A Makeover

If you subscribed to this blog over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that, like dinosaurs, opposable thumbs and my dog’s ability to counter surf, it evolved.

I didn’t disappear as much as join forces with The Best Medical Business Solutions, a medical business consulting company, focusing on the cosmetic and aesthetic industry, that I run with my father.  (You can read our story, and see a super adorable photo of me and the-man-everyone-thinks-is-my-much-older-husband-but-is-really-my-dad here.)

And so this site forwarded to that site for a few years.

Now, though… I’m ready to take back the reins.  I still love what I’ve built at The Best Medical Business Solutions, so heck no, I’m not switching career paths.  But I do write… a lot… for other publications (you can see all sorts of samples on my business’s website here).  But with the start of 2016, I’m craving the ability to use the instant sense of wit and tales of reality that I’ve built and collected over the years.

So, with THIS makeover, you’ll see glimpses into my ridiculous life, packed with stories about daily personal life as an entrepreneur, the amazingly hilarious conversations I have with my 91-year-old grandmother named Babcia, and whatever else comes to mind.

If I’m being honest, so far, I have five stories written about Babcia and zero about entrepreneur life, so, be prepared.  She’s amazing.

Not what you signed up for originally and looking to unsubcribe? I totally understand.  Finding out that this blog is EXACTLY what you didn’t realize you needed in your inbox?  AWESOME!  Subscribe away at the link in the right hand column on the website

Either way, be prepared.  Awesomeness awaits.

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LinkedIn: A 5 Step Guide

I’m a big fan of repurposing content.  You might notice that I often link one blog post to another.  Call it lazy; I call it smart 🙂

So when one of my fantastic clients recently asked me to come up with a step-by-step LinkedIn guide for her, I noticed, as I was hitting “send,” that this is a topic I get asked about quite often.  My father’s mastered the art of utilizing the social media site for our other business, The Best Medical Business Solutions, and I’ve even taken a few tips from him.  We’ve used LinkedIn to meet conference organizers, share bits of wisdom and, at times, the tool has even landed us new clients.

Looking to get started… or better utilize your static profile?  Keep reading.

#1- Build out your profile.  First, before looking to connect with other groups and individuals, build out your profile.  Include all relevant information, just as you would a resume.  Past jobs and bullet points about what you did, awards you’ve won, information under “Interests,” and your education.  Include information under “Background” to whatever degree you’d like as well.  (If you need an example, take a look at my page: www.linkedin.com/in/marashorr)

#2- Connect with all of your contacts.  This will continue to build your profile, and help with the next step… http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/118
#3- Ask those connections for recommendations.  Once you’ve built a rockin’ page, ask people for recommendations through LinkedIn.  Basically, allow others to brag for you, and use this as an easy reference page when people find you online, whether those people be potential new employers or clients. http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/96 
#4- Connect with new contacts. Now that the people who you know and love have supported you online, it’s time to get together with others and connect.  I would suggest two different types of groups: one for others in your industry nationwide, your peers, so that you can see who’s doing what, where, when and how, and the other of your potential clients in your geographic region. There’s a wide, wide variety, but better instructions on how to do that here: http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/186
#5- Posting to those groups.  For about a week or so, sit back and watch the feeds, looking at what the members in each of the groups do.  Are they asking for advice?  Are they posting about brag-worthy things?  How often are they posting?  I’d say no more than twice a week, but follow the lead of the others.
Have additional questions or tips?  Feel free to post them in the comments section below!

What to Consider When Hiring a New Employee

I’ve been writing blog posts for another business I’m involved in, The Best Medical Business Solutions, over this past month.  While some of these posts aren’t valid to The Leone Company’s clients or blog post readers, this one, on employee selection, is indeed.

032813- Hiring employees

Therefore, I’m sending you along to that blog here.

And so, without further ado, enjoy “What to Consider When Hiring a New Employee.”

Follow me on Twitter: @marashorr and @theleoneco.

Follow The Leone Company on Facebook here.

Stay Positive and Productive (featured in the Winter Park / Maitland Observer)

I always enjoy writing for some of the community’s local publications; it not only allows me to extend my talents as a writer to publications I read myself but, an equally important reason, is that it showcases the talents of The Leone Company.

I highly recommend any industry professional with a passion for the pen do the same thing in their own industry.  We’ve found success with this for our clients and know it’s a fantastic tactic.  For example, this past year I’ve written several pieces for Orange Appeal Magazine (here, on Central Florida community leaders Flora Maria Garcia and Barbara Hartley and here on tips to get involved in your community)  and the Winter Park / Maitland Observer here on growing your business in a down economy.

Winter Park Maitland Observer

Last week, I was able to publish another piece for the Winter Park / Maitland Observer, a weekly publication, titled “Stay positive, productive.”  While the essence was based off of this post, published right here on The Leone Company’s blog more than a year ago, it was updated and tweaked to fit the new audience.

I invite you to read the full piece hereand, of course, let me know what you think.  What would YOU add for a positive and productive day?  Go on… don’t be shy!  Let me know!

Follow me on Twitter: @marashorr and @theleoneco.

Follow The Leone Company on Facebook here.

5 Tips When Traveling on Business


010813 BLOG travel tips

Photo Source

The Leone Company has a client that takes me out of town, on average, once every four to six weeks.  I now have him speaking regularly at industry conferences across the country, as sharing his expert knowledge with hundreds, if not thousands, of potential clients within his target market is the best way to cultivate new business.  (Side note: I’m happy to discuss opportunities like this for you!)

Without a doubt, this increased amount of business travel took a bit of getting used to.  I had grown accustomed to staying in town and, most recently, I had been used to working from my home office, enjoying organic snacks throughout the day with a set routine.   But, let’s be honest: there’s something exciting about breaking up a regular work schedule with the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Here are just a few tips, tricks and systems (would you expect any less from me?) I’ve picked up and created along the way:

  1. Use travel time to catch up on reading.  For some people, a few hours on a plane may be an extension of regular office work, but for me, it’s pure, uninterrupted time to get those things done that have been piling up on my desk.  Literally.  Like that stack of industry publications that I love to read but always come in quicker than they hit the recycling bin.  (Driving instead of flying?  Audiobooks are still amongst my favorite ways to pass the time.)
  2. BYOS.  Bring your own snacks.  One’s brain, stomach and budget can only survive on the mini-bar and sugary morning danish for so long.  My personal favorites include my own stash of herbal tea, apples, peanut butter with crackers and a few protein bars.  For others, it’s their own coffee with their favorite creamer.
  3. Remain loyal to your hometown time zone.  As tempting as it may be, know that it’s just going to be harder to get back in the groove when you return to the office.  That series of late nights in Sin City hits harder than you think when returning to the East Coast.
  4. Let your staff (and other clients) know of your change in schedule.  If you’re going to be generally unavailable for more than a day, make your staff and clients aware of the best way to reach you, even if you think they won’t notice you’re out of town.  When you’re new to the role of freelancer, contractor or agency employee, people sometimes forget they have more than just one company to report to.  And, let’s be honest, you’ll need to plan ahead with them anyway.
  5. Be sure to get a few minutes of YOU time daily.  With conferences, client dinners and answering emails in the day’s remaining minutes, it’s easy to go a few days without a breath of fresh air, a walk to clear your head, or a few stretches to your favorite tunes.  In order to continue to be productive, make sure you re-group.

Have a favorite tip?  List it below!

Follow me on Twitter: @marashorr and @theleoneco

Follow us on Facebook here.

Growing a Business in a Down Economy

With a new year on its way, I wanted to share a piece I’ve written, published in an issue of the Winter Park/Maitland Observer last month.

WP Maitland Observer

I’ve had an incredible amount of inspiring discussions outlining how, in its own way, The Leone Company has grown.  Amazing discussions with both casual colleagues and close friends, all over coffee, tea, juice, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and, on one occasion JUST after Thanksgiving, pie.  (Thanks for that delicious slice of homemade apple love, Emma!)

And so, this seems like a great time to share the piece.  Head on over to their site for the full story and incredible amounts of my wisdom, and let me know what you think below!

For a full list of previously published work, head on over here.

FREE SOFTWARE TIP: HighRise HQ

From time to time, I come across software that I love so much I just have to pass on, like YouSendIt, MailChimp, PDFtoWord, Mint and more.  Right now, that software is HighRise HQ.

I’ve signed up and adore the task management system.  As The Leone Company grows, I need to make sure my “To Do” list stays in check and, after looking from system to system, this one does the trick.  It allows me to sort by client or project, by deadline, sends me notification if I’ve passed said deadline (gasp!), has an app to keep me in check on the go, and far, far more options.  There are even features to attach notes to contacts.  Score!

Check it out here, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Do you have a software or productivity tip?  I’d love to hear it!

(But on your “To Do” list? No matter your candidate of choice, make sure to vote today!)

Friendships in the Workplace

It’s no secret I love HARO. (My previous blog post explains why…and what it is… here.)  

Through HARO, I saw a press pitch I just couldn’t pass up: a local writer was constructing a piece on friendships in the workplace.  While I normally pitch my clients work, I had just the friendship in mind, as Ani is the person I mentioned in this blog post (and this one) as she’s helped with The Leone Company’s growth.

The story was picked up at TheLedger.com, and, you can read the full piece here.

Tell me: What experience have you had involving workplace friendships? Have you found your partner-in-crime, or wanted to wring someone’s neck instead?

Remember: if you’re looking for help with your media pitch, we can help! Send me an e-mail at mara@theleonecompany.com. I’d love to connect.

Remember Janee

One of the first posts I ever read by Kate Walling, founder of Scrappy Face, was this one; that post was dedicated to her grandmother, who had just passed away.  When I emailed Kate for the first time (we met on Twitter),  she let me know that, although she may not blog consistently, when she does, she has something to say.

And now, I have something to say. Truth be told, since this past Memorial Day, I’ve taken time to wrap a bandage around my heart after June 11 left it broken.

