Want to Be Promoted? Get a Pioneering Mindset

Automotive Executive’s Pioneering Mindset

Want to understand automotive executive Ron Meier? Grab a copy of Willa Cather’s My Antonio-a 1918 published novel that’s stuck with him for decades. In the late 1800’s story, Jim and Antonio’s families settle on the Nebraska prairie. Though their lives take very different paths, they remain lifetime platonic friends. Throughout the book, Cather captures the great American spirit, portrays the vast landscape and reveals the mindset, determination and willpower of the pioneering people. “The characters and setting bring North Dakota childhood memories back to me and remind me of the many who’ve come in and out of my life over time,” reflects Ron.

Natural Pioneer

Ron’s attraction to pioneering stories comes naturally. In the fall of 1966, the Meier family of seven relocated from rural south central North Dakota to Ypsilanti, Michigan. Worn out by farming, Mr. Meier boarded a train for Michigan where he secured a Ford Motor Company job. After finding housing, he sent for his family who moved the day after Thanksgiving, pulling a small rental trailer behind their car.

Ron is adaptable to relocations. To date, he has lived in eight places, mostly for work advancements. Today he and Karen, his wife of 35 years, reside in southern California. They are the proud parents of five sons and a daughter. Their lives are blessed with two grandchildren and two more are expected in 2017. Theirs is a full and rich life created by the personality traits Cather used to describe pioneering Midwesterners: hardworking, faithful, persistent and determined.

Rising through the Ranks of the Automotive Industry

Ron worked his way up the automotive industry career ladder using these pioneering traits. In 1978, he started as an hourly employee in the Hydra-matic transmission factory (a division of General Motors). Today he is the Western Executive Regional Director for Chevrolet in Moorpark, California. He’s responsible for sales in 13 western states, including Alaska and Hawaii.

His path was anything but a paved highway. Along the way, he was an apprentice powerplant mechanic and a Journeyman (skilled tradesman) powerplant mechanic at Hydra-matic. He paid his own way through night school, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting and Finance) degree in 1984. He then was a salaried cost accountant at Hydra-matic. His MBA in International Business followed in 1990.

General Motors World Headquarters then offered him a staff assistant role in the GM corporate accounting and finance department. In 1995, he became a GM administrator working in numerous staff functions as a people leader. Four years later (1999) he was relocated to the field staff as a financial administrator supporting the GM Sales, Service and Marketing staff.

Ron became a Buick and GMC Zone Manager (OH, MI, PA and KY) in 2007 and was promoted to Senior Zone Manager (IL, IN and WI) in 2013 before promotion to his current role of Western Executive Regional Director.

“I’ve stayed with GM because I’ve developed a passion for what I do. Additionally, I work around some of the best and brightest people in the industry. GM has evolved into a well-run, innovative and dynamic company in a dynamic industry.”

Recession & Celebrity at GMC

Ron’s most memorable career experience is the 2008-9 economic recession. “These were troubled times filled with high anxiety. No one knew how things would turn out. In times like these, it becomes abundantly clear how important faith, hard work, focus and the values instilled in childhood are in overcoming adversity.”

Because of what Ron does professionally, throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to meet many public figures like Peyton Manning, Shaquille O’Neal, Erin Andrews, Fred Couples, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, and more. Meeting these individuals makes him realize that people generally have the same hopes, fears, concerns, etc. no matter how famous they are. “They just perform on a larger stage.”


Ron’s first leadership role was drum major for his high school marching band. “Back in those days one was chosen based on musicianship, physical ability and leadership. I realized then that people do not necessarily follow you because of your title, but they will follow you if you lead them.”

Traits of a Good Leader

  1. A good leader sees diversity of his group as a strength and finds ways to extract the best thinking from its members. “Over the years, I’ve found when people understand how what they do fits into the overall success of the organization and they feel they’ve contributed to that success, I’m on my way to developing an engaged, high-performing team.”
  2. People relate to leaders who are comfortable in their own skin and show some humanity.
  3. A good leader is also a good teacher.
  4. A good leader is a powerful and prolific communicator who not only focuses his group on what needs to be done but also the “why” behind the “what.”
  5. A good leader defines what success looks like and effectively conveys how this success benefits the entire group.

Selecting Leaders

Ron looks for several characteristics in leaders. “You don’t need to be a leader of people to possess these characteristics. Each is important in business. You are more likely to succeed if you can build an organizational culture where these are valued.”

  1. Personal Capability
  2. Results Oriented
  3. Acceptance of Responsibility
  4. Accountability for Results
  5. Strong Interpersonal Skills
  6. Being a Change Agent through Innovation
  7. Strong Character and Integrity

Principles & Values

“The dumbest mistake I made in my early life was thinking that reaching out to others for help or guidance was a sign of weakness.” Through conversations with others and a lot of self-reflection, Ron’s realized reaching out to the right people at the right time can be a smart move. “It enables you to get a fresh perspective and resolve a lot of issues, perhaps more quickly.”

Live By

  1. Be Responsible– “Own It”- Doing so helps one acknowledge his mistakes, take corrective action and learn from mistakes rather than pointing fingers at others or circumstances.
  2. Be Self-Motivated-No need to wait for an invitation to do what needs to be done…do it!
  3. Put Others First-Be part of something bigger than yourself. While some self-indulgence can be healthy, the majority of time should be spent in service of others.

UpSide of Downs a 501(c) (3) Non-Profit Organization

Ron and Karen put these principles to use in 1996 shortly after their son Steven was born with Downs Syndrome. They created UpSide of Downs in response to a lack of helpful information for parents and caregivers of these children. “We wanted current and less depressing information.” Initially they assembled materials into a booklet but today have a website that has branched into an informational source for caregivers of special needs children, adults and captives of dementia disease.

Not on the Golf Course

One’s not likely to find Ron on the golf course. “If pressed into service because of work, I’ll go and have a good time. But, the amount of time needed to become decent makes me turn away from the game.” Instead Ron spends as much time as he can with his family, attends church regularly and works on projects around the house, whittling away his “to-do” list.

