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Truth Telling From The Trenches With Etiquette Consultant Sandi MacCalla

My career path does not look like a path. I have been blessed to be offered education and work that resonates with my spirit so that work is rarely "work" for me. I've always done well in organizations because my mind-set is that of an owner. I'm detailed and yet have a big-picture perspective. I've excelled in several disciplines: administrative, sales/marketing, operations, community governance, executive teamwork. Some have called me a work-aholic...I'm just highly interested in making work "work" very well for clients, my organization and staff. I lean toward project development/design/implementation versus project maintenance. Industries have varied from Space Exploration, Transportation (air, truck, bulk commodities), Custom Clothing, Homeowners Association Management.

Where is your business located?

Redmond, WA

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I became a Certified Etiquette Consultant in 1997, coached by Maria Everding of The Etiquette Institute, St. Louis, MO. Most of Maria's focus was on finishing school etiquette for young ladies, altho she had course materials for young men. I taught her classes in Seattle for young men & women at The Bon Marche (now Macy's), downtown Seattle and Bellevue. Her program has since been sold and I developed Etiquette For You from much of her well-developed practices. Etiquette is not the only skill needed for young people, so I have also started LifeSkills Academie (LSA) to teach youth basic life skills: financial, personal organization, social skills, nutrition/cooking, fitness, public speaking and we are adding more as we grow. We are collaborating with a local private school to provide this educational platform to their current students K-12. We are asking seasoned, successful business leaders to participate in educating others on sound life skill principles.

What is the first thing you do in the morning?

My cat commands my attention first thing...after all, it has been a whole 8-12 hours since the fresh infusion of his favorites. I alternate physical fitness activities between a body-weight stepper, walking or yoga. Over breakfast (smoothie & protein bar), I watch a motivational Christian broadcast to get my brain tuned for the day, read several devotionals to infuse God's promises/wisdom and often get clear directives of what is ahead and how to approach my day.

What does your work day look like and how do you maximize your productivity?

I start my day the night before...checking my schedule, insuring I have all the components needed, pick out my clothes and syncing up my plans. I don't make good decisions first thing in the morning, so, even if I'm dog-tired, I'm better to prep all I need the night before. I map out activities on my calendar to accomplish them timely and to assure I have the time needed. Sometimes, I do push myself to do what I call "911" preparation - waiting until it's an emergency or last minute. I unfortunately think more strategically and productively when I'm on a deadline. Often, I will streamline and execute projects/work more efficiently in this mode.

How do you bring your great business ideas to the world to serve your clients?

I am a "connector." I enjoy a reasonable share of networking, idea-sharing, information gathering and relationship building. My approach with others is to engage their expertise/wisdom with what I'm on task to accomplish so that partnerships can begin and relationships can build. I have a keen listening skill and hear what others may be seeking; and I'm more than happy to share resources/opportunities that may benefit others.

What is one trend in business that excites you?

I am always interested in progress, innovation, cutting edge strategies. When I hear that a process/technology/product is being scrapped because of a downside aspect, I always feel that they are only half-done with the development piece. To me, all innovation needs to be explored not for what it can do now, but how it can morph into a stepping stone of the next phase and continue to provide improvement.

What is one strategy that helped you grow your business?

The single-most strategy of growth for me is: to not give up. Always evaluate/measure what is not working and keep at it until it does. There is an answer and a solution. My businesses have needed my focus on the "prize" regardless of the challenges I am dealing with.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

In hindsight, I'd say my repetitive failure has been giving up and thinking I'm "barking up the wrong tree" (whatever that means!). That isn't to say that I should keep standing in the hallway, banging on a closed door, and being obstinate. It does mean I need to keep my sights on the "prize" and venture out to find the right path to it; not to give up what's on my heart/deep desire because of many negative thoughts and fears.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to this community?

I am convinced that the key to success is to assist our buying clients to make educated choices, hear what they are attempting to do, partner with them in their efforts and cheer them on when they succeed. Selling/challenging/driving buying decisions is another form of bullying and is often only marginally successful...for both sides.

What is the best $100 you have recently spent? on What? Why?

I'm not sure I have a clear answer for this question at this time.

What is one piece of software or app that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

My calendar, Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Publisher).

My calendar is my sidekick that allows me to keep all working toward my goals. Microsoft Office has many tools that I use normally and allow me to be a proficient business person.

What is the best business book you have read? Why?

I actually have 2:

1) The Language of Trust - Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics by Michael Maslansky (resonates with my style of doing business) and;

2) Work the System by Sam Carpenter (keeps me focused on a system that works for me).

What is your favorite quote?

Quality has no fear of time.

I have no idea who said this or where it comes was just something that I cut out of a magazine as I was story-boarding my values probably 30-40 years ago.

Who inspires you in business and why?

I am inspired by those who teach/inspire through speaking (public seminars, etc.). I still hold out for getting that skill fine tuned and under my belt. I have received so much from those who have done this and would love to give back to others this same way.

What are your thoughts on work-life balance?

This is a very individual concept. As far as I know, there is no magic formula that applies to all. At the end of the day, it comes down to following what each of us finds to be a balance of what we value in our lives. I'm not even sure there are any wrong answers/formulas in this concept.

What are the 3 business lessons you’ve learned so far?

  1. Integrity (doing what you say you will do or not doing what you will not do) is to be protected, executed as a discipline and treasured as a personal value.

  2. Understanding and learning about what drives others and their values is so important to building relationships and doing business.

  3. Discipline carries the day, every day. It's the promise one makes to themselves to succeed.

What is your workspace like?

I am blessed to have a one room office with a full bathroom in my home. This allows me to have full focus on my work space and time. It is light, airy and I have all my resources centralized for access and ease of use.

Organization is a constant activity and my early administrative training is very helpful. There are times when I am overwhelmed and spend a little too much energy on systems...and yet, I am grateful for being well organized and a bit compulsive.

Last thing you do at the end of your work day?

Turn off the lights...just kidding! As mentioned earlier, I do all my prep for the next day (or more) at the end of the day. I'm more effective when I know all is in order for my next day.

I also take some time to review what worked during my work day, what I'm grateful for (sometimes write it down), read a devotional and have a conversation with my Maker.

What is the one thing you can't leave home without?

My phone! My life is pretty much on my phone.

What superpower would you love to have to use for good?

The power to inspire others to live their best life. I know that sounds like Oprah Winfrey...and she and I are not the same...although I think we may be fixated on a similar sense of excellence...for everyone!

Number of unread emails right now?


Anything else you want to add?

My system of unread emails may need some explanation: I leave some emails as unread because they are either active/important to refer back to or they are information resources. While I have files to save info into, I am judicious in not filing just to file.

The last thing to add: None of us is alone, nor should we sequester ourselves in our work endeavors. We have amazing resources at our fingertips through other people and I have not yet had anyone tell me that they don't want to talk about things they are very interested in. I love today's message that the world needs what we each have to bring forward. I really think this is true and that our uniqueness has cousins out there that want to connect and cheer us on.

How can other entrepreneurs connect with you?

The best email:

Text works also: 425-209-9952

Facebook Page:

Facebook Group:

Facebook Group: Linkedin: Twitter:​ Instagram:


If you are reading this and are interested in being featured in the Truth Telling from the Trenches series - apply here.

#etiquette #debbiepage #women #truth #businesscoaching #consultant #entrepreneur #feature

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