7 Insider Tips for Millennial Home Buying

Millennial Home Buying Tips to Save Time & Money

Are you getting tired of paying rent? Do you think you’re wasting money? Do you want to build equity in your own home?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you are like most Americans. You want to own your own home.

But, are you financially ready for that next big step?

Read through these 7 tips to buying your first home.

1. Assess the Timing

Did you just land your first post-college job? Are you planning to stay with this employer? Will you be relocated? Do you plan on getting married anytime soon? Is there money saved  for a down payment? Are student loans taking a big chunk of your paycheck? If so, start a “home” fund and start saving for your dream. You need to do an honest assessment of the timing to buy a home to ensure it’s a good fit in your life at the moment. Chat with a local lender who will be able to best assess your current financial situation.

2. Check Your Credit Score and Cash Flow

Don’t waste your or an agent’s time if you haven’t first checked your credit score and know your debt-to-earnings ratio. (Avoid taking on new debt while in the process of buying a home.) Click here for more information on getting your FICO score. The better your credit score, most likely, the better your mortgage rate. (Always pay your bills on time and pay down your credit cards.)

When your credit score is worthy and you have the cash flow and a sizable deposit saved, talk to a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan.

Before contacting a lender, organize your paperwork. The lender will likely have a checklist of required paperwork including, tax statements, W-2s, bank statements, a list of debt, including any student loans, credit cards, etc.

Most sellers won’t even allow prospective buyers into their homes without first knowing the buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage loan.

Keep in mind it’s not just the down payment money you will need but also cash for real estate taxes, a home inspection and an appraisal, closing costs (If the seller doesn’t pay all of them.) possibly mortgage insurance, utilities, furnishings, maintenance, home owner’s association monthly fees, etc.

Always keep a 3-6-month cash reserve fund in case an unexpected emergency arises, like loss of a job or an injury that keeps you from working and earning an income.

3. Research 1st Time Home Buyer Lender Programs

The general rule has been that one should have 20 percent of the home’s value as a down payment when buying a home. But, that applies only if you don’t want to pay PMI-private mortgage insurance. Lenders require PMI to cover the loan if you default on it. If you are required to get PMI, shop around for the best rates just like you would for home or auto insurance.

Consult with your real estate agent and look for programs assisting first time home buyers.

Check with your lender about special lending programs. For instance, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans let you put just 3.5% down. Click FHA for more information on FHA loans.

VA offers home buying loans to veterans and active military members. Click VA for more information.

4. Get the Right Help

The expression, “Don’t put the cart before the horse,” definitely applies in home buying. Before looking at neighborhoods and homes online, there are a number of necessary pre-steps. After ensuring the timing is right to buy a home, find a real estate agent who specializes in the type of home you are seeking and neighborhood in which you’d ideally like to live. If you’re a buyer, you don’t pay a real estate fee.

Remember agents at open houses work for the seller. Agents at new home construction sites work for the builder. Get an agent that works for you-the buyer.

Your agent’s expertise will likely save you not only money but also a lot of stress and heartache in the buying process. A great agent will guide you every step of the process, including helping you secure a lending agent just right for you.

5. Decide Where You Want to Live

Be realistic. Don’t frustrate yourself by looking at homes and neighborhoods outside of your budget. Attend open houses. Evaluate what appeals to you regarding style (older home or contemporary home with modern amenities), size (square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms), location (family friendly, retirees, urban), neighborhood traffic patterns (Is it a cut-through street? Is it on a cul-de-sac?) etc. Does the home need to be move-in-ready, or are you willing to buy a fixer-upper? Research re-sale values in the areas you’re highly considering.

Attempt to prioritize the general area of town and type of home you are seeking before working with an agent. If you can’t, have a list of what matters most to you: closeness to work, certain schools for your children, number of bedrooms, room for a growing family, recreation opportunities for children, etc. so that your agent can guide you to the best location and help you find an ideal home in that neighborhood. Keep in mind that your lifestyle preferences may change in the next few years, especially if you add children to your family.

6. Know the Rules

Many neighborhoods now have Home Owner Associations (HOAs). Request a written copy of the rules before buying. Can you abide by the rules and restrictions? Can you afford the monthly fees? Ask to see the Association’s finances. Is it well run? Will they be able to continue the services offered without taking a rate increase?

7. Be Decisive

If you’ve done your homework and aligned yourself with a great agent, making an offer on your dream home will be easy. Don’t delay your decision making, or you’re likely to lose the home to another buyer.

Ready to buy or sell? Connect with Megan.
Megan Owens, Realtor
Owens Real Estate Group
“Delivering extraordinary care for extraordinary clients.”
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate
Phone | 402-689- 4984 Email | MeganOwensRE@gmail.com

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. March 2018. Linda Leier Thomason.
All Rights Reserved.

The Best & Worst of Traveling to the Dominican Republic

Christopher Columbus discovered this oldest country of the Americas in 1492. I explored the Punta Cana region in February 2018.

This Caribbean country shares its land boundary with Haiti on the west. Together they were referred to as Hispaniola-one island shared by two countries. The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern 2/3 while the western 1/3 is occupied by Haiti. Cuba is the only Caribbean country larger in both land mass and population than the Dominican Republic (approximately 11 million people). Dominican Republic’s land mass is about twice the size of New Hampshire.
The country is often plagued by both drought and hurricanes.

Arrival at Punta Cana Airport

Planes land and passengers disembark onto the tarmac. TIP: Limit your carry-on items as you have to carry them down the flight of stairs.
Once loaded onto a shuttle bus, passengers are driven to the terminal. Be prepared for long, slow-moving lines. Visitors need a Tourist Card prior to clearing customs. These can be purchased online in advance.

Click http://dgii.gov.do/tarjetaTuristica/EN/about/Paginas/default.aspx for more information.
Click here to purchase a tourist card.  TIP: The citizens of Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, South Korea, Israel and Japan are exempt from purchasing the tourist card. TIP: Be prepared to be hustled. Porters with wheelchairs will urge you to allow them to move you to the front of the line, charging you $10 for the Tourist Card and pocketing $10 for the privilege.

There are well-stocked, modern, clean toilets in the Customs Area.

Click here for more practical information on traveling to the Dominican Republic.

12 Facts about the Dominican Republic

I spent half of a day touring the rural area of Punta Cana with AndrewCountry Adventures outstanding tour guide. I have taken similar tours in Antigua, Oahu and Kauai in the past year. This tour was superior on every level. I’d highly recommend booking a tour and asking for him as your guide. Full and half day adventures are offered.

1. Catholicism is the most prevalent religion. Roman Catholic weddings are the only religious marriage ceremonies legally recognized by the government; civil unions are legal too. Abortion is illegal.
2. The Bible must be read in public schools according to a 2000 law, though private schools do not have to follow this law.
3. Students must attend school from ages 7-14. After age 14, students may choose whether or not to remain in school. Families must pay for school; tuition is a significant chunk of a family budget. School is in session from September through June.
4. Tourism (service sector) is the country’s #1 employer. In fact, the Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean.
5. After Cuba, the Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean producer of sugarcane, the nation’s most important crop. Other main crops are tobacco, cocoa and coffee.
6. A quarter of the country’s coastal shores and land are preserved as national parks, reserves and sanctuaries. The country is considered a leader in sustainable tourism.
7. Three beverages are stand-outs: Presidente Beer is brewed in Santo Domingo and is the most popular beer; it’s served in nearly every establishment. Mama Juana combines rum, red wine, honey, herbs and tree bark. It tastes somewhat like port wine. The Dominican Republic is also known for producing excellent rum.
8. The official Independence Day (from Haiti) is February 27, 1844. The government is a representative democracy and members of the police and armed forces cannot vote.
9. Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta was born in Santo Domingo in 1932.
10. Baseball is the most popular sport. Many US greats hail from the Dominican Republic, including Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols, and Juan Marichal.
11. The country’s flag has a white cross with the national coat of arms in the center. Blue and red rectangular boxes are in either corner. Blue stands for liberty, white for salvation and red for the blood of heroes. The Dominican Republic flag is the only one with a Bible on it.

12.Spanish is the official language


The tour stopped outside a school. Barbed wire was above cinder blocks. Sadly, this is to keep children in school. It was a Saturday. School was not in session. Yet children ran alongside the bus begging for hand-outs. Prior to the tour departing we were told we could not give children anything in an effort to dissuade begging.