This is a longer post.  With that said, let me start from the beginning.  Know there’s a lesson in here somewhere, but, truly, I’m getting “back on the blogging horse.” This is my story:

Over the past two years, my father had created a brilliant, much-needed consulting business, The Best Medical Business Solutions, helping practices strengthen their operational, financial and administrative core; it took off faster than anyone thought it would.  He and my stepmother had big plans to travel around the country in what they called their “retirement,” as neither one could sit still.  Janee couldn’t wait to cheer him on as he spoke at conferences, giving his wisdom to others who so desperately craved it.

His client list grew, and their own medical practice was booming.  (My father had served as Janee’s practice’s vice president of operations.)  Janee’s  tiny, high-heeled, well-dressed pace quickened, and they were excited at what their futures held.

And then my stepmother, a brilliant doctor, got sick.

What started as back pain turned out to be horrific, mind-boggling, stage four terminal cancer, diagnosed the week of Thanksgiving, the week of her 65th birthday, in 2011.  Their dreams shattered into a million pieces: the dermatology practice she worked her entire life to build fell to shambles with her inability to consistently see patients, and touring around the country for my father to see clients and attend conferences became impossible, since planning for tomorrow beat planning for next week.

I had started writing a post of her journey nearly four months ago, but Janee didn’t want her illness broadcast at that point in time, seeing cancer as a sign of weakness.  She held her head high for as long as she could, and, when she wasn’t strong enough to do so any more, just after this past Memorial Day, she entered hospice.

I spent her final weeks with her in hospice, as did the rest of our family.  We remained with her around the clock.  I took my trusted MacBook Air with me, and my clients were understanding, many relating to what I was going through.  They were patient with me, and, for three weeks, I worked at whatever hours I could, sending e-mails at midnight… because the days were filled with spending time with Janee.

On June 11, this strong, courageous woman, lost her battle.

I purchased and edited her obituary through my tears, sitting across from my father at their kitchen table.

Once the final Shiva visitors had left and I had stocked his freezer with as many prepared meals-for-one as the shelves could hold, I left my father’s home in South Florida to come back to Russ, our dogs, cat and life in Orlando.  I returned a different person.  A person who felt defeated; for the first time, there was nothing I could do.

But life had to go on, and I had a business to run, as did my father.  I took time to re-strategize with my current clients, regrouping with them on anything I had missed.  But, for the summer, I held off on additional growth until I knew I was ready for it.

And now, I’m ready.

With the help of one of my best friends, I’ve laid out a plan, which we’re currently activating.  (Even the strongest of women need a crutch when they’re broken and a compass when they’re lost.)

Perhaps you’ve noticed we now have a Facebook page, allowing The Leone Company to share snippets of knowledge with you daily.  I’m blogging again.  We’re creating an e-newsletter.  I have client prospect meetings and I’m again an active part of the non-profit organizations I love so much, sitting on committees and grants panels to boot.

All of the things I typically do for my clients, I’ve finally done for myself.  Because the stronger The Leone Company is, the better I can serve my clients.

And, as I’ve said before, I know I can’t do it all myself.  Because if there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s exactly how important it is to work with clients I value… and who value my role as a family member, too.

And so with that, I’m dedicating this post to my father, in honor of the ninth anniversary of his wedding to Janee.

Knowing When to Grow

When I tell you life’s been busy, that’s an incredible understatement.  In five weeks, I spent two weekends at home, with a mix of business and pleasure occupying that time.  We’ve  named my suitcase, since she’s my constant travel companion.  (Russ decided “Victoria” was appropriate, and I decided that I was too tired to brainstorm names for a green L.L. Bean product.  Victoria it is.)

I’ve been to South Florida.  I’ve been to Vegas.  I’ve been to Amelia Island.  I’m heading BACK to South Florida again soon, with possible trips to Vegas, Cape Cod and Jersey City before the summer’s over.

I’m not complaining.  As far as travel plans go, there are far, far worse places for conferences and birthday celebrations.  But ultimately, I’m looking forward to having a clear agenda for a few weeks in a row.

But I have realized, thanks to a recent post by Ali Brown, that it was time to ask for help for The Leone Company.

I’m excited to be working with a few different people, growing The Leone Company in a way that, six months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed possible.  I have someone helping with administrative work and research, a brilliant marketing strategist assisting with projects I know are her personal strengths and another person assisting with a community relations and outreach project.  It’s an exciting time to be a business owner.

The best part?  All three of these wonderful players were already within my network.  One is a former intern from my days with the Florida Film Festival, the other two women I had met and come to admire over the past seven years as a Central Florida resident.  We’ve kept in touch, over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and, when I knew it was time to grow The Leone Company, I knew exactly who to reach out to.  As I have mentioned before, I never stopped networking… and neither did they.

And being able to contract out pieces of projects, or just the research that needs to be done to do a project WELL, is just the thing that is going to allow me to take on more clients and grow the business.  Because, as Gini Dietrich so brilliantly put it, I need to remember to remember to take time from working IN the business and put aside time to work ON the business.

And I’m thrilled to be growing with a great team.