5 Tips When Traveling on Business

010813 BLOG travel tips

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The Leone Company has a client that takes me out of town, on average, once every four to six weeks.  I now have him speaking regularly at industry conferences across the country, as sharing his expert knowledge with hundreds, if not thousands, of potential clients within his target market is the best way to cultivate new business.  (Side note: I’m happy to discuss opportunities like this for you!)

Without a doubt, this increased amount of business travel took a bit of getting used to.  I had grown accustomed to staying in town and, most recently, I had been used to working from my home office, enjoying organic snacks throughout the day with a set routine.   But, let’s be honest: there’s something exciting about breaking up a regular work schedule with the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Here are just a few tips, tricks and systems (would you expect any less from me?) I’ve picked up and created along the way:

  1. Use travel time to catch up on reading.  For some people, a few hours on a plane may be an extension of regular office work, but for me, it’s pure, uninterrupted time to get those things done that have been piling up on my desk.  Literally.  Like that stack of industry publications that I love to read but always come in quicker than they hit the recycling bin.  (Driving instead of flying?  Audiobooks are still amongst my favorite ways to pass the time.)
  2. BYOS.  Bring your own snacks.  One’s brain, stomach and budget can only survive on the mini-bar and sugary morning danish for so long.  My personal favorites include my own stash of herbal tea, apples, peanut butter with crackers and a few protein bars.  For others, it’s their own coffee with their favorite creamer.
  3. Remain loyal to your hometown time zone.  As tempting as it may be, know that it’s just going to be harder to get back in the groove when you return to the office.  That series of late nights in Sin City hits harder than you think when returning to the East Coast.
  4. Let your staff (and other clients) know of your change in schedule.  If you’re going to be generally unavailable for more than a day, make your staff and clients aware of the best way to reach you, even if you think they won’t notice you’re out of town.  When you’re new to the role of freelancer, contractor or agency employee, people sometimes forget they have more than just one company to report to.  And, let’s be honest, you’ll need to plan ahead with them anyway.
  5. Be sure to get a few minutes of YOU time daily.  With conferences, client dinners and answering emails in the day’s remaining minutes, it’s easy to go a few days without a breath of fresh air, a walk to clear your head, or a few stretches to your favorite tunes.  In order to continue to be productive, make sure you re-group.

Have a favorite tip?  List it below!

Follow me on Twitter: @marashorr and @theleoneco

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Growing a Business in a Down Economy

With a new year on its way, I wanted to share a piece I’ve written, published in an issue of the Winter Park/Maitland Observer last month.

WP Maitland Observer

I’ve had an incredible amount of inspiring discussions outlining how, in its own way, The Leone Company has grown.  Amazing discussions with both casual colleagues and close friends, all over coffee, tea, juice, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and, on one occasion JUST after Thanksgiving, pie.  (Thanks for that delicious slice of homemade apple love, Emma!)

And so, this seems like a great time to share the piece.  Head on over to their site for the full story and incredible amounts of my wisdom, and let me know what you think below!

For a full list of previously published work, head on over here.


From time to time, I come across software that I love so much I just have to pass on, like YouSendIt, MailChimp, PDFtoWord, Mint and more.  Right now, that software is HighRise HQ.

I’ve signed up and adore the task management system.  As The Leone Company grows, I need to make sure my “To Do” list stays in check and, after looking from system to system, this one does the trick.  It allows me to sort by client or project, by deadline, sends me notification if I’ve passed said deadline (gasp!), has an app to keep me in check on the go, and far, far more options.  There are even features to attach notes to contacts.  Score!

Check it out here, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Do you have a software or productivity tip?  I’d love to hear it!

(But on your “To Do” list? No matter your candidate of choice, make sure to vote today!)

My Voice- WMFE

In the midst of a busy season, I neglected to post the spot I had recorded for WMFE 90.7 FM.  (Something I would never allow my clients to do!  Shout your accomplishments, press and community involvement from the rooftops!)

As you know, I got my start with Central Florida’s NPR affiliate.  (That’s where I met Ani, who I’ve talked about here, when I was interviewed about friendships in the workplace.)  Ultimately, that’s where I learned so much of what I bring to the table to day, as non-profits often force young professionals to grow quickly.

Want to hear what I had to say about professional growth in Central Florida?  Listen to the spot here: “My Voice: Professional Growth.”

Blogging for Good: United Arts of Central Florida

*Note: This blog is a part of the “Blogging For Good” Program.

Remember that mention last week of being ready to grow again after a rocky, rocky year? That’s meant bringing in a bit of contract help to get The Leone Company’s website updated and social media channels moving.  (Shameless plug: if you haven’t already, follow us on Twitter @TheLeoneCo or “Like Us” on Facebook at facebook.com/TheLeoneCompany.)  With hundreds of new fans and followers, we’re rocking and rolling as we strive to bring you great content.

But two of the things I’m most excited about go hand-in-hand: my current involvement with United Arts of Central Florida and next weekend’s sold-out Central Florida Blogger’s Conference.  (Remember last year’s post about the 8 Things I Learned From Growing Bolder’s Marc Middleton?  It’s that time of year again.  Let me know if you’re attending!)

