Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from LaMothe Services, LLC

Happy Holidays from
Sharon LaMothe
The Business of A.R.T. and
LaMothe Services, LLC

Every piece of the universe, even the tiniest little snow crystal, matters somehow. I have a place in the pattern, and so do you…Thinking of you this holiday season!

-- T.A. Barron

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A LaMothe Book Review: The White Horse King, The Life of Alfred the Great

The White Horse King, The Life of Alfred the Great was a historical non-fiction account of pre-Britain Anglo-Saxon ruling family in the 800’s during the time of invading Danish “Norsemen” or Vikings from present day Sweden, Holland and Norway. Author Benjamin Merkle used his research to provide detailed descriptions of ruling class and peasant farmer challenges to survive not only the toil of land into harvest bounty to last the winter but to defend, defeat and eradicate invaders in longboats. This historical account accurately reveals the weaknesses of geography, infrastructure and practices of the period, how the Vikings took advantage of all of them, and how one defeated ruler in exile used his wits and wisdom to outwit, mobilize locals, raise and army and navy, inspire, educate and lead his country from a collection of conquered near-extinct city-states and regions into a single unified Britain within two generations.

This incredible story is not only engaging because it is true and Merkle supplies photographs, a handy chronology at the front and a map; but also because anyone with Anglo heritage or a natural instinct to root for the picked-on underdog can identify with the messages of the power of faith and perseverance, the values of courage and leadership and the tenacity of defending your homeland so common in human history.

The writing style is replete with many dates, locations and names but woven into the drama with enough detail and a few photographs from his solid research that it becomes clear, with a mental picture of their daily life and times that you cannot get in a school history book. When you can visualize the characters akin to a novel, this pagan verses Christian history becomes interesting, alive and engaging, and very easy to read.

Personally, I could quite easily identify with the paternal and protective instincts of the main “characters” in this real life drama of 11 hundred years ago. I found myself shocked that I had no recollection of hearing about Alfred the Great from elementary school history but did remember those nasty conquering Vikings that are more often glorified (sorry Minnesota football fans). I will let the sociologists explain why pirates are idolized…

One thing I did enjoy from the book very much was learning about the roots of our street layouts, the need for a national army and navy, the bravery of a king that locked arms with his men in a life-of-death shield wall, even the first required government literacy program. Other uniting principles originating with King Alfred during his 28-year reign were books in the local language, a strong currency and simplified common laws. What I discovered about myself was that my ancestors in Europe had a very hard life, must have lived through this terrible time and passed onto me in my genes a strong spark of survival that I can call upon if I ever need it. If you enjoy those misfits-become champions sports stories you will love this epic.

I can say that I did finish wanting to read more about the next generation of Alfred’s children and their further success, more about life in the other European countries impacted by the Vikings, and maybe even what it was like to be part of the Viking culture as a trained brigand to leave his home and family expecting to return laden with gold only to find a dug-in band of farmers that refused to budge. I found nothing to dislike about the book and would like to see it unfold as an epic movie or mini-series, even a Discovery show with many more photographs. I easily recommend this book to others who enjoy history and dramatic biographies, those who have traveled to Great Britain or have ancestry from the region, or anyone who likes a great story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

by Roland LaMothe

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sustainable Tips to Save Small Business Owners Money PART ONE By Catherine Corley

In recent years, the notion of a “green economy” has gathered steam. The conversation accelerated when the economy worsened and unemployment rose and suddenly, a green economy was seen by many as a pathway out of the current economic situation.
Studies in 2008 found that 2 million jobs in two years could be created from adopting green practices, and 4.2 million green jobs by 2038. Similarly, in a survey of more than 100 primarily fortune 500 companies, 47 percent said that they were increasing their investment in green product development this year.

The same survey found, however, that 46 percent of companies’ environmental, health and safety budgets will remain the same in 2009 as they were in 2008, despite the economy. These statistics highlight the challenge today’s companies face when trying to make changes to become more socially responsible on a tight budget.

Your business — and the millions of other small businesses in America — can make an enormous impact on the environment through sustainable initiatives. But how do you accomplish your desire to “do good” without sacrificing the bottom line? And what tools are available to help you in your journey?

Fortunately, there are ways of gaining access to investment capital. One out of every nine dollars under professional management in the U.S. is involved in socially responsible investing, adding up to more than $2 trillion. That number represents a huge pool of money being invested in companies that are working to become more sustainable, as reported by Merchant Circle — an online community dedicated to connecting local businesses and their customers. This goes to show that capital investors are looking for companies showing green platforms in which to invest.

On the flip side, many companies have found cost savings by looking into conservation strategies and finding there was much fat to be cut. For example, through energy conservation and the use of renewable energy, IBM claims it has saved more than $100 million since 1998, while simultaneously avoiding more than 1.28 million tons of CO2 emissions. And Wal-mart estimates it will save $7 million annually on electricity by replacing incandescent light bulbs in its stores’ ceiling fan displays with super efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Companies that have adopted alternative fuel and energy solutions are able to lower their exposure to oil price volatility while increasing energy efficiency, according to’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

Learning by the examples set by companies both big and small, while also following simple steps aimed at reducing your company’s environmental impact, can set you on a path to saving money and saving the planet.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

12 money-saving tips for renting a car by David Grossman

I thought that this was a timely article because of the holiday traveling season but these tips are mostly for those of you who travel for business. I know of a few conferences that are coming up for 2010 and I will certainly use a few of these tips while I travel!

12 money-saving tips for renting a car

By David Grossman, special for USA TODAY

In a tough economy business travelers must find new ways to economize. One area often overlooked is the cost of renting a car. Here are 12 of my favorite tips for saving money when renting a car.

1. City vs. airport: Many states and municipalities levy exorbitant taxes and user fees on airport rentals. I often find it less expensive to rent my car at a city or off-airport location. On a recent trip to Philadelphia I saved $103 on a five day rental by using a Hertz location in the city center instead of renting at Philadelphia International Airport.

2. Airport drop-off: To further enhance my savings in Philadelphia, I actually dropped the car at the airport on my way home eliminating the taxi fare from downtown to the airport. While one-way rentals from city to city often carry a drop charge, car rental companies rarely charge customers to pick up or return their car at different locations within the same metropolitan area. Returning that Hertz car to the airport was the same price as dropping the car at the rental office in the city center. Sometimes it even pays to rent a car at a city location solely for the drive back to the airport rather than using other forms of ground transportation.
3. Single day vs. overnight: On many trips I rent a car only for the days I need one. This works nicely if you're staying in the city and need to use the car to attend meetings in the suburbs, for example. Even if you need a car every day, renting and returning the vehicle each day can help avoid costly overnight parking at a city hotel.

4. Parking alternatives: If you need a car for the entire trip and you are staying in a city center, it is often cheaper to park overnight in a nearby public garage than pay the inflated rates charged by most hotels. If you return to your hotel in the evening and plan to leave again in the morning, you can even park overnight on the street for free in cities, even in major cities like San Francisco or New York, as long as you move the car before the daytime parking meters or restrictions are in force.

5. Renting in smaller cities: In most cases, large cities or airports charge the highest fees to maintain their expensive airport rental facilities. When visiting several cities in Arizona on a three day trip recently, my Budget rental car in Phoenix was priced at $235, but I saved $110 by renting the same car 120 miles away in Tucson and I've had similar savings by renting in Milwaukee vs. Chicago just 90 miles away. In addition, picking up a rental car in a smaller city is often much quicker and easier than large airports like Chicago O'Hare or Phoenix International Airport.
6. Using airline and other discounts: If your company doesn't have a direct corporate discount with a rental car company it often pays to use discounts offered by airlines or large organizations like the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). On my Philadelphia trip the non-discounted daily rate for my midsize car was $72 while the AAA member rate was $65 and Southwest Airlines discount rate was only $52 per day. Most airlines offer discounts from multiple car rental companies. The discount numbers are generally posted on the airline's website and you usually don't have to fly that airline on that particular day to receive the discounted rate.

7. Weekend vs. weekday rentals: In tourist destinations like Florida, renting a car at the airport for a weekend during peak periods will generally cost more, while during the week there are likely to be fewer travelers and deals may abound. In contrast, at business destinations, airport rental car lots are full and prices are lower on weekends. In cities like New York or Boston, where many city residents don't own a car, rental cars are often in great demand during the weekend at city locations while airport rental counters are begging for business.

8. Web bookings: The Internet often yields lower rates than telephone bookings. In addition, travelers can comparison shop across many vendors simultaneously on travel agency websites.

9. Opaque shopping/bidding websites: I often find great car rental deals from the top rental car brands by purchasing on "opaque" websites like and These sites allow you to purchase "distressed inventory" from suppliers who need to move cars off their lots on a particular day. You don't know which rental car company has been assigned until after booking and it is a guaranteed, pre-paid, non-refundable reservation, but I often find the best prices here, particularly in this slow economy.

10. Avoiding unnecessary insurance: Car rental companies always try to sell insurance to accompany your rental, but many homeowners or home automobile insurance policies and some premium credit cards already cover car rental insurance so it always pays to check before accepting this option.

11. Prepaid gasoline: An increasing number of rental car companies offer a prepaid gasoline option. You pay for a tank of gas up front and then try to bring the car back with the tank as empty as possible. This can be a great convenience if you don't want to search for a gas station on your way back to the airport, but while prices for prepaid gasoline are generally lower than pump prices, any savings could evaporate if you bring the car back with more than a gallon or two in the tank.

12. Finding cheaper gas: At home, you probably know which service stations consistently offer the lowest prices, but on the road you may not. I always make a mental note of gasoline prices at stations near the airport, but using websites like or can take the guess work out of finding cheap gasoline anywhere in the country. On a recent trip to Cleveland I saved $8 on a tank of gas by checking the Internet first.

Of course, staying where you don't have to rent a car at all may offer the greatest savings, but when driving is unavoidable following the tips above for every rental can add up to big savings for business travelers.