A Recipe For Failure: Focusing On Success

Great Recipe

When cooking food, a little too much or too little of an ingredient can ruin a dish. So if you are cooking from a great recipe, it is vital to focus on every aspect of building that recipe in a way that will yield success.

Great meals don’t come from great recipes; they come from great execution of a great recipe.

Great Recipes Do Not Equal Great Results

At first, I couldn’t understand how someone could have a great recipe for a great meal but still not be able to produce a great meal. With that reasoning, everyone should be master chefs (and we know that’s not the case). I have come to realize in my ignorance and oversimplification of cooking that the problem lies not so much in the recipe as it does in the placement of focus.

Let me explain, great chefs have great focus and an innate ability to place focus on the right things at the right time. A masterful meal is the byproduct of placing great focus on the details and the processes. The reason many fail at making great meals is because they are focusing too much on… making great meals.

Notice Your Focus

As a youth football player I tried being a kicker (kickers are cool in little league). I couldn’t make the cut and had to settle for a skill position. Who knew playing a position other than kicker could be a demotion! The reason I kept failing as a kicker was because I was focusing too much on trying to make successful kicks rather than the actual process of kicking.

Q: So what does a successful kicker, cook, and company have in common (if only “kicker” was spelled with a “c,” my alliteration would be classic)?

A: The answer is, they all do well when they focus on the details and not the results.

They don’t focus on success because they recognize you can’t place focus on results; you place the focus on the details and processes it takes to produce results. Great kickers have an incredible ability to avoid the temptation of wanting to look up and see if their kick in going to be a successful kick or not.

Similarly when it comes to organizations, I have seen where leaders really wanted to be successful but were not able to stay focused on the details and processes it took to produce success.

Recipe for Disaster

Here are a few examples of how recipes for success can come up short:

1. Missing Ingredients

A team wants to be successful, yet no one brings the focus down to the real issues that preventing or hindering its success. Take the time to find what’s missing; could very well be the key ingredient to your success.

2. Half-Baked Plans

An example of a half-baked plan would be having a long-term strategy that you abandon when the early results are not what you hoped for. If this is a long-term process, then stop assessing it by short-term indicators.

Indicators are important, but they are not results.

That’s like pulling the chicken out the oven half-baked and tossing it in the trash because it’s taste was not what you had hoped for. News flash, don’t expect half-baked chicken to taste like anything other that half-baked chicken! You don’t pull out half-baked chicken to taste it, you pull it out to see if it’s cooking according to plan.

Leaders can feel the pressure to show immediate returns on their work that they fall into taste testing their approach and not merely assessing it. This can lead to constant abandoning of incomplete plans and approaches. This can also lead to high turnover and instability within an organization or group. Be sure to keep checking on you plan, just remember that it’s still not finished yet.

3. Wannabe Master Chefs

Don’t try to get creative until you’ve mastered the basics.  People often view creativity as if it is the opposite of order and discipline. Creativity should actually be an expression of high level mastery of the fundamentals. Many try to go out and start with this new creative, out of the box approach only to fall well short of all expectations. Before we become creative, let become competent. Once you’ve mastered your understanding you can begin to apply it in unique, and innovative ways.

What’s your recipe for success? Once you have your unique ingredients, turn your attention to the details and process of following your plan, strategy, or approach. This will help you have the success you’re looking for. My wife (who’s a wonderful cook) at times would ask me how I would make such wonderful dishes on the rare occasions that I do cook? My reply is usually the same,  “I followed the directions from the recipe, Sweetie.”

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———————–
Dr. Tommy Shavers

Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
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Leading Value to Your Target Customer

Leading Technology

Leadership metrics are almost always visible from an organization’s bottom-line. And nowhere is this more clear than in sales and growth figures.

But how does a leader retain existing customers and grow with new ones?

Reeling in a new customer and getting them to commit to buying a product or service takes time and money, and it can be kind of tricky since customers can be forgetful, finicky and often have no loyalty to a business.

It is really up to an entrepreneur or business employees to create that loyalty and make sure a great long-term relationship with the customer.

Re-Targeting Your Target Customer

If you’re looking to do this, make sure to re-target any potential customers in a tactful, inexpensive and efficient manner. Of course, this is easier said than done as it is not that easy to do without the possibility of causing some strife with the customer.

With this in mind, here is a quick guide on re-targeting a customer.

Follow-Up Phone Call or Email

When selling a product or service, a business should not stop at this point. No, instead, an employee should call the client and ask them if they have any questions, need any help or want to buy any more products. Now, when doing this, it is important to make it sound genuine and not like a sales call.

