Seven Proven Methods For Hatching Brilliant Ideas

How do organizations come up with new ideas? And how do they use those ideas to create successful new products, services, businesses, and solutions?

To answer these questions, a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York spent time observing radical innovation projects such as IBM’s silicon-germanium devices, GE’s digital X-ray, GM’s hybrid vehicles, and DuPont’s biodegradable plastics. Their key finding? Most of the ideas behind these projects came from “happy accidents” rather than some ongoing process to generate ideas.

In more than a few cases, individuals or small groups were simply “freelancing,” working on ideas on their own initiative rather than being directed by some “new venture” board or other idea management system.

“Almost without exception, these idea-generation methods have been applied sporadically, rather than systematically, continuously, and strategically,” the Rensselaer researchers concluded. “In no case [we know of] has an ongoing process been set up that regularly requests such ideas. What we observed were one-time acts, or new systems put in place whose staying power remains unproven.”

It is little wonder that so many good ideas never even come to the attention of management. Or that so many die short of development–and miles from commercial success. In most companies today, the “practice” of innovation can be likened to the mating of pandas: infrequent, clumsy, and often ineffective. Its practice is largely unchanged from 20 years ago. While the world has changed drastically and organizations pride themselves for having a process for everything, the process of innovation remains ad hoc, unsystematic, piecemeal, seat of the pants, and, as the Rensselaer researchers confirmed, heavily dependent on luck.

Creative, game-changing ideas will always have an element of serendipity to them, and will never be producible on demand. But today’s present economic climate of stalled growth and fewer ideas (growth in the number of patent requests have stagnated in recent years) has caused a small but growing group of organizations to rethink how ideas happen and to examine what they can do to implement better innovation processes.

Fortifying the Idea Factory

Three-fourths of companies are consistently disappointed in their innovation results, according to global surveys of executives. But a minority of organizations–the innovation vanguard–recognize the need for change if their results are to improve. Put simply, if good ideas don’t get hatched, they won’t get launched. The “vanguard organizations,” 23 of which we studied for a recently released book, create stronger idea factories by cultivating the conditions whereby “happy accidents” are more likely to occur. The vanguards are, in essence, reinventing inventiveness. They are paying much more attention to the oft-called “fuzzy front end” of innovation where possibilities first come to light. And they are managing these notions in vastly different ways so that large quantities of ideas eventually fill the pipeline and emerge as tangible results.

In reviewing the unconventional methods of these vanguard organizations, we found that, while innovation and breakthroughs can never be commanded from the top, leaders can do much to increase throughput of significant ideas. And indeed they must. We see these leading-edge organizations using seven key strategies for fortifying the idea factory:

Invite everyone in the quest for new ideas.
Involve customers in the process of generating ideas.
Involve customers in new ways.
Focus on the needs that customers don’t express.
Seek ideas from new customer groups.
Involve suppliers in product innovation.
Benchmark idea-creation methods.

Clearly the customer plays an important role in these strategies for strengthening the organizational idea factory. It only makes sense. The goal is to create ideas–the building blocks of new products, services, processes, and strategies–the users of which are customers.

Ideation Strategy 1: Involve Everyone in the Quest for Ideas

While suggestion boxes have been around for over 100 years, innovation-vanguard organizations are wiring their suggestion boxes so that they become a powerful, energizing force for corporate creativity.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), a global pharmaceutical firm, does not restrict its definition of innovation to activities related to finding the next breakthrough drug. Rather, it sees the need for new ideas in much broader terms and involves employees constantly in the quest. BMS has developed a series of ideation campaigns for internal customers under the leadership of “idea searcher” Marsha MacArthur and her boss Mark Wright, vice president of U.S. market research and business intelligence.

When the patent was about to expire on Glucophage, an oral medication for type 2 diabetes, MacArthur helped coordinate a campaign to solicit ideas on how to get more people to use the drug in the meantime. Rather than classifying this as a marketing problem and letting the people in that functional area work on it, the ideation campaign was a sort of call for ideas to all corners.

The campaign was publicized by employees walking around wearing sandwich boards declaring, “We’re waging war on diabetes and we need your help!” Town Hall meetings were set up for the team to describe the problem in greater detail: How do we drive patients to their doctors’ offices? How do we get patients to switch from the medications they’re currently using?

Tip lines were then set up on BMS’s intranet site so employees could submit their ideas. One idea was to run a national campaign declaring war on diabetes. Another, to create a museum for diabetics.

“I was really proud of everybody and the ideas that were submitted,” says MacArthur. “They weren’t obvious ones like, ‘talk to doctors.’ We already do that. They were quite well thought out.”

That single ideation campaign generated 4,000 inquiries from 429 employees all over the world. In a typical year, idea searcher MacArthur coordinates 20 to 30 such campaigns, both at the division level and enterprise-wide.

Lesson: Organizations can enlarge their pool of ideas by including more employees in the process of new product and service ideation and in solving vexing organizational problems. Start by encouraging them to listen to customers. Don’t allow managers, technical specialists, or purchasing, finance, or human resource professionals to participate in new product/service/market development decisions unless they spend at least 20% of their time with current (or future) customers and suppliers.

Ideation Strategy 2: Involve Customers in Your Process

New products are most often initiated by ideas from customers, rather than from in-house brainstorming sessions or developed internally by research and development, according to a study by business researchers Robert G. Cooper and Elko J. Kleinschmidt of McMaster University in Ontario.

If you immediately think “focus groups” when the subject of involving customers comes up, better think again. Vanguard firms are going well beyond such techniques as they seek more powerful insights and ideas.

To maintain its market positioning as the “ultimate driving machine,” Munich-based BMW must constantly seek new technologies and design features that keep it slightly ahead of the pack. To accomplish this objective, BMW tossed conventional wisdom to the roadside and created what it calls a Virtual Innovation Agency (VIA) to listen to customers directly. Car buffs worldwide can access the VIA Web site and join online discussions to share their ideas with other enthusiasts around the world–and with the BMW Group.

The VIA submission process allows anyone with Internet access to submit ideas–and the ideas are protected. If the idea has potential, it’s routed to the appropriate working group at BMW for follow-up. Within the first week after VIA was launched in July 2001, 4,000 ideas had been received.

Lesson: The traditional focus group needs more focus. Form advisory boards of key customers to serve as sounding boards for ideas. Identify customers who tend to buy the latest versions of your products. These “lead adopters” can provide you with insights about where the market may be headed and how your organization can best position itself.

Ideation Strategy 3: Involve Customers in New Ways

Organizations evolve and embrace new ways of doing things at different rates. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ways they listen to customers. For instance, customer surveys may be old hat to retailers but they blow the lids off homebuilders.

KB Home, a market-leading homebuilder based in Los Angeles, only began surveying customers in the late 1990s; in a very short time it gained insights on new ways of doing business. In Denver, KB Home built houses with fireplaces and basements, assuming that’s what everyone wanted. But some buyers weren’t biting. CEO Bruce Karatz eavesdropped on a sales pitch to prospective buyers who wanted to save money. The couple said they didn’t need a basement, but the salesman kept pushing them to accept it as everyone else had.

Karatz decided then and there to survey customers. Their answers shattered KB Home’s preconceived notions about what homebuyers wanted. In Denver, people were more than willing to do without basements when omitting them cut the price by as much as 20%. In Phoenix, where covered porches were thought mandatory, fewer than half of the buyers said they cared about them.

By polling for preferences, KB Home opened up its business to budget-minded buyers. But it also discovered other, more-desirable amenities that customers were willing to pay for: coffee bars in the master bedroom, built-in home offices, and higher-quality windows, for example. This “amenity customization” proved popular for buyers–and traumatic for competitors still locked in to the one-size-fits-all housing approach.

DaimlerChrysler used a more experiential approach to try to divine what fickle car buyers wanted next, turning to anthropology and ethnography for a process known as “archetype research.” The development team created a prototype model of a vehicle mixing retro and futuristic design elements. But instead of then testing the prototype with traditional focus groups, such as young men ages 18 to 24, they chose people that represented the entire national culture and studied their emotional responses to the prototype.

The designers realized that participants were looking for protection from “the jungle out there.” The retro/futuristic prototype was too playful, too toylike; they seemed to be saying, “Give me a big thing like a tank.” The revised design: the PT Cruiser, which was an instant success when it was introduced in North America in 2000.

Lesson: Look outside your own field or industry for ideas on how to get customer input. Automakers, retailers, consumer electronics manufacturers, for instance, are on the leading edge of customer surveying and are often considered the early adopters of ideational techniques.

Ideation Strategy 4: Focus on the Unarticulated Needs of Customers

Another reason traditional focus groups are inadequate idea generators is that they provide feedback only on existing ideas. How do you get feedback on ideas that don’t exist?

One approach growing in popularity is to probe the unarticulated needs of customers, asking them to consider hypothetical products and prototypes to see how they would respond.

Consider the microwave oven. Asked why they like it, most people would say it’s because it heats food up faster than conventional ovens. Asked how they actually use it, most people might say “to heat up my coffee” or “to pop popcorn.” What they don’t say–their unarticulated desire–is that when they try to use their microwave to make a “real meal,” such as a roast or a steak, the results are ugly, gray, and unappetizing.

GE probed just such unarticulated needs in 1999 and came up with Advantium, a speed cooker for roasts, steaks, and other items. A white hot halogen bulb browns the outside part of the meat while microwaves cook the inside. The result: home-cooked meals that are fast and good.

Another great innovation-vanguard organization is Callaway Golf, creator of the Big Bertha. Callaway’s innovators went out to country clubs and public courses and observed how golfers approached the game, quizzing them on how they felt about their skills. The observers discovered that many golfers felt frustrated and intimidated by the game. The unarticulated need was simply to succeed at something they loved doing.

Callaway’s breakthrough Big Bertha club features a large and forgiving “sweet spot” and a longer shaft, making it easier for golfers to hit the ball–and to hit it farther. As a result, new players took up the sport–and old players traded in their drivers for Big Berthas. By focusing on customers’ unarticulated needs, Callaway’s innovators created a blockbuster.

Stroke Camp: Rest, Relaxation and Renewal

S’mores. Sleeping bags in pup tents. Fireside stories and songs. Brave souls going “polar bear” swimming in a freezing lake at dawn. These are the memories I have of going to camp. But the camp I recently attended was different. At this camp, I was surrounded by survivors: stroke and spinal cord injury survivors. The July 2005 Stroke Camp at Chapel Rock Church Conference Center in Prescott, AZ allowed stroke survivors and their caregivers, as well as spinal cord injury survivors, a weekend of rest, relaxation…and play time. Kay Wing, owner and founder of Swan Rehab, which specializes in stroke and brain injury rehabilitation, wanted to host a camp that was “No work, just fun.”

“I teach a week long class at NAU every year for the Physical Therapy students,” says Kay. “We have stroke survivor volunteers for the students to treat. The patients are there all day long, and rotate between various therapeutic activities. Everyone has such a good time that it’s like camp. It made me realize how hopeless a permanent disability can seem to both the survivor and the caregiver. Just the week of this class gave people new hope, a change of scenery, and the caregivers a rest from the constant responsibility. I thought this type of hope needed to be available to a wider community of stroke survivors and their caregivers. Only, I wanted it to be just a fun camp.”

Jim Koeneman, President of Kinetic Muscles and co-sponsor of the event, agrees. “Through Kay Wing and our customers, we became aware of the tremendous need that stroke survivors and their caregivers have for recreational opportunities.” Spinal cord injury survivors were included for the first time after a serendipitous encounter with Amy Rocker, Community Relations Director for the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association. The woodsy, rustic atmosphere and hotel-like accommodations offered Camp attendees a multitude of activities to choose from: nature walk, arts and crafts, bingo, yoga, a lecture on fishing, indoor volleyball, and a massage or acupuncture. The group attended a mixer and learned about meteorites from guest speaker John Salza on Friday night; and was allowed to sit in during the Phoenix Boys Choir music rehearsal Saturday morning.

It was here, at this special camp, where I learned what it meant to be a survivor:

1) Change is gonna come. Some of the simplest daily activities we take for granted are the first things a stroke and spinal cord survivor have to re-learn. Not only is the survivor affected, but loved ones are, too. For the first year after his wife, Susan, got home from the hospital, Jack Fuhrer’s daily routine was simply to ‘get through the day’ and observe her daily therapy sessions. “Tending to Susan’s basic needs was hard physical work because she was so profoundly paralyzed,” he states. Chang Bae and his wife, Kim, who were invited to the camp through the American Heart Association, still cope with difficulties like not being able to communicate well and rapidly. And the physical impairment prohibits certain activities that they’re trying hard to get back. Ron and Nancy Wheelen’s 14-year-old daughter is handling the new routine, but is frustrated and tends to be short-tempered at times.

2) It really does pay to have insurance. Insurance companies have gotten a bad rap for years. So much so that a couple of movies have been made to drive the point home that they have a habit of leaving their members twisting in the wind. Like a coin, there’s going to be two sides with insurance companies: the bad and the good. Jack Fuhrer feels he and Susan are among the fortunate few who have had good, hassle-free insurance coverage for a several million dollar illness. They were assigned a “supportive and helpful” case manager courtesy of Cigna. And an uninsured friends’ tragedy a few years earlier caused him to buy long term care insurance. Consequently, there are still a lot of deductibles. Ron Wheelen, whose wife, Nancy, suffered a stroke in a hospital in June 2004, states that “overall, there was $3,000 to $4,000 not covered by insurance. The hospital visit was $500 out of pocket.” Although he didn’t have to pay it, Ron said that the helicopter ride from one hospital to another was almost $12,000. Taxi, please.

3) Remember when?… Family members birthdays. The day my boyfriend popped the question. The day I got married. These are the special occasions I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. For a stroke and spinal cord injury survivor, the day their life changed forever is something they’re not bound to forget. Kim Bae, February 5, 1999; Susan Fuhrer, Sunday June 23, 2002, 9:15 a.m.; Kenny Baker, August 13, 1999; Terrible Tom O’Brien (who’s not terrible at all, but a shameless flirt), Monday May 27, 1996-Memorial Day; Susan Wheelen, June 2, 2004, 6:30 p.m.

4) There’s no such thing as limitations. Just because someone walks with a limp, wears a brace on their leg, or gets around by wheelchair, doesn’t mean they’re completely helpless. Diana Partain is an occupational therapist whose methods of therapy include driving rehabilitation and expressive art. “You don’t have to give up your hobbies or your life after having a stroke,” she says. “You just have to find another way to do them.” And in the words of Terrible Tom O’Brien: “I have two eyes, two nostrils, two arms and two legs. If one doesn’t work, I still have the other one.” Amen.

5) Support, support…and did I mention, support? The dream of seeing my work published has been a goal of mine ever since I started writing in the seventh grade. I not only had to believe it for myself, but I needed to have someone else believe in me, too. Don Price broke his neck and sustained a spinal cord injury in a diving accident in 1982. He was 18-years-old. “It was a difficult adjustment,” he says. “I had great family and friend support, but the best help in adapting to my disability came through peer mentorship–meeting others who had a similar disability, and learning from them. Once I spent time with other quads, I realized that they were out in the community working, playing, dating, driving, traveling and having fun. So I knew I could, too. They supported me; we supported each other.”

6) Celebrate the victories. Sixteen stroke survivors and two spinal cord injury survivors attended the Stroke Camp this year. The most inspirational person I spoke to was the youngest of the group, and was neither one of those. 24-year-old Laurel Murray survived an encounter with a drunk driver. She was pronounced dead at the scene for ten minutes. The doctor’s told her she would never walk again. “What do they know,” she scoffs. The brain damage she suffered is comparable to that of a stroke, her speech is slow and meticulous, her gait is even slower, and she’s determined to do things without help. But she’s walking. So stick THAT in your stethoscope and smoke it, you overpriced, pessimistic doctor!

The best part of this camp was the boys. All of our meals were blessed by the angelic voices of the Phoenix Boys Choir. I still get chills thinking about those young boys, some as young as eight, opening their mouths and hearing this almost supernatural sound emerge. I think about 12-year-old Collin, a member of the choir, who was born with no arms (stumps) and no legs (stumps fitted with suction-cup type prosthetics). And yet he was still wholly accepted by his peers. Those boys will grow up and never look twice at someone with a physical disability because of Collin. Get’em while they’re young, that’s what I say.

I’ve been in the medical field for several years now, but only in the form of a desk job. As a medical biller, I sit at a computer all day and register members. I have no contact with the member and have never had much contact with the physically disabled. After spending a day and a half with these eighteen survivors, I am simultaneously humbled and inspired. My life, my daily complaints, seem so small compared to what they’ve suffered and what they still struggle to accomplish. For a moment in time, I was allowed a sneak peek into their world. We rested, we relaxed, we had fun. We have been renewed. I recently attended a camp. At this camp, I was surrounded by survivors.

Emergency Services Access to Your Aging Parent

I am sure this might not be meaningful to everyone, but to those of us who have an aging parent living with them it can provide a great deal of comfort. Well… maybe not comfort, but it will put your mind at ease for short periods of time.

Here is the scenario. My 88 year old mother in law lives with us. She is in remarkable shape… for 88. She has her own room with a recliner chair and a large screen TV. She has been taking the same meds for over 50 years, has a pacemaker and sometimes annoying COPD. Her only exercise is down the hall to the bathroom and getting her coffee and breakfast in the morning. Other then that she sits most of the day watching TV, playing solitaire or crocheting. Her eyesight, hearing and balance are deteriorating but what do you expect for being 88.

However it is the balance issue that concerns me the most. I am home a lot because many of my marketing duties for our home care franchise are handled from my home office, I am also partner with my son in a web design, video production business (SixVine Media) and he is usually here working on client projects and while Teresa has a real office she does a lot of her work from her home office. So you can see that there are adults in attendance just about every day, all day.

But there are times when we are all out on appointments leaving Mom alone. For these times she sometimes wears one of those personal alarm systems that dials into 911 services. I say she wears it sometimes because… well did I mention she is 88? Also Mom wants the front door locked when we are gone and will not answer the door if someone rings the bell.

Here is another concern. I was with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and have seen what the Fire Department has to do when they need to gain entry to a senior’s home. Not pretty. Usually there is a security door which is quickly pried open using a Halligan. This process will render that door useless. Then comes the entry door which can be an ornately carved solid wood beauty. A sledge hammer against the lock set is a quick remedy but this will rip out casing, drywall and do a lot of damage to the door and lock set. So this entry just cost the homeowner close to $2,000.

Does all this sound a little over the top? Well maybe, but what would you have them do if your mother was laying on the floor screaming in pain?

So that this the problem and here is the solution I came up with. I am sure it is not a secret but hopefully it will help.

I know you have all seen those lock boxes that Realtors use so home buyers and their agents can gain access to a house that is for sale. I bought this one on Amazon but I am sure they are available most everywhere.

They are simple in their design and use a four digit combination to gain access to the key box. Releasing the curved yoke is possible once the box is open. Once you have access to the inside of the box all you have to do is to set your code and find a location to place the box.

Our front door has a handle that is connected to the door in two places so that is the location I chose but if your door has some other configuration or you just don’t the box seen from the street there is another location. Find an exterior hose bib, gas meter or incoming water line that is close to the front of the house and secure your box there.

I then called my local police department (don’t call 911!) and told them that I wanted to register the location of the lock box and the combo with their emergency services. I was told that I needed to call a special Fire Department number, which I did and so now the problem is solved.

Anytime a call comes into the 911 system from my address the location of the lock box and the combination appears on the dispatcher’s screen. The dispatcher will then transmit that information to the responding emergency personnel. This will save me the $2000 repair costs for the front door. For us this works for short periods of time, if we were to be gone for more then a day then we would have a caregiver come in for several hours a day to make sure that all is well and prepare meals for Mom.

One more thing is that I taped the code to the box on the inside of the front door. At the time I am sure I had a good reason why I did this but cannot recall what it was. Oh well if I forget the number I will know where to find it… if I can remember where I put it. LOL

Please leave me a comment below and let me know if this works or what solution you have come up with.

Summer Sizzles For Seniors Too

For our caregivers in Peoria, Glendale and Phoenix Arizona it is no surprise that it’s hot, after all we are in the Valley of the Sun. But as our caregivers are providing affordable in home care for seniors not all that care is always in the home.

Many times our caregivers take clients to doctor’s appointments, church functions or just shopping and when we are out of the home and in possibly unfamiliar surroundings we always remind our caregivers to be mindful of environmental conditions that might lead to a heat related event that could cause a fall.

This is a short list of what our caregivers remind our clients of prior to a summertime excursion:

Drink plenty of water prior to the outing.
Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, at least SPF 50 or higher.
Wear a broad brim hat and loose, light colored clothing.
Limit the time you are in direct sunlight.
Try not to be out in the hottest part of the day.
When walking to the car, don’t touch it…IT’S HOT!

Some of the signs for heat exhaustion are:

Increased sweating
Quick onset of headaches.
Rapid and shallow breathing
Flushed face and moist skin

It’s best to treat for heat exhaustion by cooling the body slowly, getting into a cooler environment and wrap a cool wet towel around the neck.

Some signs of heat stroke are:

Altered mental status and confusion
Very hot skin
Nausea
Very rapid and shallow breathing

Treatment for heat stroke will be to remove the person to a cooler environment and use ice packs wrapped in a cloth and place them around the neck, ankles and wrists. It is important to note that heat stroke is a serious medical emergency and the caregiver should call 911 if a heat stroke is suspected. It also should be mentioned that for non-medical personnel the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke could be unrecognizable and that a call to 911 should be placed.

Heat related events don’t always occur outside. Our elders don’t feel the heat and cold the way younger folks do and many times they will not turn on the AC trying to save on utility expenses. Then they become overheated and under hydrated which could lead to dizziness and a fall.

It is important to keep an eye on our loved ones during the summer. Just a short phone call can give the family caregiver peace of mind and the senior a feeling of still be connected to the world.

Apostle’s Letter To His Home Church, Disabled Seeking Help, Abused, Happy Multiple Sclerosis Victims

Hey there – my worthy wife of many good years – Vivacious Vicki – “The Sandpaper Saint”!!!

Thank you for finding the time to pen your great – as you called it – “Little Epistle” about all three of my good – “God Sent Gifts” – my precious girls. I also want to thank you for updating me about our Home Church and the passing of some.

Our son, Douglas, was a “God Sent Gift” too – although not always recognized as such – except by the women whom he has shared the joys of absentee parenthood with. Yes, Douglas has contributed to God’s Great Plan for the gene pool on Planet Earth. Doug is the only viral man – that I’ve ever known – that has never made a pass at an attractive woman. Rather, woman are “Drawn To” my son ~ like flies are to honey. I should learn from him !!!

While I was very familiar with 90% of what you said, in your letter, I do appreciate you taking of your valuable time to write it all out long hand. As I have always appreciated, your penmanship is a real work of art. The only thing missing, from your 9-page letter, is your delightful leaf doodles around its edges.

If there is a recurrent theme to my typed reply, it is that of ecclesiastics. To Paraphrase “Everything is proceeding Exactly as it should…”

I’m “Glad” that “MY” Girls Came to AZ to see their biological father, Mario – ” Laid To Rest.” My Heike needed “Closure,” so did My Princess Heather, as likely you did too, my “Worthy Wife” for twice as long as you were his faithful wife. Mario only held you down for 10 years. I Never did. I never cheated on you – but rather – only loved you.

I doubt that Heike hit Mario in the nose – as she said that she would – the next time that she saw him. I am sure that by the time my Heike saw her biological father – in his burial box – she had already forgiven him for his actions toward her..

And I doubt that our abused Heather told Mario’s 2nd wife, Janice, what she really thought of her – or her mean daughter – that his obituary said was Mario’s surviving daughter. Heather, too, has a good forgiver.

In the final analysis, the only thing that matters is what Our Lord, Jesus, decides. He knows our heats. He knows if we have repented and truly changed.

How were you all received at his funeral???

Perhaps, it is small of me to say this, but I knew the moment that I shook your cheating x-husband’s hand, that I was destined to outlive him on this planet. That Mario’s imprudent losses would be my great gains, in that I would have both his gorgeous, faithful wife, and his “Real” loving daughters that would be adopted as my own.