Let me explain: I’ve been asked to sit on a grant review panel for the United Arts of Central Florida’s Organizational Project Grants this year, and have happily accepted.

More information about United Arts of Central Florida, pulled from their website:

United Arts of Central Florida is a dynamic collaboration of businesses, governments and school districts, foundations, arts and cultural organizations, artists, and individuals. This partnership works to enhance the quality and variety of cultural experiences available throughout Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Since its inception in 1989, United Arts has invested more than $121 million in local cultural organizations and arts education. United Arts envisions a diverse, well-attended, fiscally sound arts and cultural community that serves residents and visitors of the Central Florida region. 

Granting means fabulous local arts organizations apply for funding for their individual projects, not year-long programs, and I, along with a panel of my peers, review those applications. In my previous life, I’d spent countless hours working with my team to construct the grant applications for submission, and it feels fantastic to be on the other side, being able to help those organizations who deserve funding to present their hard work to the community.  As someone who still works with non-profits and small businesses, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the geek in me is stoked.

Of course, this means my weekend will be spent buried in the process, but, I’m honored to have been invited and excited to see the great work on this year’s horizon.

Because next weekend, it’s off to proudly fly my geek flag at the conference!

Tell me: what community involvement do YOU feel honored to participate in? How did you become involved?

Knowing When to Grow

When I tell you life’s been busy, that’s an incredible understatement.  In five weeks, I spent two weekends at home, with a mix of business and pleasure occupying that time.  We’ve  named my suitcase, since she’s my constant travel companion.  (Russ decided “Victoria” was appropriate, and I decided that I was too tired to brainstorm names for a green L.L. Bean product.  Victoria it is.)

I’ve been to South Florida.  I’ve been to Vegas.  I’ve been to Amelia Island.  I’m heading BACK to South Florida again soon, with possible trips to Vegas, Cape Cod and Jersey City before the summer’s over.

I’m not complaining.  As far as travel plans go, there are far, far worse places for conferences and birthday celebrations.  But ultimately, I’m looking forward to having a clear agenda for a few weeks in a row.

But I have realized, thanks to a recent post by Ali Brown, that it was time to ask for help for The Leone Company.

I’m excited to be working with a few different people, growing The Leone Company in a way that, six months ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed possible.  I have someone helping with administrative work and research, a brilliant marketing strategist assisting with projects I know are her personal strengths and another person assisting with a community relations and outreach project.  It’s an exciting time to be a business owner.

The best part?  All three of these wonderful players were already within my network.  One is a former intern from my days with the Florida Film Festival, the other two women I had met and come to admire over the past seven years as a Central Florida resident.  We’ve kept in touch, over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and, when I knew it was time to grow The Leone Company, I knew exactly who to reach out to.  As I have mentioned before, I never stopped networking… and neither did they.

And being able to contract out pieces of projects, or just the research that needs to be done to do a project WELL, is just the thing that is going to allow me to take on more clients and grow the business.  Because, as Gini Dietrich so brilliantly put it, I need to remember to remember to take time from working IN the business and put aside time to work ON the business.

And I’m thrilled to be growing with a great team.

4 Reasons I Knew I Could Grow Business

When I left my former company just over two months ago, I had one, maybe two, strong prospects; that was enough to give me the confidence to start The Leone Company.  Why?  Because I knew the rest would follow.  (Okay, I hoped a whole heck of a lot and have worked really hard to push the rest to follow.)  In fact, Michael Schechter hits it spot on with last week’s post, “Making Something Magical.”

Am I nuts?  Well, my grandfather thought so.  But here’s why I knew I could build business.

  1. I let everyone know what I’m doing.  I was fortunate that, when I was letting my contacts know I was leaving my now-former company, my then-boss had no problem with my telling them about my exciting new adventure.  (This is how one of my first clients, edible Orlando, came to me.)
  2. I’ve been sitting on committees and collaboration meetings for, well, a really long time.  So when a project came up for the Association of Fundraising Professionals – National Philanthropy Day and for the Garden Theatre, the folks seeking help thought of me.  They know my work ethic.  They know my contacts.  They know my follow through.  They know my love for a morning bagel and schmear.  (Although that last one, I’m guessing, didn’t get me the jobs.)
  3. I’m not afraid to speak in front of groups.  It was through a course I’d signed up to teach with Centers for Animal Therapies that I’d met the founder of feline rescue group Candy’s Cats, Inc.  Turns out, she loved what I had to say so much in a one-on-one session she hired me within a week.
  4. I have my father’s gift of gab. When I was little, my father used to talk to strangers in the supermarket.  (A great way to network, perhaps, but a lousy way to please a hungry nine-year-old who’s shivering in the ice cream aisle.)  But today, more than half of the contacts I’m discussing relationships with are people I’ve met at those same types of random moments. Volunteering for a kids’ camp two weeks ago.  Dinner at one of our favorite German restaurants.  A glass of wine with friends.  I always carry business cards, and I’m always ready to tell people what I do, since what I do may just be able to help them where they need it most.
I love new secrets: What is your best tip for growing new business?  Please share!