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April 29, 2014

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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Make Monday Your "Barter Day"

It's a continuous challenge for independent retailers to remain competitive as the mega-stores continue to expand their reach. In order to survive in today's environment, smaller stores must trim overhead, provide better service, purchase wisely, and advertise carefully.

Another idea that makes sense, and a way to overcome the slowest day in retail, is to designate Mondays as "Barter Sales Day." Having a Barter Day will set you apart from other retailers, and bring in a different client base ... one that makes trade purchases.

The extra trade sales income made on your Barter Day can be put to use on new tests for your advertising, marketing and promotion efforts. Over the long run, you'll find your Barter Day efforts can be another investment in your company. — World's Largest Depository Of Barter Information

Hundreds of valuable articles, techniques, and strategies are found in the following various barter categories:

(The Barter Categories are found on the horizontal bar at the top - 3rd button from right.)

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Protecting Your "A" Factor: 16 Accountability Killers To Avoid 

It's easy to assume that you're an accountable person, if you don't tell outrageous lies and generally follow through on your commitments. But authors Julie Miller and Brian Bedford say that even small lapses can affect the way others see you. Here, they list 16 common "accountability killers" you might otherwise be tempted to overlook.

In Culture Without Accountability — What's the Fix?, Miller and Bedford examine what can happen when businesses, teams, families, and individuals shirk accountability. The book is full of real-life stories of what accountability looks like and what can go wrong in its absence. It offers a proven process for installing an accountability-based culture, a platform for success in business and in everyday life.

Here, in no particular order, the authors share a list of their personal "accountability killers":

Showing up late. Sure, there are legitimate reasons why even the most responsible person might be running late: a fender bender, a sick child, an unfortunate coffee spill, to name just a few. And yes, everybody gets a pass on this one from time to time, when life's curveballs happen. But if it happens again and again, you've got a problem.

"If tardiness is a habit — if others expect it from you rather than being surprised by it — you're not being accountable," says Miller. "In effect, what you're saying is, 'I don't value your time. I believe I'm more important than you' — or at the very least, 'It's not important to me to honor the agreement we made.'"

Saying you'll do it — and then not doing it. Again, sometimes life happens. But if you fail to meet your commitments more than once or twice, you lack accountability. "If you find yourself constantly making excuses, asking for more time, or expecting others to understand why you 'just didn't get around to it,' it's time to make a change," comments Bedford. "Either start pushing yourself harder or stop making promises you can't keep."

Being offended by the truth. When someone calls you out — for dropping the ball, for behaving badly, etc. — how do you react? "If you're indignant or offended instead of accepting that the other person has made a valid observation, you've just killed your accountability," points out Miller.

Covering up mistakes. The fact that others don't know about a slip-up doesn't mean it didn't happen. "If nothing else, your accountability will suffer in your own eyes," asserts Bedford. "Do this sort of thing enough times and the tendency to cover up becomes a habit," he adds. "You get away with it so you start to think it's okay. But if your actions do come to light, your public reputation will take two hits: one for the original mistake and one for trying to hide it."

Blaming others. The so-called "blame game" is one in which nobody wins — least of all the person pointing the finger. "Even if the fault lies with someone else," says Miller, "part of being an accountable person means doing your best to offer solutions in addition to pointing out problems. And if the blame does lie with you, it's dishonest and reprehensible to attempt to shift it to someone else. Even if you experience unpleasant short-term consequences, you'll build an overall reputation for integrity when you 'fess up' to your mistakes."

Asking others to cover for you. "I have to leave a little early to run errands — will you just tell the boss I wasn't feeling well if she asks?" Although this may sound familiar, that doesn't mean that asking someone to deflect blame, conflict, or questions from you is acceptable. "What makes you worthy of shirking responsibility when everyone else on earth has to face the music?" Bedford asks. "When you behave this way, you bring the 'coverer' down with you, down to your low-level of honesty, which damages both of you.

Doing the bare minimum. Is your M.O. to do just enough to get by and then hope no one calls you on it? Do you ever withhold information or shoot down ideas that could make a project better because it will require you to do more work?

