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The Transformative Power of “The Big Goal”

Below is a guest article by John Lamy, a friend and colleague who will be writing a series of guest blogs for Capiche in the coming months.

The Big Goal

Here’s a common situation:

  • The management team puts in 10-hour days, running around like crazy, fixing mistakes, putting out fires;
  • most of the non-management folks are less than fully engaged, seem a little lackadaisical, and don’t really understand the operation’s strategy or goals; and
  • you have the gut feeling that the organization is underperforming. Everyone could be doing much better!

You can fix that! It’s not insurmountable, but it takes real focus and effort to get it right.

One proven approach is to establish a robust process for setting and achieving a Big Goal. I call that process the Execution Framework. This involves three steps.

The Big Goal Diagram

The Goal

Start with your:

  • Core Values
  • Strategy
  • Current Issues

Then concoct a single Big Goal that aligns with these three key drivers and spans throughout the organization. Creating and articulating that Big Goal is not easy. It’s as much art as science. In fact, I think it actually requires a little bit of magic!

The Tactics

Step Two can be a little tedious. Figure out the specific set of Tactics (or tasks) that must be executed to realize the Big Goal—department by department, person by person. Write them down; assign them to people; and put measures, targets, and due dates on each Tactic.

The Tracking

Step Three: Meet with your entire team on a cadence (maybe once a month) to make sure you’re on track. What are the problems? Who can help whom? Do you need to pivot? Let team members speak, especially the more junior ones—this is a great opportunity for their personal development.

If you set up your Execution Framework correctly, three amazing things will happen:

  • You’ll hit your Big Goal, and your financial performance will show it.
  • You’ll build a culture that hits your Big Goals, year after year.
  • Your folks will love it, word will spread, and it’ll be easier to hire outstanding people.

The process works. You really can achieve awesome results. Give it a try!

If you are interested in learning more about John, please contact him—and let him know I sent you! If it’s marketing consulting you are interested in, please reach out to me, Chris Cook. I would love to talk with you about your ideas!

What Would You Do If You Couldn’t Fail?

In October 2011, I posted one of my first blogs on my then-new website. Countless posts later, I am often reminded of these questions posed by Dr. Robert H. Schuller.

So I ask you these three simple questions:

  1. If you knew you could not fail and those around you would wholeheartedly support you, what would you do?
  2. Are you doing it?
  3. If not, then why?

Oh, and one final question …

If your reason for not doing something is that you’re afraid of failing or being judged … how much worse would that be than never having tried?

And remember: it’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.
It’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly. Click To Tweet (If this kind of questioning feels helpful, perhaps it’s time for you to start working with a coach. I have two openings for coaching clients at this time, so give me a call at 541.601.0114 or email me and let’s start a conversation.)

Remember Silent Spring? Here’s Today’s Clarion Call—and It’s for Civility.

How is it that we as a society seem to be slipping into a scary model of disrespect, incivility, and creation of a culture of separateness and fear? I rue the day we lost our humanity, but when did that happen? Do we still have a chance to regain it?

Talking with residents on a recent visit to Spain and Portugal confirmed my feelings and further cemented my personal goal of encouraging civility—specifically in the workplace, as that is my professional focus. However, my wish is to see civility return throughout our culture.

Below is a reprint of a post I wrote in 2013 with some compelling statistics on the financial benefits of encouraging a civil workplace. So much of it applies today, and we know the benefits are far more than simply financial.

Please do comment—I love to hear and learn from you! What have you found? What is working at your organization?

Civility Costs Nothing—and Buys Everything

It Really Does Pay to Be the “Nice Guy”

With the science of happiness at work as a cornerstone of my business model, I am always interested in new research that illustrates how happy employees are more productive and creative, provide better customer service, are better team players, are sick less, and stay longer. These days, there is a LOT of that research, and the findings continue to be consistent with these positive outcomes.

It amazes me that I still find people who resist the idea of happiness at work—or those who believe the statistics but think they don’t have the time or resources to invest in creating a workplace where happiness is part of the culture.

“Happiness at work? I’m not happy—why should anyone else be?” or “They should be happy to have a job” or “We’re not here to be happy; we’re here to make a profit.” Then I remind them happiness at work boosts the bottom line, and their interest is piqued.

This month a new piece of research was published in the Harvard Business Review about civility and rudeness: “The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale—and the Bottom Line.” Guess what? Civility at work creates results similar to happiness at work, and rudeness at work creates results that correlate to unhappiness at work.

Did you know rudeness at work is raging and is on the rise? According to researchers, 98 percent of workers polled said they experienced rudeness at work—with half of them experiencing it at least once a week, up from 25 percent in 1998.

Like unhappiness at work, rudeness at work undermines the bottom line. In a poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries, the researchers found the following statistics:

Among employees who have experienced incivility at work:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time they spent at work
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender
  • 66% said their performance declined
  • 78% said their commitment to the organization declined
  • 12% said they left their job because of the uncivil treatment
  • 24% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers

Other studies have found that creativity suffers; performance and team spirit decline; and customers who witness the rude behaviors turn away. Sounds a lot like what happens with unhappiness at work.

It also sounds like a recipe for disaster—not a way to increase an organization’s profits or become known as an employer of choice. And it’s expensive! According to a study conducted by Accountemps and reported in Fortune, managers and executives at Fortune 1,000 firms spend 13 percent of their time—the equivalent of seven weeks per year—mending employee relationships and dealing with the aftermath of incivility. And just think of the costs should consultants and attorneys be brought in to help settle a situation.

So What’s a Leader to Do?

In managing yourself, model good behavior. After all, the leader sets the tone of the organization. You are on stage, and your supporting cast is taking cues from you. Ask for feedback—what do your employees like and dislike about your leadership style? How does that relate to civility (or happiness) at work? What can you do to shift behaviors that are perceived poorly?

And keep a pulse on the organization. What’s really going on, and how are people treated and treating others? You need to be connected to your workforce and constantly striving to create a culture where people feel as though they have what’s needed to succeed.

In managing the organization, hire for and reward civility. If civility is a key attribute your culture values, put it above all else. For example, at Zappos, people are hired based on fit within the culture, and the most skilled person will be passed over if their values don’t match the values Zappos has deemed essential to its core. Share those values (and make sure civility is one of them) and demonstrate what it looks like to live those values. Be specific. Tie those to individual performance assessments and rewards, and celebrate circumstances in which the values of civility and respect shine brightly.

Rude or civil? Unhappy or happy? The choice is clear. Civil, respectful cultures enjoy the same benefits as cultures where people are encouraged and given a climate where they can succeed at work—that’s when they can reach their potential.

Today’s data show creating a culture of civility and happiness is not simply the morally right thing to do, it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do.

Contact me for more specifics or for a culture check of your organization. Let’s see how your company can become an employer of choice—a place where people feel as though their contributions matter, a place that resonates with their values, vision, passion, and sense of purpose. It is possible!

Cheers! I look forward to hearing from you!

Eureka! Why Relaxation May Be the Key to Optimal Performance, Creativity, and Flow

There’s a reason Eureka moments tend to strike in the shower—or in the case of Archimedes, the bath. Performing mindless activities gives our brain an opportunity to relax, kicking the prefrontal cortex (a.k.a. the brain’s command center) into autopilot mode. That daydreamy state is when creativity emerges.

In this Business Insider article on why 72% of people get their best ideas in the shower, Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman explains, “The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams.”

Whether we’re scrubbing dishes or practicing meditation, letting our brain idle increases alpha brain wave activity, known to boost creativity and reduce depression.

How does this translate to the workplace? No, we’re not saying you should install showers or offer transcendental meditation classes (although that may not be such a bad idea). Rather, you may wish to cultivate an organizational culture that encourages play, humor, quiet, and relaxation—all ingredients to heightened productivity and creative flow, most famously studied by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

No number of hacky sacks and hammocks will counteract the toxic miasma of a stressful, high-anxiety workplace, however, and that cortisol-spiking atmosphere often starts at the top.

If an organization’s leaders exhibit stress, fear, rigidity, and panic under pressure, those emotions quickly spread to the employees.

