10 Holiday Greetings for Business

Here we go again – the “Holiday Season” – no other time of celebration brings such anguish along with it, from what to buy to what to say. I can’t help you with the what to buy part, but can offer help in what to say in your greeting cards, or in everyday conversation.

When you live and work in the multi-cultural worlds of most major cities in America, the chances are pretty good that you have colleagues, neighbors, clients, and friends whose faith or culture is different from yours.

I’m a big believer in the sentiment that floats around Facebook every December that says:

Say What Has Meaning for You

We have no right to demand that others go along with our beliefs or behaviors. We do have, if we truly subscribe to any one of the major religions, a moral obligation to treat each other as we would want to be treated. Here are ten statements you can put in the cards you send  either personally or for business, adding or omitting the names of your holiday or the one of the person to whom the card is addressed:

  • May your holidays and New Year be filled with laughter, good food, and good friends.
  • Warm wishes we send to you, for happy holidays, and in the new year, too!
  • Enjoy the sweet moments this holiday season can bring.
  • Make memories that last through the new year, give thanks, give love, and be of good cheer!
  • Amazing people like you make the world brighter for people like us. Thank you, and Happy Holidays!
  • There’s no better time to tell you just how much your business means to us throughout the whole year. Happy Holidays!
  • Remembering you with warm wishes for a happy and peaceful holiday season.
  • Wishing you joy at the holidays and in the coming year.
  • May your holidays be merry, may it fill your hearts with cheer, and may all of you be happy throughout the bright new year!
  • Sending you warm wishes of gratitude this holiday season for your business, support, and referrals. Happy Holidays!

An added, personal message such as, “Dear Pete & Judy, hope your ski trip is great!” is a great way to let your contacts know they are special. One last tip: Hand address the envelopes. Yes, it takes a lot more time than printing and slapping on a label, but handwriting also tells the receiver you were thinking of them. Address a few at a time while you veg in front of the TV at night. If your penmanship is hard to read, hire one of your staff members or a friend to write them for you – and don’t forget to give them a bonus check!

Happy Holidays!

Defining Excellence

Dana LaMon

C’mon, admit it –  you believe the dictionary definition that states, “excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.”

You’ve believed it, and then pushed your belief beyond it, because somehow, being extremely good came to be equated with perfection, with being the best.

But do we do disservice to ourselves and our role models by insisting that equation is true? What if it’s NOT?

What if excellence is not so much a being as it is a doing?

I had the pleasure of hearing Dan LaMon – the 1992 World Champion of Public Speaking – at a Toastmaster’s Conference last weekend.  He had some  provocative things to say about excellence, starting with his belief that excellence is not perfection but rather, a process to reaching perfection. The first of his 104 Principles for Living and Working states:

“To excel is to do better today than you did yesterday.”

Compare your performance today with yesterday’s results.
If you improved or advanced, you excelled.
If you see room for more improvement, you are looking at tomorrow’s opportunity to excel.

Now, Dana LaMon knows a thing or two about doing better one day at a time.

He’s a retired Administrative Law Judge for the California Department of Social Services, a graduate of Yale University, and the author of four books for inspiration and personal development. He has given motivational speeches in Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, and 31 states of the United States to audiences as diverse as corporate executives to kindergarten students and religious congregations to prison inmates.

Oh, one more thing – he’s been blind since he was four years old, and is very clear in stating that there were plenty of folks throughout his life who said, “But you are blind, you can’t…”  Thankfully for us, he knew better. A friend gave him the experience of driving a car, and he learned to hit a 3-point shot on the basketball court thanks to that same friend.

Yes, he knows a few things about doing better one day at a time.

Here are his 8 Points Regarding Excellence:

  • Improvement: Do you give each day and each task your very best effort?
  • Development: Are you using your talents and abilities to your greatest advantage?
  • Movement: Excellence welcomes change. Do you?
  • Tenacity: In the face of opposition, a commitment to excellence pushes you to work harder.
  • Adjustments: What excuses do you make? If you are committed to excellence, you make adjustments, not excuses.
  • Possibilities: (I think this is my favorite quote of all) The realm of possibility and the field of uncertainty occupy the same space.
  • Teamwork: Teams require a “what’s in it for US” mentality, not “what’s in it for ME.”
  • Love: Quality can be controlled, Time can be managed, but people need to be loved, and that is the connector.

