November 2007

Posted on his blog, From the Hep, is Funeral Futurist Robin Heppell’s take on “The Undertaking.”

An excerpt:

The Undertaking has done what Six Feet Under or Family Plots could not accomplish – to give a real look into a funeral home operation sans the Hollywood-esque. Even though Lynch and Sons is more indicative of a smaller-town, traditional funeral home that does not have to juggle the social diversities as much as a metropolitan funeral home does, loss is loss and grief is grief wherever you live. This documentary will serve as a catalyst to many conversations of one’s mortality and hopefully, find some clarity for their own wishes of the many options that are now available.

Read Robin’s full article on his website by clicking here.

And don’t miss all the great interviews and resources Robin’s put together on the Funeral Gurus website.



This one’s for anyone who presents at a convention, trade show, lifestyle show or community event:

Get out from behind the table and interact with your guests.

As Mike Sansone explains in his post, Get Out from Behind the Counter, over at Converstations, there is a subliminal ‘us versus them’ mentality when there’s a barrier between you and your client/visitor/potential customer.

Get out from behind that barrier.  If you’re standing in front of a display or you’re on the customer’s side of the information table, you’ve removed the barrier and become a friend.

But my personal philosophy is even more extreme:  get rid of the barrier.  At the 2007 NFDA Convention, I saw a lot of people sitting behind tables.  These were the same vendors who complained to me that they weren’t having a very good show.  It’s because the floorplan of their display looked like this:


By putting the table at the very edge of your defined space (subconsciously, visitors to your booth know that the side barriers indicate the imaginary property line at the front of the space) you tell folks who might visit that they have to stay in the aisle to talk to you. 

This encourages them to continue walking (that’s what you do in a walkway) and only glancing over to browse what you’re selling. 

Here’s a better version, which still allows you to put product or literature near the entrance but doesn’t block your space:


As an added bonus, this version creates a welcoming environment and gives you a place to greet your guests.  I set up our cot cover booth this way and stood at the entrance and stepped back into the space when chatting with a potential client.

This gives your visitors the feeling that they’ve entered your personal space, which subliminally signals that they need to act like a guest and engage in conversation while being polite.  It also means they can’t just walk away without excusing themselves.

If you’ve got a super-exciting product and an engaging personality, this next one is the best setup:


Of course, the best setup in the world can’t overcome a bad product or poor salesmanship.  It’s up to you to be interesting and upbeat. 

Go against the grain.  People expect funeral professionals to be boring, moody or somber; you should be exciting and interesting and fun.


I subscribe to Google Alerts, a service which lets me know what people are saying about funerals, cremation, cot covers and more on the Internet everyday.

I was disturbed to read the summary of a video titled “$50 Funeral,” which described the easiest way to do a home funeral for cheap.

Then I watched the video.  You should, too.  Click here to watch it.


Thanks go to Anna Copley of The Funeral Site (our current sponsor!) for the link to this unusual story.

Seems a Pittsburgh Steelers fan was laid our for viewing in a recreation of his living room.  While Steelers highlights played on the television, he “slept” in his recliner, with a Steelers blanket draped across him.

Friends and family got to say goodbye to him in a setting that fit his personality.

Click here for the full story and pictures of the setup.


I’ve had quite a response to my last post, Creating Personal Time, so I’m going to use this post to answer your questions.

1.  No, Lynn, that is not my sink.  I got that picture from
2.  I did not share my schedule to brag.  I just wanted to share how I can make so much happen in a regular day.
3.  My main goal was to prove that I can accomplish so much PRECISELY BECAUSE of the time I give myself to do the fun stuff.  Meaning, I work harder to get the important stuff done so I can have time to do the things I really want to do.
4.  And for the cynics, it is possible for a man to love quilting and football equally.  Which will be proven when I make a quilt to commemorate the upcoming flag football season since I’ve joined the Fire Department team!
5.  I also neglected to mention that I don’t have kids.  The dog and cat are more than enough!


Dirty dishes.jpg 

I’ve got a confession to make:  I sometimes leave dishes in the sink or laundry in the dryer because I want to spend some quality time doing the things I really love.

Of course, if you know my schedule, you probably can’t imagine when I find personal time (to write, draw or quilt) let alone time to do laundry and dishes.

But I know that I have time to do all the important things  PRECISELY BECAUSE  I reward myself with personal time.

Currently, I work a full-time job, run a booming quilted cot cover business, write this blog, clean my house, make dinner and serve as the president of my community’s homeowner association.

But I also find time to indulge two of my favorite passions:  writing and quilting.

I’m working on a book for funeral directors (with many of the issues from this blog taking center stage) and a novel about an arson investigator named Nicole Sparks.

So how do I make all this happen and still sleep 8 hours a night?

First, I spent some time figuring out the time of day that I do my best writing and set that aside.  For me, it’s early mornings and just before bed.  Then, I plugged in my workday (8-5 with a 1 hour lunch) and other obligations (my partner likes to eat before 6:00 pm, so after work is dedicated to making dinner).

Here’s my typical schedule:

6:30 am – Read email, write something for the blog, write other stuff.
7:15 am – Shower, brush teeth, get dressed
8:00 am – Work at the Fire Department
Noon – Home for lunch.  I eat and watch a recorded TV show, like “Simply Quilts” or “Pushin’ Daisies.”
1:00 pm – Back to work
5:15 pm – Make dinner
5:45 pm – Eat dinner
7:00 pm – Meet with Kim, my assistant.  Fill cot cover orders
9:00 pm – Check email, write a little more
10:00 pm – In bed, watch some TV
10:30 pm – Begin snoring softly (or loudly, depending up on the severity of the day)


Notice that there’s not a whole lot of television in there, except for what I intentionally record or when it’s time to nod off.  TV’s a time wasting pacifier that stops your brain.

Is it hard to wean yourself off the ‘boob’tube?  Um, yeah!  But now that I’ve spent more time away from television, I find that reality programs are just too annoying to watch for any more than about ten seconds.  I don’t care who is America’s Next Top Model or who the Bachelor will choose or who can Outlast, Outwit or Outstupid who on some deserted beach.

In a post titled 21 Ways to Be More Creative on her self-named blog, Christine Kane lists this important first step:

1 – Stop watching television

Or better yet, get rid of the damn thing. Any time I teach writing or creativity, this is one of the biggies. TV is a mind-killer. It numbs you. It fills you with emotionally-charged images and over-simplified solutions. It dulls you. Turn it off. Even if this idea scares you, turn it off.

Want more time?  Take back control of your life and turn off the TV.  Unless, of course, there’s some good football on at that moment.  In which case, feel free to watch a few more plays!


Don’t forget about the great blog, The Final Taxi, which chronicles the deaths of famous and influential personalities.

Today’s post over at Taxi deals with thieves and a dead bunny stuffed into a handbag.  You’ve got to read it.

In addition to an archive of fascinating podcasts and beautifully written obituaries of well-known folks, the site details the passing (or “Final Taxi”) of both Mr. Whipple and the creator of Gatorade, Dr. James Robert Cade.

So check out The Final Taxi.  We love them.


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