As I stated then, Vicki, my girls are forever Miles’s. “Grafted” into “The Olive Tree” as were we gentiles “Grafted” into the original Olive Tree Of Abraham” – complete with all of God’s predominate promises and bountiful blessings.

Do you remember when I ordered a gross of pens with their names on them? Our girls were having problems at school, remembering to sign their papers with their new “Miles” name.

The pens said on their sides, “Property of Heather or Heike Miles”. I wonder if there are any of the pens still around.

Heike won her dad’s heart when she was but 4-years-old. Long before the adoption. We had just had her 4th birthday at your 1st condo that you moved to in Vancouver, WA, after being thrown out of Mario’s house in Sierra Vista.

I was shaving off my beard at the bathroom sink. Heike was sitting atop the closed toilet seat – watching me – when I looked over to see my little darling in tears.

“What’s the matter, Honey?” I asked her.

“I’m scared, Daddy,” she cried.

“What are you scared of, Baby?” I had to know.

“I’m scared That I won’t recognize you!!!” Heike blurted out.

I swept her up into my arms, cradled her in my left arm, like a football, and she helped me finish shaving.

I promised Heike right then and there, that “I will always be your Daddy.”

And – “I Am!!!”

Was I blessed or what??? Yes, I was most certainly blessed!!! This was also what my “Generous Lord” intended…

As I’ve formerly shared with you, my x-wife – by your volition – I have always maintained that I would fully recover from the debilitating effects of this “Dread Disease.” And – “I Am!!!”

Rome wasn’t built in a single day. Neither did my health become compromised overnight, either.

Rather, “A Most Gracious God allowed me to neglect my health for years – allowing me to learn some necessary lessons that I might – as “God’s Playfully Mischievous Apostle Rascal”- instruct others of “His Elect and Chosen Children” to have “The God Kind Of Faith” – recover their compromised health – and “Survive The Soon Coming Great Tribulation.”

You asked if my health is continuing to deteriorate.

The answer is, “Not at All!!!” Rather, I Am, “Continuing to improve – every day !!!” Yes, and my MS (Multiple Sclerosis) disabled body, too. LOL (Laugh Out Loud).

I Really did go through some “Very Rough Times” after my arrival here in AZ. The enemy tried hard to “Sift” me, rattle my faith, and convinced my loving siblings, that I was going to “Health Hell”, in a hand basket. It certainly “Looked” like it.

By “God’s Amazing Grace”, my faith never wavered. Neither did my “Confession” of complete health and healing – as per “The Word Of Almighty God” – The Holy Bible.

My “Great Brother, Robert,” really believed that I was “Delusional”, and, on several occasions, told me so.

At least 3 times each day, Rita would say through tears, “I am so sorry that you are so sick… Is there anything that I can do to make you more comfortable? Anything that I can get for you?”

I attempted to explain to Robert, that I Am “Confusional”. That it is he and “My Super Sister, Rita,” that are – in fact – “Confused”.

That God’s Word is always “True” – no matter how impossible it might appear – in the light of ones circumstances!!!

As the scripture says, “God Is not a man that He should lie.”

“By His Grace, I Am but His faithful servant, chosen before the beginning, to be “An Apostle,” during these “End Times.”

“Very simply, An Apostle is ‘A Sent One’ – sent to minister to the needs of those to whom God directs His servant massinger.”

Now, for some of the wonderful turns of events here:

My Health and Physical Mobility are dramatically improving!!! The day before yesterday, I was evaluated for physical therapy. Starting Monday, I will be receiving PT twice a week, transportation provided complements of AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Services) – this state’s program that parallels WA State’s Health Program for supplemental insurance – that pays the 20% co-pay that Medicare doesn’t.

They had turned me down before, but I have now been “Approved,” thanks to my two MD’s 2nd letters and again submitting the health evaluation completed by Earth Angel, Terry (Savage) Eaton – up there – in January. This was only last week. “Praise The Lord”!!!

The day before that, I put the raised toilet booster seat – that I’d purchased here in AZ – into the storage shed – as I no longer need it – with my health and mobility improving so fast.

Much of this is the result of a supplement that I have begun taking once more, Ambrotrose.

You may remember back when I was still a workaholic? We had moved from our 2400 sq ft home in Washougal into the handicapped assessable condo that we purchased on the hill overlooking Vancouver.

Only 3 blocks from our River City Brokers Real Estate Office – I could ride my newly acquired used handicapped scooter in to work on those days that I didn’t have any appointments to list or sell homes – which required me to drive the “Caddi”.

Anyway, My Earth Angel friend, David Bushard had insisted that I begin taking a supplement that had been reported to help suffers of MS (Multiple Sclerosis). God had told David that he should introduce me to the product – which David – whom listens to “The Holy Spirit – did do.

Reluctantly, I began taking the tasteless, expensive health supplement – for a couple of months – before deciding that I didn’t need it. I maintained that God would “Miraculously Heal Me” – without any help of conventional methods.

Big Mistake !!! Much later, The Lord did heal me “Miraculously” heal me of “Total Incontinence” – using 20-30 disposable briefs each day – but I needed to learn that Almighty God Often uses others of His Infinite health and healing methods – that are “Less Romantic” – yet none the less – “Miraculous.”

So, when Rita and I went to a presentation, here in Show Low, about a product that was said to reverse symptoms of MS, I was surprised and delighted that the product was the same one that I’d taken – used in conjunction with other of that company’s vitamins.

We met a local lady, Mary, whom – after only 6 months of use – was totally free of all symptoms of disabling Multiple Sclerosis. She had been as crippled up and health compromised as I still was. Mary was bouncing around – without crutches – like a ping-pong ball.

I spent the $130.00 for my 1st – 5 oz – jar of the supplement. I am finishing up taking my 2nd jar – in 1 month. To the delight and astonishment of my siblings, I Am Getting Well!!! “God Is Good – ALL Of The Time”!!!

I do not yet “Sell or Offer” the products on my new websites ~ that I’ve yet to set up ~ but I will when I can muster the $1,300.00 or so that a Full Affiliates Dealership costs.

