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Judith Bowman, President and Founder

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The Art of the Apology

by Judith Bowman on 02/08/17

We are immersed in the most competitive business climate in history imposing unprecedented pressures at all levels that simultaneously prime us for personal altercations, business scuffles and tussles which ultimately require the proverbial … dreaded apology.

“Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” (Elton John) … Ask Donald Trump, Bill AND Hillary Clinton, Brian Williams, Lance Armstrong, Paula Dean, and Bill Cosby, to name a few.

We are not talking about apologizing for forgetting someone’s name, missing an appointment or forgetting to silence your cell phone. These thoughtless, commonplace situations require a quick apology to clear the air and get back on track. Period.

Whereas if you misappropriate corporate funds, engage in unethical or illegal activity, commit a personal slight, engage in sexual misconduct or make a denigrating remark about someone’s ethnicity, these more egregious matters evoke high emotions and call for a more robust response and strategy.

“Love means never having to say I’m sorry,” originally expressed by Jennifer Cavalieri in Love Story may have been so in Hollywood years ago however, not so in real life today, especially in business.

During our lifetime we have and will inevitably say or do something to hurt others we will later regret which may affect our reputation, our firm’s reputation and brand. One of the most difficult things for many is to admit we made a mistake and yes, apologize. Saying you’re sorry is a way to regain respect however ironically, pride, ego, fear or simply showing weakness are stumbling blocks that should never be excuses. It takes a very strong person to admit they were wrong.

Apology defined is a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another. The very act of apologizing is humbling and about refinement of character. Apologizing is a show of respect and good manners. Apologizing is cleansing and the right thing to do. Apologies are almost universally respected.

There is a right and wrong way to apologize. Saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way” suggests they are the one with the problem. The right way is to accept responsibility for your actions and express your regret for the damage done. People are by nature forgiving. When they believe you are sincere, you will most likely be forgiven; an insincere apology will likely exacerbate the situation.

The Perfect Apology:
  • Apologize face-to-face … the sooner the better. Show remorse, humility; own it.
  • Ask forgiveness. State what you will do going forward.
  • Write a personal note; email, text or even a phone call is not as effective.
  • Allow time to heal and regain their trust.
  • Say, “I’m sorry I made you feel that way because of my words/behavior.”
Sincerity is absolutely essential, regardless of how egregious the transgression. A sincere apology goes a long way toward repairing damage, healing and restoring your own reputation/brand. Moreover, if you truly possess and thereby genuinely convey sincere remorse, this will come across and others will respect you - for the admission, for trying to right the wrong and coming forward with the shield of truth.

Holiday Tipping

by Judith Bowman on 12/15/16

Literally translated, "T.I.P." means "To Insure Promptness." 


The holidays are an ideal time to say "thank you" ... in the ways that matter, to those who have helped us through the year.  While holiday tipping for regular service providers is very personal and certainly not mandatory, there are general guidelines: 


Regular service providers on whom we have come to trust and rely such as our hair stylist, manicurist or masseuse, babysitter, animal sitter, newspaper delivery person, UPS person, housekeeper, etc., those who help make our lives easier and brighten our day, and deserve to be acknowledged.  Rule:  the holiday tip should be one week's compensation for that service provider.  For example, if you pay your housecleaner $60 per week, write another check for $60 for their holiday bonus. 


While some may consider this over the top, there are many who "tip" much more than these basic guidelines.  Babysitters and concierges, for example, are tipped as much as $100 to $500 or more, during the holidays.  Remember, we trust these individuals, we rely on them, they take care of us/our children, they give us peace of mind, and make our lives easier, better.


Hair stylist, Manicurist, Masseuse - write another check for the same amount or, 20% of your regular hair treatment x 2.

Day care provider - follow the same guidelines, however, this is very personal and, subjective.

Dog walker - follow same guidelines, however, this again, is very personal

Newspaper delivery person - $10 to $20

Postal delivery person:  $10 to $20.  It is actually illegal to tip the postal carrier any more than $20.

