Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Long live the Energizer bunny

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The Energizer bunny finally powered down. My 97-year-old mother-in-law, Helen, passed away Oct. 5.

People who read this and did not know Helen will say, “Ah, well, she lived a long life.” And she did. What they don’t know, however, is that up until the end, she was the Energizer bunny—always on the go, full of 97-year-old energy and pep, never wanting to quit. My former co-workers gave her that name, because it seemed that whenever she was down, she got up again.

It has been a tough summer for her. She thought she could undo the consequences of her age through surgery. Instead, the surgery to repair her bladder turned out badly and took a grave toll on her health. Determined, however, she exercised daily until she built up enough energy to return to “school” (the senior center). Then, one day, she announced she wanted to visit her brother and extended family in rural North Carolina. My husband took her there, and that is where she passed away—in the house where she grew up.

They say each of us goes through five stages of grief—anger being one of those stages. I admit that several days after Helen passed away, I began to feel an emotion unfamiliar to me. It was anger. I was angry because Helen had not given us the opportunity to say good-bye.

A few days before she died, her brother took her to the ER, where they diagnosed an inoperable problem. The doctors told her she was dying, and she said she understood. But she didn’t accept it. Instead, she kept fighting to live. Up until the end, the night before she passed away, as she complained about pain (her pain pills had not kicked in), she said, “Take me to the hospital. There has to be something the doctors can do to keep me living!”

But, there wasn’t. And by the next evening, she was gone. She missed the chance for us to say “we love you.” And she missed the chance to say good-bye.

Death is the one certainty we all are guaranteed to experience. I loved my mother-in-law, and I think I am over the anger I felt at her not accepting her finality. I hope, though, that when my time comes, I will have the opportunity to say good-bye to those who mean the most to me. As the “serenity prayer” goes, “accept the things you cannot change.”

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions


High healthcare costs? Get rid of simple inefficiencies—and greed

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

We wonder what is wrong with our healthcare system. We wonder why costs are so astronomical. It’s not difficult to understand. Just look at the inefficiencies—and the greed. They are everywhere.

The inefficiencies start with recordkeeping. Every time my husband has taken his 97-year-old mother to the hospital it is the same story: He has to provide the same information to the intake worker. An admission that should take no more than a few minutes and the click of a mouse, ends up taking at least 30 minutes, with the intake worker inputting the information anew. Doesn’t the hospital know that every time data is input, the opportunity to introduce errors (or omissions) increases? Duh.

Other inefficiencies also are due to recordkeeping and the inability of agencies to share information (with permission, of course). When my mother-in-law was discharged from rehab/nursing home last week, a home-healthcare nurse was supposed to visit. Once they finally came out, the nurse took down all of the information that was available from the nursing home (and the hospital). Could she have accessed records and merely updated information?

We had to fire that agency because they were unreliable. We hired another, which had come out to our home several times in the past—so it had the healthcare records. What was the first thing the nurse did? You guessed it: She took down, by hand, all of the information. Why didn’t she have the records with her? And why couldn’t there have been a sharing between agencies?

It’s actually worse than I describe: This nurse had a computer. I did not see what she was looking at. It could have been my mother-in-law’s records, or it could have been some government or agency forms. Whatever it was, she copied what she was reviewing on screen to a handwritten form!

And of course, there is greed. In my previous post, “Just because you can…” I commented on the ethics of the doctor who performed multiple surgeries on my mother-in-law and left her much worse off than she was before she went to him initially. I am convinced it was greed, allowed by the system, that encouraged him to do those things. And I find it extremely interesting that Medicare recipients get just enough rehab to take them through the end of Medicare coverage—whether they need it or not!

We need a complete overhaul of our medical system. I am disappointed that Mr. Obama has caved in to the pharmaceutical, medical, and insurance industries and abdicated the only thing that makes sense: a single-payer system. Sure, that would require a completely new paradigm of how we “do” healthcare. But, that is what we need. The system as it is “working” today costs us too much in too many ways.

It is time to change.

Just because you can…

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. That piece of ethical sense seems to escape a lot of people—especially in the medical community.


How about the artificial insemination that resulted in octuplets being born to a single mother (with no means to support her children) who already had sextuplets from a previous artificial insemination? Wasn’t that a breach of medical ethics?


It can be argued that such cases of medical ethics are not mine to judge. I can, however, judge something much closer to home: The medical treatment of my 96-year-old mother-in-law.


For a person her age, she is in remarkably good health. She gets up early every morning; puts on makeup; and take a mini-bus to the senior center. Once a week she arranges a mini-bus ride to have her hair done. She exercises on the Gazelle every day. And when the weather cooperates, she takes a walk around the neighborhood, pushing her walker and resting when she needs to.

She is like the pink bunny in the battery commercial: She just keeps on going.


Although she looks at least 15 years young than her age, her body almost 97 years old. And inevitably, it is wearing down. She is unrealistic does not want to accept that fact. She believes that problems—such as her urinary incontinence—can be fixed the same as they were when she was 75. So she asked a urologist to fix the problem.


He tried some relatively noninvasive procedures, which did not work (no surprise). Then instead of saying “no” to her request, he agreed to perform a surgical procedure to fix the problem.


In a younger woman, the type of surgery he proposed is considered safe, easy, and effective—in and out of the hospital in 24 hours. But for an almost-centurion? Not so.


Here is what happened:

  • He performed the procedure and claimed it went well. He didn’t notice, however, that she began talking with a crooked mouth—sign of a possible TIA (mini-stroke).

  • A neurologist ordered a CAT scan to look for stroke damage. (Although she did not have a stroke, the droopy lip persists.)

  • She spent five days in the hospital, then the urologist sent her home without regard for physical therapy and with a catheter in place. (Geriatric patients lose muscle tone very quickly lying in bed and require rehabilitative therapy.)

  • Two days home, she came down with pneumonia-like symptoms and had to go back into the hospital.

  • The internist treated her chest congestion and she stayed in the hospital for another five days.

  • While she was in the hospital, the urologist removed the catheter and released her (at our insistence) to a rehab center.

  • At 11 p.m. the evening of her release, she was sent to the ER with severe bladder spasms.

  • She was readmitted to the hospital, and two days later, the urologist performed a second major procedure to undo part of his surgery in order to relieve the bladder spasms. (That is major surgery No. 2 within 10 days.)

  • Three days later, still in the hospital, she again experienced bladder spasms. The urologist took her in for her third major surgery to undo everything he should not have done in the first place.

  • She was finally released to go to the rehab center—still with a catheter.

The prognosis? She may require a permanent catheter—a condition much worse than she had had prior to the first surgery.

Three major surgeries within less than three weeks. Almost three weeks in the hospital. Weeks to be spent in rehab. And possibly a major physical limitation.


And we wonder why our healthcare bills are so high!


Was that doctor a namby-pamby—unable to say “no” to a patient?


Was he ignorant of the special needs of the elderly?


Or was he just money-hungry and wanted to take Medicare and her excellent insurance for all it would pay?


I don’t know the surgeon’s motivations. All I know is that I am angry. I am not opposed providing good quality healthcare to the elderly. I am opposed to doctors’ doing needless procedures whose risks outweigh the benefits.


This blog entry did not have anything to do with communication, but I felt a need to write it.


Until next time,
Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

Some thoughts on employee loyalty

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I read an article recently stating that job seekers should never disclose to prospective employers anything that might suggest they were disloyal to their former employer. That started me thinking …


Employers expect loyalty from their employees. Not an unrealistic expectation, I think – except some employers have a skewed understanding of loyalty.


For example: Is an employee disloyal if he:

  • Writes a book on his own time, after work hours?

  • Takes a part-time job (which does not interfere with his regular work)
  • Continues to be friends with a former co-worker who left either voluntarily or was fired?
  • Talks about retirement plans, which are two years into the future?
  • Discusses with co-workers how things could be improved at work?
  • Decides not to participate in an after-hours drinking party arranged by the boss?

To my way of thinking, none of these things shows disloyalty. Yet, over the years I’ve known employers who expect their employees to “live” their jobs 24/7, never question decisions, never leave, and to cut off all communication with former co-workers because anyone who has left is disloyal.


So, what is loyalty?


Loyalty is more than merely staying with an employer. I believe loyalty is giving full commitment and energy to an employer throughout the entire working day, being faithful to the company by never doing it any harm and always working toward its success, and not bad-mouthing it to outsiders.


In other words, loyalty is working a full day for a day’s pay and respecting the person (entity) who signs the paycheck.


A person is not disloyal because he has a life outside of the office. And an employee is not disloyal just because he wants the workplace to be better.


Employers who question their employees’ loyalty should look at how loyal they themselves are to their staff, because loyalty does not travel down a one-way street. And they should consider these truisms:

  • Disagreement is not disloyalty. Disagreement encourages a diversity of opinions and better solutions to problems.

  • People who live a balanced life are more productive than those who are workaholics. People who live only their jobs eventually burn out, and burn out leads to disgruntlement and lower productivity.

  • Employees who remain with a company because they are afraid to leave are likely to be less productive than those who stay because they like working for the company. Fear in any form has no place in the workplace.

  • Loyalty is not a given. It must be earned.

Until next time,

Linda Segall

Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

A word about workaholism

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

If you had to choose between these two job applicants, whom would you pick?

  • Employee A, who works 16-hour days and weekends, is tethered to his laptop, suffers withdrawal when his cell lindaphone battery dies, and checks voice mails and e-mails every 30 minutes even while sitting on the beach in Hawaii? Or,

  • Employee B, who works diligently and conscientiously, is willing to put in extra if a true crisis develops, but shuts off her computer at 5 p.m. and spends the weekend with family and friends, never thinking about work?

The smart choice is Employee B. You’ll get more out of her (or him) in the long run.


Workaholism is as much an addiction as alcoholism. The similarities are striking:


  • An alcoholic usually starts off as a social drinker who enjoys getting a little buzz-on. A workaholic usually starts off as an ambitious employee, putting in a little overtime and enjoying the attention he gets.

  • The alcoholic tries to sneak drinks when she thinks no one is looking; the workaholic tries to sneak in work when he thinks he is alone.

  • Alcoholics try to control everything in their environment. So do workaholics. With them, the control is manifested by a lack of delegation.

  • A person in the throes of alcoholism becomes paranoid that everyone is trying to “do” him in. An employee in the throes of workaholism becomes paranoid that he is going to be fired if he lets up.

  • An alcoholic gives up everything — friends, family, and fun — for the bottle. A workaholic gives up everything — friends, family, and fun — for work.

The analogy goes on, but you get the idea.


The problem is this: People die from alcoholism. And people die from workaholism.


Long before they die, however, each of the diseases takes its toll at work: The alcoholic starts to miss work and his productivity declines. The workaholic gets so overloaded that he can’t get the work done. He may put in long hours, but those hours are not effectively utilized.


So, if you have a choice (and you always do), hire Employee B. But if you already have some Employee A’s on your staff, consider how you can stop enabling them in their addiction:

  • Make them go home.

  • Give them a realistic workload.

  • Don’t praise overtime; criticize it instead.

  • Reward the positive behaviors of working and living a balanced life.

Finally, look at your own behavior. If you are a workaholic, take steps to fix yourself. You’ll live a longer, happier life.

Until next time,

Linda Segall

Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions


Answer the door

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Sometimes the decisions people make blow my mind. Case in point: Turning down the opportunity to be interviewed.

lindaAs I was working on a freelance writing assignment for a business magazine, I contacted several sources provided to me by the editor of the publication. The assignment was to interview these individuals about a specific topic; they were the experts and I was to get their opinions and ideas. There was nothing controversial about the article.

Two of the four individuals opted out of the interview. Their reason: They were too busy.

Too busy to get free publicity for their company? That’s what an interview for an article is — free publicity. It’s better than by-lining an article. It’s better buying an advertisement. It’s even better than authoring a book! It’s better because the writer is contacting you as an expert. Your expertise is being endorsed by a third party.

This isn’t the first time people have turned down the opportunity to be interviewed for an article. It won’t be the last. But it still astounds me. Opportunity knocks and they refuse to open the door.

Don’t make that mistake. If a reporter or a writer asks to interview you, make the time. Answer the door.

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

How to hire a writer or editor

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

LindaI subscribe to a number of e-newsletters. One of them is put out by a company called Marketprofs ( The other day, the e-newsletter had an article on how to select a copywriter.

The article gave me pause: It occurred to me that unless you are in publishing, you will not have a lot of experience hiring someone to help you with your writing or editing projects. So, I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to select someone to help you with your projects:

Know what you want the person to do. Refine your vague ideas before you start looking. It’s like hiring an employee: Write a job description before you start recruiting.

  • Start your search.Some suggestions: Post your job on a number of Web sites dedicated to freelancers; place an ad on; Google the type of freelancer you want to hire; or network among friends.
  • Narrow the selection.Look at samples ofthe individual’s work; read them carefully. Does the person have expertise in the area you require? Does he or she write in the style you prefer? Is the sample “clean”? Do you understand what the individual is saying? If you aren’t happy with the samples, then move on.
  • Be specific in your assignment. Because you already defined what you want the person to do, this should not be a problem. But, put everything in writing, including terms of the contract (amount of pay, due date, manner in which the copy should be delivered, etc.). If it is an extensive project, be specific about when you should connect to review progress and how corrections and clarifications should be made.
  • Pay a fair price. Writers and editors are skilled individuals. Value what they do. Pay a fair, competitive rate for their work.

A writer can take ideas and put them into words. An editor can take your words and give them a polish that will make you shine. Whether you have a short press or product release, a white paper, Web content, a business report, or a book, you can make a great impression and be perceived for the expert you are — provided you hire the right writer or editor.

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

Why you need a Web site

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

A new client approached me about doing a writing project for him. As I began our project, I discovered I needed some additional background information, so I searched for his business on the Web. I was surprised to find that although he had a registered domain, his business did not have a Web site.

A few days later, I was talking with a colleague who specializes in marketing. I asked him about his Web site. He said he hadn’t had time to put one up, and didn’t feel he had the need for one.

I believe these two business people, as good as they are, are missing an opportunity that could be costing them money. Every business needs a Web site.

A decade ago, you would not have opened a business without buying a yellow-pages ad. Today, you might (rightfully) question its value. Telephone-book ads are expensive, inflexible, and do not give you a lot of real estate to describe yourself and your business.

A Web site, on the other hand, is inexpensive, flexible, and gives you virtually unlimited room to describe and market yourself and your business.

When I first put up my Web site a number of years ago, my 86-year-old mother said, “That’s nice … but what does it do for you?”

I told her my Web site allowed potential clients to see samples of my work, download my resume, and get an understanding of what I could do for them. It allowed them to get to know me, if only a little. And it afforded me the opportunity to gain new clients who might be searching the Web for someone to do writing and editing services for them.

If you haven’t yet put up a Web site, please consider it. At the very least, let it:

  • Introduce you to your potential clients,
  • Explain your services,
  • Publicize your accomplishments,
  • Provide helpful information to visitors, and
  • Tell people how they can contact you.

It’s true that few people will choose an accountant, lawyer, chiropractor, medical doctor, or any other professional just because of what they find on the individual’s Web site.  But it is also true that having information about you available can help an individual make a decision in your favor.

A case in point: Last year my mother needed some medical services. The telephone book listed a number of individuals, but I wanted to take her to someone with a specialized background. I searched the Web; I finally found one doctor who had the kind of background we needed. After I did some more background checking (to check on licensing and complaints), we made an appointment.

Did the other doctors have the necessary qualifications? Some did, probably. But I did not have time to interview all of them. I

A word of caution: When you put up a Web site, make it look professional. No misspelled words or bad grammar. Always remember that your Web site is a visitor’s first impression of you. Make it a good one.

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises
Writing and Editing Services

Written words are indelible

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

LindaBy this time, you know about the fiasco of The New Yorker’s cover image. The attempt by the editors of the New Yorker to joke about Sen. Obama’s religious preferences and ethnic origins backfired. New YorkerEditor David Remmick said in a statement, “Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover.”

Unfortunately, when you have to explain a joke, the joke loses its humor. That’s what happened here.

The cover, though, teaches an important lesson: Be careful what you publish, because your words become indelible.

You say you don’t publish? Do you send e-mail? Then you publish, albeit on a small scale. 

I use e-mail all the time. As an editor, I use e-mail as my primary means of communication with writers. E-mail expedites the business of writing and editing.

As you write your next e-mail, I’d like to caution you not to make four mistakes I see quite often:

  • Using caps and big fonts, and
  • Misspelling and writing in fragments.

I communicate by e-mail with a top executive in a large company. He is a kind and gentle man, and his messages to me have always been kind and gentle. The messages — not the way in which he conveys his messages. He always writes in capital letters and he always uses a very large font (14 or 16 points).

I suspect he writes in caps because he is a poor typist. As a hunt-and-peck person, it is easier for him to keep the cap lock on than to use the shift key. And I think he writes in large fonts because he can read what he is typing without putting on his reading glasses.

Unfortunately, his e-mails always look like they are shouting. That’s what caps and big letters do. They shout.

Shouting e-mails make a not-so-nice impression on the recipient. But e-mails that are written in fragmented sentences and with misspellings make an even worse impression.

Another executive writes missives that have no verbs! Words are misspelled, and nothing is capitalized. This executive is a well-schooled individual, but his e-mails suggest he failed sixth-grade spelling.

What’s so bad about these types of e-mails? Back in the days when people wrote letters, they rarely shared the content of personal letters with others. But e-mails are different. Recipients respond; they forward the message to other recipients. The result is that you never know who might read your original e-mail. So, you never know who is getting a first impression of you.

New Yorker Editor David Remmick’s choice of cover caused quite a controversy, but at least he had an opportunity to explain the reasoning behind his cover decision. The cover, though, is published for posterity. When you send an e-mail you probably won’t have an opportunity to explain yourself. Worse, you may not even know if an explanation is necessary. But your words will be indelible.

Writing is a useful, efficient, and effective way to communicate. If your typing skills are almost non-existent, consider taking an online class — or invest in dictation software. Before you send that e-mail, make sure your cap lock is set to off. And, finally, do a spell check.

Until next time,

Linda Segall
Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions