Saving Your Marriage – What To Do When You’re On The Brink Of Disaster

On your wedding day, I bet the furthest thought from your mind was “What happens if this marriage doesn’t work out?”

As time goes by things change. You find that you’re not in the same place as you were when you got married. Things have happened in your marriage. You don’t communicate the same way you used to. Perhaps your partner hasn’t been faithful.

What do you do? Do you consider divorce?

If you’re like most Americans, you do. Divorces are common these days. In fact, half of our marriages end in divorce now. What happens when you get divorced?

Quite a bit, actually. First of all, one of you needs to find a new place to live. Second of all, if you have children, you must create a plan for when the children will be with each parent. Does one parent get full custody with visitation for the other? Is custody shared? Holidays, vacations, they all have to be planned out ahead of time and put into a calendar.

Next, you have to split up everything you own. Remember all the flatware and dinner plates you received as wedding gifts? Well, your sixteen piece service just became an eight piece service. Your spouse got the vacuum cleaner, you kept the stereo, your spouse got the Christmas tree, and the list goes on.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. One you may be paying child support, alimony or both. 401k’s and other investments get divided up. Perhaps other properties or expensive belongings you have must be sold. Hope you weren’t attached to anything.

Finally, you have to have some sort of legal proceeding involving attorneys, mediators and a judge to do the final divorce decree. I’ve never known anything involving the word “legal” to be cheap.

Now those were all the things involving money. Really the money is just a small part of it. Divorce’s biggest impact is on people, especially children. Picture in your mind that conversation when you sit the children down and tell them that Mommy and Daddy don’t love each other the way they used to and one of them won’t be living here anymore. The children, who may be too young to fully grasp the concept of divorce, are now being shuttled back and forth between two homes every few days. They need clothes and toys for Mommy’s house and Daddy’s house. They need to get used to the fact that their bed at Mommy’s is more comfortable, but Daddy has better TV.

The kids at school may say things and look at them differently. They probably need to start seeing counselors to work through a lot of their questions and feelings about what has happened. What if your ex starts to say things about you, that aren’t very nice, to your children? What if you start dating again and your ex says means things to them about your new “friend”?

Your parents are effected too. Now they may need to become more involved in child care or assisting you financially. Your parents also have to deal with issues they have about the divorce. “What did I do wrong? Did I put too much pressure on my child to get married? Did I alienate their spouse or cause some kind of friction? Am I the reason they split up?”

These are all very deep issues and I hope you never have to tackle them in your lifetime. But half of you will and the numbers get worse every day. There are resources available to you that can help you start repairing your marriage immediately. You may not want to acknowledge your marital difficulties to your pastor, friends, or even a licensed marriage counselor. If you don’t, there are things you can do, on your own and right now, to stop hurting and start saving your marriage.

First, sit down and talk with your spouse. Be honest about your feelings. Now is not the time to hold back.

Second, invest in a good book. There are great resources available that can give you practical tips to start using today. These techniques work, even if only one of you is committed to working on them.

Third, get your family involved. Maybe they can take the children for a couple days while you start working things out with your spouse. Maybe a sibling or another relative has gone through the same thing but never really talked about it. The information they provide could help more than you expected.

Just remember, you have options and you have resources. You can decide right here and now to stop the damage, stop the pain, and stop the slow decline of your marriage. If you do something, you may be able to recapture the love and remember why you got married in the first place. If you do nothing, your marriage will fail and many of those things we talked about above we start to become a reality.

Why Talking About Quality or Customer Service Makes Your Customers Yawn (find something else to say)

Let’s be clear. The days of saying you deliver either superior quality or superior customer service to secure yourself any competitive advantage are gone.

In today’s market, the competition is so ferocious that the customer now expects that you will deliver a quality product and provide decent customer service. These are a given – not things to set you apart.

If you don’t deliver these as standard practice, you won’t survive – let alone prosper.

As fast as the quality bubble grew, it popped.

Quality used to be a subjective concept – it meant different things to different people. That was until the academics, gurus (like Dr Edward Deming) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) set about defining it to make it tangible.

Today it means nothing more than the product or service does what it is supposed to do. It is fit for purpose.

In the definition of quality there is no mention about the grade of raw materials used; the timeliness (or otherwise) of product production; the market price; whether the product is aesthetically pleasing (or ugly as ever); the emotive appeal of the brand or anything else.

Nope, quality is a very staid concept. Quality means fitness for purpose – in other words, it technically performs its job.

Here is the reality check. If you do not exchange or offer a refund against a product that is not quality (in other words it does not do what you say it will do) there is legal recourse that the consumer can take against you.

In most countries, including Australia, government has a legislative framework that outlaws the selling of goods and services that do not perform in the way you say they do.

Yep. Quality is a given. And you have no choice but to deliver it. And this doesn’t make you any different to any competitor in the eyes of the consumer which is why it can’t be used for positioning.

The early to mid 1990s will long be remembered for the flurry in interest in quality management systems (and getting certified as complying with ISO9000 standards became a business essential or B2B customers simply wouldn’t buy from you).

But as fast as that quality bubble grew, so too it popped; once everyone was certified, there ceased to be a point of difference between suppliers. The business buyer got used to quality certification being a given, and moved right on to the next big thing.

Customer service is done to death, Boring with a Big B.

A quick “customer service” search on Amazon returns more than 5,000 books espousing the best practices in customer service; whether its 101 training tips in blow-your-customer-away customer service; Super Service and how to achieve it with the author’s must-know Seven Keys; customer service for Dummies; and on and on it goes.

