Sunday, August 30, 2015

Insight - A business mindset - By Michelle Libby

This week’s The Windham Eagle is a larger paper than other issues we’ve had. This week we are celebrating businesses in our area that have earned recognition from their clients, customers and friends. The Eagle Choice Awards were given out Thursday night at the Sebago Lake Chamber of Commerce Business Break at the Time4 building. 
I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a business successful. Many people agree that customer service is key. Some want a useful product or service and others want to be treated like someone special.
I’ve been looking, researching and speaking with a lot of business owners. There seems to be common threads that carry through all businesses owned by entrepreneurs.
1.      They don’t work just 9 to 5.
2.      They surround themselves with quality people.
3.      They care about their customers’ happiness.
4.      They work hard and play harder.
5.      When they see an opportunity, they aren’t afraid to try.
Entrepreneurs are organized, ready to put themselves out there and they have pride in the job they do for customers. They are proud of their work. Clients see this pride and latch on to the positive attitude and hire the company again and again. 
Writing up all of the biographies on the companies that won awards, I learned more about marketing and what makes a website or Facebook page helpful to customers. Having hours of operation, addresses and phone numbers is super important. Write a blurb, a quick 40 words about what the business is about. (Steal mine, I don’t mind.) 
Have a website so that when people Google you, your business pops up and they can find a menu, a list of services, a price list and a way to contact the business. 
For those who are still worried about social media or the Internet, there are plenty of people out there whose job is to make your Internet presence a positive and helpful experience. 
I have learned so much about businesses and what it takes to succeed in the last two years. I’m impressed by those who have braved the uncharted waters of entrepreneurship and wish them all the success in the world.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Backpacks full of reading, activities and fun at Windham Public Library - By Walter Lunt

There’s something new in the children’s room at Windham Public Library. It’s called The Backpack Program. Four colorful backpacks await patrons who enjoy local history, science, games and nature.
Children’s librarian Laurel Parker explained, “We have an adult section and a children’s section, but this is for the whole family.”

Each variegated pack contains a different theme and is filled with entertaining and informative reading, materials for a variety of activities and creative and unusual ideas.

The multi-colored “tire tracks” pack has several books on Windham history, two CDs - one featuring current and historical maps, another featuring a narrated history of the town - and a trail map of historical places to visit, along with the stories about each location.

The “circuits” decorated bag is the magnets backpack, which offers unique and creative activities using magnets of all shapes and sizes. Included are books on the science of magnets, unusual uses (singing magnets) and games like Jishaku that will test memory and mind, and Magformers that uses square, triangular and pentagonal shaped magnets that connect for constructing buildings, towers or satellites. 

The games backpack will likely be a favorite. Parker says this quirky colored orange and blue patterned pack contains non-electronic table top games for all ages – not the usual board games found in most homes. All offer family fun and friendly competition. Suspend, for example, challenges players to balance and perform “tricky hangs” with the game pieces. Don’t let it fall! Flash is a lightning fast dice game, and Terzetto is a head-to-head marble match that sharpens visual discrimination, spatial reasoning and fine motor skills.

The camouflage bag is the “bird pack.” It has field guides, trail maps and colorful bird, butterfly, tree and flower identification books and prints.

A fifth backpack on the seashore is anticipated soon.

The backpack program is designed to promote many hours of family learning and entertainment. It was funded by an anonymous donor and dedicated for use by the children’s room for the purpose of “expanding young minds through fun and education.”

A backpack can be checked out for a one-week period. Parker warned that each pack contains many individual pieces and that patrons should be prepared to monitor the contents carefully. Each item in the packs has a price tag if lost. The bird pack, for example, has over $200 worth of contents.

Topics for the five backpack themes were selected by a community survey. Check them out.

The Neal family examine the contents of the History Backpack at the Windham Public Library. Kim (Mom), Isabelle, 7, Nathaniel, 10, Benjamin, 5 and Sam, 1. The children are home-schooled and very excited about the program.

The thunder rolls... By Michelle Libby

The thunder rolls…

…and the lightning strikes. I’ve lived in the area for a long time now. When we first lived here I worked at a summer camp at the base of Sebago Lake. When storms would roll into the area, I remember describing them as rolling around the lake. They would get bad, then dissipate, then get worse, then better and this would go on for hours while we huddled under a tent held up with 20 foot tall metal poles. Hmmm. 

This week, I’ve noticed that the storms are more like waves, washing across the open bodies of water around here. People sit and watch the storms cross the lakes, taking pictures and waiting. They check Facebook, Spark and trying to see what the story looked like as it passed through Limington. 

What’s Spark, you ask. There is an app called WeatherBug. As a part of that there is a part that shows the user how close the nearest lightning strike is and suggests that you seek shelter immediately if the storm is imminent. 

Some people aren’t fascinated by storms. Many cower in the middle of their house or in a pile of stuffed animals. I used to be one of those people, but now, I find lightning especially fascinating as long as it’s not hitting my house, work or blowing up my computer. 

Is there a way to get over a fear of lightning? I know people who don’t like fireworks also can’t handle the noise of thunder. They have to medicate or hide where they can’t hear the boom, crash, crack of the thunder. 

How about if they watch a bunch of movies with lightning? Here are a few suggestions.
Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief
Almost Famous
Back to the Future (Thanks Margaret Watson)
Frankenstein (Margaret, again.)
Powder (Thanks, Jeff Thivierge)

So next time there’s a storm, get wrapped up in a movie with a storm in it and you’ll think it’s on TV. And this is why I’m not a therapist.

…the thunder rolls.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

When people find their tribe - By Michelle Libby

A few years ago a friend’s son went to college. After the first week, he knew he had found his people. Last week I was visiting my son and watched him dancing and chanting with the other boys in his group and after speaking with him, I knew he had found his tribe. 
A tribe is like-minded people who think alike, act alike and aren’t afraid to be who they truly are. They aren’t worried that someone might think they’re a geek or weird. It doesn’t matter when you’re in a tribe…you’re accepted for who you are. 

This week, I will go visit with my tribe of at least 1,500 people in New York City. My people think alike, we spend a lot of time alone in front of a computer writing down the stories in our head. We’re a creative bunch that doesn’t socialize all that often, but when we do…watch out!

The Romance Writers of America is hosting their annual national conference for four days. I hear it’s a blast and people leave the conference motivated, exhausted and ready to conquer the writing world.
This week I’ve been trying to plan for what I’m going to do down there and my roommates have been super helpful in sending me dinner invitations with famous romance authors, lunch plans at exotic restaurants and after parties that will keep us out dancing until dawn in the city that never sleeps.
To say I’m nervous is an understatement. The elevators alone are a marvel…did you know that the tallest building in Maine is only 14 stories? In NYC, I could be on the 43 floor and can access the bottom nine floors by escalators. 

I love to travel and meet new people. There will be many friends from other conferences and chapters that I can meet up with, but I’m excited to gawk at some of the authors I have only read and have never met like Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber and Sabrina Jefferies. 

I’m sure by the end of the week I will be exhausted, but I can’t wait. I’m not sure I’ll be a city girl by the end, but I can’t wait. 

My plan is to do some blogging about my adventures in NYC at the RWA conference once I get there. We shall see how that works out. I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures with anyone who will listen. Have a great week.