71% of Millennial Small Business Owners Use Tech to Keep Employees Safe – Michael Guta

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When it comes to safety and the many regulatory compliance companies have to abide by, it can be challenging, especially for small businesses. The Nationwide fourth annual Business Owner Survey, reveals 71% of millennial small business owners are using connected technology to keep their employees safe.

Technology to Keep Employees Safe

The rate at which millennial’s are using connected technology is more than double the average business owner, which is at 32%. According to Nationwide, a Fortune 100 insurance and financial company, this demographic is using the technologies to ensure and improve the safety of their workforce.

For small business owners using connected technologies, new levels of efficiency in cost savings, regulatory compliances and a more accountable and safe working environment have been seen. But like Mark McGhiey, associate vice president of Nationwide’s Loss Control Services, says on the official Nationwide blog, this doesn’t solve all safety problems.

McGhiey adds, “There’s always going to be an element of human-driven effort to ensure workers can do their jobs safely and efficiently. That’s why it’s so important for employers to follow best safety practices that are tailored to their specific business — and it’s why our experts provide individualized risk management consultation and safety training to business owners across the country.”

Technologies Millennial Small Business Owners Use

The connected technologies millennial small business owners use dramatically reduce manual processes. This allows them to use their workforce more efficiently and collect valuable data which can be analyzed to improve workplace safety.

Thirty-six percent of millennial’s use building sensors for detecting humidity, temperature, water leaks and equipment failure, while less than half or 16% of all business owners use the same technology.

Wearables are equally popular with millennial business owners with 32% saying they are using these devices compared with 13% for everyone else. Watches, belts and other wearable sensors are used to detect physical strain.

Drones, which are being used in many different industries, have been used to inspect sites that can pose danger to workers.  In this case, only 7% of regular small business owners use drones, while 21% of millennials have deployed the technology.

When it comes to vehicle telematics, 20% of millennials have installed these devices to keep their employees from being distracted while driving. For the rest of the small business population, the number is 11%.

National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month and according to the National Safety Council, close to 13,000 Americans workers are injured every single day.

No matter how big or small your company is, the safety of your workforce has to be a priority.

The survey was carried out online from April 9-20, 2018 among a sample of 1,000 U.S. business owners. The businesses had between 1-499 employees and the respondents were 18 years or older and self-reporting as either a sole or partial owner of their business. Nationwide commissioned Edelman Intelligence to conduct the 20-minute survey.

If everyone who read the articles and like it, that would be favorable to have your donations – Thank you.

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Emotion Is Your Most Strategic Marketing Tool – Diana Davies

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Emotion is the tool you need to create content that captures the attention of your target audience. You need to engage their brains then their hearts if you want your content to be shared across networks and social media platforms.

The goal of your content goes beyond keeping your existing audience engaged and informed. You want whoever reads your content to love it so much that they feel compelled to share it with their online community.

What will trigger that immediate response? Emotion.

Decision making is not based on logic it is based on emotion. The emotional part of your brain is leading the decision making charge. The logical analytical part of your brain is simply playing catch up and ends up “justifying” a decision that has already been made.

Emotion is a tool that can be used to guide the brain’s response. What is the best way to insert emotion into strategic marketing? Graeme Newell breaks it down very eloquently,

“Start with your clients emotional priorities then show how you can make their dreams come true.”

Knowing your clients emotional priorities is essential to creating content that connects with your target audience at a fundamental level. You need to trigger in their brains a strong feeling of YOU UNDERSTAND ME.

Emotion Is Your Most Strategic Marketing Tool

 

Emotion is the tool you need to create content that captures the attention of your target audience. You need to engage their brains then their hearts if you want your content to be shared across networks and social media platforms.

The goal of your content goes beyond keeping your existing audience engaged and informed. You want whoever reads your content to love it so much that they feel compelled to share it with their online community.

What will trigger that immediate response? Emotion.

Decision making is not based on logic it is based on emotion. The emotional part of your brain is leading the decision making charge. The logical analytical part of your brain is simply playing catch up and ends up “justifying” a decision that has already been made.

Emotion is a tool that can be used to guide the brain’s response. What is the best way to insert emotion into strategic marketing? Graeme Newell breaks it down very eloquently,

“Start with your clients emotional priorities then show how you can make their dreams come true.”

Knowing your clients emotional priorities is essential to creating content that connects with your target audience at a fundamental level. You need to trigger in their brains a strong feeling of YOU UNDERSTAND ME.

Feeling understood is incredibly powerful. It resonates in the brain and forms the foundation of an emotional bond. The same kind of bond you experience with friends and family that “get you”. A place where you feel understood, appreciated and respected. You can create that emotion in your target audience.

Collect emotional insights from your current clients and target audience. When you first meet them are they exhausted, anxious, depressed or overwhelmed? What language are you hearing after receiving your services? Are they re-energized, driven, passionate or ecstatic? These emotional insights become your unique strategic marketing tool.

The content you create will reflect back to your audience the emotions they your audience find themselves currently experiencing and the emotional place they are striving for. What is it about your services that will have an emotional impact on your client? What emotions are they experiencing before and after working with you?

Emotion transforms your strategic marketing from a flowchart into the embodiment of your ideal client.

Emotion Keywords Amplify Content Impact

Henneke Duistermaat wrote a blog post that perfectly captures the importance of adding emotion words to content to increase impact and drive your audience to share.

Capture the emotions that are driving your target audience by collecting insights from direct interviews and online research. If you aren’t sure which emotions to explore initially, a good place to start is by looking at the 8 basic emotions shared within Henneke’s post.

The study of emotion and emotion words is an active area of research. Dr. Watt Smith conducted research which revealed that there is a granularity to emotions that we still haven’t fully captured in common every day usage words.

These emotions are still impacting our daily actions and reactions but we can’t readily describe them. In some instances you may not even realize you are experiencing the emotion until you read about it.

The use of emotions and emotional words will anchor those feelings and frustrations that are bubbling within your audience and link them with something tangible – your content and your strategic marketing.

Emotion will be the tool that builds the relationship between you and your target audience. It will not matter how wonderful and charming you are in person if your online content is full of jargon, acronyms and corporate speak.

Read any article you find about viral content and the one common element that was widely shared is emotion. High arousal emotions provoke action which is ultimately the point of creating content.

You want to build an engaged community that responds to the content you create. You want the likes, retweets, comments and shares. Their response is a direct reflection of your audience insights and knowledge. The more you understand how to engage their brain, the stronger the response you will receive.

Emotion Increases Visual Memory

Our brains process visuals first and retain a memory of them longer.

Use visuals that have an emotional impact to capture the attention of your target audience as they scan through their social media feeds, emails and online reading.

Given how short our attention spans are, you need to use emotion as your primary strategic marketing tool. Emotion will drive the visuals you create, the stories you share and how well your audience remembers your message.

Once you have collected the emotions your target audience is experiencing, you need to create unique visuals as part of your strategic marketing. There are many easy to use and cost effective techniques for creating custom visuals.