So what do you think? Is excellence about being perfect, being the best, or as Dana LaMon says, being better today than you were yesterday?


Worst WordPress User Name Ever

In the space of seven overnight hours, there were more than 60 unsuccessful attempts to hack into one of the WordPress sites I manage, all originating in either Russia or China.  They failed to gain access into the site for one very simple reason.

What You Need to Know

If you are a WordPress user, you are certainly familiar with the login screen that asks for your User Name and Password.

WordPress uses “admin” as the default user name. You might think leaving it is the simple way to go, but in the end, you may pay dearly for not taking the time to create a unique name and password.

In each of the 60+ hacking attempts I mentioned, the hacker used either “admin” or “administrator” as the username.

How to Fix it

  1. Create a new user with the “Administrator” role, but don’t call it Admin or Administrator. Call it something unique, like “web.”
  2. Next, make sure that any posts or pages assigned to the original “admin” or “Administrator” username are reassigned to the user account you just created. If you don’t do this, they will be permanently deleted when you do step 5.
  3. Log out of the “admin” account.
  4. Log back in using the new user account.
  5. Go to “Users” in the menu and delete the “admin” account.

Your site will now be protected from hackers and hacker bots using “admin” or “administrator” as the username. To protect your site even further, consider purchasing  one of the WordPress Security plugins that allow you to block specific IP addresses and countries, as well as other options.


Saying “No” to a Prospective Client

I had to say “No” to a prospective client today.

That hasn’t happened in a long time, and I wrestled with the decision for three full days.

As a business owner, I want to ensure a good relationship with clients.  I want to be a “yes” 100% of the time. But every now and then a project comes along that is just not a good fit for my expertise. In these instances, I believe it better to say “NO” and help them find a better fit than it is to say “YES” and not be able to do them justice in the final result.

Here are three tips for saying “NO” in a way that keeps the relationship positive:

Be Honest about your Reasons

Nobody likes rejection. Hearing “NO” is hard, especially when you’re up against a deadline or are completely frustrated with your own efforts. In my rejection today, I apologized to the prospect, who was asking for assistance in developing a grant proposal for a very technical manufacturing process. I let him know that while I have some experience in the industry, my technical skills were not sufficient to give him the level of assistance I felt he needed, after reviewing the initial proposal.

Find an Alternate Solution

We’ve all heard the statement, “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” The prospect had been referred to me by a long-time associate, so both our reputations were on the line, and I’m committed to find WIN/WIN solutions for every issue. I can’t ethically take the project on knowing that I’m not well suited for it, but I certainly can help find someone for whom it is a perfect fit.

I hopped onto Linkedin and did a search for local freelance technical writers with experience in the prospect’s industry. Ten pages of results were returned! I reviewed the first few pages and gave the prospect names and contact info for three people who are far more qualified than me. Hopefully one of them will be available and excited to take on the project.

I had to say “NO,” but I still found a way to say “YES” to assisting the client.

Keep the Doors Open

You have a choice – after you give your “NO” and alternate solution, you have a choice. You can walk away forever, or you can follow up to make sure the solution you suggested was viable. If not, perhaps a second round of ideas will come to you. I just said “NO” this morning, and will follow up with the prospect later in the week to see if I can help in any other way. Stay in touch, and if you can, refer customers – that is one way to stay on the prospect’s radar, and establish a foundation for further conversation.


Saying “NO” is never easy, but when it is in the best interest of the prospect or client, it benefits everyone involved. Give your prospect the gift of integrity by being honest in your reasons for the rejection, finding an alternate solution if you can, and keeping the doors open.


How to See and Stop Email Spoofers

In my email box this morning was a message from…myself. It looked like this:
I quickly hit “forward” and sent it to spoof@paypal.com, their designated mailbox for issues like this.

Obviously, it was sent from someone other than me. Let’s take a look at the most obvious clues, and one way to stop those messages from showing up in your mailbox.

The first sentence is fraught with spelling and grammatical errors.
If that’s not enough of a clue, the message is entirely vague and almost nonsensical.

They give you a link to click to “verify” your account. Don’t ever do that! If you click it, you will be taken to a ghosted PayPal site – a fraudulent site that looks like, but is not, PayPal. When you enter your account information on that fraudulent site, you are handing your PayPal account over to the criminals.

Sadly, you can’t stop these creeps from obtaining your email address and spoofing, but you can stop them from filling up your email box.

Check the Source Code

Every email program has an option to view the source code. In my program it is at the top right of the email screen and looks like this:

Sometimes you have to hunt to find the “view source” option. Don’t give up! I have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the list to click on the “View Source” option.

Once you do that, you will see the email message in its raw state, and you can determine where it originated.

In line three of the source code for this message, it was clear that it originated from “masterhost.ru.” Yup, it came from somewhere inside Russia. The actual account from which it was generated is masked, but now you know one place to start in order to block the spoofers.

Block the Domain

Every email program I’ve ever used has the option to block senders and block domains. You’ll have to hunt around in your email program to find it, but once you do, simply add “*@masterhost.ru” to the blocked list and you will no longer receive emails from any accounts related to that server.  The “*@” is shorthand for “any name at.” This means that if the sender is “Spoofer1” or “spoofer45” it won’t matter. All that counts is the “masterhost.ru” part.

It is up to each of us, individually, to keep the spoofers at bay, so that we can all enjoy email, social media, and electronic business without fear.  It can be time consuming to dig into the code and add email addresses to our blocked list, but the peace of mind it brings is worth the while.


If You Don’t Know Me By Now

Many of you have followed this blog since the first post in May, 2007. You’ve cheered me through the good times, and helped me through the darker days. For that I am eternally grateful.

I’ve learned, recently, that a number of new subscribers to this blog like what I have to say and how I say it, but are a little confused about who I am, and why my blog is worth reading.

Who I Am

My name is Linda Anger. I’ve lived my entire life in the state of Michigan, and am proud to spring from a family that has deep roots in the City of Detroit. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs on my patriarchal side. My great-great-grandfather, Edward Stange, became president of The American Brewing Company in 1901. My grandfather, Russell Anger, owned a small manufacturing company once housed on Telegraph near Eight Mile. My dad, Robert Anger, was a self-employed tool-and-die maker. His office was on Grand River near Eight Mile.

With all that biological history, I think entrepreneurship is in my blood. I saw my dad’s day-to-day work ethic, I understood why he worked long hours. I reveled in the delight he took when things were going well. Perhaps the most important lesson was the one I learned at his funeral. Click Here To Read About it.

I determined to become a writer when I was nine years old, and today, after more than 30 years in the biz, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of it. I’ve had poems and stories published in magazines and journals since the early 1990s, and have supported myself as a marketing communications specialist and president of The Write Concept, Inc.  since March 2000, after being laid off from a Fortune 100 company.

Why You Should Read This Blog

    • I bring the wisdom of experience in corporate and small business communication to the table. I can tell you what has worked historically and why, and what new options are available for you to test out.
    • As a small business owner, I understand the challenges of working with a limited budget yet needing to expand awareness of the company.
    • As a communicator, I cut through the fluff and throw away the corporate and industry jargon, to get down to what really matters, in terms that are clear and succinct.
    • I am an avid member of two Toastmasters clubs, where I have honed my speech writing and leadership skills.
    • I am the current president of Detroit Working Writers, a 115-year-old organization of professional writers, founded on June 5, 1900, with archives housed in the Burton Collection at the Detroit Public Library.
    • I help business owners, non-profit organizations, and sales professionals move minds, generate sales, and drive results – with words that matter.

If that’s not enough, I’m also the proud mom of a college professor, have two awesome grandkids, play guitar and ukulele, lived through cancer surgery and almost a year of chemotherapy, and live by the mantra: “those who say a thing cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”


Freelance Copywriting and Editing

Image of Ali Luke, AliVentures, Copywriting Interview
Ali Luke of AliVentures


Wondering what it takes to start and sustain a copywriting and editing business?  I’ve been at it for 15 years and blogging about it for 7 years. I’ve worked hard to make it work for me. Can you do the same?

Ali Luke of AliVentures in Cambridge, England, (that’s her at left) interviewed me on this topic, and posted it in her private Writer’s Huddle group. She’s allowed me to share it with you.

Click to listen to the 45-minute interview on SoundCloud.

Click to download a PDF transcript of the interview.

Click to download a PDF of the accompanying WORKSHEET.

Thanks, Ali! You are an amazing woman, and a gift to the freelance writing community around the world!


Three Must-Have Entrepreneurial Traits

It’s the lure of the open road, in some regards. The desire to be the master of your own ship, own your own clock, give your work life meaning. It’s the lure of the entrepreneurial life, and some folks are better suited for it than others.


Here are three must-have entrepreneurial traits that are the foundation of success:


Starting your own business is a risk. It takes guts, it takes stamina, and it takes a willingness to fail. I disagree with those who say “Failure in not an option.” Einstein, Ford, Hill, and a least a dozen other business gurus have adamantly stated that failure is our greatest teacher. Remember, though, that there are risky risks, and calculated risks. The entrepreneurs that become fearless leaders and successful business owners know how to discern between the two. Did you know that Henry Ford failed at several automotive-related businesses before he founded what is today one of the largest corporations in the world?


Ever read “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin?  The species that survives is the one that adapts. The species that don’t or won’t adapt, become extinct. Entrepreneurs frequently sail uncharted waters, and scale unknown mountains. You never know what to expect as a business owner, but if you are ready and able to adapt, you will learn, grow, and survive in one form or another.


If there were only one characteristic that defined entrepreneurs, it would be curiosity.   A “Question Everything” attitude just flows through our veins, and is the lifeblood of innovation and success. A better way, a new idea, or a breakthrough treatment is out there somewhere, and the one who allows their curiosity to lead them into the unknown is the one who succeeds.


Entrepreneurs are everywhere—there’s not an industry in the world that didn’t begin as an idea in someone’s head. But not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. It takes curiosity, adaptability, and a risk-taking attitude, among other qualities.

Do you have what it takes?


Hack Resistant Passwords

The sad fact is, the greater our dependence on the internet grows, the stronger the likelihood that we will be hacked. This is why you are cautioned to use unique passwords for each site – if one is hacked, the rest of your internet history and important sites are not affected.

While creating nonsensical passwords for each important site may be annoying, that annoyance is nothing compared to what you will encounter and experience if your accounts  – your online bank accounts, PayPal, and the jumbo Social Media sites – are compromised.

Take a break from network TV one of these nights to cook up a list of passwords that will provide a reasonable level of safety.

The easy-as-pie, hack-resistant password recipe:

  1. Pick a song lyric, or a book title. Any song or book will do. For this example, we will use “Baby I was Born this Way” by Lady Gaga. Convert it to an acronym by taking the first letter of each word: BIWBTW.
  2. Pick two or three of your favorite punctuation symbols. You might use #^&, for example.
  3. Finish with some numbers – but not a series. Use 492, but not 456. Now rearrange the segments however you choose.

The first password, using this example, is BIWBTW#^&492. Please don’t use it, make your own. You can switch the order around, of course, so maybe you use #^&BIWBTW492, or for sites that require upper and lowercase letters, 492BiWbTw#^&.

Keep going!  If you do just five each night for an entire week, you will quickly turn every password in your list to something as close to hack-proof as you can get.

Four Marketing Practices the Drive me Crazy

I unchained myself from cable TV a year ago and now tolerate only the small amount of network broadcasts that come on before I flip over to my Roku player, where I watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, the Smithsonian Channel, and awesome PBS documentaries.

Now, on the rare occasions that I actually do watch network news or see marketing on the internet, I am doubly annoyed by four marketing ploys that have bothered me for a long time.

Are your TV and Social Media peeves like mine? Let’s see:

FIRST: I am totally turned off by business owners whose TV ads feature their children or grandchildren, especially if they are singing stupid jingles. Unless your business is all about kids, please leave them at home where they belong.

SECOND: I will never, ever do business with companies that hire that voice-over guy who screams for the entire 30 or 60-second spot. He’s just plain obnoxious. That form of advertising lost its luster back in the 1950s. Please, leave it there.

THIRD: Ads or circulars or flyers that claim the issuing company is “the best” in the industry, or uses any other superlatives, without providing absolute proof.

FOURTH: Facebook posts that declare they will “blow your mind,” “change your life,” or “bring you to tears,” then show you a mediocre or nothing-new video.

Bottom line for me is this: If I find your advertising obnoxious, annoying, or utterly stupid, I will not buy your products or hire your company. I don’t believe I am the only one who feels this way, so please comment!