Deb Goldstein left a successful career to take care of her mom. Then she had to figure out what came next.
We are naturally comfortable with the “What” and “Where” of what we do. But it should start with the “Why”.
For the past 10 years I’ve been on a no regrets tour.
Before that I was a Division President at IDG. Many people know IDG for the self help For Dummies books. For a long time the business grew exponentially, but by 2006 the economy weakened and media was splintered. At the same time, my mother’s health started to decline.
So I left my job and took care of her full-time for five years. Caring for an elderly parent, or anyone, is a marathon. It was a horrible/wonderful thing. And I’d do it all over again.
After she passed, I wanted to continue living a life with no regret. And what I wanted to do most was to help people.
I decided to become either an Elder Care Manager or a Career Coach.
It was a hard choice. I felt strongly about what I saw and learned while caring for my mother, but I had always been a coaching manager at work. I didn’t want to throw that away — I wanted to use it and play to my strengths. I decided to become a Career Coach and started my practice in 2013.
I love it. And I’m able to use all the lessons I’ve learned from my career in the corporate world and as a caretaker. Here’s the lesson that sticks with me:
At some point, no matter what you do, or how you try to avoid it, you’re going to do something unbelievably stupid. The test is how you learn from it, how you recover and turn it into a positive.
There are always issues that create negative impacts on us personally or professionally. Instead of those issues, it’s about how you cope and overcome. This is what coaching is about. Forward momentum.
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Pricing can be tricky. There are a lot of factors that go into setting the correct price for a client. Having accurate and extensive information on the job is essential. The first and most important step that we take is to set up an initial phone consultation to discuss the details of the job with the client. We can then answer any questions that they have, but more importantly find out the exact services that they will need from us, including their desired budget. I always try to get as close to their desired budget as possible and if I go over, I explain where the extra charges are coming from with a line-item invoice. Key factors that I always consider when pricing are food costs (ie what is the menu that they want to have), and labor cost (ie full service vs simple drop off, do they need clean up, set up, tear down etc). Once I know these things, the pricing almost sets itself. Other factors also come into play, such as seasonality, distance to the job, rental items, do I need to set-up a kitchen on site or is their one already there, etc. But I am always transparent with these charges and believe in a no-sticker-shock approach to daling with each client. I also believe in fair trade of services, so even if I think I can over-price and try to get more out of a client (common practice in almost every industry sadly), my pricing formula always remains the same. It takes a little while coming up with the correct pricing formula for each business, but it is important to remain consistent and honest. Nothing will turn off a client quicker than them thinking they are being taken advantage of or being price gouged.
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We were doing a tasting for a charity event coming up and after the tasting, one of the attendees followed us out to our car and hired us to come down to San Francisco to cater a 2 day yacht party in a couple weeks, so that is our summer fun time this year.... Pretty excited to be able to get away for a bit during wedding season!!
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This was certainly one of the best reviews we had. The bride was absolutely lovely to wqork with the entire time, up until wedding day. Ended up a complete bridezilla to most of the other vendors and somewhat to us as well. We went home expecting a bad review and were so pleased to have been met with this the next day. She also had pictures taken of the food and included those with her review! Apparently she was just unhappy with other things that were not realted to us or our service. It was nice to see a review like this from a client who was one of the most pleasant people we have met (99.9% of the time). She even sent us multiple messages throughout the planning process checking in on our pup who was going through cancer treatment at the time! "Paul and Stephanie catered our wedding this summer and we were very pleased with their professionalism, the taste, quality, and presentation of their food, and their dedication in helping us realize our wedding vision. I was first contacted by them on Thumbtack in response to our request for a wedding caterer. We had already exhausted options from The Knot Vendor List and had been both overwhelmed with prices and underwhelmed with food taste and quality. Paul and Stephanie reached out to us quoting a plated meal including beef and fish for the same price as the cheap chicken buffets we'd been experiencing. They were kind enough to visit us in our home where Chef prepared generous samples of all the dishes we were considering. While we were eating, Stephanie took down details on the wedding and presentation. The food was phenomenal and hands down better than any other samples we'd been given. Chef even bustled about in my kitchen and found my Tupperware so he could package up the leftovers and leave them in the fridge for us. We decided to also take advantage of their pastry side and get our cupcakes for our dessert table from them. Stephanie hand delivered them to my work so I could sample them with the Fiancé. Chef did a great job at making me feel comfortable with everything he was preparing with his knowledge of gluten free cooking and baking and comprehension of cooking safety for individuals with Celiac. Nearly all our item we ordered were gluten free, and