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“You got the spreadsheets? Your zen?”: Meditation in the Workplace
by On April 5, 2017

Nothing. Millions of dollars are flooding into meditation: the industry of essentially teaching people how to do nothing. So, why not incorporate that into my blogs? Ready? Breathe deep. Close your eyes. Say, “Om.”

Okay, so it might be a little harder than that: actually, way harder than that, and that’s because meditation is a legitimate practice. It’s recent trip from hippy taboo to mainstream trend is in large part due to studies showing legitimate benefits to practitioners well-being.

 

These developments in this niche of the health and fitness industry provide a lot of opportunities. Innovators and high level executives have long used meditation to increase their own performance, and with the right culture in place, you and your employees can reap those same benefits by practicing meditation in the workplace.

Meditation and Business Skills

The exact boost that meditation provides is so intangible that it is tough for many to describe. However it boils down to increased focus, determination, and compassion. Meditation provides a forum for you and your employees to ground yourselves and eliminate distractions that hinder performance. It also can reinforce purpose, motivating a workforce. Lastly, it can take others outside themselves to see the troubles of others, taking teamwork from a cliché poster to an actual practice in the office.

How to Incorporate Meditation in Business

Meditation in the workplace does not have to be a time consuming affair. Granted, the greater emphasis you put on it, the greater benefits you will receive, but if focused meditation sessions can be as short as two minutes. Employers don’t even have to invest money into learning or teaching meditation. Riding meditation’s wave of popularity, two very popular apps, Headspace and OMG I Can Meditate! , have made it possible for anyone with a smartphone to have access to a spiritual guide.

 

What’s more important than the investment of resources, is simply creating a culture that emphasizes well-being, where employees can dedicate ten minutes to meditation without feeling guilty for not staring at their screen.

Meditation may just be the health world’s latest fad, but it’s benefits have long been what great companies foster in their employees. Those that can cut through the connotations and unneeded fluff of meditation, can use the tool to drive success.

The Best Apps for Boosting Brainpower
by On March 29, 2017

The Best Apps for Boosting Brainpower

Did you ever think that playing computer games could improve your memory and cognitive function? If so, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that with daily use, some apps may increase your brainpower. There are various different reasons why someone would want to boost their brainpower. For instance, keeping your mind sharp is a great way to reduce the chance of getting Alzheimer’s with old age. Boosting your brainpower won’t necessarily change your life, but it can improve your mental state and decrease stress. Take a look through some of the most popular brain boosting apps.

Lumosity

First of all, Lumosity may be one of the most well known and popular apps that claim to increase brainpower. The app itself is split into different sessions of games, which you can tailor to your particular goals. Some categories you can pick from are, memory, attention, problem solving and so on. Each game you play is against the clock and continually changes each time. Simply playing one session a day is said to improve your mental skills. Plus, you can track your progress and even compare that with other people.

CogniFit Brain Fitness

As the name implies, this app will help you enhance your cognitive abilities like memory and concentration. The games are designed by neuroscientists, but don’t let that scare you away. They are highly addictive, and super fun so you’re sure to boost your brainpower playing them. Plus, you can check in on your progress and challenge friends. In the beginning, you’ll take a quiz, so the games are geared towards your and your difficultly level.

Personal Zen

Sometimes, boosting your brainpower isn’t all about solving a series of puzzles. In Personal Zen, you follow the story of two cartoon characters. One is a happy go lucky character, while the other is angry. Interestingly, this app was developed to train your brain to focus on the positive and reduces anxiety. Especially if you’ve got a stressful event coming up, this app could be very useful.

Brain Trainer Special

Next, Brain Trainer Special helps with memory. In fact, the games are very similar to those in Lumosity and focus on memorizing sequences and solving math problems. There are different degrees of difficulty, which can range from pretty easy to omg that’s difficult. An added benefit is that this app can be downloaded for free.

Happify

Now, this is an app I can really get behind! Research has shown that certain activities can actually help you to lead a happier life. The goal of Happify is to teach users to conquer negative thoughts through games, quizzes, and a gratitude journal. Plus, they boast a whole community that focuses on positivity.

Food for thought: Nourishment for a Healthy Brain
by On March 22, 2017
The food that we eat on a daily basis can affect how we feel, not just physically but mentally as well. Over time, our bodies will inevitably age. But with the right diet, you can ensure you have a healthy brain for a very long time. In fact, it’s been shown that antioxidant-rich foods, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals are essential for a healthy brain. These foods will provide energy and work to prevent certain brain diseases. However, not all health food is created equal. This list is some of the best foods to keep your brain in tip-top shape.

Blueberries

Who doesn’t love blueberries? They are such a tasty little treat, some people refer to them as “nature’s candy”. Plus, they are incredibly good for you because they are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. As a matter of fact, there have been studies that show incorporating blueberries into your diet decreases short term memory loss. In addition, blueberries can help reduce the effects of Alzheimers or dementia.

