Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Montana Woman Magazine April 2010 - Business on My Mind

Business on my Mind




                                                                                    by Jeri Mae Rowley


The “Golden Rule” tells us to “do unto others as we would like to be done unto.”  The Golden Rule works well in customer service only if we are serving people “just like us”. Many businesses today serve four distinct generations of customers.  As service professionals, we need to understand and appreciate the outlook and preferences of each unique generation. Then, we can customize service delivery and follow the “Platinum Rule” which tells us to “do unto others as ‘they’ would like to be done unto!”  Learn what it takes to truly “delight” the Veterans, Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennial Generations:

     Veterans are often called the “Traditionalists”. These customers were born before roughly 1945, and are currently age 62 or older.  People in this group grew up in a time when men worked and women were the primary child-care givers.  Over 50% of the men in this group were in the military.  And, because most are retired, they are willing to take the time to get to know you and what you have to offer.  When serving customers from the Veteran generation:

  • Use courteous language: “Please,” “Thank you,” “You are Welcome,” I apologize, “Mr.,” and “Mrs.”
  • Avoid jargon:  “No Problem,”  “Yeah, sure,” and “You Guys.
  • Create phone systems that immediately allow customers to speak with a person.

     Boomers represent the huge demographic born from roughly 1946-1964 who create a “boom” as they travel through their lives because there are approximately 80 million of them.  Baby Boomers are characterized as optimistic, competitive and idealistic.  Boomers prefer a friendly, more casual relationship with the businesses they patronize.  To delight a Boomer:

·    Be personable and efficient.

·    Take time to interact and establish rapport before getting down to business.

·    Customers of this generation appreciate status programs and services that recognize their loyal patronage.

     Gen Xers were born from approximately 1965-1980 are a much smaller generation of only 46 million—Gen Xers are often overlooked and overshadowed by the Baby Boomer generation.  Gen Xers have a much more conservative economic outlook.  They have grown up during times of recession and downsizing and were the first generation of latchkey kids and computer users.

     As customers, they’re not as focused on the interpersonal part of the transaction and are comfortable with online transactions.  If you are serving a Gen Xer, remember:

  • Xers prefer competence to schmoozing.
  • They are skeptical.  Be prepared with facts and figures.
  • Offer Xers choices and let them decide.


     Millennials are the generation born from 1981 to the present (currently ages 30 and younger).  With 76 million plus members, this generation is nearly as large as the Baby Boomers.  They are comfortable being involved in multiple activities, multitasking and building a portfolio of activities and achievements.  Two-thirds used a computer before they were five, and today they spend an average of eleven hours per week on-line.  Millennial customers appreciate being appreciated.

·    Be respectful.  No one likes to be talked down to just because they’re young.

·    Millennials are quickly bored by slow procedures and lines.

·    Make your website—and your facility—inviting, interactive spaces.

     The Platinum Rule of Customer Service reminds us that to delight customers, we need to: “Do Unto Customers as They Would Like to Be Done Unto.”  Remember that each generation of your customers has its own unique mindset, work values and preferences.  Each generation would like you to understand and honor how they want to be “done unto”.


     Jeri Mae Rowley is a professional speaker, master trainer and saddle maker’s daughter who delights audiences with her unique brand of Western Wit and Wisdom for the Workplace.” Please visit her website:








Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 2010 Cover Story - Queens of Comedy

Montana Woman 





                                                                               by Rena Desmond


Have you ever wondered how things come about?  I always want to know the how, why, when and where of things.  In this case my curiosity got the best of me.  It all started while reading the entertainment section of the local newspaper.  Don’t quote me on this, but I think it said, “‘Tea Theatre’ at Vivienne’s Fifth Street Café, cost of tickets, date of the two woman revue, featuring Mona Charles and Mary Reckin, better known as the Theatre Queens of Comedy.”  I immediately dialed my friend and asked if she would like to go.  She said, “I went to the first one but I would love to go again; it was fabulous.”  I then dialed the number to purchase tickets and, lo and behold, it was sold out.  I would be placed on a long waiting list.  There was another performance about six months later and my call for tickets had the same result.  Only this time the list was longer than the first time.  So, I decided to do a story about these theatre queens of comedy thinking perhaps I could get in to see their next show.

   One of the queens of comedy is Mona Charles who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas.  She has one brother who teaches history and plays guitar, and a cousin with whom she is very close that visits her in Montana every year; “He loves it just as much as I do.”  Mona moved to New York at the ripe old age of 21 where she had the privilege of studying at the Actors Studio founded by the legendary acting guru, Lee Strasberg.  The studio was created to provide a workshop for actors to work on the elements of the art apart from the concerns of productions.

     Mona says, “The most important thing I learned while studying at the Actors Studio was to live ‘moment to moment’ on stage and in life.  It is so basic, but so difficult sometimes.” After three years in New York she moved to Los Angeles, CA where she worked in film, TV, a few TV pilots, live theatre, and even “industrial” in-house training films.  She also created a very successful live murder mystery company she named “Die Laughing”.  She wanted the audience to know right off the top that this was a good murder mystery… but it was supposed to be fun.  Mona would hire 25 or 30 actors in any given month and they would perform on weekends at dinner theatres. 

     After nine years in California Mona decided it was time to move on.  She left Los Angeles with the intention of driving cross-country.  Then she crossed the border into Montana—it took her only took ten minutes to realize she was home.  Mona said, “I never felt such joy.  I just started crying.”

     When she settled in Montana, Mona thought she wouldn’t be working, however, she was offered a job to write a newsletter for an International Airline Entertainment Association.  Mona has traveled a great deal internationally and always loved it, so this seemed a perfect fit.  After ten years writing the newsletter, she reached another stage in her life when she felt it was time to do something else.  Mona believed that would be retirement and finally learning to ski.  But during a conversation with a friend about real estate, she realized how much she loved going into other people’s homes.  Now, after obtaining her Real Estate license, Mona is working with Big Sky Properties of Montana.  She says, “I went with my gut, not my head, which is usually how I make decisions.  Even with the roles I play, I go with my heart.”  Mona says Montana is home now for her and her dog Newton.  When she says that, she can hear the song, “Home is Montana and Montana is my Home”.

     The other half of the queens of comedy is Mary Reckin who grew up Mary Sullivan and lived her earliest years in Cambridge, Mass.  When she was ten her parents relocated the family to Orange County, California.  Her father always wanted her to perform what he called “elocution” (a style of speaking) for the folks in the living room.  Mary thinks that’s when the drama seed was planted, and the then popular Gilbert and Sullivan and Victor Herbert Operettas promoted her love of music.  But that seed didn’t flourish until she hit Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.  Her big break came when she enrolled in Santa Ana College and was cast in the leading role of Fiona in the play Brigadoon.

     From that point on the only thing that existed for Mary was the theatre.  When she returned home from “a fling” in San Francisco she pursued her love of acting in Community Theatre.  In 1962 she was cast in the lead of Kiss Me Kate in a huge summer production at Orange Coast College.  She recalls going to Western Costumes in LA and being fitted with the dresses worn by the original star, Patricia Morrison.  In 1981 she won best actress for her performance in Born Yesterday.  She received kudos for The Great Sebastians and finished up with A Little Night Music at Laguna Playhouse.  For Mary it just couldn’t get any better than sitting on a gorgeous bed in a red gown in the spotlight singing “Send In The Clowns”.

     In 1993 Mary began another phase of her career, that of director.  Determined to be well-rounded, she chose to direct a murder mystery, a comedy and an operetta.  In time, her talent and extensive body of work were recognized when Mary was chosen “Woman of the Year” in theatre.

     Her life really turned around when friends invited Mary and her then husband to visit Montana.  During their stay they attended a performance at the Bigfork Playhouse.  Of the experience, Mary said, “I thought it was charming.  So enchanted were we that upon returning the next year we purchased a house overlooking the Bigfork Bay.”  Two years later she saw an ad in the Bigfork Eagle; the Playhouse was looking for a director.  Mary applied and was hired… all by mail.  For her directing debut she chose Born Yesterday.  It was a huge hit.  Interestingly, Frank Miele, Editor in Chief of The Daily Interlake, starred in it… but hasn’t been on stage since!  

      After six years of directing and acting in such hits as Steel Magnolias, The Man who Came to Dinner, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and many small productions in restaurants, schools, and art galleries, etc., she met P.J. Barry, New York playwright and actor.  They formed a professional and private friendship when he came to Bigfork to attend The Octette Bridge Club in 1996.  Mary returned to Orange county to direct another Barry play, A Distance from Calcutta, her new mentor by her side. 

     When her marriage ended Mary returned to Kalispell looking to new horizons.  Doors began to open for her when she met Frank Morrison whose influence helped to get the Kalispell Repertory Theatre on its feet.  From 1999 to 2001, Mary Reckin, “the new kid on the block”, became the hot ticket.  Opening with The Lion in Winter with a stellar cast, Mary planned to direct, but when an accident occurred she found herself playing the leading role of Eleanor of Aquitaine opposite James Barry’s Henry.  Mary says, “To this day I meet people that remember that performance.”  The shows continued to roll along with the original, Table 7 at the Elephant, and Cowardy Custard that packed the house for four weeks.  Once again, P.J. Barry returned bringing with him his new play that had never been performed.  He stayed and directed and caused, “the best theatrical noise here in the Valley.”  The play was Blow the House Down and starred Leah Lindsay, Lisa Schlange and Mary in another of her favorite roles, that of the judgmental, catholic, old maid hairdresser, Maggie Conroy.  Mary says of her work with the Kalispell Repertory Theatre, “One of my greatest accomplishments was to get 15 men on stage for Mr. Roberts.  Everyone said it couldn’t be done.  That is something that you don’t tell a determined Sagittarius director.”

     Mary’s name became synonymous with quality theatre work.  Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and the doors of the Kalispell Repertory Theatre closed.  But as those doors closed, another opened for Mary.  Paul Rumelhart from Libby had come to see both Mr. Roberts and Bus Stop and offered Mary a position as the Artistic Director for the Kootenai Heritage Counsel.  Once again she knew not a soul and wanted the first show she did to be something BIG in order to get their attention.  Her friends from California, Tim Nelson and Kent Johnson, had written a musical, Robin Hood and the White Arrow that was a huge success in Orange County, “so, I thought why not?  The community rallied round and we did it.” 

     It was then that Mary’s life really changed.  Matchmakers from her church introduced Mary to Jerry Reckin.  There is a story here, but let’s just say it was an instant match.  They were married in a joint Catholic-Lutheran service on April 26, 2003.  He stayed with her through all the theatre stuff and even appeared on stage.  Her last production was Jerry’s Girls” and, of course, everyone in Libby thought it was about Mary’s Jerry.  The newlyweds located in Kalispell along with their “Fur Face”, Rosie.

     It was when she returned to Kalispell that Mary met Mona Charles.  They think they met through the Kalispell Repertory Theatre… “But then again, it might have been after On Golden Pond.”  At any rate, three years ago they performed together for First Night and then Mona appeared as Ann Richards in Notable Heroines of America that Mary directed.  Mary says of Mona, “She was fantastic and ever since then it’s been about Mona and Mary.”

     One of the places Mary enjoys frequenting is Vivienne’s Fifth Street Café.  Viv often talked to Mary about her work and would say, “One of these days you are going to perform here.” Mary would say, “Yea, Yea, Yea,” and it would be forgotten.  But one day Viv and Mary said, “Let’s just do it.”  They sat down and picked a date.  Mary’s first thought was of Mona because, “She is so good.  Mona is passionate about acting.  She loves making people laugh and she loves live theatre.”  Vivienne’s first thought was this was going to be great because it’s the perfect location.

     The “Tea and Theatre” on Sunday November 22 was sold out within a week… and all they did was put out a sign.  Forty- three people showed up and many more wanted to be put on a waiting list for the next showing.  Many came to the January 17th show knowing that it was going to be the same show.  Vivienne says, “You know, we can all see a play on stage, but a part of the charm here is the intimacy and closeness.”  Mona added, “In a theatre you can only see the audience in the first or second row.  Here there are no lights, and because so much of what we do is monologue, we get to talk directly to the people.  The audience responds; it’s an active participation.  I catch people’s eyes and the energy and excitement is just amazing.”

     There is something special about having high tea; no matter how old you are, you feel a little like you are playing grown up.  Ladies have been known to wear matching gloves and hat.  The whole thing is amazing.

     This year, the opening scene at the Tea and Theatre is from the play Cemetery Club.  Throughout the performance there is a clear message about women facing something unique.  The life events portrayed range from that of an aspiring actress to a woman making a decision about where she is going to live out her final days, to a master class given by a famous opera singer.  It’s a funny and poignant review that provides a glimpse into the lives of a wide range of women in various stages of life.

     The next “Tea and Theatre” is scheduled for April 18 at Vivienne’s Fifth Street Café at 3:00 p.m.  Come out and feel the closeness and intimacy while interacting with Mona and Mary, better known as the “Theatre Queens of Comedy”, while they present a delightful potpourri of characters.

     I hope to see you there; you see, I’m already at the top of the waiting list and have reserved a table for six.  I can’t wait to sip tea with some new friends and interact with Mona and Mary.






Monday, April 5, 2010

An article from the April 2010 issue of Montana Woman Magazine......

Real Food Revival




     by Amy Grisak


This week, my friend, Deb, and I swung by the community gardens at Electric City Conservatory here in Great Falls to see what we’ll need to start this spring.  For the past couple of years, Casey Bailey led the youth group from Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in a successful effort to grow food for Meals on Wheels.  Casey is up to his eyeballs in projects on his farm so he handed the baton to River City Harvest, and we hope to make this a great place for nearby residents to garden as well as continuing to supply fresh veggies for Meals on Wheels and the Great Falls Food Bank.

     While we looked over the garden, I noticed gorgeous, green spinach growing in one of the raised beds.  I was starving so I plucked a couple of handfuls and snacked on them as we inventoried what we had to work with and what we needed.

     This is one of the beauties of spring—when the first greens thrive despite cold nights and inclement weather.  They’re also great for you acting as a tonic to help detox your liver and jump start your system. Here are a few of my favorites:

     Spinach – Deb asked if spinach often tasted metallic to me.  I told her the young leaves typically don’t, as the ones I munched on as I answered her question.  It’s a great one for spring salads and cooking since it is packed with vitamin C, A, K and plenty of antioxidants.  It’s also a valuable source of iron, particularly when cooked.

     Mache – Also known as corn salad, mache is a hardy green that is often one of the first ones to start growing in the spring.  I love it because it has a mild flavor, yet is a great way to consume folate and is a natural plant source for omega-3 fatty acids.

     Kale – I can’t forget about my husband’s nemesis.  I planted a dozen plants a couple of years ago, and I think he still fears it.  Kale is best during the cool weather, whether it’s in the late fall or starting early in the spring.  It’s an excellent green to braise along with other veggies, or to cook in soups.

     Arugula – This has a bit of a peppery flavor that is a good balance in salads and on sandwiches.  Plus, it’s also good as part of a braising mix tossed with olive oil and maybe a little parmesan cheese on top.  I’ve also heard of people tossing it on pizza during the final moments of baking.  That’s something I definitely need to try.

     Mustard – A little mustard goes a long way unless you really like things spicy.  Mustard greens are great on sandwiches, and provide a healthy dose of calcium plus plenty of vitamins A and C.  They’re another tasty addition to a side dish of braised mixed greens.


Spring is a great time to mix it up in the kitchen with a wide array of these tasty and extremely healthful foods.  Toss them in a salad, add them to pasta, throw in soups… and enjoy the first greens of the season.


     (For more information on the community gardens in Great Falls check out our blog: