Why Should I Buy From You?

Why should I buy from you? This is a basic question that every business should be able to answer, but many can’t.  In today’s challenging economic times it is more critical than ever to have a clear, strong answer.  

If you have read my past blogs you will quickly realize that I like to give simple steps that anyone can put in place immediately.  So I challenge you to take this powerful information and use it.  Use it to get more customers, get a better job, improve your family, and to get more people in our stores, community, and schools.

1.     What is your Competitive Advantage?  What makes you different from the other guy?  Why should I pick you or buy from you?  Grab a piece of paper now and do the following:

  • List the good things and then the bad things about yourself or your business Why do people like to buy from you and/or why do they pick your competitor instead?  How do you find this out – ASK
  • List the good and then the bad things about your competition.  How do you find this out – ASK
  • Maximize your Competitive Advantage.  Capitalize on a competitor’s specific weakness. Build on your strengths.  Create a new strength by looking at yourself and your competitor then find a totally new difference you can create. 

2.     Develop your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  Your USP is how you get your story out there and heard by the right people.  You may have established a huge competitive advantage but if no one hears about it then it is worthless

You have now created your “compelling message” in the fundamental marketing process:  MARKETING – MESSAGE – MEDIA.

If you have a significant competitive advantage and you get your USP out to the right people you will get that new job, or that new customer, or that new family.  If you need any more information or help contact Sensei Sam Larioza of Ohana Karate or the Fowlerville Business Association.  We are all here to do one thing – make Fowlerville an even better place to be!

Posted in Business, Employee | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Daffodil Principle

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are gone.”  I promised to visit during her third call and proceeded to drive to Carolyn’s house where I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of my happy grandchildren.

“Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! There is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!  When I am done spending time with everyone I am heading for home!” I assured her.

“But first we’re going to see the daffodils” Carolyn said. “I’ll drive.  You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

We drove for twenty minutes before turning onto a small gravel road with a church.  On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, “Daffodil Garden.” We got out of the car, each took a child’s hand, and walked down the path. As we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped.  Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes.  The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow.  Each variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like a river.

“Who did this?” I asked Carolyn.

 “Just one woman.  She lives on the property.  That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking”, was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. 

 That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time – often just one baby-step at time – and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.  When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world!

“What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it, one bulb at a time, through all those years?  Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”

“Start tomorrow,” my daughter said.

She was right. It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. Ask yourself the question, “How can I put this to use today?”

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting…

There is no better time than right now to be happy.

If you have been considering martial arts classes, now is the time.  Stop waiting, become physically fit and happy by making your own paths and setting your own goals.  Contact Sensei Sam Larioza of Ohana Karate today!

Posted in Martial Arts, Physical Fitness, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toy Abundance

As a child I didn’t have a room full of toys.  I did not sit in front of a TV to learn baby sign language, a foreign language, nor did I listen to Bach and Beethoven.  I went to school when I was supposed to, did the studying and homework I needed to, and then… I went outside.  I played in the dirt.  I rode my bike.  I played baseball and football with the other children in the neighborhood.  I got dirty, sweaty, and do you know what?  I loved every minute of it. 

I do not feel that my intelligence has suffered in the least bit from this type of childhood.  I learned how to make friends.  I learned to accept loss, and relish a win.  I learned to read, write, and do arithmetic.  Today I am a successful father, husband, and businessman.  

Today things are much different?  The average child in America receives seventy new toys per year.  How can our kids decide what to play with, much less find where that specific toy is? 

If toys are overwhelming our children, their space, and our pocketbooks, why do parents feel that they have to buy them?  The answer is simple – MEDIA!  Everywhere parents look they see commercials, infomercials, magazine advertisements, and other marketing material for new educational toys, games, learning videos etc.  The marketing is formulated in such a way that a parent is made to believe that only with these products can they raise a successful, happy, well-adjusted child.

Don’t believe it!  Raising a happy, successful, well-adjusted child occurs when children learn specific skills during their formative years such as: independence, resourcefulness, imagination, and basic life skills.  None of these are skills that can be ingrained in a child by hovering, constant indulgence, and material goods.

If you want to help your child grow into the best person they can be, give them the tools they need, rather than the things that others tell you to buy.  Spend time with your child – give them the freedom to learn new things, experience new situations, and learn how the world around them works, first-hand. 

The staff at Ohana Karate strive to help children grow into the best adults they can be.  If you are interested in more information on this topic or any other topic regarding children or martial arts, please contact Sensei Sam Larioza today.

Posted in children, Martial Arts, Organized Sports, parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Whirlwind

As a parent, we often find ourselves in situations where we lose control, say words that we don’t mean, raise our voices when it is unnecessary, and generally act like a child.  In the heat of the moment we sometimes know that we are doing the wrong thing and conducting ourselves inappropriately, but we feel like we are stuck in a whirlwind or a carnival ride that just keeps spinning even though we want it to stop.  We don’t realize the impact that our behavior has had until we see the tears shining in our child’s eyes.

Mornings used to be the most difficult part of the day in our household.  When two parents work, it is difficult to find enough time to come home, cook a nutritious meal, spend time with the children, get everyone cleaned up and ready for bed, and still have time to unwind from your own day.  This led to later and later bedtimes for both children and parents, which ultimately led to difficult, cranky mornings. 

On one particular morning, instead of my son having to be pulled out of bed by his ankles and forced to stand up until his eyes opened, he sat up in bed and gave me a big hug.  Imagine my surprise!  It took me a moment to decide how to respond before I put my arms around him and hugged him back.  He whispered in my ear “I love you Daddy” and continued to cling to me.  My attitude suddenly took a much different turn.  I sat down on the bed and pulled him into my arms and whispered back “I love you too.”  In that very moment, I understood that it isn’t about the when, where, and why in our lives.  It was about the who.

I am not saying that every morning has been perfect since that day.  We still have our days where I want to sit and cry along with my children in the back seat.  I still have to dig up the nerve to apologize to my children when I act like a child myself.   All of us make mistakes and we have to be willing to forgive ourselves and ask for forgiveness.  Even though apologies are difficult, children need to know that everyone screws up sometimes…even parents!   They need to know that it is important to understand when they have done something wrong, and to know how they can fix their errors or try to make them better.

When you feel yourself getting caught up in the whirlwind of your own life, make a conscious decision to try and get off.  If the ride just won’t stop, then make sure that you pay attention to the feelings of your fellow passengers.  It will help your family grow and become stronger. 

Martial arts and organized sports are a good way for children and adults to work out some of the stresses that come with everyday life.  If you are interested in learning more about yourself and forgiveness contact Ohana Karate and Sensei Sam Larioza today.

Posted in children, Martial Arts, Organized Sports, parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Friends

What makes a good friend?  What attributes do you look for in a friend?  What attributes do you think a good friend has?  Make sure your child sees examples of good friendships in your own relationships.  Your child will see this and learn from your actions and your friendships you are their best role model.

Make sure that you speak to your child about how their actions, words, and overall behavior can make a person feel sad, happy, uncomfortable, etc.  Make sure your child knows how to be respectful and appreciative of others’ feelings.  Try and use examples from a child’s past that will help them understand this idea, which can be hard for children to grasp. 

Be careful that you don’t push your child to be friends with anyone just because they will be more or less popular.  Your child will have his or her own personality, and will choose friends that are supportive and positive towards him or her because of it.

Don’t forget to keep your children active.  The benefits of team sports is enormous.    It exposes your child to others with similar interests that will help expand their circle of friends.  It will help them learn how to develop and maintain friendships over distances and lengths of time. 

Be a good listener.  All friendships have their ups and downs.  As your child is developing, they may not know how to handle different situations.  As their parents, you can help your child deal with their emotions and encourage them to calm down before they approach their friends about their problems. 