Customer service as a topic is done to death.

And the books on the subject blur into one another – since there is no clear point of difference between them.

If we accept that to prosper today you need to stand out from the crowd; this means you have to be different. To be different you have to say things other people are not saying. So this means you need to find a competitor that’s prepared to stand up publicly and roar to the crowd “I deliver lousy customer service!”

Of course. once you find that competitor, you can position yourself against them (Remember the positioning rules? Do the opposite of your competitor…). Good luck finding them.

The bottom line is that since everyone says the customer is king and that their business delivers great/top-notch/better customer service (whether they do or not is a different issue) – how can you stand out from the crowd if you are yet another voice saying the same thing?

Don’t you be the Dummie. Saying you deliver good customer service does not make you stand out from the crowd and every time you waffle on about how it makes you special, you keep your customer yawning. They’ve heard it all before.

Come up with something different to say.

But aren’t quality and customer service the hallmarks of good business?

Yes, quality and customer service are the hallmarks of good business – but they cannot be used to make you stand out from the crowd. At least – not directly.

Look at ways to position your business that implies quality and customer service – rather than states it.

Let’s look at examples of ways that imply these things rather than state them:

1. Statements of endorsement by people that matter (and good old testimonials):

“By Appointment To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11”

Goddards Silver Cleaners and Lea and Perrins are both examples of brands carrying the royal warrant. And geez, if it’s good enough for Lizzie; it’s good enough for me.

2. Statements that reposition your competitors:

“Engineered like no other car.” (Mercedes Benz).

3. Statements about product attributes:

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

4. Statements that explain your heritage:

“Proudly serving customers since 1896.” (The fact you’ve been around that long says something about how well you conduct your business.)

5. Statements of leadership:

“Australia’s fastest growing (whatever)” (The fact that everyone is buying yours means it must be good.)

Fiona Mackenzie is an experienced senior business and marketing strategist from Melbourne, Australia. She has a MBA and industry experience across telecommunications and professional services and more. Check out her blog archive at www.fionamackenzie.com.au

Debt Settlement Tips – Legal Way To Never Pay Back Half Of Your Credit Card Debt (B)

If we look at the present conditions we will come to know that the economic crisis has boosted up far enough causing instability in the present scenario. People are looking confused over the conditions as nowadays the trend of using liquid money has changed into plastic money like credit cards, debit cards etc. Life has come to such a stage where luxuries have become necessities and people have got excess burden of payables. In order to provide an effective and appropriate way to payback the debts, the Government has come up with Debt Settlement Tips to help the suffering citizens.

There are many ways to overcome high level of debts legally and a large number of debt relief options have been opened by the Government in this regard. Firstly, we will take a look at the option of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a process through which you can eliminate your debts but you have to pay hard for it. Due to bad credentials, you will not have any loan sanctioned for 8-10 years. The financial structure would be ruptured and would have an adverse effect on both lenders and borrowers and it will not be beneficial at any level. To overcome such an obstacle, it is better to avoid this option and look into other debt settlement tips provided by Government.

Everyone wants to get a chance to come out of debts in an appropriate way and have their hands cleaned in legitimate manners. This is their chance to never payback half of the loan legally through debt settlement. You have to go through a proper channel by hiring a debt negotiation firm and negotiating with creditors in order to get rid of the debts.

Opting for the debt relief option is one of the best Debt settlement tips that can really provide relief to consumers. This option provides you a legal option to never pay back up to half of your payables. This include series of process starting from hiring a reputed and well known debt settlement company that can access lenders in an appropriate manner and not only tell them the situation of their borrowers but also negotiate with them. In this way, this debt settlement tip works out to do well and form up a debt relief option that will go up to the mark. Through proper debt negotiation system, an appropriate position is cleared. Now it is clear that through negotiation, debt settlement can lead up to 50% reduction in the outstanding dues.

Protect Your Intellectual Property With Help From an IP Lawyer

While it might be easy to consider how something physical such as a corkscrew could be patented, it is perhaps less easy to grasp the concept of intellectual property. But the protection of an idea which you have developed is just as important, should that development be contained within a new process or piece of software, or in a brand that inspires people to carry on buying your product range as a result.

International law now has methods of protecting those with bright ideas. The 1967 convention that established the World Intellectual Property Organisation argues that intellectual property protection “shall include rights relating to:

– literary, artistic and scientific works

– performances, phonograms, broadcasts etc

– inventions in all fields of human endeavor

– scientific discoveries

– industrial designs

– service marks, commercial names, designations and trademarks

– protection against unfair competition and it also enforces all other IP rights resulting from the industrial, scientific, artist or literary activities.”

There are several legal avenues to follow, depending on what type of intellectual property you are trying to protect. Copyright can also apply to art work, books and scientific publications; and to performances from artists, phonograms and broadcasts.

Copyright is also used by companies which want to protect their public brand name, which has a high value in relation to bringing in custom. Another method of doing this is to use trademarking to protect the brand wording.

Intellectual property as a concept can apply equally to new inventions as to new designs. A individualist idea which takes current technology one step further into the future is often patenable, which will protect it from being copied by others. As an example, James Dyson’s concept for a better vacuum cleaner, using cyclonic technology, has been protected by the registering of patents; these have enabled Dyson to defend its concept against other vacuum cleaner companies who tried to copy the technology and introduce similar machines of their own.

An early consultation with an IP lawyer will establish the best way to protect your idea or concept against being copied by others. The fact that you will have sought protection, before showcasing your idea to the wider market, will give others who believe they were working on the same idea/project the opportunity to come forward.