Romance in the Law Office

We’ve all heard tales of office Christmas parties that ran amuck. Coworkers get caught making out in the copy room or a storage closet. Reports of after-hours office frolicking run like wildfire through the halls and floors of businesses. These shenanigans occur in all types of companies.Office romance isn’t only the tipsy pawing of revelers. Coworkers date. They even marry.Does office romance negatively affect office atmosphere and the service provided? I’d like to share a work story, and you can tell me if you think office romance is detrimental.One time, at band camp…no, not really, but it definitely left me feeling LIKE I was at bamp camp…For a time, I worked for a satellite office of a large law firm. I was the legal secretary for a husband and wife team. Being assigned to two attorneys married to each other was…interesting, to say the least. The entire staff could tell in the first two minutes on Monday mornings how their weekends went. If it had been a bad weekend, I was offered condolences.The thermostat which controlled both of their offices was located in husband-attorney’s office. My desk was conveniently across from their doors. One particular “bad weekend” Monday morning, Mrs. Attorney came out to my station and said, “Would you tell HIM to turn up the heat, I’m cold,” and returned immediately to her office, shutting the door firmly behind her.I stopped typing, fully aware that our close proximity created the strong likelihood that Mr. Attorney had already heard what she said. I was also aware that the secretary behind me had stopped typing as well. The day’s antics had begun.I stood up, smoothed my blouse, and ventured into Mr. Attorney’s office. He was typing and didn’t immediately acknowledge my presence. Finally, he said, “…yes?” I dutifully delivered the message. Silence reigned. Well, silence reigned in those four walls. I heard shuffling and whispers as staff began clustering near my station.Mr. Attorney swiveled his chair to face me, peering at me over his glasses. “Do tell, if you will, my lovely wife that if she had dressed appropriately for the weather, she wouldn’t now be complaining that she is cold.”Silence reigned everywhere.I walked out of his office. Exchanging glances with my coworkers who were poised to scatter but too curious to immediately beat a retreat, I veered right and knocked on Mrs. Attorney’s door. I gained entrance, and dutifully delivered the quoted reply. Silence reigned again. Coworker shuffling had ceased at that point. All ears were at attention.Mrs. Attorney said, in a voice an octave higher, “Will you please inform him that my state of dress is none of his business and that if he ignores a reasonable request it will not bode well this evening.”I returned to Mr. Attorney’s doorway, repeating Mrs. Attorney’s words. His response was, “All reasonable requests are considered. It is the unreasonable requests that are denied, in toto.”I updated Mrs. Attorney and announced that I was going back to my desk, to work (while wondering if emphasis on “work” filtered through).My fingers typed senseless words on the screen as the thermostat dance began. She walked in his office, flipped the control and went back into her office. The sound of the heat kicking in muted the return of coworker shuffling. They backed away but remained a rapt audience.His chair squeaked as he got up, turned the heat off, and sat down with more squeaking.Heels clicked (which was pretty amazing since the floors were carpeted) as she made another control-flipping appearance.I chose to take my morning break earlier than usual that morning.Yes, I believe office romance definitely affects office atmosphere. Based on my personal observation, it affects client service as well.

Budget Travel Tips – Eight Simple Ways to Stretch Your Vacation Budget

Budget travel has become a necessity for most people with the cost of gasoline and other consumer products on the rise. But when we start considering when, where, how and what type of vacation to undertake, we sometimes get caught up in the anticipation and excitement of the upcoming trip and let the more important financial side of things slip a little. After all, for most of us, taking a vacation may only happen once a year and for some, even more infrequently, so we tend to indulge and forget about our pocket book a little.There are many ways to save money, avoid unnecessary cost, ensure you take care of details end up a smart and perceptive traveler. Travel planning is easier that you might think and here are eight great budget travel tips for making your travel dollar go further!1. Cushion your budget – When considering a trip or planning budget travel, it is important to plan for the unexpected and consider the financial side of things early on. This ensures affordability, liquidity and having the resources to enjoy it to the fullest! Plan for the worst-case financial scenario and prepare for things to cost a little more than you expected. Allow up to 20% increase in cost to be on the safe side of things.2. Emergency money: Carrying some spare cash somewhere can also be a lifesaver. The rule of thumb seems to be around $50-$100 in small bills. This can be used for incidentals, ground-transportation like cab fare and/or your return home, tips and more.3. Set your priorities: Set some budget travel spending priorities and criteria in advance, like eating at a special restaurant or attending a concert, even if this means sacrificing a bit on lodgings or visa versa, depending on what is more important to you.4. Keep an eye on your credit cards: It is extremely easy these days to have access to your financial resources through ATM’s and credit cards. Just remember that it is just as easy to overspend because of it being so readily available. A little discipline will go a long way to protect your financial interest and help you stick to your travel budget.5. Maximize gas mileage and efficiency: If you’re planning a road trip, make sure that your car has been serviced at least a week before your trip. A well-maintained vehicle will go a long way to ensure carefree driving. If your budget allows, you may consider renting a vehicle to save wear and tear on your own. Small economy cars are better on gas and are much more comfortable than they used to be. Minivans and sport utility vehicles are practical only if you have to transport a large family with a lot of equipment or luggage.6. Gas fill-ups: For filling up your car en route, avoid pushing to the limit until the gas runs out. Gas will obviously be more expensive when filling up in remote locations. If you miscalculated and the light on the dashboard indicates that you are really in need, opt for filling just half a tank until you reach the next more densely or major populated destination, where gas might be a little cheaper.7. Pack-a-snack: Bring your own refreshments and snacks. Gas station prices on drinks and snack food are high. Avoid these during a pit stop, if you are counting your budget travel dollars. A cooler packed with lots of cool drinks, water and ice and/or a thermos of coffee or hot water for tea, some fruit, granola bars, or a sandwich, goes a long way to still the hunger and save you money by avoiding all high priced stops en route.8. Travel necessities: It is advisable to travel with basic necessities, like a cell phone and a first aid kit, since both can prove to be essential in emergencies. Most people have cell phones at their disposal, but in the event that you are not one of them, a prepaid cell phone may be the answer for your trip. The peace of mind it offers is worth the small investment. Cell phones can also save on hefty surcharges and higher long distance rates that hotels and resorts often charge.Budget travel requires close attention to all things financial before and during your trip. Planning a trip or vacation can be a little time consuming but following these travel tips will hopefully save you a lot of headaches as well as some unnecessary interest charges on your credit card balances later! You will thank yourself for your fiscal restraint and spending discipline, upfront planning, foresight and forward thinking!