Peddlers of all types appear on Dominican Republic beaches. One can buy everything from trinkets to cigars while soaking up the sun. Petting a monkey, having a parrot sit on your shoulder or allowing a snake to wrap around your neck are common offers. Be prepared to say, “No thank you” quite often. If you prefer a less intrusive sunning experience, find a chair at one of the pools at your resort. Peddlers are not allowed into the resorts.

Hard Rock Resort and Casino Punta Cana

This all-inclusive resort is 18 miles Northwest of the Punta Cana airport. It boasts 13 pools, 9 restaurants, a spa, golf course and endless music memorabilia.



On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best resort I’ve stayed in on a Caribbean island, I’d award this property a 7.

Here’s why.

Size. The resort is 121 acres along Macao Beach. A very efficient shuttle tram service is available. More signage would be helpful for perpetually lost guests. Building names that matched the instrument painted on it would also be helpful.
All-Inclusive. It is all-inclusive but not adult only, though there is an adult-only pool (Eden) that was often quite crowded. Unsupervised pre-teens thought it hilarious to throw shampoo, etc. from the balcony onto unsuspecting guests. Younger children supervised by parents were not bothersome.
Multi-Level Guest Room. The guest room was large with two levels-one with the bed and bathroom and a step-down level with a Jacuzzi tub (for two), writing desk and chair. A spacious balcony overlooked a construction crew working on a waterscape area. One awakened to the sound of construction on all days, but Sunday. The view was quite unsatisfactory. Once construction is completed, this annoyance will disappear.
Room Amenities. Two bathrobes, two pairs of slippers, a safe, shelving and plenty of hangers were in the closet. The bathroom appeared to be as large as the living area. It had a walk-in shower with two heads and plenty of amenities that smelled like male fragrances. The dual vanity, dressing area and separate toilet area were appreciated.
The best part of the room was that it was mold and mildew free-what one often experiences with beachfront locations.
A stocked mini-fridge and liquor dispenser were behind a cabinet. The beverage cart attendant came often and was quite pleasant.
Food. None of the food at the 9 restaurants stood out as excellent. The variety was great (Mediterranean/Italian/Asian/Steak/Mexican, etc.) but the quality was average, or in some cases, below average. The ice cream stations were popular as was the food offered poolside.
Entertainment. The Michael Jackson tribute show on the lower level of the Casino was well attended. It was extremely well done by some incredibly talented performers. Andre Bocelli happened to also be performing on location during our visit. Unfortunately, we could not secure tickets. The Casino seemed popular at night. The bars were not open during the daytime when we watched basketball in the Sports Book area. We never turned on the television during our stay. More publicity for nighttime entertainment would be helpful to guests-post in pool areas, post in dining locations, ask housekeeping to leave a schedule in guest rooms, perhaps.
Housekeeping. Our service was excellent. Spotless, in fact. The chocolates were appreciated. TIP: Workers at all-inclusive resorts can be tipped. Take an envelope of $1 bills and tip where service is outstanding. It is much appreciated.
Athletics. The athletic facilities here are great but not regularly used. The mini golf course is well-designed. With resort credit it was $6 per guest for 18 holes. The basketball court and ping-pong tables in the Teen area were outstanding. The tennis courts were well maintained and the lap pool was pristine and much quieter than the adult pool. The water aerobics class was well attended daily.
Hospitality. Workers seemed happy but honestly none stood out as superior. To this day I recall resort staff names from other countries like Antigua and Jamaica. It was very disappointing to us to learn on our second day from another guest that the color of our wristband meant we had resort credits to use. We were not informed of this at check-in. It’s worth noting that we traveled here with a group. Guests were housed throughout the property and not placed in nearby rooms. TIP: If close proximity of your group is important, request this when booking. TIP: Make sure your reservation and any extra privileges are explained and understood when checking in.
Excursions. We booked a ½ day excursion through a tour company located in the Convention Center, not through the resort’s staff. TIP: This tour can be booked online prior to your arrival. Country Adventures ranks as the best tour company we’ve used in either Hawaii or any Caribbean country we’ve visited. The staff was knowledgeable, courteous and friendly. The vehicle and driver, safe. The tour was priced right. The locations were prepared for our visit and the information shared was excellent. We returned to our Resort knowing this portion of our vacation would be the most memorable.

Departure from Punta Cana Airport

• Follow the instructions given by your airline and arrive at least two hours prior to your departure time. There is a US $20 departure tax, usually built into your airline ticket.
TSA Pre-Check does not apply here. All passengers must follow their departure instructions, including, but not limited to, 3-ounce fluids in zip locked bag, removal of shoes, electronics, etc. Each guest is also patted down by a same sex agent. Drug sniffing dogs roam all areas of the airport.

• Agriculture products and produce are not allowed to leave the country.
• A very modern food court, with restaurants familiar to all Americans, with plenty of seating is available.
• Duty free shops are abundant.
• A musical trio was performing as we waited to walk on the tarmac to board our plane.

The Dominican Republic is a country worth exploring. Be informed before you go. Get off the resort. Meet the people. Soak in the culture. Expand your knowledge of the world. Travel.


Fashion art products created from photographic images taken in Dominican Republic can be found at the “Linda’s Store” tab above under Vida Design Studio. Thank you for supporting my small business shop.





Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. March 2018. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

One to Watch: Newly Elected 22-Year-Old Harry Griffin

Youngest City Council Member Ever Elected in Charleston, South Carolina

Harry Griffin is living proof that dreams do come true, even if in a down-scaled sort of way.

Full disclosure. Harry was a classmate and friend of our son, Alex. He played tag football in our Charleston, South Carolina yard and basketball on our driveway. Harry ate at our table and celebrated birthdays on our screened porch. He was part of a group of West Ashley young men. Yet, he was different. He stood out as a leader and made no apologies for it, even as a child.

As one who’s career included two stints on Capitol Hill, I kept an eye on him. I especially took interest when, as a 3rd grade student, he announced on a local TV station that he’d one day run for President of the USA. I knew he could, and should. He had leadership talent. Family, teachers and friends all noticed and fostered it.

At age 22, Harry Griffin is the youngest Charleston City Council member in modern history. He was elected in a District 10 run-off in November 2017. He smiles every day for the honor to serve his community. Harry knows he’s lucky and he gives all glory to God and thanks to his family, who, according to his mom, Susie Podiak, will always be in the front row cheering him on.

Maritime Industry

The second oldest of four boys, this 2016 Citadel graduate is a Project Manager at Neal Brothers Charleston, Inc.-a 100-year-old international export packing company led by his father, Darryl Griffin, Sr. A man Harry calls “a very strong leader who’s always been my hero and mentor.”
Harry grew up exposed to the business and enjoyment of one of Charleston’s most important industries-the Maritime industry. He’s foresees himself as an experienced leader one day at Neal Brothers. And, he projects a political career, fighting for “civil liberties of all Charlestonians.”

Getting Elected

Although Harry’s election at age 22 is novel in the City of Charleston, he doesn’t think youth is as important as it once was. He does acknowledge, however, that his age did help him stand out and gain additional coverage. He claims his positivity and work ethic were equally important to the historic victory. Familiarity and ease of using social media to communicate his platforms and message to a broad range of voters in rapid time were also key victory indicators.

Harry never doubted he could win. He was ready to make a positive, direct impact on the lives of his friends, family and neighbors. He sought out campaign advice from two-term council member, Marvin Wagner. Wagner was also the first to congratulate Harry on his win and told him to get ready to work. “The easy part was over.”

Getting to Work

Harry hit the ground running. His District notoriously floods, so he’s working with companies and various government entities toward flood mitigation and infrastructure improvements. He keeps his constituents updated with regular social media posts. He spends weekends meeting with residents and doing civic projects. Harry is an active member of the St. Andrew’s Rotary group and the South Carolina Maritime Association.

He’s learning while he’s going. He dissects bimonthly agendas to gain an understanding of key issues before casting a vote. He’s eager to learn more about public transit. “It’s so important to Charleston’s future and we haven’t used it to the full potential.”

Harry is working hard to stay true to the Citadel motto: Honor, Duty and Respect. His actions and decisions are about his constituents and putting their needs first.

National Politics

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) is Harry’s national political role model. “Senator Scott is a strong leader who is truly admirable. He not only fights for Republican values but also South Carolinian rights and values.”

He opines that politics on a national level has great intentions but subpar results. Given an opportunity to appoint a President and Vice-President, he’d appoint the current office holders. “We needed something different because the same old political practices were not working.”

Not surprisingly given his upbringing and career interest, on a national level, Harry cares most about the nation’s infrastructure and Commerce regulations.

Harry Griffin Gets Personal

Harry looks forward to one day being a husband and father. For now, he’s content to spend time with his four-year-old brother, Timber, and to watch his brother, Buster, march in step at Citadel parades.

He writes his own music and sings Karaoke.

Harry dreams of a trip to Hawaii where he can turn off his phone and lay on the beach for a week.

He seeks out and admires those with humility, perseverance and generosity.

You’ve done well, Harry Griffin.
The future is bright. You’re one to watch. I’m watching.



Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

© Copyright. March 2018. Linda Leier Thomason
All rights reserved.

12 Fun Things to Do in Omaha

Get Out and Explore All Omaha Has to Offer

Omaha is Nebraska’s largest city.

It offers plenty of entertainment and attractions for all ages and interests.

Check out 12 places to explore and find bonus links below.

Have fun exploring Omaha!

12 places to Explore in Omaha

1. OPPD Arboretum
LOCATION: 108TH and Blondo, adjacent to an OPPD substation
This is an ideal place to visit if you are planning to upgrade your yard with shrubs and plants. It contains groupings of native Nebraska trees, a conifer collection and lowland/wetland plantings ideal for the Omaha region. Explanations of each plant and how to plant these trees and shrubs around power lines are provided.
The arboretum is open to the public from dawn till dusk. A paved walking trail and wood chip trail are available as well as restrooms.

2. Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
LOCATION: 3710 South 10th Street
One of Nebraska’s most popular tourist destinations. Check the website for hours and admission fees. Also look for paid Animal Encounters and Backstage Experiences. Plan on spending a full day. Going in summer months, pack patience. It can get busy and hot.

3. St. Cecilia Cathedral
LOCATION: 701 North 40th Street
The twin bell towers of this lovely hillside cathedral are one of Omaha’s key landmarks. It was founded in 1905 and took over 50 years to complete. The Cathedral is a national landmark containing more than 3 million bricks. It is one of the most outstanding cathedrals in the USA.

4. Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge
LOCATION: 705 Riverfront Drive-just north of downtown Omaha
S-curved, cable-stayed 3000-foot pedestrian bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska. A plaque marks the spot where the two states meet. Take a photo there. Bicycles are encouraged, as trails are on either side of the bridge. The Omaha landing features the Omaha Plaza, with bench seating, exhibits, a water jet spray fountain, a Fiber Wave Sculpture, play area, and a National Park Service Visitors Center. (Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters).

5. Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods
LOCATION: 1111 Bellevue Boulevard North Bellevue, NE Located off HWY 75 minutes from downtown Omaha
26 miles of maintained trails and 2,000 acres of upland and lowland forests, native prairies, wetlands, lakes and waterways. Go create a memorable adventure in the forest right here in Omaha, NE. Check the website for hours and admission fees.

6. Gene Leahy Mall
LOCATION: 1302 Farnam in downtown Omaha
This isn’t a traditional bricks and mortar shopping mall. This is a 10-acre outdoor green space in downtown Omaha near the Old Market District. Highlights include a lagoon and waterfalls, walking paths, gardens, playground, amphitheater and a sculpture garden. It connects to Heartland of America Park. Each winter it’s the centerpiece for the Annual Holiday Lights Festival. http://www.holidaylightsfestival.org/ Kids love the giant slide here. Pets enjoy the vast open outdoor areas.

7. Omaha Community Playhouse
LOCATION: 6915 Cass Street-near UNO Dodge campus
The Playhouse is the largest community playhouse in the USA. It houses two state-of-the-art performance spaces: Hawks Mainstage Theatre and Drew Theatre. Check the website for upcoming performances and ticket prices, including young professional and student tickets.

8. The Florence Mill
LOCATION: 9102 North 30th Street
Open May-October, the Mill is a National Register Historic site that once served as a grist mill. It was built under the supervision of Brigham Young. Today it serves as an art-loft gallery, museum, farmer’s market location and one of the sites on the North Hills Pottery Tour. http://www.omahanorthhillspotterytour.com/
Check the website for hours of each event.

9. Boys Town
LOCATION: 13628 Flanagan Blvd 137th and West Dodge Rd
Visit the Hall of History, Visitors Center and the Father Flanagan House in this National Historic Landmark District. Attend mass on campus. Get an up-close look at the world-famous Village established by Father Flanagan. Check out the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps and walk the lakeside path.

10. Kenefick Park
LOCATION: 100 Bancroft Street
Named after the former Union Pacific Chairman and CEO John C. Kenefick this park sits on the southwest corner of the Lauritzen Gardens property and is easily visible from I-80. Park in the Lauritzen Gardens lot and walk to the top of the hill to see the largest and most powerful diesel-electric locomotive ever built and the world’s largest steam locomotive.
Featuring several plazas, seating areas, a grand staircase, “canyon” stone walls, interpretive signage, sculpture and walkways, the park documents Union Pacific Railroad’s role in the development of Omaha and the West.

11. Lauritzen Gardens: Omaha’s Botanical Center
LOCATION: 100 Bancroft Street
A hidden sanctuary in the heart of Omaha, the Gardens are planted for visitors to enjoy all four seasons. In addition to the exquisitely maintained gardens, a visitor and education center features a floral display hall with seasonal flower shows, a unique gift shop, café, a horticulture resource library, banquet and meeting spaces and classrooms. Check the website for hours and admission fee.

12. Hot Shops Arts Center
LOCATION: 1301 Nicholas Street One block north of home plate at TD Ameritrade Park. Free parking located on 13th and Izard Streets
This center hosts over 80 studio artists and multiple gallery spaces, along with four anchor artists. Click on the website for classes, a list of artists and Open Houses, along with demonstration times.

Bonus Links

Website Link for City of Omaha Parks, Golf Courses and Pools https://parks.cityofomaha.org/

Omaha Visitors Center Link with List of Activities to Do https://www.visitomaha.com/things-to-do/

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

Ready to move to Omaha? Connect with Megan.
Megan Owens, Realtor
Owens Real Estate Group
“Delivering extraordinary care for extraordinary clients.”
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate
Phone | 402-689- 4984 Email | MeganOwensRE@gmail.com

©Copyright. February 2018. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.



Dr. Havidich on the Life & Practice of Successful Medicine

Introducing Dr. Havidich

Jeana, as she likes to be called, is one of the most well-rounded professionals one will ever meet. She’s a brilliant,  20-year practicing anesthesiologist and researcher. An outstanding chef and world traveler. She’s a community servant. A history buff who explores archeological sites. Secretly, she dances waltzes to big band music. She lives her life to be remembered as one who positively impacted others. She has. She continues to. Here’s how.

Principled Life

Jeana values friendship and time with those she cares about most. She gets boundless joy spending time with family and friends, particularly when they’re having a great dinner filled with laughter and cheer.
She understands her many achievements came with the help of her husband of twenty years, Dr. Mark Herrin, and her family and friends. “Although my life has been a fantastic journey, it’s been challenging at times.” Their love and support have kept Jeana grounded during the most difficult times. So have the principles guiding her life.

Honesty and Integrity: These are the traits she values the most. No matter what mistakes one makes in life, individuals who strive to incorporate honesty and integrity are respected by members of their community. Always trying to do the ‘right thing’ by others allows one to sleep soundly at night.

Service to Others: This has provided Jeana the greatest sense of satisfaction. Being able to help children and adults during a very difficult and stressful time in their lives is very challenging, but extremely rewarding.

Personal & Professional Growth: Growth is the key to happiness. Jeana continuously strives to improve herself to help others. She believes complacency is detrimental, on every level.

Choosing Medicine

Jeana feels fortunate to have found a profession that aligns with her values-something she considers key to a successful and fulfilling life. Medicine allows her to incorporate her principles of service, independence, and continuous professional and personal growth into her daily life.

“My choice to become an anesthesiologist was based on my desire to provide life-saving care to patients in critical situations. I thought I’d pursue a career as a Critical Care specialist in Anesthesia but soon realized my passion was providing perioperative care for children. I have not regretted my choice.

After 20 years of practice, “I still enjoy coming to work and providing this care.” She enjoys the daily interaction and learning from her patients, colleagues and students.

In fact, her most memorable moments as an anesthesiologist come from being outsmarted by children. For example, the six-year-old who locked himself into a bathroom so he didn’t have to have surgery. Or, the three-year-old who showed up for surgery and promptly went behind the nurses’ station and ate a nurse’s lunch, prompting an immediate cancellation of his procedure.

She’s humbled by the many patients who’ve survived against all odds-patients with tremendous resilience.

Dr. Havidich at Dartmouth

Jeana is a board certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. She was awarded a scholarship from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI). She spends 75% of her time as a clinician, 20% researching and 5% lecturing/teaching.

Her current research focuses include health services research, quality and safety initiatives and the science of health care delivery.

Her latest research publication illustrated that patients born prematurely have a higher incidence of perioperative complications that last until adulthood. This research will enable anesthesiologists to prepare for the possibility of perioperative complications. “By understanding when and why complications occur, anesthesiologists can develop plans to minimize risk to patients.”

Jeana’s excited about an upcoming research project that looks at cancer development in patients exposed to opioids. Currently she is seeking government funding for this research.

Since the first rule of medicine is DO NO HARM, she is continually identifying those areas and processes to improve anesthesiology practices. “There is nothing more devastating than to watch a patient suffer or have an adverse event.” Her goal is to prevent that from ever happening.

7 Tips for Successful Career in Medicine

Educating and guiding young women into medicine is a passion for Jeana. While not claiming “to have all the answers,” she hopes younger professional women can learn from her experiences.

She believes the most important character traits leading to professional success are strong leadership and communication. “Fortunately, life-threatening situations are rare. However, those who handle these situations well by remaining calm and focused are most respected.

Persistence is also key to success. “As one moves up the ladder, competition is tougher. It’s not going to be easy. There are failures and disappointments along the way. Persistence pays off.”

Other tips for a successful career in medicine include:

1. Excel as a Clinician. Physicians respect other physicians who are hard-working, knowledgeable and provide high quality, safe, and compassionate medical care to their patients. This is medicine’s primary mission – “and you must do it to the best of your abilities. If you are not perceived as a dedicated, successful clinician, you will not have respect from others.”

2. Pursue Your Passion. Engage in the area in medicine that energizes you. Your specialty will find you–not the other way around. The amount of time and energy required to be successful in this field outweighs any financial gain. Circumstances change–and so do lifestyles and financial compensation. Be dedicated and passionate about your work.

3. Cultivate Strong Communication Skills. When the American Board of Anesthesiology first published core competencies that focused on communication and professionalism, Jeana was somewhat perplexed. After thoughtful consideration, she realized that mastering these skills ensures success for both the physician and the profession. Doctors work in a highly complex, fragmented medical system and effective communication with patients and colleagues is necessary to provide high quality, safe medical care.

4. Become Resilient. Doctors also work in a high risk, high stakes profession. They work long hours in a stressful environment. Patient lives are on the line and unfortunately things don’t always work out. How one addresses adversity in their personal and professional lives impacts their ability to care for themselves and others. Flexibility and adaptability are essential components as well. She recommends developing and cultivating these skills early in one’s career.

5. Get a Sense of Humor. It will be needed. Although practicing medicine is one of the greatest professions in the world, it is also fraught with frustrations. Therefore, one must develop a strong sense of humor in order to go about their day. The great thing about working with kids is that they provide a unique perspective that enables laughter. Try to take it in stride. Remember what’s really important.

6. Embrace Failure. Learn from it and move on. One of the most difficult lessons Jeana has learned over the years is how to deal with failure. “We are not perfect, and we will make career mistakes along the way.” While dedication and persistence are important characteristics to achieve success, it is also important to recognize when they are detrimental to one’s career. The important thing is to learn from failure and move on. The past cannot be changed. One can only learn from it. “In many respects, my biggest failures have led to my greatest successes. Correcting real or perceived deficiencies through determination and persistence have enabled me to achieve my goals. I’d tell my younger self not to fear failure but instead learn from it and move on. Take chances.”

7. Appreciate Life. It’s Too Short of an Adventure. Medicine constantly reminds Jeana that life is both extremely fragile and resilient at the same time. She watches patients endure unspeakable hardships and yet emerge with new-found hope and strength. “This always amazes me.” It’s also reminds her that it’s important to cherish every minute and to strive to reach one’s full potential. “Life is a gift, but often it seems too short.”

Work/Life Balance

Jeana reports that recently there has been a lot of attention given to physician burnout. “Medical professionals simply cannot provide care for others if they are not well themselves.” Maintaining a work/life balance can be a struggle. But, it is necessary to achieve personal and professional goals.

Work/life balance ratio will change over time. Career opportunities, family obligations, economic circumstances and practice changes impact the right balance. “It’s important to recognize signs of burnout early and make changes before serious issues in relationships or one’s career occur.”

Separate but Together

Drs. Jeana and Mark have lived in different states for a number of years due to professional opportunities. To some, this distance can be distressing. To them, it’s strengthened their relationship. “We designate protected time each day and throughout the year for each other.” They focus on their relationship when together and on their work and outside interests when apart. They understand the temporary nature of this status and have consciously decided to “make it work” with the support of colleagues, family and friends.

Having the right perspective matters. They understand other couples are less fortunate than they are, particularly those military families with overseas deployments.

Giving Back

Jeana subscribes to the belief that community service and engagement are key factors for resiliency and achieving happiness. Therefore, one of Jeana’s greatest personal satisfactions comes from “giving back” to both her profession and her community.

To Her Profession
She is grateful for the physician scientists and educators that have moved her profession forward. Advances in patient safety, technology, and education have decreased perioperative mortality over the past several decades. In return, Jeana has volunteered time at the local, state, and national levels with the hope of contributing back to her profession. Participating in national organizations such as the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF), serving on State Appointed Task Forces, and lecturing at local schools and community centers have enriched her professional life.

To Her Community
The hard-working, blue-collar Croatian-American community in Jeana’s Pennsylvania hometown raised money for children of Croatian heritage to further their education. These scholarship funds greatly benefited Jeana in achieving her career goals. In return, she has been working with the Association of Croatian American Professionals to develop a birthright “Domovina” scholarship program and a national Medical Tourism program in Croatia. “I hope to repay the Croatian American community by contributing to the development of these programs.”

Tips from Dr. Jeana for Patients

Surgical Patients Should Ask Anesthesiologists These:

Anesthesiologists have developed protocols and screening tools to identify medically complex patients who may be at risk for perioperative complications. If identified as such a patient, Jeana advises you to ask your anesthesiologist:

1. Based on my surgical procedure and medical history, what are my major risk factors for perioperative complications and what we can we do to decrease that risk?

2. What resources are available should an unexpected emergency occur? For instance, is there a blood bank readily available in the event I would need blood? Are there appropriate emergency equipment and personnel able to provide care in the event of an emergency?

3. What should I expect after surgery? Are there other means of controlling pain in addition to narcotics?

3 Skills Every Great Doctor Must Have

“Over time, I have found patients gravitate to physicians based on whether or not they approve of their personality.” Some physicians are scientific and matter of fact. And, some patients prefer this style over what others may refer to as a more compassionate physician. Jeana thinks the important thing is to find the right fit for you as a patient. “Ask for an interview or schedule an appointment to see if the physician is a good fit for you.”
Other things to consider in choosing a physician:

Solid Communication Skills. This is important not only for the patient but also the medical team. In today’s world of advanced technology, doctors are using web-based programs to communicate with patients.

Great Technical Skills in the procedural area. Investigate their outcomes data, although it might be hard to find. “It’s easier to find out more about a car you’re purchasing than who will provide your medical care.” Get a second opinion and ask for patient references and interview them.

Consistent Follow-Up Skills. Find a physician who follows up with their patients both personally (communication skill) and with processes like lab tests, x-rays, etc.

What’s Next for Anesthesiologist Dr. Jeana?

She’d like to continue practicing pediatric anesthesia and pursuing academic interests like:
• Research on health services-analyzing outcomes and quality using large databases.
• Research on the science of health care delivery systems
• Monitoring the growth of the Medical Tourism industry

As a researcher and practitioner, she’d like to see the development of regeneration of tissue, especially neural tissue. For instance, enhancing the growth rate of functional neural cells, one could theoretically make a quadriplegic patient walk again. Regenerating hepatic cells could eliminate the need for liver transplants. Generating neurons that produce hormones could cure diseases like Parkinson’s.

As an academician, she’d like to see expansion of individualized/targeted medical therapies tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup. This allows physicians to find the right drug for each patient, based on their genetic makeup. (This already exists for certain types of cancer and genetic diseases.)

Jeana wants the medical profession to discuss the cost of getting a medical degree and offer solutions. “It’s expensive and not reimbursed.”  She’d like to see the practice of ‘simulation’ to advance patient safety.

On a personal level, she wants to explore more of the world as a traveler with husband, Mark.

Jeana is an endless crusader for her profession and her own personal and professional development. She is a blessing to her family and circle of friends. Knowing her makes each of them better.

Here’s wishing anesthesiologist, Dr. Jeana Havidich,  many more years of practicing medicine, researching and developing and training new practitioners.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Dr. Jeana or a recommended travel location for her? Share below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. February 2018. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

How to Prevent & Thaw Frozen Pipes

Keep an Eye on Pipes Throughout the Winter

Poor insulation, thermostats set too low and a quick drop in temperature, especially below 20 degrees or less, require you to pay attention to the plumbing pipes in your home.
Not doing so can lead to frozen and then broken pipes, and possibly a flooded home.
Here’s a guide on how to prevent frozen pipes and steps to take if the plumbing pipes in your home do freeze.

Remember, if you have a broken pipe, call a reliable, licensed plumber as soon as possible.

Taking Preventive Steps Can Reduce or Eliminate the Risk of Frozen Pipes

• Insulate hot and cold pipes in the basement, attic and/ or garage with snap on insulation or pipe sleeves. Ensure a tight fit, without gaps. Or, wrap UL approved heating tape (found in hardware stores) around pipes. Read instructions carefully to avoid setting a fire.
• Ensure proper insulation in any areas lacking heating like garages, attics or exterior walls. You might need to add more insulation to get a higher temperature in the area where a pipe consistently freezes.
• Keep an eye on pipes on an outside wall. Trickle or drip both hot and cold faucets, especially in the kitchen or bathrooms on outside walls. [Single lever faucets should be set to the center so both the cold and hot water drips.] Trickling water keeps water moving through pipes and relieves built-up pressure in pipes.
• Circulate warm air around pipes by opening cabinet doors, especially under kitchen and bathroom sinks located on exterior walls. Remove any harmful cleaners or chemicals that children or pets could get into.
• Maintain a consistent home temperature day and night.
• Never set the temperature lower than 55 degrees, if you are gone for long periods of time.
• Keep the furnace fan running continuously to circulate air.
• Open interior doors in the house so air can flow freely throughout the space.
• Make sure  the garage door closed.
• Set the washing machine on warm and start the fill cycle every so often for water to run through the pipes, if there isn’t a faucet in the laundry room to drip and it’s on an outside wall.
• Turn off the outdoor sprinkler system and blow air through the lines to drain water. If you don’t know how to do this, hire a professional company to turn your sprinkler system on and off.
• Drain your swimming pool supply lines, according to manufacturer’s instructions. Never put anti-freeze in these lines, unless directed.
• Cover outside faucets with insulating foam covers.
• Disconnect and drain garden hoses.
• Close and weather strip all exterior basement windows and doors.
• Fix broken windows or poorly fitting doors that allow a lot of heat loss.
• Caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes on both interior and exterior walls. This keeps cold air out and warm air in.

If the Pipes Do Freeze

If you suspect your pipes are frozen because only a trickle comes out of a faucet, or perhaps nothing comes out, be careful when the pipe thaws because it may flood your home.
Call 911 if a pipe has already burst and your home is flooding.
If a pipe has broken, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve, which is usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house.
Do not use electrical appliances around standing water. You will get electrocuted.
Never use a blow torch, charcoal stove, a propane heater or high-wattage light bulbs to try to unfreeze pipes. These are likely to damage pipes or even start a fire. Open flames may also expose you to carbon monoxide.


• Open the faucet that the frozen pipe runs to before thawing. This allows the water to flow through the pipe and relieves any built-up pressure in the pipe.
• Apply heat to the frozen pipes that haven’t burst with an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hairdryer or portable space heater-keep this away from any flammable materials. You may also try wrapping the pipe with towels soaked in hot water. Always start heating from as close to the faucet as possible and work your way to the colder end of the pipe.
• Keep applying heat until the full water pressure is back.
• Call a licensed plumber if you can’t find the leak or unthaw the pipes.
• When pipes have thawed, check for leaks.

Are you ready to buy or sell a home?

Megan Owens, Realtor
Owens Real Estate Group
“Delivering extraordinary care for extraordinary clients.”
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate
Phone | 402-689- 4984 Email | Megan.Owens@bhhsamb.com

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. January 2018. Linda Leier Thomason.
All Rights Reserved.


Engagement Party: When? Where? How to Plan.

Are You Recently Engaged?

Personal Story

Our son, Alex, got engaged to Brittany in October 2017. We were overjoyed. They’ve dated for nearly 9 years. That familiarity didn’t lessen the excitement. We wanted to share our joy about Brittany  joining our family through marriage. So, we hosted an engagement party for family and friends.

What is an Engagement Party?

Engagement parties are popular in the South, where we’d lived, prior to relocation, and where Alex was primarily raised. In fact, about a third of the revenue from my business at the time, A Wonderful Wedding, came from planning and executing this special occasion event.

Now in Omaha, Nebraska, we learned many were unfamiliar with engagement parties. Most guests commented, “I’ve never been invited to an engagement party before,” or “I wasn’t exactly sure what an engagement party was.”


Technically, this party is a celebration of a couple’s recent engagement. It’s also an ideal time for upcoming wedding guests to get to know one another.

The bride’s parents traditionally host the first engagement party. Many couples stray from this tradition and host their own celebration or attend parties hosted by friends and family. Some families even co-host the party.

In our case, since the couple will marry on a South Carolina beach with only immediate family  present, we decided to host the party so extended family and friends could share in the engagement and upcoming nuptials, locally.


Engagement parties are usually held within three months of the official engagement or six months before the wedding ceremony. After that, couples and families are typically entwined in wedding planning. Invitations are issued about four weeks prior to the party, allowing guests time to make travel plans, if necessary.


The location can be tricky. Many newly engaged couples live in a different location than family. So, consider travel requirements of guests. Is it easier, and more affordable, for the couple to travel to them? If it’s a destination wedding, is it realistic to expect guests to travel twice to celebrate with you?
If most live in the same area, then it’s as simple as choosing a local venue.

• Number of guests-space needed.
• Level of formality-backyard Bar-b-que, afternoon tea, formal dinner in a restaurant’s private dining room, Sunday brunch, other.
• Guest limitations-can all walk stairs or navigate uneven terrain?


Once again, the tradition of whom to invite often clashes with reality. Traditionally, only guests invited to the wedding are invited to an engagement party. In our case, since the wedding is limited to immediate family, this tradition wasn’t followed.

We invited close friends, family and neighbors whom we knew would be delighted to share in the news of Alex and Brittany’s engagement. Equally important, the invitees are excellent marriage role models and supporters of the young couple, something all newlyweds need.

Planning Template

Our home was chosen as the engagement party LOCATION.

GUEST LIST. The list was created with Brittany and Alex’s involvement. Invitations were ordered online from Vistaprint. They included the location address, date and time and where and when to RSVP. The card also had Alex and Brittany’s wedding website address, which included information on how they met, wedding day details and their registries.

     -HINT: Be sure to order as early as possible. The USPS lost the initial order and it had to be re-ordered. Vistaprint re-printed and sent again at no charge. [NOTE: Informed Delivery by the USPS is a great service. Check to see if it’s available in your area. It provided proof of lost mail.]
     -TIP: Invitations may be sent digitally using  Facebook or email or you can even print your own. If it’s a small party, you may call guests and invite them.
     -CHILL-OUT: Don’t worry about matching your wedding theme or colors to the engagement party. Maybe you haven’t even chosen a wedding date or location yet. That’s okay. This is an early celebration in your wedding planning.

TIME. Since some guests were driving in from surrounding states, we chose 1-4 PM on a Saturday afternoon. This allowed commuting guests a comfortable day trip.

MENU. This was admittedly a bit more challenging than originally thought. Since the party was held between lunch and dinner and during the Christmas season, the menu required creative thinking with a blend of holiday and bridal.
     -Heart-Shaped Tea Sandwiches with a Story: Heart-shaped cookie cutters from Ann Clark, a Vermont based family-owned company, were ordered. Sadly, the package was destroyed in USPS transit. After contacting the company online and sharing a photo of the package contents and why the cutters were ordered, an overnight package arrived. Inside was the replacement, an additional animal-shaped cutter and a hand-written note. Supporting family-owned business makes a difference. Do so whenever possible.
The guests seemed to enjoy the pecan and pimento sandwiches on white wheat bread.

Other menu items included: a variety of cheeses, spreads, crackers and olives with flavored popcorn, red grapes, fresh vegetables, mixed nuts, pretzels, veggie straws, French macaroons and three types of salami. The strawberry tree with yogurt dip was a guest favorite. Two flavors of cake were served after a champagne toast.
Beverages included flavored waters, soda, beer and champagne.

     -HINT: Write each menu item down and underneath the ingredients needed. Purchase and prepare as many items in advance, as possible. For instance, the heart-shaped bread was cut the day before and wrapped so it could be easily spread the morning of the party. The spreads were prepared a day in advance. And, vegetables were washed and cut in advance.
     -REMEMBER: If you’re having the party at home, you also have to purchase the plates, utensils, cups, napkins, serving trays, etc. Ensure plenty of seating. Set out enough garbage containers and make sure your bathroom is properly prepared with hand towels and toilet tissue. If guests wear outer coats, know where you’ll keep these during the party.

Mixing bridal with Christmas was fun. Diamond engagement ring cupcake toppers were ordered and used on food trays and household décor. Paper bells and heart-shaped streamers were pinned to the ceiling, creating a bridal mood. Diamond ring stickers were attached to cups. The Christmas tree was decorated with sentimental family heirloom ornaments. An engagement photo of the couple adorned the fireplace ledge. The style and theme were completely different from the upcoming beach wedding. And, that is perfectly okay.


About 2/3 of the way through the party, guests gathered on the main floor. A family heirloom table with four champagne glasses, votive candles, a cake knife and server and a two-tiered cake was carried into the room and placed on an X taped on the floor, under bells and streamers from above.

Alex and Brittany joined Ken and I behind the table. As father-of-the groom, Ken welcomed guests and spoke of the importance of having support in one’s marriage. Alex followed by thanking guests and expressing his excitement about having Brittany as a wife after their summer beach wedding. I finished the toasts by highlighting Brittany’s entrance into our family unit and the use of tradition in the engagement party. Guests were invited to also toast the couple. The cake was removed and served from trays.

Break from Tradition: No wedding cake is planned for the beach ceremony. Instead an engagement cake was ordered from Crum Cakes Bakery in Omaha. Lana, owner, suggested the “She Said Yes” cake topper. It was perfect.

Alex and Brittany ordered engagement ring-shaped cookies from Crum Cakes Bakery. As guests left the party, they presented these to them with a thank you for attending.

The engaged couple’s attire should match the style and feel of the event, understanding they are the center of attention at the party. No guest should ever upstage a bride, or wear white at a wedding, unless the invite requests this.

The gifts of one’s presence and continual support are the most valuable gifts any engaged couple can receive. Gifts are not expected at engagement parties, but are often given. Couples should acknowledge receipt of these gifts with a genuine hand-written thank you note after the party.
HINT: Open gifts after the party since all guests may not bring a gift.

Best wishes & Congratulations to all newly engaged couples and their families. What a very special time in your lives. Enjoy every moment. And, if it includes an engagement party, I hope you found this post valuable. Questions? Ask below.

SHARE with those recently engaged or planning wedding events.

©Copyright. January 2018. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

Do You Have the Manners to Soar?

How Up-to-Date Are Your Manners and Understanding of Etiquette?Are you an Etiquette Pro or an Amateur?

Need a refresher?

Seasoned professional or new graduate. It doesn’t matter. If you lack manners and understanding of basic etiquette in the workplace and elsewhere, your career will be stunted. No one wants a slob or buffoon on their payroll or in their presence.

Remember, every time you’re in public, you represent either your workplace or your family.

Having manners means you are a respectful person and considerate of others. Use of etiquette can convey respect of other cultures, traditions, or religions.

Social interactions are important to being successful in life, so teaching youth and refreshing ourselves on etiquette and manners are invaluable. You can’t practice or teach what you don’t know.

These aren’t dated and old-fashioned.

These are timeless rules of etiquette and signs of good manners.

The lists are not meant to be all-encompassing or all-inclusive.

Contact me below for additional questions about etiquette by category.


  • • Ladies first. Always. Open the door for a woman and allow her to enter before you. Restaurant managers-teach your wait staff to take a woman’s order first.
    • Men-open a woman’s car door. This is not sexist or old-fashioned. It’s respect.
    • Always hold the door open for someone with their hands full, the elderly and the handicapped.
  • Men walk on roadside of sidewalk; women on inside.
    • Offer your seat to an older, pregnant or impaired rider on public transportation, always.
    • Don’t block views of people shorter than you are. If you’re tall, stand back.
    • Avoid interrupting people while speaking.
    • Move your grocery cart to the edge of an aisle, not the center.
    • Park in one space and never in a handicapped spot, unless you are.


Napkins: Place the napkin in your lap upon seating. Unfold it on your lap not above or on the table.

Eating: Never start eating until the host has been seated and starts eating. Always eat with your mouth closed. Avoid chomping and making out loud noises. Don’t talk with food in your mouth.
Wine Glasses: Refrigerated wine (like white wine) and champagne glasses are held by the stem so your hand does not warm the liquid. Red wine glasses may be held by the bowl.
Count Your Drinks: Limit your alcohol intake to 2 or less drinks, especially at business dinners.
Forks: Work from the outside in. The short fork is the salad fork. Start there. With each new course work your way in toward the plate. When you are done, place the utensils side by side at an angle on your plate-fork tines facing up, knife blade facing the center of the plate. This signals the wait staff you are finished. [Technically, the utensils are to be placed at 4:20 on a dinner plate-pretend your dinner plate is a clock.]
Soup: Don’t put crackers in your soup anywhere but at home. If it’s too hot, stir, don’t blow on it. Spoon away from you towards the center of the soup bowl.
Toasts: Do not drink to yourself if you’re the one being toasted. Do not stand, unless you are already standing.
Salt and Pepper: Do not sprinkle seasoning on your food, unless you’ve already tasted it. If someone asks for the salt, pass both the salt and pepper.
Passing: At family style service where bowls are on the table, always pass the service bowls to the RIGHT.
Restaurant Service: Waiters serve food from the left and beverages from the right. If a waiter offers you food from a platter, use the fork from the left (where it is at your place setting) and the spoon from the right.
Cutting Food: Only cut one or two bite-sized pieces at a time, not the whole piece of meat.
Unwanted Food: The method you used to put food in your mouth (fingers or utensil) is what you use to remove the food. A pit or bone is removed with fingers.
Restroom: Don’t just get up and leave the table. Say, “excuse me; I’ll be right back.”
Phones: Never lay your phone on the table. Turn the ringer off. Don’t check scores, Facebook, or anything during dinner. It’s rude.
Hands: Keep them out of your hair. When not using your utensils, keep them in your lap. When holding one utensil, keep the other hand in your lap.
Place of Honor: It’s always to the right of the host.
Leftovers: Never ask to take leftovers home from a formal dinner party or business dinner.
End of Meal: The host will place her napkin to the left of her plate. That is when you do the same. This signals the end of the meal.


Introductions: At a business function, introduce yourself with your first and last name. Speak to the person you wish to honor first. Introduce yourself when there is a break in the conversation. In a business setting, always introduce people by saying their title and full name first, and then follow with a brief interesting or relevant piece of information about the people you are introducing. Always say, “Ms.” if you don’t know a woman’s marital status. [See “Introduction Primer” below.]
Attire: Dressing well is a form of good manners. Wear clean, non-wrinkly attire with polished shoes. If you wear nail polish, make sure it’s not chipped. Look put together, at all times.
Face-to-Face: Knock on the door or cubicle and wait until the person turns around before you start speaking. Don’t speak to her back.
Phones & Meetings: Put them away. No texting during meetings. And, please refrain from checking scores, news updates, etc. when you’ve been invited to participate and listen.
Break Room: Respect the shared space. Clean up after yourself. Throw away your food containers. Wipe up spills. If someone else leaves dishes or trash, set a great example and clean it up.
Your Voice: Talk at a moderate volume, especially in work spaces with cubicles.
Phone at Desk: Set it to vibrate or low. Don’t use an offensive ring tone.
Music: Keep the radio low or use headphones.
Smells: Don’t take off your shoes at work. Don’t bathe in perfume and cologne. Avoid eating a smelly lunch at your desk.
Timely: Show respect for your co-workers. Show up on time. Use the restroom and get your coffee before the meeting is to start.


RSVP is an acronym of the French phrase, “Respondez s’il vous plait,” or “Respond, if you please.” It is used on invitations because the host needs to know the number of guests to prepare for. How much food and liquor to buy? How many place settings are needed?
Sure, it can be difficult to commit to an event so far in the future but do your host a favor and give them a courteous reply by the date requested on the invitation.
And, if you say you are coming, attend. Hosts pay for your presence. Be there.


The thank-you note is essential in both everyday life as well as in business correspondence. Writing and sending one shows not only appreciation but indicates part of your personality to others.
Job Interview: After a job interview, send a hand-written thank you note. Proofread it first.
Post Party: A hand-written thank you note after a party and/or formal dinner is always appreciated.
Newlyweds: Contrary to popular belief, brides and grooms don’t have a year to send out thank-you notes. There is no reason to not get them done within a few months after the wedding. Gift givers have every right to be upset if one is not received in a timely manner or never received.
Gifts: Just as you never attend a party or wedding without a gift, always remember to mail a hand-written thank you note for a gift received.


Don’t Post Ugly: Resist publishing a photo of a friend or family member if they aren’t looking their best. Would you want them to post you looking less than great? No.
No Light or Sound: Turn the light and sound off on your phone during a movie, play and/or concert. You don’t want to be the annoying patron.
Restaurants: In a restaurant, phones should be silenced. If you receive an important call, you should excuse yourself and go outside to take the call.
Drunken Posts: Social media and alcohol should be avoided together at all costs.
Dinner. Be present. Keep your phone silenced during dinner, especially with friends and individuals of a certain age/generation. It’s a sign of respect.
Check Out: Never order or pay for something while you are on the phone.
In Line: Don’t chat away while in line for something. No one wants to hear your personal conversations.


The fact that one even needs to mention manners regarding hygiene is a bit disturbing. Parents-teach your children how to present themselves in public. Adults, haven’t you been taught better?

Nails. Clipping your finger or toenails is never appropriate in public. Not on your porch. Not on the bus. Not while in line. Not in the movie theatre. Nowhere but the privacy of your bathroom.
Teeth: Flossing should be done at home, or at least in a bathroom. It is not fun for people around you to watch you get stuff out of your teeth. Brush in private too. If you must use a public bathroom, please clean the sink.
Tweezing: Another private bathroom function. Remove hair in private not while driving or while in lines.
Hair: Avoid brushing or combing your hair in pubic, especially in restaurants where it flies around.


Someone is nice enough to offer you a place to stay during your get-away. Be someone who gets invited back.
• Arrive with a gift-a bottle of wine, a candle, a book, kitchen tools, something to show your appreciation. Even if the host suggests you don’t need to do this. Do it anyway. It’s the right thing to do.
• Buy or bring some groceries. Your host is not responsible for all of your meals. Never ask to change the menu for a meal the host is preparing. If you have dietary restrictions, let those be known before your arrival. Bring food items that only you would eat.
• Ask permission to use items in the house.
• Prepare a meal or pay for a meal out.

• Keep your space and the bathroom clean. Put the toilet seat down.
• Conserve linens and towels-even if you use a different towel every day at home don’t expect your host to provide one daily. Bring your own if that’s your practice.
• Ask about house rules-use of TV, electronics, dishwasher, smoking, etc.
• Lend a hand-walk the dog, do the dishes, etc.
• Strip the bed and collect linens as you prepare to leave-ask host first.
• Send a thank you note when you arrive home.


Nothing causes more heartburn than knowing who is “getting the check” after a dinner out. Clarify it before accepting an invitation. Generally, if you say “let’s go out” that usually means the bill will be split. But, if you invite someone somewhere it means that you’ll be responsible for the bill.
Birthday: If you or a group is going out for someone’s birthday dinner, you all pay for the birthday person. If you can’t afford to chip in, don’t go. The person choosing the restaurant should be mindful of varying income levels of the group and choose a moderately priced restaurant.
Tips: If you put part of your charge on a card and pay cash for the other, you TIP on the total not just the part on your card. Also, carry one-dollar bills to tip the bartender and coat check attendant.

Cost: Never announce the cost of the dinner, if you’re picking up the check.
Split the Check: Only make this suggestion if all parties ordered similar priced meals. It’s unfair otherwise.

Introduction Primer

When performing introductions, here are two steps to proper business introductions:
Step 1: The first person’s name you say is always the most important person.
Step 2: Thereafter, everyone else’s name is introduced to that most important person.
ALWAYS say the most important person’s name first. In business, rank and status are the primary determinants to who takes precedence over whom. A client always outranks the CEO or President. Gender and age are typically not factors.

  • NEVER use the word “meet” when introducing people. Rather, for an informal introduction, use the words “this is” as the bridge between saying the most important person’s name first and then introducing the second person. “Jane Smith this is John Doe, our new staff member. Jane Smith is our CEO.”

Other reminders

  • Keep the forms of the address equal. If you use Ms. Smith, you must use Mr. Doe. You should not say, “Jane Smith this is Mr. Doe..”
  • In regular situations, it is best to use both a person’s first and last name when making introductions. To use only a first name is not introducing the total person.
  • Do say something about the people you are introducing so they will have something to discuss after introductions. Then you may excuse yourself to meet and greet others.
  • When introducing  dignitaries and other notable people, such as elected officials, you may want to use the word “present” instead of the words “this is” or “introduce.”

Help a colleague, friend, new college graduate, young professional and family member out, SHARE this post.

Have a rule of etiquette you think must be added to the list? Let me know on the form below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. January 2018. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved

Did You Land on Omaha’s 2017 Naughty & Nice List?

Annual List Revealed

3rd Annual Naughty and Nice List-With a Twist

As a reader and follower you know each December I release a list of business professionals or organizations that have been great, or not so great, to work with throughout the year.

I also highlight significant events from the year and hold myself accountable by posting “things” I’d like to achieve in the next year.

2017 will be remembered for all of the special activities and occasions that happened. Reflecting back on the year, it seems unreal that all of this happened in just one trip around the sun.

2017 Highlights

• Alex, our son, landed his first post-college career position in Omaha.
• He’s recently got engaged to marry in 2018.
• Brittany, his fiancée, also graduated from college and landed her first teaching assignment with the Omaha Public School system.
• We celebrated Alex’s December 2016 college graduation with a 3-generation trip to Las Vegas in the fall of 2017.
• Ken, my husband, and I honored our 25th wedding anniversary by returning to Antigua-where we honeymooned.
• We attended both the Iowa and Nebraska State Fairs. Everyone should. Great fun and educational.
• Traveled to Hawaii for Ken’s work reward trip. He earned it. Super proud!

Making the 2017 Nice List

Greenberg’s Jewelers
No one in our household claims to know much about jewelry. Therefore, we relied on the professional advice and guidance of Mara Palmquist at Westroads Mall in Omaha for both a 25-year anniversary band and a bridal set. The selection was great. The education and service-top notch.

Crum Cakes Bakery
Elana bakes and decorates to perfection. We ordered a two-tiered cake, one with a peanut butter filling, and iced sugar cookies. Both were delicious and almost too pretty to eat. She takes great pride in both the taste and appearance of her baked goods. We met Elana at the Florence Mill Farmer’s Market. We believe in supporting small business. Maybe you do too.

Jewish Community Center

Wellness and painless mobility were 2017 goals achieved at Omaha’s JCC. The culture of fitness and community attracted me and keep me going back. I’m not Jewish and I’m not treated any differently because of it. All are warmly welcomed in the well-maintained facility with enough activity variety to please all. Special shout outs to:
Tracy Modra, Director of Membership, who patiently worked with me and finally got me there. (All sales people could learn a lot from her.)
Matt Thomas-the Physical Therapist on location. Excellent knowledge. Great communicator.
Breann Lundblad, Fitness Center Director, for letting me box with her. I know she could take me down with one punch but she never lets her superiority show.
The aquatics staff for keeping the pool clean and for ensuring my safety while exercising in the 12’ water. For the first time in years, I have not had an ear infection from pool water. Thank you for keeping your pool area and water clean.

 Travel Faire

This full-service, Omaha-owned and operated travel organization has been in business since 1970. Donna Ahrendsen, Leisure Travel Consultant, helped Ken and I plan a perfect anniversary trip to Antigua. She even ensured both our anniversary and Ken’s birthday were recognized while there. Knowing you have an experienced consultant and a recognized agency beside you while traveling provides the peace of mind every traveler deserves.

 Lauritzen Gardens

I have no good explanation as to why it took us 2.5 years to finally visit this Omaha attraction. Everything about it mirrors our interests. We were simply overtaken by the vast beauty of the natural settings and displays and will return often. It is a sanctuary filled with memorable fragrant scents and sights.

 Jarrod McCartney 

Jarrod is the Heritage Tourism Development Director in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Red Cloud is known as America’s Most Famous Small Town. It’s the home of author, Willa Cather, and more. We visited in summer 2017. It is a thriving community with enviable business support and involvement.

Jarrod organized local businesses and together we conducted a November giveaway to Red Cloud. If you haven’t been to Red Cloud, click the link above and plan a trip.

Naughty List with a Twist

In year’s past, I’ve listed businesses that needed improvement, exclusively in customer service. This year, the twist is, I’m listing behaviors that need improvement. I’m guilty of some of these too. I’ll keep working to do better.


It’s bothersome to see greed, especially as individuals rise in organizations. There seems to be amnesia about who’s helped them achieve their goals and earn their bonuses. When little, to none, is given back, it makes those in authority appear greedy and unappreciative and completely out of touch with the process of achievement. It lessens authority and breeds resentment. Create a winning team with gratitude.


Honoring one’s word and following through on commitments are signs of character. Not doing so disrespects the person and/or the cause/event you committed to. It lessens you as a person. It makes you untrustworthy. If you’ve committed, follow through, unless there is a legitimate reason not to. And, if so, let the organization or person you’ve committed to know as soon as possible. Many times, your lack of follow-through costs them money. And, leaders, never create incentives and then not deliver them. You’re seen as a liar, or worse yet, someone who gained from the hard work of others but didn’t deliver on the promised incentive.


How much time do you take to know someone versus critiquing someone? Do you notice their smile or their clothing first? Do you mingle with the group or do you stand aside and critique? Everyone has a story. Get to know it. Clothing, hair, shoes, etc.-they’re all replaceable. A human story is not.


Would your neighbors and/or co-workers call you a good person? Do you respect them and their personal property or are you habitually trespassing? How do you act?  Do you act like your rights and needs trump everyone else’s? Are you neighborly, offering help? Are you considerate? If not, maybe these could be 2018 goals.


Gratitude is an action verb. It’s a way of life. It takes discipline and practice. It’s more than acknowledging there are starving children in the world while you’re eating dinner. It’s a philosophy. Alex and Brittany received an engagement gift to help practice gratitude. It contained slips of paper and a container. Each day one writes down what he’s grateful for. A definite must-do in 2018.

2018 Goals I’m Willing to Share

Sharing makes one accountable, right?

Here are a few things I’m working toward achieving in 2018.

  • Commitment to fitness and wellness through diet and exercise.
    • 1 night a month out with friends-it’s too easy to depend on social media and texts. Looking someone in the eye still matters.
    • Tipping bathroom attendants at public events. Most do this job with a great attitude. This should be rewarded. Tipping them makes both parties feel good. Try it.
    • Attending my son’s wedding as a guest and living in the moment. (I produced events for decades. Being a guest is new to me.)

Jotting a gratitude note and placing it in a container daily. Photo is gratitude tin as of March 1, 2018. It’s true. One’s perspective does change when stopping to acknowledge what she is grateful for daily.

  • Reading all notes at month’s end.
  • Finishing a book I’m writing. Stay tuned!

So, there you have it. The 2017 List.

The organizations, individuals and businesses that deserve top billing in 2017 and the behaviors that need improvement. 2017 has been a memorable year for all the right reasons. I’m looking forward to 2018. And, I hope you are too.

If you haven’t already, find some quiet time. Reflect on highlights and grateful occurrences in 2017. Make a list. Pull the list out often. Practice gratitude.

How can your life be enhanced in 2018? Set some goals. Strive for them. List them.

It is only through action that goals become reality.

Thank you for following along. If you have a story you’d like to share, contact me. Know an interesting person I should interview, tell me.  See ways my website can be improved, do share.

And, many thanks to all who’ve shared their stories with me in 2017 so I could share them with each of you. I trust you’ve learned from them or been inspired by their words.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

15 Safety Tips for Buyers & Sellers

Ready to Sell Your Home? Keep Safety in Mind

What other time in your life do you invite random strangers into your home? Probably never. However, when your home is listed for sale, strangers indeed view your home online and in person. At the first listing appointment with your real estate agent, go over this list of security items to keep your home burglar proof and to keep your items safe while your home is on the market.

Buyer Screening Process

Understand your listing agent’s buyer screening process. At a minimum, it should include a phone screening prior to showing the home. Discuss whether or not you want buyers to be pre-qualified before a showing and understand what safety precautions will be in effect at open houses and showings. Will an electronic lock box be used to track all home entries? Are photo IDs required for entrance? Is video surveillance being used? If so, ask your listing agent to include these in all advertisements.

15 Security Items to Pay Attention to When Selling

  1. Prescription Drugs

Remove them or lock them up prior to open houses and showings. Also, remove expired drugs from your cabinets and night stands.

  1. Valuables

A real estate agent is not responsible for your valuables. A selling agent cannot be present at all showings. Therefore, it’s important that you canvas your house prior to any video or photographs being taken to post online. Remember, thieves can look at your home from the comfort of their home. If your images include valuables, it may make your home a target. Consider removing artwork, gaming systems, jewelry, cellphones, guns, etc. Secure all credit cards and always keep mail locked and away so no one can get access to your personal information.

  1. Personal Identifiers + Family Portraits

A listing agent suggests removal of family pictures not just for staging but also for safety. You don’t know who will be coming through your home. What if a pedophile or predator attends an open house and photographs of your children are on the wall? Take down all family pictures. Be safe and protect your privacy. Hide all family calendars and anything with your children’s names or schools, including school banners and photographs.

  1. Electronics

Stow away your laptops and conceal all easy-to-steal electronics like iPad’s and cellular phones. Keep all video games hidden away.

  1. Windows + Lights

Keep windows locked and open the blinds or draperies, especially during open houses. Check all of them after showings and open houses. Are they still locked? Make sure your home has adequate indoor and outdoor lighting before listing it for sale. Leave all of the lights on during a showing for everyone’s safety: the agents and potential buyers.

  1. Spare Keys

Keep them out of sight. This goes for house, car, safety box, etc. All keys. Keep them hidden.

  1. Kids

Try to find out if kids are attending a showing. If so, pay extra attention to your home’s safety. Is the entryway clean and clear? Any tripping hazards? Make sure a responsible adult will be watching them throughout the showing so they do not get into personal items. Speak to your real estate agent and ensure she will be vocal about kids not straying during a showing or at an open house.

  1. Knives + Guns

Always remove kitchen knives from countertops and drawers. If there are any guns in the home, remove them prior to listing the home for sale.

  1. Pets

Always remove pets prior to a showing or open house. You will be liable if someone is injured by your pet while viewing your property. If someone has a pet allergy, it makes your home less desirable to them.

  1. Extra Security

Once the home is listed for sale, it’s available to the public. Consider adding motion-sensor detectors to the home. Make sure doors have deadbolts. Sliding glass doors should have bars and extra locks. And, for added peace of mind, consult your real estate agent about a wireless security system.

  1. Unaccompanied Buyers

Never allow someone into your home without a licensed real estate agent who has set an appointment with your listing agent. If they come to your door, refer them to your agent. Never let them inside the home. Also, be aware of online real estate scams where, unfortunately, someone can list your home for rent. If this happens, immediately call your local police department.

  1. Roamers

Never allow a potential buyer to roam unaccompanied through your home. You want to be trusting and hospitable, but you cannot be foolish. Do not let your guard down and never be alone when showing your home. Watch their behavior. Are they lingering too long? Be aware.

Most people coming through your home will be legitimate buyers. Still, take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and your home’s safety during the sales process. Always enlist the services of a licensed real estate agent who knows how to protect you, your home and your possessions.

You’re Buying

As a buyer, your safety is also foremost on a real estate agent’s mind when looking for your new home. It’s important to:


  1. Know the neighborhood you are considering purchasing in.

You will be advised to drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day to see if what it looks like and what is happening there meets with your standards and expectations. Check crime reports and sexual offender registries.

  1. Vacant and/or Distressed Homes

Prior to stepping inside, look around. Are there broken windows? Do outside walls or the roof have holes? What does the yard look like? Is it littered? Are there signs of squatters? Once inside, be on the lookout for loose floorboards, rotting decks, loose railings, stray animals, rodents or other hazards.

  1. Contamination

Be aware of the home’s history. Were there drugs like methamphetamines manufactured in the home? These drugs can seep into the surfaces without being visible and cause health related issues later. If you get a burning sensation in your eyes or throat when entering a home, that is not a good sign. Mold can result from moisture in homes where marijuana was grown. Look around carefully for signs of contamination.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. April 2017. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.