Are you a Multi-Tasker?

Hi Everyone,

I took a couple of weeks off and during that time I kept thinking about all the things I needed to do after going on vacation, especially all those emails. So today’s blog is on multi-tasking, and just what is multi-tasking?

So it’s Monday morning and you have emails, texts, scheduling, meetings, and more meetings, calendar updates, budget, and I could go on and on. My solution to all of this is that you can’t do it all at once, and that is where I think some people get confused with multi-tasking. You open an email, the phone rings, and one of your staff asks you a question. You certainly can’t do all three at once, and if you do, who are you cheating? So to me multi-tasking is to finish the phone call first, then answer your staff question, and then on to your email.

During my many reads of Sam Walton’s book on his life, Sam definitely had to be a multi-tasker running a giant like Walmart. Sam had a yellow legal pad that he started the morning off with, writing down everything that he needed to do that day. If something else came up, it went on the legal pad, and at the end of the day, whatever was left went on the next day’s pad.

I have tried to follow that pattern myself, only I have upgraded from the yellow legal pad to my iPad and the nice thing is that I can also use my iPhone, so I will always have my notes close by. The biggest challenge for me is the calendar.

In my office I keep two calendars (easy cling, thanks Max Asinger) on the wall for the current and the next month. I also have a calendar on my iPhone and iPad, so I shouldn’t miss any events, right? Wrong! As hard as I try, somehow I always seem to miss something. That is where multi-tasking can get you in trouble. So when that happens, I just regroup and say to myself, “Make sure you write down immediately any appointments, and make sure it goes in your iPhone calendar.”

I just pulled up multi-tasking on Google, and this comment made me laugh, because it really relates to my last paragraph: “Missing multiple appointments and meetings and forgetting important things regularly could be a sign that you are juggling too many tasks at once. It helps to keep digital calendars, to-do lists, and various reminders that essentially multi-task for you, make you look like a great multi-tasker, and insure that you don’t miss anything important.”

So I need to practice what I preach, and although I think multi-tasking can be good, you also need to slow down and make sure that you are not overextending yourself!

Finally, here are three tips to be a better multi-tasker:
1. Prioritize your tasks.
2. Deal with things one step at a time.
3. Don’t allow yourself to get stressed out.

Let me know if this helps you in your everyday activities, and if you have some suggestions for better multi-tasking, drop me a line!

See you next Friday!

What is CASA?

Hi Everyone,

Today I wanted to write about CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. The Chamber oversees the Leadership McKean program, and two years ago one of our groups did a project on the need for having CASA in our county.

Today we were at the court house as Judge Chris Hauser swore in nine CASA volunteers. As I was sitting and listening, I thought this would be a great time to tell you all about the program.

First, I want to thank that Leadership McKean project group that led the way. They are Kelly Compton, Barbie Cummings, Ashley Carlson, Chris Forbes, Lindsey Mapes and Karl Ross, who all were present for today’s ceremony.

What does a CASA volunteer do?
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and other settings. The primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer are:

Gather information: Review documents and records, interview the children, family members and professionals in their lives.

Document findings: Provide written reports at court hearings.

Appear in court: Advocate for the child’s best interests and provide testimony when necessary.

Explain what is going on: Help the child understand the court proceedings.

“Be the glue”: Seek cooperative solutions among individuals and organizations involved in the children’s lives. As one
volunteer said: Be the glue that connects the pieces in a complicated child welfare system.

Recommend services: Ensure that the children and their family are receiving appropriate services and advocate for those that are not immediately available. Bring concerns about the child’s health, education, mental health, etc. to the appropriate professionals.

Monitor case plans and court orders: Check to see that plans are being followed and mandated review hearings are being held.

Keep the court informed: Update the court on developments with agencies and family members. Ensure that appropriate motions are filed on behalf of the child so the court knows about any changes in the child’s situation.

That is the short version, but as you can see, this could really impact the life of a foster child.

Here is a story about a young man in Beaumont, Texas who was a foster child and had a CASA volunteer:

Today, Ryan is 26 years old. He has left Foster Care Alumni and the speaking circuit and settled down in Beaumont, TX. He works as an insurance agent with Farmers Insurance, and goes to college full time. In August 2014, he completed his bachelor’s degree in social work, and plans to pursue a master’s program in public administration at Lamar University. And he is a recent newlywed.

