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For small business owners, image is everything.

In Business, Economy, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on March 31, 2013 at 9:32 am

Deer In Headlines

Gery L. Deer

frabizOne of the reasons that many small and home-based business people are not taken as seriously by mainstream professionals is because they don’t take themselves seriously enough. Remember, you are no less important than any other business leader, no matter how large the company. But you have to believe it yourself before others will and show your confidence in your appearance and behavior.

Regardless of your workspace or the size of your business, your value is no less than that of someone working in a Fortune 100 company on the 26th floor of a skyscraper. But, how you are perceived by the outside world can make or break your livelihood. If, for example, you show up for a meeting with a new customer looking like you just rolled out of bed or stepped off the treadmill at the gym, people are less likely to give you the outward credibility you may be due.

Working from home has something of a stigma attached to it, put there by the mainstream professional world. Some business people believe that if you built your business from home, rather than tossing in thousands in overhead to have a posh office somewhere, you must be unprofessional and not be worth your weight. That, of course, is nonsense.

Unless you need retail space or a specific kind of work environment where people would be coming to you, build your business from home, have pride in what you do, and work your way up. Keep in mind that, at least for the last couple of hundred years, one of the most powerful people on earth has worked from home – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to be precise. But, with the exception of Thomas Jefferson, who is said to have met dignitaries in a bathrobe and slippers, most American presidents conduct themselves professionally and dress in contemporary business attire for their workday.

Unlike the concept of having a single kind of outfit when dressing for a job interview, work attire should become a staple of your wardrobe. Be consistent with what you wear so whenever you are out in a business-related situation you present an image of professionalism and you don’t look uncomfortable in the role.

We are talking more about basics here, not so much style. Style is a secondary level altogether and I am the last person to be able to offer that kind of advice. For men, you can’t go wrong with a navy blue business suit, white shirt and a tie. Ladies, keep it conservative. Knee-length skirt or slacks with a blazer, something along those lines.

You don’t need to shell out a lot of cash, either. Forget the $5,000 Armani suit. Local thrift stores hold a treasure trove of business attire, but it might take some legwork to find something modern and in the right size.

Professionals in the skilled trades like plumbers, electricians and contractors, aren’t immune to this problem, but full business dress might be overkill in most cases – except in specific circumstances. You will still want to put on a shirt and tie when attending important meetings or talking with finance or investment personnel.

It’s not just about clothing, however. The number one complaint I get about small business owners, particularly home-based professionals is a lack of punctuality. Nothing makes you look less professional than arriving late to an appointment, particularly if it’s the first time you’ve met with someone or when your presence is essential to the activity. And trust me when I say this, no one cares about your excuses.

My high school band director had a saying he used to drum into us on a daily basis, “To be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late; and to be late is to be left behind.” What he meant was, be early to your appointments so you’re always prepared if you happen to have a delay or need to adjust for an unexpected change in the agenda. I recommend arriving at least 15 minutes early for any business appointment. Be brief, be bright, be consistent, be professional and you’ll find the success you are working toward.


Great books are hard to find on today’s shelves

In Business, Children and Family, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Technology on March 20, 2013 at 2:47 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

"Flights of Fiction" is an anthology of stories set in southwest Ohio by local authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association. It will hit shelves in mid-April 2013 and features local talent and production.

“Flights of Fiction” is an anthology by local authors will hit shelves in mid-April 2013.

Books are incredible things. They can make you laugh and cry. They can whisk you off to faraway places with strange sounding names and introduce you to characters and worlds that only exist in the mind’s eye.

This month, Disney released the film version of Oz, The Great and Powerful, a prequel story to the more familiar tale of Dorothy Gale’s trip down the Yellow Brick Road. Author L. Frank Baum wrote his 14 originally published Oz books between 1900 and 1920 and each one carried us over the rainbow to a world of magic and adventure.

Of course, it was movie magic that brought the Land of Oz to life on more than one occasion. Even with all of the high-tech special effects and brilliant colors, nothing can replace the written versions of these timeless classics.

Books have a way of exciting the mind and launching the imagination of children and adults alike. Sadly, instead of giving us amazing tales of adventure, modern publishing has turned its attention more towards anything that fits a hot-selling genre rather than keeping an eye out for the next Sherlock Holmes.

When Baum and his contemporaries like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were writing their books, publishers were looking for great writing and engaging stories. Of course they wanted to make money, but they were less likely to sacrifice quality in favor of selling solely for the lowest common denominator. They knew that the best way to grow revenue was to publish a great book.

