity.

Wellness itself does not solve any financial problems. However, it helps in reaching and maintaining first-rate levels of physical and mental functioning. That state can in turn facilitate the pursuit of activities that best advance opportunities and manage crises.

Consider some factors that make REAL wellness a winning philosophy in hard as well as good times. As you know, REAL wellness entails:

* A disciplined focus on the bright side.

* A commitment to personal excellence.

* A regard for social support and the value of communities.

* A willingness to secure and work to maintain high standards of physical fitness.

* A continuing conscious pursuit of added meaning and purpose.

* A desire to comprehend the phenomenon of happiness and realize some measure or degree of it, as circumstances permit.

* A continuing respect for personal honor associated with the art of applied ethics

* A recognition that it’s best to want what you have and to live in the present (versus bemoaning what you had before or could have had save for an errant decision or two). An excellent book on this approach to prospering in the best sense of the word is Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want by Barbara Sher.

* A predisposition to take the time to appreciate the beauty around you, in natural as well as human forms.

* A sense of gratitude for the fact that, while conditions are difficult, there is so much left to celebrate and resolve to appreciate.

* An outlook marked by compassion for others in general, as well as a mindset of forgiveness for those who may have contributed to difficult circumstances. (Yes, include in the latter even George W. Bush. But, not the Devil. Humans need someone or something as a scapegoat, even if they have to invent such characters to make their saviors seem deliriously wonderful by comparison.)

Some still might fret at the contradictions in the affirmative nature of REAL wellness, such as sketched above, and hard times, massive human suffering, scarce resources and widespread worry and fear. Is REAL wellness of a positive nature not a guilty indulgence while Rome (and the rest of the world) burns? Or not?

The proper answer, I say, is Absolutely not! Major not! In fact, au contraire, no way Jose and just the opposite. Now more than ever, we need a REAL wellness philosophy to deal with challenges greater than normal. Much greater than normal, in fact.

A healthy lifestyle that includes physical, mental/emotional and social components will protect and build your immunity while maintaining and boosting your morale. The REAL wellness qualities sketched above (a partial list, I might add) are invaluable for weathering the proverbial storm (s) AND for building a capacity to flourish.

Wellness qualities are always advantageous, but when times are tough, such qualities lend toughness, as well. The weak in body, mind and morale will be first to succumb to unrelenting demands, stresses, setbacks and other misfortunes that accompany prolonged crises. Furthermore, family, friends and perfect strangers need you at your best, providing leadership, guidance, inspiration and hope. Judd Allen, like his father Robert F. Allen before him, often describes the health and other positive benefits that follow when people come together for support, for entertainment or to seek political solutions. All are helpful ways to boost well-being, no doubt even more so when budgets are light and conditions difficult.

There are no guarantees, even with a bright-side outlook, but more than ever, it will pay to adopt and practice REAL wellness. To be physically fit, mentally strong and resolute, adaptable, flexible, resilient and capable is a formula for success in bad times – and good.

If these comments seem plausible and convincing, if you agree that REAL wellness makes sense in normal times and more so in crises, then you will want to support public policies and private initiatives that make such learning and living opportunities widely available. For instance, you will want to support continuing worksite wellness programs, knowing that the common reaction to less business might be to pull back programming to save money. This is an ideal time to not only deal creatively with the current crisis but to prepare as well for the future. Let’s explore innovative new approaches to healthy, productive work forces and work settings. Similar thinking should influence the shape of health system reforms. Likewise, apply REAL wellness values introduced with varied public programs aimed at creating jobs, rebuilding the economy and making individual life and society itself better than before the economy fell apart. Perhaps solutions to the fiscal downturn will only be possible when we more effectively work together for solutions that meet the needs of all classes, not just the most advantaged.

Hard Times For Surety Bonds

The surety bond market is currently a very conservative market. Contract and commercial bond departments throughout the nation have tightened up their underwriting practices due to enormous loses throughout the industry. Many sureties have had to close their doors, other have had their ratings drop to a level where they can not write the same business they could in years past. Obviously this leaves the bonding companies that are still operating with a very conservative outlook when it comes to their underwriting guidelines.

One thing that many do not understand is while the current surety bond market is tough, it is considered a more traditional underwriting approach. Contractors are being angered by decreases in their bond lines, or in worst cases are now being deemed “not bondable”. Business owners seeking commercial bonding such as license bonds to run their business are not only finding it harder to obtain an approval, but are also seeing rates much higher than years past.

Why such a drastic difference? A couple years back the industry saw the softest bond market ever, which caused a backlash to what is now today’s hard market. The surety bond market is cyclical, a member of the Surety Bond Forums commented on the cycle stating:

Vicious cycle:

We need more profit from you – write more business

We need to write more business, loosen up underwriting

We’ve loosened up underwriting – oops- losses

Losses? Sorry, you aren’t contributing to the bottom line – watch it

Tighten up underwriting – less premium – but losses still come in from previous underwriting

Losses increase – loss ratio increases due to smaller premium and more losses

Sorry – we are closing down surety operation and sticking to profitable lines

While at another company – lots of business out there due to company a getting out of business – go pick it up we need more business so we can get more profit and on and on and on

What is a 6 letter word for “doesn’t learn from the past”

S _ R _ T Y

The good news for anyone looking to obtain a bond is that the market will become more liberal in time. The bad news for agents is this will not be the last time that accounts scramble in mass looking for a new agent that can offer them what you previously were. Fortunately for agents, in general they will find very similar offers from agent to agent, as our industry is smaller than most realize.

Brand: You, Creating and Self-Marketing Yourself to Find a Job During Tough Times

A career brand is an image that portrays you as an expert in your field, attracts your ideal employer, and reveals how you can help their business. How can you promote your career brand effectively, to stand out among increasing competition in the workforce? Self-marketing!

Before you begin self-marketing, you need to understand:

1. What you are going to market about yourself

2. Who you are going to market yourself to

3. Why you are going to market yourself to them

This article offers some important tools to develop your career brand and understand your self-marketing plan.

Goals of Self-Marketing

1. Provide direction to help eliminate trial and error. As a result, save time and money.

2. Network with key industry players.

3. Identify your transferable skills. Marketing these skills, not just job history and accomplishments, puts you in higher demand (i.e., more interviews).

4. Determine what other industries your transferable skills fit into. The industry you are in affects the success of your career. Market yourself in growing industries (green-collar, biotechnology, nutrition, IT). Steer away from dying 5. industries (textile, printing, newspapers, steel manufacturing, etc.).

6. Resolve any setbacks that hurt your career and prevent you from getting interviews. Fix your resume so it does not portray you as “a job hopper”, “lacking education”, or “unable to advance at a company”.

Create Your Own Mission Statement

Just as mission statements provide direction and purpose for companies, individuals can benefit from having their own personal mission statement too.

Your mission statement says what is important to you. Write yours before starting a career to get on the right path and connect with companies that have similar values and beliefs. You can revise it or write a new one at a career crossroads. Its sense of purpose is great motivation!

What to include:

1. Goals – Aspirations in life (short-term and long-term)

2. Core values – Who you are and what your priorities are

3. Successes – Professional, personal, etc.

4. Offerings – How you can make a difference for the world, your family, employer or future employers, friends and community

Integrate Assessments into Your Career Branding

Career and personality assessments reveal consistent patterns in your traits, characteristics, strengths, preferences, and skills. The assessment results may lead you in a new career direction. If you have an established career, they tell you how well your traits and branding messages align with your career path.

Present your distinctive and noteworthy traits to your targeted employers. Remember that not all recurring patterns contribute to good branding (e.g., introversion). Disregard any pattern you feel is not really you.

Incorporate the assessment results into your career branding materials: resume, cover letter, elevator speech, interview responses, portfolio, business card, etc. Convey a consistent branding message throughout all of these materials. But you can use different branding statements for different industries.

Tag! You Are “It”!

Self-marketing is not just about selling your specific skills. Everyone has skills. They get you in the door, but not necessarily get you the job. There can be 100 or more applicants per job posting, and they all have the same or better skills as you. How can you stand out as “the one”?

Develop a tag-line. A great tag-line tells people exactly what a product is and how they will benefit from using it. This is what employers want to know about you! Specifically, how you will help them make and save money. Tell them how much money you helped a previous or current employer make or save on a given project, sale, or time period.