House cleaner - write another check for the same amount.

Valet - $20 - $30

Secretary/Admin - write another check for one week's salary. 


*Please note: the Holiday Bonus is an entirely separate issue. 


Not to forget: 

Day to day regular service providers who i.e. drive you to work every day, make your coffee, pump your gas, the doorman in your building, etc. 


*Money need not always be the form of the holiday "tip."   While monetary gifts and gift cards are more common during the Holidays, some may not be able to tip or, prefer to gift something other than money.     


Options:  making something - your specialty craft of expertise, a special framed photo, baked goods, etc.  A 'thank you' gesture of gratitude during the Holidays in any form is appreciated.  People like to feel appreciated and acknowledged and 'The Holidays' is the perfect time to do so!


What ever gesture you chose, it truly is the thought and gesture, that count! 


*A personal thank you note should always accompany the tip. 


Even if your card has a pre-written message, write your own note of thanks.


*Black ink is used for strictly professional correspondence.  Blue ink reflects warmth.  Consider festive holiday colors i.e. red, green or gold is elegant!


by Judith Bowman on 12/13/16

It doesn’t get any hotter or more contested than the dialogue between President Obama and President-Elect Trump. Yet, after the most contentious campaign in history, the people of this Democratic Republic have spoken, and as a result, our world leaders have chosen … to show respect, civility and professionalism to our country and the world. In a most cordial, peaceful transfer of power meeting at the White House, together they set a world-class example by which we should all abide.

Americans need to come together and rebuild - our spirit, our core which frankly, needed nurturing long before this impassioned e-lection. The people of this great Republic have always shown unity, strength and resolve in the face of greatest adversity to keep America strong. This very challenging time in our country’s history presents a great opportunity to come together again, to heal, and set an example for our children and the world.

There are only two emotions in the world: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear.” Elizabeth Kubler Ros. People fear that which they do not know. The violence that has erupted from protestors this week is driven by ignorance and fear … fear of the unknown.

Change is imminent and change is good. However, change can be daunting because it represents the unknown. That said, Trump is the voice for the majority of Americans who clearly want change. We need to acknowledge the fear and strive to come together to heal knowing peace, prosperity and justice will prevail.

Donald Trump is going to be our next president, like it or not. It’s okay to raise our voices but not to indulge in hatred and destruction. Hatred is a negative emotion lead by fear which is destructive. In the name of the greatest Democracy, Americans have a right to protest, but rioters are not expressing “Freedom of Speech.” Anarchy is un-American, unacceptable and will not remedy anything. It is not okay to loot, riot, smash storefronts and cars, spit and beat people up …for expressing their preferences? No.

This is a pivotal time in American history. Our new President-Elect has a tough long road ahead with unprecedented business issues and challenges looming domestically and internationally and he needs our prayers and support. Being destructive and negative breed’s destruction and negativity. Being derisive will not advance us as a country but only retard progress and there is much work to do.

World Peace begins at home and starts with a basic show of respect and civility toward each other - especially our new President-Elect. We need to reunite and support our new President-Elect who, by the way, won.

In his victory speech he said, “to those who have chosen not to support me, I reach out to you and ask for your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.” It’s time to take responsibility and come together. It’s time to show respect for our new President-Elect who is going to be our 45th president. There is a code of respectability that accompanies any president-elect at this time which needs to be honored. As President Obama has said, it’s important "we can come together to face the challenges America faces.” And, as Hillary Clinton told her backers: "We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead."

So let’s give this President-Elect a chance to make America love again, make America respected, make America great and strong again. He cannot do it alone. Help our new President-Elect unite America so this great country can flourish; “United we stand; divided we fall.”


Judith Bowman Executive Director National Civility Foundation

Character, Integrity at Work

by Judith Bowman on 11/01/16

There are metrics for measuring goals, P&L statements to show bottom-line profits and trophies to reflect triumph however, there is not a gauge to measure character and integrity - central to creating a successful business with loyal employees while enjoying a respected reputation.  These traits are felt rather than spoken.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” says author and poet Maya Angelou.

