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Out & About in Cleveland

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Thinking Like the Customer and Ohio Gubernatorial Debate at the City Club

On Wednesday, October 22nd, our first stop was a multi-chamber of commerce lunch the German-American Cultural Center on Columbia Road in Olmsted Falls. The speaker was Ms. Jennifer Downey, President of Ambiance whose topic was “Thinking Like the Customer”. Ambiance is a company that is 34 years old, has 7 retail locations and employs 60 people. Ms. Downey believes that the reason that Ambiance has survived so long is largely due to good customer service. Ms. Downey realizes that the first impression really count the most; it is very difficult to change people’s perceptions after a bad first impression. All of the employees of Ambiance are trained to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and help them to have the best shopping experience possible. The key to this is handling the customers in a sensitive, caring manner and listen to what they have to say and not be judgmental. These rules should hold true in any sales profession along with showing the customers how their products will positively affect the customers’ lives. Once the customers have made up their minds to buy something, the salesperson should reassure them that they have made the right choice and thank them for coming. A fun, positive shopping experience is thus the best way to compete with on-line shopping where the products are cheaper.

As Ms. Downey concluded her presentation she urged the chamber members to become actively involved with their chambers and in their communities. Ms. Downey noted that she is a member of COSE and worked hard on Gay Games 9 and stressed that “20% of the people cannot do all of the work.”

Our main reason for attending this event was the networking opportunities because there were 77 people there on this day. We knew many of these people but we still made about 20 new contacts. Among the people that we spoke to was Mr. Robert M. Felber who is an old friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong’s. Mr. Felber was urging the attendees to check out Olmsted Performing Arts Center where there will be a networking reception on November 21st. Two promising productions, “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Nutcracker”, will be performed there in November and December. If we have the time, we might attend one of them or both.

Next, we went to the City Club where we had some great appetizers including a delectable spinach dip. We didn’t come for the dip, however. Our reason for being there was to watch what Mr. Dan Moulthrop, CEO of the City Club, said was the only debate between the candidates for Governor of Ohio that would take place in this election cycle.

Unfortunately, Governor John Kasich (Republican) declined to take part so it was just Mr. Ed Fitzgerald (Democrat) and Ms. Anita Rios (Green). Mr. Fitzgerald got an intended laugh when he tried good-naturedly to establish common ground with Ms. Rios by reminding everyone that he has six sisters and Ms. Rios has seven. The fact that Governor Kasich was not present was pointed out by Mr. Fitzgerald and Ms. Rios several times during the course of the debate which was moderated by Mr. Robert Higgs of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

At one point in the debate, Ms. Rios said that she was not going to give Mr. Fitzgerald “a free ride” but it was still interesting how much that the two candidates agreed with each other on the issues which were brought up including the pollution of Lake Erie, marriage equality, funding for education, immigration reform, and public monies to charter schools. Ms. Rios said that “we have good manners and have our priorities straight. We both want to change the system as it is.”

They certainly took on Governor Kasich, though, starting when Ms. Rios said that it was a “sad commentary” that the governor was not there and Mr. Fitzgerald said that for the governor to “dodge this debate” was “disrespectful.” When queried about his own ethics, Mr. Fitzgerald said that the governor’s record should be examined and mentioned, along with Ms. Rios, situations that Governor Kasich handled in such a way that there might have been a conflict of interest on his part. Mr. Fitzgerald cited statistics that called into question the “economic recovery” that Governor Kasich is taking credit for engineering.

Regarding immigration, Ms. Rios said that she favors amnesty for undocumented workers and immigration reform. She said that the only was to fix our borders was to have laws that can be enforced. She said that we need to look at the reasons that so many people are leaving their homelands to journey to the United States and designated NAFTA as a principal culprit. Mr. Fitzgerald agreed that we must re-examine our trade agreements because they are bad for the American worker. As far as immigration reform, he is for it and also said that something must be done to help immigrants who are being taken advantage of by their employers and other people of authority. It was refreshing to hear Mr. Fitzgerald say that “we should embrace immigration” because when Cleveland/Northeast Ohio was really booming we were taking in immigrants from all over the world and their contribution was immense. He went on to remind everyone that “we are a nation of immigrants” and said that people shouldn’t be afraid of immigration because it is, in fact, beneficial.

As always at the City Club, we saw a lot of old friends, many from only a few days before like Ms. Lana Moresky, Ms. Cynthia Demsey, Ms. Meryl Johnson, Ms. Jeanne Long, Ms. Erika Pilsy, Mr. Vern Long, Ms. Harriet Applegate, Mr. Rick Nagin, Mr. Stuart Garson, Ms. Anastasia Palacios, Ohio State Rep. Nickie Antonio, Ms. Jean Kosmac, Mr. Nick Martin, Ms. Gayle Wellman, Mr. David Berenson, and Ms. Karolyn Isenhart.

We spent some time visiting with three very impressive college students who were Mr. Allosious K. Snodgrass (CSU) and Mr.Christopher McNeal and Mr. D. Spence Thomas (Cleveland-Marshall). We complimented Mr. Matthew McMillan, a high school student from Shaker Heights, for asking a question about the need to retain affirmative action at colleges. We talked to Mr. David Delgado, radio show host of Going Global with David Delgado, and he told us that he really admires Ms. Wong and puts in a plug for our office whenever he can.

As the program was winding down, we made our way over to Ms. Anita Rios and told her that we admired her performance in the debate. Ms. Rios told us that Ms. Wong had attended a “Women of the World” conference in Toledo about 2 years ago and that she gave “a most enjoyable speech.”

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