Carolyn Browne Tamler

has helped hundreds of businesses and organizations with her thoughtful facilitation and research services. She also writes colorful and compelling articles about new business initiatives! Would this help you? Call Carolyn today!

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    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

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    8-25-16 A strong vision often precedes a successful business

    What motivates someone to take the huge risk of starting a business?  I have great admiration for business owners.  As I have mentioned before, it takes a lot of courage and drive to create a business.

    The first step in creating a business is to have a vision.  There may be some successful businesses that have happened by chance, but  I doubt this can happen very often.

    The vision for a business becomes an idea that moves forward into a tangible process for making something happen.  Some people have a vision for the entire business, and some people begin with a concept that becomes more detailed as the vision expands.

    The latest story in the Business Spotlight for, is a great example:  Dancing Fish Vineyards: A unique destination on Whidbey Island that will dazzle your senses .

    Brad and Nancy Thompson moved from California to Whidbey Island with an idea to retire, but then they had a vision to create something special and purchased the 6-1/2 acres in Freeland.  They have remodeled and created a beautiful Farmhouse for overnight stays, a barn that is a venue for many kinds of events, a tasting room for tasting wines that have a Dancing Fish Vineyards label, and they have planted vineyards that will soon be producing grapes for their own wines.

    The vision of the Thompsons seems well on its way to becoming a successful business, as well as an iconic Whidbey destination.


    8-18-16 People's opinions are influenced by emotions, not facts

    During this intense election period, here’s a bit of advice: If a person’s opinion is different than yours, don’t think you can alter their opinion with any facts…no matter how valid or what the source.

    If you want some factual evidence about this (not sure what would be the right imoji to illustrate the humor in this comment), just Google: “People’s minds cannot be changed by facts.”  You will find a lengthy list of posts from many sources…if you are willing to believe any of them.

    Basically, our egos are heavily linked to our opinions. We humans don’t like to have anything damage our egos. Hence, we have little interest in knowing “facts” unless they support our opinions. To change an opinion, we have to first admit we are wrong….not an easy thing to do.

    So what can change an opinion?  It seems our emotions are a bit more capable of relating to something that might present a different way of thinking.

    (Warning, I am turning political) Case in point: Trying to convince a Trump or Bernie enthusiast that Hillary Clinton is not the devil incarnate is a hopeless enterprise, even  when offering factual material from any objective, reliable sources.

    Last Sunday, we had a gathering of several local Democratic politicians and (plus our fabulous non-partisan candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction) Erin Jones. Each gave a short talk.

    Then Eileen Jackson got up to speak on behalf of Hillary Clinton. She told of the Hillary Clinton she knows through the eyes of her family. She didn’t present any facts; just shared her family story. Her mother in law, Juanita Sandford, a sociologist in Arkansas, was someone that Hillary looked up to and worked with when Bill was governor of Arkansas, Eileen told of seeing Juanita at 90 years of age as she watched Hillary's acceptance speech at the convention. She shared Juanita's experiences with the forces within Arkansas that began the rumors that Hillary and Bill were untrustworthy, the same folks who opposed Juanita's efforts to integrate Henderson State College. Eileen ended by inviting those at the gathering to consider their choice between the Hillary that she knew or the cartoon character created by the opposition.

    When Eileen described this to the gathering, there were no political points; just her personal description of someone she admires greatly. No one could argue with that.

    You might keep this concept in mind anytime you are trying to change someone else’s view of the world.


    8-11-16 Do people know what you’re selling?

    A couple of years ago I was asked to do some analysis of survey data for a study that was conducted for a major community organization offering a range of services.  One of the questions gave people a list of 15 services and asked if they knew which of the services were provided.

    Some of the services were known to most of the people (78 – 92% for five of the items); 77% to 51% knew about another six items; but less than half knew about four of the services.

    In other words, a significant proportion of those surveyed did not have a full understanding of the range of services this organization provides.

    A major theme in my marketing advice is that people need to know what products or services you sell, and it may be a surprise that this is often a significant problem for a business.

    Remember, a key element of marketing is educating people about what you sell and what is special or unique about the products and services you provide (hmmmm, have you heard me mention this before?).

    Don’t think that just because you mention it once in an ad or an email that the information is general knowledge.  In our current world of information overload and stress, people may need to hear things several times before the information sinks in.


    8-4-16 An email can create misunderstanding

    Have you received an email with several misspellings or grammatical errors?

    Have you received a group email that got sent around several times to several people, including you?

    Do you find yourself sometimes struggling to get through a long email, only to reach the end and realize you’re still not sure what it was all about?

    Have you sent an email assuming the other person would understand your words and your tone, only to get a response back that didn’t really relate to your intentions?

    I’m sure you can come up with several other items to put on this list.  In our high speed communication age, we rapidly email and text and tweet several times a day….but are we really communicating?  There are some disagreements about how much human communication is non-verbal, but I think that we all can agree that lacking voice intonation, facial expression, body language and simply feeling another person’s energy, words alone will not necessarily convey thoughts accurately.

    I have a bit of a silly streak in me (those who know me might say it is more than a bit).  I learned a long time ago never to use my silliness in an email unless I was absolutely sure that the person knew me well enough to understand the communication (and I’m not sure it’s wise to send anyone a silly email).  Of course, I can add an imogi or a simple :>), but……

    Here are a few suggestions to avoid misunderstandings when emailing:

    • Keep it short and simple
    • If at all possible, save your sincere, serious communications for in-person or by phone
    • Read every email over before you press “Send”
    • If you are sending out a longer email or something with important information, make sure you have someone else read it before you send it
    • If you are feeling angry or frustrated with someone, DO NOT send them an email and let them know this; cool down first, and then make a phone call
    • If you are sending an email to a group of people, use the bcc, even if everyone knows each other; it will seem more personal and it will be impossible for someone else to press the “Reply all” and send out swirling emails that can drive us crazy;

    7-28-16 What if making money kills the joy of your passion?

    One of my on-going themes for having a successful business is the importantance of being passionate about what you do.  I have written several stories about people who moved to Whidbey and became entrempreneurs, often doing something very different on the island than they had done previously.

    Then, I got this response that really impressed me:

    “I once had a business that was also my passion but I found that when you absolutely must earn a living from that thing, it can take the joy and pleasure right out of the thing that once fed your soul. For me, it's been much easier to NOT earn money from "what makes me passionate," but to do something else that can enable me to do my passion outside of work, without it having to be reduced to the grind of needing to make me money.“

    I’ve read this over several times.  I certainly understand the point that was made. 

    And yet, on Whidbey especially, I see so many examples of people who really love what they do while they are making a living from their business.

    I think what I have observed is that many people who move to Whidbey need to find a different way to earn a living since there are relatively few jobs on the island.  Many decide to follow a dream they have had but never acted upon.  Running any kind of a business isn’t easy, but I have crossed paths with many who moved to the island, decided to do something as a business that they had never done before, and find themselves feeling very contented with their business choice….even if it isn’t earning the money they might have gotten from their city job off the island.

    There really is no pat answer to the dilemma of job/business satisfaction vs. making enough money to live comfortably.  Obviously, if you can follow a passion and earn as much as you need to get by, it’s a formula for a happier lifestyle.