Let your children know that sometimes friendships can be bad for you.  If you are a friend with someone that makes your child feel bad about himself or herself it may not be worth it to be that person’s friend.  Encourage your child to find friends that build them up, and give them the confidence to end a friendship with a person who may not be that good of a friend after all.

The staff at Ohana Karate believe that each child is special.  We work with our students in our children’s classes to help them build social skills such as listening, respect, and empathy towards others.  These are all skills that help students make and maintain friendships.  If you would like to read stories of some of the students we have helped please contact Sensei Sam Larioza today or read over a few of our testimonials.

Posted in children, Classes for Kids, Karate, Martial Arts, Organized Sports, Role Model, team | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning Tips for Boys and Girls


  • Girls need to be challenged!  If you see your daughter starting to coast, make sure you challenge her with advanced books or difficult math problems.
  •  Cultivate her interest in the sciencesGo the extra mile to intrigue your daughter.  Buy a microscope or a simple circuit set and work together to learn the secrets. 
  • Don’t stereotype your daughter!  Watch your daughter; learn what she is good at, and what she isn’t so good at.  Help her with her weaknesses, and build on her strengths. 
  • Show your daughter what education can do for her!  Let her know about women who have done, or are doing, interesting, amazing things.  Make sure your daughter knows that academic success is important to you and it should be important to her.


  • Following directions is one of the biggest parts of schooling!  Prepare your child for this responsibility by giving your son instructions when they are young.  A simple instruction such as “Please put your truck away”  will help your son prepare for following more complex directions as he gets older. 
  • Help your son find a quiet place!  There is a time and a place to be rambunctious; make sure your son has the opportunity to be both active and quiet so that he learns the difference and can switch modes when needed. 
  • Work with your son’s teachers!  Know his strengths and weaknesses. Make sure that any punishment for classroom behavior is suitable to a boys’ activity level.  Keeping a young boy who is full of energy from recess can compound the problem. 
  • Find hands-on activities that you can do with your son!  Your son will learn more from this type of activity and it will satisfy their need for action and movement. 
  • Break up homework if a longer session is too much!  Talk to your son in a way that will encourage good behavior rather than in a manner that shames him. 
  • Words are important, but so is the meaning!  If boys can enjoy the action in a story they are much more likely to remember the words.

 Use some of these tactics with your children today!

The staff at Ohana Karate have years of specialized experience teaching adults and children of all ages.  We recognize that differences exist between boys and girls and we strive to make sure that everyone is provided with an equal opportunity to learn.  We also utilize various teaching methods to suit all learning types and energy levels.  If you have any questions about how we can help your child, please contact Sensei Sam Larioza today.

Posted in children, Classes for Kids, Karate, school | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing for a New School Year

Families will be facing a milestone at the end of the summer – their children will be starting or going back to school.  Preparation and planning will help ease your child(ren)’s transition from the freedom of summer to the wonderful opportunity to learn and grow at school.

If your family has moved or your child(ren) will be attending a new school, you should try and visit before the start of the upcoming school year.  Contact the school district or the principal to see if you can arrange an informal tour.  You should visit the lunchroom and have a snack, look at a few of the books in the library, use the restroom, and spend some time playing on the playground equipment. Make sure to get a list of any school or community events that will take place before the beginning of the school year.  Many schools publish a list of the other children in your child’s class or they may coordinate a pizza, potluck, or ice cream social.  Take advantage of the opportunity for your child to meet their classmates before class begins – it will help them be more comfortable.

Make sure that you look through your child’s closet and backpack if they have one.  You will need to ensure that your child has the appropriate clothes, supplies, and shoes they need for the school year.  Check with the school district or area stores for a list of supplies and cross-check what you have.  Buying new items, when necessary, can be an excellent way to stir excitement in your children.

One of the biggest hurdles to a new school year is the changing schedule.  Start easing into it early.  Try and make sure that dinner, baths/showers, reading, and bedtime are all on a schedule.  Adjust your routine gradually to make sure that each of your children has an adequate amount of sleep for their age.  Make sure you practice the morning routine so they are used to the drill before the big day comes.

Think about how you are going to handle homework.  Make sure your children know the rules before they start school.  Stick to the plan and make sure that your children know they are responsible for meeting the requirements of their teacher.

On the big day, consider having a special outfit or small gift put aside to give to your child(ren).  Make sure that you have a breakfast that will give them energy throughout the day.  Avoid the sugary cereals and have a well-balanced meal.  Create some memories and document the day with pictures.  Arrange to take the day off or go in late and leave early.  You can drop your child(ren) off in the morning and be there when they finish school for the day.  Your child (and you) will remember your special day.

The most important thing to remember when a child starts a new year of school is that they will be learning new things, forming new friendships, and building who they will be in the future.  Be excited and make sure they know that you are there to enjoy the experience with them.

Posted in children, school, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Dreaming?

By senseisez

In today’s hectic world it is very easy to find ourselves, as parents, getting our children to do what all the other kids are doing:  participating in a team sport of some sort.  In some instances that is a perfectly suitable decision.  In others, however, it can be a decision that haunts the child well into adulthood. 

It is a proven fact that some kids do not function well in a team environment.  Having been involved in and having coached team sports since childhood, it is personally evident that this is the case.  The pressure or expectation for the child to perform at a predetermined level with (and in support of) his teammates is sometimes overwhelming and very often simply not possible.  To make matters worse, if the child gets an overly ambitious coach who utilizes pressure to perform, the child’s unhappiness  dramatically increases.  Don’t get me wrong; I am a proponent of team sports.  Growing up, that is all that I had, and to this day, several of my friends are those I met as a result of my team activities.  But, just because it was right for us does not necessarily mean that it is right for our children.  We should not attempt to live out our childhood aspirations through our children, as eventually, it can compromise their self-esteem.  We must let them live their own dreams, while gently guiding them. 

With that in mind, an individual activity, (karate, music or dance, for example) is sometimes a wiser choice for the parent to make or suggest for their child.  Even though the practice takes part in a group setting, the activity itself is a completely individual effort.  Each child is able to move at their own pace, guided by a loving, caring and disciplined instructor, who is able to spend one-on-one time with your child.  A well-trained Sensei or instructor will be more concerned about your child’s inner maturity and well being more so than their performance level. In time, their level of performance will develop naturally, particularly in a nurturing environment.  With proper instruction, your child will begin to exhibit increased levels of self confidence.  Because their level of confidence and their focus increases, you will notice a positive difference in their personality.  The discipline that is required to train in the dojo necessitates this change.  You will see that they work harder to excel in the classroom.  They will automatically, through their training in karate, choose to become better individuals.  And gaining this discipline and work ethic means that they will also be able to compete more effectively in a team environment! (It has been my experience that it works more effectively this way, as team participants frequently have a more difficult time transitioning to an individual activity, such as karate, although they generally adapt.)  They will come to understand the true meanings of honor, courage, discipline, determination, perseverance, humility, respect and more.  Their physical endurance levels will dramatically increase over time.  They will become leaders and achievers.  While all these positive things are happening  to your child, they will also learn how to effectively defend themselves.  A consistent misnomer is that karate is about fighting.  On the contrary, traditional karate is about developing the body, mind and inner spirit in order to live in peace and harmony with your fellow man, while being able to defend yourself should circumstances dictate such a response.  A well trained karateka is trained, not to fight, but to walk away and to walk away for as long as they possibly can.  Yamaguchi Gogen Sensei said it best: “if your fist is clenched you cannot shake hands”.  The purpose is peace without incident.  Karate (which means “open hand”) is a purposeful way of life and an activity that can be practiced for a lifetime.  Because of the mental and health benefits of karate, many karateka live well into their 90’s.  

As you ponder what you have just read, can you honestly say that you are allowing and guiding your child to pursue their path or dream and not your own?  As parents, we always want what is best for our children. However, what is best is not always what we want, but what the child needs.  I have personally made the mistake of dreaming through the eyes of my child.  Thankfully, I recognized this fault early on in his life and allowed his own personal God-given gifts to be cultivated.  Who’s dream is being followed?  Yours? Or your child’s?

Posted in Classes for Kids, Family Activities, Health Benefits, Karate, Martial Arts, Physical Fitness, team | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Thorough Orientation

Starting a new job can be one of the most stressful situations for both the employee and the employer.  Both parties are nervous about how the working relationship will develop, and they can both be overwhelmed with the pressing need for the employee to gain the knowledge necessary to complete their job and become a part of the team dynamic.  The best way for any employer to prepare for this situation is to develop a thorough orientation program.

A new employee gathers an enormous amount of information about what is expected of them, who they can rely on, the general work ethic of the business, etc. from the first few minutes to the first few days that they spend at their new job. 

Take advantage of the opportunity to start all of your employees off on the right foot.  Sit down and determine what you think is important for a new employee to know or learn.  Poll the individuals in your workplace and gather comments about what they wish they had learned during their orientation.  What are some tricks of the trade? 

Provide employees with a ‘new employee’ workbook.  This workbook should contain information about key policies, as well as provide information on general procedures, etc.  Don’t forget to cover items like harassment, vacation, sick leave, holidays, payroll procedures, overtime, dress code, standards of conduct, safety, emergency procedures, visitors, email, and internet use.  Show them their workstation; issue keys; discuss mail and shipping, telephone use and supply purchases.  Tour the facility, and include restrooms, mailrooms, copiers, faxes, parking, printers, supplies, kitchen, emergency exits, etc. on your tour.   Introduce them to the team, provide them with their schedule, a time card, and a full description of their job duties and performance expectations.

This all may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.  While you are going about your day, jot down a few notes about how you want things to be done.  If you see a behavior that you do not like, make sure you note it.  Use all of this information to benefit your business.  Your current employees will thank you and your future employees will be able to start off on the right step.  Your employees will be well trained and equipped with the knowledge to help make your business a success!

Posted in Business, Employee, Orientation, team | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ladies’ Secret

The small island of Okinawa is known for having the highest number of centenarians (people over the age of 100.)  Research has been conducted and multiple books have been written on the Okinawans’ secret to long, healthy, and happy lives.  I am sure that there are many secrets and tips that we can learn from these individuals, but I learned the most important secret during a trip there in 2008.

One morning while walking on the beach, my family and I observed people out in the wee hours of the morning exercising and doing tai chi and yoga in the sand.  There were people walking, swimming, and running, but this wasn’t what caught our eye.   What caught our eye were two elderly ladies…

These ladies were fully covered from head to toe with bonnets, life vests, and goggles.  They were each at least 80 years old, and they were both swimming and having the time of their lives.  At one point, they got excited about something on the edge of the nearby net.  They giggled and gestured for us to join in their discovery of a school of minnows.  They flirted with my son and blushed at his responses.  They were completely lost in the moment and enjoying every second.

This story may not sound very special, but it was.  It was amazing and memorable!  If you closed your eyes you could have easily thought that these two old ladies were young school girls laughing and playing in the water.  The absolute innocence and purity was priceless.  What a refreshing lesson about life and happiness.  It was a lesson about the power of your thoughts and your state of mind.

The two lessons I learned that day were:

1. Be a child again!  Have fun and enjoy life like you did when you were seven years old.

2. Cherish your friendships – they are valuable!

It isn’t about living longer; it is about living a happy and fulfilling life!

If you would like to hear more about my journeys to Okinawa, or about karate (or Ohana Karate), contact me today!

Posted in Karate, Physical Fitness, Role Model | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment