Tag Archives: imported

What do you think?

Do you like to ask other people their opinions before making a decision?  Do you prefer to collaborate on projects rather than work independently?  There are stylistic differences in our personalities for working independently or working within a team.  These … Continue reading

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Do you run your business like a merry-go round or a roller coaster?

One of the hardest tasks for an entrepreneur or business owner, especially in the early stages with limited staff, is to create a stable flow of income. I’ve seen many business owners cycle from feast to famine every few months. … Continue reading

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Three indicators that you are a strategic thinker

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham is a great tool to help you identify your strengths, providing access to an assessment which determines your top strengths or “talent themes.” Using this book and the assessment, I learned that one of my top strengths is as a strategic thinker (in addition to learner and responsibility themes).  strategic planning

Most of us tend to overlook our strengths; because they seem natural and effortless to us, we assume everyone has the same skills. This is not the case, however. I was recently asked to coach an employee to be more strategic. I know that this is considered a strength, and I know instinctively that it is something I personally do well. But to coach it, define it, and build it as a skill in someone else was something new (the challenge was exciting though).

Since my other strength is as a learner, I’m a big fan of reading and listening to books. I immediately began doing research to determine how best to teach strategic thinking skills. Through my subscription to Audible, I downloaded “The Great Courses: Strategic Thinking Skills.” Perfect! Aside from the rhetoric about war and fighting as the initial context and development of strategic thinking, I found the information fascinating.

Here’s a quick overview of what I learned about recognizing what is – and isn’t – strategic thinking:

1.     Strategic Thinkers go beyond planning. People mistakenly identify a game plan as synonymous with a strategic plan. A game plan is typically the identified course to achieving a goal; what steps will you take to get to your goal? Strategic thinking goes beyond this. It includes identifying those elements that could go wrong and the external variables that could interfere with progress, and creating contingencies to make progress in spite of obstacles.

2.     Strategic Thinkers understand the importance of maneuvering. If you’ve ever heard of a “decision-tree,” you’ll understand the concept of maneuvering. A decision-tree refers to the steps in making a decision along a defined path, with several mini-decisions along the way. Consider a game of chess, in which it is essential to think several steps ahead. In order to do so, you need to be adaptable, considering what the other plays may be and how you would respond if your opponent moves this way versus that way.

3.     Strategic Thinkers make decisions using both intellect and intuition. The first part in making an effective decision has to do with gathering Intel and collecting information about your opponent so you can plan wisely. There are times, however, when you must take decisive action. Strategic thinkers recognize their intuition and understand it is valuable information. Thus they are able to make decisions while using both the head and the heart.

If you’d like to be more strategic in your business, make sure you have a solid game plan and then do a SWOT Analysis (identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). To learn more and start developing your own strategic plan, go to www.SurpassYourGoal.com.

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Three indicators that you are a strategic thinker

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham is a great tool to help you identify your strengths, providing access to an assessment which determines your top strengths or “talent themes.” Using this book and the assessment, I learned that one of my top strengths is as a strategic thinker (in addition to learner and responsibility themes).  strategic planning

Most of us tend to overlook our strengths; because they seem natural and effortless to us, we assume everyone has the same skills. This is not the case, however. I was recently asked to coach an employee to be more strategic. I know that this is considered a strength, and I know instinctively that it is something I personally do well. But to coach it, define it, and build it as a skill in someone else was something new (the challenge was exciting though).

Since my other strength is as a learner, I’m a big fan of reading and listening to books. I immediately began doing research to determine how best to teach strategic thinking skills. Through my subscription to Audible, I downloaded “The Great Courses: Strategic Thinking Skills.” Perfect! Aside from the rhetoric about war and fighting as the initial context and development of strategic thinking, I found the information fascinating.

Here’s a quick overview of what I learned about recognizing what is – and isn’t – strategic thinking:

1.     Strategic Thinkers go beyond planning. People mistakenly identify a game plan as synonymous with a strategic plan. A game plan is typically the identified course to achieving a goal; what steps will you take to get to your goal? Strategic thinking goes beyond this. It includes identifying those elements that could go wrong and the external variables that could interfere with progress, and creating contingencies to make progress in spite of obstacles.

2.     Strategic Thinkers understand the importance of maneuvering. If you’ve ever heard of a “decision-tree,” you’ll understand the concept of maneuvering. A decision-tree refers to the steps in making a decision along a defined path, with several mini-decisions along the way. Consider a game of chess, in which it is essential to think several steps ahead. In order to do so, you need to be adaptable, considering what the other plays may be and how you would respond if your opponent moves this way versus that way.

3.     Strategic Thinkers make decisions using both intellect and intuition. The first part in making an effective decision has to do with gathering Intel and collecting information about your opponent so you can plan wisely. There are times, however, when you must take decisive action. Strategic thinkers recognize their intuition and understand it is valuable information. Thus they are able to make decisions while using both the head and the heart.

If you’d like to be more strategic in your business, make sure you have a solid game plan and then do a SWOT Analysis (identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). To learn more and start developing your own strategic plan, go to www.SurpassYourGoal.com.

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Wish you could clone yourself?

Did you ever see the 1996 movie Multiplicity with Michael Keaton?  Click here to watch video. I was in graduate school then, wishing I could clone myself the same way his character did.  There would be one version of me to do the vocational work, one to have fun and be rebellious, and one to handle the household and family.  Of course, the idea of cloning is to have an exact replica of oneself to be more productive.

Double Productivity

Clone Yourself

Well, twenty years later, I still have the same wish, more or less!  During that time, though, I have learned some additional skills and managed to achieve balance, albeit temporary and fleeting.   I have mastered how to juggle multiple priorities and maintain focus using three simple techniques:  Delegation, Outsourcing, and Technology.

Delegation – Simply telling somebody what you want done does not mean you are delegating effectively.  Effective delegation includes two key components:  giving clear instructions on the front end of an assignment and providing feedback and support throughout the project.  If you give detailed instructions on what you want, people may be clear about what to do, but if you never follow up with guidance and course corrections, they will stop caring as much because they perceive it as not important to you.  If you don’t give clear instructions, but instead give constant feedback, you will be seen as a micromanager.  The key is a balanced approach with instructions and follow-up.

Outsourcing – Hire specialists for important activities.  Critical tasks involving any activity in which you are not an expert – filing taxes, negotiating contracts, managing your marketing –should be outsourced to a professional. There are key professionals and experts in many fields to consider, including CPAs, attorneys, web designers, marketers, etc.

Technology – I find that managing technology, even with an occasional “blip,” is much easier to manage than people!  I love to implement new strategies with cool applications, software programs, and gadgets that maximize my time and productivity.  I am able to be 100% remote, work from anywhere, and never miss a beat – that’s productivity.  For a list of my top 10 technology tools, go to: https://surpassyourgoal.leadpages.net/top-10-technology-tools .

The most important thing to determine when using these strategies – whether delegation, outsourcing, or technology – is what you can get rid of and to whom you can give it. Start by making a cloning list.  For one week, keep track of all the activities that come up that you don’t need to do and then determine who is best suited to do what.  In addition, make sure you reference your to-do list for those items that you never seem to get to.  Those are great starting points!

For help with prioritizing activities, hiring the right people, and leveraging technology, you also might want to consider working with a business coach!

 

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Grow faster with low hanging fruit

With the emergence of the internet, there are now dozens of new techniques that can be used online, with opportunities ranging from social media to website optimization. If you consider integrating traditional marketing avenues with online marketing, you can exponentially … Continue reading

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Three signs you are a show-off

Do you remember Stuart from MAD TV? He was notorious for saying “Look what I can do!” Most of us have been taught

Show Off!

to be polite and not brag about ourselves. It’s a lesson we need to learn if we want to increase our likeability and connection with others. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever done sales or marketing (and if you’ve ever been on a date, then you’ve done sales and marketing!) In business we are taught to put our best foot forward. We are encouraged to toot our own horn in order to seal the deal. Let me be clear: this is not the problem. I’m talking about people who cross the line from tooting their own horn to being a show-off.