A creative visual catches the eye and gets the visitor to stay and explore your website. It can also buy you those few extra precious seconds on social media for a user to stop and actually read your content. A visual marketing strategy is essential for engaging the brain. Adding emotion to your visuals in the form of overlaid text or the use of images that reflect emotion significantly increases how well your content will be remembered.

Emotion is your most strategic marketing tool. Emotion captures the attention of the brain and engages your audience to take action. We already know that content with visuals gets 94% more views than content without visuals.

If everyone who read the articles and like it, that would be favorable to have your donations – Thank you.

What Employers And Employees Need To Know Today About Raises – Kathy Caprino

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During my 18-year corporate career in marketing, research and product management, I felt that raises were an important way that the leadership at my organizations demonstrated their recognition for what I contributed in my role and in the enterprise as a whole. Interestingly, the conversations that took place leading up to the actual raise or promotion were at least as impactful as the raise itself.

If I found that my manager communicated effectively both praise and constructive, thoughtful feedback and indicated an understanding of how I personally contributed to the team, those interchanges helped build trust, loyalty and commitment, often as much (if not more) than the additional money in my paycheck. But if the conversations around raises and promotions weren’t clear, honest and supportive, inevitably I’d feel less positive and engaged in my role.

Turns out, this is an extremely common experience. In working now as a career and executive coach with professionals around the world, I’ve heard from thousands of people about their deep challenges in trying to figure out how to ask for a raise, the best way to build a case for it, and how to deal with their disillusionment when they didn’t receive the raise they believed they deserved.

To learn more about how employers and employees should approach handling raises, I was excited to catch up this week with Lydia Frank, who is vice president of content strategy for PayScale, the leading compensation data and software provider, helping employees and employers understand market pay and have more open and mutually beneficial conversations about compensation.

The recent PayScale Raise Anatomy study examines which workers are asking for raises, which workers are receiving them, what is preventing certain workers from asking and how the raise conversation – whether the outcome is positive or negative – can impact employee engagement and retention.

Here’s what Frank shares:

Kathy Caprino: Why did PayScale feel it was important do this research into pay raises now?

Lydia Frank: We’re in an extremely tight job market currently in the U.S. with unemployment under 4%, and oddly, wages have not grown to the degree that we’ve seen historically when similar positive conditions have been in place in terms of the economy and labor market.

And, while 59% of employers are saying that talent retention is a major concern, according to the results of PayScale’s most recent Compensation Best Practices survey, most organizations are not addressing that concern with higher base pay increases. This places more burden on individual employees to proactively manage their own earning potential by asking for raises and making a solid business case for more than the standard 3%.

We also knew from past studies that a good portion of employees don’t proactively ask for raises. We know that wage gaps do exist for women and people of color. So, we wanted to really understand the dynamics at play and provide guidance for both employees and employers to ensure that every worker has equal opportunity to make a fair wage for the work they’re doing.

Caprino: What were the most interesting findings? Were these surprising to you?

Frank: Only 37% of workers have ever asked for a raise from their current employer, which is lower than I’d expect with it being an employee’s job market right now, but of those who did ask, 70% received some type of raise, even if it wasn’t for as much as they requested. It’s a good reminder for employees that the outcome of a raise conversation has a high likelihood of being favorable for you.

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However, not every employee has the same chance for that positive outcome. We saw no difference by gender or race in terms of who says they have asked their current employer for a raise. We did find, though, that people of color are far less likely to receive a raise when they ask for one than their white male peers (women of color are 19% less likely and men of color are 25% less likely).

There was weak evidence showing that white women may be receiving raises less often, but the findings were not statistically significant. We controlled for job title, job level, experience, geography, industry, etc. so we could really isolate the effect that the gender and race of the employee might be having on raise decisions. This runs counter to a common narrative, especially in the tech industry, around the workplace being a meritocracy. This may not feel like a surprising finding to many, but there’s a difference between suspecting something is true and knowing it for sure.

Another key finding in this report is that how the raise conversation unfolds can have a critical impact on employee engagement and retention. It really comes down to how much employees trust the organization and their managers. If an employee is denied a raise, 33% are provided no rationale for the denial.

Of those who do receive some type of rationale, only 23% of employees believe it. If they don’t believe it, their satisfaction with the employer takes a serious hit, and they are far more likely to be seeking a new job in the next six months. What was interesting, however, is that when employees did believe the rationale when denied a raise, they had similar levels of employer satisfaction as employees who received a raise.

They were also much more likely to stay with the organization than employees who received no rationale or didn’t believe the one they were given. For employers, the takeaway here is that you don’t necessarily have to grant every raise request to retain your best employees, but you do have to ensure they understand how compensation decisions are made and feel fairly treated. Treating employees fairly isn’t necessarily the same as them feeling fairly treated, so communication strategy around pay is important to get right as well.

Caprino: Why do you think people of color are more often denied a raise when they ask than white men?

Frank: With more than 160,000 survey respondents for this most recent PayScale study, we can say with certainty that there is clear bias at work in pay raise decisions in the workplace – whether unconscious or overt. Unconscious bias has been something employers have been trying to combat for a while, from hiring practices to organizational culture. I think this is just more evidence that it is difficult to eradicate bias when people are involved. We all have biases, whether we’re aware of them or not.

Caprino: I noticed that women cite being uncomfortable negotiating as a reason for not requesting a raise far more often than men. What can be done to ensure women feel more comfortable initiating pay negotiations?

Frank: Yes, 26% of women cite being uncomfortable negotiating as their reason for not asking for a raise vs. 17% of men, while men are slightly more likely than women to say they didn’t ask because they received a raise before needing to or they’ve always been happy with their compensation.

There are systemic issues at work that chip away at women’s confidence levels. For example, based on research from linguist and Textio founder and CEO Kieran Snyder, not only do women receive more criticism in their performance reviews, it’s less constructive and more personal. In Snyder’s analysis, she found that character critiques – words like “abrasive” – showed up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women and was completely absent from reviews received by men.

There’s also research on unconscious bias showing that women pay a social cost in the workplace for initiating negotiations. Essentially, we as a society are conditioned to have different expectations of how women and men behave, and when our expectations are not met, it creates cognitive dissonance. We don’t like it. In many ways, I think the fact that some women feel uncomfortable initiating negotiations is a learned behavior. If you do it and don’t get a positive outcome, you’re more hesitant to try again. Unfortunately, women are more likely to be met with resistance.

Alternatively, there’s newer research from Boston Consulting Group showing that ambition levels in women are impacted significantly by how progressive their workplace is in terms of gender equity.

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The key is to fix the systemic issues. Employers can ensure they’re digging into workforce analytics to understand the obstacles to advancement women are facing within their organization, whether that applies to pay or promotion. They can also proactively address underrepresentation of women in leadership. Take a look at your board of directors, your executive team and your most senior managers. Are you demonstrating that women are valued members of the organization?

Caprino: What can employers do to ensure every employee is given equitable consideration when requesting a raise?

Frank: When compensation decisions are data driven and there is clarity around what’s required to advance within your pay range, there is less opportunity for pay inequities to emerge. I’d encourage employers to think about setting up a process for how all raise requests are treated. If there are multiple checkpoints and transparency around the process, one person’s bias is less likely to impact the final outcome of an employee’s raise request.

Caprino: Asking for a raise can be scary for most employees. What guidance do you have for anyone thinking about asking for one?

Frank: Again, I’d point to the data point that of those who ask, 70% receive some kind of raise, with 39% getting exactly what they asked for and another 31% receiving a smaller raise than requested.

The key for employees is to be data driven in your approach to the raise conversation as well. Ensure you’ve done your homework and know what the market is paying for roles like yours. PayScale has a free employee compensation survey, for example, at www.payscale.com, where you can receive a precise pay range that takes your background and skills, the talent market you’re competing in and the job role into account.

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What to do When Your Customers Ask For a Discount & Why You Shouldn’t Give Them – Steli Efti

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Everybody wants a deal. Especially your prospects. And while you probably think giving 10% or 20% off isn’t a big deal, giving discounts just to win business can cost you more than money. It can kill your company.

Sure, you probably think I’m being dramatic. You’ve been giving discounts for ages and your revenue and customers are still growing. Right?

The problem is, when your company culture is a discount culture you might win a few battles, but you’ve already lost the war.

SaaS companies today don’t win on being cheap. They win on being valuable.

Let’s start off with the obvious: The SaaS landscape today is more crowded and competitive than ever. You know that when a prospect is talking to you, they’re also talking to your competition. And somewhere in the negotiation, that prospect is going to ask you for a discount.

And so you think “If this customer is willing to offer their solution at that price, I can too, or even a little lower. Just to win the business.” The problem is, once you start down this path, it’s almost impossible to get off it.

You’ve positioned your company as being the cheapest solution, rather than the most valuable.

Want to get better at handling discount requests and other objections? Get our free objection management template!

When you offer discounts, that’s all people think about your company. We’ve seen this exact situation happen in the consumer goods space. The market gets so crowded and undifferentiated that customers will only pick either the cheapest option or the brand they know and trust.

In SaaS, the only way to win on price is to be free. And you can’t build a company like that.

Instead, I truly believe the winning SaaS companies of today and tomorrow will win on value and they’ll win on brand. And you can’t have either if you’re just trying to be the cheapest.

Discount culture creates a weak sales force (and a weak brand)

When you give discounts, you’re setting the wrong example for your team. Instead of going out and selling on your solution’s value and your brand, your salespeople will become transactional. They’ll just give the prospect information and then offer them whatever they want.

Worse than that, your sales team will start offering discounts without even being asked! I’ve seen this happen so many times at SaaS companies and it drives me crazy.

A sales rep is talking to a prospect, they qualify them, there’s a match, they can really deliver value. And when the prospect asks about pricing, the sales rep preemptively goes: “Well, this is our price. But I would give you a good discount.”

Wait a minute. Nobody asked about a discount!

This is a weak sales culture. Your sales reps will always use the easiest tools available, and when they see discounts being given they’ll start to abuse them. They’ll start to think: “Everybody thinks everything is too expensive. Every buyer wants the cheapest, so before they ask, let me just tell them I’m going to give them a discount.”

All of a sudden one of the most vocal voices of your brand—your salespeople—are weak. They’re cheap. And that’s going to reflect on your brand at the end of the day.

You can’t scale because you don’t know what a customer’s actually worth

The other huge issue with discounts is that they make your business completely unpredictable and unscalable.

Instead of a Basic, Pro, and Business plan where you know how much revenue you make for each, you’ve got Customer A with a 12% discount, Customer B with 14%, and Customer C with 2 free user accounts. Good luck trying to build models or forecast your future revenue or even figure out what’s going on with churn.

Those discounts are going to undermine your entire financial structure because you don’t know what a customer’s actually worth. If they remove or add seats, you have no idea what that means in true revenue or churn.

It’s going to cause problems for your support team, your success team, and your marketing team. Even your product people are going to get angry because they’ll have to build all these backend solutions to keep track of billing on all your different discount cases.

You’ll piss off your customers when they find out you’re charging them more than others

Let’s say a slightly larger company aggressively negotiates a big discount. A few months later, a smaller company comes are your sales rep says “this is the best discount we can give. I can’t go any lower.” I guarantee at some point your customers are going to talk to each other. And when they do, the second customer is going to be pissed.

And rightfully so. You lied to them. You betrayed them. And they have every right to get loud and aggressive and drag your brand through the dirt and tell everyone they know about how terrible you are.

This doesn’t mean you can’t give discounts. You just have to do them right.

If you’re just giving our discounts willy nilly, you’re going to get burned. You’re going to destroy your brand, piss off your customers, and create more headaches than that little bit of extra business is worth.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t give out any discounts. You just have to make sure when you do, you do these two things.

First, make sure you’re getting something in return

The problem with discounts is they create abusive customer relationships. Your customer comes in, demands a bunch of things, and you give it to them just for a bit of business. Instead, you need to ask for something in return. This creates a healthy, reciprocal relationship.

In SaaS, that means asking for:

    1. Prepayment: When a customer agrees to sign a long-term contract or prepays for an entire year, you can absolutely give them a discount. You get guaranteed income and predictable cashflow and they get a break on the monthly price. We offer customers of our inside sales CRM a 10% discount if they pay annually instead of monthly.
    2. Case Studies: Trading a bit of a discount for marketing materials is also a good deal. Feel free to offer a discount if a customer is willing to spend a few hours on the phone with your sales team to make a great case study and do some co-promotion.
    3. Referrals and reviews: You can also offer discounts for connections and leads. Ask for a positive review on a specific platform or give discounts if they connect you with other people in the industry who could be strong prospects.

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Second, make sure your discounts are standardized

If you are giving out discounts, you can’t have any flexibility or offer customization. Your sales reps can’t just give them out however they want. You need to have set, predetermined discounts for each of the deals you’re offering.

For example, you could offer 10% for a case study, 15% for prepayment, and 20% for a referral that leads to a new customer. That’s it. There’s no 12% or free seats on offer.

But Steli, what do I do if a customer says they’re not going to buy if I don’t give them a bigger discount than I want to?

There’s always going to be someone who wants more. But you have to draw a line in the sand.

If they’re not willing to work with you, they’re most likely not your ideal customer. At Close.io, we’ve told thousands of businesses “No” when they asked for bigger discounts.

And you know what’s funny? They all get angry. They all scream and yell and tell you there’s no way in Hell they’re going to buy from you at that price. But in my experience, about 50% of the time, they become customers anyways.

It’s just the way they negotiate. They’re trying to get the best deal for their business and you have to respect that. If you have a strong brand and can show the value you provide, there’s a very good chance they’ll choose you anyways.

Of course, there’s one big exception to all of this: Enterprise

As you can tell, I’m sick of seeing discount culture in SaaS companies. But there is one big exception.

If you’re selling to enterprise clients, the way you handle discounts is going to be completely different. You can’t just give them a price and say “this is what it is,” because that’s just not how they work.

Most enterprise companies have a procurement department whose entire job is to get discounts. They have a discount quota to meet, and if you won’t play ball, they’re not even going to consider you.

That’s just the way their organization is built and you’re going to have to go with it if those are your ideal customers.

If you’re trying to win with discounts, you’ve already lost

If you don’t value your solution, your customers won’t either.

So, if you feel like you absolutely have to offer some sort of discount, make sure:

  1. They’re standardized (and don’t budge!)
  2. You’re getting something equally as valuable in return

Sell your prospects on value first and make the discount an added bonus. Not only will this give you a stronger brand, but it will set you down the right path for real, sustainable growth.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.

 

How To Deal With A Difficult Parent – Terry Heick

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You’d heard about this parent from other teachers.

That this parent was a handful. Rude. Combative. Aggressive. Even litigious. In response, you worry, if just a little. You have enough to deal with, and butting heads with an angry parent–especially one angry just because–doesn’t sound like fun. You don’t get paid enough for that hot mess.

So you keep calm and hope to ride the year out. Maybe they won’t call. Maybe they’ll skip parent-teacher conferences. You’ve even considered grading their child a little easier just to avoid the hassle of it all.

We’ve all been there. Nothing can solve this problem, but there are ways to take the edge off so that you can open up the lines of communication and deal with the parent on equal terms so that they’re child has the best chance for success.

12 Ways To Deal With A Difficult Parents

1. Reach out first

Be pre-emptive. Reach out with a positive message to start off on the right foot.

2. Don’t patronize

And when you reach out, be authentic. Don’t pretend to be their best friend, nor should have that “nipping problems in the bud” tone. Don’t worry about “holding your ground” either. Just reach out as an educator to a member of your own community. You’re not selling them anything, and they’re not selling you anything. You’re both dutifully and beautifully involved on either side of a child.

3. See yourself

No matter how important the education of a child is, realize you’re simply a single cog in the life of that family, no more or less important than keeping the lights on, their job security, food and shelter, or any other reality of daily life.

4. Give them something

Not an object–a “handle” of some kind to make sense of the learning process. Something they can make sense of and understand and use when they speak to their child about education. Something less about the game of school and more about learning, curiosity, and personalization.

5. Involve them

Keep your friends close and your…difficult parents…closer. Ask them to take on an authentic role in the classroom. Ask their opinion. Allow them to have a voice or show leadership. Give them a role in what their child learns. The fact that a parent has approaching zero authentic role in the learning process of their children is part of our challenge as educators. Help them find one.

6. Put them in a position to succeed

Just like a student, put the parent in a position to succeed. They may not have had a good experience in school, either as students, with siblings of your student, etc. Give them a reason to believe that you have the best interest of the family at heart–and that includes them.

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7. Don’t judge them, or “handle them.”

Meet them on equal terms. For all of our overly-glorified differences, most people are fundamentally the same. We respond to pain and threats differently, and have unique ethical systems, but it’s easy to place yourself above someone even if you think you’re not doing exactly that.

8 Establish a common ground

An old sales technique. A favorite athletic team–or dislike for a rival team. A personal philosophy. Your own struggle as a person. Something to humanize yourself, and establish the overlap between yourself and the parent.

9. Focus on the work

This is the opposite of teaching and learning, where you focus on the human being (the student). In conferences and communication with parents, you can both see the child and what’s “best for them” very differently, but academic work has a chance to be more objective. Focus on the work and academic performance, and what you and the parent and siblings and other teachers, etc., can do to support the student in their growth.

Even in the midst of difficult conversations, always do your best to steer the focus back on the work, and the child themselves. The former is data/evidence, the latter the reason for the data/evidence.

10. Give them reason to see beyond the grade book

This is partly the problem with letter grades. So reductionist.

It’s easy to look at a grade book and both start and finish the conversation there. If that’s all they see, have a look at your curriculum and instruction, and see if you’ve given them ample opportunity to do otherwise. Talk less about missing work, and more about the promise and possibility of their child. Help them see that the school year is a marathon, not a series of sprints.

11. If all else fails…

If you have to, call for reinforcements, and document everything. Never feel bad about having another teacher in the room with you if you feel like a parent will be aggressive and you’re simply not comfortable with it. Better to depend on solidarity and hope than your own personal strength.

And document everything. Stay on top of grading, feedback, behavior management, missing assignments, your tone, sarcasm, etc. Document every call and email. Save exemplar work. Document differentiation, personalization, and other individual efforts in pursuit of the best interest of the student.

Whatever you do, no matter your analysis of the proximity between apples and trees, don’t hold the difficult parent “against” the child, even subconsciously.

12. Take it personally, then don’t

If you have a “difficult parent,” and in spite of your best efforts it all falls apart, I’d say don’t take it personally but it’s hard not to. So fine–internalize it. Own it. Talk to colleagues (better than a spouse, whose emoptional reserves you may want to save for more pressing issues in education). Cry if you need to. And then let it go.

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How to Activate Employees and Harness the Power of Internal Experts – Michael Brenner

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Here’s a strategy brands such as IBM and Starbucks have been using for years to bolster their marketing reach and their revenue – employee activation.

By harnessing the potential of the people who know your brand better than even your most devoted customers, you can tap into a rich source of brand advocacy and fuel growth.At the same time, you’ll boost employee engagement.

Engaged employees have a vested interest in your organization’s success.  They are aligned with your messaging and vision. And they offer something much more important than greater productivity.

A positive employee attitude can engage your customers as well. Look at it this way. As many as 68 percent of customers abandon a brand as a direct response to poor employee attitude.

The bulk of customer brand perception – about 70 percent – doesn’t depend on the ingenuity of your video marketing strategy or the quality of your products – it’s human interaction with customer service representatives, your employees at in-person events, email and live chat responses, and the content your employees are sharing about your brand.

When your employees do share your company’s content – something that’s not likely to happen without motivation, only about 3 percent of employees share company-related content – you are looking at a healthy boost of customer engagement.

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This positive impact is exponential. When you can motivate 6 percent of your employees to share content, customer engagement increases by 60 percent. With 10 percent active employees, you’re looking at the potential for a 100 percent increase.

The bottom line is, the experiences customers have with your employees shape the impression of your brand more than anything else.

On the other hand, when you fail to activate your employees, you’ve effectively created a financial black hole for your organization. Disengaged employees cost businesses from $450 to $550 billion each year.

So, how can you activate your employees?

The key is in understanding what employee activation truly means. Hint: it’s much more than offering a carrot.

When you look at examples of excellent employee advocacy programs in action, you’ll see that it’s more than a few tweaks to your organizational processes and internal communications. It’s a shift. A transformation that’s going to take time and conscious effort, but one that you can fully achieve with the help of a few tools, tips and strategies to help you activate your internal experts.

Let’s get started.

What Does Employee Activation Involve?

Employee activation is all about motivating your employees to share content with their social networks. We already know that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective techniques for generating leads and boosting sales.

Employee activation takes this one step further, tapping into your employees to expand the reach of your brand. Just how much of a difference will this make? It can potentially have a seismic effect. This is because, for the typical business, the social networks of employees are 10 times the size of the social following of the company itself.

“When you can activate your entire company to be brand ambassadors, the full effects of social selling can be felt globally.”

-Koka Sexton, Sr. Social Marketing Manager formerly of LinkedIn and Hootsuite

Being able to activate your employees offers more benefits than a wider social media net for your brand to reach out to. Way more.

Your organization will experience a cascading positive effect because as you put in the effort to activate your employees through training, supporting, mentoring, and mobilizing, you’re also aligning their work with the purpose and mission of the business. You’re making their job more meaningful.

This isn’t just a shiny ideal. Purpose is what makes getting out of bed in the morning to come to work appealing. And it’s something consistently profitable companies have been focusing on for years – take Southwest Airlines for example.

They focus on both company culture and customer service and make a point of recognizing employees regularly on their website, their brand magazine, and they have a library of videos sharing stories form real customers who appreciated the experience they’ve had with the brand.

Taken further, active employees have a lot to gain. When they share their insights, expertise and vision, they are building their own personal brand, which can support their careers in the long run.

“If you help brand your people, they will help brand your company.”

Jennifer Jones Newbill, Dell

86 percent of those who have been a part of a social media advocacy program for their job have said it has had a positive impact on their career.

You’ll have employees who are both engaged and motivated, and who can benefit themselves from their experience as an employee advocate. The more they invest into the company through sharing content and brand advocacy, the more they have to gain professionally. Win-wins tend to be good for everyone.

Here are just a few of the bonuses other companies are already seeing from a serious approach to employee activation:

  • Easier to attract top talent. Employees are trusted 3 times more than your organization’s CEO by potential recruits. When they are visible on social media as brand representatives, it’s a lot easier to attract quality hires.
  • Increased employee retention. Companies with active social engagement are 20 percent more likely to retain talent.
  • Better brand storytelling. Want more authentic content? Get it from the people who are the heart of your business by inviting them to share their voice. Neil Gunn, the Digital Strategy Advisor for the World Wildlife Fund in the UK says, “The theory is that people who have the stories to tell are on the ground. If you really are going to do social well, you need to make the connection with those who have the story to tell.”
  • Boost in sales leads. For employee sharing on LinkedIn, research shows that sales leads increase by as much as 58 percent.

3 Brands with Employee Advocate Programs

Take a look at these examples of brands who have made engaging their employees a priority.

Dell

Dell excels at activating their employees on social. What they’ve done is create a dynamic training, support and facilitation program to empower their sales employees to be active on social and to ensure social usage is as effective as possible.

Dell’s Social Media University involves over 16,000 employees in 46 different countries. This is how it works:

  • Employees who want to be a part of the program go through training.
  • Dell then gives their employees branded accounts to use (@dell).
  • There’s a Governance system in place to guide the process, approve ideas, and, in general, facilitate more worthwhile marketing and recruiting content.
  • They also have a specialist team to monitor and respond to customer service issues and branded conversations on social media.

This highly structured approach has been a big win for both employees and Dell.

Sales employees who use social media outperform nonsocial salespeople by 23 percent. For Dell, they get way more customer engagement – social content posted by employees, for Dell, is eight times more engaging than the content the brand publishes. It’s also boosted profits, by over $14 million.

Adobe

Adobe’s Social Shift Program is another forward-thinking approach to employee brand advocacy. It offers education and best practices to help employees become better brand advocates. Employees can even test their ambassador skills by practicing with simulated experiences.

Lauren Friedman, head of Global Social Business Enablement for Adobe says of their employee advocacy, “We believe that people trust people. People buy from people. Relationships fuel our overall success.” She also points out the program works through enabling and encouragement, giving employees plenty of room to be themselves, saying, “We don’t want to create an army of Adobe-bots!”

Adobe then encourages employees to share on different platforms.

  • Post on the Adobe Life blog
  • Participate in contests for social sharing with weekly recognition for top ambassadors
  • Adobe scouts out ideal spokespeople to post on LinkedIn and Glassdoor
  • Employees who really stand out are invited to special events like Adobe’s MAX conference

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Their strategy works. Over one-third of Adobe’s employees have gone through the Social Shift. Adobe is known for having the most social employees in the entire tech industry.

Starbucks

Headed by the always visionary Howard Schultz, Starbucks is another company that has been motivating employee brand advocacy for years. This hasn’t just led to active employees on social media and boosted trust in the brand, it’s also sparked their customer-based brand advocate army. Starbucks is king at inspiring user-generated content.

Starbucks encourages employees to share brand updates and stories on their social media profiles. They also use their internal team to gain feedback before releasing new products. This is an excellent technique for B2C brands who want to test out new ideas on ‘consumers’ before launching into the real-world.

“[Employees] are the true ambassadors of our brand, the real merchants of romance, and as such, the primary catalyst for delighting customers. [They] elevate the experience for each customer – something you can hardly accomplish with a billboard or a 30-second spot.”

Howard Schultz

7 Tips for Activating Your Employees

Your employees are more trusted, more social, and may be some of your brand’s best storytellers. Here are tips and strategies you can use to motivate them to be vocal about your brand.

1. Start Small with the Social Stars You Already Have

Talent consultant Lars Schmidt warns that starting an employee activation initiative with your HR department or upper management can backfire. “Employees may be skeptical if HR or leadership pushes them to act. If they see their peer participating, they’ll be more compelled to follow suit and your initiatives can grow organically and authentically.”

Identify your employees who are already advocates on social media and start small with them. Once you’ve trained them to use their social profiles or their dedicated branded profiles, you have your internal leaders who you can then use for a larger program.

2. Make It about Personal Branding

The best way to motivate brand advocacy within your organization isn’t by offering a financial or physical reward. It’s about personal incentive.

Especially for B2B brands, employees have the chance to share their own expertise and establish themselves as industry experts while they work for you when they post well-researched or thought-provoking content on LinkedIn, publish how-to videos on YouTube, or share links to content on Twitter and Facebook.

Your employee activation should be about empowering your employees to be the best professional version of themselves. This, in turn, benefits your brand as they are your organization’s social representatives. It also fosters an authentic interest in giving their best to the organization they work for.

Approach brand advocacy as advantageous for both company and employee and you’ll get sustainable interest.

3. Teach Your Employees to Fish

Have a support system in place at the beginning. You don’t have to start out with a social training academy like Dell or Adobe. But, at least have established guidelines, tips and best practices, and identify social experts within your organization for individuals to go to with questions or for some one-on-one guidance. This will set the foundation for a successful program.

An effective strategy is to create regular educational content. Webinars, a library of educational videos filled with social media pointers, training sessions, or short weekly or monthly meetings are all methods you can use to make sure your employees know what’s acceptable to share and the best ways they can be successful sharing their expert voice on various social media platforms.

4. Make Social Sharing Convenient with Curated Content

Your employees are more likely to be active when you make it easy for them. As part of your employee activation program, you can regularly supply curated content. Include relevant blog posts, videos, industry news, and case studies. Then, encourage your advocates to edit the posts so as to use their personal voice.

5. Incentivize with Contests

You won’t be able to maintain a sustainable employee advocacy program on incentives alone, but they definitely can keep people interested. Think weekly contests or giveaways. This type of motivation is more about keeping your employees engaged than it is the reward itself so make your contests fun and interesting.

6. Leverage Technology

Yes, there’s an app for employee activation. In fact, there are several, including plenty of machine learning algorithms and AI-inspired platforms. Take advantage of these tools to make motivating your employees that much more effective.

  • Elevate is a LinkedIn resource that you can use to share curated content at scale. It’s a built-in feature, making it too convenient not to use.
  • EveryoneSocial is the employee advocacy platform used by Dell and Adobe and makes it exceedingly simple for employees to share content to their social networks at scale.
  • Dynamic Signal is another useful tool for employee sharing that comes with analytics. The platform includes the ability to send out real-time notifications and personalized invites. You can also create quizzes, surveys and interactive content to keep your employees engaged.
  • Influitive is an advocacy platform that is used by companies like Quickbase and MongoDB. Their AdvocateHub motivates advocates to share content, reviews, and testimonials across the social web.
  • DrumUp lets you create custom posts and curate content. It also comes with a point system to recognize social stars and analytics to track activity. DrumUp uses machine learning and Natural Language Processing, which means you’re going to see highly relevant content with the curation function.
  • There are also solutions from social platforms like Hootsuite’s Amplify and Bambu from Sprout Social

7. Use Your Advocates Wisely

While your employees’ social profiles may have the Midas touch, you still need to be careful how much you use your employee advocates. This is true for two reasons. First, you don’t want to make your advocates feel pressured to spend too much time on social sharing. For them, it should be simple and easy, not another task. Otherwise, you’ll have less people interested in your voluntary program.

Second, and more importantly, too much social sharing will dilute the value and authenticity of employee content. The reason employee sharing is so powerful is that it is an individual sharing content rather than the brand. If your employees’ social networks are being inundated by posts, people are going to start ignoring the content and, at some point, it will start to feel like brand marketing content rather than authentic insights.

Employee activation gives your brand’s online presence and reputation a mega boost of trust and engagement. Leads that are generated from employee social sharing convert seven times more often than other leads. It can increase sales and establish your brand as a more trustworthy organization. It can even help you attract premium hires to help your business succeed more in the future.

On the other hand, overlooking the potential of your employees can be a fatal error. Not only will you miss the chance to rake in more leads and sales and to enjoy a brand reputation boost. You are also missing the opportunity to help your employees grow professionally and to experience a greater sense of value and connection with the company they spend 40 plus hours a week working for – and this will cost you big time.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.

 

How to Refocus Your Strategy and Reenergize Your Team – Stanley Meytin

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A person’s passion is the sincerest definition of who they are. Passion can manifest itself in a hobby, an aspiration, or if you’re really lucky, a career. Take two people, Joe and Jane, as an example. Joe has a passion outside of his career. He devotes a lot of his free time to this passion and naturally speaks about it to his peers.

When his peers think of him they probably define him as “person passionate about X.” Now take Jane, one of the lucky few who has made a career out of her passion. She devotes twice the amount of time, twice the amount of energy and twice the amount of conversation to her passion. How do you think her peers define her?

If you’ve read Simon Sinek’s bestseller Start With Why, then Jane will remind you of Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, or Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. Joe will remind you of the Wright Brothers. Each of these individuals built empires by undyingly following their passion. Sure, you can claim that these individuals are used as examples because of winner’s bias. But they succeeded because not only were they extremely passionate. They succeeded because they were able to clearly communicate their visions.

I consider myself extremely lucky. Like Jane, I’ve built a career out of my passion. When I first launched my film production company, my team asked the same questions regarding our clients that our competition was asking:

  • What is this client doing that’s different?
  • What do they bring to the table?
  • What problems are they solving for their customers?

While these questions helped us understand our clients, we realized they weren’t getting to the core of what defined them. We were part of the same old convention of business. We were focusing on what our clients were doing and not why they were doing it in the first place. Once we realized this, we began asking ourselves different questions:

  • How can we harness the passion that defines the client’s company to create a story?
  • Are their employees inspired by that passion?
  • Does the story align with their core values?
  • How can we align the story with the company’s brand mission?
  • How is that story going to connect with their audience?
  • How are we going to make the story authentic and engaging?

The biggest takeaway, however, didn’t come in the form of one of our clients’ videos going viral. It came in-house. 2016 was the first year we set a quantitative benchmark for the number of videos we wanted to produce. Not only did we not hit the benchmark, but with all the energy we put into hitting a quota we lost focus on creating a better product. We produced more videos, but they were watered down compared to previous years. We lost our own purpose.

We got rid of all quantity benchmarks in 2017 and as a team, we held a meeting to refocus. In this meeting, we asked ourselves the same questions that we asked our clients. We ended the meeting with a mission to create a video channel to tell impactful and authentic stories that inspire others.

That channel has been a remarkably accurate reflection of the meeting where it was first conceptualized. We’re now using the same techniques that helped us define our purpose in our core business for our corporate clients. Not only has it righted our ship and produced success but it has also provided us with an entirely new set of questions to ask our clients:

  • Is their organization helping others?
  • Is their mission connecting with others?
  • Are their customers genuinely understanding their mission?
  • Are employees buying into their mission, do they believe their roles play an important part in promoting the mission?
  • Are they building a community?
  • Are they staying true to their core values and the values of their customers and employees?

The beauty of these questions is that you can propose them to your clients, to your employees and even to yourself. They’re not specific to video production or any industry for that matter. If you already have the answers, that’s incredible. If not, then use them to refocus your strategy or reenergize your team.

Just swap “their” and “they” for “your” and “you.” Connecting to people on a deeper level, nurturing a human connection, evoking emotion and inspiring are key ingredients to building loyalty and bringing the best out in people.

Note, however, that not all ingredients are created equal. Like apples grown on two separate farms, the ingredients that I listed — those that were seeded and cared for with passion — will always taste better.

If everyone who reads our articles and like it , help to fund it. Our future would be much more secure if you send us your donations…THANK YOU

New Study Shows Correlation Between Employee Engagement And The Long-Lost Lunch Break – Alan Kohll

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Many American employees strive to perform their best in the workplace. They work overtime, agree to take on extra projects and rarely take a step away from their desk. In reality, this “work hard” mentality isn’t effective – and it’s definitely unhealthy. Employees who believe that they must work 24/7 to achieve a good standing in the workplace have the wrong idea. And unfortunately, employees often gain this idea through employers’ attitudes.

Chaining yourself to a desk or scarfing down your lunch in your cubicle isn’t a recipe for success – it’s a recipe for disaster. Without taking adequate breaks from work, employee productivity, mental well-being and overall work performance begin to suffer. Overworked employees often deal with chronic stress that can easily lead to job burnout. While this not only negatively affects employee health and well-being, it negatively affects the bottom line, too.

This is why it’s important that employers start encouraging employees to take breaks throughout the workday – especially lunch breaks. These breaks are essential in helping employees de-stress and re-charge for the rest of the workday. Regular breaks can also help improve overall job satisfaction. A recent survey by Tork shows exactly how important lunch breaks are, along with how rare they are in the North American workplace.

According to the survey:

  • Nearly 20% of North American workers worry their bosses won’t think they are hardworking if they take regular lunch breaks, while 13% worry their co-workers will judge them.
  • 38% of employees don’t feel encouraged to take a lunch break.
  • 22% of North American bosses say that employees who take a regular lunch break are less hardworking.

These statistics are really a shame because regular breaks create better employees. In fact, according to the Tork survey, nearly 90% of North American employees claim that taking a lunch breaks helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work. There are many research-backed health, wellness and performance benefits of taking breaks. Here are just a few examples of the benefits of regular breaks:

  • Increased productivity. While taking breaks might sound counterintuitive when it comes to boosting productivity, it’s one of the best ways to do so. Employees gain focus and energy after stepping away from their desks. A lunch break can help prevent an unproductive, mid-afternoon slump.
  • Improved mental well-being. Employees need time to recharge. Stress is incredibly common in the North American workplace, and it has detrimental effects on employees. Taking some time away from the desk to go for a quick walk or enjoy a healthy lunch helps release some of this stress and improves mental well-being.
  • Creativity boost. Taking a break can give employees a fresh perspective on challenging projects. It’s hard for employees to develop new ideas or solutions when they’ve been looking at the same thing all day. A lunch break will most certainly help get those creative juices flowing.
  • More time for healthy habits. Regular breaks, including a lunch break, give employees time to practice healthy habits in the workplace. They can use break times to make a healthy lunch, exercise, meditate, or engage in a self-care activity.

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Besides these awesome benefits of regular breaks, the Tork survey also revealed that employees who take a lunch break on a daily basis feel more valued by their employer, and 81% of employees who take a daily lunch break having a strong desire to be an active member in their company.

North American employees who take a lunch break every day scored higher on a range of engagement metrics, including job satisfaction, likelihood to continue working at the same company and likelihood to recommend their employer to others.

I recently spoke with Jennifer Deal, the Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership and Affiliated Research Scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations at University of Southern California (USC). She had this to say about Tork’s research and employee lunch breaks:

“The Tork research shows that employees who take a lunch break are more likely to be satisfied with their job, and say they are as effective and efficient as they would like to be. This is consistent with other research, which shows that taking breaks from work is important for recovery – and adequate recovery is critical for top performance.

Energy isn’t unlimited, and just as athletes have halftime to rest during a game, employees need to rest so they can do their best work. Taking a break in the middle of the day for lunch is a recovery period, allowing employees to come back refreshed and reinvigorated for the second half – as this research clearly shows.”

Both Tork and Jennifer agree: employers will benefit from employees who take breaks. But how can employers change the mentality that “breaks are for slackers” in the workplace? Below are a few tips for encouraging employees to take breaks at your office:

  • Revamp break rooms. Be sure that the office has at least one break room for employees to retreat to whenever they need some time away from their desks. Provide comfortable furniture along with table and chairs for eating lunch. Employees will be more inclined to take breaks and lunch breaks when they have a comfortable space to do so.
  • Provide incentives. As a part of your workplace wellness program, offer employees some sort of incentive for taking regular breaks and a daily lunch break. Try creating a “break challenge” and have employees document their breaks throughout the day. Reward employees for their participation.
  • Discuss the benefits. Many employees aren’t aware of all the health and productivity benefits of regular breaks. Send out an email blast, put up some flyers or have managers give talks about the importance of taking some time away from the desk.
  • Take breaks yourself. Leading by example is always the best route. When employees see that their managers are taking lunch breaks and taking short breaks throughout the day, they’ll feel more encouraged to take breaks, too.

While the act of encouraging breaks is a huge step in the right direction, it’s also important to ensure that these breaks are healthy. For example, employees could potentially use break time for unhealthy habits such as getting fast food, smoking or scrolling through social media. Spending break time practicing poor health habits won’t yield productivity and wellness benefits.

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Although employers can’t necessarily control how employees utilize their break time, they can certainly encourage healthy habits in the workplace. Here are some healthy break ideas:

  • Walking clubs. Team walking clubs are an excellent way to encourage regular breaks and physical activity. Encourage employees to form walking clubs with their colleagues and take two 10-minute walks each workday.
  • Healthy snacking. Stock company kitchens and break rooms with healthy snacking options like fresh fruit, veggies, hummus, and nuts. Encourage employees to take a midday break and do some healthy snacking together
  • Gym time. If employees really don’t want to leave the workplace for lunch, encourage them to use the gym instead. If you have an onsite gym, allow employees 30-minutes of on-the-clock time to use the facility. If you don’t have an onsite gym, consider bringing in a weekly yoga instructor or providing vouchers for gym memberships.
  • Socialize. Quality work relationships improve both mental and physical health. They help reduce stress and boost job satisfaction. Encourage employees to take breaks together by providing a game room or fun weekly team activities.
  • Quiet time. Sometimes break time is best spent as quiet time. Offer employees a quiet area to retreat to when they need to clear their minds and recharge. Employees can use this space to meditate, read or listen to some relaxing music.

Encouraging employees to take regular breaks throughout the day, including lunch breaks, is an easy way for employers to boost employee wellness along with work performance. Employers don’t want overworked employees running their business – it’s terrible for the bottom line. Help your employees feel refreshed and reduce some stress by allowing them to take regular breaks throughout the workday.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.

What Super Successful People Do Over A Long Weekend And What You Need To Do Too – Jack Kelly

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The countdown is starting for the long Memorial Day weekend. If you live in a place like New York, you’ve been tortured by an almost uninterrupted run of rain, grey skies and relatively chilly weather for the last couple of months. We’re yearning for some nice, warm and sunny daysespecially since we will be out of the office.

Let’s be honest, three-day weekends have recently become three-and-a-half or four-plus day weekends. By Friday afternoon, most people bolt out of the office to jumpstart their mini vacations. Others catch mysterious illnesses on Tuesday and are “forced” to call in sick.

The average person uses this time to go to the beach, sleep to noon, binge watch their favorite Netflix shows or take in a baseball game or two (or three or four).  My advice to you is to avoid following the herd of mediocrity and strive for success. It is too easy to let the holiday weekend slip by and gorge yourself with hotdogs, hamburgers, soda, potato chips and beer. My suggestion is to use this time as a gift to be proactive and productive.

