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The Gulf Coast Traveller

ba68bhus9ma-jake-melara_smI just moved back to Sarasota after almost two years in Virginia Beach. Good timing, considering the winter weather.

But I am back in the Gulf Coast with weekends free. What is a person to do? This weekend I think I will scrap my usual movie itinerary although anyone can enjoy the independent art films at Burns Court or the mainstream pix at Regal or AMC.

No, this weekend I shall not be in a dark theater or attached to my I-Pad bringing on the third season of Chicago PD. This weekend I shall venture outside and treat myself to a vacation. If people come down to Naples, Fort Meyers and Sarasota all the time to vacation, I can do the same and I don’t have to pay for an airplane ticket.

The weekend will begin late Friday afternoon. I’m skipping out early (don’t tell my boss) to enjoy Livingston Amusement Center off of Clark Road with several of my guy friends. Beer or shots for them, cocktails for me. We’re psyched to play billiards or race around the track in go-karts but the macho challenge between us is the 24’ rock-climbing wall. At 10 years old, that wall would have been a breeze. Now, it is forbidding. My advice? Don’t look down. If we have time, we can take on a Mission Impossible and save the world in laser tag or a virtual paintball war.

Livingston is open until 2 a.m., but we’re going to cut out early because we’re heading to dinner at Mattison’s City Grille on Main Street in downtown Sarasota. Dinner for me will be Filet Mignon with Gorgonzo. But my friends probably will have the Lobster Cakes or the Spinach & Crab Meat Salmon. We’re looking forward to the live music — BC and the Gang is playing. You can check out the live music schedule here. I might even ask someone to dance.

After getting home at 1 a.m., I’m going to sleep in Saturday morning, but if my friend and his three kids were visiting I’d be recommending the Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary. The kids would love the big cats, such as the Siberian Tiger, African Lion and the rare White Tiger, as well as the other exotic wildlife animals. They can even save money by printing out an entry fee discount coupon from MustDo.com. Other fun attractions for a family to do on Saturday include Sarasota Jungle Gardens and the Ringling Circus Museum.

But Saturday afternoon for me is going to be little more relaxed. I’m going to bicycle at the Venetian Waterway Park and enjoy the natural beauty of the paradise I call home. You can walk or bike the 5-mile trail on each side of the Intracoastal Waterway to either Caspersen Beach Park or Shamrock Park and Nature Center in Venice. It also connects to The Legacy Trail which runs through the Oscar Scherer State Park, and creates a 23-mile path for the physically fit. No cars allowed. Just you and nature. I’m even bringing a picnic lunch to eat while reading the latest James Patterson thriller on my I-Pad.

You are correct if you think I will come home Saturday afternoon to nap, but there is still romance waiting for me Saturday night. I’ve scheduled a sunset dinner-for-two cruise on the Marina Jack II, a 96-foot yacht that will cruise the Sarasota Bay offering beautiful vistas. It could be the romantic evening to propose, but I’m not ready for that just yet. Still, me and my gal will have a dinner and evening to remember.

Sunday morning we are planning a champagne brunch at Ophelia’s on the Bay, a special eatery named one of the Top 100 Restaurants in Florida, Most Romantic Restaurant in America and Best Waterfront Restaurant. Zagat’s has given Ophelia’s an “Excellence” rating for 10 years in a row. Although we can dine inside, the weather this weekend beckons us to the outside deck.

We can choose starters from Eggplant Crepes, Rope Cultured Prince Edward Island Black Mussels and Colossal Lump Blue Crab Cakes or order a variety of seafood & meat main courses. But for $25 per person and a $10 Coupon, we’re opting for the Spectacular Sunday Jazz Champagne Brunch Buffet.

Afterwards, we are going to take a leisurely stroll on Lido Beach near St. Armands’ Circle where we will have an early dinner at Columbia, a tradition since 1905, which specializes in South American, Cuban and Spanish cuisine.

What a weekend! I lived the life of a tourist and enjoyed the natural wonders of the greater Sarasota area, as well as a diverse culinary dining experience that my hometown paradise has to offer. And, as always, I saved money by checking out MustDo.com and printing out all the available discount coupons

Next, another adventure is on the horizon..

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.