It seems that today’s publishers are looking, not so much for good literature, but sole marketability. Publishing companies are focusing on the bottom line with through a bit of astigmatism.

People often forget that the business of publishing fiction is part of the entertainment industry and is driven by the buying public. As major publishers shrink in size and revenue, they continue to blame the Internet and self-publishing authors rather than looking in a mirror to realize they’ve done this to themselves.

Occasionally, a publisher will take a chance on a unique story which then turns into a runaway success. The best examples are more recent series books like Harry Potter, Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. But once those titles charge up the audience, the publishers start releasing knock-offs or genre-trapped titles based on similar characters and situations to pacify the desire for more of the same.

The problem comes when that’s all they put out, rather than trying to take advantage of a good book-buying market and release something different. All they’re publishing for is cash flow at that point, landing much better manuscripts in the trash bin.

Sadly, there’s really no way to change this trend as long as the public continues to follow hype instead of looking for quality. Until consumers demand better material to read, the status quo will remain low cost, high volume, all buildup and no substance.

So if readers don’t find what they want at the big-box bookstores, they should turn their attention to local authors. After all, everyone talks about buying local and here’s just another way to do that. Thanks to high-quality electronic and self-publishing options, some great local authors are making their work available on a regular basis.

A few minutes in a neighborhood bookstore, even used book shops like Xenia’s, “Blue Jacket Books,” on S. Detroit St., can turn up a treasure trove of locally produced work. From memoires to science fiction local authors have some great work out there to satisfy the hunger of the voracious reader.

Like with larger outlets, local authors can spin some stinkers too, but they often cost less and, even if the book isn’t that great, you’ve helped support the community. Local authors work and live in your community and often hold signings and attend area writing groups. Keep your eyes open. There might just be another L. Frank Baum out there somewhere, yet undiscovered by the big guys. So go hit the local bookstore and remember reading is fundamental.


Lost in space, the salvation of classic TV online

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Media, Opinion, sociology, Technology, television, Uncategorized on March 13, 2013 at 12:00 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

gsspI’ve written in the past about the lack of creativity coming out of Hollywood these days and it seems increasingly worse. Reality television flows through the airways like so much Typhoid-infested water, riddled with disease and parasites. Thankfully, like an oasis in the desert, modern technology has provided a welcome respite from the gunk that is today’s network television.

By monthly subscription, online video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video offer TV junkies instant access to more than a half-century of programming. Forget waiting a whole week for the next fix of Gilligan’s Island, Cheers or NYPD Blue, now I can watch anytime I want to, day or night, episode after delicious episode from pilot to finale.

These services were originally intended to provide instant access to the same movies you used to go to the video store to rent. But for those of us who prefer bite after bite of tasty episodic television, they serve up a veritable buffet of broadcast entrees ranging from exciting 1950’s westerns like Gunsmoke to angst-filled dramas of the nineties like Beverly Hills 90210.

No more will my television fix need to be delayed by thoroughly staged yet somehow unscripted shows like The Bachelor or bad refits of The Gong Show like The Voice or American Idol. If you don’t’ know what the Gong Show was, your probably too young to understand any of these other references either.

But, Danger Wil Robinson! Because of Hollywood’s continual reinvention of the wheel, when you finally rediscover your favorite old show, you have to be sure which version you’re watching. Is it the new Knight Rider or classic Knight Rider. The Hoff is a classic? Now I just feel old.

Do you recognize this vehicle? Hint - it was on a live action Saturday morning kid's show in 1976.

Do you recognize this vehicle? Hint – it was on a live action Saturday morning kid’s show in 1976.

If you prefer your TV tray filled with something more modern but still thoughtful, well-written and engaging, you can forget the networks. You’ll need to subscribe to cable or satellite services for AMC, BBC America or other high-end channels.

Award-winning programs like Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Doc Martin, Sherlock and the new runaway hit, Downton Abbey, have successfully lured fastidious viewers from Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC for several years. What’s that you say? You don’t have cable? Fear not!

All you need is high-speed Internet, a computer, tablet or even a smart phone, and these programs are just an app download away. Faster than Trump can say, “You’re fired,” you’ll be whisked off to a land where all of life’s problems are solved in a half-hour and no one called Snookie would have ever been allowed on the air.

Ah, the good old days – when the same B movie actor in a rubber carrot suit tormented the Robinson family on Lost In Space one week and sent the crew of the Submarine Seaview rocking and rolling on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea the next. Back then, no one worried whether the lines were politically correct and the very idea of product placement was barely a glimmer in some Mad Man’s eye.