Ryan says that none of these accomplishments—and those yet to come—would have been possible without the support of his CASA volunteer and the CASA program staff in Beaumont.

“CASA is my lifesaver. I would have been lost in foster care. There are so many kids, and not so many social workers. There were times that I didn’t hear from my social worker for three or more months. But I always heard from CASA.

To this day, I am still close with my CASA volunteer and case supervisor, as well as other staff and even board members. I have a whole cheerleading squad—and they are all affiliated with CASA. I would be a different person today if I hadn’t had that support system, that positive group of folks telling me, ‘Ryan, you can go to college, you will be a good husband, a good father. You don’t have to be afraid to have a child. Ryan, you are a good person.’

I can never pay CASA back for everything they have done for me.”

How impactful is that message from Ryan? We are so happy that Leadership McKean and the project group I mentioned above set the ground work for CASA here in McKean County.

CASA now has an Executive Director Kristen Tim, a Board of Directors, nine new volunteers, and the backing of Judge John Pavlock, Judge Christopher Hauser and the McKean County Commissioners.

If you are interested in being a volunteer, contact Kristen at 814-887-4029.

See you in two weeks!


The Power of Positive Thinking

Hi Everyone,

Today I want to talk about positive thinking, and what better way to start than one of Zig Ziglar’s quotes: “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

I never could understand why some people look for the negative in everything, and when you try to put out the positive, they don’t want to listen. They thrive on the negative!

I read somewhere that negative thoughts drain you of energy and keep you from being in the present moment. The more you give in to your negative thoughts, the stronger they become. Think of an imaginary small ball rolling along the ground, and as it rolls, it becomes bigger and faster. That’s what one small negative thought can turn into: a huge, speeding ball of ugliness. On the other hand, a small positive thought can have the same effect, blossoming into a beautiful outcome.

I also think about those people that can take any situation and make it a negative, and I wonder how terrible their life must be, that everything they see is negative. What is even worse, those negative people attract other negative people and now their negativism goes to a new level. They reinforce that negativism by agreeing with each other, and that growing ball is rolling further and further. Now they have upset not only their negative friends, but in some cases the entire community, and that fearfulness and negativism is a sure path to failure.

I know that I see the glass as half full, or as I like to say it is overflowing. I like to see the good in everyone, and I thrive on having positive people around me. If you are a negative person, you will not be in my camp. Now let me clarify that yes, I see negative things in my community, but instead of complaining and blaming people, I think the positive approach is to find a way to make changes and turn that negative into a positive.

We had a situation a couple of years ago where we actually had someone take pictures of all the empty storefronts, and point out that they believed the town was going down the tube. Now I could have challenged this person and been as negative as they were and made some rude comments, but I didn’t. I thought the best way to handle this negative thinking was to come up with a positive.

What can we do to fill up these spots? Well, Anita Dolan took care of that, by working hard with local business people to add 14 new businesses last year, and 5 more on the way this year. That is positive thinking, and that is the road I will stay on. (By the way, if anyone is interested in one of the three currently available spaces on Main Street, I would be glad to put you in touch with Anita!)

For all those negative people, look in the mirror, and ask yourself, “Is this negative thinking healthy? Am I really happy criticizing everything I see?”

My good friend Howard Fesenmyer says, “Look in the mirror every morning, and say, “God, what do you want me to do today for my community?” If you start your morning that way, I guarantee you that when you go to bed that night you are going to feel a lot better than those people that spend the whole day being negative.

See you next Friday!

Johnny the Bagger!

Hi, everyone.
Several years ago when I was with Walmart I had attended one of our conventions, and we usually had motivational speakers who spoke about customer service. One story that I remember was “Johnny the Bagger.” The person making the presentation was hired by a large supermarket chain to lead a customer service program, and she shared that experience with us.

In her presentation to the employees of this supermarket she said, “Every one of you can make a difference,” and she challenged them to do something to make their customers feel special–create a memory that would make them come back.

A month later she received a phone call from a 19 year old bagger named Johnny. He proudly informed her that he was a Down Syndrome individual and told his story.

“I liked what you talked about,” he said, “but at first I didn’t think I could do anything special for our customers. After all, I’m just a bagger.”

Then he told her that he had come up with an idea. Every night after he came home from work, he would find a thought for the day, and if he couldn’t find one, he just thought one up. His dad helped him set it up on the computer and print copies. Johnny would cut out the copies and sign his name on the back. Then he’d bring them to the store the next day.

When he finished bagging someone’s groceries, he would put his thought for the day in their bag and say, “Thanks for shopping with us!”

A month later the store manager called her and said, “You wouldn’t believe what has happened! Today I found a line of customers in the line that Johnny bags, and it was three times longer than anyone else’s.” He said he tried to get people into other lines and they replied, “No, it’s okay–we want to be in Johnny’s lane–we want his ‘Thought for the Day’.”

The store manager was overwhelmed by watching Johnny make his customers happy. One of his customers said, “I used to shop in your store once a week, but now I come in every time I go by to get Johnny’s ‘Thought for the Day’.”

A few months later, the store manager called our speaker again, saying, “Johnny has transformed our store. When the Floral department has a broken flower or unused corsage, they find an elderly customer or a little girl and pin it on them. Everyone is having fun creating memories!”

So if you remember, I mentioned several weeks ago about creating raving fan customers–that is what Johnny had done. The same as the waiter did in the story I told you about the customer who went to a restaurant in New York City. It’s so easy to do little things for your customer, and I can assure you that they will never forget it.

If you have a great customer service story, I would be happy to share it with our readers. Just drop it off at the Chamber or send it to my email at

See you next Friday!


Giving back!

Hi, everyone.

Last night was our Annual Meeting and Awards Presentation, and our theme was “giving back.” We used the quote from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Now I’ve always believed that you need to give back to your community, and I see that demonstrated all over our town. I pointed out some of the examples last night, and I’d like to share them in this blog.

I mentioned first the Bradford City Water Authority, and the courageous act that those men performed on the night of February 23rd in -20 degree weather and 2 feet of water. They truly gave back to their community to get our water back in service.

The campaign drive for United Way of the Bradford Area had another successful year, and they will be able to help many organizations throughout the community thanks to everyone’s generous support!

George Duke, the owner of Zippo Manufacturing Company, donated the funds to remodel the upstairs of City Hall, because he wants our citizens and visitors to be proud of our city hall. Thank you, George Duke, for believing in Bradford.

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford just completed their capital campaign and exceeded their goal, raising a total of $20 million dollars. How exciting is that?

Destinations Bradford is one of the best examples of giving back, and Becky Plummer exemplifies that best. Her organization offers a hand up, not just a hand out, by offering educational and spiritual opportunities to those in need.

Now, as I said last night I could go on and on about the giving in our community, but it would take all day to list them.

I would like to close with a quote from my good friend Bob Esch from American Refining Group, “If we were to organize a parade in recognition of all those who give, there would be just a few to view the parade.” So I would encourage all you to come and join in that parade!

See you next Friday!


This is my non political announcement!

Hi, everyone.

This is my non political announcement! I thought that would get your attention. No, I am not running for anything, those days are over!

As we enter the primary season and spring, we see the sprouting of flowers and political signs. So I thought I would give you my platform, and again, I am not running for office.

The first thing I would promise is not to make promises I couldn’t keep, but these are the promises that I would make:

I would agree that whatever job I am running for, that I would work hard for the taxpayers, and look at ways to continue the progress we have made over the past few years. Yes, I do believe we have made progress. We aren’t where I want us to be, but we have made progress!

I would thank all of our industries and businesses for helping to bring unemployment down to under 6% (remember, in 2009 it was 11%). I would also thank them for all their support with donations to so many nonprofits in our town. I would offer any help that we could give them to continue this growth.

I would thank all of our nonprofits for their hard work and caring for the folks in our community, and offer any help that I could give them to reach their missions.

Next up, I would thank all of our city employees for their hard work, especially this past winter, and promise them that I would always have an open door policy. I believe we have a great group of hardworking employees that have the best interests of the city in mind when they go to work every day.

I would encourage everyone to keep their property up, and have a competition for the best neighborhoods. Recently, I visited my hometown of Windber, Pennsylvania, and that is what they do. The results are outstanding!

I would encourage our children to get involved in community projects, and sit down with all of our students who are in their junior year, and encourage them to stay in Bradford and help us to take our town to the next level.

I’m really not sure why these thoughts came to me today, but for those who know me, you know that I love this town, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I love walking down the street and saying hello to everyone. When my grandchildren visit and we go out, they count how many people say hello to me or I say hello to them. It’s funny, but it’s part of what is great about living in a town that you love!

See you next Friday!


Step Out of the Box!

Hi Everyone,

Has your boss ever said, “Step out of the box and make a difference.” If he has, he is a good boss, because he isn’t afraid to take a chance to improve his business.

I was interviewed on Wednesday by a couple of college students who were doing a project for another chamber. I told them all the things we had done over the past four years, such as our website, events, newsletter, social media, brown bag lunches, business roundtables and a few more things. At the end of the interview, they asked me what I thought was the secret to our success? And I told them that was simple, we weren’t afraid to step out of the box and try different things. I also told them we weren’t always successful, but that was the beauty of stepping out of the box. Yes, you will stumble some times, but there will be more successes than failures, and we learn from our failures.

Stepping out of the box can apply to any organization. Look at the new coffee shop on South Avenue, called A Whole Latte Love Cafe – it was started by the First United Methodist Church. Now, that is really stepping out of the box, isn’t it? Pastor Matt Blake went to Arizona for a conference and came back with a vision, his church stepped out of the box and opened a coffee shop!

What if you’re a restaurant owner? How could you step out of the box? If your restaurant isn’t doing well, see what is working, and concentrate on that – maybe redecorate the place or even, and this is the radical part, change the name. Put out a new menu concentrating on those items that are doing well. Why would you continue to do the same thing over and over if it isn’t working?

My wife and I found a barbecue place in Memphis called Central BBQ, and it was very simple, had paper towels on the tables, paper plates, paper cups, nothing fancy except the best barbecue in Memphis. You had to order at a counter, bring it to a table, get your own drinks, but again it was worth it because of the great food! That isn’t your normal way to run a restaurant, right? But it worked, the owner stepped out the box and did something different.

So think about stepping out of the box with your business or your department, and if you need someone to talk to for suggestions, stop in our office and I know we can come up with some ideas.

Kara, Tricia, Katelyne and I would like to wish you all a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover!

See you next Friday!

“I want to go into business”

Hi Everyone,

“I want to go into business.” I hear that all the time, and I get excited when someone wants to invest in our community. So today I’m going to give you my best advice on starting a business.

First you need to consider location. I remember reading that the three most important things in opening a business are location, location and location.

Make sure you do your homework and pick the best spot. I know years ago, I was a part owner in James R. Evans Men’s Store at 80 Main Street, and it was a perfect location. Now it is occupied by Wright’s Music Shed, and I know that Ed is very happy with that location.

Next is a business plan. This is very important to being successful. With all the information available on the internet you should be able to get all the data that you need to put together a plan, or you can contact the Small Business Development Center at Clarion University. Their number is 877-292-1843. They will be happy to assist you in putting together a business plan.

I would also suggest you make an appointment with Anita Dolan, our Main Street Manager, who can assist you with locations and information on starting a new business.

Next, and I think this is the most important, is hiring the right people and teaching them great customer service.

If you have been reading my blog, I have been talking a lot about taking care of your customers. Remember I mentioned the video store on Main Street hiring only those people that smiled. That is what you need to do – pick people with a positive attitude, and they will make you successful.

You know I have a lot of stories, and this is one that I always like to tell. A business woman went into a restaurant in New York City, and a young male waiter waited on her. When he asked what she would like drink, she said, “I know you don’t have RC Cola, so I will just have a Pepsi or Coke.” She also ordered her meal at the same time. The young man went back to the kitchen and gave the order to the cook, and said he had to run out to the grocery store next to the restaurant and he would be right back. He proudly had the RC Cola on the tray with a glass of ice, and the customer was very surprised. She asked him where he had gotten it, and he told her the story. Every time she came back to the city, she went to that restaurant and asked for the young man to wait on her. A few months later, she was in New York again but her favorite waiter was gone – he had gotten his own restaurant! Isn’t that a great story? Those are the kind of things you should be doing for your customers.

So, if you are thinking of starting a business, I would invite you to come in and talk to us about it, and to schedule a visit with Anita Dolan at the Main Street Manager’s office in Old City Hall.

See you next Friday!


What do you mean I can’t return that item?

Hi Everyone,

Have you ever said that to a clerk in a store? It’s the one thing that will get me boiling.

So this week I want to continue with customer service. If you remember a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in my blog that only one percent of returns made by customers are customers who are trying to get away with something. So why do stores make such a big deal about returns?

Several years ago, I received a flyer from L.L. Bean. The flyer talked about their return policy, and that they wanted to make sure all their customers were happy. I remember they also said if you purchase a pair of shoes and the heels get worn out, return the shoes and we will replace them. Pretty bold, right?

Let’s look at our hometown Zippo Lighters…that lighter that you buy is guaranteed for life, not a limited guarantee, but a lifetime guarantee. If you go out to the Zippo/Case Museum you will see the workshop where they repair those lighters. Zippo has been in business for over 80 years, and they are more successful now than any time in their history. Do you think that guarantee has anything to do with it?

I know I am repeating myself from my last blog, but this is a big deal. A survey was done that showed that most people do not like to return merchandise, and I agree with that. The reason has to be that they know they are going to get a hassle. So I would just recommend to all retailers to think about that survey. Do you really want to risk losing a customer over a simple return?

Also, a couple of weeks ago I mentioned raving fan customers, and how we tried to create them at Walmart. After sending that blog, I remembered another great story that I have to share with you. I had a department manager at Walmart tell me that she had a customer who had seen a sweater in another Walmart in another state, and decided to wait until she got home to buy it at the Bradford Walmart. Unfortunately, we didn’t have it, and the customer was disappointed because it was going to be a Christmas present for her daughter. My department manager asked if she could call the other store and have them ship it to Bradford, and I told her that would be fine. When the sweater came in, my department manager said she wanted to make this customer a raving fan customer by putting it in a gift box, wrapping it for Christmas and delivering it to her free. Sounds crazy, right? Wrong! That is how you create a raving fan customer. I’m not saying that you give away the store, but once in a while do something out of the box, and you will be surprised at the results.

See you next Friday!


“What does the Chamber do for me?”

Hi, Everyone.

I get asked that question a lot, and the best way I can answer is to tell you about my four and a half years with the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce.

Five years ago I was close to retiring from Walmart, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I retired. Then I was asked to interview with the Chamber. At first I wasn’t interested, but then the more I thought about it, I thought, “Why not? Here is a chance to give something back to my community.” I also remembered what we were taught at Walmart about chambers. Sam Walton had told all of his store managers to join their chambers, but don’t just sit on the board, get involved in committees and make a difference. I did that in the four stores that I was in throughout my thirteen years with Walmart. So that message helped me to make up my mind. Also, Mr. Sam was the President of his local Chamber of Commerce.

The first thing we did after I started with the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce was to build our chamber by adding members. That in turn allowed us to have a state-of-the-art website, a brand new newsletter that gets rave reviews, and a Facebook page that is nearing 5000 fans and is available to any of our members to announce anything going on in their business. It is also available to inform the public of anything going on in the community. We also added Brown Bag Workshops on various topics, Business Roundtables to focus on issues that are important to our members, and Cash Mobs to help our local businesses.

Our Chamber is composed of 475 members representing businesses, non-profits, service-oriented organizations, restaurants and more. We represent members from within a 50-mile radius, and by doing this we have the income to accomplish all the things I mentioned above.

The Chambers employs myself and three staff, and we all are part-time with no benefits. We do this because we believe in the Bradford area, and in making it a better place to live for our members and their families.

We have a member-to-member discount program that applies to all of our members’ employees, and if you go to our page at: you will see that we have over 50 members that will give their fellow Chamber members a discount. We also offer the Bradford Gift Certificate program, which keeps thousands of dollars in spending in our local community every year.

We have an insurance programs through Chamber Choice that can benefit your employees and your business.

Finally, and this is the most important, by joining the Chamber our members show their support for an organization that is always promoting the area that most of your employees live in, and that support helps us continue to improve the quality of life for all our citizens.

Over the past three years we have purchased Christmas lights for downtown, had the gazebo painted, and decorated it for July 4th and Christmas. We are currently soliciting for funds to purchase steel benches for Veteran’s Square that will be made by a local fabricator. Along with Anita Dolan, Main Street Manager, we will be re-doing Veteran’s Square for Memorial Day, and will be planting dozens of roses in the area where the tree fell last year. Why are we doing this? Because we want to honor our Veterans, and to beautify our downtown. This truly fits into our mission: To Promote and Support our Business Community!

If you have any ideas for our chamber, stop on down to 121 Main Street, have a cup of coffee with us. and let us know what you’re thinking!

We are Bradford Proud!

See you next Friday!

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