Get Ahead at Work by Busting These Bad Habits

Work and sleep are two of the most time-consuming things we do.

The average American will spend nearly 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, so the way you approach your job can have a huge impact on your quality of being. As Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Do you want your experience at work to be as happy and anxiety free as possible? If so, perhaps it’s time to put the scalpel to some of your less-than-desirable work habits.

Here are just a few ways bad choices might make your life more difficult at work.

Habits that Hurt You Personally

Skipping Breaks

Sometimes we think we’re too busy to take breaks or grab some fresh air.

But this simply isn’t true. Research shows productivity is highest when people work in “sprints” with frequent breaks (around 90 minutes with 15-minute rests).

Winging it on Mondays

Do you struggle to get down to business at the start of each week?

Devote part of Fridays to making a “start here” list for the following week so you can hit the ground running on Mondays.

Negative Attitudes

A recent CareerBuilder survey showed that 62% of employers say they are less likely to promote employees with a pessimistic attitude.

Avoid complaining (which comes across as unprofessional) or responding to suggestions with negative comments like “that won’t work,” or “I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Even when things go wrong, focus your energy on what you’ve learned rather than despising your situation.

Habits that Annoy Others

Eating Smelly or Loud Foods

While a small snack may be fine, avoid eating foods that are messy, noisy, or smelly to protect your reputation with co-workers. Top stink generators include reheated fish, raw onions, tuna, smelly cheese, and hard-boiled eggs.

Grooming at Your Desk

When you are distracted, do you tend to chew your nails, play with your hair, pick at your face, or pull food out of your teeth? What if the co-worker next to you did this? Yuck. Enough said!

Interrupting or Asking Too Many Questions

While a willingness to contribute can be great, often you may be repeatedly cutting off others without realizing it.

Interrupting is rude and shows a lack of self-control. Similarly, asking an abundance of abrupt questions can be draining or annoying to others. When you need further information, gather a list of questions and pose them in an organized, positive way so you are respectful of others’ time.

Habits that Harm Your Reputation

Using Work Time Improperly

Be honest: while at work, how often are you handling texts, personal e-mails, or private phone calls?

If you think others don’t notice, you’re wrong. While co-workers may tolerate this behavior, it will certainly hinder the respect or opportunities you receive in the future. Keep your personal life out of sight (perhaps tucking the phone away or on silent) and you will be more efficient and more valued.

Distraction or Delays

Why is texting while driving illegal?

Because it’s impossible to concentrate fully on two things at once. If you are jotting personal notes, sending e-mails, or galloping through the fields of your imagination during meetings, it sends an inconsiderate message and communicates a lack of integrity. Come to appointments on time and ready to focus.

Being Nosy or Political

While small talk goes a long way to build rapport with others, avoid uninvited personal inquiries or incessant curiosity that won’t let things go.

And remember, if certain topics are divisive in politics, they’ll be divisive at work. Keep conversations focused on work-related issues to avoid insulting others, hurting your professional image, or causing rifts in your company.

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Is Your Phone a Part of Your Body?

Is Your Phone a Part of Your Body?

This may not be far from the truth! Recent research found that the average person reaches for their smartphone 150 times a day, including e-mails, calls, photos, messaging, or checking the time.

This begs a crucial question. In terms of modern day marketing, does this rise in digital dominance erase the power of print? Not a chance!

edge of colorful magazine stacking roll

Hard Copy Rules

Naomi Baron, author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, surveyed university students worldwide and came to a profound conclusion: young people have a near-universal preference for print.

When given a choice of various media – including hard copy, phones, tablets, or laptops – 92 percent said they could concentrate best on hard copy.

Respondents said drawbacks of digital media included distraction, eye strain, physical discomfort, while hard copy benefits included stronger visual memory, an increased desire to “re-read,” and sensory connection enabling one to touch, experience, and “keep” printed materials. Baron said that in the Slovakian respondent data, one out of TEN mentioned smell. “There really is a physical, tactile, kinesthetic component to reading.”

Don’t Forget the Fun

Looking to draw attention back to print marketing but need some inspiration to get you started?

Print comes alive through color and texture, but also through humor. Here are a few spunky print ads that helped restore our faith in the creativity of the medium in 2017:

Snowbird Ski Resorts.

Snowbird was looking to overcome its ho-hum ski magazine campaign with something different. Cloaking its sales pitch in sarcasm, Snowbird featured one-star reviews from complaining customers.

“Too advanced,” read one review. “I’d heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!”

Snowbird’s agency hand-picked reviews that would tantalize hardcore athletes to give the resort a try. “We’re known for our steep terrain, long runs, and deep snow,” said Snowbird marketing director David Amirault. “Beginner skiers and snowboarders . . . often find this a challenge. However, for our core guest, it’s what makes them come back year after year.”

Creative campaigns like this will definitely keep print marketing fans coming back as well!

Burger King.

One audacious print campaign was Burger King’s “Burning Stores,” which showed actual BK restaurants on fire with the headline “Flame grilled since 1954.”

Showcasing one of its worst moments was ridiculously brave, tying BK’s “flame-grilling” service near a flame-grilled franchise in a shocking, hilarious graphic. “Burning Stores” reminded us that engaging modern audiences includes a willingness to be vulnerable. Grey Africa’s Fran Luckin, chair of the Print & Publishing jury at Cannes, called “Burning Stores” the ideal print ads for a social media age:

“We’ve got a brand being brave enough to be authentic,” she said. “It’s a move away from having every single piece of print communication be so carefully crafted and put out there as an official announcement. There’s a sense here of being more playful, more authentic, a sense that you can be a little bit more edgy in your communication.”

Luckin reminded content producers that it’s ok for companies to laugh:

“I once heard a Coca-Cola executive use the work ‘flawsome,’ which I loved. In the social media age, where people can find out information about your brand quite easily, you have to be a little bit more real. You embrace your imperfections. You have more of a sense of humor about your corporate image. [Burger King] is a brand that’s brave enough to stick its tongue in its cheek and be a little bit young again.”

 


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Labels Are a Promotion that “Sticks” With Your Customers.

Customers can be a difficult and fickle lot.

Delicious cupcakes retro sign for candy shop

They’re always shopping around for the “Next Big Thing,” surfing your competitor’s websites, and price-checking on their phones. With all the different business options available today, it can be tough to keep your business in their mind without spending thousands of dollars on local and digital advertising.

There’s a smarter way to keep your customers engaged with your brand’s identity without breaking the bank — labels!

Labels are the ideal way to turn a basic and ho-hum bag or box into a full-color masterpiece that is interesting and fun. See how you can leverage labels to create a promotion that truly sticks with your customers.

Adding Excitement to Your Packaging

Basic white or kraft boxes and bags are simple, inexpensive packaging for your products, but they don’t do anything for your brand identity.

When Maggie, a bakery owner, recently visited her local print shop, she was looking for a logo that could be printed on her various sizes of packaging. What she learned was that each size of packaging would require different setups to print the logo, and full-color printing on non-standard size items could get add up. After speaking with the sales team at the print shop, Maggie realized that there was a better option that would reduce the overall costs of using different packaging for her products.

Full-Color Labels in Any Size or Shape

Part of the challenge of running a bakery is that you’re selling all different sizes and shapes of goods.

You may need a small bag for a donut or bagel, a nearly-square box for layer cakes, and a large rectangle for sheet cakes or a dozen baked goods. Creating a single logo for packaging that would look good on all of these sizes and shapes would be difficult. However, labels are so easy to create that you can utilize a variety of labels to make a custom-printed look that features a stunning full-color image.

Add Promotions When You Need Them

Labels are an incredibly versatile promotional tool.

You can add them to a package or leave them off to create a different mood or message for your customers. If you’d like to offer a coupon on a particular type of order — for instance, a dozen donuts — then you can utilize a label to attach a printed coupon to draw added attention to the offer. The label itself could become the offer, too. You could have a batch of labels printed offering “10% Off, Tomorrow Only” and then be able to pull out this promotion anytime sales are experiencing a bit of a slump.

Operational Labels

You can also use labels within your business to classify items at a glance.

For instance, a tiny sticker that denotes which day of the week a particular item was baked, or showing a ‘Sell by’ date. Write-on labels and waterproof labels are available based on your particular needs and are a great way to keep your business organized and running smoothly.

In this particular instance, Maggie was inspired to create a series of labels for each day of the week to indicate freshness to her customers. She also worked with a designer to envision a new look for her packaging that included a single-color package and full-color labels that added a pop of color and plenty of personality to her baked goods. Since people “eat with their eyes” it made good business sense for the packaging to be as appealing as possible!

Ready to revamp the look of your products or rev up your organizational skills?

 


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Getting Creative at Work May Be the Best Use of Your Time Today.

Better. Faster. Cheaper.

Those are the siren calls of managers today — always on the lookout for ways to make their workers more productive.

Light against the dawn. 

What if you discovered that your teams would actually gain productivity by taking the time out of their day to be creative? While carving out time for creativity may feel like a waste of time upfront, you may be surprised to find that the results of making this space will be far-reaching. The daily grind and immediate needs of others don’t leave a lot of time for thinking outside the box, but you’ll see that scheduling time for creativity is a critical ingredient for high-performing individuals and teams.

Small Investment, Big Rewards

Getting creative doesn’t mean you need to pull out the fingerpaints and scissors in your common room.

It just means that you should offer your team members a variety of ways to choose their own path when it comes to specific tasks, brainstorm new ideas (and implement them!) or look for ways to help others. Taking as little as 90 minutes every week two weeks gives people the time and space to unleash their great ideas and helps them work smarter — not harder. This small investment can pay off with big rewards. Even if you don’t implement every idea, your team will be excited to get together and share their thoughts and suggestions and know that they’re being actively listened to.

Creativity Takes Many Forms

Brainstorming is an easy way to build camaraderie within a team and also generate some amazing ideas, but what are some other ways to bring creativity into the workplace?

These tips can help you get started on a productive time together.

  • Create effective work groups. It’s important to ensure that your teams are well-balanced when creativity is your goal. If you have one individual who tends to overpower the conversation, it can be tough for others to join in on the fun.
  • Make it challenging. Consider asking your teams to solve a unique challenge — maybe one that’s not even related to your current situation, but designed to help people come together around a common goal.
  • Give them space. Not physical space, mental space! If individuals are so concerned about daily tasks that they’re unable to devote the mental capacity to the project, you’re not going to reap the benefit you might expect.
  • Allow freedom to choose. If you’re offering a specific work opportunity that needs to be overcome, don’t get too tied down in the details of how it needs to happen. Ask that teams consider the “Blue Sky” approach, where there are no boundaries, no limitations (systems or individuals) and just go for it. The sky’s the limit!

Perhaps the most important thing to remind your teams going into a creative space is that all judgment should be suspended.

There are no bad ideas. Every individual deserves to have their idea or direction fully listened to. Don’t evaluate ideas before their time or you will interrupt the flow of information that is what brings true creativity to light. After a few sessions, you may be surprised to find that your teams are excited — and not reluctant — to join in on the fun.

With luck, this openness, creativity, and conversation will begin to flow throughout your teams on a more regular basis. As people come to realize that others will listen, they are more likely to share without fear. Let your creativity free and reap the rewards!

 

 

 


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How to Chart Your New Future (Part 1)

Irene Obera is an 84-year-old southern California native who loves bowling, tennis, and educating others.

She also happens to be the fastest woman on earth for her age. Irene has been breaking records in Masters athletics for forty years, and her aging philosophies are captured in her own words:

“If you don’t move it, you lose it.”

And:

“A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits – and I want to be a winner.”

Irene is one of many “superagers,” a term for people in their 70s and 80s who have the mental or physical capability of their decades-younger counterparts. Irene serves as an inspiration, not only for the power of dedication but the promise of possibility when we harness our full potential. Living well is a goal we all desire and living fully alive is the essence of life. No matter what our strengths or sphere of influence, each of us has the potential for success and impact. This potential is a treasure that should be uncovered, protected, and stewarded!

Shake Off That Slump

Young African female entrepreneur dreaming up new business ideas

Then what do you do when you’ve hit a slump? When complacency has settled like fog, or when you want to grow but feel stifled professionally (or personally) at almost every turn?

Maybe you’re satisfied, but not feeling sufficiently challenged in your daily tasks. What should you do?

Here’s the truth: small adjustments DO make an impact. But we tend to enjoy comfort and resist change, making it harder and harder to change gears.

So, how can we move forward in a positive way that will impact us for years to come?

It Starts with Education

An easy place to start is where many of us began: with education. Education is a gift! The opportunity to learn can unlock our potential, grow our social circle, reap financial rewards, and energize our mind, careers, and health! Consider this statistic:

The Rush Memory and Aging Project, conducted in 2012 in Chicago with more than 1,200 elders participating, showed that increased cognitive activity in older adults slowed their decline in cognitive function and decreased their risk of mild cognitive impairment. The study showed that cognitively active seniors, whose average age was 80, were 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than seniors with less cognitive activity. Studies also show that educated people tend to enjoy better mental health, increased emotional well-being, and expanded opportunities.

Add Spring to Your Step

Whether you desire personal or professional development, growth of any kind has the potential to chart a new course for your future.

Ready to increase your mental capacity, improve your quality of life, and enrich your emotional health? In this two-part series, we’ll look at four avenues for gaining ground that will enrich your life and expand your opportunities.

  1. Stretch Yourself. 

The first step in continued growth is your own buy-in.

Take ownership over your desire to develop and look for new challenges, side projects, or free professional development opportunities offered in or outside your company. Seek out webinars and podcasts on a weekly basis or consider short online courses. Be curious about aspects of the workplace that don’t directly affect your job. Ask questions and get involved where you might not otherwise. When you show others that you are interested in learning, it communicates a proactive spirit and opens invisible doors to future opportunities.

Living fully engaged brings richness and reward. Join us for part two of this series, as we look at four more avenues for personal and professional development that can bring impact for decades to come!

 

 


 

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Connecting Your Online and Offline Marketing Campaigns.

GettyImages-674565164

No matter the industry your business operates in, it is imperative to connect online and offline marketing techniques. Many entrepreneurs have found that the better they market themselves offline, the more well-known they become online, and vice versa. For now, let’s take a closer look at how you can connect your online and offline marketing campaigns to improve lead generation and increase your sales revenue.

Tracking URLs Is a Must

Many website development service providers provide a variety of automated analytics that are simple to use and easy to understand. When you market yourself offline through print advertising, it’s a good idea to make sure to use unique tracking URLs for the links you provide in your ads and direct mail. In doing this, your web analytics can track how many people are coming to your site via the URLs on your offline marketing. You’ll love being able to see how well your offline marketing efforts are paying off, and these unique tracking URLs enable you to do this.

Promoting Yourself Online to Attract Offline Customers

Tom is a freelance writer and the majority of his clients connect with him online. They perform a search for freelance writers, and they hire him through his website or one of the content creation platforms he is featured on. Still, there are several clients that he has secured via offline tactics, including direct mail, trade shows, and conferences. To boost prospective clients’ awareness that he is going to be present at these events, he uses social media. Posting on social media can educate your prospects about the reasons they should connect with you at an offline event.

Use Your Social Media Profiles to Boost Brand Awarenes

Any offline marketing materials you distribute should include your unique social media profile URLs. When a person connects with you via social media profiles, this shows up in their news feed, which is viewable by their friends and followers. Tom has had numerous clients tell him they became aware of his services due to a friend following him on one of his social media profiles. When advertising your presence on social media on your printing materials, make sure to include an actual URL to each of your profiles. If you only include a social media logo, this doesn’t help them find you on each platform.

Provide Coupons In Person to be Used Online

When marketing yourself offline, such as through direct mail, or at a tradeshow or conference, make sure you include printed coupon codes. There’s a good chance the people you give them to will stuff in them their wallets or lay them on their desks once they get back to the office. Either of these places is a great place for your coupon code to be because it will give them a reminder of your brand and the services you offer. More so, it will entice them to hop online and visit your site to make a purchase using the discount code you gave them.

The Takeaway

No matter the industry you are operating in, connecting your offline and online marketing efforts is crucial. As your business grows, you will quickly see how the two of these interconnect with one another. More importantly, the more you integrate the two together, the quicker you will become an industry leader.


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The Lessons Taught by The Movie “Office Space”

ThinkstockPhotos-644276362

Close your eyes and picture this: On your early morning commute, you get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Your senses are bombarded with horns honking, the sound of breaks squeaking, and the pungent smell of exhaust. Your reward for making it through this mess isn’t much better. Your individual cubicle awaits, lit only by artificial lights which have a way of making you look sick and feel hopeless. Once you arrive in your allotted space, you are faced with mountains of redundant, seemingly meaningless tasks you must complete, while answering to eight different bosses who don’t communicate amongst themselves.If the movie “Office Space” came to mind during this exercise, you are getting the right idea. While the movie’s comedic portrayal of an office environment is exaggerated, as business owners, it’s wise to learn the lessons you can glean from it.

Delegate

Bill Lumbergh is the boss in the movie “Office Space.” He is often seen hanging around Peter’s (main character’s) cubicle, overreaching his boundaries and seemingly controlling every aspect of Peter’s day. Peter also has eight bosses other than Bill, or maybe including him. This means everything has to be repeated over and over to the point of insanity. This drives Peter crazy, and it is not productive either.Lesson #1: Give your employees what they need to do the job: training, materials, etc. Then, let them work. Get out of their way. Studies have even proven that micromanaging can cause employees to perform at a lower level, not higher. Just imagine trying to do even a simple task with someone standing right over your shoulder, and it’s easy to understand why micromanaging is so detrimental.

Provide Well Functioning Equipment/Updated Software

In the movie, the copy machine almost takes on the role of character thanks to the fact that it is so detested by Michael and the other main characters. It seems this copier/printer will never work properly, which causes endless difficulties. Peter, Samir, and Michael (main characters) end up destroying the machine in a rural field outside town after their frustrations reach a boiling over point.Lesson #2: You should provide your employees with what they need to get their job done as mentioned above. Sure, things break. That’s understandable. However, expecting your employees to continue to use subpar equipment, computer, software, etc. yet still pushing them to meet deadlines and maintain the same level of production simply isn’t fair.

Create a High-Quality Working Environment

It is no wonder the characters of “Office Space” so detest their jobs. They work in 6′ x 6′ cubicles with no windows. In addition, Peter is situated right across from another employee who patches calls through, so in essence, she spends all day saying “just a moment” in an irritatingly spunky voice.Lesson #3: Cubicles are sometimes unavoidable in today’s office buildings. However, give your employees the freedom to move around to break up their day. Make sure you have seating available for your employees outside where they can walk around and enjoy being outdoors. If outdoor space isn’t an option, at least make sure you provide a lounge with couches or comfortable chairs where employees can go to take a break from their own cubicle walls.Most employees understand that doing business in today’s technology-saturated society often means they are required to sit at a desk and work on a computer most of the day. This doesn’t have to look like the movie “Office Space,” though. Thankfully, with a little thought and purposeful planning, you can ensure your employees never feel like Peter or the other characters from the movie. Simply adhere to these lessons from “Office Space,” and you will be heading in the right direction.


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Create An Environment That High-Value Employees Want To Work In

work-environmentIf you tasked most business leaders with sitting down and making a list of their struggles, attracting high-value employees would more than likely fall close to the top. Finding those versatile, well-rounded, and driven candidates is one thing – getting them to come aboard is something else entirely. Making sure you’re not just a “stepping stone” in someone’s successful career is also a lot easier said than done. If you want to attract the type of high-value employees that will carry your organization forward, you have to start from within and create the kind of organization they want to work for in the first place.

Would You Want to Work for Your Business?

If you want to attract high-value employees in a marketplace that is growing increasingly competitive with each passing day, you need to start by putting yourself in their shoes. What are some things that 21st-century talent may be looking for that you aren’t currently offering?

Thanks to things like SaaS (software-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service), the ability for businesses to allow employees to work remotely has become a significant priority for quality applicants. Even if you don’t feel comfortable bringing someone on and allowing them to work from the home full-time, see if having them work remotely two out of the five business days is something you can manage.

Likewise, BYOD (bring your own device) has become a significant priority for younger employees. It lets them bring their own smartphones, tablets and other devices to work that they already feel comfortable using, thus increasing the overall quality of the work they’re able to generate. It also helps save money for businesses, as you no longer have to pay to purchase and maintain a computer for an employee if they’re already bringing one from home. These small changes to your existing policies can go a long way towards creating the type of environment and culture that attracts the talent you’re after.

Get Competitive

Another one of the core ways to attract valuable employees these days involves being as competitive as possible when it comes to job perks. Apple, for example, has a now-legendary attraction strategy that includes not only traditional perks like healthcare, but also things like educational reimbursement as well. Not every company has the type of bankroll that Apple does, but it’s always important to remember that making an investment in your employees through competitive perks is ultimately an investment in the future of your company.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can create the type of environment that makes it easy to attract high-value employees and even easier to retain them for the long haul. Remember: quality employees don’t grow on trees, and the difference between someone who is “just punching a clock” versus someone who is putting their blood, sweat, and tears into the task at hand is an immense difference, indeed. By putting yourself in their shoes and creating the type of company they can’t help but want to work for, you, in turn, create the kind of company clients can’t wait to do business with.


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Mutual Respect: The Secret Ingredient When It Comes to Managing Employees

Working together

Many business leaders are still operating under the mistaken impression that the key ingredient to managing employees involves learning how to delegate responsibility. So long as you tell the right people to complete the right tasks, your business should pretty much run itself, right?

Wrong.

You can’t just demand that your employees dedicate a huge part of their waking days to helping you accomplish your own professional goals. They have to want it. You can’t buy it, either – high salaries and competitive benefits help, but they’ll only ultimately carry you so far.

So how do you make not only managing employees easier than ever, but also turn them into true, loyal team members instead of passive subordinates at the same time?

The answer is simple: mutual respect.

What is Mutual Respect?

The most important idea to understand about mutual respect is that you’re dealing with a two-way street. You can’t force someone to respect you just because you happen to be their boss or because your name is on the door. You have to earn it. You have to show them that you’re worthy of it.

However, generating mutual respect isn’t as easy as flipping a light switch. It involves a lot of small things that eventually add up to a pretty significant whole. It’s about being genuine in your interactions with employees. It’s about going out of your way to do the right thing and recognize a job well done. It’s about making sure that all employees, regardless of position, have an equal voice in all decisions that affect them. It’s about taking the time to show an employee that those eight hours they spend in the office on a Sunday didn’t go unnoticed. That they were appreciated. That you wouldn’t be where you are without them.

What Mutual Respect Means in the Long Run

If you’re able to foster an environment where mutual respect occurs organically, you’ll begin to feel a wide range of different benefits almost immediately. Mutual respect means that an employee is willing to put in a little extra effort and work harder because they know that you appreciate what they do and that you would be willing to do the same if the situation was reversed. Mutual respect means that if you do make a mistake, an employee is going to give you the benefit of the doubt because it’s the same courtesy you’ve afforded them in the past.

Mutual respect also means that all employees understand and even believe that they have an equal voice. They don’t feel like they work FOR you, they feel like they work WITH you – because you feel the exact same way. Even when a conflict does arise, it never gets heated or even contentious because people who respect each other don’t argue and fight over issues, they discuss them like civilized adults.

These are some of the many reasons why mutual respect is the secret ingredient when it comes to managing employees. Creating a workplace where mutual respect is encouraged creates a “trickle down” effect almost immediately – conflict management is easier, collaboration is more efficient, and even the types of personality or cultural differences that stood to divide employees in the past only work to bring them together.

Mutual respect allows everyone to come to the simple yet important realization that at the end of the day, you’re all part of the same team.


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