The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati

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Small businesses are a growing market. They fill needs in the economy that large businesses cannot. For instance, who knew that your dog needed a plaid rain slicker? Well, an innovative small business owner, that’s who!

Small businesses are solutions to problems. Unlike the infomercial, which solves problems we didn’t really know we had to begin with, or that we will probably never ever have, (Didn’t you know you would need to slice through tin cans, or glue jewels to your jeans?) the small business takes the opportunity before it, and creates a company around it. So how do you let people know about your company? How do you get people into your store? Those are important questions, but the main question you need to ask yourself is “Are you working IN your business, or ON your business?” Here are some ideas and contacts that we hope can give your small business large popularity.

The primary driver of getting today’s small business noticed is the World Wide Web. Electronic communication — especially e-mail and instant messenger, are vital to getting the word out. If you don’t have a MySpace page, you might want to ask your computer-savvy offspring to help you out. There is a “networking” option for your MySpace page. Use it, and start making connections. Adapt your communication style to that of your potential clients. One size does NOT fit all in this society, so learn to communicate in all mediums, but especially online.

And while you are online, take a look at This is the Web site of the Small Business Association. There’s everything on the site from weekly seminar registration to information about how to do business with the government.

Then go to This is the Cincinnati Chapter of “a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide.” This association is a partner with the SBA, and will be your partner as well. When you contact SCORE, you will be assigned a personal business counselor who will be there to give you unlimited, one-on-one business advice. And best part? It’s free.

Now let’s talk about who is working for you. Who is the face of your company? That might be an aspect you want to look at again. Small business means small staff, so the right people are key. They will help sell your company and give it credibility. Listen to how they answer the phone, or even how they greet the mailman. Have you read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins yet? Read it. That will help you out tremendously in this corner.

And finally, no business article would be complete without some talk of marketing. What are your ads saying, and where are you saying them? Be creative. Think outside the box. Get attention. It used to be that the side of a bus was an important place to be. But now, your ad can be the whole bus. Or it can be reading material on the back of the bathroom stall door. Not that it needs the publicity, but a very famous Swedish furniture company received a lot of talk when it placed a billboard high above a busy interstate that read, “Come check out our stool samples.” Risky, but it worked. Try being innovative. How about hosting an event? Partner with another business that holds the same demographic that you do, work together and combine client lists. Rent a space, bring vendors in to join you and have a mixer. For instance, if you are an interior designer, why not work with a real estate agent, as well as a furniture store and see what happens? Offer a service no one else can. Or at least, that no one else has thought of yet.

Yes the BeDazzler is fun, and “Mr. Microphone” was kickin’ cool at the time, but they were fads. You want your small business to live a life longer than your Chia Pet. So go get to work ON your business, and in the words of Madonna, “Express yourself.”

Go get ‘em girls!!

Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Model: Karen Tracy, Arbonne Intn’l Representative

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You’re a natural born leader. You are passionate about your beliefs, and in the sage words of Kenny Rogers, you “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” You have great communication skills, and you can maintain grace under pressure. So, is running for office for you?

Political opportunities abound at many levels for both volunteer and paid positions. Whether you aspire to a place on the board of your Home Owner’s Association or you have ambitions for local government, there are many pros and cons to running for office. The following are a few items to start out your list.


  1. Running for office gives you the opportunity to stand up for your beliefs. By giving voice to meaningful causes, you can create awareness and help others.
  2. As an office holder, you can create change. Beyond passing budgets and the regular business of governing a city or institution, you can craft policy that shapes the future in a positive way.
  3. Candidates are guaranteed to meet interesting people. While this reason sounds like a trite answer from the Miss America pageant, the education that results from interacting with a diverse populace can’t be learned from books. Such expansion of your viewpoint is often a catalyst for personal growth.
  4. According to Janice Shaw Crouse on, “The female share of Congressional seats seems to have reached a plateau at about one in six at the federal level and about one in four at state capitals.” By serving in any office, you can be a role model for other females. Today’s young women may be influenced by your leadership and could someday increase the proportion of women in national and state government.


