"Let's Get Down to Business"
business advice without the sugar coating

"Do You Have What It Takes?"

Are you thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?  Uncertain whether you have the goods?  Here are seven questions to help you identify whether life as an entrepreneur could be in your future.  Take a peek inside the crystal ball and see if you’ve got what it takes:

1)    Have you identified a market niche?  Are you passionate about becoming involved with your chosen industry?  Running your own business is an emotionally draining experience, and, much like a marriage—reveling in the honeymoon is one thing, but are you certain that your love and passion will endure?  Can it be everlasting, through better times and worse?

2)    Are you prepared to have more bosses than you could have ever imagined?  The most common phrase I hear from women who are considering a career as an entrepreneur is: “I want to be my own boss.”  WRONG!  If you think going into business for yourself means being your own boss, I’m afraid you are sorely mistaken.  Every single one of your customers will be a boss.  Your Executive Team members and employees will also be your bosses, to whom you carry the ultimate responsibility of being a good leader, motivator and educator.  As an entrepreneur, you must be prepared to bow to every single person whom you work with in your business; every single person who makes your dream possible in the first place!  And you must remain grateful to them, every single day.  

3)    Do you have advisors?  Do you have people you can reach out to and seek advice from?  These are the people whom you must trust implicitly.  Be sure to ask your advisors to keep it confidential, or else you could lose your cutting edge through competition.  Advice from close friends or family is golden; listen carefully to everything everyone has to say.  BUT!  Make sure you are strong and resolute in your decisions, that you won’t be dissuaded easily.  Entrepreneurs are often subject to criticism from others, perhaps out of fear on the part of the speaker (maybe even jealousy).  Take it all in, but remember that YOU make the final decisions. Be firm in your beliefs and don’t be afraid to explore an exciting business idea.  The most important thing is that it feels “right” to you.

4)    Do you have adequate financial reserves?  Every new business is bound to have its ups and downs, and in order to weather mini-storms that might be headed your way, it’s best to have at least six months of operating capital available to help pull you through.  I see many startups fail, even if the ideas are good, because the owners hit a hiccup early-on and can’t make it through due to lack of funds.  Dream for the best case scenario, prepare for the worst.  Make sure your business can operate on a shoestring.

5)    Yesterday?  Today?  Tomorrow?  Think big, but act small.  Entrepreneurs want to see their big dreams come alive – and they want it yesterday.  This is totally normal.  But take a step back and evaluate what you can accomplish today for a dazzling tomorrow!  Spend money only as you make it.  Birth an infant business, and then revel in the glory of growth and expansion.

6)    Do you have a business plan?  You can’t even ask for advice from close friends or family if you don’t have something written out.  A business plan can begin with just one or two lines.  “My business will make money by X.  I plan growth by Y.  I need Z in order to make X and Y happen.”  If you personally do not have adequate startup capital on-hand, you will need a business plan to court potential investors.  This plan is really the only legitimate proof you have that your idea is plausible and well thought out.

7)    Can you accept setbacks?  Entrepreneurs must be prepared to live in-the-moment, in the here-and-now.  You must be ready to accept setbacks, and to learn from them.  The greatest lessons in business are learned not from your successes, but from your failures.  Failure, on any scale, is a road-sign.  It means you’ve got to turn on your heels and head in another direction.  But will your journey end right there, just because of one wrong turn?  Get back on the freeway and get going again.  And always remember, throughout your entire journey: Failure is a milestone on the road to your next success.

"The Truth About Profit Margins"

If you have recently started (or are considering starting) your very own business, you might find that one of the scariest (and, in retrospect, one of the funniest) aspects to the learning curve is familiarizing yourself with the dreaded "business lingo."  People seem to throw around fancy terminology rather capriciously, as if it came oh-so-naturally to them.  Personally, I would say that one of the confusing terms for the fledgling entrepreneur concerns the "profit margin."

A profit margin is technically calculated by "dividing annual net earnings after taxes by revenues, displayed as a percentage."

Wow.  We couldn't possibly "vague" that up, could we?

You might find a more user-friendly definition for "profit margin" in The Idiot's Guide to Business series.  But seriously—who wants to be seen carrying that out of the bookstore?  What if you run into people you know, people whom you have just bragged to that you're a proud new business-owner?  Besides, you really don't need an Idiot's Guide to anything. You're not an idiot.  You just might not know the bloody term.

Broken down, the simple math equation behind all those fancy words is as follows:


Or, if you would like to break it down further, think of it as:



It's just an example, granted, but that's really it.  Each one of those dry-sounding business terms, with their convoluted, wordy definitions—can be broken down right into fifth-grader math. Business, and all its arithmetic, is all about dollars and sense—common sense!

It's easy, especially in the beginning, to get a little put-off by all those gnarled new words and phrases.Break them down, step-by-step. You'll discover that their barks are way worse than their bites.  It's exciting to learn new things in life, but don't get discouraged or think you know nothing about business just because of a few fancy words.  Sticks and stones, I say!

"Hire Slow, Fire Fast"

I believe in a "Hire Slow, Fire Fast" policy.  The term itself is somewhat self-explanatory, and some may think it sounds a little callous.  But I think it's the best way to protect the integrity of the greatest asset in business--my team. 

In the early days, prior to implementing this policy, it was very common for one of the New York Kids Club managers to become very enamored with a candidate on an interview.  I warn fellow employers and business owners to be wary of falling in love with interviewees right from the get-go.  It's almost impossible to forge a lasting relationship with a stranger who sits in your office and "talks the talk" for under fifteen minutes.

There was once a time when I had found myself with several newly-hired people in my company who underperformed and eventually, unfortunately, had to be let go.  It's not a nice job to fire someone (especially during these economic times), so the best way to guard against having to fire is to be more cautious whom you hire.

The New York Kids Club has a very stringent interview process:

1) Candidate submits a resume.  We call them back.  If we reach their voicemail and it's one of those funky, college outgoing messages, hip-hop music blaring and a "YO, you've reached so-and-so" voiceover -- we hang up and we don't call back.  If a candidate immediately asks what the pay is--not interested.  YES--we pay more than Starbucks but NO--we aren't Starbucks.  If s/he doesn't remember "The New York Kids Club" because s/he has sent out so many resumes--not interested.  If they ask us to call them back at another time--well, you know the drill. 

2) Interview.  The candidate is brought in and interviewed.  The details of the job are explained.  We lay everything out on the table -- from the pay to the hours to the responsibilities -- so there are no surprises.  The candidate interviews with managers on various levels.

3) Shadow Day.  S/he is brought in for several hours to watch, from the sidelines, the classes s/he would be expected to teach.  Unpaid, one hour to three. 

4) Interview Pay.  The opportunity to work hands-on in the classes for us to assess potential.  Does s/he understand how to relate to children?  Can s/he speak effectively to parents, be articulate and respectful?  Can s/he jump right in? 

5) Meeting with the Founder (that's me).  I meet with the candidate, only once.  I should make it clear that I'm not at all impressed with fancy degrees or famous alma maters.  I don't like to ask candidates about their previous jobs.  I am more interested knowing what brought them to New York, whether they come from near or far.  Passion, Personality, Potential.  The Three Ps.  That's all that matters to me. 

6) Training Period.  Two weeks.  Reports are issued from his/her superiors regarding progress.  A more experienced team member is assigned to the role of 'leader' who is responsible for mentoring the new trainee. 

7) By mid-way through our "semester," we will know whether the new team member will receive either a raise or the axe.  However, we do issue reports to make people aware of their progress or lack thereof.  Again, no surprises.  We want to give people every opportunity to improve.

If they DON'T, we are left with no choice and I have to say it: "I'm sorry, (NAME), but we have to part ways."  Despite the "firing fast" half of our policy, I admit that we really don't fire THAT fast.  We certainly don't delay if we feel it's inevitable, but we are far from ruthless about it.

Oh, except in one case.  In one case, I absolutely fire fast.

Any negative sentiment about the company or fellow team members quickly gets reported to me.  That's an immediate fire, approximately one hour after it is reported to me.  If it's noon, s/he has five ours left with the company.  If it's five p.m., then we're done.  Goodbye.

I won't stand for negative sentiments, nor will I allow for the cultivation of negativity amongst team members.  People are free to say anything they wish, but they are not permitted to bring down those around them.  I have an open-door policy for people to express their concerns directly.  But I invite people to stand up and ask their questions.  I promise each employee that we will put our money where our mouth is.  But they have to do the same.  Don't whisper in the back row.  We can still hear you!

I fire the fastest for a bad attitude.  But I believe that it's a fair balance, because I also reward the fastest for a good one.

"Quarterly Resolutions"

I think that New Year’s resolutions are a total buzz kill.

Yes, a buzz kill.   On New Year’s Eve, you might find yourself at a party, toasting with friends,  making merry, and then all of a sudden, New Year’s resolutions come up in the conversation.  Seriously?  There you are, having  a blast, and then you’re supposed to name all the things in your life which aren’t going well, to the point where you have to make a resolution for improvement?  What an anticlimactic way to end one year and begin another!

It’s not that I have a moral objection to making resolutions, but I don’t feel January is the best time to make year-long promises to oneself.  December/January is usually a time when people eat or drink too much; people are overtired and having a hard time getting back into the swing of things.  To then paint with the broadest stroke by setting huge goals such as “I will lose ten pounds this year,” or “I’ll start going to the gym” or “I’ll get that raise I’ve been wanting to go for” — are all tough to follow through with, in January, when it’s cold and miserable outside (in New York, at least).  By setting large, unattainable goals, you might well be setting yourself up for A) failure or repeating the same New Year’s resolution, year after year…after year!

Year-long resolutions can be very deceiving.  Come April, you might think to yourself, “I still have seven whole months to lose those twenty pounds” or “I still have seven months to speak to my boss.”  By putting it off until the very last minute, it’s almost inevitable that last year’s resolution will suddenly roll on over and become next year’s!

I am a big fan of the 90-day resolution, with my family and in my business.  On January 1st each year, I sit down with my executive team and we go around the table, listing our personal and professional goals.  Then, we list goals as a team — specifically, what we can conceivably accomplish by April 1st.  We are very exacting in choosing April goals.  We make sure they are realistic and then we map out a precise route to accomplish them.

We announce these goals out in the open  because we want to live up to what we promise ourselves.  When dealing with 90-day increments and choosing realistic goals, the probability of success doubles, triples–no,  quadruples!

(Try it out:  The phrase “I will lose two pounds by April 1st” sounds a WHOLE lot more attainable than “I will lose ten pounds by the end of the year.”)

With the 90-day resolution, when it comes to April 1, my team and I regroup and assess our progress.  Have we met our goals?  Why celebrate resolutions once a year when you can celebrate them quarterly?

Of course, I never ignore things which I want to accomplish over the course of an entire year.  I always keep them in the back of my mind.  But I never make resolutions that span the course of an entire year, because I want to live in the here-and-now, in-the-moment.  After all, the distance from Point A to Point B isn’t half as important as the journey.

"The Truth About Generation-Y"

At the New York Kids Club, almost all of my employees are young — proud, badge-wearing members of Generation Y

Gen-Y is very unique, in that praise is something which is lavished upon their young, impressionable egos.  Praise is applied liberally and repeated as needed, all day, everyday.  Consequently, praise is something that young people have come to expect (and deserve, when they perform well!).

Without trying to carbon date myself here, my own Gen-X was much more reserved in terms of praise.  No news meant good news.  So I, like many other Gen-X employers, had to learn how to interact and inspire my young Gen. Y team members.  And expecting them to conform to my  own “generation standards” was, as I have found, counterproductive.  As I always say:  in business, you have to be the river, not the rock.  I realized very early on with the NY Kids Club that I needed to show the young people I work with that I can be savvy; I can be flexible enough to adapt to their needs.  Nothing makes a business happier than happy employees!

Some time ago, I noticed when working with Gen-Y specimens that if I mentioned the traditional term “annual-review,” almost all bright eyes would immediately glaze over, as if to say: “Seriously?  I only get a shot at a raise once a year?”  To Gen-Y, a year is like a decade, and the term “annual review” is completely antiquated.  And so that got me thinking…how could I do better for them?

Then, I realized:  These young people, many of whom have just graduated college or are currently pursuing graduate degrees, are used to receiving feedback on their performances on a regular basis.  That’s the structure they have been brought up with throughout their entire scholastic careers.  I had to find some way to keep up that continuity and comfort zone, while still treating new team members with the respect they deserve as young, responsible adults.

And so the solution to this predicament emerged quite organically in the form of Semester End Reports; a report card, New-York-Kids-Club style!  In this “report card,” we include marks for ten distinct categories which fall into three “grades”:  Below Expectations, Meets Expectations and Exceeds Expectations.

Any grade that falls into the category of “Meeting Expectations” is accompanied by a comment from the employee’s direct supervisor, and a plan of action on how s/he can expect to move into the Exceeds Expectations category.  Each “Meets Expectations” also has a dollar-amount raise attached to it, which really gets the fires going in young people — after all, dollar signs speak loud-and-clear to everyone!  An employee’s “grades” determine the percentage raise which they are entitled to.  So then the message on the airwaves becomes: Keep up your GPA and you will definitely get that scholarship.

With the program we have implemented, it becomes up to the individual to test their own drive and ambition.  We are happy to give our employees as many opportunities to score raises as possible.  That’s why we issue these Semester End Reports three times a year — Fall, Spring and Summer — consistent with the scholastic year.  We give our employees every chance to determine their own destinies at the company, and we also let them do the math as to how much more money they could potentially be earning!

If someone Exceeds Expectations in every single category, s/he is eligible for a promotion to a salaried managerial position, with paid vacation and all the other perks that come along with joining the management team.

Funnily enough, someone recently asked me: “Doesn’t it get expensive when you have all these great, young, energetic people seizing the opportunities you offer to keep making more and more money?”

In truth, in the age we live in–fast times, fast changes, fast lives–I am thrilled to see people at the Kids Club gain earning power and climb up the ranks, because it means they have been with us for a while.  Many people in their twenties change professions at the turn of a dime.  The age of slaving away for twenty years until you earn your gold watch is gone.  We want to give young people every chance for growth that we can.  Be good to us, and we’ll be good to you.   We can "Be The River, Not The Rock".  Flow with us downstream, and we will take you to some amazing new places.

“Tooting My Own Horn”

This past Friday night, I was honored with a Stevie Award for Women in Business. The Stevie Award ceremony is fashioned somewhat after the Oscars, in that there are about 50 categories, which range anywhere from Best Blog to Best Website to Best Entrepreneur.

I was encouraged to attend the ceremony.   49 awards into the evening, and I was ready to pack it in and go home.   I hadn't won anything.   It had been a nice night, and I was content that my family had accompanied me. But then, the announcer said, “And we’ve saved the best for last. The most coveted award for Best Mentor goes to…”

…Yes, it went to Yours Truly.

I gave a speech and accepted my award. I was really thrilled.

When the initial excitement died down over the weekend, I got to thinking it over. I  was so honored to have won the award for Best Mentor, but I have to admit that the people whom I mentor—the team members at my company—are really the winners.  They are the greatest “mentorees,” if you will, because they absorb everything like sponges, they become smarter and savvier as much on their own as they do under my mentorship.  In many ways, they have taught me just as much as or MORE than I have taught them.

So I concluded that if I am really going to accept this Stevie Award for Best Mentor, and if I am to learn to be proud of it, I need to rise to the occasion.  I need to be worthy of my award. I have to take it to the next level.

I have recently been in contact with a wonderful organization called Student Sponsor Partners (SSP), which offers assistance to “at-risk” children.  These are children whose families are living below the poverty line, whose grades are below average, who often come from single-parent homes.

SSP accepts 400 children per year into their program, and, through donor support, places children they consider “at risk” in private schools in and around New York City, to encourage them in a fresh new environment, to inspire them to reach for the stars. I n addition, SSP also assigns each child a mentor, with whom they meet on a periodic basis throughout the year.

I decided that in order for me to be a good mentor, I need to encourage my mentorees to become mentors as well! I approached my team at every single Kids Club location, and I told them: “We are willing to pay the tuition for one child per every New York Kids Club location to go to private school for four years – IF your location team agrees to fill the role of mentoring a child.  There is no obligation.”

We would become actively involved in these children’s lives, I told them. We would meet them on a monthly basis and we would talk to them and listen to them.  We would take them out for social time, to a ballgame or to the park. We would be dedicated to having a positive impact on their lives.

“So,” I asked. “What do you say?”

The response was tremendous. All six locations were emphatically, hands-down, IN!  We snapped into action and mapped out spreadsheets and schedules, and special events we will take the children to.  On days off from school, the children will spend time with us at the New York Kids Club and might even become our special summer interns!

NOW, I can be a proud owner of my Stevie’s Award.  The fact that I took my award for Best Mentor seriously, that I have found success in inspiring my team to become mentors to others, gives me a sense of pride I can hardly even describe.

Yes, I have been tooting my own horn relentlessly in this post, I don’t deny it. I  wholeheartedly admit it! But I am not without a cause. I’m not just tooting for the sake of tooting.  I’m tooting in hopes that others will join the band!

"Love Your Maverick"


  1. Noun – A motherless calf.
  2. Noun - An unorthodox or independent-minded person.

In business, a maverick is someone that will make it their business to spread word about your business, like nobody’s business. They are obsessed with telling as many people as they can about your product, store or service, and they are worth more to your business than any advertising could ever hope to be.

At the New York Kids Club, we have always kept our eyes peeled for the “resident mavericks” – the ladies with the golden voices – the ones who ensure growth and seal the deal by finding new customers for us.

Statistics have shown that if a woman likes a product, she will tell up to 14 people a day about that product. 14 people in one day. Since mavericks often travel in packs, let’s assume that half of the people your original maverick tells are also mavericks, and they, in turn, go on to tell 14 other people about you. And suppose the cycle repeats itself one more time. At the end of only one day, over 200 new people know about your business. After five days, over 1000 know. In a month, over 4000. And so on. The figures can grow to staggering proportions! So is it really any wonder why businesses LOVE their mavericks?

Positive PR from mavericks is more valuable to a growing business than print ads, web marketing or any other strategy. A maverick works hard to promote your business—as hard, if not more so, than your employees. They send out e-mails. They get on the phone. They become the neighborhood megaphone.

Therefore, it is important to take care of your mavericks. Treat them well. They are your VIPs. Give them complimentary services. A special holiday gift. Undivided attention every time they visit. Show your gratitude. Call them personally to say thank you for spreading good word.

Many mavericks are savvy and offer their advertising services as part of a trade-off. When the time comes, your maverick might ask you for 10% on a sale when you are only offering 5%.

They take their roles very seriously. They do the research about your business and industry; they know their stuff when they walk through your door. They will come to you with suggestions for what could improve your business, they will have opinions on everything from pricing to service. But remember, even if you can’t meet every single one of their suggestions to a tee, mavericks want to be heard and recognized, and really, you owe them at least that much!

As a business owner, you must search for your maverick and love your maverick. You must reward her, but above all, you must listen to her.

Be compassionate about your maverick’s requests, and try to meet them as closely as possible. Do as much as you can. Deny a maverick their request, and their outcry will end up posted on blogs across America. Plus, if you don’t cater to your mavericks, one of your competitors surely will!

All things considered, a business’s time and money is better spent keeping your mavericks happy and well fed than fixing the fence only after they have moved on to greener pastures.

"The Road to Delegation"

“Delegating is the act of empowering an individual with a pre-determined level of authority to complete assigned projects or tasks. The ability to delegate is one of the marks of a good leader.”

- Dianne Stacey

In some ways, being a good company leader is analogous to being a good parent. You must be strong and encouraging, attentive and yet authoritative. And both roles share another commonality: the need to learn when to let go.

I used to think that being a good leader meant being a one-woman show. In the early days of the New York Kids Club, I was determined to fill the roles of director, producer, cast and crew - all on my own!

So there I found myself every day, hauling heavy boxes, setting up for birthday parties, handling payroll, shoveling snow. Whatever the task, I was right there in the thick of it. (Funnily enough, I even had a full staff at the Kids Club by this time, so my self-inflicted angst was not due to any shortage of manpower!)

Unbeknownst to me, I was going through a strange form of denial. Why was I so resistant to delegating?

What I have come to realize over the years is that delegating responsibilities successfully is one of the trickiest lessons to learn as a business owner. Many employers find themselves stuck in the mindset of:

  1. There is no one else to delegate these tasks to.
  2. I don’t know whether I can trust someone else to do this.
  3. I know I can do this better myself.
  4. I am the only person who knows how to do this.
  5. I don’t want to give up this project because I like doing it.
  6. I don’t have time to show anyone else how to do this.

These excuses, though they make total sense to the mind using them, can often yield negative results — feelings of being constantly overwhelmed, decreased productivity, miscommunications with staff members — all which can lead to the suffering of work quality or general dissatisfaction with one’s job.

Overcoming the “one-woman-show” attitude doesn’t happen overnight. It is a work-in-constant-progress.

1. There is no one else to delegate these tasks to.
2. I don’t know whether I can trust someone else to do this.

These are the most crucial demons to exorcise when starting out on the Road to Delegation. I caution that in either finding new or trusting current team members with added responsibilities, you do need to be mindful with what you are entrusting - and to whom. For instance, it may not be wise to delegate a responsibility concerning the business bank account numbers to an employee whom you sense might be leaving the company. Be mindful, but not paranoid. If you have reason to be that concerned about compromising your sensitive information, then you may not be working with the right people to begin with.

3. I know I can do this better myself.

Chalk this one up to ego. If you trust people enough to work for your company, you must accept that their styles will invariably differ from your own. And so they should! You should want a diverse team of intelligent, creative people! Your success at a task doesn’t necessarily mean that your way is the only right way, or vice versa. Be prepared to accept these differences and celebrate them!

4. I am the only person who knows how to do this.

If that’s really true, it can’t possible be good, in any context. What if you are sick and can’t come in to accomplish this special task that only you know how to accomplish? What if you are finally able to take that vacation you deserve? If you or one of your staff members is that set on being the only one possessed of certain knowledge or skills, then the problem likely runs deeper than the task at hand.

5. I don’t want to give up this project because I like doing it.

If you enjoy doing a task so much, then why be selfish? Give the gift of fun to a team member so s/he will be able to join in and share in such a positive experience. Being part of a team means sharing the tears and the laughs. Why would anyone want to withhold a great joke? To keep it from getting passed on?

6. I don’t have time to show anyone else how to do this.

The reason you don’t have time to show someone else how to do it is because you never took the time to show someone else how to do it! The more time you spend training team members, the more freedom you will have to delegate responsibilities. The more time invested showing someone else how you accomplish a set task, the more time you will eventually earn for yourself! And the more energy you will have to conquer each new day.

Be specific when communicating to your team the results you desire, but try not to micromanage the process itself. I think George Smith Patton Jr. summed it up quite nitely when he said: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their ingenuity.”

"Tightening Purse Strings - Adding Value!"

Every business tackles downswing differently. Some businesses slash prices, others cut budgets and yet others start laying off personnel. But one thing everyone shares is worry.

In my view, tightening the purse strings on the consumer’s part doesn’t automatically have to mean the kiss of death for business owners. What the current economic downturn does mean for business owners, large and small, is that they may find themselves under increased pressure to retain their current clientele. Slashing prices is one way to stay competitive in the game when clients are forced to tighten up their own spending budgets. ADDED VALUE is the route I personally prefer to take at the New York Kids Club; giving clients MORE during times when they have LESS spending flexibility.

Last week, I sent out a newsletter to all of our New York Kids Club families, for the sole purpose of relating understanding and compassion to them, on behalf of myself and my team. I also detailed what savings and added value packages the New York Kids Club  is offering throughout the Fall and Winter.

The response to my letter was immediate and tremendous. We received an overwhelming outpouring of support from New York Kids Club families — letters thanking us for facing the problem head-on; expressing gratitude that we are doing what we can to treat our clients with care and respect; letting us know that they value the efforts we are putting forth; assuring us that with the added value we are providing, they will be able to stay on with the Kids club, despite the economic ebb.

Above all, based on the incredible response we received, it gave me such great pride to realize that the New York Kids Club, a successful business, nevertheless still remains true to its core values. One of our main objectives at the New York Kids Club has always been to foster a community within our clientele. To see that component of the original vision come alive right before my eyes - to be able to draw upon the strength of an entire community that bands together in better times and worse - truly inspires me.

"Word of Mouth, the Upside"

In the weeks leading up to the Grand Opening of my very first New York Kids Club location, I had stuck floor-to-ceiling signs up in the windows of our new space that read: “New York Kids Club Coming Soon!” But I knew that wouldn’t be enough to generate a buzz in the neighborhood. It was the first location, so no one could be expected to even know who we were, let alone to be excited about us!

So I had to find other ways of generating publicity. I enlisted the help of my brother and several others, and I set a personal goal for myself: I was going to tell 50 people a day about the New York Kids Club, in any setting, it didn’t matter. 50 people a day.

“Psst!” I whispered to the lady next to me in the checkout line. “Did you hear about that new place opening on 87th Street? It’s called the New York Kids Club, and they offer all these great classes for kids!”

“Psst! The New York Kids Club is coming, and they’ve got wonderful teachers and the space is just terrific!”

I told the man in Harry’s Shoe Store. I told the lady at the nail salon. I told people on the playground. People at the meat counter. People at the street fairs. People on the bus.

I talked up a storm. I handed out flyers and pamphlets. I fielded questions. I struck up random conversations. I told and sold the New York Kids Club on anyone willing to listen to me. Short of shouting from the rooftops or renting a blimp, I was EVERYWHERE.

And I don’t feel that I was secretive about it or that I was operating in stealth. I was fully prepared for people to ask me, “How do you know about the Kids Club?” And I was going to say, “I started it. I’m the Founder.”

But funnily enough, no one asked me.

Then the calls started coming. The NY Kids Club didn’t even have a phone system yet, only an answering machine. I would listen to the messages and return the calls. I gave the spiel and sold it hard. I took pre-orders. I swiped credit cards. I filled the classes.

Come Opening Day, the New York Kids Club had generated enough revenue to cover all costs of the construction which had gone into preparing the space. It was an incredible relief to know that I had survived the mine field of getting my business up and running.

I never underestimate the power of advertising or the power of internet marketing. I am a full advocate of "Jumping On The Bandwagon" and adapting to new marketing platforms. But I firmly believe that the best, certainly the most personal form of reaching out to customers has always been - and always will be - by word of mouth. And not only is it possibly the best form of advertising, but it’s also FREE!

Now I should mention that it’s not all wine and roses. There is a definite downside to setting ablaze the type of wildfire that spreads by word of mouth. But that’s another story, for another day.

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