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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    3-14-13 More musings on collaboration: A good way to fire up creativity 

    Last week I facilitated two group meetings, one for some Chamber members and one for a political group.  Each group had a similar goal of defining areas where people want to direct their energies to facilitate future accomplishments.

    In each meeting, I followed my standard facilitation procedures: I encouraged participants to share ideas while I listed their suggestions on poster sheets.  Within each group, ideas flowed.  I made a laundry-list as each suggestion was offered.

    After everyone had an opportunity share ideas, I invited people to come up and prioritize the listed responses by selecting the five items they felt were most important (those who have been to a planning meeting I have facilitated know I love press-on stars for this purpose).

    In each of the two groups a clear consensus was apparent.  When I prepared my reports on these discussions, I was able to provide a reliable summary of what was important to the participants of each discussion, which was also a good indication of where people are most likely to be motivated to be involved; they also had a sense of participation in, and ownership of, the next moves forward.

    Some individuals are blessed with great creativity, but in my experience, a group discussion where each person is encouraged to participate, but no one is allowed to dominate, leads to many creative ideas and potential solutions.


    3-7-13 Collaboration: A discussion with Clinton Chamber members

    I facilitated a meeting with the Clinton Chamber of Commerce on March 7th where we talked about how collaboration was working in their business communities and how it could benefit the businesses.

    The participants at the meeting agreed that Clinton is a different kind of business community.  There are a lot of businesses, but many are “off the beaten path” and the retail businesses are clustered in three different locations.  Those at the meeting commented that the concept of collaboration – where one business supports another – seems to be a bit of a hard sell.  One person commented, “People who have small businesses are too tired and lack the time or energy to think about working with another business.”

    Yet, when we began making a list of where collaboration was happening, the list expanded rapidly.  (To see the specific businesses that were mentioned, go to my business Facebook page: Carolyn Browne Tamler).  In addition to the ones we listed, people came up with ideas for how businesses could market each other.  By the time we were done with the list, it was obvious that many of the most successful Clinton businesses are cooperating with other businesses in the community, and as someone added, “Collaboration creates a special kind of positive energy.”

    I ended with my own view (someone said I am evangelical about this, and I would agree): No one makes it alone, in your business or your personal life.  We all benefit when we work cooperatively with others.

    The Clinton Chamber has decided to promote the businesses that are collaborating in their newsletter and to encourage members to expand their horizons and look for other businesses with whom they can promote their products or services for mutual benefit.


    2-28-13 Being passionate about what you do makes good business sense

    If you have been reading The Business Buzz on Whidbey Local ( and if you have seen some of my recent Blog postings, you may have noticed a common theme.  Everyone I have been writing about really loves what they do and/or the products that they sell.

    When I was thinking about my Blog for this week, I thought about Sweet Mona’s, Sue Averett, Fern Ridge Alpacas, Whidbey Cupcakes, Vino Amore, and several other businesses about which I have written in the last several months.  And the word, “passionate” came to me.  These people care about what they are doing almost more than making a living at their business (though obviously this is a major consideration, and all these businesses are successful).  They are doing something that gives them a great sense of pleasure and accomplishment.  They believe that what they are doing generates something positive in the lives of others.

    If you are doing something that you really aren’t enjoying, maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “What ways of earning money are possible for me that will give me a sense of passion?”



    2-21-13 A celebration can provide the basis for some great PR

    I’m always on the lookout for examples of excellent marketing.  Sweet Mona’s in Langley is the basis for my blog this week.  Her celebration was a great example of creating an event and marketing it in a way that honored her current customers and invited others to learn about her business.

    Mona opened her business as a chocolatier seven years ago.  It just happened that she opened on February 17th, which falls between Valentine’s Day and Langley’s Mystery Weekend, and for the next five years she enjoyed the uptick her business got from these two events.

    This year, she and her husband Tony, who is now a full-time partner in the business, decided to have a 7th anniversary celebration.  And, what a celebration it was.  Those who came were invited to select any seven chocolates in the case for just $7; there were drawings for prizes (42 items were donated, with over half coming from the local community); and, of course, there were lots of chocolate samples.

    She widely publicized the event in the local newspaper, through emails, and through Drewslist. I wrote two articles as well in Whidbey Local - and in Whidbey Island Life Examiner - ).

    Mona says the event was a roaring success: “Looking over our sales for that day I’d say that over 100 people took advantage of the 7 for 7 chocolate promotion. We had an outstanding sales day that even beat out Valentine’s Day, and Valentine’s Day was a record day for us this year.”

    Mona estimates that about two-thirds of those who came to the store were Whidbey Island residents; the other third heard about the event and came to Whidbey to celebrate with her.

    She feels that seven years in business is quite an accomplishment for a small business and that “It seemed right to celebrate.”

    It’s also likely that a lot people who walked through the door for the celebration hadn’t tasted her terrific chocolates before.  They will most likely be customers in the future and tell lots of others about their experience.


    2-14-13 Making a case for your business

    Recently I participated in a Board Retreat for the Whidbey Children’s Theater.  As a non-profit organization we are constantly looking for donations to keep us going.  We talked about the need to “Make our case” to build our donor base.

    As I was coming home I realized that for-profit businesses, whether offering goods or services, are in the same boat.  In order to get people to buy what you’re selling you need to make your case. 

    It’s likely that you have competitors who are selling what you sell or providing the same or a similar service to what you provide.  Your challenge to build your business is to make the case for why your product or service is superior to what someone else is offering.

    This is kind of the same theme as my question, “What’s special or unique about your business?”  If you need some help answering the question, ask some of your satisfied customers why they buy from you, or why they buy your product, rather than making another choice.  What makes your business special may be the quality or uniqueness of what you provide and/or it may be the kind of customer service that is part of your business.

    Make the case for why someone should buy from you rather than someone else.  And, each time you make a sale, be sure to ask the customer why they bought from you.