In Full Awareness


Bathroom remodeling projects to consider

a9nu_keldm8-gabriel-garcia-marengoBuying a home is probably one of the biggest purchases you can make outside of buying a business, plane or boat.

As one of my business networking colleagues says, “You can’t return a home.”

So now that you have bought your new home, assuming that you didn’t build it from scratch, eventually you will need to plan home remodeling projects, such as updated bathrooms.

Whenever you decide on a home remodeling project, you should always keep in mind the value of your home. Unless cost is no object or you plan to live in the home for decades, adding a $40,000 bathroom remodeling makeover may not be the best financial decision you make.

Remember the old adage, “You don’t want to have the most expensive house on the block.”
But now that you have bought the house you should take out the your home inspection report along with your personal needs and prioritize your needs.

Do you need a new roof, new windows, updated kitchen, master bathroom makeover or a new AC unit. There are also dozens of smaller remodeling jobs you can do, such as painting the house and adding new carpeting or flooring.

Here are some of the best home projects to add value to your home:

  • Landscaping the front yard
  • Energy-efficient ac and heating system
  • Lighting
  • Attic insulation
  • New pipes
  • Remodeling the bathroom
  • Updating the kitchen

For those people who live in the kitchen, a new kitchen with all the accessories to make Julia Child proud is a must. But for me, I enjoy a good warm bath.

But bathroom remodeling projects can be very expensive. According to one website, bathroom remodeling projects can cost as much as $20,000. Most run between $5,616 to $12,880.

Since an extreme bathroom makeover is too expensive for me, I checked out remodeling ideas to consider. Some of these are no brainers, and can be done simply and inexpensively. Even when you have to hire a professional, these projects come in under a couple thousands of dollars.Here are some bathroom remodeling alternatives:

  • Repurpose an old nightstand
  • Add shelves
  • Use ceramic tiles for your floor
  • Refinish your bathtub and sink
  • Replace old faucets with new ones

I  like soaking in a bathtub and reading my murder mysteries. I like my bathtub to look good, and old tubs and sinks wear their age in plain sight. Nothing is more depressing than a dirty and grungy-looking bathroom.

That is why I chose to refinish my bathtub as my alternative bathroom remodeling project. The cost is going to be under $2,000, if not cheaper. The inconvenience and time involved compared to an extreme makeover is inconsequential.

After reading up on bathroom refinishing projects, I decided to hire a bathroom refinishing company. They can get the sink and tub looking like new in just a few days and it will cost a fraction of what a complete makeover would cost.

So, before you dive into a major bathroom makeover, check out bathroom remodeling alternatives. You may find you can get the same results — increased home value and personal contentment — and still have money to eat out.

Consider All Remodeling Alternatives When Flipping Homes

Home RemodelingIt seemed like everyone was flipping homes before the real estate crash in 2008.

Although I wasn’t flipping homes, I was always watching the home shows on HGTV. It seemed so simple.

All you had to do was find a home that was selling below market value and which needed some improvements. The flippers usually worked with a cadre of contractors for carpeting, kitchen cabinets, plumbers, painters and the like.

For people who want to flip homes, buying low, keeping renovation expenses down and completing all the work in the shortest amount of time are the essential ingredients to being successful. The latter ingredient is very important because every additional month you own the home is another mortgage payment, which can cut deep into your profits.

The most popular home remodeling projects that people make for their homes, regardless of whether they are flipping the home or planning to live in it, are kitchen and bathroom upgrades.

For the flipper, the kitchen needs to be up-to-date when compared to other like-homes in the area, and it has be in line with the selling price. You would not add a $50,000 kitchen into a home worth $150,000.

The same is true with bathroom remodeling projects.

Many bathroom remodeling jobs involve tearing out the bathtub and toilet, which is not only expensive, but can make your home unlivable for a week or two. There will be dust and quite a mess. If you only have one bathroom with a tub or shower, you might have to wash at the neighborhood Y.

A licensed plumber is probably essential to your success. You can see how the cost can skyrocket,and that assumes you don’t find any new problems, such as mold, when you tear up the walls and see the pipes, which may need to be rearranged.