Ron’s greatest joy comes from the blessings of seeing what wonderful people his children have developed into and the fine people they’ve married. Seeing the legacy being passed on in the parenting of their children is an added bonus.

Happy and Proud Influencers

If asked, Ron’s three cited influencers would likely list the same source of personal joy. Each of them possesses pioneering traits similar to the characters in Cather’s My Antonio. His dad Steve had a strong work ethic, a deep Catholic faith, a sense of humor and was known for how well he treated people. His mom Margaret taught him the skills for living and values that kept him on the straight and narrow. And, his wife Karen, the mother of their six children (two with Down Syndrome), has been a gift to his life. She managed their family life while he completed two degrees, primarily through night school; navigated many corporate relocations and supported him through his own life’s journey.

Share this with others who will learn from Ron’s journey and approach to life, especially those seeking to be leaders with a pioneering mindset.

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

How can I help your organization grow?













Beauty Queen Conquers Nashville Only to Suffer Loss

Georgia Bedwell portraitGeorgia Becker Bedwell has packed a lot of living into her life. The 1972 Miss North Dakota traveled the world, married twice, raised a son, lived and worked in Nashville, earned a college certificate, and moved back to North Dakota. Today she’s working full-time and learning to adjust to her life as a widow, something she’d rather not be doing.
Inspiring North Dakotan Musicians
Georgia, the oldest of seven children, was raised in a musical family in Napoleon where she was surrounded by the ever-present sounds of country music on her dad’s radio and stereo. Her high school music teacher, Gene Mosbrucker,  encouraged her to pursue her passion of music. Both saw music as a way for Georgia to fund a college education. When she learned pageants provided scholarships for college, she entered. She won the Miss Kidder County pageant and then Miss North Dakota, including the talent portion, singing the popular, “Rose Garden,” recorded by fellow North Dakotan Lynn Anderson. Like many North Dakotans, Georgia watched Strasburg’s Lawrence Welk on his Saturday night show where Lynn performed regularly. Lynn became Georgia’s inspiration.
georgia homesteadOne Song, Many Opportunities
Georgia’s memorable performances of “Rose Garden” opened many doors for her. After receiving a non-finalist talent scholarship at the Miss America pageant, Georgia joined the Miss America USO tour and was a part of the Miss America pageant production the following year. Tom Bryant, a fellow Napoleon High School graduate who worked at Nashville’s WSM (AM) radio, home of The Grand Old Opry-the world’s longest running radio program, shared a tape of Georgia’s performance, landing her an invitation to perform there in 1973. Shortly thereafter she moved to Nashville and began a career in country music.
Garth CMA Horizon AwardCountry Music Career Takes Off
Georgia worked in the country music show at Opryland USA where she met two other female vocalists who together later became Roy Clark’s backup singers. Besides working many television shows like the Tonight Show, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Dinah Shore and the Merv Griffin show, in 1976 the group accompanied Roy on a cultural exchange tour to the former Soviet Union. They also toured the entire USA and Canada. After leaving Roy, the group returned to Opryland USA with their own show called “Three of a Kind.” In addition, Georgia started singing on writer’s demos; one was released as a single record on an independent label, which led to a second single. She toured with her own show until 1983 when she took a job in record promotion at Capitol Records where she stayed for 14 years. There she experienced the music industry from the inside out.
Georgia helped launch the careers of, and brought home number one records for many artists including, but not limited to, Trace Adkins, Garth Brooks, and Tanya Tucker.
Georgia acknowledges that today’s music industry has changed. Success still depends on one’s own determination and being a songwriter still separates one apart from others. However, playlists are tighter and now consultants rather than markets pick music. Her favorite performers include icons Garth, Reba and George and the song she often sings to herself is one written by Rodney Crowell and originally recorded by Emmylou Harris, “Till I Gain Control Again.”

Her husband of 22 years, Byron L. Bedwell, III, played this song on his guitar while she sang. She misses that, and him.
Me, Trent & ByronLove Hurts
Georgia’s life partner, Byron, was diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer in February 2015 and died July 17, 2015. It’s her greatest heartache and one she’s learning to cope with today. She understands her life has been blessed and continues to be blessed. But, if she had a magic wand, she’d wish for Byron to return so they could grow old together. Like many who’ve lost a loved one, Georgia feels like a piece of her is missing and she’s working hard to figure out how to become a whole person again.

Next Chapter
Georgia recently finished college classes and earned a human resources certification she’s using at her Bismarck bank job. She knows it’s never too late to change “horses and find a new career.” She understands that all of us have the choice to be who we want to be and that it is up to us to make it happen. Georgia also serves on the Board of Directors for the Miss North Dakota Scholarship Organization as their talent coordinator. She continues to promote the pageant as a source of scholarship funds for young women.
She cites her greatest accomplishment as her wonderful son, Trent, whom she wishes she lived nearer to. Her greatest joy originates from sharing her heart and faith and from caring for others who may need her help. More than anything, she wishes to be remembered for that loving and giving heart. She longs for her parents to be with her for many years ahead and wishes she could thank her deceased Grandma Johanna Mitzel for teaching her the value of loving unconditionally.
verseMore than ever she’s living by her favorite verse “Walk by faith not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Still a beauty. Still a talent. Back in North Dakota. Georgia Becker Bedwell.
Leave your greetings for Georgia in the comment section below.

Share this with others who also were inspired by and admired this remarkably talented woman.

Miss North Dakota Becomes Miss America 2018

Georgia is on the Board of Directors and the Talent Coordinator for the Miss North Dakota organization. In September 2017, Cara Mund, Miss North Dakota was crowned Miss America 2018. Congratulations to all!

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 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.


An Adoptee’s Voice 54 Years Later

(Shared by Susan-a follower from Florida)
Half-a-million adult adoptees were seeking or had found their birth families according to a late 1980’s survey. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998). In a study of American adolescents, the Search Institute found that 72 percent of adopted adolescents wanted to know why they were adopted, 65 percent wanted to meet their birth parents, and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they looked like. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)
Susan was no different. Here is her story 54 years later.baby

I was adopted at about nine months old by loving, gentle parents who fought to conceive and maintain pregnancies. I had an older brother, Bill, who was adopted at six weeks old and a younger sister, Lisa, who was about 18 months old when she joined the family. None of us were previously related.

I always knew I was adopted. My first recollection of this awareness was when I was in 2nd grade and my teacher asked, “Who in this class was adopted?” and my hand flew up. When I looked around, there may have been one other person, but I was never bothered by the fact. I asked my mom how she told me and she claimed she didn’t really remember. She thought she’d used books from the library that talked about being chosen and not coming from her tummy. I just always knew I was adopted. I had nothing to compare it with and didn’t know what it felt like to not be adopted. All I knew was that I was very much loved.
I was born in Ohio in 1961 and it was considered a “closed” adoption: neither party was privy to information about the other. The Ohio laws have since changed and anyone born before 1963 is free to search.
As a child, I was curious about my birth mother and fantasized that she was a wealthy, blue blood type person-someone like Crystal Carrington from susans adoptive family labelDynasty, a popular TV show at the time. I was very open with my mother. In turn, she was always a bit defensive, confusing me with her instructions not to go alone if I ever searched for my birth mother. Now I know she was trying to protect me. She believed that as a young, college educated adult, I might feel obligated to help my birth mother out if I saw she was struggling. Even though I assured my mother this was not a consideration, I felt she was withholding something from me. I’m not sure if I learned then, or if I knew sooner, but I was adopted from the county welfare department, as was my younger sister Lisa. Our origin was the source of my mother’s uneasiness. At this time, I was just curious and never felt a pressing need to search because my curiosity mostly was about my nationality. I didn’t search.
It wasn’t until I was married, living in California and pregnant with our first child that I seriously began looking into my birth background. I had an unsatisfied need to know what genes I was passing on to my children. In the past, when it came time to fill out paperwork at clinics, I’d answered questions about family history with, “I don’t know. Adopted!” Now it was about to affect another generation. If I could find  anything out, I desperately wanted to.
During the pregnancy, my mother came to California from Ohio to help me wallpaper the nursery and I kept peppering her with questions about this. She finally had enough and exclaimed, “Damn it!” which I had NEVER heard her say. My persistent questions really upset her. So much so that she shared with me all she knew, which was only my birth mother’s last name. Immediately I began the search, starting at the hospital where I was born and then calling the Cleveland welfare department.
My goal was to know my heredity and disease history, but that’s not what I found out. I opened a can of worms that couldn’t have been further from my ideal birth mother image. The information was so upsetting that my husband Dave convinced me to put it all aside until after the birth of our son and deal with it later. It was great advice since my hormones were all whacked out from the pregnancy as it was.

It wasn’t too long afterwards though when I dealt with the information I’d received. I discovered I was the youngest of my birth mother’s five children, all adopted. The two oldest girls were in and out of foster care before their permanent homes. One brother died at birth and another I know nothing about. I learned I was taken to the welfare department straight from the hospital and that none of us had the same father. Our birth mother had psychological issues and was in and out of hospitals. She ended up dying in her 40’s in the hospital before my search began. To be truthful, her death was a relief because I didn’t have to make the decision to meet her. It was made for me.
I’d gathered all of this information from a wonderful social worker at the welfare department. As it turns out, my oldest biological sister, Judy, started her birth background search within a month of me inquiring about my background. I truly can’t make this stuff up!  Judy and I started exchanging birthday and Christmas cards, all through the social worker who understood we’d have some initial trust issues. Soon Judy and I were exchanging addresses.

About a year after Judy and I connected, I got another call from the social worker. She told me my birth sister, Jane, had made an inquiry to her background. So again, we made our introductions and became birthday and Christmas card friends. Judy and Jane are both lovely, decent women with terrific families. We have met a couple of times and I am glad they are in my life. We remain in contact and social media has allowed us to stay up to date with one another.

I was always open with my parents about my findings because I knew they were just as curious as I was. I certainly have a better understanding of my mother’s apprehensiveness. I know she never felt she would be replaced. My brother never searched for his birth parents because he always thought it would hurt our parents. I never felt that way. Lisa, my youngest sister and only remaining family member, never searched for her birth parents either. She chose not to have children. Maybe that’s why she never chose to look into her background.
My advice for couples considering adoption is to find out the things I never did: Heredity and diseases, even if only on the birth mother’s side because these are important when you have children. I’m still curious about that part of my history.
Finally, I would say to people adopting-love those children. Discipline them and be open with them. Let them know they’re wanted.

Family is who you are with. My wonderful childhood is something I would never change. Nature vs. nurture is an argument that will continue….both are needed.
susan portraitSusan and Dave and their very spoiled rescue yellow Labrador, Jackson, recently moved to Florida in search of a more relaxed lifestyle on the beach after 20 years in Atlanta, GA where their three children were raised. Susan grew up in a modest house in a small suburb of Cleveland, OH, attended Ohio (Athens) University and worked in radio in Ohio before marrying Dave whose career took them to Los Angeles, CA, Charleston, SC and Minneapolis, MN. She volunteered in her children’s schools, substitute taught and worked as a paraprofessional in an elementary school Physical Education department. As an empty nester, she’s also worked part-time retail jobs.


Each year nearly 120,000 children are placed for adoption. If you’re considering adoption, Here are some resources to explore. Share this story with those you know considering adoption.


Adopt Us Kids

Adoption Agencies by State

Adoptive Families

Leave a question or comment for Susan 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 2016. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

12 New Ways to Experience Las Vegas






Step Outside the Casino.

Las Vegas Is No Longer Just for Gambling.

If your vision of Las Vegas, Nevada matches the nostalgic image here, you  need to revisit soon. It’s  no longer just a playground for adults gambling and leaving their secrets behind. No. Las Vegas has strategically matured into a family friendly entertainment center. One you need to visit multiple times to experience all it offers.

Need some help planning, log onto the Convention and Visitors Authority Site for some great information to get you started.

Here’s 12 new ways to enjoy Las Vegas outside of casinos.

  1.  Get Mesmerized by the Fountains of Bellagio

    fountainsMonday – Friday 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. show every 1/2 hour 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. show every 15 minutes

    Saturdays & Holidays 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. show every 1/2 hour 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. show every 15 minutes

    Sundays 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. show every 1/2 hour 7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. show every 15 minutes

    2. Get in the Spirit. holiday decorLove holiday decor? Spend time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s roaming hotel and resort lobbies. The color, the scent, the music and the outstanding design work are sure to boost your holiday spirit.

3. Get Married.

Las Vegas continues to work on being a hip placeweddings to get married. If this is your ideal location for a wonderful wedding, check out the requirements and availability of locations here.




4. Get High.
No, not like that. Rather get a ticket for the world’s tallest observation wheel-The High Roller-at the LINQ’s outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment promenade. Prefer a roller coaster ride? Hop aboard the Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York. coasterhigh roller








5. Get political.  Democratic and Republican parties hosted debates in Las Vegas in 2015. The political year was not lost on billboards and even on visitor vehicles in parking lots around the city. politics Political messages were everywhere, including on hired vehicles driving up and down The Strip.


6. Get peaceful.

gardenWho knew there were gardens and prayer centers on The Strip? Well, there are. Roam  Caesars Palace’s  massive grounds and find a number of places to sit in peace and even offer prayer.







7. Get entertained.

boyzOften referred to as the live “entertainment capital of the world”, there is a show for every taste and budget in Las Vegas, including one by the American R&B vocal group, BoyzIIMen.

Prefer to be entertained outdoors, take a gondola ride at The Venetian.





8. Get Artsy. If art is your thing, you can visit a multitude of galleries. Be sure to check individual websites: some charge admission.





9. Get Your Game On In the Arcade. Perfect rainy day activity. Call ahead to confirm it hasn’t been eliminated for another service, especially if you’re walking a long distance. Prefer watching sporting games on TV, find a Sportsbook to cheer on your favorite team on the big screens.arcades










10. Get Sweetened. Those loving chocolate and other sweets have plenty of outlets along the strip, including the M&M’s World, Hershey’s Chocolate World and world’s largest chocolate fountain inside the Bellagio.chocolate











11. Look Up. There is so much visual stimulation on the Las Vegas Strip that one can forget to stop and look up. Trust me on this. Step aside. Look Up. The architecture is perfection. The lights thrilling and ceilings breathtaking. Ride the outdoor escalators for non-street-level views. Just…look up!




12. Get Fashionable. If you love to shop, you will love shopping in Las Vegas. Every style. Every budget. Every environment-boutiques to malls.


5 Tips to Make Your Visit Spectacular:

  • Pack comfortable walking shoes. Sure, you can take a cab, bus or the light rail. But, walking The Strip allows you to easily go in and out of hotels, shops and restaurants along the way.
  • Food is pricey. Like most entertainment centers, food is expensive. Know this before you go. However, the choices are abundant. Want a greasy hamburger, find a fast food restaurant along The Strip. There are also food courts in most hotels and, of course, if you like fine dining, there’s certainly plenty of that to keep you well fed.
  • This is not a smoke free city. Even smoke free lodging doesn’t necessarily guarantee a smoke free environment. If this is a health concern for you, be sure to contact your hotel and make that known in advance.
  • Las Vegas attracts global visitors. Be open to interacting with those who sound and look different from you. It will enrich your visit.
  • A vehicle is not necessary. If you’re flying into Las Vegas, take a cab to your lodging. The Strip is often clogged; sometimes you can reach your dinner or entertainment destination quicker by walking.

What’s your favorite non-casino activity in Las Vegas?

Comment. Share.

©Copyright. January 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

I Spent New Year’s Eve With a New Man

A new man ended 2015 and started 2016 with me. It was the first time he invited me to spend the night. He made me dinner and showed me his city. He unloaded my vehicle upon arrival, had linens laid out and noticeably had cleaned his home in anticipation of my visit. During my stay, we shopped, cooked, talked, laughed, recalled past New Year’s Eve events and chewed a lot of sunflower seeds while watching endless college bowl games. Occasionally, he’d flip the channel and let me see New Year’s Eve programming from Times Square. We toasted the beginning of a new year and he taught me to play Phase 10-a card game.

The man I spent New Years with is our 21-year-old son, Alex. It  was my first aaaovernight at his home and it was memorable not only for the ringing in of a new year but also for his hospitality. Admittedly, I was a bit tepid about encroaching on his space for the first time-sleeping on his bed, using his shower, eating his food and following his house rules. The truth is thinking about the role reversal on the drive there far exceeded the reality of it. Once the door opened, it was quite natural.

For the most part, I checked my “mother role” at the door and entered his home as a guest. Okay, I did offer some non-solicited advice on cooking and, when he wasn’t looking, I took a couple extra swipes with the dishcloth at the oven top. And I might even have reset the coffee table and opened the blinds. But, don’t tell him! It’s just not that easy switching from mom to guest so abruptly. When he asked me to get him a beverage from the refrigerator, I knew the role shift wasn’t that easy for him either. We all fall into natural roles like mom and son. But I did want him to know during this visit I was also a guest and he was the host. It’s one of those things you learn over time-how to host guests. With more practice, I’m sure I’ll do better as a guest and he will continue to excel as a host.

I left my man’s home feeling proud and blessed that our son has matured into a person who can fund his own home, keep it clean, furnish it and even host his parents for a holiday with graciousness and charm.

It was a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a very special start to 2016.

I’m already waiting for the next invitation. This time I’ll leave the dishcloth, oven top, coffee table and blinds alone. Promise? Maybe! I’m still his Mom.

Do you recall the first time you spent the night at your child’s home? Can you relate?  How? Comment. Share.


©Copyright. January 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.


Wedding Planning Q & A By Topic

Wisconsin Sept 2015 inc Haley wedding 047Wedding Etiquette

Q: Does etiquette vary by region of the country?

A. No. While customs vary by region of the country, wedding etiquette is the same regardless of location.


Q. Do I have to invite the officiant to the rehearsal dinner?

A. Formal rules of etiquette state that an officiant and his spouse are to be invited to the rehearsal dinner. This applies to an officiant of a church or synagogue in which you are an active member not necessarily an officiant you’ve contracted for a service.

Q: Do I have to pay the officiant at my church for performing the marriage ceremony?

A: Sometimes this question is answered for you in a church published wedding guidelines booklet. If not, a gratuity is especially appropriate if he played an active role in creating a meaningful service for you. Formal etiquette rules suggest the best man or groom present the officiant with a payment and gratuity in an envelope after the service.

Printed Items: Invitations & Thank You Notesin

Q. What is the timing for sending thank you notes?

A. Formal etiquette requires sending a thank you note within a week if you receive gifts before the wedding and within a month if received after the wedding. Be aware this is a hot button issue for guests, especially older guests who expect to receive a genuine hand-written note promptly after delivery of the gift. Rumors of it being okay to send a note within a year after the ceremony are false. That is seen as being ungrateful and as poor manners.

Q. When do I use wording “pleasure of your company”?

A. If your ceremony takes places somewhere other than a church or synagogue, you use that wording instead of “the honour of your presence.”

Q: When do we send rehearsal dinner invitations?

A: These are sent by the groom’s family after guest RSVPs are returned. Never invite guests to any wedding event over the Internet or through text. Both sets of parents, the bridal party, grandparents, the officiant and his spouse and out-of-town guests are extended a rehearsal dinner invitation.

Q: Do we need to include our parent names on the invitation if we are paying for the wedding?

A: Mature couples paying for the wedding issue their own invitations and do not include parent names.

Q: What do I do if an invited guest has not returned the RSVP card?

A: You must call all guests who have not returned a RSVP card so you can get an accurate count for catering and seating.

Q: When do I mail the wedding invitations?

A: The general rule is 6-8 weeks before the wedding to out-of-state guests and 4 weeks for in-state.

Q: Where do I put a note that we want money, not gifts?

A: Nowhere. An invitation is not a request card for a gift. A gift is something given out of love and generosity. If someone chooses to present you a wedding gift, accept it graciously and with appreciation. Couples never ask for gifts or dictate a preference. Your mother or attendants can express your wishes, if asked, or guests may understand your wish if you don’t have a retail bridal registry. Also, keep in mind it is never appropriate to insert bridal registry information into an invitation either. Shower hostesses can mention where you are registered on invitations. And, bridal showers are never hosted by immediate family members.

Q: I don’t want anyone wearing white or a hat at my wedding. Can I slip a piece of paper into the invitation with this message?

A: No. This message is best communicated from family and friends to guests, not put in writing.

Encore Brides

Q. I’m getting remarried and I don’t understand today’s “rules” compared to when I married the first time.

A. You’re right. The “rules” have become somewhat relaxed. Keep these etiquette tips in mind to look like a pro: Second weddings are more sophisticated because the couple is older and more established, thus has more money to contribute to the event. Therefore, most encore couples pay for the wedding themselves. Ceremonies are smaller and usually only include family and very close friends. If you’re blending families, include the children in the ceremony. Wear a simple, elegant, sophisticated dress (floor length, cocktail length or designer suit) in white, off-white or pastel. Wear a headpiece or hat, and avoid a blusher veil covering your face. Do not print “No Gifts Please” on your invitation. If you prefer a contribution to a certain non-profit, spread this word via family and friends.

Wisconsin Sept 2015 inc Haley wedding 045The Bridal Party a.k.a Attendants

Q. Is there a proper way to ask someone to be in our wedding?

A. Yes, formal etiquette dictates you meet the person face to face and describe why she is important in your life and why you would value her support. Follow up by asking if she will support you in your wedding and marriage by serving in your bridal party. If a face to face meeting is not practical, a telephone call or hand written letter is preferred to an email or video chat.

Q. Am I obligated to ask someone to be an attendant because I was in their bridal party?

A. No. You should never feel like you need to pay someone back by asking them to be an attendant in your bridal party.

Q. How do I tell my bridesmaids I don’t want them wedding dress shopping with me? I’d already promised this to my Mom.

A. Be honest and let them know that this experience is something both you and your Mom have been looking forward to for years. Schedule a later date with your attendants for a dress reveal. Maybe you can address invitations or make wedding favors at this same gathering.

Q. I don’t want bridesmaids but my groom wants groomsmen. Is this okay?

A. Maybe. Check with the Marriage License Bureau in your ceremony location to determine requirements. Most states only require three people be present: bride, groom and officiant. But, there is no rule requiring an equal number of attendants, if you do decide to have bridesmaids.

Q. What arm do my ushers offer to seat guests?

A. Ushers offer their right arm to the woman of a guest pair or the oldest woman in a group of ladies. Single men walk beside the usher to be seated.

Q. Who is the last guest seated before the processional begins?C n C wedding August 2015 070

A. The mother of the bride is seated last and is the first guest to leave after the recessional.

Q. I’ve made a horrible mistake in my choice of maid of honor. She doesn’t seem one bit interested and hasn’t helped with anything.

A. First, try to figure out why she’s become so disinterested. Is she fearful of losing your friendship? Are you overbearing and only talk about your wedding? The gentlest way to re-engage her is to sit down together with a To-Do list and express your excitement about completing some of the list with her. A good honest talk and having some non wedding related fun may restore her interest.

Q. My groom just told me the best man has written a four page toast. Isn’t this too long? What is the norm?

A. Yes, that is too long. No wedding toast should be more than 3 minutes. Toasts should be heartfelt, delivered top-of-mind, not read. Your groom should let his best man know a speech is not needed, simply a toast offering his best wishes will do.

Q. When toasts are being made, what do we do?

A. When a toast is offered at a sit-down dinner, all rise except the couple who remain seated. Afterwards, it’s appropriate for the groom to rise and toast his new bride who remains seated.

Q. All of my bridesmaids are flying in for our wedding. Do I need to rent them a car?

A. Renting a vehicle for your attendants is not expected. If you have the funds, you might rent one or two vehicles and arrange arrival schedules so they can carpool to lodging together. Transportation logistics should be considered when choosing venues.

Q. One of the groomsmen will be in his military uniform. Do I order a boutonniere for him?

A. No. Men in uniform don’t wear boutonnieres, this includes your groom, if he’s in uniform. Others wear their boutonnieres on the left lapel of their jackets.

Q. My bridesmaids told me they’d rather sit with their dates or husbands than at a head table. Is this appropriate?

A. Yes and no. They should sit where you’d like them to. However, seating has changed a lot. You could have a sweetheart table for just you and your groom. Or, you two could sit with both sets of parents.


Q. Where do I send the wedding gift before the wedding day?

A. It is not proper to bring gifts to a ceremony or reception because the burden of transport goes to the bride or her family. Gifts should be sent to the bride’s home before a wedding ceremony. Upon receipt, accurate records need to be kept so the correct thank you note is sent in a timely manner.

Q. A lot of our family doesn’t have fine dining experience. Should I include dining etiquette rules and tableware diagrams in the invitation?

A. No. Your wedding day is a time of celebration. Forgive your guests for what you perceive to be their lack of dining etiquette and enjoy their company and willingness to celebrate with you.


Q. My divorced parents are uncivil. Dad’s remarried. Mom hasn’t. How do I seat them at the ceremony?

A. Let’s hope your parents will remember the wedding day is about you and put their dislike for one another aside. Proper etiquette requires your mother be seated in the first row with her immediate family behind her. Your father is seated in the row behind your mother’s family with his immediate family behind him.

Q. How do I deal with future in-laws putting their two cents in when they aren’t paying for anything?

A. Remember they will be in your life for a long time. To keep harmony, listen to their suggestions, consider them and then decide what is best. If this continues, ask your fiancée to speak to them since you are setting family interaction patterns while you are engaged. Good luck!

Q. How do I ask my groom’s mother if I can help select her dress?

A. First the bride’s mother chooses her dress. Show your mother-in-law a photograph of that dress and then suggest that you and she set up a day to go shopping together, making it a fun day to look forward to. Try not to be controlling and remember you want her to be both fashionable and comfortable in what she is wearing.

Q. My father died a few years back and my mother has recently remarried. I like him but I’d prefer my brother walk me down the aisle. How can I make this happen without hurting feelings?

A. There are several options to consider so that your step-father feels included. Both your brother and step-father can escort you. Or, he could meet you halfway down the aisle and walk the rest of the way to the altar with you and your brother. You could list him in your wedding program, especially if you mention your birth father. At the reception, you could do a spotlight dance with him.

Q. What does the step-mother wear to the wedding?

A. The only rule of etiquette applied to your role is to wear something that doesn’t upstage the mothers and that complements the wedding colors, so that you blend in, not stand out in wedding photographs.

What wedding planning or etiquette questions do you have? Ask me.

©Copyright October 2015 Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Naughty & Nice List

It’s that time of the year to reveal Naughty and Nice Lists. list
This year our family relocated, traveled off shore, celebrated a birthday milestone in Las Vegas, housed in temporary living quarters, and purchased and furnished a house. Our business interactions were greater than usual. Some were pleasant; others not so much. Here’s who left an impression and landed on the lists.

Patty Bain, Area Sales Manager, Lodging Dynamics Hospitality Group. Patty directed us to ideal temporary housing at the Omaha Towne Place Suites while we were looking for a house. Prior to our relocation, she advised us on how to best use the space and make the most of the temporary status. She greeted us with a welcome basket and checked in on our family often-good ole’ fashioned customer service wins every time! If you or your group needs lodging in Omaha, contact Patty at patty.bain@ldhg.com.
Megan Owens, Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, is dynamite! Of all the agents in Omaha, we chose Megan because we consistently favored her listings and the way she staged them for sale. In addition, she was patient with our ever-changing relocation date and very responsive to our communications. Megan’s greatest trait is her superior listening skills. She quickly grasps your housing needs and works tirelessly to find you the ideal location. She has tremendous focus, energy, and business savvy. She’s well networked and respected in the Omaha real estate market. She’s mighty and will not disappoint. Contact Megan.
First National Bank Omaha has met our mortgage and personal banking needs since the relocation. There’s always a hesitation after moving to find a new bank, especially after we had such an outstanding banker in Lauren at First Premier in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. However, the mortgage banking team led by Becky Sandiland bsandiland@fnni.com couldn’t have done one thing better to land on this Nice List. Without a doubt, this financing experience was the best we’ve ever had! It was so favorable that we decided to do our personal banking there with Faye Gerteisen fgerteisen@fnni.com. Hats off to First National Bank Omaha for hiring great staff, training them well and then allowing them to serve customers in a way that retains them for a lifetime.
• Looking good makes you feel good and Ashly, Designer, at Beauty First Nebraska keeps us presentable. She’s cheerful, enthusiastic, and just a great all-around stylist. Start 2016 off with a new cut and style by making an appointment with Ashly at 402.496.1787.
Susan Anawski, owner of Prestige Travel, has been a life-saver for the traveling Thomason Trio on multiple occasions, and not just in 2015. When an airplane mechanical issue delayed an offshore family trip, Susan, yet again, rescued us and worked magic to get us to our location and secure us vouchers for our next trip. I know many think they can do better than a travel agent, and we did too, until we employed her services and found out why she’s the expert, and we aren’t. Traveling in 2016, contact Susan at 605.367.4000 or prestigetravel@sio.midco.net. No matter where you live, she can gladly assist.

Naughty List

Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM). What a major disappointment to find out the one you’ve been pining for doesn’t care about you, even after you’ve spent a very large amount of time and money on them. We have placed five orders with NFM and there is a 100% failure rate on post-sale activity. Furniture arrived chipped with the pieces taped to the underside. Others were damaged in the move. Pre-paid assembly was not completed. Scheduled delivery times were off by 8 hours, on and on and on. The worst part of this rude awakening is that the Mart employs some pretty capable designers and sales people. Too bad they aren’t supported with after sale counterparts who share their skill set.
Hy-Vee. Wow! Major downer! We were introduced to Hy-Vee in Sioux Falls and spent every grocery dollar there. We were so loyal we knew the staff and vice versa. We loved the culture and the way they supported the community. Fast forward to Omaha and the three stores we frequented seem like they’re foreign to the Hy-Vee experience in South Dakota. Let’s just say with so many choices in Omaha, we’ve moved on because our shopping dollar doesn’t seem to be appreciated or valued at the Omaha Hy-Vee stores. We miss “the smile in every aisle.”
Caesars Palace Lost and Found Department. We stayed in Caesars for Alex’s 21st birthday celebration. Despite the horrible smoke on the no smoking floor and drunken guests pounding on our door on multiple nights, all agreed it was an ideal location. However, never plan to leave anything behind at Caesars because you won’t get it back. Ever. A necklace was left when we checked out before 6 am. We called from the airport gate and followed all of the correct procedures. It took days to hear back from the hotel and when we did it was through a form email. Three weeks later, the case remained open. We know it’s never being returned. Ironically, when we checked in, we found the previous guest’s credit card on the closet floor. Knowing that not everyone is always honest, we called the card company and informed them of our finding rather than return the card to the lost and found department. Foreshadowing at its finest. Lesson learned-never travel with something you cannot part with.

Straddling both lists is Delta Airlines. They cost my family a day at an offshore resort because of mechanical failure discovered by pilots before we were to leave on the first flight out of Omaha. Per the pilot, the issues should’ve been noticed and fixed the evening before. Yikes! However, Delta did right by speaking the truth during the day-long delay and issued travel vouchers for future travel to all passengers. On another trip, Delta baggage handlers destroyed our luggage. Once again, they processed the claim in a fair and expedient manner and offered what seemed to be a sincere apology for the damage. So even when a company makes mistakes, and they all do because humans work there, if they acknowledge their mistakes and make reasonable amends and explanations, it sits better with the consumer, or at least this one.
Who lands on your Nice List?clap Who is on your Naughty List? Have you told them? It is my policy to always inform a company when they are about to lose my business. Hy-Vee, Caesars and the Nebraska Furniture Mart were each contacted and reasons for the loss explained. As a former CEO and small business owner, I value customer feedback-good and bad. Wouldn’t it be an ideal world if all businesses did? If someone provides you exceptional service, let that be known as well. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, even at work.

Let’s hope your Nice List has more members than your Naughty List and that those on this Naughty List will work hard to make the Nice List in 2016.
©Copyright. December 2015. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

Do My Stretch Marks Gross You Out?

I never got stretch marks when I was pregnant. In fact, I lost so much weight during the pregnancy I weighed less at Alex’s birth than I did in high school. That’s a whole ‘nother story. But, I definitely got more stretch marks in 2015 than in any other recent year. These marks I’m proud to show and tell about

What stretched you in 2015? What’s on your 2016 list for your personal growth and development? I prefer the term stretch marks to resolutions. How about you?

2015 Stretch Marks
1. I learned how to swim-a lifelong goal and one I blogged about in May 2015 under the category “scoliosis.” Nothing gave me more confidence up to that point in 2015 than this achievement. Many thanks to swim instructor, Tonya, for the training, coaching and motivation.
2. I birthed a website and blog in 2015. Like first time parents, this experience stretched me in all kinds of ways. Some days I rejoiced; others I cowered, and yet others I questioned my sanity for thinking I was cut out for this technical adventure. I love written expression and helping others share their stories through written words. For the most part, it’s been a tremendous success. What I quickly learned is writing is only a small part of having a successful website and blog. The technical and marketing aspects are equally, if not greater, in importance. And, I thank you for joining me on this journey and appreciate all the shares, comments and contributions you’ve made along the way. Keep up the good work, and I will do my best too.
3. Along with the website and technical challenges came learning to trust “remote” support professionals, including those in other countries whom I’ve never met or spoken to. It’s amazing how small our world is when one agrees to meet virtually.
4. I took my first online course on writing for the Internet in 2015. And, I did it in the midst of a major family transition. I missed direct interaction with the instructor and students. However, I enjoyed being able to log in when it was most convenient for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching methods. Taking quizzes, contributing to discussion boards and preparing for a final-well those required dusting off cobwebs. Great fun! Great stretch mark. “A” on final.
5. Linda’s store on the website is major stretch mark. First, I had to shoot all the images and prepare them technically so they could be uploaded and then printed on products. Uff-da! That was a lot of work, but worth all of it. I hope you enjoy viewing the images and will consider placing an order through the store. It’s my small business at work and I thank you for supporting it and all other small businesses.
6. Contacting tourism agencies was another noteworthy stretch mark. As the year progressed, it became quite clear that my passion is visiting and promoting mid to small town America. More than that, I thrive on assessing the culture and heartbeat of a community and promoting it to followers who want to venture to and explore off-the-beaten-path places. This requires my cold calling or contacting tourism agencies and chamber of commerce organizations to collaborate with me. If you’d like me to visit your town and promote it to future tourists, tell me whom to contact. I will. I love travel. I love promotion. I love writing and I certainly enjoy seeing small towns gain additional revenue from visitors.
7. My palate was stretched in 2015. I tried Indian and Ethiopian food along with cuisine from Afghanistan and authentic Mexican fare. Thankfully my husband eats what I prepare and we’ve been enjoying expanding our food selections and preparing it in healthier ways. Recipes can be found under that tab on the website.
8. I was able to work with my husband, Ken, again for one night in 2015 as we shared red carpet interviewer roles for a corporate event. microphoneWe’d worked together for over 20 years before the business was purchased. This one night confirmed my passion for helping others tell their stories, even if only in sound bites on the red carpet. I hadn’t done this type of work in years and the preparation stretched me more than the event did. Once I hit the red carpet, I felt like I was home. I want to do it again!
9. Relocating stretched me in so many ways. I had to let go of “things” to simplify the move and re-learn that what matters most are the people in the room, not the room or the things in it. I’m afraid to say moving was “fun” for fear it will happen sooner rather than later, but approaching another move in 2015 with a different mindset completely de-stressed the process.
10. Home and furnishing purchases considerably stretched me in 2015. Realizing this may be the last time I purchase a house or furnishings touched me at my core. It took longer to find the ideal house because certain features like ranch style were not a choice, but a necessity. Understanding one’s own aging is not for the lighthearted.
11. Other than my own family perhaps, nothing opened my heart more or gave me greater joy in 2015 than being randomly boyzcalled out to dance with BoyzIIMen during their Las Vegas concert. Despite hosting a website and writing a blog, I am a private person who dances in the kitchen with the curtains drawn. I shun the spotlight at all cost. So, to accept the offer to dance in front of a sold out crowd and have my moves projected on big screens for all to analyze, was definitely a stretchable moment. Accepting the invitation on the spur of the moment rather than waving it off is more meaningful to me than the dancing, though I relished every part of that too.
12. The role shift as a mother stretched me most in 2015. Part of me grieves the loss of nurturing while the other part is purely at peace knowing our son, Alex, has found a partner who loves him equally as his parents.britt The calls for information, support and conversation have dwindled. I know these now go to the “other woman” in his life. We love her for what she is in Alex’s life and we celebrate the times we share together. Without speaking about it in technical terms, we all know and accept the role shifts, sometimes with more grace than others. My days of caretaking for a son will one day perhaps be reversed and that’s a role shift that will stretch me too.

I’m starting to create my 2016 list. So far I’ve listed: learn to play pickle ball, travel to the Pacific Northwest and visit at least 8 small to mid-sized towns to promote on my blog. Do you have any other suggestions to add? What would you like me to do and then blog about? Please share. I’m open to hearing your suggestions and trying new things, except skydiving that is.

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. December 2015. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

An Open Affair With Vermillion

Vermillion, South Dakota you’ve been holding out on me!

You finally revealed the depth & beauty of your soul on my third Family Weekend visit. Had I known the secrets you were keeping, I’d have spent much more time with you. You secretive, sly one! These past two years I’ve only seen your dorm rooms, your downtown and your DakotaDome. This year the depth of your character and the beauty of your surroundings were disclosed. You let slip the history of your beginnings and plans for your future. Know I crave more of you and desperately long for our next meeting.

Let’s be open about our affair. The past two years we’ve visited a student. This year we toured with the same student-now a university employee. Together we awed over your Shakespeare Garden, the time capsule and the National Music Museum-all new and exciting parts of your university-only drawing us closer. We drove by the president’s house, saw the burgeoning athletic fields and experienced a football team win with an energy-filled fan base, unlike past years. We traversed your southern bluffs and succumbed to your Missouri River sunset. There was a freshness and a real excitement in our connection this time. So much so that I want to openly hold hands with you in public and announce my joy with each visit. I’ve been enriched getting to know you and want to share all you offer.

Here’s Why-

architecture usdHistory & Architecture

USD was founded in 1862. Campus architecture and well-maintained grounds reveal pride in this rich history as the first post-secondary institution in the Dakotas.

I equally enjoy old and new. Your perfect blend of historical and contemporary buildings delights me.beacom



National Music Museum

music usdWho’d think a city of 10,000+ would boast a National Music Museum? This hidden gem is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums in Washington, D.C., and is recognized as a “Landmark of American Music” by the National Music Council. Its collections contain more than 15,000 instruments from all cultures and historical periods.

Music moves my soul and this place cements me in the history of music.

Restaurants With Characterwhimps

Just a short drive from Vermillion is the unincorporated Burbank, South Dakota-home of Whimps. Nothing fancy here- just fast, signefficient and friendly service in a nondescript hole-in-the wall building with an overflowing parking lot. Locals know where to eat, and now I do too.

Priceless Views

moonA dead-end gravel road framed in golden fall colors won me over. How dare you have kept this from me for two years? I’m totally smitten with your bluff views and your sandy beaches-all seen with you on a night when the moon was full.

You knew my history of coastal living, yet withheld this natural beauty until you were sure of my commitment. Your mystery intrigues me.

Your academic buildings on a historical campus. Your national museum. Your manicured grounds. Your character-filled eateries. Your picturesque surroundings. Oh, the many layers and textures of your existence.

How can I let you go & leave you behind?sandMy devotion is real.

I will return to you Vermillion, South Dakota.

Surely there is much more to you, yet to be revealed.

The affair continues. Openly.

If you are a Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) staffer or tourism official and you’d like to have your community reviewed and promoted, please contact me at llthomason60@gmail.com.

Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved.


Are You Listening?

Waking Early To the Amazing Sights & Sounds of Nature 

Awakened by a symphony of birds in the backyard.
Even the wind chimes remained motionless not to disturb the bird songs.
Wind chimes remained motionless so as not to disturb the music.
The setting was brilliant in the early morning sunrise.
Brilliant setting in morning sunrise.
The fountain provided background music.
The fountain provided background sounds.
Apparently I wasn't the only one listening.
All welcome to listen.
Even inanimate objects seemed magical.
Even inanimate objects seemed magical.
All were drawn to the sounds.
The diverse audience amused me.
Soloist in the spotlight.
Robin duet was extra special.
Eager to join the group.


I was just going to open the screen door and allow some fresh, crisp, early morning, fall air into the house as I  pushed through my morning routine. Instead, I was drawn to a symphony performed by a mix of birds and an equally diverse audience. I grabbed my camera to capture the event, now wishing I’d have turned on the recorder and captured the sounds. It was a great lesson in pausing to listen. Had I not been so drawn to the variety of bird sounds, I’d have missed the event and all the surrounding activity and beauty.

What else is missed when not pausing to listen?

Pause. Look. Listen.

Life passes by too quickly not to appreciate magical moments.

Looking for more images like these, check out “Linda’s Store”. Any of these photographs can be placed on products to use yourself or gift to others. As a small business owner, I appreciate your support.

 Copyright October 2015 Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.