Monthly Archives: April 2015

Building a Following: Attraction Rather Than Promotion, Part II

davidreneetennessean2001 copy

We are continuing this month with David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, indeed my better half and a very bright light.  Photo: Renee and David Bates, circa 2001.

When I asked David how he prepares for writing the newsletter each week he said, “I rarely know what I’m going to write about. I schedule time to write. I sit down and some thought comes or I think about what has transpired over the week and I begin typing. As the type goes onto the screen, that’s where I become inspired and, it’s important for me to have a deadline.”

People often tell me that they get several newsletters but David’s is one that they always read. David’s late friend, Rebecca Bain of Nashville Public Radio, told him that his articles were good though he needed to keep them brief. Mark Twain once said, “I apologize for the length of this letter as I did not have time to write a short one.” Writing with brevity takes time. Most weeks David keeps it to 350 words as his homage to Rebecca. He also tries to keep the self-promotion aspect low in newsletters. Topics are generally informational and not about promoting specific items.

Tracking outreach, he notes that about 1,500 people open the email within the first hour. People sign up for the newsletter through his website,, or when they check out at the register and sign up for Bates Rewards, a loyalty program.

Regarding social media, Bates’ has Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr sites. David also co-hosts a weekly radio show, At Home with Josh Cary and David Bates, on WWTN 99.7 FM. He tries to coordinate all aspects of promotion across these formats.

Bates’ Twitter account has over 81,000 followers and Facebook has close to 3,000 likes. The Twitter following has more of a global audience and when he began in 2009 he said he didn’t really have any idea what he was doing. He spent an average of 2 hours a day for 2 ½ to 3 years building it.

He is committed to keeping viable content on social media. “Keep people engaged,” David offers. “Facebook has a decidedly more local audience. The up to date information is posted more to that site.”   When I asked him about whether he had delved into paying to promote on Facebook he replied, “Not yet.”

When asked what advice he would give someone who was just starting out with social media, he said that he would take his father, Earl Bates’ advice: “If you are going to copy someone, copy someone who has been successful. Don’t try to make someone else’s failure work for you.” David looked at what others were doing successfully and emulated their practices. Apparently it works.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development. Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, she appreciates that the legacy of the 3rd generation business was begun in 1932 at the height of the depression by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

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The Other Side of the Couch – How to Say “No”


Every now and then a period of time arises in my life that results in hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth, accompanied by thoughts such as, “How could this have happened again?” and “What were you thinking?” and “Were you even thinking?”   This is usually the result of having said, “Yes,” to too many different projects, all of which for some odd reason all need to be completed within the same (already packed) time period.   This is what I used to call in my college days a “Pressure Period.”  The perplexing part of this for me is that I am light-years past college, and the same kind of thing keeps on happening on an all-too-regular basis.

I have strategies for dealing with it when it happens – chunk it down, one step at a time, do the next right thing, this too shall pass.  All of these strategies work to some degree, and the period of time passes and it all gets done.  However, what I want is a change in the pattern.  I want it NOT to happen.

To make that happen, I have to be really honest with myself and with what I am committing myself to taking on.  For example, I am currently the president or leader of three organizations – two are local and one is national.  I didn’t plan to be the one in charge of these groups all at the same time – it just turned out that way.  It’s as though when I am asked to take a certain role, everything other than my ability to do the job and my desire to do it well and my knowledge that I can do it well recedes.  I can only see that one thing that is ahead of me  All the other things that I do are not present as I contemplate this possibility.  I do choose to say yes, and I often say it quickly, without taking time to consider the impact on other areas of my life.

The result of this pattern is that I stay very busy.  I am sure that staying busy is serving some purpose in my life, but I won’t know what that purpose is unless I allow myself to become less busy.  Becoming less busy is going to involve saying, “No.” – and saying no is a skill I need to practice.

So – here are some ideas I plan to try:

  • Say maybe.
  • Sleep on any decision.
  • Make a blanket rule about saying, “Yes,” to anything at all for “x” period of time, no matter how good it sounds.
  • Be ok with changing my mind.
  • Understand that I am not the only person who can do a task. I am not irreplaceable (Wow – how arrogant to even think such a thing).
  • Breathe
  • Be compassionate to the part of me that wants to say yes, and curious about what it would be like to be less busy.

I will let you know how it goes.  In the meantime, I’d better get busy….!!!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at

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Reflections on House Hunting

Home and Family

The time has come.  My husband and I are what is commonly referred to as “empty nesters,” no kids living full time at home, and we’ve grown tired of the isolation and long commutes from our suburban subdivision.  So we’ve put our house on the market and have been hunting for new digs in town.  This is actually the very first time we have considered a home that does not include the needs of the children.  It’s been a struggle for me.  On the one hand, it’s exciting and liberating, but on the other hand it’s sad to leave behind kids’ rooms filled with memories.

These last several years have been bittersweet in so many ways.  Moving to Nashville meant saying goodbye to places and people I’ve loved my whole life.  Our home in Los Angeles was brimming with memories of parties, sleepovers, bruised knees and broken hearts.  It was the last home where we spent time with my mom.  And it was the house we thought we’d live in during our retirement.  But I guess the universe had other plans and here we are.

When we first bought our current house, it was brand new.  It felt empty, like a totally blank slate.  I was certain we’d never fill it with memories and experiences like we’d done back home.  The kids were older, in fact two were in college, and the youngest was in high school.  Since teenagers don’t usually want parents around much, we rarely saw his new friends, but I persevered and we still hosted holiday dinners and other types of get togethers.  The college kids came home for vacations from time to time.  We even hosted out of town friends.

In retrospect I now see we’ve made new memories and that our children continue to think of us as their “home base,” regardless of the house itself.  Still it’s hard to ignore the passage of time and to close a chapter in our life as a family.  There is one thing, though, that I keep in mind.  My siblings and I haven’t lived together for decades, but when we are together we continue to share memories of our childhood home.  We even refer to “our house,” reminisce about our rooms, our parties, the fights, the good times and the bad ones.  And it is through those experiences that we’ve all been able to create homes and families of our own.  Home is, after all, in our hearts.

About Barbara Dab:

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She currently hosts two radio shows locally in Nashville, TN. Check out her website at

Barbara is also creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. Check it out at If you, or someone you know, is the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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