This Is Now Monday Night …

PT was great today!!! My Physical Therapist said that he will order me a new leg brace, for my “Foot Drop” problem, to use until my complete recovery.

I said, “We’ll see. I no longer have any edema. Being wheelchair confined, thanks to my placating Joy – my girlfriend/caregiver – and not “Wallwalking” after we moved into that nice 2-bedroom Vancouver apartment, caused me massive edema in my legs.

I find it amazing how foolish that we males become – after we “Decide” to Love a Lady. Many women want to emasculate their males. Then when the “Meathead Men” allow it, the women are no longer interested. Such was the story of my nearly 3 year adventure with Joy.

Tomorrow, I get my new teeth, thanks to Karin Grandon of of “Independent Living Program”.

As you, Vicki, and others of my EzineArticles readers will want to know, this federally funded program is administered by the states. It is awesome!!!

In AZ, Karin is my “Rehabilitation Counselor.” She may be e-mail reached at: [email protected]

Or by Phone: (928) 779-4147.

You, my x-wife, have always been interested in helping 0thers. Now, by finding the WA state program, you will be able to assist many with disabilities.

The focus of the program is to help physically impaired persons to “Get Out There” and to “Enjoy A Better Quality Of Life…”

Once Again, I Am Blessed!!!

Upon arriving in AZ, on my handicapped scooter, via Amtrak – my health did rapidly decline for about 5 months. Sleeping out in the cold back porch/office did not do me any good. With my MS, an electric blanket caused my mylin to melt and further disabled me.

“What? Am I Nuts?” I asked myself.

“No. Just a little slow to catch on, my Rascal,” The Holy Ghost answered.

I began sleeping beneath a heavy quilt, breathing on my hands to keep them a little warmer.

As my Revo scooter, made by Pride, purchased by Medicare was too big to use inside Rita and Robert’s mobile home – it having already chewed the moldings off the narrow door casings – I had to leave it out in the uninsulated, unheated back office where I continued to sleep because the couch was to low for me to get off of in the night. Inside, I managed,poorly, to use my 4-wheeled walker.

Karin’s program paid for a new “Buz Around Lite” handicapped scooter. It was too small and inexpensive to qualify for Medicare payment when I selected my Revo – the smallest and most transportable scooter that qualified.

Robert had been very depressed, despite his success with his “Fastwalkers” movie. Mostly, my brother laid in the bathtub and read novels.

After my telling him that “My Lord would provide me with a venue by which obtain everything that I need for health, comfort, and prosperity” – that, “My Lord shall provide all of my needs, as according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” – and upon seeing my new scooter arrive – via an unheard of before program, Robert “Arose From The Death Of Depression,” to begin work on converting the outside office to an also nice bedroom for me.

Where he had become ultra conservative for several years, my Big Brother became “Bigger Than Life” once more!!! Robert was back to being my Big Bro’. He began charging the materials to build and remodel my room on his credit card. “Depression Died!” God won again!!!

Karin’s program paid my brother over $2,700.00 to reimburse Robert for the materials that he had purchased – for the improvements to make me more comfortable – and to build a safe handicapped porch with good ramp for my new scooter.

It is now 1:07 A.M. and I have just returned from outside on my new porch where I “Praised The Lord.” It had rained, earlier. God reminded me that even when we cannot see the the stars, when they are obscured by dark clouds, that the Lord’s Super Stars are still there.

Yes, they await those who by “Faith” believe in the clouds moving away for a “Bright Tomorrow,” continuing to “Hope” for it. As Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not yet seen.”

You said in your 9 page, hand written letter, Vicki, “That this might turn into, a short, fat epistle from me just to cover the basics of what Cassie has been up to – also some about the girls & myself (H & H I mean).” Well, I have it on good authority, that this – my typed snail-mail reply to you – is destined to appear together with my fellow “End Times Apostle’s, Paul Of Tarsus, gospel in the Millennium era Bible. The Holy Spirit told me this.

Like Paul’s 1st Corinthians, the length and diversity of subjects covered, this and some others of my ezine articles, may be divided by the translators into “Chapters,” and God only knows how many languages will be in use during that next 1,000 years.

Whatever, we will be with Our Lord, Jesus, “Ruling” and “Reigning” – teaching God’s next generation of “Children” – born on His New Planet Earth.

Now, back to my other blessings. I Am seated before my new computer, in my “Spic & Span” office/bedroom.

My new 2-hours a week – government paid for – “Housekeeper”, was here for her 1st time – on Monday – also. It’s a far cry from the 154 hours per month “Caregiver” hours allotted to Joy – for my personal care and maintenance – and then to Heather – by the state of WA when I lived up there. But AZ is not so generous with “Man Hours.”

None the less, I do appreciate this blessing, my clean vacuumed carpet floor, sweet smelling laundered clothing, spotlessly cleaned bathroom, and fresh changed sheeted bed.

Soon, God willing, there will appear “Some Special Someone” to share – my now empty bed – with me. It’s been a long time. The longest time, since my grade school, that I have ever slept by myself – 7 months – without a loving, wonderful female – to keep my feet warm. “This too shall pass…”

It has “Passed” for my brother. When I arrived here in AZ, Robert was still somewhat involved with the “Reiki” woman that I had introduced him to – in Phoenix – 6 years ago.

She had used her “Powers” to hold my Bro’ in “Emotional Bondage” until I expressed my understanding to him and prayed The Lord release Robert. I didn’t tell my good brother about my payer. Yet, within a very few days, Robert had broken free of her bondage, and has not seen her since.

Rather, the Lord has sent his “Soulmate,’ Earth Angel, Judy, to love him and to “Enhance Robert’s Hopes”- while meeting his every emotional and physical need. Judy is a “Redheaded Doll.” Having met on an Internet dating site, Robert and Judy were “Meant To Be Together,” just as we were, for a long time.

I truly believe that an all knowing God chooses whom we will become involved with and committed to for “His Purposes” and our personal growth.

They are in Central America – for 3 weeks – to find and to secure a place for “Some Of God’s Children,” like me.

About Brother Robert, he Skyped me from Nicaragua to say the he and Judy are engaged. We talk nearly every day when my little used computer is not broken down. With free long distance and webcams, we’re able to stay in touch, while they find a place for themselves and Rita and I also.