Dear Career Journal…

Did you have a diary or journal when you were young? It helped you express feelings when no one else would listen, or when you did not want anyone else to listen! Similarly, a journal can help and guide us in our professional adult life too.

Writing in a career journal allows you to set aside time to think and learn more about yourself and your career. Just as when you were younger, using a journal allows you to express emotions (good and bad) about career progress. When you read past entries, see how far you have come!

Use your career journal to:

1. Write your personal mission statement

2. React to self-assessment tests

3. Do a SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analysis

4. Evaluate your current situation

5. Reflect on your successes and failures

6. Devise career goal ideas (breaking into a new career, as a volunteer or consultant)

7. Think about career alternatives

8. Establish daily or weekly career-related objectives or tasks

9. Develop action plans to achieve your objectives and tasks

10. Make checklists

11. Record network contacts, job interview results, etc.

12. Develop job correspondence material (cover letters, resumes, thank you letters, etc.)

13. Practice job interview questions and answers

14. Gather salary information

15. Jot down ideas and information you like and want to use in the future

16. Record things you want or need to learn, skills to improve upon

17. Discover and explore your workplace values

18. Record your job-related likes and dislikes (and employers’ likes and dislikes)

19. Note lessons learned

20. Develop ways to improve the workplace

21. Review job-search trends

22. Develop plans for achieving promotions

23. Document the career paths of your peers that you want to emulate

24. Prepare for job performance reviews

Do not keep your career journal at your workplace. Keep it at home on your computer or in a notebook. Try to set a regular time of day to work on your journal, maybe right after work. Maybe before work to get yourself motivated and focused on what you can achieve that day!

Your journal is always ready, and no matter where your career path leads you, you can continue to use it throughout your professional life.

Key Marketing Tools:

Strategic Marketing Plan

Your plan answers these questions:

1. What have I accomplished, where am I now, and where will my career be if I do not take action?

2. Where do I want to go with my career?

3. How do I get to where I want to go?

4. How do I put my plan into action?

5. What do I need to change if I am not getting success?

Market Research

Understand trends in your career field. Consult resources such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. Interview industry professionals. Study the companies you would like to work for. Use this information for your cover letter, resume and job interview.

Marketing Mix

You are probably already familiar with the 4 P’s of marketing, or the “marketing mix”. The 4 P’s are product, promotion, place, and price. Translate these in terms of you and your career for job search success.


You are the product with unique characteristics, features, and skills. Expose your “product features” in your tag-line and resume. Let employers know your work experience, leadership experience, professional memberships, technical skills, education and training.

Make sure that your on-line marketing tools (i.e., Facebook or Myspace) are cleaned up and employer ready. You do not want a potential employer to see something on your personal networking sites that will land you in trouble.

Do not forget “packaging”, to properly present yourself and your credentials to potential employers.


This is your cover letter, resume, phone calls, correspondence and interviewing. Promotion tools include anything that you can use to get a job interview and ultimately get a job offer.

Be memorable by utilizing multimedia marketing like email, follow-up phone calls, or try using regular priority mail envelopes to send resumes, cover letters and other “marketing materials”. This increases your career brand and distinctiveness.


This includes everywhere employers can access you. How are you reaching employers or people who can connect you with employers?

1. Internet job-searching and applying to job postings

2. Cold calling

3. Networking with current and former coworkers, colleagues and alumni

4. Speaking with recruiters at staffing and employment agencies and company HR departments

5. Visiting your university career centers and alumni offices

6. Attending professional association meetings and seminars


Price includes all aspects of the compensation you can receive from potential employers, as well as your strategies to get the price you want, and that the employer feels you deserve. Your price not only includes salary, but also insurance, benefits, paid time off and perks.

Call in the SWOT Team!

Performing a SWOT Analysis, used in marketing planning, is helpful to use in your career planning. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It answers:

1. What are your Strengths and Weaknesses (in your internal environment)?

2. What are Opportunities and Threats in your career field (external environment)?


Internal, positive aspects which you can capitalize upon, such as:

1. Work experience

2. Education

3. Technical skills and knowledge (e.g., computer skills)

4. Personal characteristics (e.g., superior work ethic)

5. Strong network of contacts

6. Involvement with professional associations and organizations

7. Enjoying what you do


Internal, negative aspects that you plan on improving, such as:

1. Lack of work experience

2. Inconsistent major with the job you are looking for

3. Lack of specific job knowledge

4. Weak technical knowledge

5. Weak skills (leadership, interpersonal, communication, teamwork)

6. Weak job-hunting skills

7. Negative personal characteristics (e.g., no motivation, indecisiveness, shyness)

8. Weaknesses identified in past performance appraisals


External, positive conditions out of your control, but you plan to leverage or add value:

1. Field trends* that create more jobs (e.g., globalization, technology)

2. Field needs your set of skills

3. Opportunities for advancement in your field

4. Location

5. Strong network


External, negative conditions out of your control, but you may be able to overcome:

1. Field trends* that diminish jobs (e.g., downsizing, obsolescence)

2. Companies are not hiring people with your major/degree

3. Competition from college graduates with your same degree

4. Competitors with superior skills, experience or knowledge

5. Competitors who attended better schools

6. Limited advancement in your field (too competitive)

7. Limited professional development in your field

8. Find hiring/employment trends in your field. Go on-line to ABI/INFORM, Business News Bank, and Lexis/Nexis.

After completing your SWOT Analysis, add the results to your Strategic Marketing Plan. Also, use your SWOT results to develop the following in your Plan:

1. Career goals

2. Marketing strategies

3. Action plan with deadlines

The Elevator Speech

The Elevator Speech is a clear, concise introduction that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the top to the bottom of a building. It can be as short as 15 seconds or as long as three minutes. Write down your Elevator Speech, and practice it so it comes naturally. Be ready to deliver it!

Use it at:

1. Networking events (including “unconventional” ones, like shopping)

2. Career fairs

3. Cold calls to employers

4. Voice-mails

5. Your current workplace, when you encounter the higher-ups

6. Job interviews when asked, “Why should I hire you?” and “Tell me about yourself”

Your Elevator Speech includes:

1. A greeting

2. Your name

3. Your industry or field

4. Accomplishments, background, qualifications and skills

5. If you are graduating soon, what school and what degree

6. What you want to do and why

7. Why you enjoy what you do or want to do

8. What interests you about the listener’s company/business

9. What sets you apart from others

10. Your tag-line that you developed!

11. Your mission statement that you developed!

Finally, capture their interest and request action.

1. At a career fair: “May I have your business card, and give you my card and resume? Can you add me to your company’s interview schedule?”

2. Networking: “What advice do you have for me? What employers do you suggest I contact?”

3. On a cold call: “When can we meet to discuss how I can help your company? May I send you my resume?”

Value of Using Multi-Page Booklets in a Small Business During Tough Economic Times

This is the third in a series of articles on the design and use of print media for value added marketing and advertising during tough economic times. The goal of this article is the same. Use print media for marketing and promotion during tough economic times. It provides the best value for your marketing dollars. Our specific marketing goal is increase the spending base of existing customers and attract new customers.

This article deals with multi-page booklets. They are probably one of the most expensive of the printed promotional tools, but depending on what your business offers, can be one of the most value added. Multi-page booklets can be used as menus in a restaurant, menus in a salon and spa, product catalogs, multi-page brochures and more. When your business needs to convey a lot of information about products or services in a professional and classy style, the multi-page booklet may be your answer.

Dimensions and Paper- There are variations, but the standard dimension are typically 8″ x 9″, 8.5″ x 11″ and 8.5 x 5.5″. Most standard run printers offer booklets ranging from 4 to 32 pages. Printers specializing in catalogs and magazines offer more pages, but that is out of the realm of we are discussing today. scored and folded in the center. Booklets typically are printed on 100lb Gloss Book Paper and come with or without UV coating. Variations in the type of paper and finish will likely cost more. Order quantities range from 100 to many 1,000. The more you buy, the better the value.