Automotive Advertising Agencies Drop Conventional Media in Favor of Social Networking by Consumers

Old school wisdom like ‘the customer is always right’ have often taken a back seat to automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers who presumed to talk “at” customers rather than listen to them. Hard sell tactics built on that presumption may have sold cars in the past but with the rise of the Internet and social networking media — not so much!Today’s educated car shoppers are bypassing the auto dealer’s real and virtual showrooms in favor of visiting other online information resources. Auto dealers are being replaced by consumers in the formative stage of their buying cycle who turn to trusted friends in social networking communities. These online groups of like minded consumers share their car buying experiences before, during and after the sale and customers find that they are able to provide far more transparent and relevant information than any self serving auto dealer; real or imagined.Similarly, the reach and frequency of the best planned automotive advertising campaign can be trumped with the click of a mouse by a car shopper who can get the information they need to buy a car without having to listen to a sales pitch from a self serving auto dealer. The solution for automotive advertising agencies challenged by a shrinking economy and a consolidating auto industry is obvious — if you can’t beat them, join them.Social networking on the World Wide Web is an extension of an equally established wisdom that people like to do business with people that they like. The social part of this growing online marketing phenomenon is built on trust in friends which is an element of human nature that has survived on the Internet Super Highway. Networking references the value of word of mouth advertising that delivers a single message to a sphere of influence that used to be limited to close friends and family. The Internet now distributes that same message virally on channels like You Tube, My Space, LinkedIn, Face Book, Bebo, Twitter and too many others to list that are growing exponentially.Automotive advertising agencies have been challenged to monetize social networking with mixed results primarily because they attempted to apply best practices learned from their past experiences on conventional media like radio, T.V. and print. Initially, it was assumed that the only adjustment needed was to post the same retail messages that worked in conventional media on the social networks. That was accomplished through the use of banner ads linked back to the auto dealer’s website or with an invitation for the customer to call or visit their real world dealership to get the information they needed beyond the low ball price or payment that was often offered but rarely trusted. These banner ads were seen as an easily avoided nuisance by community members who opted not to play. However, evidence does suggest that they did/do provide a residual impression that adds to the auto dealer’s top of the mind awareness with the car shopper; although sometimes the impression was tainted by the dealer’s intrusion into the community of friends.When the R.O.I. of the banner ads did not meet expectations, automotive advertising agencies attempted to register their auto dealer clients as members of the community to promote themselves from within. Auto dealers were quickly discovered as the wolves in sheep’s clothing that they were and the unwritten rules of etiquette of these social networking sites drove them from the community with their tails between their legs.Automotive advertising agencies have since learned that the elements of human nature that drive word of mouth advertising are fragile and they require transparency to survive in social networking communities. As is often the case, the solution has been provided by the developing technologies that have matured along with the Internet as a marketing media.One such solution is provided by ronsmap.com, a game changing customer centric marketing platform with proprietary applications including vBack and SellersVantage that generate Intelli-Leads with market and consumer intelligence not previously available to auto dealers. vBack is a social media engine that is embedded on the vehicle postings on ronsmap as well as the auto dealer’s website and linked marketing channels with an Ask-a-Friend/Tell-a-Friend feature functionality that develops viral messages trafficked through the social networking communities that the customer belongs to and trusts. In addition, related comments from friends solicited by the customer are attached to the Intelli-Lead as part of their SellersVantage application that also accumulates data on comparable vehicles from the auto dealer’s inventory in accordance with the customer’s stated preferences as well as related real time product and pricing information from local competitive dealer inventories posted on the Internet. This added information is sourced from within the social networking community by the customer — not the auto dealer — preserving the anonymity of the dealer while providing the auto dealer virtually unlimited access to members.This method of C2C marketing from the inside out vs. the now dated B2C marketing from the outside in is unique to ronsmap and it promises to allow automotive advertising agencies access to this growing online media. Conventional media is, and will always be, an integral component of any comprehensive marketing plan, however access to leveraged viral messaging offered by consumer driven social networking channels is the best way for budget challenged auto dealers to sell more for less. After all, what are friends for!