And we haven’t even gotten to the cost of the bathtub and toilet.

But there are many bathroom remodeling alternatives you can choose to in order to save money. Alternatives to extreme bathroom remodeling projects include updating the vanity, adding shelves, towel warmers and heated floors. Simple updated bathroom accessories can make quite a difference. And the cost would be a fraction of replacing the bathtub.
If your bathtub, however, is old, dirty and grungy looking another bathroom remodeling alternative to consider is refinishing.
Bathroom refinishing is a remodeling alternative that can give you the look of a brand-new bathtub at a fraction of the cost and time it takes from start to finish.

Although there are do-it-yourself refinishing kits, this is one job you will want to hire a professional bathroom refinisher. You won’t want to deal with the chemicals used in the DIY kits.

Instead, a professional bathroom refinisher can come in and in a few days turn that old tub and sink that was devaluing your home into a major selling point. And some companies don’t even use toxic chemicals anymore.

So if you are flipping a home or buying for the long-term, consider all your home remodeling alternatives  which can really increase your ROI.

Broadway Songfest Comes to Sarasota

Some rights reserved by thesolaris5I grew up going to broadway shows.

Instead of having birthday parties, my parents took us to see Broadway shows, such as Fiddler on the  Roof, Cabaret and many more.

It is not surprising that I watched film versions of Broadway shows that I had not seen live.

That is why I am really looking forward to “Broadway! The Band Years” which is coming to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on April 4, 2016.

This musical cabaret will feature big band songs from musicals such as Gypsy, 42nd Street, Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls, Annie Get Your Gun and West Side Story. The songs will include “The Lady is a Tramp,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Luck Be a Lady,” “I Got Rhythm” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

Let’s take a look at some these classic songs.

The Lady is a Tramp,” often associated with Frank Sinatra, originally appeared in the 1937 Rodgers and Hart musical, “Babes in Arms.”

She gets too hungry for dinner at eight
She likes the theatre and never comes late
She never bothers with people she hates
That’s why the lady is a tramp

Doesn’t like crap games with barons or earls
Won’t go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
Won’t dish the dirt with the rest of the girls
That’s why the lady is a tramp

She likes the free fresh wind in her hair,
Life without care
She’s broke and it’s ok
Hates California, it’s cold and it’s damp
That’s why the lady is a tramp

“This song is a spoof of New York high society and its strict etiquette (the first line of the verse is “I get too hungry for dinner at eight…”). It has become a popular standard,” according to Wikipedia.

“The lyrics portray a woman who has her own priorities in life and who is not interested to play with New York high society stereotypes. Hence she is dismissed as a tramp. The original lyrics are more explicit than subsequent versions and portray dated references to mid ’30s New York urban life and culture,” Wikipedia points out.

Some of the references in “The Lady is a Tramp” including the Ritz hotel; Sardi’s, a New York restaurant; and Fiorello La Guardia, former mayor of New York.

There have been many renditions of the song including a 2011 duet by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

Luck Be a Lady”, written by Frank Loesser in 1950, was performed Robert Alda, Alan Alda’s father, when he starred in the musical “Guys and Dolls.”

They call you lady luck
But there is room for doubt
At times you have a very un-lady-like way
Of running out

You’re on this date with me
The pickin’s have been lush
And yet before the evening is over
You might give me the brush

You might forget your manners
You might refuse to stay
And so the best that I can do is pray

Luck be a lady tonight
Luck be a lady tonight
Luck if you’ve been a lady to begin with
Luck be a lady tonight

“The lyrics relate the point of view of a gambler, Sky Masterson, who hopes that he will win a bet, the outcome of which will decide whether or not he is able to save his relationship with the girl of his dreams,” according to it Wikipedia article.

In a bit of strange casting, Marlon Brando starred and sang the song in the film version of “Guys and Dolls.”

“Luck Be a Lady,” just like “The Lady is a Tramp” is a Frank Sinatra signature classic.

It has been parodied on the Simpsons as “Luke be a Jedi” in one of its episodes, and was featured in the Robin Williams movie, Mrs. Doubtfire when his “character is given a makeover to ‘become’ a woman.”

