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Laura J. Lieff

Specializing in Expert Service

My Blog



Posted on November 6, 2015 at 11:46 AM Comments comments (104)
We are living in a world in which we have to be vigilant regarding criminals who try to scam us. These criminals contact us via email and telephone. In some instances, their pitches are very intelligent and logical and, if you've been having computer problems for a month, for example, and you get a phone call from someone claiming to be a techie who does outsourced work for Microsoft, you might be tempted to allow him access to your computer. DON'T! A legitimate techie won't initiate a call to a potential client and Microsoft never initiates calls to clients or potential clients. If you get an unsolicited call from a techie, just hang up. Never give someone who initiates an unsolicited phone call or email your credit card, bank, brokerage, and/or social security information. In fact, you should never give out your social security information to anyone except your bank, government entities, and your employer. Your doctors don't need it nor does Quest Diagnostics.

Also, don't click on links from your bank, credit card companies, and brokerage accounts. If you get an email from any of the aforementioned, log into the account yourself. Finally, don't open attachments from people you don't know.

If someone emails you and offers to pay you, through your PayPal account, for services they would like you to perform for him/her and requests that you send money to a third party, it's a scam. Perhaps the easiest way to ascertain if you're dealing with a scammer is to ask for his full name, phone number, company name, and address. Anyone who gives you information that doesn't come up in a Google search or refuses to provide you with his contact information is, probably, trying to scam you.

The bottom line is that you can't afford to trust strangers. This is true not only in business, but also in your personal life.

Since there is so much online information about everyone, these days, it behooves you to Google everyone you meet with whom you're thinking of doing business or having a personal relationship. This is not paranoia: it is self-protection. Be alert to offers or assurances made, by a stranger, that sound too good to be true. If you want to contribute to a charity, you should contact the charity yourself.

Most importantly, pay attention to your gut. If your instincts tell you that something isn't right, it's a sign that you need to do your due diligence before providing access to your computer, PayPal account and/or your wallet. 

The Value of Online Reviews

Posted on March 6, 2015 at 5:59 PM Comments comments (342)
Maybe I'm naive, but I think that it makes sense to look at online reviews before choosing venues for dining, working out, playing a sport, celebrating a milestone, etc.  It's even more important to read online reviews for health care providers, other professionals and service people.

The key is to look at the overall pattern of the reviews as reviewing a professional, service provider, or venue is a highly subjective activity: people's expectations and tastes vary.  As nobody and nothing is perfect, one reviewer can have a negative experience with a service provider, whereas five other reviewers can have a very positive experience with that same service provider.

As an occasional reviewer, I am more likely to only review venues, professionals, and service providers when my experience has been very positive unless someone has misrepresented his capabilities, behaved unprofessionally, charged me much more than the agreed-upon price without explaining why and getting my approval for the additional charges or work first, done what I consider to be a terrible job, stood me up, harmed me in some way, and/or was very rude. I would rather not post a negative review.

Some people take online reviews very seriously and I don't think that it's my place to ruin someone's reputation if he's not my cup of tea, if it appeared to me that he was having a bad day, or if my expectations were too high. Moreover, I don't have the time to review every purchase I make, every restaurant I try, every service provider I use, and my various health care providers.

In the same way that one should hold off sending an angry e-mail, I think that it's more just and more kind to hold off writing a bad online review. I'm not saying that you should never write a bad review:  I'm saying that you should consider the situation for a day or two before doing so.

There is so much competition, these days, in every profession and business that your one negative review can make a difference in the livelihood of the professional or service provider.  

Isn't it possible that there was a miscommunication or other lack of understanding that caused your dissatisfaction?  What kind of mood were you in when you had your appointment with the professional or service provider?  

In other words, there are three versions of a story:  yours, his, and the truth and one should consider the damage that can be done before posting a negative online review.

Triangular Relationships

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 11:04 AM Comments comments (335)
Happy New Year!

When I think of triangular relationships, I normally think of a man or woman cheating on his or her significant other.  That is not the kind of triangular relationship that I had in mind when I decided to write this blog. I'm referring, today, to that all too common, relatively new triangular relationship:  a man or a woman, his or her significant other, and a cell phone.  The offending party, typically, spends more time gazing into his or her cell phone than he or she spends gazing into the eyes of his or her mate.  Maybe that's an odd compliment to one's significant other in that the offending party feels so comfortable that he or she can ignore the person with whom he or she is sitting.  I doubt that I would view it as a compliment if my significant other found his cell phone more appealing than he found me.  

Of course, there are times when you have to pay more attention to your cell phone.  For example, if you're trying to close a deal or if you're waiting for another important e-mail as, these days, people rarely call each other. However, those times don't come about as often as it appears that people are ignoring the people who are, supposedly, important to them.  I was once sitting in a bagel place and a married woman was talking on her cell phone the entire time that she and her husband were there.  It occurred to me that, if I were he, I would have walked out of the place.  Does she find him that insignificant that she can so rudely ignore him in public?  If so, why is she still with him?  Why does he accept her rude behavior?  It would be one thing if he had been reading a newspaper or otherwise involved, but that wasn't the case.

These rude, thoughtless people are the very people who complain the loudest when their significant other leaves them for someone else.  Don't they realize the part that they played in that drama?  Why are we so quick to ignore the person who is most important to us to focus, instead, on an inanimate object?  Why are the messages of other people more important than communicating with the person with whom we are sitting?

I don't know what your cell phone does for you in bed, but mine doesn't do a thing for me.  Does your cell phone offer advice that you might need or calm you down when you're upset?  Does it laugh at your jokes?  Are we that afraid of intimacy that we have to have our cell phones on the table or in our hands like a protective suit of armor?

We live in a very strange world and I'm glad that my parents aren't around to experience it as I think that they would have been very uncomfortable in it.  I don't recall their having trouble communicating with each other when we went out and I have no memory of any kind of buffer between them, like a newspaper or a book.  They knew how to relate to each other and I guess that's why they had a long, good marriage.

If we want our relationships to work, we have to stop paying more attention to our gadgets than to the people we claim to love.  We all know that babies need attention and affection.  Adults do, too, and will, ultimately, be very unhappy without the proper attention or will pick up and leave for someone who recognizes their worth.  

If you've ever been in any kind of triangular relationship, you know that they don't work. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your partner will understand your preferring your cell phone to him or her.  Only someone with low self-esteem will tolerate being less important to you than your cell phone and is that the kind of person with whom you really want to be?

What do you think?

Too Much Noise

Posted on December 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM Comments comments (232)
Everyone is blogging these days and "people in the know", i.e., those with MBAs and SEO types are telling me that I should be blogging too.  Of course, since everyone else is blogging, I don't know why you need another blog to read, however, since I enjoy writing, I might as well take a stab at this and join the blogosphere.

I am going to share some reactionary feelings with you.  

I just saw a picture on Facebook that showed snow removal in the "good old days".  Those were the days before the Internet and cell phones, when people actually had a little peace and didn't have to check their phones, every five minutes, for fear of not getting back to a client instantaneously or making a friend wonder whether you're angry with him, sick, or even dead because you didn't respond to his e-mail within an hour. In the good old days, way before I was born, snow removal was handled by horse and buggy.  Imagine that. I'm certain that it was a time-consuming process and that the horses weren't thrilled, however, I'm guessing that the job, eventually, got done.

Don't get me wrong:  I like modern technology and use it as much as the next person.  All I'm saying is that being tuned in to the needs, wants, desires, eccentric predilections, etc., of everyone who has my e-mail addresses (of course, I have more than one) and cell phone number means that I have very few quiet moments to think, daydream, relax, play (even adults need play time) and "chill".  

Of course, I adore having clients to be responsive to and responsible for. Who doesn't?  And, of course, I want to respond to my client's requests within 60 seconds of receiving them. However, I feel an irrepressible need to respond to everyone's e-mail, ASAP, so that I'll have one less thing to do and, therefore, the work never stops.  I have to admit that, once in a while, I give myself a break and eat a meal, read the news, watch one of my favorite TV shows, and even read a blog!  However, I remember when communication was strictly in person, by telephone, or by snail mail, and I managed to survive that time, very nicely, without thinking that I was missing anything.  Of course, I didn't have as much opportunity to write, which I really love doing, so that was one downside of the old-fashioned way of communicating.

In conclusion, although technology is fascinating, very helpful in terms of conducting business and communicating with clients, family, and friends and has made us much more efficient, we have lost a lot of charm, warmth, and peace and quiet in the process of modernizing our means of communication.  

We creative types function best when we have time to think, daydream and fantasize and I imagine that folks who are numbers-oriented or fact-driven function best when they have downtime too.  There is no perfect state in life and, with our relatively new means of communicating with each other, we have lost something very precious.