  1. Politics…the word itself is synonymous with back-stabbing, mudslinging and all-around unpleasantness. It can be especially difficult for women to maintain composure when we feel personally attacked. Those running for office must be prepared for unfair assaults.
  2. Many people expect elected officials to act with high morals, so those running for and holding office face public scrutiny. If you serve on the school board, you best not lose your temper with your children in the grocery store. As a member of city council, parking tickets can cause immeasurable scandal.
  3. The election process can be exhausting, and the time commitment involved with holding an office is similarly demanding … especially if the position is pro bono. Be confident you can, and want to, fulfill the requirements of the position before running.
  4. Most elections result in only one winner in a very public race. You must be comfortable with the possibility of defeat and capable of keeping your dignity whether you win or lose.

If You Decide to Run for Office

  1. Choose an agenda and stick to it, because people tend lose confidence in a female candidate who appears to change her mind. Pick a few major issues and personal strengths, and then emphasize them repeatedly.
  2. Court an audience most likely to vote for a woman. This includes young adults, women and more educated voters.
  3. Be willing to take credit for your achievements that demonstrate your experience. Don’t hesitate to share relevant accolades and honors as proof that you can do the job at hand.
  4. Make sure your presence is professional and polished. People especially judge women by their appearance, and first impressions will influence voters to embrace (or ignore) your platform.
  5. Know the issues and be prepared to discuss all angles. You will shine in debates if you show your intelligence and demonstrate excellent communication skills.
  6. Educate yourself about the political process and find support. These sites are geared toward women running at the state and federal level, but many tips can be adapted for other types of elections.

The personal rewards from holding public office are tremendous, and the opportunities to affect positive change while in office are unmatched. Good luck to all of you who decide to strap on your Asics and run the race!

Model: Katie Hudson

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Cincinnati is very versatile with its tradition of festivals and events throughout the year. And as fall rolls in, we have Halloween to look forward to. One woman in particular has brought a gruesomely scary event to the Queen City.

Cincy Chic recently spoke to Glenna Rizzo, the leading lady of the USS Nightmare (now in its 16th season), whose tagline warns visitors to “prepare to have the ship scared out of you!”

Q: How did the USS Nightmare idea come about?

A: I had been working for the B&B Riverboats and knew about the old boat. It was actually being considered getting turned into another restaurant. One night, my husband and I were walking by it and I said this boat would make a really great "haunted boat." So we decided to mention it to the boss but nothing really prevailed. Then, a couple years down the road
some other co-workers mentioned the same idea to the head hauncho and he finally agreed and here we are!

Q: As a woman, what do you feel you bring to the USS Nightmare family?

The fact that we attract such a young audience; we also are staffed by a young crew! As for me being in my 50s, I feel I bring a lot of warmth, care and passion to the staff. We have a great foundation of people who make this all happen. I feel that I mother the acting crew and they
don't seem to mind.

Tickets to experience the USS Nightmare are $15 regular admission or $20, allowing you to skip the line and get right to the action! The Nightmare will be open from 7 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday until Nov. 3.


* Find out what a reader and a certain Cincy Chic staffer had to say about the USS Nightmare here!

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The coffee market is growing faster than you can say, "tall non-fat carmel macchiato, please!" Marianne Breneman, owner of Mt. Adams and Riverside Dr.-based Koka Coffee, and Linda Marshall, owner of Newport-based Mammoth Cafe, are taking advantage of the growing number of Cincinnatians calling for a cup o' joe.

Although their shops are local, they both drew their inspiration elsewhere. For Marshall, it was the numerous cafes lining the streets of London. Breneman was having the "what would you do if you could" conversation with friends from New York City where both parties realized owning a coffeeshop was on both their lists.

"Our neighborhood [on Riverside Dr.] was sorely lacking in services for residents, [so] we decided to do it here in the East End," explains Breneman. "A year or so later, our business partners relocated, we bought out their half and kept going."

The East End Koka opened in early 2006 at 2726 Riverside Drive. In June 2007, Breneman101507CAREER2.jpg opened a new, larger Koka in Mt. Adams after Towne Properties tracked her down and offered a too-good-to-be-true opportunity to set up shop in their Mt. Adams prime real estate.


Marshall sees a bright future for the other side of the river, which is why she decided to take root on Monmouth St., the main drag in Newport. "Monmouth street is a busy commuter road into downtown Cincinnati," she adds.


While one would think a local coffeeshop owner cringes at the sound of "Starbucks," Breneman does quite the opposite. "We're grateful that a place like Starbucks exists because they really paved the way for independent shops like us to make it," she says. "The 'coffee culture' was made mainstream by them and for that we are appreciative."

However, there are many things that make these local shops different than those of the cookie cutter variety. For one, they have mascots, and cute ones at that. Mammoth is, you guessed it, a mammoth. "It goes nicely with the slogan 'Proof that great food and coffee are not extinct!'" Marshall says.


Koka's mascot is the Kokopelli, a Native American symbol of abundance and good fortune. "We just shortened the name and slightly altered the spelling to 'Koka,'" Breneman explains.


Mammoth Cafe's unique menu items and live music each weekend also makes them different. For Koka, Breneman says they make every drink "to order" and never re-use or re-steam milk "…a practice that other places do," she warns. Koka uses a manual machine that requires the barista to pull the espresso shots by hand. "We think it tastes better this way so we train our employees a lot before they ever make a drink for a customer," Breneman says. In addition, Koka uses local bakeries for their pastries and baked goods. "Our sandwiches are made fresh on site with recipes that we have tested with our manager, who does the cooking," she adds.

And food is a key factor in this coffee equation. In fact, Marshall's one piece of advice for anyone looking to start their own coffeeshop is to complement the coffee with great food items. And if you are looking into that field, she says to be prepared for the long hours and "expect the unexpected" when it comes to learning about coffee and coffee drinkers.

Breneman's piece of advice? Do the unexpected. "[Get] away from the large chains. Cincinnati has several wonderful indy coffeehouses and I think they deserve to be tried – Koka included. The large chains will exist whether you patronize them or not. The little ones need customers to exist," she says. I can't tell you the number of times people say 'I hope you'll be here for a long time!' and our standard answer is 'If you keep coming and you keep telling people about us, we will be!'"

Click the play button below to watch a Webcast with Koka Coffee owner Marianne Breneman as she takes you on a virtual tour of her coffeehouse.

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Are you the queen of lists? Is one of the items on your list to correlate and organize all your lists? Too many things to do, and not enough time to do them? Then let’s talk about ways to become more efficient during the hours we are in the office.

Buying a cool new organization system or the latest office software isn’t going to help you if you aren’t proactive and work on procedures that can ease what is happening during the day. The outcome? Less lists, more energy and control in your day, and no work going home with you.

First, cherish your “prime time.” This is the time of day that you are most productive, and it’s different for all of us. Use the energy boost and clarity to your benefit. Lock your office and don’t pick up the phone. Do not let that whiney, negative, energy-draining coworker or even your loving, nurturing boyfriend call during this time. Use your “prime time” to stay focused, driven and purposeful. That meeting after lunch with your supervisor will drain you anyway, so don’t waste the time of day that works best for you.

Do NOT shortchange yourself on planning time. It sounds like common sense, and you’d think we all do this, but we don’t. Your calendar is sacred!  No matter what the project, scope or scale, be realistic in your schedule and time needed. And if you find you are going to need extra time on a project, remember: do NOT give away your “prime time” to have a meeting or take a call.

Encourage coworkers and key contacts to keep a log of questions for you. Model how to keep them all together, and suggest that they ask you all of them at once. This saves a ton of reply e-mails and from having a person always at your office door.

Personalize your e-mail “signature.” Use it to promote a product or project or reinforce your business focus. And take advantage of the out-of-office reply options.

And while we are talking e-mail, let’s just throw this out there, shall we? Check your work e-mail only a set number of times per day, and only AT WORK! Make sure that whatever time you have scheduled to work on e-mail, you have planned time to reply should you need to. Try to reply promptly. Set a goal for your turn around time. Even if you only write, “Received your e-mail. I will get back to you soon.” The people who live for your e-mails will start to realize that they are only getting them at certain times of day. And girl, STICK TO IT! If people are noticing that replies are coming at around the same time every day, you will avoid getting many e-mails from that certain co-worker who thinks you do nothing but sit at your computer and answer their cyber communications.

