Mountain Contemporary or Mountain Modern?

Zillow explains the difference between Modern and Contemporary styling; however, here in the Rocky Mountains, we tend to use the term Mountain Modern, which means more of an eclectic mix of transitional looks with organic rustic elements.

It is interesting to find the wide range of opinions in my travels to dealers in my territory. Those who enjoy more traditional styles often call transitional styles “contemporary”. Those who are immersed in the modern and contemporary worlds typically call transitional “traditional”. In anycase, trends for high-end mountain resort projects are definitely moving away from “Traditional” toward what might be termed Mountain Soft Contemporary, which allows for great comfort (very important for  Intermountain West consumers) with exciting organic textures and elements. The independent attitude of the Old West, still reigns supreme. We like the rugged elements of our environment, and also appreciate the simpler effects designers, with an eye for contemporary and modern looks, bring to our interiors.

Here are two articles that explain what other parts of the country mean by the terms Contemporary and Modern.

Modern Styling Explained by Natalie Wise.

Contemporary Styling Explained by Natalie Wise.

Please leave your comments, since this is rather a subjective topic.

Vacation Rental Tips

Just discovered this interesting article and wanted to share it with my readers, since many work with independent vacation rental investors. 5 Tips to Protect Your Property Against Renter Wear & Tear, by Trey Duling



Tips for professionally using LinkedIn

Tips for professionally using LinkedIn

For anyone wanting to understand the power of LinkedIn, I recommend checking out this TechRepublic blog:  5 tips for building a powerful LinkedIn identity for your company, by Erin Carson. More and more this social media platform is growing in meaningful ways in developing B2B professional relationships and brand recognition.

After reading this excellent blog post, I realize I need to put more time and thought into my LinkedIn profile and contributions. In my experience, it is easy to find inspiration through various LinkedIn posts and forums. Let me take a moment to say a hearty “Thank you!” to those committed LinkedIn users who generously share their thoughts, recommendations, and experiences as a way of helping their network of followers.

Please share your thoughts on LinkedIn and how it can successfully integrate into building businesses and professional careers.

Mini Business Cards: marketing ideas

Mini Business Cards: marketing ideas

Just came across a link to view MOO MiniCards, which are half the size of standard business cards. While they are interesting and fun, the idea to use them for marketing products is another way retailers and manufacturers could team up to build brand names. 

Bitrix24: A great CRM value

For the past year I have tested and work with a Bitrix24 online platform.  It seemed to me that CRM (customer relationship management) systems like  could be helpful when I travel for business. Surprisingly, my Internet search produced a number of “Free” or low-cost options. Ultimately, I discovered Bitrix24 was the easiest to understand, customize and implement an impressive array of powerful solutions for my business. As a sales representative, I need to have easy access to my information both in and out of the office. Taking a lot of time to learn how to develop a system was not appealing. Many of the competing systems were either limited in scope, expensive, or too technical.

When I hired assistants, it was critical to find a way for everyone to stay connected. Email is cumbersome, as it takes no time at all for important communications to get buried beneath an avalanche of incoming messages. A system of moving each message into an “Urgent” or “Read Later” folder is still rather overwhelming. Task lists, databases, cloud drives, VPNs, etc. all worked okay as long as it was only me accessing my databases and files. Now days, I need all these elements to be available no matter if I am on a PC,  iOS, or Android system, plus allow access to my assistants.

Once I opened up Bitrix24 and discovered the Activity Stream, which is similar to Facebook’s News Feed screen, I knew I could add associates to this system. Indeed, my assistants have all been able to quickly find their way around this full featured CRM. When you visit the website ( you will see a small list of helpful features and their brief descriptions:

  • Social Intranet
  • Activity Stream
  • The “Like” Button
  • Conversations
  • Photo Gallery
  • Badges
  • Announcements
  • Integration with popular Social Networks

There are far more tools available in this system, of which I am still researching and discovering regularly. The ones my company currently utilizes the most are:

  • Company and Contact managers
  • Tasks
  • Calendar
  • Web Messenger
  • Notifications
  • Conversations
  • Workgroups
  • Leads
  • Deals
  • Company Drive
  • Email Integration

Perhaps the simplest way to explain the power of this system and what it can offer businesses, sales teams, designers, and organizations looking for an effective easy to use collaboration system, is to show some screen shots. The beauty of Bitrix24 is it accessible to Internet connected desktop computers and mobile tablets/smartphones. There are also self hosted options for companies wanting to keep their information in-house.

The Activity Stream makes it simple to have conversations, post notices, and keep everyone on the same page. It is easy to cut and paste email messages into the comment fields. There are several Activity Streams throughout the system for the Company at Large, individual contacts, companies, deals, etc.:



Workgroups are another great feature, allowing access to relevant information for teams. The Wiki is similar to a small webpage, which I find helpful for posting quick view internal company policy information. There is a Group specific Drive for file storage, Tasks, Calendar, etc.:


Quick access to various elements are conveniently available along the sidebar.


Also, along the top of many screens are helpful buttons for quick access, as well. There are two powerful Search fields that I use constantly, they automatically populate anything related to my search term (Company, Contact, Deal, Task, etc):


Within the Companies, you can access additional Client specific information. Notice the dedicated Activity Stream for account specific details. This is a big help in keeping a historical record of conversations, email messages sent, deal status, etc. In particular, I love clicking on the Contacts tab and being able to quickly access a specific person. If I am in a Contact record, I can quickly access their Company record.

Keep in mind, I have only scratched the surface. There are many more tools available. Plus, Bitrix24 has upgraded and added features in the short time since I began using it. One exciting new tool is the Telephony integrated VOIP service. Hopefully, they will be able to improve the voice quality soon. When we first tested it, my assistant loved the clarity on her end, but there was too much distortion on my land-line phone to consider using at this time. Naturally, we will continue to test periodically, as this would be extremely helpful for virtual assistants.

Some weaknesses in the system are the mobile apps, it would be helpful to to view the contact and calendar screens in the online layout. Also, an offline mode for contacts and calendar would be great. At one time, I was able to synchronize with Google Calendars, but it stopped working and I have not been able to repair the broken link.

All in all, I can highly recommend Bitrix24 to anyone looking for a practical, generous, and powerful system to get business done. If pressed, I would give Bitrix24 an overall rating of Four Stars. My congratulations to their development team, they have done an excellent job and their passion shows in all the new and improved features they have regularly been adding to their platform.

Please share your thoughts on Bitrix24 and other CRM solutions, I would love to hear your recommendations and suggestions.



Congratulations Pantone: celebrating 50 years!

Congratulations Pantone: celebrating 50 years!

Color, like music and fashion, is vital to our sense of well-being, community, nostalgia for the past and vision of our future directions. It is both fun and fascinating to look through Pantone’s Celebrate Color info-graphic. As I reflect on the memories, and related emotions these color pallets bring to mind, I also think about the music and fashion styles of those eras. Together they created a unity and identity for each age. As true as the saying, “Old things become New again” is, this info-graphic shows some interesting updated tweaks to the old that give a fresh forward visionary sign of the overall cultural attitudes of those related eras. As the 2010’s decade evolves, it seems to me we are possibly reflecting back to the 1960’s color palate. Makes sense, given our transitioning world economies and changing social attitudes. What do you think?


If you are interested in exploring how each generation shapes our collective cultural mindset, I highly recommend reading “The Age Curve” by Kenneth W. Gronbach, for an insightful look at the past, explanation of our present age, and an important peak into what the future might bring. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Las Vegas Winter 2014 Market Thoughts

The energy of last month’s Las Vegas Market seemed quite positive, in my experience. Buyers were more willing to expand their showroom stock into newer trendsetting product introductions. The time for staying cautious and sticking with the “Tried and True” looks, now seems to be fading away. All in all, it was a great Market that gives momentum for the rest of the year. Mid to high-end consumers are driving trends for better quality, US Made products. Cleaner transitional to contemporary styles are trending up, even in the Rustic West. As a manufacturer representative, it is good to see my dealers doing well and buying with more optimism for the future. All in all, there seems to be a collective sigh of relief. We have come through the other side of a difficult economic downturn, it is now time to move forward.

Corner Frames, Interesting way to Display Artwork


Love these unusual applications for displaying artwork. An interesting technique and perspective  for savvy designers.

A Holiday Economic Report for 2013

It has been quite encouraging of late, as I travel my territory, to find my dealers reporting improvement in traffic and business overall. This Holiday Season looks to be a busy with a profitable outlook. Combined with the improvement in the housing industry, hopefully we will all see increasing growth in housing and employment. So much has changed these past years that have been extremely challenging for brick and mortar retailers. Those who embrace both the physical store and an e-commerce presence on the Internet, seem to have good profit streams in their diverse sales channels. Branding is also an excellent strategy for setting a store apart from competitors. 

As I was researching for this topic, I came across this excellent 2013 Holiday Retail Report presentation by FTI Consulting. It is full of great information, check it out. 


Shop Local Campaigns: Win-Win for Everyone


Tis’ the Season when shopping for the Holidays begins in full force. Every retailer needs to consider joining together with other businesses in their area to help consumers easily find them. One convenient way for both retailers and consumers is the search online for phrases like, “Shop Local”. Today, I did this very exercise and found a couple sites, among many, that might be helpful for small businesses looking for a way to expand their outreach to their communities.

Check out these sites, please be aware this is not an endorsement for any particular site; merely a place to help you get started on your own search for like-minded businesses determined to thrive in Today’s new world of information. In the past, American Express has done a good job in supporting small businesses with their campaigns. Recently, I saw a flyer from Discover Card. Good luck with your own searches to find Shop Locally Campaign ideas. Please let me know what you find. Happy Holidays and may your sales soar!