Customers will catch on and will grow frustrated with a sales call in the middle of the day.

However, when making it about the customers’ needs and wants, a business will go a long way in closing another sale and creating a better relationship with the customer. There are massive amounts of data available on when to do a follow-up call or email.

Mail

With a simple postcard, flyer or letter, a company can reach out to a current satisfied customer. With a target direct mail list, an entrepreneur will be a step ahead of the competition who is lost when looking for clients. In the postcard or letter, a company should send a coupon discount code for the current client.

At the same time, it is wise to stay cordial, respectful and informative.

To do so without spending a lot of money or using much effort, one should also keep it personal and put the first and last name of the customer on the letterhead. Otherwise, with an informal and indirect approach, one will possibly anger the receiver of a letter. Remember, a wise customer will sniff out a promotional flyer, and a business that can fly under the radar will enjoy a higher conversion rate when using direct mail.

Email

In this day and age, email is popular and most people will have an address or two. For this reason, this is a cost-effective and easy medium for one to communicate with clients. Now, it is important to avoid sending out spam messages as people will quickly tire of sales pitches or marketing material. Instead, when sending out emails, a business should opt for a calm approach and try to give value to the client.

The easiest way to do so is to offer free shipping or a coupon code for a discount on a future purchase.

By doing this, and complying with all spam regulations, a company can reach out to clients without spending much money or time. At the same time, customers will appreciate freebies or discounts as most people love a good bargain.

Social Media

Now, more than ever, one should use social media to communicate with current and potential customers. Just like with email, it is wise to avoid annoying or otherwise bothering customers. However, when offering true value or support to a client, one can go a long way in securing another sale.

Since social media is relatively new, most people will not have a problem receiving marketing messages as it is a cool and unique way to communicate. Of course, a company should keep it tactful and avoid sending out too many messages to followers.

When running an organization, it is crucial to re-target old customers. Without this step, a business will have to spend too much money on marketing and will likely have a hard time finding success in its niche.

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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On Leadership, Anxiety and Stressful Decisions

Making Tough Decisions

So as a leader, do you feel like you are forced to make decisions much quicker and under more stress than you would like? Are you finding yourself in an anxious state when decision-time is near? And how do these decisions work out for you and your team?

Chances are that making great decisions while you are feeling anxious and stressed just might surprise you…

On Making Decisions

There is no escaping it: we all have to make decisions:

  • Some will be small and inconsequential whilst others will change the course of world history.
  • Some we can mull over and others must be instant; we may not get a choice.
  • The one thing we hope for is freedom to make decisions objectively based on best information and in a calm frame of mind.

But most often life is just not like this. We are faced with rapidly changing, high stakes emotionally charged decisions that fuel anxiety and over time cause emotional and physical stress.

Wouldn’t it be great to sit back let the anxiety subside and then decide? If you were a field commander faced with the possibility of being overrun by the enemy YOU DON’T HAVE TIME – DECIDE NOW!

“Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety. ~Rose Kennedy

On Anxious Decisions

There is a strange but eventually understandable phenomenon where anxious decision makers are more likely to seek external advice, are less able to discern good from bad advice and will accept advice even from people with conflicts of interest. The greater the intensity of anxiety and stress the more driven to habitual and external advice we become.

Maturity is achieved when a person accepts life as full of tension.”  Joshua L. Liebman

Re-framing anxiety can free us from seeking questionable advice and making inappropriate habit-based decisions. Fear drives anxiety and when we misunderstand the physical sensations triggered by fear, excitement, uncertainty, time pressure and importance we view the decision from a skewed perspective.

On Living In Reverse

Well, the good news arising from the basic research of Soares and colleagues is that “Stress-induced changes in human decision-making are reversible.

For those of you with a neuroscience inclination the author’s general conclusion can be interpreted as “chronic stress biases decision-making strategies in humans toward habits, as choices of stressed subjects become insensitive to changes in outcome value“.

Using functional brain imaging techniques, they demonstrate prolonged exposure to stress in humans causes an imbalanced activation of specific brain networks governing decision processes.

Importantly and reassuringly, a longitudinal assessment of the stressed individuals showed that both the structural and functional changes triggered by stress are reversible and that decisions become again goal-directed once the stress is removed.

Stress As An Option

I can hear you saying something along the lines of, “but the stress never goes.” This may be true, but you can alter the way you perceive the stressors and adopt mitigating measures such as mindfulness meditation, yoga or tai Chi to offset the downsides of pressure and stress. All of these practices have been proven to reduce physical symptoms of stress.

Stress is an ignorant state.  It believes that everything is an emergency.”  Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

Q: How can you re-frame your perception of anxiety generating situations? Let’s assume you can’t simply sit waiting for anxiety to subside or rely on advice or look for perfect solutions?

A: Don’t wait until you’re faced with high stakes instant decisions.

  • Start small and become accustomed to physically and emotionally sensing anxiety associated with small low impact decisions.
  • Appreciate the small buzzes you get next time you have to select from a complex menu, or your partner asks for a decision on which dress or suit they should buy. This is what I call “decision-making homeopathy.”

It gets you comfortable with the physical and mental sensations of anxiety. Then later up the stakes by taking notice of your reaction to decision-making in increasingly stressful situations until you know you can make decisions under heavy incoming fire.

Your objective isn’t to squash anxiety but to function effectively alongside it, doing what must be done.

If you don’t believe me then take a short while to watch Kelly McGonigal’s fantastic TED talkHow to make stress your friend” where she shows you that stress can actually protect you and help you live longer; it’s just how you view stress that matters.

Your Actions Today

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 rate your anxiety prior to, during and after today’s decisions?
  • Whose advice did you seek for today’s decisions?
  • Did this advice alter your decision?
  • How anxious do you feel others are when they make decisions (scale of 1 to 10)?
  • Did they seek you advice?
  • Did your advice bias their decision in your favour?
  • Did you make decisions based on habit or adaptation to new circumstance?

Recommended Reading

Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan by Francesca Gino

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Growth and Doing it Anyway

Do It Anyway

Do you know that song by Martina McBride titled “Anyway?”  

In the very first verse of the song she says this:

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway”

On Life and Making Lemonade

My husband graduated from college and spent 6 years in the Air Force.  Then we settled down in my home town to raise our family and he went to work as an engineer for a large company.  We raised 3 boys.

I began a business. We invested and began preparing for the day that we could retire. We seemed to be on the right track as a couple and a family.

But despite our best laid plans, life brought us some lemons. Our lives changed in directions for which we had not planned:

  • We did not expect that my husband would lose his job after 15 yrs
  • I did not anticipate that my business would begin to lose money
  • We did not know that our son would cost us everything that we had worked for (at least as far as the things of the world are concerned.)

Lemons, Lemons, and More Lemons

Our youngest son became involved in drug and alcohol abuse.  He spent 4 years going to jail, hospitals, and rehab. There were about 3 years that I did not sleep through the night in anticipation of a phone call from the police. I was never sure if they would want us to pick him up or identify his body.

To say the least, these were very difficult years for our family!

The courts held us financially responsible for the crimes that our son committed while he was a minor child.

  • We paid fees, restitution and hospital bills
  • We paid for couple of rehabilitation periods
  • We suffered emotionally, mentally, and career-wise

Because of the time away from work for court and family rehab sessions, my husband’s work performance decreased. When it came time for layoffs at his workplace, he was on the list.  When he lost his job, we lost our ability to pay for our home. My business began to fail and our property investments no longer rented for enough to pay the mortgage.

…More Lemons

As a result, we lost 2 properties, our home, and my business. We continued to fight to save our son. My husband finally found a job in a different state and he relocated. I had to remain where I was to close my business, sell the properties, and be with my son who was not finished with school.

On Making That Lemonade

Over time, my son finally completed his GED and got a good job. It took all the worldly possessions that we had, but our son is alive, healthy, drug free, and working.

After 18 months I was able to join my husband in our new home. I had to start over. He had to start over. I won’t lie, it was the most difficult time of our marriage. We became stronger than ever as a couple by pulling together for the sake of our family.

Although we were financially ruined, I can say with all the confidence in the world this:

Losing your fortune is not that big a deal. After all, it is just money. You can get more of that.

There is no battle more worth fighting that the battle to save a child. There is no amount of money that could change my opinion on the financial, emotional, and family decisions that we made. In fact, I would do it all over again for what we gained.

Keep Trying. It’s Worth It All

Now it is time to start building again.

Did I hesitate to start over? 

Absolutely.

Did I fear the idea of losing again?

You better believe it.

Is it going to be painful and difficult?

You better believe that, too!

Did it stop me?

NO!

There is nothing more painful than the thought of losing a child. Losing “stuff,” well that was easy by comparison. Your true success lies in what you put your hope in.

So, what sort of life-altering challenges have you faced that you were able to overcome? How did that build your character, your family, your relationships, or your business? Are you facing something now and need encouragement? If so, please connect with me and I think I can offer some sound personal advice. I would love to help.

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———————–
Phyllis Rodriguez

Phyllis Rodriguez is a Producer at Insphere Insurance Solutions
She serves as an Associate Broker, Short Sale and REO Specialist
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web | Personal | 520-220-4021

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5 Ways To Be An Exceptional Leader

5 Ways To Be An Exceptional Leader #Infographic

On Leadership and The Personal Courage Required to Be a Leader

Personal Courage

One of the most overlooked aspects of being a leader is the inherent need for personal courage.

“Personal courage is the ability to act on the tough but necessary decisions guided by a moral compass that serves to benefit the team or stated goals.”David Stricklin

On Personal Courage 

At a cocktail partly last night, I was discussing leadership with my cousin who is the director of operations for a global health care corporation. As we verbally crossed through the different aspects and principles of leadership, we quickly realized one of the most overlooked traits in writings today was the personal courage required to be a leader.

We both agreed strongly that personal courage must be a bedrock of leadership.

A quick search of the internet for leadership principles reveals over 13M returns but target this to personal courage and the returns are reduced by over 60%. To be successful, a leader must display both moral and physical courage. This is accomplished by showing a willingness to take calculated risks, acting independently, and demonstrating personal responsibility for their actions.

On Focus and Intensity

The leader must persist with focus and intensity even when faced with adversity and, in when faced with challenge, project confidence, credibility, and poise.

As Aristotle informed us so many years ago:

Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” ~ Aristotle

Without personal courage, leadership cannot be effective, revolutionary change is not possible, evolutionary advancement will not occur and an organization will quickly find themselves on the express path to extinction.

The Personal Courage Required to Be a Leader

Leaders must have the personal courage to stand up for what is right.

They demand accountability…from followers, superiors and themselves. Leadership is about doing what is right, not just doing the right things. Successful leaders are never yes-people, but they respectfully dissent.

They also understand that decisions may be delegated but responsibility can not. Courageous leaders are always responsible for their actions.

Leaders must have the personal courage to make decisions.

A leader is continually asked to make decisions with incomplete and variable data sets. The choices many times are not right or wrong, but differing degrees of good enough with conflicting second and third order effects. This draws many leaders into analysis paralysis where a decision is delayed into nonexistence because of the continual search for a perfect solution.

A courageous and dynamic leader knows their worth is determined by their ability to properly analyze situations and take deliberate, calculated risks to move the team forward.

Leaders must have the personal courage to ensure positive change.

It takes courage to question everything, to break from the status quo, to challenge the norm and determine how it could be improved.

A successful leader strives to make positive change every day.

They are not afraid of leading paradigm shifts to ensure success and positive progress. 

Leaders must have the personal courage to deliver bad news as well as good news.

All leaders deliver good news, good leaders delivers bad news. Negative feedback is painful for both sides, but your followers will appreciate your candor when their behavior is improved in the early stages of poor or unsatisfactory  performance instead of waiting until the issue becomes so large it is almost impossible to deal with simply.

We have all needed constructive criticism in our lives. A successful leader cares about their followers enough to have the awkward conversations to discuss missteps, mistakes, or mannerisms.

Making each person better helps the team be better. It takes personal courage to do the right thing and not just calm the troubled waters in your organization. 

Leaders must have the personal courage to develop their followers.

True leadership is not found in an individual, but the people developed. The true measure of a leader is not just measured by success of their organization, but by the measure of leaders they influence and develop to follow in their footsteps.

Successful leaders invest in the future of their followers and not just the organization.

The more you care about your followers, the more personal pride and motivation they will feel toward you and your organization.

Leaders must have the personal courage to delegate.

Leaders must give their team vision…Courageous leaders trust their team to execute their vision. As any new leader can attest, one of the toughest actions is to do nothing on a task and trust your team to execute your direction and wishes.

This is the transition from a tactical level action officer to an organizational and strategic level leader.

Leaders must have the personal courage to seek help from others. 

Leadership has many aspects and principles, but the first building block of a successful leader must be personal courage. The U.S. Air Force defines courage as what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear.

Further, moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault.

Improving Your Personal Courage

The obvious question looming is how do you improve your personal courage? You can begin your quest to control fear by practicing self-discipline and calmness. Determine the area in which you experience the most fear in your daily life, and your leadership duties, then force yourself to do them until you can satisfactorily control your reaction.

Personal courage allows the right questions to be asked, followers to be developed and credibility established.

Persoanal courage is simply not letting your fears overcome your goals and define you. It is the ability to admit and learn from your mistakes, and the continual quest to become a better person.