With my remote as my time machine, I can go back there again with a mere click of the play button or a tap on my tablet screen. The down side is that there’s always another episode waiting out there, somewhere in the ether. I move from one to the next, losing all track of time and action. Did I feed the cat? Is this still Tuesday? Oh well, I can figure all that out after I find out who shot JR Ewing. Of course, they just went and killed him off again –this time for keeps (RIP Larry Hagman).

When the rest of the TV landscape seems empty and foreign, these characters feel safe and familiar, like old friends I’ve lost touch with. But even after just enough time to write these few words, I feel out of the loop again, so I better get back to watching. Sometimes you still wanna go where everybody knows your name.

Avoiding sequestration may depend on back room deals

In Business, Economy, Jobs, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, State News, Uncategorized on March 8, 2013 at 9:38 am


By Gery L. Deer

Over the last several weeks, political bloggers and cable news talking heads have tormented their mush-brained followers with frightening tales of the pending budget sequestration. As the media spreads yet another horror story of fiscal disintegration, the real efforts to solve these problems probably won’t be broadcast by CSPAN or anyone else for that matter. Actually, it’s unlikely anyone will know how the deals were actually reached or by whom.

Washington seems to be consumed in a cloud of congestion caused and perpetuated by power-hungry narcissists who go relatively untouched by their own actions. More than $85 billion will be cut reaching virtually every part of government infrastructure from soup to nuts.

For those not schooled in political fiscal jargon, sequestration probably sounds less like an economic term and more like something a proctologist might diagnose. Instead the word refers to a series of pre-arranged and unilateral budget cuts to government agencies. The plan was laid out as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011which extended the government’s ability to borrow money.

Preventing the process from going forward is essential if the recent economic growth in the country is to continue. Despite exaggerated job growth numbers, the economy really is improving, albeit at a snail’s pace for those down in the real world. As the clock ticks down to the self-imposed fiscal doomsday, all sides profess that progress is being made but officials never sound too optimistic.

Somewhere in Washington, however, in some dark, smoke-filled room, lesser known but equally powerful political operatives are working the real deals that will settle the budget crisis. These quiet, back-room bargains are a mainstay of politics at every level of government and are often where the real work gets done.

Bob Greene is a noted Washington journalist, author and CNN contributing writer. In a recent CNN.com editorial, he mentions a South Michigan Avenue hotel in Chicago called the Blackstone. More than a century old, the Blackstone was where the political phrase “smoke-filled room” originated, referring to the back-room deals made by politicians to hammer out solutions to issues out of view of the public and the press.

Greene writes, “In 1920, Warren G. Harding was chosen as the Republican candidate for president by a group of leaders meeting there to hammer out a consensus, even as the official convention was in session in a different part of town. A wire-service reporter wrote that the choice had been worked out “in a smoke-filled room,” and it became part of the language.”

Put another way, there are two things no one wants to see made – sausages and laws. The fact is, for the most part, the public only sees what Washington wants exposed. Even though most government buildings are now smoke-free, there are still plenty of back room deals and, oddly, that’s probably how it should happen.

Sometimes legislators and their associates are charged to get the job done and keep the public out of it, that’s why there are elected representatives of the people. But for the last few years, very little of substance has been accomplished because of a Washington steeped in a self-induced state of perpetual crisis.

Millions of Americans will be affected by sequestration if a deal cannot be reached soon. Yet, a bitter irony surrounds the group of people who go unaffected by the cuts – congress and the president. While layoffs and furloughs create havoc for millions of families, Mr. Obama, Mr. Boehner and the rest of their Beltway buds sleep comfortably in luxury unwilling to give an inch of political ground.

Whatever they might say during election season, a more disconnected group of legislators never existed. Stocked with millionaires drawing six-figure salaries, federal leaders have no comprehension of how their actions affect their tax-paying benefactors.  The only thing left to do now is hope the smoke-filled room has an “occupied” sign on the door.


Jamestown family presents country music variety show to help pay deceased mother’s medical debt

In Charities, Children and Family, Entertainment, Local News, Media, National News, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Theatre, Travel, Uncategorized on March 1, 2013 at 7:57 pm
Lois Deer (center) with The Brothers & Co. members Gary Deer Jr., Gery Deer, and husband Gary Deer Sr. at the Jamestown Opera House in 2010

Lois Deer (center) with The Brothers & Co. members Gary Deer Jr., Gery Deer, and husband Gary Deer Sr. at the Jamestown Opera House in 2010

JAMESTOWN, OH – Exciting country music variety entertainment returns to the stage of the historic Jamestown Opera House at 7PM, Saturday, March 23 with The Brothers & Co. Variety Show. The 90-minute, live stage show is a one-of-a-kind performance perfect for all ages, full of amazing four-part harmonies, foot-tapping instrumentation, dazzling bullwhip handling, award-winning classic magic and side-splitting comedy routines.Tickets at the door are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are free. Reduced presale tickets are $7 and $5, respectively, available online by credit card and PayPal at http://www.thebrothersandcompany.com and in person at Ted’s Barber Shop, 3 W. Washington St. in Jamestown. Proceeds from this performance benefit the Lois Deer Memorial Expense Fund and the Jamestown Area Historical Society.

Following a long illness under full-time care, lifetime Jamestown Area Historical Society member, Lois Deer, passed away in 2011 at Hospice of Dayton from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. Mrs. Deer was survived by four grand children, several great grand children, her husband Gary Sr., daughter Cathy (Deer) Wolf and two sons, the founding “brothers” of the show, Gary Jr. and Gery. As a result of her lengthy illness, the family accumulated significant debt including legal and medical expenses upwards of $10,000.

Gary Deer Sr. and Lois Deer, around 2005.

Gary Deer Sr. and Lois Deer, around 2005.

About a year ago, Gary, Sr. was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but has continued to work to try to pay off the debts and remain at the family farm in Jamestown where The Brothers & Co. began. But as working becomes increasingly difficult and creditors grow more impatient the debt is becoming too difficult to manage and Lois’s family has not even been able to afford a headstone for her grave in Bowersville.Having performed for literally dozens of fundraisers over the years, Gery and Gary Jr. decided to help their dad the best way they knew how. Already scheduled to perform at the Jamestown Opera House, a building Lois and Gary, Sr. helped protect from the wrecking ball, they decided to follow their parents’ example.“Even when they had little to work with themselves, my parents always did their best to help others,” says pianist Gery Deer, who also directs and produces the Brothers performances. “The Brothers & Co. wouldn’t have happened without mom so doing this show is our small attempt to help repay my parents for everything they’ve done for so many over the years and ease some of my dad’s burden.”

The Brothers & Co. Entertainers started in 1995 and their formal western costuming is a tribute to their family’s musical heritage which dates back to 1917 with Lois’s father and uncle who both performed in the Lawrence County, Ohio civic band. Best known for their covers of The Statler Brothers, their repertoire includes country and oldies by The Statler Brothers, The Monkees, John Denver, and George Jones as well as many original pieces. Each performer is involved in creating the original music and comedy routines and the group’s fourth voice, Ed Jones, cousin of the Deer brothers, is their acoustic guitarist.

“If you’ve ever seen The Statler Brothers, they’re almost as good as we are,” jokes Gary Deer, Jr., percussionist of the group. “Mostly, we want to entertain people and give them a show like most haven’t seen since the 60’s. We are hoping to raise some money for the historical society while helping dad’s situation at the same time,” he says.

Gery Deer (left) with Jim Karns in "The Vanishing Bandana" - The Brothers & Co. Variety Show

Gery Deer (left) with Jim Karns in “The Vanishing Bandana” – The Brothers & Co. Variety Show

While it might seem like it to some, the guys insist this show is not just for the older generation. “We put a modern spin on an old kind of entertainment that’s nostalgic and originally presented all at the same time,” offers bass singer, magician and the most recent addition to the quartet, Jim Karns, of Fairborn. “If you’ve never seen a live variety show, this is something the whole family will really enjoy.”As another way to raise money for their cause, commercial sponsorships for the performance ranging from $150 to $500 are also available through March 19th. Business sponsors receive a live, 30-second commercial during the performance along with a special listing and web link on thebrothersandcompany.com website and mention in all media.Video clips of the show, podcasts and the official show poster are all available at the group’s website, http://www.thebrothersandcompany.com. Doors open at 6:30PM and refreshments will be on sale by the historical society. For more information go online or call (937) 902-4857. Those unable to attend the show but that would still like to help with the memorial fund can donate directly, online, at www.indiegogo.com/projects/lois-deer-memorial-expense-fund.BUY TICKETS ONLINE NOW …

Eventbrite - The Brothers & Co. Variety Show LIVE at Jamestown Opera House

(Watch for The Brothers & Co. Entertainers on WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program, Monday March 11th at Noon on Channel 2 or watch it streaming live.)