Robert an Judy say that “This Is Paradise!!!” It is the least expensive country on Planet Earth to live. The towns and islands are much like the ones that we visited when we took our Caribbean Cruise.

I am wrapping up the details of selling their mobile home “By Owner” for Robert and Rita. So we should all be moved to the Western Caribbean by sometime in October. Cassie can come visit her Rascal Daddy there, next year.

I am very proud of our Cas’ for finding a way to graduate this year. She might want to consider some of the respected Universities in Central America to finish her education?

You said in your letter, Vicki, that I don’t need to worry about you bugging me… Contact with you has always been a pleasure for me. Without your help, I’d have been in deep-do-do many times more often than I’ve been. Please know that I do love and respect you.

I admire your ability to make and stand by your decisions. I may not always agree with you but, none the less, your heart s good and you’ve never intentionally hurt me, or anyone else, that I can remember.

You have helped many!!!

I apologize for this snail-mail reply taking so long to arrive. I have had infinite problems keeping the small, cheap computer that I acquired after my good computer could not work here in AZ upon arrival.

This letter was 2/3 complete 3 days after I received yours. As of only yesterday, I am operational. Oh, yes, the “Rehabilitation Program” that I shared with you, paid for a printer, is ordering me new hearing aids & more, so that I may be fully operational.

I can’t understand why do do not have yourself online. We could keep in closer communication, if you wanted too, and the world would be yours also. More importantly, you have so much to offer others in the way of sound advice.

Your Love for Our Lord, Jesus, is evidenced by your commitments to helping others, as I hope that, to some degree, I too am able to do thanks to God’s linking His Earth Angels and Ministries up via cyberspace and computers. I learned , long ago, not to tell you what to do. But you need to “Roll-over” on this one, for yourself, and the good of God’s People on this Planet. You should be writing and publishing your wise understandings as ezine articles, from which others may glean insight and/or understanding, I believe, Vicki.

Please give my love to my great girls, and say hi to others involved in our Home Church there, for me.

Yours ~ “For the time intended,”

LuV Ya 🙂

Rascal Russ :))

Rascal Russ Miles ~ An Apostle ~ recognizes that God ~ and His Earth-Man Creations ~ Love To LOL (Laugh Out Loud). He is God’s “Playfully Mischievous Apostle, Rascal”.

Author of the novel, For Sale By Owners:FSBO, A “Seasoned Real Estate NAR® Broker,” Rascal Russ was ~ for 15 to 20 hard years ~ increasingly disabled by “Incurable” Multiple Sclerosis. Now “Cured” of his most problematical symptom, “Total Incontinence” (using 20-30 disposable diapers each day), Rascal writes books & articles on varied subjects. He uses NO Prescription Medicines, listens to God, and Rascal ‘s health improves daily.

Time Saving Tips For Applying For A Job

So, you’re looking for a job, you’ve started researching where to apply for jobs, and your resume and cover letters are ready to go. Does this mean that you’re ready to start applying? Maybe, maybe not. Being prepared is essential to saving you time and energy, and helping you get as many applications out as quickly as possible.

Most job applications will ask for specific information, some will not. I have found that most companies want you to enter information into their format. Having this information readily available will expedite the applying process, especially when detailed information is requested. Here are some examples I have come across:

Education

Many applications I have filled out ask for the details of my education. This includes:

The school name
Degree type
Major (sometime even the minor)
Dates attended
And even my GPA for that program in some instances

Company Information

I usually see requests for the details of my previous (and current) company, such as:

Company name
Address
Phone number
Supervisor’s name
Supervisor’s phone number
Dates employed
Responsibilities (occasionally this space only allows for a couple of sentences)
Beginning and ending wages, including bonuses or commissions (some ask for yearly wages and some ask for hourly wages)
Reason for leaving

Gaps in Employment

Most companies I apply to specifically ask for an explanation of any gaps in employment. Even if this is due to unemployment, which many people have suffered from, I recommend listing something else that you were doing without saying ‘I was unemployed,’ such as: personal travel, family or home management, primary caregiver for terminally ill relative, etc. Just be honest whether you are asked to explain this on an application or in an interview.

References

Some companies will request references directly in the job application. The number of requested references varies by company, but my experience has been that three references are the norm. The information requested is usually not required, but can include:

Reference name
How you know that person
How many years you have known each other
Address
Phone Number
Email address

Letters of Recommendation

Some sites that allow an individual to create a profile for a job search will typically give a place where letters of recommendation, cover letters, and any other pertinent information can be uploaded and saved in the profile.

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Gathering all of this information each time you are filling out an application can be daunting, and time consuming. Gathering this information ahead of time can save a great deal of time, especially when applying to several jobs. I have a saved draft in my email that includes all of this information in a list so I can copy and paste where I am able to, but above all so I can find the information quickly and easily.

Home Based Business Opportunity – Review Article Number 8

Looking for a home based business opportunity? Check out four options listed below:

1. Phoenix 5 Global Tracking (P5-GT) – P5-GT is a global company with two decades of experience in monitoring everything from packages to pets. This company offers distributorships to individuals who would like to work from home. They have state-of-the-art technology that gives consumers and businesses alike the ability to track almost anything. A steep investment for a work from home business, but P5-GT is in an industry that is growing.

Cost to get involved: $59,000

2. Marathon of Miracles – If you’ve never heard or read about this wonderful organization, I suggest you check out their website. I lost my first wife to cancer, and I can tell you that I am personally passionate about what these folks are doing. They are currently looking for area managers to promote their programs to both the private as well as the public sector. There is no experience required for this opportunity, and if you or someone you love has been impacted by cancer (and who hasn’t at some level?), this may be the perfect home based business opportunity for you.

Cost to get involved: $500-$1,500

3. Travel Anytime Anywhere (TAA) – As a home based TAA independent rep., you will simply show others how they can take advantage of travel discounts (up to 75% in some cases) by becoming a member of their “members-only” vacation club. ATT allows you to operate your own travel business right from home with a relatively small investment and the potential to start making money right away. The Better Business Bureau has received absolutely zero complaints about this company, which is always a great indicator of a legitimate home based business opportunity.