Let’s talk about money quickly. As a bill comes in, write on the envelope the date it is due and the amount of the bill. And keep your bills in the same place all the time, with the bill due soonest on top of the stack. Another way to help make sure you are efficient in this area is to write when bills are due on your hanging calendar or wipe off board. If you see it ahead of time, you are most likely to not forget about it and pay it late.

If you don’t use it, don’t keep it at your desk. ‘Nuff said.

And finally, try and have the shoes match the purse. This won’t necessarily keep you more organized, but you’ll look great and feel better about yourself!

Go get ‘em girls!! 

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The Importance of Professional Networking
What can I say about networking other than it’s a must in the business world? I remember eight years ago when I became Manager of Operations, my company signed me up for golf outings so that I could network with local business professionals.

I had been golfing a handful of times in my life, and that was only with my husband! So golfing with the corporate world was difficult for me, especially since I’m a softball player — and that involves a whole other kind of swing. Needless to say, I swung at the golf ball and missed quite a bit.

I realized that if I was going to network by playing golf, I needed to take golf lessons, so I did. Since then, I’ve met a lot of good business people and I’ve even won a few golf contests in the process.

The business associates that I golfed with were people I didn’t know, but have now come to know very well. The person I was with in the golf cart has become not only a good friend, but also a good person to network with.

I say all of that to say this; Networking is important no matter what event you’re involved in. Some people think that golf outings don’t bring you business, but that’s been proven incorrect in my field of tax and accounting.

Relationships are built by networking and helping people grow their businesses. Sometimes it takes a good year to develop a relationship of trust between two people, but once that happens, the referrals will flow back and forth.

There are a few points I would like to suggest as to how to get started with networking:

  1. Find a couple of organizations to join just to get involved with people (i.e. BNI, eWomenNetwork, Chamber of Commerce in your area).
  2. Figure out what type of industry would be best in your sphere of contacts (i.e. accountants, insurance agents, bankers, etc.).
  3. You should have around six different industries to network with at the least.
  4. Once you have your sphere in place, schedule one-on-one meetings with each individual just to get to know him or her (i.e. at least once a week is recommended for networking meetings).
  5. Remember, it’s not about you first, it’s about how you can help them grow their business. The philosophy is; “Giver’s Gain.”
  6. Once you are sincere about helping other people grow their business and seeing who you can send their way, the referrals will start coming in for you.
  7. Just make sure that you don’t join an organization, only give it a few months, and then wonder why you never got anything out of it. If you don’t meet with people and don’t get involved, nothing will happen.

Networking for me has changed my life. I’ve become more social than I’ve ever been. It helps you get “out of your shell” if you are a shy person. I wasn’t shy per say, but I was very intimidated by business people.

So regardless, if you network at a golf outing or a business after hours event, they all play a very important part of growing your business.

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Women have historically assumed the role of caregivers in modern society. As the “fairer” gender, we’re considered to be most sensitive to the needs of others and most capable of providing critical healthcare services. Given our aptitudes, it’s no surprise that women make up 80 percent of the medical work force. Since healthcare is the second fastest growing industry in the U.S., a career in medicine offers women ample opportunities to make a difference in others’ lives. So, how do you know if a healthcare career is right for you?

Beyond Scrubs
As children, we all played “doctor” or “nurse” with our friends, so we tend to think of those as the primary career options in medicine. However, according to, there are more than 50 categories of healthcare careers spanning a broad spectrum of educational and time commitments. Occupations range from medical office workers who have limited interactions with patients to doctors, nurses and therapists who provide hands-on care in a plethora of specialties. Other options include alternative, dental and veterinary medicine, nutrition, psychology, massage therapy, research, sales, forensics, pharmaceuticals and health education. Many of these offer flexible schedules for working moms, and they all offer unique opportunities to help others. Whatever your interests and preferences, there is likely a healthcare career option that can fit your needs.

Real-life Meredith Grey: Real Women Making Careers in Healthcare

Jill, a licensed psychologist with more than 15 years of private practice experience, comes from a family of doctors and has a natural proclivity to working with mental health issues. She believes that compassion and a desire to help are the core requirements for women considering a career in psychology, but she reveals that the real world brings unexpected challenges to her practice.

“Be service oriented,” she advises, “but combine that with a business orientation.” Doctors, especially those in private practice, must deal with insurance companies and managed care institutions as well as run the business side of their practice. Despite these frustrations, Jill finds tremendous fulfillment in her work and encourages women to find their own niche in the healthcare industry.

