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Pondering the Essence of Value

March 2012
In This Issue
Would the Real Mona Lisa Please Stand Up?
Clients in the News
Honor Roll
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Courage by John WayneFrom Ted's Montana Grill, Bolingbrook, IL
Art is like a labrador
From the parking garage at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
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Mona Lisa
If you've ever been to the Louvre, you know that it's nearly impossible to get to see the Mona Lisa up close. Here's a photo I took while visiting the Louvre, and I could barely get close enough to take this shot. For some reason, Leonardo daVinci's mysterious muse with her quirky smile draws the biggest crowds in this massive collection of some 35,000 pieces of art. Why, though? What is it that has given Mona such mass appeal? What makes her more "valuable" than the lonely art that's rarely visited in the wing next door?

Mona Lisa Bloomingdale
Mona Lisa--Bloomingdale, IL
When I came back from my trip to Paris, my husband and I went to the Half-Price Bookstore. Guess what I found tucked away in a corner? A replica of--you guessed it--the Mona Lisa. No crowds. No jabbing of elbows and vying for a spot up close to snap a photo. Yet this version looks pretty much like the original. In fact, she looked better.

Determining value in art often seems arbitrary and capricious. But is it any less so in business? How do you know when something is worth the money--and when you're charging for your services, how do you ensure you're delivering value? Whether you're setting hourly fees or determining how much to charge for a speech, the prospect of declaring your value can be confronting.

Value is a mysterious thing, but one thing is for certain--it's dictated by the marketplace, not by us. We don't create our brands but rather everything we do influences how we're perceived by the people who hire us, buy from us and work with us. And that perception affects our value.

I love the quote by Michael Eisner, formerly of Disney: "A brand is a living entity, and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures." Everything we do, every day, contributes to that perception of value.
So it leaves me wondering: whatever did Leo do that made Mona so famous?
Clients in the News

Ron Austin, CPARon Austin, CPA, MST, partner in the firm of Mathieson, Moyski, Celer & Co., Accountants and Advisors, has been appointed to the board of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of DuPage. His winning smile has been seen on the Daily Herald/Business Ledger web site, and the announcement made national news in the trade journal Accounting Today. Ron took on this volunteer assignment for CASA in addition to his participation as a leader at the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce and the Lion's Club.

Leisa Brown Aiken, CFPLeisa Brown Aiken, CFP (R), founder of Veo Financial Counsel, was recently a guest on Morningstar's Video Reports. Leisa gave two intriguing interviews on the state of the economy from her view as a fee-only financial planner. She's been featured in national news including the cover story of Kiplinger's Personal Finance ("Your Toughest Money Problems Solved," December 2007), and she's a frequent source for national media who seek planners affiliated with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) of which Leisa is an active member. She's also a member of the Garrett Financial Network, a valued resource for the financial media who want the perspective of fee-only planners.

Nate EricksonNate Erickson landed a new job working for PCG Education, an educational consulting firm based in Chicago. Formerly Nate worked for Teach for America and Intonation Music Workshop, and he was eager to blend his passion for education with his interest in consulting. After Nate came back to the area following his service in Teach for America, we worked together on his strategic career plan. He "planned the work and worked the plan," and now he's enjoying his new role in downtown Chicago.

Catherine DonohoeCathy Donohoe can add the prestigious initials "CFP" after her name now that she's been notified she passed the rigorous exam to become a Certified Financial Planner. A financial advisor at Edward Jones in Grayslake, Cathy has worked for the firm since 2003 and has been honored by the company with the Client Service Excellence Award each year since 2007. She's been recognized for her performance as being in the top one percent of the firm and became a limited partner in 2010. Cathy also serves as a regional leader for the firm's Women's Initiative for New Growth Strategies (WINGS) Program.

Honor Roll

Nat'l Proofreading DayOn March 8 my good friend Judy Beaver of the Office Pro celebrated the second annual National Proofreading Day, of which she is founder, by sharpening her red pencil and striking out split infinitives and dangling participles, not to mention those dreaded sentences that end with prepositions. Judy submitted this national holiday to Chase's Calendar of Events in 2011. and it was accepted! The day is in honor of her mom, Flo, whoseJudy Beaver birthday was March 8 and who loved to correct people's grammar. As owner of the Office Pro, Judy puts her own considerable language skills to great use as a business writing expert, teacher and consultant. Visit the website and weigh in about whether or not you think proofreading symbols will become obsolete. You can also find out if you suffer from Red Pen Syndrome (guilty as charged).

Steve BeckMy friend and co-dean of Speaker University Steve Beck celebrates the debut of his second book, Leave Your Funk at the Door: Customer Service is Not About the Customer. A prolific speaker who travels the country offering seminars on customer service, sales training and leadership through Beck Seminars, Steve is also vice president of membership for our state chapter, the National Speakers Association of Illinois. If you've ever thought about the possibility of becoming a professional speaker, or you're already speaking and you want to raise the bar with your speaking business, let us know! We're in the process of planning our next round of Speaker University for the fall in both the western suburbs and a downtown Chicago site.

Nancy AlonsoNancy Alonso, colleague and friend and vice president of human resources at Vista Health System in Waukegan, IL, was recently named to the board of the National Forum of Latino Healthcare Executives. The principal strategic objectives of NFLHE are to increase the representation of Latinos at the executive level of U.S. hospitals and health systems and to provide a resource base of input from Latino executives in the areas of legislation, regulation, and policy affecting the health and health care of U.S. Latino communities. Nancy has served in various senior-level HR executive positions and also donated her time and talent to her alma mater, Loyola University, as president of the board of the Latino Alumni Association.

VickieThe first quarter of the year is drawing to a close--"Q1" as we say in the business world. How's it going? Are you moving toward those goals and objectives you set so ambitiously at the beginning of the year?

My theme for 2012 is to be Bold and Audacious--and to make more mistakes! I figure, if we're not making mistakes, we ain't trying hard enough, right? Here's to our success, boldly accomplished and audaciously celebrated, and to making some really juicy mistakes that will teach us and take us to the next level.



Vickie Austin

CHOICES Worldwide

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