Design/Message – As mentioned earlier, the multi-page booklet is the choice for conveying high quantity, high quality, classy offerings. When using the higher cost multi page booklet approach, ensure you know what message you want to convey and how you want to convey it. If your business pays several hundred dollars for booklets and you decide after the fact they were not what you wanted, our value proposition just went out the window. The basic rule of thumb when using them are:

o best for businesses that have many products, each with detailed descriptions that need to presented in an organized, easily read manner.

o best for businesses that are providing a variety of services with complicated descriptions.

o make sure the design and message coincides with the theme, decor and branding of your business.

o As with other printed materials, keep it simple and easy to read. Flowing hard to read fonts in titles and text, tend to lose readers. Make it as easy as possible for your prospective client, but make it look good. Again, design and message is where a good graphics artist is a must.

Uses – we mentioned some uses earlier, but we will go into a little more detail in this area.

  • Your business includes internet sales of 15 to 18 health and beauty products. Using an 8 page multi-page booklet as a catalog describing the products, manufacturer, availability, ingredients and pricing may be ideal. A catalog can be shipped with some or all orders and provides quick information concerning your other available products.
  • Your business is a salon and spa that offers hair care, skin care and massage services. Using a 4 page booklet as your menu of services may be your solution. With your graphic artist’s help, you can convey detailed information about services, training and certifications your business has, pricing and present it all in a classy style that coordinates with the decor of your salon and spa.
  • Your business is a small neighborhood ethnic restaurant that specializes preparing in-house and take-out the way the customer wants it. Your solution may be a 8 page booklet as your menu. The menu would describe your standard meals and pricing along with the specialty items available for the made to order dishes with pricing. This menu would be given to first time customers as a reward for coming in. They can take it home and determine what there next eat-in or take out will be beforehand.

Again, I am going to harp on branding. The most important thing to remember is to keep all of your promotional materials branded to your business for quick recognition. That means use the same logo, colors, fonts, and themes when developing your print marketing materials.

Corporate Business Gifts – Gift-Giving in Harsh Economic Times

In our day and age pretty much any business transaction can be done online. Whether you are purchasing a service or a product, the Internet has allowed us more choices and better deals. This is exactly what you get when you buy your corporate business gifts online.

The gesture of giving corporate business gifts is a classic tradition and a renowned way of saying thank you. With a corporate business gift you could be saying thank you to your customers, staff or boss and thanks to the boom in online business there is now more choice than ever when it comes to gaining corporate business gifts. Almost any gift that you can think of can be found on the Internet; even unique gifts. All of the gifts that are available can be customized to present your business name and logo as well as an original image that you have the option of supplying.

Below are examples of some of the most popular corporate business gifts that are available for you today:

· Pens

· Mugs

· Umbrellas

· Bags

· USB Products

· Mouse Mats

· Conference Folders

· Key Rings

Depending on who and how many people you are giving corporate business gifts to, you are able to order the above, and many more, in bulk or individual orders. You could want to say thank you to the customers of your business or, on the other hand, you may want to use corporate business gifts to thank your staff for their continued hard work. However, despite who you want to give a corporate business gift to, it is becoming increasing difficult due to the state of the economy.

The credit crunch and threat of recession is all too real and as a result you may find it difficult to afford the corporate business gifts you want to buy but don’t worry help is at hand.

Believe it or not there are companies out there who aren’t out to bleed you dry for your every last penny. Many of the companies who offer you corporate business gifts understand that to make money in these hard times they need to lower prices. Corporate business gifts may not be on the top of a priority list, which is why these companies are offering you some of the best deals around. In these cases you get the corporate business gift that you require and the companies supplying them don’t lose out on business.

To help you beat the credit crunch the companies who supply corporate business gifts have an array of offers that you can’t miss! If you are planning on buying corporate business pens then did you know you can buy a minimum of 500 for as little as 30 cents? How about coffee mugs? Well you can get a minimum quantity of 100 from $2! If Key Rings are more what you are after then how about a minimum of 100 from $3.50 or less. These prices are some of the lowest that you can find on the web, if you search around more, you will probably find much better deals. With a bit of web browsing you will find the corporate business gifts that you require at a price that is hardly going to break the bank.

Corporate business companies who offer prices such as the above will allow you to buy the perfect corporate business gift for your clients or staff; in fact at prices like those you could afford to buy all of your clients and staff corporate business gifts and still feel financially good about it.

Exit mobile version