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” ~ Billy Graham

What aspects do you consider vital in the personal courage to be a leader? How do you improve your personal courage? Is there any other aspect of leadership which you consider more important? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————– 
Chris R. Stricklin

Chris R. Stricklin is Chief Growth Officer of The General Leadership Foundation.
He is a Leader, Mentor and Coach integrating Fields of Negotiations and Leadership
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On Leadership and Leading a Legacy

Legacy Wake

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Fifty years ago, on November 18, 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a stop here in Tampa, FL.  Who would have had any idea that four days later he would be assassinated in Dallas, TX?

Your Leadership Legacy

I just watched a special on the Tampa visit, and it got me thinking . . . I mean seriously thinking . . . what legacy would I leave behind?  What plans would I have, in place, that would keep going after I was suddenly gone?

When a prized leader leaves an organization, you normally hear things about how “he did this” and how “he did that.”  But that’s all in the past.  Times keep changing.  Needs keep changing.  Are the things that you DID, lasting through to the future and making an impact?

We all want to be remembered for something.  But that’s where the problem starts.  “Something” tends to be singular.  It’s a definitive.  You do it, it’s done, people remember . . . for awhile.  Think big – think bigger – – think long-term.  You’ve given a lot of time to your employees and your organization.

So why does it have to stop when you leave?

Legacy Planning

Now don’t confuse this with succession planning.  Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing your internal employees with the potential to fill your leadership position(s) in the company.  You could have the most detailed succession plan possible but still not leave a lasting legacy.

The key is to THINK of your job in terms of how you will leave it.  This provides a different way to look at your work and what you want to accomplish. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day tasks, it helps you to focus on the bigger picture and take a more organizational view of your work. Consider your own job, your team, your department, the leadership, and how all of these pieces are connected to bring the overall organization together.

On Talking and Walking

So many people can talk the talk.  But how many people can actually, truly, walk the talk?  I love Mark Miller’s analogy in his new book, The Heart of Leadership.

He uses the example of an iceberg:

As you look at the iceberg, you only see about 10% of it.  The other 90% is below the waterline. The portion you see above the waterline represents leadership skills – reproducible by many.  Below represents leadership character – practiced by few.  The people who talk the talk represent the 10%.  The people who walk the talk represent that, along with, the other 90%.

I’m going to use my favorite example again . . . Disney.  Walt Disney passed away from lung cancer in 1966, before his vision of Disney World in Florida was realized. After much mourning and wondering where to go from there, his brother and business partner, Roy O. Disney, postponed his retirement to oversee construction of the resort’s first phase.

Walt had vision and plans for the company that extended for years.  And, to this day, things are still being developed from Walt’s original visualizations.  In fact, it wasn’t decided until well into the construction process to name the resort WALT Disney World, in honor of the man whose ideas and visions brought it to life . . . five years after he passed away.

On Big Shoes and Footprints

So maybe you’re not the owner or the CEO of the organization.  What does that matter?

You still have the opportunity to leave some pretty good-sized footprints.

Not trying to blow my own horn here, but at my last two jobs I developed customer service programs, from scratch, that saw great success within the first two months.  Now if I had been putting things together month by month, my legacy would have ended when I left.

But I had a whole vision, training materials, schedules, tracking procedures, customer response actions – the whole package.  My footprints weren’t in the sand.  I “lived on” through the people who took over after me.

The Nurse Bryan Rule

In his book, The Essential Drucker, management guru Peter Drucker told a story about how a hospital adopted what came to be known as “Nurse Bryan’s Rule.”

“A new hospital administrator, holding his first staff meeting, thought that a rather difficult matter had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction, when one participant suddenly asked, ‘would this have satisfied Nurse Bryan?’ At once the argument started all over and did not subside until a new and much more ambitious solution to the problem had been hammered out.

Nurse Bryan, the administrator learned, had been a long-serving nurse at the hospital. She was not particularly distinguished, had not in fact ever been a supervisor. But whenever a decision on patient care came up on her floor, Nurse Bryan would ask, ‘Are we doing the best we can do to help this patient?’ Patients on Nurse Bryan’s floor did better and recovered faster. Gradually, over the years, the whole hospital had learned to adopt what became known as ‘Nurse Bryan’s Rule.'”

– At the time this story took place, Nurse Bryan had been retired for 10 years.

Leading a Legacy

Someday, you’ll look back over your career and ask, “What did I really do?”  You’ll regret the opportunities you missed and time you wasted.  But you’ll also remember all that you did right.  And people will still come up to you and say, “Oh yeah, you’re the one that ______. We still use the guidance from your _____. Our team wouldn’t be as successful without you.”

Ask not what your organization can do for you. Ask what you can do for your organization.

What kind of future for your organization are you looking at?  What is important to you?  What parts of your work do you most value?  Is there a need in the organization you can fill? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

Image Sources: marksremarksdotorg.files.wordpress.com

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