Cost to get involved: $599-$1,199

4. ElderCareResourcesUSA – Over one and a half million seniors are currently receiving in-home care, and this number is expected to double in the next eight years. ElderCareResourcesUSA has become one of the top-rated resource websites for seniors and caregivers. They will provide you with support, marketing and technology, plus unlimited earning potential. A pretty heavy investment, but an opportunity to get involved with a top-rated organization in one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

Cost to get involved: $15,000

Never rely solely on the recommendation of someone else when you’re looking at a prospective home based business opportunity – not even mine! Make sure you always do your due diligence, and ask yourself these four questions:

1. Is this really a legitimate business?

2. Is this an opportunity that would be “fun” for me?

3. Can I afford this opportunity?

4. Does this business afford me the opportunity to meet my long-term financial goals?

Understanding How Comparative Fault Can Affect Compensation For Injury Claims

Arizona is a comparative fault state. This means, in Arizona everybody is held responsible for their share of the injury that was caused. Therefore, you will often see cases where even though the owner of the property created a dangerous condition or allowed it to exist and it therefore caused an injury, they will still argue that the person who fell should have paid more attention and should have been able to avoid the injury.

Therefore, we get into a question of comparative fault for a personal injury claim relating to a slip and fall accident. If somebody were to believe that since the owner or possessor of land knew about the condition-or even created it-that they have the majority of responsibility but felt that the person who fell had a small amount of responsibility, then how does that work in terms of compensation for the person who was injured?

The way it works is that everybody is responsible for their exact percentage of fault. If the person who fell is found to be 20 percent at fault and the person who owned the property is found to be 80 percent at fault, the person who was injured loses 20 percent of the compensation that they would have otherwise received.

You can expect that in almost every case-even where it should not be done-a negligent dependent will try to blame the person who was injured. They will almost always make this argument because they can argue that “you should have looked where you were going”, or something along those lines. Even 10 percent of fault on the person who was hurt has a significant impact on the amount of compensation actually received by the injury victim.

We all have a responsibility to avoid causing injury to other people. The person who owns property holds that same duty to others. To enforce this point, Arizona has passed what is known as the APSA laws. The “Adult Protective Services Act” in Arizona is created and designed to help make sure that those who live in nursing home and assisted care facilities in Tucson, Phoenix, and throughout the state of Arizona are protected. These laws can be used to hold caregivers accountable for their actions in slip and fall cases, among other incidents as well.

When a property owner is negligent in allowing a condition to exist or in creating a condition that is unreasonably dangerous and may cause injury to the innocent person, it is important that an experienced Tucson slip and fall injury lawyer be brought in to make sure that they are held accountable and to protect the rights of the person who has already been wrongly injured as a result. Contact Breyer Law Offices, P.C., today for a free consultation of your slip and fall injury case by calling 602-978-6400.

Looking For a Nanny – How Much Will it Really Cost Me Today?

One of the important considerations in looking for a nanny is the charges and fees one has to pay. If on a budget, as most families are in these trying times of economic uncertainty, a value-for-money arrangement is foremost on their minds.

According to surveys done in 2003-2004, live-in nannies get an average weekly pay of $532 and live-out nannies get $590 per week. Nanny wages vary from state to state, city to city. Current top-paying locations for live-out sitters include New York City ($500-$1600), Washington DC ($425-$1200), Los Angeles ($450-$1100) and Seattle ($275-$1100); markets in these places are seen as glamorous. On the other hand, smaller cities are the likes of Phoenix ($550-$1000) and Dallas ($600-$775). The lowest wages were reported in Atlanta ($375-$750) and Pittsburgh ($410-$550). However, the surveys cannot be considered indicative of prevailing rates in these locations but more of a floor and ceiling (highest and lowest) pattern. And looking at the figures will show the difference is not that big.

When looking for a nanny, determine how she will be paid. Will it be by the hour, day or week? Compensation is also based on several factors- the caregiver’s level of training, the experience she has had, the duties you will assign to her and the length of her workday/week. If you are in it for the long haul, pay the nanny accordingly.

Stories abound about the neglect and abuse of babysitters towards their wards. Such tragedies make a lot of parents wary about hiring strangers whom they will entrust their precious kids to. Often, these are the consequence of getting a nanny who is unknown and will settle for low wages. Such incidents can be avoided by hiring professional nannies who are registered with reputable agencies. Even if the money you will pay is more, the peace of mind and security you get will be well worth it.

Get rid of the mental anguish and anxiety when putting your child in the hands of a nanny you are not too sure about. Go to the trusted nanny agency when looking for a nanny!

Find out how smart moms save on sitters without sacrificing baby’s safety. Start looking for a nanny [http://www.nannies-sitters.com/]. Log on to the best-reviewed baby sitting agencies online and learn how to find a babysitter [http://www.howtofindababysitter.com/] with reasonable rates for your baby.

Annual Utah Senior Expo Come Celebrate “Living Well” at the 9th Annual Utah Senior Exposition

The Utah Senior Expo 2006 boasted over 8,000 attendees and nearly 160 exhibiting organizations filling more than 200 booths. These were record numbers for the Senior Expo and this year’s event may be even better.

As always, the Utah Senior Expo features free admission, more than 25 free medical screenings, exhibits, bingo, prizes, free transportation, and an environment for seniors and caregivers to access the information and resources they need without pressure. In keeping with the “Health and Fitness” theme, this year’s Utah Senior Expo will feature a Focus on Fitness area where seniors can experience and watch demonstrations of a variety of exercises and recreational activities.

Experts on fitness will be on hand to offer personalized information on maintaining a healthy senior lifestyle. Come out and dance to your favorite music of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s Friday night from 5-10 p.m. as music will be provided courtesy of the Phoenix Jazz and Swing Band.

This local band, made up of retired musicians and other professionals, has been playing together since 1990 and will entertain audiences of all ages. Salt Lake County Aging Services, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Humana, and United Healthcare are proud to sponsor the Medicare Pavilion.

The pavilion will offer information for prescription drug benefits as part of Medicare. Pavillion events are provided to help educate those people with Medicare, and prepare them for the upcoming Medicare Part D open enrollment period November 15 through December 31.