the ones that weren't, were kept separate. The months leading up to the wedding was simple and easy communication, I wish I could have said this for all my vendors. Payments expectations were made clear and could be easily made by credit card. Stephanie made time to have two additional consultations to discuss food plating, food table decorations, and cupcake topping design. I supplied her with a binder and the weekend before the wedding she had a phone consultation with me to review the details and it was evident she had already looked at all the contents extensively. The day of the wedding the catering team was on point. They jumped in and took over many of the duties our wedding coordinator was not attending to including setting up our appetizer and dessert tables and guest tables to my design plan. The food was excellent and all of our guests have said they couldn't stop stuffing themselves with delicious noms. The plating was lovely, the cupcake toppings were just as I'd envisioned, and the waitstaff and bartender were very attentive. Stephanie was present at the wedding and Chef Paul had prepared most of the food but was catering another event. I was so pleased with her and her staff and her attention to detail and hard work helping us create our day. They packed up all the leftovers for us and we were told they were the last vendors there still working hard at helping everyone clean up. If you are looking at catering a large event do yourself a favor and check out Paul and Stephanie. They are not only a great chef and planner duo, they are also incredibly kind and compassionate individuals. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't know Stephanie was also a wedding coordinator, I wish I would have hired her instead of the girl we did. Additionally, their prices are more than reasonable and worth every penny."
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It really depends on what the customer is serving. For cocktail service, we usually provide the ice, mixers and garnishes for the selected cocktails, and all of the tools needed, for example margaritas have freh lime and orange garnishes, salt rimmer, shaker, etc... If we are serving beer and wine, we always bring at least three wine keys/bottle openers. We always have fresh limes and lemons as well for the beer. If there is keg service, we provide ice bins for the kegs to sit in and always bring pitchers in case the beer is foamy. Usually bring a jockey box too, which sometimes eliminates the need for the ice bins. We also provide beverage napkins and biodegradable straws (we are in the process of switching over to 100% biodegradable for all disposables). The key factor is to charge for EVERYTHING! Even ice can add up fast and cut into your bottom line.
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I almost always charge a similar rate for apps and buffet becasue the work needed is usually offset by the amount of food needed. But if I am double-booked or need a work friendly menu, I usually stick with a buffet. Especially if I can go low and slow on the meats and let time be my helper...
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Thumbtack has directly helped me grow from an at-home chocolate business to a full fledged catering company that services the entire Pacific Northwest and that has 2 restaurants in development. I also now do destination events all over the US and will be booking my first over seas event within the next month or two, so I don't think that I will be avoiding Thumbtack, nor do I understand why you would suggest doing that on a Thumbtack board. Hopefully this community area grows with helpful and informative professionals adding positively where they can and not be inundated with the negativity that is rampant pretty much everywhere else online.
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I am a small business and have always been self-financed. I am considering taking out a small loan so that I have some funds to inject into my business for some much needed growth. Anyone have any advice on where I should look first? Any places to avoid? I see adverts all the time for small business loans, but am reluctant to use any online-only service.
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First, never reply right away. Sometimes a bad review can feel like a direct attack and put us in a negative mind-set, which is never a good place to make decisions from. I have only had two bad reviews and they both kind of rocked my world when I first read them. One of them was completely legitimate and their complaints were 100% valid. We offered them the world with sincere apologies, a free catered event, money back, etc. etc. etc. They took down the review and took us up on about half of what we offered them, as they were very happy to just have us truly listen and try our best to make amends. We were able to turn a negative situation into a positive one, which is best for all involved. The other one came as a complete surprise to us, with their complaints ranging from the color of my chef coat (emerald green, for my company Emerald City Cakes and Chocolates) to the style of pots the etouffee and gumbo were served in (traditional stainless steel and black ceramic) and the bar not being in the correct place (they decided to move it last minute and didn't tell us). Upon first reading it, we were upset to say the least. We took a day to process it, speak with our staff that were there and gather their opinions, and then composed a detailed, yet polite response to their review, addressing each complaint point-by-point. There isn't anything that we could do to get them to feel differently or change their mind about what happened, but we can control how the public sees that review and our response to it. By responding not in defense or in anger, but in a calculated and thoughtful manner, we can alter or at least direct the perception of anyone who reads that review. Again, turning a negative situation into a positive one, albeit in a completely different way.
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