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I love reading Louise Fatio’s “The Happy Lion” to my son. There’s the fun of faking a French accent of course, but there’s also the story of the lion who is greeted with “Bonjour, Happy Lion” by all the friendly visitors to the park zoo each day. And then one day, the cage door is left open and he explores the town, expecting to greet his friends. Instead, of pleasant “Bonjours…” he is greeted by screams and alarm and can’t imagine what has gotten into his friends. All ends well when Francois, the zookeeper’s son, offers a friendly greeting and escorts the Happy Lion back to the zoo.

In my retelling, it’s Francois, the zookeeper’s son who is the happy hero, or the happy bookkeeper. The lion, of course, becomes your numbers, your financial situation, whatever it is about money that scares you. Aren’t we all just a little bit afraid of these kinds of numbers sometimes? There they are, just minding their own business, and everyday you meet them. Your reaction whether it be a warm greeting or to scream and run, does not change the fact of their existence or their business of being numbers representing your financial situation. How much more civilized and pleasant, to warmly greet the lion or the numbers each day while they are tended and cared for in the safekeeping of the zoo or in your bookkeeping system. They are more fearsome if they are left to their own devices: the receipts pile up and the statements need reconciling, and oh dear, there are taxes to consider. Better to be, or to hire help if need be, the happy bookkeeper, who comes along puts them back where they belong, into your books so that you may visit them regularly and happily. Bonjour!


Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying my son’s kindergarten class on a field trip to the aquarium.   We had a great time and it got me thinking about how important it is to get out and about every now and then.  Especially true for those of us working from home offices.  Even just working at a local cafe can freshen things up and lend a new perspective to the task at hand.  Epicenter on Folsom (just around the corner from my local Whole Foods market) offers coffee and a couch with a wireless connection for those with laptops.  A latte and a notepad works for me.

It helps me to think of networking events as field trips too.  It’s better to think of them as little treats that supplement the work week rather than as pills that you have to take because they are good for you.  What’s really going on with the reframing is an adjustment of my expectations of the event.  If I view the events strictly as work, I set myself up for frustration because I can think of more productive ways to use the time.  I can’t quite see them as all play either, because I am attending in order to connect with other business people.  Instead, I’ve started thinking of them as more like field trips, outings that I can enjoy for the most part and that enhance my business.  And really, it is fun to go out and talk shop with peers on a “school” night!

Last summer, the plaza in front of San Francisco’s city hall was taken over by a garden to make a point for the slow food movement.  I loved it!  It takes time and energy to grow good food.  And I am guilty of eating fast food when I am in a hurry and don’t want to take any time from my busy day to even think about food.  And even though I love lingering around the neighborhood cafe, I will line-up at Starbuck’s for coffee because they are faster.   Usually, I am restless in line, wondering why it is taking them so long to get to my order.  Like I need caffeine at that point!

I am grateful of the reminder that faster is not better.  Not for food, or coffee or anything really.  As I continually reinvent my life, I find myself choosing the slower option.  My family decided to try a car-free lifestyle and we actually prefer it to the time when we would commute and look for parking and collect tickets and other car expenses.  We consider ourselves fortunate to have one less thing to think about and tend.  Giving up our car means that we run fewer errands!  We plan our shopping a little better because we know that we have to walk or take a bus to the store to buy what we need.  There’s very little that we can’t do because we don’t have a car and if we want to take a trip out of town, we rent a car for the day or weekend.

I’ve taken this “slow down and do it right” philosophy to heart and built up a business around it.  I am much more efficient and productive when I approach my work with a plan, clear priorities, and a lot of concentration (no, I am not a fan of multi-tasking).  As a result, I find I get more done far more efficiently, and meet more deadlines than I would if I rushed through each day and each project, making mistakes that take more time to go back and correct.  I may miss out on the adrenalin rush of the crisis-to-crisis rush created in the “fast-paced” work environments I’ve experienced many times.  But I am getting over that.  I love organizing my time, making as much as possible routine and calm so that I have time and energy to spare for the unpredictable surprises that are inevitable in life and business.

Gratitude is always a great place to begin and so my first post will be dedicated to great teachers.  The inspiration comes from my son’s school which is hosting a teacher appreciation week starting today.  The staff of the entire elementary school will be treated to bagels this morning!  There’s more in the works as a surprise is planned for each day.  It’s such a great idea to take the time to truly show our appreciation to our teachers who are there every day, taking great care with the education of our children.

Why stop there?  Thanking the teachers at my son’s school reminds me of all the great teachers I have had and have met throughout my life.  My own creative nature has been fostered by many a great teacher, beginning with my kindergarten teacher who encouraged my artistic interest at the time.  What do you remember about your first great teachers?  What did you learn from them about yourself?

Inspired by some great high school teachers, I became a teacher myself and truly loved working with young people.  I learned that a great teacher teaches students first and the subject second; this lesson is still invaluable to me as an entrepreneur now.  In my professional services business, building a relationship with a client is always first, the work I do for them, second.   Making people a priority works for me professionally and personally so I am grateful for the teachers who taught me how to teach and how to learn.  Now that I think about it, I had better add my mother to my list as she instilled that first lesson that learning is a joyful and lifelong process.  And Mother’s Day is coming up this week so I am putting my thank you in the mail to her today.

My own list could go on and on but the point really is to take some time and think about great teachers and to feel great gratitude towards them.  You could go on to take more time to send a note to a few really special teachers to express your gratitude or to bring a bagel or treat to a current favorite.  That would be very nice and might make their day.  But just thinking about your teachers and honoring them in your thoughts and your actions today by living out the lessons learned so long ago is guaranteed to make your day.