You’ve heard the saying: “Nobody likes a show-off.” Here are three signs that you’ve crossed the line and unfortunately, you are now a show-off:

1.     Name dropping. I’ve witnessed people drop names of celebrities, influential people, and local heroes. It doesn’t matter who you say you know or why, what matters is that you’ve used the name as a ploy to garner credibility and influence. Unfortunately it’s an obvious tactic which can backfire. I once managed a consultant and coordinated prospect luncheons to facilitate his business. He would seize every opportunity to drop high-profile names into any conversation. If he could fit three or four people into a single sentence, the cockier he became. I eventually pointed this habit out to him, because he was unaware he was doing it. It was actually embarrassing to witness, as he didn’t realize the habit was turning people off. Fortunately, he was a quick study and stopped doing it.

2.     Self-centeredness. Listening to any conversation, whether in a casual get-together, a business meeting, or a presentation by a speaker, it’s easy to determine if the person you are listening to is a show-off. The conversation is completely focused on them. They use “I” continuously and attempt to one-up their audience constantly. Even if you are attempting to coach someone or give advice, the message is received vastly different if you say, for instance, “I have no problems landing the deal. The last time I went to lunch with a prospect, I made sure that I told him why I was the best.” In that last sentence alone, the word “I” is used four times! Notice the difference in this statement: “In the meeting with John last week, we discussed the company benefits. He inquired about our competitive edge and was impressed with the recognition we received.” Not once was “I” used.

3.     Demeanor and posture. We can subtly make ourselves appear larger than life with specific postures and gestures. Like a peacock displaying its feathers to get noticed, humans also puff themselves out to gain attention, especially in meetings or during a presentation. This can include hands on the hips, chin up, and large hand gestures. These are subtle tactics to get noticed, but they may be a bit too much.

My best advice is to connect with people and audiences by being with them. Any attempts to separate yourself as superior or all-knowing will alienate them.

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Think and grow rich – literally!

I recently read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, which was originally published in 1937.  It is fascinating that something written nearly a hundred years ago is still applicablrelScreen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.47.35 PMe today; it was that far ahead of its time.  The premise of the book is to detail the 13 steps to gaining riches.

This is an incredibly powerful book that looks at how our thoughts generate actions and, ultimately, our desires, a premise that is now widely accepted and well-documented through research.  Hill stated that “Success comes to those who become success conscious,” meaning that what we focus on, we create.  We receive billions of bits of information every minute and it isn’t possible for our minds to absorb all this information into our consciousness.  Instead, we selectively attend to those things that are in alignment with our thoughts and beliefs and disregard the rest.  The effect is that someone who believes all people are greedy will continuously see greedy people, while someone who believes all people are altruistic will continuously see selfless acts.

We prime our minds for what to pay attention to using what is called our “reticular activating system,” which is how we can focus without being overloaded.  It is wired into our brains for survival strategies.  The power of this system is that it allows us to recognize that we have complete control over our thoughts and subsequently what we focus on and subconsciously attend to.

Consider that your wealth – or lack thereof – is a result of your underlying beliefs and thoughts about money.  We all have a money blueprint that includes a set of beliefs about our relationship with money.  For instance, I grew up with my father saying that “money doesn’t grow on trees,” although in my mind, it did.  Whenever I wanted something, it appeared.  I act in accordance with this belief now.  Other people may be conditioned to believe that money is the root of all evil, and this will compete with any new desires they have to become wealthy.  In essence, they would be telling themselves they are evil if they are rich – a great deterrent to subconsciously not achieving riches

Do you want to shift this so that you literally can think and grow rich?  Here are a few steps to follow.  First, become aware of your beliefs and shift your focus to positive thoughts aout money, creating a specific goal for what you want to achieve.  Place all your energy, effort, and focus towards that goal.  What’s most important with this step is a strong belief or faith that you will achieve this: you must absolutely believe it is possible.  Second, experience your success as if it were true; visualize your wealth.  The mixture of emotions brings power to our thoughts, especially on a subconscious level.  Third, take action by listening to your hunches and inspirations (subconscious solutions to your quest). Create an organized plan and work with a mastermind group to seek the advantage of experience, education, ability, and imagination.  Lastly, overcome fear and habitsated to failure, which include procrastination, negativity, indecision, dishonesty, lack of focus, intemperance, and intolerance.  You must first be honest with yourself about the behaviors holding you back and then create a deliberate game plan to overcome them.  Napoleon Hill developed a self-analysis questionnaire to help you zero in on what might be holding you back.  Go to  to download the questionnaire.

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The Easiest Method to Acquire Fortune, Fun and Family in 2015

As a business coach, I am huge advocate of goal setting, obviously! However, I’m not an advocate of setting New Year’s Resolutions. In part because I don’t think people set themselves up for success. Instead, they pick something that they … Continue reading

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There is a fine line between confidence and conceit; body language can highlight the difference

confident body languageThe distinction between confident and conceited is sometimes difficult to articulate.  We seem to know on a gut level when someone is arrogant, often leading to an unpleasant taste in our mouth.  On the other hand, when someone is confident, we are naturally more drawn to them.  This also happens on a gut level.

I would describe confident people as those individuals who feel capable of achieving a certain task.  They believe in themselves and they believe they have the necessary competencies and capabilities within themselves to perform.  However, when someone is conceited, their self-pride becomes grandiose and self-righteous.  The focus is no longer just about the capabilities they possess, but instead the capabilities that they possess that someone else does not.  The line is crossed when they compare themselves to others and state, either overtly or covertly, that they are superior.  What makes this offensive, and rightly so, is that the conceited and arrogant person is demeaning those around him or her.  Ironically, this is caused by insecurity!

Take a look at these photos from People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2013.  Even though we seem to register someone as conceited or confident without truly knowing why, these photos provide some clues on body language and what we perceive.  You will notice that in one picture the thumbs are pointed up.  In another, the thumbs are tucked into the jeans, but the fingers are splayed.  And in the third, the elbows are out.  All of these are indicative of confident poses and the hands demonstrate this in a powerful way.

Whenever you can see ‘thumbs up’ – whether the hands are clasped or the arms are folded – it indicates confidence.  The splayed fingers highlight the genitalia, a strong gesture that indicates confidence and interest.  Lastly, arms or hips taking up more space are indicators of confidence.  People who are more confident generally take up more room.  It’s a sign of stature; hence the reason the boss has the largest office, biggest chair, etc.  Next time you want to be seen as confident, be conscious of the position of your hands and, in particular, your thumbs.

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Are you proud of yourself?

When is the last time you felt proud of yourself? This is a slippery slope! When I was in my early twenties, I remember telling a friend that I was

Pride before the fall

Pride before the fall

proud of myself. I don’t recall the exact details of the event that led to that feeling, I just know it was a pivotal time in my life and I had recently made some major life changes. In roughly the same week, I heard a priest give a sermon on “pride before a fall.” The commentary discussed the ego and illusion of this state, which he explained was typically followed by a hard fall – the feeling that all was well in the world, and then the rug was ripped out from under you.

So is it bad to feel pride? Pride is considered by many to be the first and worst of the seven deadly sins (pride, lust, envy, gluttony, greed, sloth, and anger). It is defined as a form of arrogance, vanity, and a sense of over-importance. This narcissistic view of oneself often excludes other important people and figures, including God, which can lead to destruction and ultimately one’s own demise.

So every time I hear someone say they are proud of themselves, or I catch myself saying I am proud of something I’ve done, I initially think “pride before a fall.”