"If so, not only are you preventing yourself from giving and doing your best, you're also making yourself look bad in the eyes of others," says Miller. "Trust me, you aren't getting away with anything. People are noticing your laziness, and it will affect your reputation, which can lead to very negative consequences in your professional life."

Not offering an explanation for bad behavior. "Acknowledging that the fault was yours is the first step," explains Bedford, "but only the first step. If you don't truthfully explain why you acted as you did, others might still question your accountability."

Ignoring others' bad behavior. "Here's a reality check," says Bedford. "Ignoring someone else's bad behavior is just as bad as committing the act yourself. When people see you ignoring these problems, especially when you're in a position to do something about them, they think you're approving the bad behavior. They assume you're the same kind of person as the manager yelling at his employees. Don't be guilty by association. Speak up and show that you value fairness and respect."

Communicating in an immature manner. Gossiping at the water cooler. Sniping at your spouse instead of having a mature discussion. Making jokes at your brother's expense. Giving a friend the silent treatment without explaining why. Making faces behind the boss's back. The secretive nature of such communications is what makes them immature—after all, adults confront problems head-on — and indulging in it really eats away at your accountability.

Failing to take — or give — feedback. When you can't or won't take feedback, you communicate to others that you aren't interested in improving your performance. That's pretty obvious. But there are also accountability implications associated with being unwilling to give feedback — it shows that you're concerned with only your piece of the puzzle instead of the big picture. Plus," says Bedford, "you've forfeited your right to complain when the finished product fails to meet expectations

Expecting an "A" for effort. Accountability isn't about following orders. It's about meeting expectations. If you ever find yourself using the "I did what you said!" excuse, know that you're killing your accountability. "Expecting to be praised for doing what you were told to do, even though the end result completely misses the mark, won't win you many friends in your professional or personal life," says Miller. "You have the responsibility to speak up when you suspect that something."

Forcing others to remind you to act. A colleague sends you several emails, prompting you for the feedback you promised. A friend sheepishly reminds you that you owe her money for several meals she covered. Every other day, your boss has to tell you to act as though serving customers is a privilege, not a chore. "Whenever you force someone else to remind you of an obligation you're fully aware of, you're springing a leak in your accountability account," Bedford explains.

Being a victim instead of a solution finder. Sometimes, the bad things that happen to you really aren't your fault — like a fender bender or the flu. But guess what? The way you choose to handle these situations can still add to or detract from your accountability. "After you've vented your feelings, do what you can to find a solution and move forward," suggests Miller. "You can either be known as a problem tackler or a problem wallower. Let others see that you're willing to take responsibility, even when a problem wasn't your fault."

Having a "me-first" attitude. During a night out, Bozo zips into the last parking space in a crowded lot, conveniently ignoring a driver who had been waiting on it. On the way home, he encounters a car trying to merge onto the freeway, but speeds up instead of yielding. "Yes, he sounds like quite a jerk," acknowledges Bedford. "But most of us have been rude or inconsiderate one point or another. A 'me-first' attitude, especially if it willfully hurts or inconveniences someone else, hurts your accountability — because you're showing yourself to be uncaring, selfish, and maybe even dishonest."

In conclusion, Miller emphasizes, "If you want to build genuine, lasting success in any aspect of your life, you need to be someone whom others can trust. Anytime you give another person a reason to question your honesty, your dependability, your intentions or your values, you'll incur consequences. The good news is, most 'accountability killers — as well as their ramifications — are preventable if you're willing to look closely and honestly at your own behaviors."

(In 2001, drawing on their respective years of experience in senior global leadership at Motorola, Julie Miller and Brian Bedford joined forces to establish MillerBedford Executive Solutions. MillerBedford helps businesses and organizations improve strategy, culture, and leadership, while addressing issues that limit success. And their clients actually have fun in the process!)

For more information, click here.    

Is Your Trade Exchange Missing Out On Valuable New Business?

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Is your barter company's listing up-to-date?

To keep your listing current is very easy. See the links below to (A) update any changes to your company's listing, such as new location, phone number, web site or other information, and (B) if your company has not been listed.

Here's how to get on board:

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