How many times have you entered a meeting in a good mood only to leave feeling anxious and tense? This article by Psychologist Daniel Goleman discusses a study that revealed the contagious nature of moods in work groups and calls on leaders to practice the emotional intelligence necessary to prevent their own stress from infecting the group.

It’s no surprise that people want calm, assertive leaders as this Psychology Today piece explains. If you are wheeled into the hospital for emergency surgery, do you want the head surgeon to fly into hysterics, or do you want her to calmly assess the situation, lay out a clear plan of action, and set to work?

How people respond to crises reveals a lot about them, and demonstrating resilience, resourcefulness, and ingenuity in the face of obstacles instills employees with confidence and trust in their leadership.

That’s one reason this Harvard Business Review article encourages first-time leaders to relax. Employees sense insecurity and anxiety in their leaders, and that lack of confidence derails productivity.

As the Tao Te Ching states:

“When your body is not aligned,
The inner power will not come.
When you are not tranquil within,
Your mind will not be well ordered.
Align your body, assist the inner power,
Then it will gradually come on its own.”

If you want your employees to achieve the optimal performance, relaxed alertness, and creativity possible in a serene, inspiring environment, you need to cultivate your own inner balance, emotional intelligence, and mental well-being.

To get expert guidance from an empathetic yet challenging co-active coach, contact Chris Cook about her leadership coaching services. If your organizational culture could use an injection of positivity and transformative authenticity, Capiche can help with that, too.

It’s Time to Disrupt Our Leadership Culture

Which of these statements can you relate to? Check the boxes.

  • I don’t love my current job.
  • I often feel alone.
  • I often feel like an impostor.
  • There’s something new I want to try, but fear is holding me back.
  • I’m in a new season filled with uncertainty.
  • I know I have what it takes, but I’m tired and sometimes I want to quit.

Guess what? You’re not alone.

Last week, I was fortunate to participate in the 2019 Women’s Leadership Conference and attended a session called “The Value of Disrupting Leadership Culture.” I didn’t expect the session to begin with all of us women checking boxes on a half-sheet of paper with these six statements. It made me feel a little (or maybe a lot) vulnerable.

We each folded our sheets and passed them over two to the right. Then one back. Then three more to the right. We were now all holding someone else’s sheet, but we weren’t sure whose.

That’s when the magic happened. One by one, the presenter read each statement. All whose sheet had that box checked stood. Six times. We heard each statement, and each time, a large group of our peers—all successful women in their own right—were standing up for us.

We weren’t alone.

We then listened as the presenters debunked the concept that we should follow others on the paths they once blazed to success—which were now safe and proven. What if our truest path to groundbreaking success lies in who we already are—foibles and all? What if our perceived “weaknesses” are what will set us apart and propel our respective industries forward?

Every day, we’re seeing examples of how purposeful disruption of our traditional leadership culture is the key to our individual success. You can own who you are and know you are not alone.

Thanks to session presenters Lindsay McPhail and Kristy Laschober for their insights.

Ready?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above or you’re ready to launch your own disruption of leadership culture, call 541.601.0114 or email Chris to get going on the next chapter of your life! Whether you’re interested in leadership coaching or reshaping your organization’s culture, Capiche has you covered.

To Be Aware, Start from the Inside

Once again, I’m working with a group of motivated professionals who all have good jobs—careers even—but no college degree. They’re enrolled in a degree-completion program at Southern Oregon University called Innovation and Leadership. They’re taking my class Working with Emotional Intelligence and are all making strides toward increasing their own EI. It’s amazing how simple it is if you focus on it!

This blog post shares their first assigned Exploration toward developing EI.* It all begins with self-awareness. As you read through the Exploration, consider how you relate to the content and what you can do to increase your own EI.

Exploration #1

Are you aware of how you feel—and how you respond to those feelings? We can go through our day on automatic pilot, which works for tasks that don’t require much thought like brushing our teeth or taking a shower. There are times, however, when being mindless about situations causes us to react instead of respond in a proactive manner. If we get an email or call from someone that angers us, do we stop to think about the emotion, where it came from, and how to respond in a way that results in beneficial outcomes? Or do we unconsciously react in a manner that undermines or sabotages relationships with self or others?

When we are aware of how we are feeling inside, we are more likely to consciously choose a response instead of reacting without considering  the results of our actions. Try to take some time to become aware of how you feel in different situations and why. Recognize your emotions and the effects of those emotions.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What has caused me to feel this way?
  • What are the thoughts that follow that emotion?
  • How does that thought align or not align with my values?
  • Have I experienced this before?
  • What could I change to bring these thoughts into closer alignment with my values?

You may want to target a problem situation and increase your awareness about the emotions, thoughts, and reactions regarding the problem. You do not have to do anything different during this time—simply be aware of how you are feeling, what is causing those feelings, and how they correspond with your core values. Remember, this exploration focuses on self-awareness; you do not have to fix anything. Simply be aware, starting from the inside.

Consider your experiences, what you learned, and what did or did not work for you. You may even want to journal about this topic.

Want to Boost Your EI?

If you’re interested in learning more about emotional intelligence, let’s talk. I help both individuals and teams increase their individual and collective EI.

*Adapted from Dr. Jennifer Joss’ “Living With” EI exercises.
WHY BOTHER WITH EI?

What will get you $29,000 more per year, make you 58% more effective at your job, and rank you with 90% of top performers? Greater emotional intelligence.

Unless you want to be among the 80% of low-EQ employees classed as “bottom performers,” it’s time to discover how you can accelerate your career and become a better leader by developing your emotional intelligence.

Studies show those with average IQs outshine their highest-IQ counterparts 70% of the time because of their EQ.

Whereas IQ and personality are static elements of your makeup, you can always increase your emotional intelligence (thanks to the wonders of neuroplasticity)—and doing so will make a surprising difference in both your life and work.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

In a recent Forbes article, bestselling coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and cofounder of Talent Smart Travis Bradberry describes the two primary competencies and four core skills that make up emotional intelligence.

Personal Competence

This first competency comprises self-awareness (observation) and self-management (actions). Your observation skills, sensitivity, and ability to control your emotions come into play here. How conscious are you of your emotions, and how accurate are your self-perceptions? Do you practice mindfulness to remain aware of your emotions, and are you able to take a step back and regulate them when needed? How malleable are you, and can you transform a negative emotion into a positive action?

Social Competence

This competency focuses on social awareness (observation) and relationship management (actions), mapping the reflection and regulation required for personal competence to social situations and relationships. How well do you understand the motives, actions, and moods of those around you? Do you intuitively sense people’s emotions and accurately perceive their intentions? Can you use these perceptions to navigate relationships and communicate successfully?

This section is excerpted from our previous blog post Want to Accelerate Your Career? The Magic Formula = EI + Coaching. See original article for more details.

Got Toxins? Get Good at Conflict.

Isn’t it invigorating when things are clicking along at your company—when your team is all on the same page and working together to get important work done?

Or are you reading this saying, “I wish it was like that!”

If it’s not like that, what’s going on? Is performance tanking? Is communication falling apart? Is turnover high? Is absenteeism skyrocketing?

If you’re nodding your head, then here’s a question: What “team toxins” are causing conflict—and how are you handling them?

You know every organization (every relationship for that matter) experiences conflict. But did you know there’s such a thing as good conflict? Yep. When there’s constructive conflict, your team develops greater trust and becomes stronger.

However, when team toxins creep into day-to-day operations and conflict is not handled well, your team begins a downward spiral that may be impossible to arrest.

According to positive psychologist John Gottman (The Relationship Cure), these team toxins are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt. Gottman refers to these toxins as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’s vital that your team understands these toxins and strives to keep them at bay. Letting them creep into your organization is the quickest way to undermine performance.

Take a close look at these toxins, learn how to recognize them, and review the “antidotes” so you can handle conflict successfully through positive communication.

1) Personal Criticism

Aggressive attack, bullying, chronic blaming, domination

Learn to understand the difference between complaining and criticizing—and turn the complaint into a request when possible.

Criticism: “You’re always late! You never think about anyone but yourself!”

Complaint: “When you are late, it throws the entire team off schedule.”

Request: “When you are late, I have to reschedule the entire team. Please let us know if something unexpected comes up that will detain you.”