Since I recognize you would rather take it easy and coast, please allow me to share the weekend habits of successful people that help them get ahead.  I promise that I’ll make it super easy to follow.

The first thing to do is sort-of fun. Use the holiday sales to purchase a sharp, new wardrobe.  It could be for interviewing for a new job or trying to impress your boss and colleagues in the office. Find clothes for the job you desire and not for the position you are currently stuck in.

If you are like me and lack fashion sense, seek out a personal shopper who can ensure that you master the look for the type of industry you work in and come across looking sharp.  While we are being shallow and discussing appearances, put down the frankfurter and go for a jog, bike ride or do some yoga.

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Take an afternoon to catch-up with new developments within your field. You can do this by reading industry-specific blogs, newsletters, articles and books. Then, go to the next level and read some books that will teach you something new and make you smarter. If reading is too much to handle, there are great podcasts and YouTube videos to watch that will help you with self improvement, learning about new topics and current events.

Set aside a few hours to get ahead with your work. Start new projects and take initiatives on things that you know will eventually need to do. Finish work that you have been procrastinating on for weeks. Send out emails and leave phones messages for people at work, especially your boss. They won’t answer or listen to them since they’re squandering their weekend with time-wasting nonsense. However, when Tuesday rolls around, they will be suitably impressed with your motivation.

Draft a game plan of what you need to do over the summer to move forward in your career. Set short-term and long-term goals. For instance, if you are seeking out a new job, search various job boards, update your resume, freshen up your LinkedIn profile, reach out to recruiters and practice your interviewing techniques.

It is important to reconnect with family and friends in a meaningful way. Put the phones away and enjoy their company. Listen to what your spouse and children are up to and what’s really going on in their lives.

Disconnect from social media, television and other obsessive distractions. Take some quiet time to assess where you are in your life and career.   Be honest with yourself because there is no reason to pretend that everything is going great if it isn’t. If you are not happy with your station in your professional and personal life, start mapping out a plan that will help you achieve your goals.

After you have accomplished theseand other similar productive activitiesthen and only then, should you take some time to relax and enjoy the time off.  There will be less time available, but trust me, you will enjoy these precious, relaxing hours since you will feel that you have earned it. Also, you will have a feeling of immense satisfaction that you took assertive actions to improve your life and avoided wasting the long weekend.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.

Why Finding Your Natural Fit Is The Key To Achieving Ecstasis – Chris Myers

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After reading Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal’s excellent “Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work,” I’ve been diving deeper and deeper into the concept of ecstasis, commonly known as flow.

For those that may not be familiar with the concept of ecstasis, it’s a elusive state of mind where a person become so engrossed in the task at hand that everything else simply melts away. As external distractions are eliminated, people find that their creativity and actions are guided by intuition, rather than rational thought.

Ecstasis is something that many high-performing artists, athletes, and academics draw upon when they’re in the zone, so to speak. It’s a magic state where your consciousness reaches another plane and creativity flows unimpeded.

Ecstasis is a drug in many respects, albeit a natural one that results from the release of various neurochemicals in the brain.

People are going to great lengths to experience ecstasis in their own lives, trying everything from transcendental meditation to microdosing mind-altering drugs.

Of course, for most of us, these extreme measures are neither feasible nor attractive. I believe that there is an important holistic solution that makes finding your flow state easier. I’m talking of course about fit.

In the world of business, poor performance and existential frustration occurs when an individual’s natural skills and proclivities are simply not a fit for the career they chose or the tasks they take on. That’s why I believe that finding the right fit, both in terms of natural skills and interest, is the most important factor when it comes to success.

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This grounded vision of flow was popularized by Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the early 1990s. According to Csikszentmihalyi, this toned-down version of ecstasis/flow manifests itself when a person’s natural skills align with the challenges they face in a given situation.

When people operate outside of their flow, problems arise.  For example, if an individual works in a highly challenging environment in which their natural skills are outclassed, they tend to experience terrible anxiety and stress.

Conversely, if an individual’s advanced skills are wasted in an industry that is neither interesting nor challenging, boredom and apathy quickly set in.

Finding your personal flow in the context of work isn’t easy. Fortunately, there are a few key lessons I’ve learned over the years that can help you find your place in the workplace and avoid a life of quiet desperation.

Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses   

I began my career in consulting, because that’s what young business school graduates do. I wanted to do something more creative and entrepreneurial, but I was afraid to take on the risk at the time.

These were tough years for me, because no matter how hard I worked it just didn’t feel right. I tried so hard to conform to the ideal of what a hot shot consultant should be, even though I knew that wasn’t who I was. As a result, I was constantly anxious about my performance relative to my peers and stressed out over everything.

It was only when I took the time to be honest about who I really was that things started to improve. I grew to understand that my natural strengths were found at the intersection of finance and the humanities instead of analytics.

Once I began to see myself as someone with the soul of an artist trapped inside of a finance guy’s body, things started to make sense.  I realized that I’d never be successful or happy as a consultant and that my ideal state of flow would be found elsewhere.

This ultimately sent me down the path of entrepreneurship and ultimately led to the founding of my company, BodeTree.

Don’t let yourself get too comfortable

Now, the thing about financial consulting is that it generally pays pretty well. The personal comfort that came along with the job that I hated was the one thing that gave me pause when it came time to quit. I found that I could put up with a lot of short-term pain as long as I was well compensated.

Of course, this was an utterly miserable way to live my life, but I’d be lying if I said that money wasn’t a consideration. Ultimately, my desire to make a dent in the universe outweighed my desire for a comfortable lifestyle, but that isn’t the case for everyone.

For too many, the allure of comfort and the fear of financial hardship prevents them from ever making a positive change. My advice is to avoid getting too comfortable in a career that you know isn’t right for you.

Once you pass the metaphorical point of no return, you’ve committed yourself to a path that is both stifling and unfulfilling.

Learn to take risks

I’ll never forget the day I told my wife that I wanted to quit my well-paying job and start a company called BodeTree. She was months away from giving birth to our first child and here I was, proposing to eliminate any semblance of stability we had in our lives.

Still, despite the risks we both knew it was the right thing to do, and she gave me her full support. I was lucky in that when the opportunity for me to find my flow presented itself, I had the ability and support to take advantage of it.

Many people aren’t able to make that sort of a jump, and as a result, miss out on opportunities when they present themselves.

Fit leads to flow, and flow leads to ecstasis

Life is messy, difficult, and complicated. Nothing ever comes easy, and timing is rarely on your side. If you find yourself waiting for the perfect time or circumstances to make a change, you’ll never be able to move forward.

You have to get comfortable taking risks, both big and small if you want to find your perfect state of flow. This can be both scary and difficult, but risk and reward go hand in hand.

By putting yourself in the right mindset and aligning your skills with your endeavors, you make it easier to achieve the elusive flow state. It may not be as sexy or exciting as mastering transcendental meditation or experimenting with mind-altering drugs, but it just might prove to be a more sustainable path to achieving ecstasis.

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