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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    p:| 360.222.6820
    c:| 425.351.7531

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    2055 Pheasant Farm Lane
    Freeland, WA 98249

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    9-6-18 Creativity is often easier within a group

    I understand that many artists find their creative expression on their own. They have a creative concept for a piece of artwork or music, and they execute the idea on their own.

    However, it has been my experience that if you ask a single person to come up with a creative idea for a plan or a marketing concept, or simply a way to solve a problem, often there is a deer-in-the-headlights moment.

    That’s why I love bringing people together and facilitating a discussion that will generate creative ideas and solutions to problems. The most productive group number is 10; not sure why (in Jewish tradition 10 is a “minion” or the amount needed to have a formal meeting process), but this does seem to be the magic number where everyone feels comfortable about speaking up and sharing opinions and ideas. Less than 10, and sometimes the discussion isn’t quite as lively; more than 10, and it becomes a bit more difficult to control.

    I do want to stress the need to have a good facilitator for a group process. It’s important that time is controlled, that the discussion stays focused and that everyone in the discussion feels comfortable speaking up.

    It’s also interesting to me that some of the most creative ideas coming out of someone in a group have been preceded by the phrase, “I really don’t know much about this, but……”

    To summarize: Bring people together in the group that have some kind of common interest (community, interests, knowledge, etc.); have an agenda that is followed as much as possible; create an atmosphere where everyone in the group feels comfortable speaking up; and make sure that no one individual dominates the conversation (I usually say something like, “I can see you feel strongly about this, now I’d like to hear what someone else has to say.”)



    8-30-18 Good photos are good marketing

    When I do a weekly Business Spotlight story, I always request at least three or four photographs to accompany the story. When I look back at the stories that have been published, I notice the value of the photos accompanying the stories. My Editor, JoAnna Weeks, sets up each business story so the photos become a major part of the story-telling. The photos represent the personalities as well as the business

    The last two stories are great examples. Blake Durr, who is an arborist, ( ) showed pictures of his family and his work doing some tree climbing and using his equipment. The story before this showed Edward Jones Representative, Kevin Lungren, in his office, paddle boarding to work, standing beside his distinctive sign on Main Street and a nice photo of Kevin and his office staff (

    Have some good photographs taken to include in all your marketing materials, including your website and Facebook page.


    8-23-18 Hugging is part of marketing on Whidbey

    I visit the Bay Area at least once or twice a year. And, every few weeks I go to Bellevue to visit with kids and grandkids. Each time I travel off the island I have to watch myself: hugging family and close friends is OK, but may not be the norm in many places I visit.

    A typical day on Whidbey usually includes numerous hugs. And, not just with people I know well. Usually, I meet someone I know in the grocery store (whichever one I visit), when I walk around Freeland or Langley, or simply taking a walk. I am always surprised at how often I meet someone who gives me a hug, wherever I go on the island.

    The reason I mention hugs in a marketing blog is that when I visit the merchants on South Whidbey, I know many of them, and a visit to their stores usually includes hugs. I am sure other small towns create this same experience, but, it’s not the norm in most big cities and suburbs.

    Anyway, part of what makes Whidbey such a sweet, lovely place to shop for me (and I would guess for most of us) is to walk into a store and not only get greeted warmly, but to have the business owner walk out and give me a welcoming hug.

    This type of shopping experience is one of the major reasons I would rather shop on the island, even if prices are not as low as the big box stores. It’s such a great feeling to be truly appreciated as a potential customer…..or maybe just as a neighbor.


    8-16-18 It takes a lot of courage to start a business

    I have enormous respect for anyone who has the courage to start a business, especially a retail business that requires so many skills and so much energy. I am impressed with anyone who has the commitment and energy to open a store front business, deal with all of the aspects of obtaining and displaying merchandise and be there to greet customers (with many small retail businesses, the owner often handles everything until the business generates enough income to support hiring help).

    Retail communities on Whidbey have many small business owners. There are also retail businesses along the highway up and down the island.

    I have made a personal commitment to shop at the independent businesses on the island whenever I can. I sometimes hear people talk about prices being lower across the water (of course, there is a ferry cost to add into this). I am willing to pay higher prices, if necessary (and this isn’t always the case), to support our local businesses.

    I hope you too will make a commitment to support our local businesses as much as possible. These small, retail stores add to the special environment of Whidbey, as much as the beautiful scenery and the sweet community.


    8-9-18 Making a person feel welcome coming into your store

    Have you ever walked into a retail store and waited for someone to notice you?

    I have had the experience (more than once) of waiting for someone to notice me and becoming aware that no one was even making eye contact. No one said “Hello” or "I'll be with you in just a minute.” 

    I can imagine that sometimes staff are tired, or had to deal with some cranky customers, or were just anxious to be done with their work day and head home.  

    But, as the customer, my only concern was being waited on, or at least having someone greet me and say they would be helping me soon.  I wanted to feel welcome.

    We are deep into the tourist season on Whidbey. Making a customer feel welcome is always important, but this is especially true when many strangers may be stopping by your business.