Also, remember that criticizing the person is hurtful. Your intention is most likely to criticize the idea or action, not the person. The antidote? Talk about your feelings using “I” statements and express a positive need.

2) Defensiveness

Deflection, unopen to influence

When we feel unjustly accused, our natural response is to look for excuses to justify our actions.

Question: “Did you let production know that our prototype is not going to be ready as we promised?”

Defensive response: “You know how busy I am. Why didn’t you just do it?”

Better response: “Wow, I was so busy today, I forgot. I apologize. Let me call them now and let them know.”

The best antidote is to accept your teammate’s perspective, take responsibility, and offer an apology for any wrongdoing.

3) Stonewalling

Disengagement, passivity, yes men, avoidance, unopen to influence

This usually happens as a response to chronic contempt. The listener shuts down and simply stops responding—or they resort to other behavior such as turning away or tuning out.

It takes time for most people to reach the stage of stonewalling/shutting down; the best antidote is to take a break and spend time doing something soothing before regrouping and openly discussing the situation.

4) Contempt

Demeaning, disrespect, undermining, hostile

This may be the most destructive horseman. Contempt goes far beyond criticism, attacks the person’s moral character, and insinuates superiority over them. It’s destructive both mentally and physically. Research shows that people in contemptuous relationships are more likely to suffer from an infectious illness like the flu or a cold! In a marriage, it is the single greatest predictor of divorce. It must be eliminated in all relationships—personal and professional. As an antidote, remind yourself of the person’s positive qualities and build a culture of appreciation.

Now that you know what the Four Horsemen are and how to counteract them with proven antidotes, you’ve got the essential tools to create constructive conflict, develop more organizational trust, and create a more positive work environment. As soon as you see criticism or contempt galloping in, remember their antidotes. Be vigilant. The more you can keep the Four Horsemen at bay, the more likely you are to have a positive and productive workplace.

If you’re looking to create a more positive culture in your work environment, call 541.601.0114 or email Chris for an initial conversation. Let’s tap into your organization’s positivity and unleash its potential.

An enthusiastic shout-out to Faith Fuller and Marita Frijhon, CRR Global, for introducing me to this concept as part of Organizational & Relationship Systems Coach Training.

Business Success: It’s All About EX (Experience)

Promise Big and Deliver Bigger

What do successful companies have in common? They all have robust, differentiated brands; fervent clients; and a culture driven by a shared vision, values, and purpose—all focused on their clients. As I’ve recently been reminded, the secret to success lies at the intersection of client experience, employee experience, and brand experience. These functions work together to deliver your firm’s brand promise and showcase your value proposition.

In this blog post, I recall a recent conversation I had with Alder Yarrow, CXO (chief experience officer) at San Francisco design agency CIBO, and inspiration from the article referenced below by Tim Asimos. I’ve got to admit, the CXO title was new to me—and I LOVE it! Here we go! Thanks, Alder and Tim!

Your brand is not a logo, label, or website—it’s your promise: At its core, a brand exists in the mind of your audience. It’s the sum of their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with your firm—the good, bad, and ugly.

Every brand, regardless of the industry, promises something. Marketing and branding should reinforce what your existing clients experience when they interact with you and offer potential clients/customers a glimpse of what they can expect.

Branding is the process of defining, conveying, and maintaining your firm’s core values and differentiators. It’s about figuring out who you are, what you stand for, and why it matters to your audience—and then reinforcing that promise in a meaningful and consistent way.

Strategic marketing promotes that promise: To successfully hold its place in the market, an organization needs a codified brand strategy. Marketing plans are fluid and change over time as new information and opportunities become available. But the brand strategy should remain intact over a long period of time. (Think how long “I ♥ New York” and “Virginia is for Lovers” have heralded these super-successful state tourism brands.)

The promise is realized through experience: Your firm’s brand promise can only be realized through the experience you serve your clients. No amount of marketing and communication can change what clients actually experience. This is why it’s critical to align brand experience and client experience.

We all can think of a brand whose marketing promises are completely incongruent from what customers actually encounter. Sadly, Gallup surveys have consistently found that most companies fail to live up to their brand promises. Experience is where your branding is either validated or discredited. So get clear on your brand promise, build your marketing strategy around it, and let customer experience be its showcase!

