Archive for March, 2012

Way to go, Insurance Company!

March 28, 2012

Have you had a fender-bender lately?  If so, let’s swap stories.

I’m at fault.  I drove into another patient’s car in the minuscule parking lot at the dentist’s office.  Cccrunch.  (Is there a more sickening sound?) I was going probably two miles per hour, backing out of my spot, and didn’t see the nice shiny silver car behind me.

The car owner, rescued from some kind of dental procedure, was very nice. Likewise the receptionist.   Then I went home and called my insurance company.  (Okay, it’s Allstate.)

Talk about nice!  Questions:  are you all right?  Was anyone hurt?  ( fine and no.)

When I was referred to an accident reporting number, yet another seriously polite and professional person took the information.  Not only was she totally pleasant, she informed me about the next steps.  I particularly like the part in which I don’t have to pay a deductible because of something called silver protection or platinum or something.  Anyway, it was good news.

Today, at the collision office, another friendly person provided an estimate and cut a check for repairs.  When I asked about what made people so darned nice at Allstate, he let me know that his two-month training was at least 50% on providing exemplary customer service.  He said their philosophy is to put people on pedestals – to provide the best service it is possible to provide.

Well!  They are succeeding, in my opinion.  They make this complication in my life hurt quite a bit less.  Yes, I pay.  But it seems that I’m getting something for the money, and that’s more than we consumers often get.

So here’s to Allstate.  Thank you for being so responsive.  Thank you for answering the phone within a ring or two.  Thank you for keeping me informed about your process. Thank you for modeling customer service as the foundation of doing business.

(I’m a long-term customer and I approve this message.)


Interviews: the newest, stickiest dilemma

March 21, 2012

I can no longer ignore the newly-emerging phenomenon of interviewers asking for your login IDs and passwords for social media sites.

This outrageous practice demands one thing from all of us – proactive housecleaning.  Clean up your online reputation, please, right now.  Gross language, badmouthing your former employers and co-workers, drunken, inappropriate photos – do you want to be known for this?

I am not on Facebook.  I plead the excuse of time, but this gives me a new one.  No secrets can remain so on the internet.  If you don’t have restricted files, you can’t be coerced or tricked into revealing them.

So clean it up, delete it, close accounts you don’t really need.

Wouldn’t it be nice to answer the unreasonable request with “I don’t have any account there”?

And while you’re at it give your state delegate a call urging action.

Rosa Bonheur at 190

March 16, 2012

You are hereby invited to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, to see two works by a great French painter, Rosa Bonheur.

You can see a large, powerful canvas of thundering steers and horses in the Scottish Highlands and you can marvel at the tranquility of a trio of sheep, snuggled together in a meadow, Sheep by the Sea.

This great lady conveyed through her art that animals deserved more respect than they were getting in mid-nineteenth century France.  From her birth in Bordeaux on March 16, 1822 to life in an apartment in Paris where she kept wild animals so she could draw them, to her simple grave at Pere Lachaise cemetery, Bonheur’s is a story worth telling.

She was of the same generation as Anna Sewell, known to girls and their mothers as the author of Black Beauty, which raised awareness of the plight of work horses and led to a general improvement in their treatment. Thanks to these works of art, from the mid-nineteenth century forward, people began to see animals in a more compassionate framework than before.

Rosa Bonheur’s memorial, in addition to her works of art, is a pet cemetery in Maryland which bears her name.  I think she would be very pleased.

Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts!

March 11, 2012

In my limited scouting experience we went fishing, and we were supposed to bait our own hooks.  I faked it, threw my plain hook in the water and prayed that I wouldn’t catch anything.  Prayer granted. And I’ve never gone fishing since.

Scouts, perhaps you don’t know that you are engaged in the exploration of careers. Whether working on a badge in history, crafting, or business, you have the chance to learn something, try something, and master something. You can love an activity or hate it.

Did you know that you are preparing for that future interview question, Tell me about yourself? I can hear you twenty years from now, Well, when I was a girl scout, I ….

Go for it!

Saluting International Women’s Day

March 8, 2012

Women, this is our day.  Since 1909, women have been invited to reflect on their lives, opportunities, and  limitations.  Early in the twentieth century, observation of this day began and then spread throughout much of the world.  In 1977, the United Nations declared March 8 UN Day for Women’s Rights.

I wish IWD were a bigger deal in this country.  I wish we all thought about our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and teachers.

This year I plan to express gratitude that I’m part of a world that has offered me choices beyond the dreams of a generation (or two or three) ago. I can run my own business, write articles or a book, make presentations,  own property, pay taxes, write checks, and of course, vote, none of which should be taken for granted, ever.

Think about it.  Talk about it.  Be grateful. Talk to your daughters and other young women.  And work to make things even better, because there is still work to do.

Retirement – writing the next chapter

March 6, 2012
  • What’s the plan?
  • What’s the daydream?
  • What’s on the bucket list?

However you look at it, there will come a time when you have choices to make about how you spend your time.  Golf, the grandkids, camping… that may work for you.  But for many, work in some form will continue.
Let’s grant that money will still be a concern and a need (see previous post).  But what about the rest?
Do you have a foreign language skill to dust off and update?
Is there a book in you?
How about a yard to landscape?
Or an immigrant community who needs an English teacher?
I have neighbors who retired from federal jobs and are still very active in their agency’s theater group.  You see them carrying props across the yard, coming and going at unpredictable hours.  Almost too busy to talk, but I see enough of them to know that they are happy being creative and hanging around with like-minded people.
What’s your story?  Your daydream or reality?  Feel free to post a comment.  And then please listen to The Career Clinic on Sunday, March 18, 5:00 p.m. eastern time, at for a chat between host Maureen Anderson and me on retirement options and opportunities.  Maybe your story will be part of the show!

Help wanted!

March 4, 2012

Retirement- what is on your mind?

I’m soliciting ideas, thoughts, concerns, and stories about retirement – yours or anyone you know.  I’ve been invited to be a guest on The Career Clinic, a weekly show of interviews about careers – yours, mine, anyone else’s.  The show’s host, Maureen Anderson, has a dazzling ability to find interesting stories about people doing amazing things, mostly those doing exactly what they want to do and getting paid for it.  If you are not now a regular listener, you should think about it.

First stop – their website,  There you will find podcasts of previous shows, a schedule of upcoming speakers, and Maureen’s pithy and articulate blog, in which she shares thoughts while deliberately not taking up a lot of your time.

Now, about this retirement topic.  You’re invited to listen to the show from 5 to 6pm eastern time on Sunday, March 18th, at

But first, help me out.  Here’s the first question:  What worries you the most about retirement?

Please add a comment below, or get in touch with me for a longer conversation (