Some women find careers in healthcare by accident. After teaching high school English for a year, Heather found a new position as an osteoporosis specialty representative for a leading drug manufacturer. As a pharmaceutical rep, or “drug seller” as she likes to joke, Heather combines her interpersonal communication skills with her love of learning about the dynamic world of medical innovations. While her job is demanding and she spends many hours traveling to visit doctors in her territory, she enjoys a flexible schedule and autonomy. Heather derives great satisfaction from knowing that doctors are able to use the information she provides to better care for their patients.

Head to the ER, or Just Watch It on TV?
If you’ve decided that a healthcare career is for you but don’t know here to begin, here are some tips to get you started. First, take a deep breath and do some thinking.

• How much time and money do you want to commit to formal education?
• How much do you want to interact with patients?
• What facets of healthcare and medicine do you find most fascinating?

If you’re particularly interested in the inner workings of the human body, but don’t want to invest years in medical school, consider a job as an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI technician. If you like the idea of helping people recover after a major illness or medical procedure, you many want to pursue physical therapy. If you love kids, but don’t want to deal with them when they’re sick, try pediatric dentistry.

Whatever your choice, women in the healthcare field can enjoy flexible schedules, opportunities for continued learning and the fulfillment that results from providing care to people who need it most.

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Your bags are packed, you are ready to hit the road on a new, glamorous, all-expense paid adventure. You even bought a new digital camera to gather all your visual episodes. Now the reality: This is for work. Yep, the serious wake up call sets in when you are traveling with colleagues on a mission to impress the boss and get the job done. It’s not that you have to forget the fun, but there are some rules to the game away from the office.


1. Focus on work: It’s easy to get distracted in a new setting. Before the trip, set a plan of action with your coworkers on what to accomplish. Plan B is also the name of the game. Traveling never goes as expected, so the more you know, the easier it is to transition smoothly through any situation. You’ll come out of it shining like a star and then the best part – you’ll have some time to celebrate.

2. Be prepared: This goes along with focusing at work. Keep your list of work and personal goals. Research the area, navigation and transportation, entertainment and new restaurants. Your colleagues will be impressed by your knowledge of the region.

3. Take time to get to know each other: Set some time to talk to your coworkers. Find out about family, career, travel, etc. Listen to their habits. It will tell you a lot about how they work and can make you a better team player.

4. Take care of yourself: Get rest, drink a lot of water and keep some personal time. Don’t forget to pack medicines in case you get stressed or find yourself nursing a headache. This will help you stay on top of your game.

5. Keep communication light: Be professional at all times. Stirring up gossip and talking about personal issues can only come back to bite you later. On a trip, it’s easy to let your guard down. Develop friendships on a deeper level some other time.

6. Find a new adventure to experience: Eat at a new restaurant, try food you’ve never eaten, take in the culture with your coworkers.


1. Forget why you are there: When you are away from home, it may feel like an opportunity to break loose and be wild. But you wouldn't table dance on the boss' desk, so don't table dance on a business trip. If you forget your work, it’s a guarantee your colleagues will talk and you don’t want that getting back to your boss.

2. Gossip or give into internal rumblings: Sometimes it will feel like your colleagues are your best friends that you’ve trusted for years. Be aware. You never know.

3. Get too personal: Talking about your intimate love life or other toxic subjects are definite hot buttons. Even on the other end of the spectrum, you don’t have to listen to theirs.

4. Over do it at the bar: Go out and have a drink, but know your limit. You don’t want pictures traveling around with you on top of the bar one night and asleep under the meeting table the next day. Take it easy.


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Tragedy affects us all at some point in our lives, whether it is personal, such as a death in the family or national tragedies like 9/11. In either case, it is important to know how to cope with the issue so that you can keep a well-balanced and healthy workplace.

The important thing to remember for both employees and management is that everyone copes differently. Some people are extremely open about the catastrophe in their lives, some keep their emotions locked up inside, while others resort to other outlets such as alcohol or drugs. It is crucial to deal with the event in a safe way and prevent any unhealthy actions. Having an action plan for events such as 9/11 or Katrina is just as vital as having a fire evacuation plan. The same thing goes for personal tragedies —people need to know where they can go for help and what they need to do.

September is recognized as National Preparedness Month, with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promoting the “Ready” campaign. According to DHS, the campaign encourages Americans to be prepared for emergencies of any nature, at work, home, school or personal and national.

So what can you do when the unfortunate happens? Here are some pointers for a company as a whole and the individual:

Have a Plan and Practice It
This helps people know what to do and how to react when an emergency happens and can prepare you for steps you can/need to take when something bad happens.

Give People Information

In the case of a national emergency, it is helpful to have televisions and radios on hand to keep everyone informed. For personal emergencies, give co-workers and families contact information so they can get in touch in with you if something should arise.


Give Them a Break

People need time to grieve and overcome the tragedy in their lives. Allowing them to cope with the situation in a timely manner prevents mistakes and errors on the job and allows them to come back to work more productive. Don’t expect a co-worker or employee to come back refreshed as if they were on vacation.

Talk About It
Arrange a meeting, designate a time of day for group sessions or reserve a quiet room for people to go and share their thoughts.

Distribute Literature

Make Employee Assistance Program information part of your orientation, keep pamphlets in visible, easily accessible areas, hang posters, etc. Know what your options are and what’s available before an emergency happens.

Do Something

If a co-worker’s family member died, send flowers for the service, arrange a group to volunteer for a national crisis, hold a raffle for donations or charity — people like to help and being a part of something, and doing so often assists with the healing process.

Know the Signs
Tragedies can be an emotional rollercoaster for us. We typically go into shock at first, then a feeling of “unreality” kicks in. You might not sleep well, you have a loss of appetite, you are constantly in a daze — these are all signs that your body is trying to heal itself from the shock. Understand that these symptoms are normal and it is important to take time to grieve so that your body can get back to its old self.

Practicing these and other options helps everyone feel safe and prepares you for when tragedy hits. Being proactive and knowing what to do when your life is turned upside down helps you get right-side up without any more unnecessary burdens.

For more information on your company’s action plans, contact your Human Resources or security department. For additional information on the DHS plan and the “Ready” campaign for your business or family, visit and

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What do you do when Bob, your cubicle neighbor, brings in Ashley, his daughter, carrying a puppy dog pout, invoice sheet and cookie order form? She wants to know if you'd rather have the Caramel deLites or the "Do-si-dos." You say you'd rather just stick with the Thin Mints, the perennial best- seller? Well, of course you would. That's a given. Ashley wants to know what you'd like for your second box.

Uh oh. You forgot that Susan, the receptionist, has a cookie sign up sheet on her desk at the front door. Don't even bother trying to explain the ethical and personal relationship questions of why you'd buy from Bob's daughter but not Susan's. You did know that they are having an inter-office competition, didn't you? Along with Carl down the hall, whose daughter, Amanda, sold more than 1,000 boxes last year and got her picture in the local newspaper. But don't worry about that. There are bigger concerns.

What happens when Jerry, your boss, posts his daughter's cookie order invoice outside his door? Well, duh. You buy some more cookies. Are you an idiot? A little face time with Jerry, some chuckling over "kids these days" and some points for supporting his daughter's troop. Who wants to pass up a chance like that?

It's just that some people feel a certain pressure when the boss' cookie shop opens. You don't think Jerry, Susan or Carl will be miffed if you don't buy a box this year? Try again.

You soon find yourself rationalizing that freezer full of cookies with the fact that the process teaches young girls about responsibility, planning and confidence. Yes, it is true that selling cookies allows these young girls to interact with the public and raise money for worthwhile causes. But if you think about it, unless Ashley is there in the office with her cute pouty face, it's really the parents selling for their kids.

Because fundraisers inevitably cause corporate ladder and financial pressures on employees, some companies are starting to enforce a strict "no solicitations" policy. That way, they objectively don't have to explain why one fundraiser is fine while another is inappropriate.

According to Bill Truesdell, president of Management Advantage Inc., many more people these days are asking their HR department to adopt a "no solicitations" policy in their office. That way, they don't make little Ashley cry, Susan the receptionist doesn't accidentally mis-route their calls because she lost the inter-office competition and they earn points with Jerry for stellar reports, not a four-year supply of Thin Mints.