Monday, June 30, 2014


Guest blog from Carol Ritter of
Fireworks are much more than a celebration on the 4th of July. Have you ever heard the phrase, there’s fireworks at the board meeting or in the office.  I have been involved in many boards over the years and I recall a mega fireworks story.  It was our dreaded budget meeting.  At that time, we had hired a consultant to fix the “write on the back of a napkin” budget.  She was smart and really took us to a well-designed and legitimate budget.  The board of 35 began their tradition of picking apart the budget one dollar at a time.  One woman would not accept any answers from the professional and continued to nag to the point of disrespect.  I also noticed that she was taking her cues from another board member who remained silent but continued to send signals.  Two things were happening here, the board fell silent and did not stop the insanity and I believed we were on the verge of loosing the consultant.  I jumped in and said firmly, “This has got to stop, you can ask questions without being disrespectful and you can listen for the answers politely.”  Jane stood up and began screaming at me. She said, “I’m calling my husband and I’m quitting the board.”  I said, “Okay, let’s continue the meeting.”  She stormed out. The toxic board meeting changed its personality immediately.  The meeting was adjourned and then I noticed Jane had left her purse.  I took it and went to find her.  When she saw me she jumped out of her seat, threw her arms around me and sobbed while saying, “I’m so sorry!” She told me the real story, that another board member asked her to do this and she didn’t have the ability to say no.  I accepted her apology and she stayed on the board.  

I’m not sure this incident could have been avoided but here are some ideas  for stopping or avoiding FIREWORKS!

  1. If you are the leader, set the tone for respectful conversations
  2. People who set up other people to do their dirty work are easily identifiable, watch for signs - they are generally quiet and don’t often offer solutions
  3. Game playing always leads to FIREWORKS, stop that behavior ASAP
  4. Don’t let the issues fester, solve, solve, solve the problem

Negotiation is such a big word.  It means so much to some and so little to others.  But, it’s all about being willing to come to the table and give something up, apologize or, at the very least, listen to the opposing opinion. 

Let the real FIREWORKS begin, let’s celebrate the privilege of freedom and wishing you a Happy 4th of July!

Carol S. Ritter, Motivational Speaker Results Only Business Coach & Featured 610-442-4545
Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog.Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s creative  leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS.  Like Carol on  Facebook at Caroltalks and CarolCoaches!  Carol S. Ritter, Immediate Past President, National Speakers Association Philadelphia

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Growing UR Biz in 2014 -Home Run

Guest blog from Carol Ritter of

There is such Baseball Fever in the Lehigh Valley. If you’re not a Phillies Fan, that’s okay, you could be a Reading Phillies Fan. If you’re not a Reading Phillies Fan you could be an Iron Pigs Fan. If you’re not an Iron Pigs Fan how about being a fan of your child’s team or your grandchild’s team? Whatever your pleasure, it’s the season for peanuts, popcorn and crackerjack and, hopefully, a HOME RUN.

When I coached 7 year olds, I remember there was rarely a kid on the team who could hit a HOME RUN. And, if they did it was because the outfield was picking daisies or talking to another player or maybe, in my case, the center fielder ran off the field in the middle of a play to hit the boy’s room.

Just like a 7 year old, in business sometimes your players don’t have their eye on the ball and even though you wish and hope for a HOME RUN, it’s not coming because no one is paying attention to the possibility .

Here are “7” ideas for Hitting the HOME RUN!

1. Keep your staff focused on the ultimate goal, remind them weekly

2. Put Extreme Customer Service at the top of the list - you could get an unexpected HOME RUN with this one.

3. Let your staff know clearly what a HOME RUN means for the biz

4. Don’t forget to bring the peanuts, popcorn and crackerjack when you see the staff running to second base.

5. Don’t criticize when your staff strikes out, encourage and inspire

6. Keep up the TEAM spirit, create it and celebrate it

7. Celebrate the HOME RUN, you don’t have to pour champagne over anyone’s head but your sure can pop the cork and serve up some mighty fine Ball Park Franks.

When looking to hit a HOME RUN, practice, practice, practice, be a great COACH for your team and HIT ‘UM OUT OF THE PARK!

Carol S. Ritter, Motivational Speaker Results Only Business Coach & Featured Writer 610-442-4545

Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog. Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country. Carol’s creative leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. 610-442-4545 Like Carol on Facebook at Caroltalks and CarolCoaches! Carol S. Ritter, Immediate Past President, National Speakers Association Philadelphia

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Growing UR Biz in 2014 -Start Today

Guest blog from Carol Ritter of

I had the pleasure this week of having dinner with a young lady who just graduated from high school and is on her way to Bloomsburg University in the fall. She was flying high, so excited about her new adventure, but what made her unique was that she wants to be in business. Yes, she is on her way to becoming an entrepreneur. She asked so many questions and that is an excellent start. So, let’s START TODAY!

Carol’s Top Ten Questions that Must be Answered before you start.

1. Do you have the marketing/promotion gene?

2. Do you love the idea of learning how to market your business?

3. Are you comfortable meeting people and attending networking events?

4. Have you written an executive summary which includes why people should buy from you and who your future clients will be?

5. Are you connected in the community?

6. Do you have a data base?

7. Have you researched the competition?

8. Do you have a plan to build your brand?

9. Do you have social media skills?

10. and number ten, the most important, ARE YOU A RISK-TAKER?

This is just the beginning. Then there’s employees, finances, cash-flow and more. The reason risk-taking is so, so important is that I don’t know any entrepreneurs who are mega successful who have not taken risk. It’s the only way to go from mediocre to mega.

Are you dreaming about being in your own business? Do you have a unique idea? Are you ready to make your dream a reality? If you can answer ‘YES’ to my top ten questions, you are READY!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Health Insurance Outlook

Guest Blog Post by: Benjamin Faesel, Capital BlueCross
Senior Manager, Healthcare Reform

If you like your plan, you can keep it

On March 5, 2014, President Barack Obama’s administration announced more changes to the health care reform law, including allowing people with health insurance plans that don’t comply with Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards to keep them through October 2016 if their states allow it.

This extension allows states to decide whether these non-compliant plans can continue to be offered. Many states have allowed insurers to continue offering these plans to consumers for the short term.  This extension only applies to current policyholders -- new customers must enroll in plans that meet the ACA standards, which are designed to ensure consumers receive a minimum level of coverage.

In the letter issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), it states that health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market that is renewed for a policy year between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014, will not be considered to be out of compliance with the following market reforms:

• Community rating
• Guaranteed issue and renewability of coverage
• Prohibition of coverage exclusions based on pre-existing conditions
• Non-discrimination based on health status
• Non-discrimination regarding health care providers
• Comprehensive coverage (i.e., coverage of essential health benefits and the application of maximum out-of-pocket limits)
• Coverage for participation in clinical trials

Policies that were in effect on Dec. 31, 2013, are eligible for the transitional safe harbor.  In order to take advantage of this extension, insurers must send a notice to individuals or small businesses who otherwise would have received cancellation notices, informing them of any changes in the options that are available to them, which of the above market reforms would not be included in coverage, the potential option to enroll in exchange coverage (including information on exchange access and the availability of a premium tax credit), and their right to enroll in coverage outside the exchange that complies with the above reforms.

The March 5, 2014, memo states that the transitional policy will be extended through Oct. 1, 2016.  This means that the extension will apply to policy years beginning on or before Oct. 1, 2016. CMS is also contemplating an additional one-year extension (i.e., through Oct. 1, 2017).

If you have questions whether or not your plan meets the requirements for the extension, please contact your broker, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, or your Capital BlueCross representative. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Workforce Investment Board

Guest Post by Nancy Dischinat
Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board

I want to thank Rep. Schlossberg for bringing the PA House Democratic Policy Committee to learn about the Lehigh Valley’s workforce development status, priorities and needs. Interactively discussing the system’s needs with Chairman Sturla and the other members from around the state was so important to assisting the unemployed and underemployed of the Valley. I specifically asked the legislators for the following items:

 • Leadership of WIB’s must remain in the hands of private-sector members, and their voices should guide the decisions that are made locally in order to ensure workforce services and training are driven by skills gaps in the private sector and projected labor market demands that lead to job creation.

• More resources should be appropriated in the state budget for Industry Partnerships for training to enhance the skills of Lehigh Valley’s incumbent workers.

• Workforce development and education must align to address current and projected job openings by integrating a Career Pathways model in the K-16 educational system.

• Continue to support the financial incentives to employers for job creation, on-
the-job training, and customized training options.

• Improve programming and increase the educational pipeline between career and technical school and community college.

• Expand and market Keystone Works and JobGatewaySM.

· Support innovative approaches that connect school districts through a private sector model called the Business Education Collaborative that matches school districts with industry experts to teach and illustrate how workforce preparation begins in the classroom.

• Engage the Senate to support House Bill 1725 called CareerBound and House Bill 1878 called PA WinS.

• Market to Pennsylvanians that the pathway to a gold collar job is through career and technical education and lifelong learning.

To review my testimony, please go to the LVWIB page at

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Main Street Initiatives

Guest Blog Post by Jason Breidinger, Mortgage America

17 years ago I attended my first Chamber meeting. To this day I spend my volunteer time representing The Chamber on its Board of Directors and Executive Committee serving as a Past President. Rising through the ranks over such a period of time offers perspective.

Having met with those who develop and implement goals and objectives of The Chamber and those it serves both locally and regionally it is fair to say that goals are met and objectives are implemented, without fail. That means what The Chamber sets out to do gets done - everywhere.

7 years ago when the Chamber set the objective to be on ‘Every Main Street’ it didn’t mean it wanted to open storefront offices. The Chamber decided to personify the fact that behind every good community and its businesses is our good Chamber. In the Greater Northern Chamber’s region grants from the GLVCC were matched and expanded by local efforts providing the opportunity for us to build a one of a kind Trailhead, turn a vacant lot into a small park complete with a Gazebo pavers and benches, install welcome signs entering our towns, install decorations and banners on our towns’ light posts and even advertise major local events on a grand scale. All of these things have not only improved our Main Streets but attracted people in order that they can see what our areas have to offer.

In hindsight we say good work everyone... good work and we look forward having been empowered toward whats to come.

Monday, June 2, 2014

BUSINESS MATTERS TONIGHT: Exclusive One-on-One with Dr. Ron Swinfard, President and CEO of Lehigh Valley Health Network

Tune-in to #BusinessMatters TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m. on WFMZ Channel 69 at 7:30 p.m. Watch an exclusive One-on-One with Dr. Ron Swinfard, President and CEO of Lehigh Valley Health Network

Watch TONIGHT to hear directly from Dr. Swinfard on

·How healthcare reform has presented a new type of demand for hospital executives

·How Lehigh Valley Health Network positions themselves within the Lehigh Valley market to remain competitive