New Learning CDs

Along with the launching of Minutes Matter Studio 3.0, we are recording Learning CDs so that you can make the most out of your learning experience! Merlyn Corcoran, our Minutes Matter University Instructor, has shared her her design insight in the first of four Learning CDs releasing this year. (We will also be releasing Learning CDs for our QuickBooks lovers!) Look for more to come!!!!


Sign It with Flair

These days everything is about the "feeling" you get when working with a company. This weekend I shopped at Ann Taylor Loft. When I was checking out, the clerk folded my clothes neatly, wrapped them in tissue paper, and then sealed the tissue paper with a custom label. While I have come to expect this service from this store, I still love coming home to unwrap my bundle of joy. There are so many easy ways to give your customers the same feeling; one simple way is using a custom signature make your note a little more personal. I'll show you the two easiest ways to create your custom signature.

Use A Font:
In the past, we have discussed websites where you can download artistic fonts for free. The easiest way to create a custom signature is to type your name in a handwritten font. Once you find the perfect font, export the font as a jpg, then simply import the signature into your document or email.

(Fonts Used Above: PhontPhreak's Font - Scriptina Font - Jellyka Font)

Use A Scanner:
Another easy way to create a custom signature is by using a scanner. Simply write your name on a white piece of paper using black ink, then transfer your signature to the computer by simply scanning the image.


  1. Graphic software programs such as Studio are easy ways to create digital font signatures.
  2. Pick a font that matches your personality. For example, men may want to choose a font with a more masculine feel such as PhontPhreak's Handwriting.
  3. Remember, since the background will not be transparent, I don't recommend adding your signature to a document with a colored background. When the document has a colored background, a large white block will encompass the signature. Of course, the white block around the image takes away from the personalized feel you are trying to create.
  4. Sometimes you can use a photo editing software to remove the white block. However, I have not found this to be an easy task. Since the signature has very thin lines, it is difficult to remove the background without removing lines in the signature.
  5. Make sure your signature is scaled to the appropriate size. If the jpg imports large, be sure to resize the image in the same proportion as the other text in the document.
  6. Create a file folder named "Signatures" under My Documents to make it easier to locate your signature whenever needed.
  7. IMPORTANT: You must insert a .jpg signature when emailing. When you use a unique font, it's possible the person receiving the email will not have that font installed. Therefore, the signature will not appear correctly for the recipient. However, anyone can view a .jpg so the signature will look great!

Perfecting Your Image

As far back as I can remember I have always been fascinated with successful people. I made it my mission to find out what it was about them that allowed them to achieve their goals while others tried and failed. Later in life, as I developed my business and entered into new and challenging areas of my career, I made a conscious effort to surround myself with suppliers, manufacturers, and colleagues who were considered outstanding leaders in their professions. By watching them closely and paying attention to how they presented themselves and how they ran their businesses I was able to make significant improvements to my own image and business. What I had not anticipated was that, because of the associations I had formed along the years with these professionals, I had achieved a certain credibility of my own within the industry and with people and potential clients I had never met. The mere fact that I was associated with leaders in my industry imparted to myself, and my business, a certain cache and reputation that would have been very difficult to build on my own. By choosing my suppliers, manufacturers, contractors and associations carefully I was able to capitalize on their reputation and success. When I made the decision to affiliate myself and my book, The Design Directory of Window Treatments, with a digital design software provider I took a close look at both companies that provided this service. It was clear that Minutes Matter Studio was the only choice for me. The quality and character of the people that you allow into your life and business speak volumes about you as a person and a professional. Just as you can be accused of "guilt by association" with shady or untrustworthy individuals you can build "success by association" with upstanding, reliable, industry professionals. Any person or company who is perceived as having an association with your business will leave a lasting impression with your clients. It is important to your success to manage those perceptions by discussing what your expectations are of your suppliers and contractors. For example, I provide my independent installers with booties which they wear over their shoes when entering a client's home. They lay down a clean white drop cloth in their assembly area and lay another drop cloth beneath ladders or scaffolding. They are aware that they should not take smoke breaks or eat on the job. They know that I expect them to behave in a professional manner when they are working for me because I have had a detailed conversation with them to lay out my rules. Your associates cannot meet your expectations unless you have clearly communicated to them what those expectations are! Conduct an analysis of your associations at the end of every year to see who is affecting your business in a positive way and who may be detracting from it negatively and take quick action to make the necessary adjustments to maintain the image you want to present to your clients. Building beneficial relationships is an ongoing process that takes planning and hard work, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

Get out there and build some positive associations today!

Jackie Von Tobel
The Designers Source for Inspiration and Education


A New Way To Communicate

The future technology that has begun to transform the way we communicate has now arrived. Instead of using telephone sets that transmit analog signals, VoIP converts these signals to digital chunks or packets. These are reconverted to audio data when it reaches the recipient. The entire transmission happens over the Internet. With the major developments in VoIP services and broadband Internet access, you now have this technology available to you!

Minutes Matter Innovative Solution:As you know Minutes Matter takes pride in growing and adapting through our innovative solutions. We are delighted to announce that we have upgraded our webinar service to include Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which allows you communicate in our presentations, webinars, and courses attended via your computer. If you previously incurred long distance toll call charges while attending a webinar, you can now free up your phone and get free audio connection via the Internet! You must have Broadband Internet access such as cable or DSL, and all you need to add is an Internet headset! We recommend logging on about ten minutes ahead of time to ensure your place and allow the software to download to your computer. The VoIP connection happens once you enter the meeting site.

Headset Recommendations:After much research, here are my recommendations on how to get the most out of this free service! Look for an Internet headset that can be plugged into the front of your desktop tower, or your laptop, in the USB ports. They may be hidden behind a door on the tower. The headset needs to have both speakers (earpieces) and an attached microphone, otherwise you will be able to listen to a webinar but not be able to ask questions or talk. The following Internet-ready headsets under $50 can be purchased at office supply, discount, electronic and camera stores, or on line:

Logitech - ClearChat Style Premium Behind-the-Head PC Headset Model: 981-000018 $27.99 at Best Buy, $24.98 at StaplesPlantronics MX500i 3-in-1 VoIP Headset $49.99 at Office MaxGigaware Wrap-Around USB Headset/Microphone-Skype/VOIP Model: 43-203 $24.99 at Radio ShackLogitech ClearChat Comfort USB Headphones Model: 981-000014 $39.99 at Radio ShackLogitech Internet Clear Chat Headset Model: 981-000018 $24.99 at Radio Shack Jasco GE Deluxe Headset with Detachable Microphone and Desktop Stand$14.99 at Circuit CityCreative Microphone HeadsetModel #: CL MZ0120$39.99 at Circuit CityGN Netcom GN-2010ST Monaural Over-The-Head Phone Headset, Silver (Item # 628670) $38.99 at Office DepotPlantronics M214i 3-in-1 VolP Headset$31.55 at Amazon.com

Logitech Premium Stereo Headset with Noise-Canceling Microphone $14.99 at Amazon.com Philips SHM3300/37 Lightweight Multimedia Headset $14.99 at Amazon.comI bought this one, and found it to be comfortable with excellent sound quality, GE Internet Headset 95701 for $19.99 at TargetCamera stores such as Ritz, Wolf, or Camera World all sell headsets.

VoIP Services:The beauty of having this headset is you can then use it for business or personal calls by setting up your own VoIP account with a company such as Skype or Google or Buddy Talk. You can make free calls to contacts with the same service; there is usually a charge for making calls to "traditional" phones. Here are some links to their sites with more information:http://www.skype.com/http://www.google.com/talk/ http://www.buddytalk.com/ We hope you'll be able to join us on line for one or more of our information-packed learning opportunities. Check the listings on our website under Support for our QuickBooks & Quoting and Studio webinar and course schedules.

The Whole Nine Yards

Roger Magalhaes has come a long way in only three years. He began Shades In Place in Hopkinton, MA, as an installation service for the big box stores. In response to repeat customers telling him they did not like shopping at stores where the sales staff knew nothing about window treatments, Roger expanded his services to include "Shop At Home" convenience and added the soft side to his hard lines. He tends to be more of a contemporary/modern than traditional guy and his typical client is between 35-45, upper middle class and loves electronics/technology. Roger caters to these clients with the latest in whole house motorization, window tinting, highly specialized installations, and of course, design software.

He tells a great story about the first time he used Studio for a client: " I was measuring a home down the road from her under construction house and she saw my truck. She stopped by and asked If I could give her a price for some shades for her new place. Back then, I just had Minutes Matter Studio for about a month and did not know how to use all features and resources, but I gave it a try. (Roger's very first rendering below) I offered her three options for fabrics so she could have a better idea of the final treatments. I guess she loved it, because I've done her entire home (22 windows) and her neighbor's home next door after she told her about my 'fantastic' software."Roger says he began using Studio in 2007 after trying another design software because his customers could not quite picture all the details he was describing for their windows. He feels that a rendering adds value to the final sale and clients are more confident because they can see how the finished installation will look.

His favorite project? I think we can all relate to this -- "It is my own home ... still going on. After each client's job, I come home and start thinking and rendering; will what I did for my client look nice in the room my wife and I are working on?"
Roger believes that "This industry is ALL about presentation and professionalism. If you present yourself well, you have 3/4 of the sale done." From the myriad services he provides his clients, to the attractive website he is updating, as well as the training he has undergone at the CHF Academy, Roger has succeeded in positioning himself as the consummate window treatment professional who offers the "whole nine yards," installed!

What Do Millionaires Have in Common?

Hi, it's Debbie Green with Minutes Matter this week I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on a very important topic. I always take time to read organizational and time management books and articles. They all have one thing in common - written lists. Everyone recommends that you create a written daily list, a written master list, and written long term goals. Every millionaire is goal oriented; it has been proven that the most successful people take time to physically make lists. When you actually write down your tasks and goals you are 90% more apt to achieve them. So what am I saying? I am saying if you want to have less stress and get more done, start making lists.

Your daily list should have no more than ten tasks listed, including personal tasks. Your master list can have as many as 100 tasks. The master list includes tasks that need to be done next week, next month or sometime in the future. Written goals should include long term plans for your personal and business life. What does goal setting do for you - it gives you focus!

When you consistently rely on lists to govern your day, you can expect to get 25% more done in a day. When you don't have a list, little tasks slip through the cracks and then turn into tomorrow's crisis. For example, have you ever put off ordering trim or custom hardware because it was going to take too much time? Well, I did and one day I said "enough!" Now when a client signs the contract and gives me a deposit, I place orders with my vendors within three to four days. I go down the estimate line by line and create a purchase order for each item. It does not matter if you get your hardware list together today or one month from now it takes the same amount of time, the only difference in waiting is you may incur Second Day Air or Overnight charges as well as rush charges from the vendor.

Be sure to schedule quiet time on your daily list. Quiet time is the time when there are no interruptions and the phone is turned off or not ringing. This time should be scheduled during the time of day that you are most productive; my most productive time is the morning. Use this time to do planning for your business, create proposals, research fabrics, bookwork etc. Remember, planning prevents crisis. Use a calendar to schedule and plan personal, as well as, business tasks, activities, appointments and don't forget the quiet time. Don't over schedule - leave some extra time. Be sure to schedule your quiet time; if you don't, it will always be eaten up by someone or something. We all have the same amount of time; the only difference is what we do with it. The one thing you can control is your time; once we waste it - it's gone forever.

Here are a few tips on planning & making lists:

  • Use only one calendar. (I recommend Microsoft Outlook & a PDA Phone and sync daily)
  • Group appointments with errands.
    Control the phone. (Turn off the phone during your quiet time; don't let curiosity get the best of you.)
  • Handle a piece of paper once. (Act on it, file it, delegate it, toss it - those should be your only choices)
  • Stay with a task until it is done. (Jumping back and forth to a task is a huge time waster.)
  • Turn off email notification. (When you are working on a proposal and you hear that "You've got mail" or a ding, it is an instant distraction and it takes several minutes to refocus. I confess this is a weakness for me, but now I have my computer check messages hourly. This was a big step for me!)

  • Do those unpleasant tasks first. (You will be encouraged to move to the next task.)

  • Break large tasks into several small tasks. (A proposal for a whole house could be broken into several entries on your daily list. This helps those large proposals not seem so overwhelming.)

  • Commit time every day to read - it's educational & relaxing. (Read trade magazines, newsletters, Minutes Matter Ezine of course, self-help books, etc.)
  • Create your daily list during your quiet time. (If your quiet time is in the morning, create your daily list in the morning. If your quiet time is at the end of the day, create tomorrow's daily list at the end of each day.)

  • Be flexible. (Some days just won't go as expected - tomorrow is always another day.)

  • Remember bad things happen to good lists - just don't give up!

He who every morning plans the transactions of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign."
Victor Hugo