“Broadway! The Big Band Years” is coming to the Van Wezel on Monday, April 4, 2016. The songs that will be performed that night are worth the price of many tickets. There is a reason why they are called classics, and a big band is how they were supposed to be performed.

But if you are going to buy tickets for this show, why not go out in style by hiring a sedan service to pick you up and to take you to dinner, the show and back home such as Blue Ribbon Transportation. That’s how Old Blue Eyes would have done it — he would have included a nightcap on Main Street, as well.

Check out the Van Wezel’s website for more information.


Alternative Trends for Bathroom Remodeling

Some rights reserved by www.metaphoricalplatypus.comDreaming of the perfect bathroom?

Taking the long, luxurious bath or a 20 minute hot shower on a winter’s day.

Bathroom remodeling alternatives are one of the most popular renovation projects a homeowner can undertake. Yes, an updated kitchen is nice, but, if you are like me, you won’t use it.

Everyone, however, can enjoy an updated bathroom. Double vanities for couples.  The latest toilets. A large bathroom big enough for two.

Let’s take a look at 2015 bathroom ideas from Forbes:

  1. Feature floors which stand out. “They are stunning and provide a great design opportunity when working with challenging bathrooms that have no clear walls for a feature wall,” according to  interior designer Jasmine McClelland in the Forbes article
  2. Natural beauty: Forbes says “drawing design inspiration from nature is a great way to warm a typically very hard room of the house and infuse the space with a calming vibe.”
  3. Freestanding bathtubs: “Clients connect with the possibility of a bathroom that symbolizes their own space or downtime, and a freestanding bath inspires this feeling of self-indulgence in the midst of a busy life,” according to McClelland.
  4. Clever water control: Forbes sees homeowners turning their backs on “basic shower and basin faucets” and buying “smart, user-friendly fixtures (such as thermostatic mixers; mixers that control multiple water sources, like the one used in this shower; and touchscreen-operated showers) that give users more control over the flow, mix and temperature of water.”
  5. Bigger shower: According to designers Simona Castagna and Darren Genner of Minosa, going big is “certainly the current school of thought when it comes to the shower, and they believe the trend will become even more popular in 2015. They’re seeing more walk-in showers with oversize panes of glass or solid walls that completely enclose the space, rather than bathrooms with tiny cubicles.”

You can, of course, hire an interior designer and plumbing contractor to renovate your extreme bathroom makeover, but that’s going to costs thousands of dollars. For the handy homeowner, you could try to do it yourself.

Daltile offers its own 2015 bathroom remodeling trends with an emphasis, of course, on tiles:

  1. Designing with grout: For most of us, grout is white and comes out of a tube and that’s that. “Contrasting grout should be a deliberate design decision. On the other hand, matching grout can take a bunch of smaller tiles and make them feel more cohesive. Use matching grout if you want to hide seams or if you are going for the continuous look.”
  2. Lighting design: “A well lit room will never go out of style. Light can add to a design just as much as a color scheme can. Use bright lights for a clean, sleek feel, and soft lights for a more relaxing spa feel.”
  3. Geometric design: “Classic tile comes in square 12 x 12s or rectangular 3 x 6s. But you can get the geometric feel in your bathroom with larger format square or rectangular tiles. Use traditional tiles in a different format for a fresh look. Or you can embrace newer tile shapes like triangular, hexagon, or trapezoidal.”
  4. A living wall: “Invite nature into your bathroom with an accent wall decorated in plant life. Living walls are a trend that’s on the way up. These vertical gardens further increase the sentiment of health and well-being in the bathroom.”

Both Forbes and Daltile mention big showers and freestanding bathtubs.

Let’s say you are gung-ho to remodel your bathroom. You want the feature floor, You need the living wall. You know just the lighting fixtures you need. Go ahead. Do it. You deserve it.

But what about that freestanding bathtub and big walk-in shower?

If you don’t have them, just add these items to your budget. Your plumbing contractor and designer will be able to guide you to the best options.

If, however, you already have a big old crawfish bathtub or you inherited that big walk-in shower from the previous owner, but they both have seen better days, what should you do?

The first thing you need to know about old-style freestanding bathtubs is that they are heavy. Very heavy.

“It’s almost certain that neither a hired contractor nor you and your buddies will be able to haul an intact tub from a second-floor bathroom and hoist it into a truck. Even if the tub is on the first floor, maneuvering a tub through doorways could be a nightmare,” according to an article at at a Cleveland website.

If you want to get rid of that old bathtub, you have to demolish it piece by piece, and then your new tub  may need new fixtures, plumbing and tiles. It becomes a big mess and expensive since new tubs can run from as inexpensive as $200 to the thousands of dollars. The cost can go as high as about $3,000,  according to the site.

But there is an alternative.

You could try to refinish the old bathtub and reglaze it yourself, but Angie’s List recommends hiring a professional refinishing company. They will do a better job than most hand homeowners.

Refinishing professionals, according to, frown on the DIY kits because they usually use an epoxy product that is not durable compared to the reglazing techniques of professional companies. If you are not careful, you could create more trouble than you need.

Check out the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List or Yelp for a bathroom refinishing company.

You now have some great ideas for remodeling your bathrooms in 2015. Now, go take the long, hot bath in your tiny tub. That will motivate you to get going on the remodeling plans.


The backbone of America


They are the backbone of America. They are part of the fabric that has made America the greatest nation in the world.

Without entrepreneurs, we wouldn’t have the Apple IPad or anything Microsoft. Where would the auto industry be if not for Henry Ford’s Model T and his innovative assembly line production method? Other famous entrepreneurs? Ted Turner (CNN) Elon Musk (Tesla) and Sam Walton (WalMart). The list is endless.

These people changed the world.

But what skills and characteristics make up a successful entrepreneurs?

Jayson Demers, a contributor to Entrepreneur, starts off with five must-have skills for success: Communications, Branding, Sales, Strategy and Finance.

These skills make sense. You must be able to communicate clearly your ideas and goals, build awareness for your brand online, create a strategy that includes the present but looks to the future and understand your cash flow, funding and profit margins. As for sales, even if you have a sales team, you, the owner, are selling your brand daytime you network in the business community or meet with a potential client.

Forbes listed 8 skills in an article: Resiliency, focus, invest for the long-term, find and manage people, sell, learn, self-reflection and self-reliance.

Steve Tobak, a writer for Inc., analyzed 10 skills that the next great entrepreneur needs: Seeing the Big picture, hunger to achieve, courage, functional competence, prioritization and trade-offs, motivator of people, decision-making, adaptability, initiative and top-down management style.

Gregory Downing, a business coach in Florida and author of “Entrepreneur Unleashed,” in a recent blog emphasized a few essential skills to make a person a better entrepreneur:

  • Effective communication
  • Financial literacy
  • Ability to set realistic goals
  • Negotiation

“Don’t worry if you don’t possess them all now,” Downing wrote, “ they can be taught!’

Both Downing and Demers list communication, finance and strategy. You have read the details to understand they both are talking the same language but use different words. Demers calls it strategy. Downing says it is the ability to set realistic goals.” “Create a strategy to help keep you on track for reaching your ultimate goal,” he writes.

When you dig deeper into Tobak’s and Forbes’s list you also find overlap. The experts on entrepreneurship may use different terminology, some may have a few more characteristics in their list, but they all coalesce around similar themes. The overarching traits fall under communication and strategy.

But there also are personal characteristics that are often mentioned when talking about an entrepreneur. Quotes about the entrepreneurial spirit are not only good for motivation, but they do provide an insight into what makes an entrepreneur an entrepreneur.

As Yoda from Stars Wars said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Guy Kawaski, founder of AllTop, said: “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

Entrepreneurs make things happen.

Albert Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Entrepreneurs are risk takers. Think about it! What would have happened if Henry Ford had made cars the same old way and didn’t use the assembly line? He tried something different and the world was never the same.

Success is also defined by failure.

In baseball, all stars hitters fail 65-70 percent of the time or hits just 40 homers every 600 at bats. In basketball, NBA great Michael Jordan understands resiliency.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game’s winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that’s why I succeed.”

Jordan never lost his self-confidence. He was always ready to take the next big shot.

NHL great Wayne Gretsky put it this way: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Interestingly, many successful entrepreneurs today began with a modest success or even failed. Their big win was not their first undertaking. Sam Walton first started as a Butler Brothers franchisee. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, started with Student Magazine. Ted Turner first founded Turner Outdoor Advertising.

They moved on, obviously, to greater successes.

Walt Disney said it quite bluntly: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

The next entrepreneur to change the world is starting now. Are you?

Great Words on Goal Setting

By now, many of us have failed miserably in our New Year’s Resolutions. Of course, New Year’s resolutions are usually personal such as losing weight or going on a budget. But New Year’s Resolutions are just setting goals, which we do as individuals and as companies every day.

At the John Maxwell Company, he talks about “big dreams.” In Maxwell’s leadership blog, “Great Words on Goal Setting,” he suggests that you break your big dreams up into small goals, measurable steps, and set deadlines

But setting goals is more nuanced than you might think. Goals not only are ways to achieve success, as these motivational quotes from leaders suggest. They are part of a journey which, according to some, is as important as the goal.

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
~Yogi Berra

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
~Henry David Thoreau

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
~Les Brown

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
~T.S. Eliot

A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.
~Bruce Lee

To understand how to set goals, the Holden Leadership Center of the University of Oregon, provides a three-prong approach:

  1. Purpose or mission which is a broad statement.
  2. Goals are what your organization wants to accomplish.
  3. Objectives are how your organization will achieve your goals.

To achieve your organizational goals, buy in from your staff or managers is most important. The Holden Center suggests you set the goals as a group, taking into account everyone’s opinion. Have a brainstorming session, then prioritize them. Once you have determined the objectives of each goal, create an action plan to implement them. Most important, set deadlines.

Goal setting is an important strategy.

Ray Silverstein in Entrepreneur writes that goal setting is the best way to achieve “bottom-line results.” “Research shows that when entrepreneurs set measurable goals for themselves, they’re more likely to achieve them.” In business school,  the following mantra is often drilled into the students: What gets monitored, gets done!

Silverstein’s approach is the SMART System. SMART stands for:

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable
  • A : Achievable
  • R: Realistic
  • T: Timely

He warns against “BHAG” or big, hairy, audacious goals which he says are fine for long-term planning, don’t work well with goal setting. Focus, he adds, on goals that can be reach within a year.  At a business or organization, leadership will play a vital role in setting goals.

Moe Glenner, a leadership guru in Florida, offers three keys to better leadership success. People — are you connecting with the people in your company? Place —  do people know what is expected of them?

The third key is, Thing — which is the goal you want to accomplish. “How clearly defined is it? How will you facilitate, manage and communicate it to your team, to your executive team and to the ultimate customers?

Glenner said better leaders clearly articulate goals and scopes. “Aiming for a poorly articulated and/or fuzzy goal or without clear parameters is a planning failure which will likely lead to a much larger failure, including most importantly, a failure in leadership. Don’t fail – set and clearly articulate goals and realistic parameters.”

I’ve run two newspapers companies, one as a CEO and one as owner. Achievable or attainable are very important factors in setting goals. Whether you are creating a strategic plan or short-term goals for the first quarter of the year, make sure you or your staff have the resources to achieve them. Too many strategic plans sit gathering dust on bookcases because the intentions were honorable, but the staff did not have the wherewithal to achieve them.

Even personal goals can be undermined if the person does not have the resources to achieve them.

Goal setting experts may use different words and terms, but they coalesce around similar concepts:

  1. Clearly articulated or specific goals
  2. Realistic and achievable.
  3. Measurable analytics
  4. Deadlines

There really is no difference between John Maxwell’s big dreams approach or Moe Glenner’s clearly, articulated goal methodology. They both require you to set specific goals, regardless of whether they are smaller targets of a larger overarching outline or clearly identified goals in and of themselves.

If you ever attend a Zig Ziglar seminar, there is one more step to goal setting that will be emphasized. Start. Begin. Don’t procrastinate. Whether it is starting a diet, creating new second-quarter sales goals or developing a 3-year strategic plan, begin today, not next week. Don’t procrastinate.