I am cautious not to cross the line into narcissism, although I’m not exactly sure where it is. I am by no means suggesting that you shouldn’t be proud of yourself for certain accomplishments. You may have run a marathon, completed a project, lost a significant amount of weight, or hit some other milestone. I say revel in the glory of the moment and give yourself credit for your work and dedication to what you’ve achieved. This is a positive aspect of authentic pride. But temper this feeling with a sense of gratefulness and give credit to those who also supported you. The minute you think you did it all alone and you’ve got it all figured out, the next minute you may fall.

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The secret to eliminating email miscommunication

I was recently compiling information for a time management open_letter_with_arrow_around_it_1600_clr_9212webinar.  Obviously managing your email by keeping an organized and clean inbox is a key to effective time management, but the manner in which you compose and format your emails is also critical to maximizing your efficiency.

If you send an email and it is interpreted in a different manner than you intended, you are wasting your time and the recipient’s by later having to clarify the real intent of the email.  Sometimes you can quickly correct what you meant to say in another email, but sometimes there isn’t an easy fix.  If someone’s feelings are hurt, a lot more damage control may be needed to correct the misunderstanding.

What if your emails are crystal clear in content, but they come across as negative?  This is even harder to correct.  As an example, I receive a variety of emails from a fellow board member.   This gentleman’s emails are very clear in content, but as soon as I see his name in my inbox, I cringe.  The subject line is often specific and detailed.  This is actually good practice, making it easier for people to search for a specific email at a later date.  However, in this particular situation, he put “QUESTION” or “ANSWER” followed by the specifics in the subject line.  This gets under my skin for two reasons: First, anything capitalized throughout usually indicates someone speaking in a loud tone or yelling.  I don’t believe this was his intention.  I believe he simply wanted to be clear upfront, and I don’t think he realized that this can be perceived as offensive.  Second, the point in making a specific subject line is to make it easier for the reader to determine the importance of the subject.  In this case, since “Question” and “Answer” are capitalized, those two words take up the majority of the space available in the subject line.  As a result, the complete topic cannot be viewed at a glance.  Recipients have to open the email to see the complete subject line.  So again, although his intent was to make the subject of the email more clear, it actually made it more difficult for the reader.

I will say, though, the body of this gentleman’s email, although lengthy, was clear.  He used bullets and boldface text throughout the body, which made for a nice way to read the message easily.  There are still instances where words were capitalized and that still comes across as negative to me.  This man also has a very deep and curt voice, and I can actually hear his voice in my mind as I read his emails.  I can also picture the finger-pointing when he has a question!

Here’s the lesson.  People will rarely tell you if they are annoyed or offended by your emails.  You must rely on your own personal gut check.  The best thing you can do is put yourself in the shoes of your reader.  Consider how your tone and content might be misinterpreted.  So often we are in a rush to get an email out, we don’t take the time to think it through.  For the next week, spend a few extra seconds and consider how readers might interpret your emails.  I promise this will eliminate miscommunications and save you more time later.

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Are you an email hoarder?

I confess: I am a recovering paper hoarder! I think I’ve now switched that addiction for book hoarding.  I don’t know why, but I have a hard time throwing knowledge away.  Many years ago, while I was preparing to move, … Continue reading

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Are bad habits holding you back?

angel_devil_tug_war_800_6266Have you ever considered what habits you’d like to change?  There are the typical ones, of course, related to smoking, drinking, exercise, eating, etc.  But what about the more subtle habits that you aren’t totally aware of?  For instance, if you could change two habits that would help you be more successful in your business, what would they be?  Maybe you would like to start the day earlier, read or learn something new, limit your interruptions, be home in time for dinner?  Instead of just thinking about what you want, consider what habits you have formed that need to be replaced.

If your goal is to start your day earlier, what habit needs to be replaced?  It would sound simple to just resolve to get up earlier. However, maybe your habit is to go to bed so late that you are overly tired in the morning. Despite your best intentions to get up an hour earlier you instead hit the snooze button six times!  So what you really need to change is your bedtime habit – before you can change your wake-up habit.

Let’s take that a step further.  Is the habit simply about when you go to bed?  Maybe it’s more about when you put your phone away.  You need at least a couple of hours to decompress from work.  But your habit is to check messages consistently throughout the evening because you think this is saving time.  By the time you finally put your work away, it’s ten at night.  Then you need to unwind, so you don’t actually fall asleep until midnight.  You can see here that one habit is never really just one habit.  It’s an interwoven play of behaviors with a domino effect.  If you really want to get up earlier, then you could make it your habit to ignore work emails after dinner.  Then you would have time to unwind and will sleep better.  It would certainly be a whole lot easier to get up in the morning if you’ve had a good night’s rest.  The funny thing is, as an aside, that answering your emails at night is very unproductive.  You’ll find that responding to emails takes much less time if you write them in the morning when you are more refreshed and energetic.

So take a minute and identify three habits you want to swap.  Make sure that you don’t stop at the obvious answer to change the habit, but spend a couple minutes looking for the first domino that impacts everything else.

 

 

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Do you consider yourself successful?

What does success mean to you?  Everybody has a different notion and understanding of the walking_with_arrow_1600_wht_13880word success.  For some, success means raising a happy and healthy family, while others view success as becoming a millionaire, and yet others have definitions that fall somewhere in the middle.  It’s really an interesting question.  So often, we have a running monologue in our heads about wanting success.  We go to work, take care of the kids, and do the right things, all with the underlying motive of achieving success.  Yet we very rarely sit and consider what it is that we are really after.  What actually is success?  How do we know we are successful?  It’s not as though someone hands us a ribbon that says “Congratulations — you’ve achieved success!”  Often someone else may deem us successful, but that doesn’t mean that we view ourselves that way.  So take a moment and reflect on what you are really going after.  How would you know that you are truly successful?  Would that mean that you are happy, fulfilled, rich?

If you can determine in detail what your definition of success actually is, then you can clearly identify what it looks like, how it feels, and most of all, when you have arrived. (That’s a trick, because I don’t believe we ever really arrive, we just set new goals!)  Once you’ve clarified what you are after, then you create a game plan for getting there.  Below is a series of questions that will help you fine-tune your specific goals to achieving success.

Top 10 Questions to Clarify Your Goals:

  1. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
  2. What were your goals when you were a child?
  3. What have you decided you are too old to do?
  4. What goals did you have last year that you gave up on?
  5. What would you like to accomplish by the end of the year?
  6. What would you like to possess by the end of the year?
  7. Who would you like to be by the end of the year?
  8. Where would you like to be in 10 years?
  9. When are you happy and energized?
  10. What would you really like to do?

 

 

 

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I’m fine, really!

happy_excited_expression_eyebrows_raised_1600_clr_13259How are you? Such a simple question. We must ask a dozen people each day, and a dozen people ask us the same question.  The typical response is, “I’m fine.” I suppose it’s polite to make such pleasantries, but why the avoidance of what’s really going on?  Is it just a habit to say we’re fine, without even considering how we are really doing?  The unspoken rule is that we act like everything is going well.  It’s assumed that the people who ask how we are don’t really want to know how we are doing; they just want to be polite.

What’s unfortunate is that we are so accustomed to saying we are fine, that we are clueless as to how we are actually feeling.  What if someone asked, “How are you?”  You actually stopped for a second and thought to yourself, how am I?  And then instead of the obligatory “I’m fine,” you took a risk and actually communicated how you felt?  Imagine the reaction if you responded, “Oh I’m having a rough time. My cat just died.” Or “Super! I just booked a trip to Europe.”  You might startle yourself and the person who asked.  The people asking how you are doing may not want an honest answer.  They may just be making polite conversation.

Here’s what I’d suggest: spend some time considering how you are doing. Do you truly feel it is a good day or a bad day? Are you angry, anxious, happy, or sad?  Take a moment to connect with the person who is asking and give an honest response. You’ll feel much better for sharing. And the next time you ask someone how they are, make a point of looking them in the eye to let them know you are truly interested in them.  You’ll be surprised at how open they will be with you, too.  If you really don’t want to hear how the person is, by all means, continue on with your pleasantries – just sayin.’

 

 

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