How’s It Going?

We’re always eager to see great brands in action, so please share your successes and best practices. Please post here or email me at chris@capiche.us. I’d also love to chat. Perhaps we can help you build a brand experience that matches your desired brand. Call me at 541.601.0114.

Here’s to your successful brand!

Note: This post was inspired by Tim Asimos’ article “The Convergence of Experience To Deliver Your Brand Promise” and a recent conversation with Alder Yarrow, CXO at CIBO.

Reflections on 2018 and Looking Ahead—It’s All About Relationships

This time of year, “best of” lists are abundant—from movies to cookbooks to comics and more. One of my annual favorites is from NPR’s All Songs Considered. I’ve been a fan for years and always enjoy comparing my picks with theirs.

This year, give yourself the gift of reflecting on your “best of” and appreciating all that’s good in your life. As I was writing this, it became crystal clear that the things that made 2018 so good weren’t things at all. They were people and the relationships that made my life feel full and rich.

As you reflect, ask yourself:

  • Which people in my life contributed to my happiness and success in 2018?
  • Whom do I wish I had seen more of?
  • Which partnerships were most fruitful?
  • What am I most proud of—and who helped me along the way?
  • What are my big learnings from this past year?
  • What and whom am I grateful for and appreciating?
  • What is there for me to acknowledge about myself in 2018?

Overall, what do you see as you reflect on 2018? How would you rate this year on a scale of 1–10, and what would have made it a 10 out of 10?

Now, let’s look ahead.

  • What excites you about the coming year?
  • What are your key goals and objectives for 2019? Who will help you achieve them?
  • Where and how do you want to stretch yourself in 2019?
  • Which people in your life will help you make 2019 a 10 out of 10 year—both personally and professionally?

Is there a possible theme for the year that could serve as a structure and anchor to lock in a resonant 2019? A song? Movie? Perhaps a book, a poem—or even a person. Let me know, and happy new year!

Thanks to my former coach Lorry Schneider and dear friends Faith Fuller and Marita Fridjhon for the inspiration for this post.

What Employees Want from Their Boss

This morning I was watching a video in my USA Today newsfeed, and I came across an article about five things a boss looks for in an employee. What the video didn’t note is that employees look for the same five things in their boss. It got me to thinking about the strategy session I just led for a multi-state business. It came to light at the outset of the strategy session—and was reinforced throughout—that bosses and employees are looking for the same things in one another and need to have the ability to hold each other accountable.

Here’s a tool to help make that happen: a designed team alliance (DTA). I start each strategy session with a DTA, something I learned from my work with CRR Global. A DTA sets the stage for a productive meeting, workshop, or any sort of session where people come together to accomplish a goal. Participants agree upon how they want to “be” together and how to handle conflict when it occurs. For example, traits that come up as desirable often include: respect, openness to new ideas, listening, promptness, equal participation, and confidentiality. Undesirable behavior may include judgment, interrupting others, checking emails, and using cell phones.

Designed Team Alliance Meeting NotesIn the training I led last week, one of the values the team agreed on was no BS—and to call it if you see it. Just as important as creating a productive space is agreeing on how to handle conflict.

This strategy session went beautifully, and when we hit the point where everyone was being assigned specific tasks to help the organization meet measurable goals, the issue of accountability came up.

For all of you leaders, I promise your employees are seeking accountability (and no BS) from you. You must take your “assignments” and deadlines as—or even more—seriously as your team. If you are counting on them to complete tasks in a timely manner, they need to know they can count on you to do the same.

They want to know what you are doing to help further the organization. They want transparency. And they want to be able to tell you when something you’re doing is not working.

However, this can be complicated.

It’s up to you as a leader to facilitate and nurture a climate that allows employees to talk with you frankly and openly, even if it’s a message you don’t want to hear. If you want your team to be all in, you have to be willing to accept the same kinds of feedback you give your employees.

Looking to create a more productive workplace? Let’s get started with a DTA for your team. Call me at 541.601.0114 or email chris@capiche.us.