Others intuit honesty, integrity, truthfulness and feel the way they are regarded.  Success is not determined by where we end up, it’s about the journey … and failure does not diminish effectiveness, it builds character.

Companies who enjoy robust reputations and possess impressive bottom lines are typically those whose leaders display strong work ethics.  Leading with integrity, character and humor to help deflect tense situations, creates a positive work environment, builds trust and establishes open dialogue and effective communication.   Aside from Ronald Reagan … Arthur T. Demoulas and Dan Amos come to mind. Market Basket’s CEO Arthur T. Demoulas’s thoughtful, caring ways together with his moral fiber, strong character, personal ethics and unwavering integrity inspired 25,000 steadfast loyal employees who risked their jobs and engaged in an innately-born open revolution to support him.  His personal characteristics form the foundation of Mr. Demoulas’s $4.6 billion company.

Strong leaders exhibit sound moral principles.  Character, integrity and faith speak to the core of Dan Amos, CEO of Aflac, who has landed on Fortune’s Most Admired Companies, 100 Best Companies to Work For list and World’s Most Ethical Companies to name a few.  These are soft measures acknowledging Amos’s character, integrity and faith for which he is renowned.  His philosophy:  “Treat others the way they would like to be treated, not the way You want to be treated...”  it’s about them.”  It is said that failure is a stepping stone to success.  “If you’re not failing you’re not taking enough risk therefore, don’t limit the failures.” 

When workers feel their leader is invested in them and has their best interest at heart they will give 1000% and will do whatever it takes to help in the quest to ‘reach the unreachable star.’  True leaders have the ability to motivate employees to want to be a part of something greater than themselves and inspire them to rise to the occasion, especially in the face of adversity.  Effective leaders inspire trust and others have an innate sense of who they are and work to the best of their ability to make it all come together.  Acknowledgment through caring and accolades reflect the moral fiber and character of leadership. 
Leading with character and integrity inspires company loyalty which breeds dedication, assures reputation and success.   “Walk the talk” and don’t be afraid to stand alone when it is right. Take the right moral ground.

Whether you're looking for a job or working toward a promotion, while technical skills are negotiable, character counts and integrity and work ethic is non-negotiable.

Fabulous Woman Kerry Healey

by Judith Bowman on 05/17/16

Kerry Healey, Ph.D. is the President of Babson College. She was the 70th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 with Governor Mitt Romney. She served as Foreign Policy Coordinator and Special Advisor on the Romney for President Campaign. Healey also served as the Massachusetts Republican National Committeewoman, and serves on the boards of numerous charities and political organizations.

Fabulous Woman - Jacqueline Moloney

by Judith Bowman on 03/05/16

Jacqueline Moloney is the first woman to serve as Chancellor of University of Massachusetts Lowell. Dr. Moloney embraced technology early, confronting the boys’ network head-on. She became a pioneer in online education making UMass Lowell, a world-class leader in the field. The married mother of two who is also a grandmother – grew up in Tewksbury and was the first in her family to attend college, earning both undergraduate and doctorate degrees at Umass Lowell.

Blogging for Huffington Post

by Judith Bowman on 01/20/16

We are very pleased to be a contributor to The Huffington Post blog. Our first article is on exactly what you would expect.... Protocol.

Fabulous Woman - Christie Hefner

by Judith Bowman on 12/15/15

Christie Hefner was Chairman and President of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. for 20 years (1988 -2008) making her the longest serving female chairman and CEO of a U.S. public company. Her dream was to someday be in the U.S. Senate or U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, when her father’s company was in financial shambles, at age 29, she built it into a billion dollar brand business while at the same time, developed its profitable television business...

Fabulous Woman - Linda Zecher

by Judith Bowman on 11/30/15

Linda Zecher is the first female president and CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the nation's most trusted brand in publishing and largest textbook publisher for children.

"My attitude is: stay positive, focus on things you believe you can add the most value to, jump in with both feet and figure it out."

Fabulous Woman - Mika Brzezinski

by Judith Bowman on 11/17/15

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe" and founder of the
“Know Your Value” movement for women, is the mother of two teen girls, Emili, 19, and Carlie, 17. She is self-described as “a woman who has had a lot of privilege. I came from a prestigious family, and despite the difficulty I gave my parents, somehow they got me educated, cultured and socialized … and it was still hard for me … there were still bumps along the way.”

Read more bout Fabulous Woman, Mika Brzezinski

Fabulous Woman, Lauren Baker

by Judith Bowman on 10/08/15

A graduate of Northwestern University, MBA from Kellogg where she met her husband, this mother of three (two boys and a girl) is a former advertising executive, an avid gymnast, kick-boxer instructor!... and married to the most popular governor in the country. 

Programming the Subconscious Mind

by Judith Bowman on 09/01/15

The quote, "I think therefore I am" prompted me to think further about our ability to actually program our subconscious to redirect our destiny.

We can actually program the subconscious mind to tell ourselves we "are."  When we consciously tell the subconscious mind that we feel a certain way, we program our subconscious mind to respond in kind. Anything we want to attract is the result of what we put into our subconscious mind. Once programmed, the subconscious mind responds to whatever is planted; a change in feeling is a change in destiny!

Program What We Want to Attract

If we program negativity or worry, a negative feeling will be created and we experience the destiny of being unhappy, sad, etc., and this will beget negativity and worry. When we consciously shift away from negative thoughts and program the subconscious mind with positives ... e.g.  the "I am's" (I am content, I am healthy, I am Fabulous! etc.) our wish will become reality. Because our subconscious mind represents what we ask for, what we want to attract into our life is fundamental.

The subconscious mind rules our life.  97 % of everything we do is as a result of the subconscious mind. Moreover, the subconscious mind is impersonal and does not distinguish between what we are feeling versus what is actually happening in our life.  Plant the seed, instill the positive thought and ASSUME the positive feeling to be yours.

The subconscious mind is most comfortable in the unconscious state e.g. just as we are about to go into sleep state. Therefore, just as you are getting drowsy, consciously prepare your mind for the next eight (sleeping) hours of marinade. Instructions are sealed when we sleep. We have the power to not only shape and influence, but compose our instructions. Consider how you want to prepare yourself for having your instructions sealed.

Achieving Goals
To achieve your goals ask yourself the question:  How would I feel were my wishes and dreams  realized? Then assume this state. Live the feeling of being the one you want to be - of a wish fulfilled in all aspects of your life.

In Conclusion
Every feeling we have makes a subconscious impression on our body, and our awareness.  Therefore, persist with the feeling assumption, and as this is persisted, it shall be instilled.  We do possess the power to change and re-direct our destiny.

Confidence! Set Yourself Apart

by Judith Bowman on 07/23/15

Confidence is that quality that sets people apart… it's difficult to define but easy to detect. Read our latest newsletter to help you learn more about this important attribute. *Also, read our newest feature, Fabulous Women. Our first article explores the life of Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

Sports talk breaks the ice in business

by Judith Bowman on 06/21/15

Sports is THE single biggest, universally accepted topic when it comes to making “small talk” at work. 

Remember, “small talk” is a really inappropriate expression for something that should be called the complete opposite:  “big talk” … “really important talk” because … it’s the ice breaker.  It’s what helps break the ice to help place others at ease, to build trust and grow relationships.  

Sports bring people, companies, nations together.  People unite, become allies and break barriers when talking about virtually any sport … and there is power in being united.  Sports transcends color, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic background, industry, age, rank status. 

The emotions sports topics evoke are intoxicating and allow us to temporarily “unplug” while at the same time, connect to an altogether different world, with virtually anyone. 

Whether we are welcoming a first time visitor at work or bumping into a little-known co-worker at the water cooler, sports topics present the opportunity to make people feel at ease, connected and advance relationships. 

It pays to have a grasp of the basics:
  • Make appoint of knowing how i.e. the Red Sox are doing.
  • Stay up to speed on “Deflategate” and whether it will ultimately tarnish Tom Brady’s legacy.
  • There’s 2026 World Cup soccer and FIFA scandal:  the world’s most popular game is at the heart of one of the most egregious scandals in sports history.
  • Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah (born in Kentucky) has an Egyptian owner, a Mexican Jockey and an American trainer (born in Arizona).  Last Winner:  Affirmed, 37 years ago (1978,) Seattle Slew, 1977, and the great Secretariat before him 1993.
  • NBA finals – the Golden state warriors vs the Cleveland cavaliers. LeBron James played the best in his career history  and played his heart out - with a split skull glued together until he could get stitches.  Stephen Curry, MVP prevailed and out-shined.
It may be “just a game” but it can also be big business. 

Business deals are conducted at the game, on the golf course and especially sitting in a front row seat anywhere.  Sports topics may technically be non-business related however, are prime time ice-breaking material rich in opportunity to adroitly break unspoken barriers, connect people, advance relationships and business!

The Presentation

by Judith Bowman on 05/10/15

Presenters are performers however, … “you are only as good as your last performance!”

Without rolling out the red carpet or engaging in theatrics here are some nuances so subtle, your audience may not be able to articulate why you were so engaging, only that you were.

Preparation: The challenge every time for presenters is to connect with each audience and share information as if it were being said for the first time. Write, practice, review and rehearse – just like great athletes, dancers, musicians, until you own it.

Attire – what you wear and how you look speaks volumes about you before you utter one word. (55% is visual (Ref. Mehrabian Rule) Dressing professionally for a business presentation is the Easy A; professional attire is “never wrong.”

Arrive early and participate in room preparation:

* check lighting, air conditioning, microphone and ensure all tech equipment works; failed mechanics suggest a failed presentation.

* have a glass of water (versus a Styrofoam cup) – Note: soda gives you gurgles, coffee gives you bad breath.

* identify the clock and be mindful of time; remove your watch (place on podium.) Remember the infamous Bush/Clinton presidential debate when George H.W. was caught checking his watch. … few remember what was said however, nearly everyone remembers President Bush looking at his watch (inference: time to go, … yet?)

Position yourself at the door to personally meet, greet and thank guests for coming.

Stand in the back of the room as your bio is read and walk enthusiastically, purposefully onto the stage; extend a prearranged handshake with your introducer.

Studies show the first 60 to 180 seconds is dominated by the visual aspect. You may have begun speaking, however, your audience is not really listening yet; they are still in high visual mode. Stand with both hands at sides, have a pleasant facial expression, pause, and let them look! You: look out at your audience start from the back of the room and endeavor to make eye contact with each person. By the end of your presentation every participant should feel “looked at,” acknowledged.

Begin “Welcome” remarks to include perfunctory “thank you’s;” look at each as you acknowledge; don’t rush this.

The Stage itself is a barrier. Dismount the stage to eliminate the barrier and better connect.

Position yourself to the left of your visual aids (as audience views you.) We read from left to right. You want the focus to be you, not your support material.

Refer to slides selectively; do not read word for word (insulting.)

*Rule: No more than three bullets per slide; less is more.


- commands attention

- allows time to articulate next thought.

Pacing - and selective gesturing helps alleviate nervousness; over-gesturing will kill your presentation.

Point - with two fingers – the index and third fingers. (Avoid the admonishing index finger.. never use the third finger!) Obama uses thumb over fist and open palm.

Concluding: - honor allotted time. Return to focal point of stage, make eye contact with audience, restate your purpose, capsulize your message. Extend “thank you’s,” once again. Bow, graciously accept applause.

Let your audience hear your conviction, feel your passion and purpose and connect.

Tel: 508-888-7800   E-mail: Judith Bowman
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