Egg Yolks

Poor egg yolks have gotten a bad rap in the health world. For years it’s been the belief that only the whites of eggs should be eaten to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But, that’s slowly been changing as we’re becoming more aware of what yolks can offer us. Choline is the main ingredient found in egg yolks, which is especially good for pregnant women. Choline helps aid in the development of a fetus’s brain. Also, egg yolks are important for a healthy brain and can make you happy. It’s true, they break down chemicals that produce hormones linked to happiness.

Salmon

Next, fans of seafood rejoice! Salmon is one of the best foods for a healthy brain. It’s filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which have gained good traction in the health community. Good fats keep your brain running as smoothly as possible, and increase your memory. If you consistently have brain fog, it may be due to a lack of omega-3’s. Plus, wild caught salmon can also help prevent cancer.

Nuts

Similarly, many nuts have omega-3’s in addition to vitamin E. Nuts are another one of those foods that help prevent cognitive decline. That means less chance of getting Alzheimer’s in the future. Additionally, nuts or nut butter is super easy to snack on during the day.

Avocados

Lastly, avocados are up there with blueberries in terms of healthy brain foods. While it’s true that avocados are full of fat, it’s monounsaturated fat which is the healthy kind. The fat found in avocados help with healthy blood flow. Also, they lower blood pressure which is good for a healthy brain.
This is only a short list of the most brain healthy foods. When planning meals, try to get a healthy balance of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
Successful Women in Business
by On March 15, 2017

Meg Whitman

In the business world, women are making themselves known. But it’s not easy to make it to the top, especially for a woman. The gender gap still plays a huge role in today’s world whether we like to admit it or not. However, that doesn’t stop these incredible business women. In honor of International women’s day last week, we decided to highlight just a few business women.

Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman has been a huge part of the business realm since the 1980s. She held higher up positions in companies such as Disney, Dreamworks, Proctor & Gamble, and Hasbro. What’s more impressive is that she executed a very high-profile split at Hewlett-Packard, where she was CEO. Now, there are two companies, HP Enterprises which is software and tech services, and HP Inc. whose main focus is on personal computers and printers. Currently, she is the CEO of HP Enterprises and serves on the board for HP Inc. But that’s not all, she is also very political and ran for governor of California in 2010.

Indra Nooyi

With multiple bachelors degrees, an MBA, and a masters degree, Indra Nooyi is a force to be reckoned with. She first joined PepsiCo in 1994 and gradually worked her way up. As a matter of fact, she was named CFO and president by 2001. A mere 6 years later she was named the CEO. In addition, PepsiCo has seen a 72 percent increase in revenue since 2001. Indra Nooyi was the driving force behind acquiring companies such as Tropicana, Quaker Oats, and Gatorade. Plus, she has consistently made lists for the most powerful women.

Ginni Rometty

Ginni Rometty

Ginni Rometty started her career in business at General Motors Institute after she graduated in 1979. Shortly after, in 1981 she became a systems engineer for IBM at the Detroit office. She has climbed the corporate ladder at IBM, and in 2011 Rometty became the first woman CEO there. Also, the next year Samuel Palmisano retired as chairman, and Rometty took that role as well. She’s been ranked on the top of the 50 most powerful women in business for 10 years.

Abigail Johnson

Last but not least, we’ll take a look at Abigail Johnson, the current CEO, chairman, and president of Fidelity. It’s known that her father Edward, the previous CEO, groomed Abigail from a young age. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that she’s an all around powerhouse. When she first became CEO in 2014, she swiftly cut costs and fired incapable managers. Oh, and did I mention she is one of the wealthiest women in the world?

Left Brain or Right Brain. Which is Better?
by On March 8, 2017

For the most part, the two sides of our brain work differently in the way that information is processed. In fact, most people lean towards one way of thinking more than the other. However, that doesn’t mean that one way is better than the other. But what exactly does it mean to be “left brained” or ” right brained” anyway?

The Lefties

Interestingly, it is said that people who are more logical and analytical favor their left hemisphere. Do you love making lists and planning things out? I know I do. That’s also a characteristic of the left side. Typically, if you’re left brained it means you are skilled at math or science and like sequencing ideas. Also, you’d be more prone to rational thought and make decisions without getting feeling or emotions in the way. Everything has to be well-documented and the left brained likes to read directions. Another interesting trait is that they are dog people. Although, I don’t know how much merit there is to that one. In addition, the lefties also have a different learning style. They enjoy learning in order, or sequences and are very realistic. In a classroom, they like to work by themselves.

The Righties

On the other hand, it is said that those who favor the right brain are the creative ones. And, there is some truth to that. When it comes to planning, they definitely prefer to live more spontaneously. Perhaps the right brained are more disorganized, even. They tend to think and act on their feelings rather than rational thought. In general, they are much more emotional. But, like I said they are more creative. Usually, they’re good at sports, enjoy writing non-fiction, and love music. Not to mention most enjoy creating art in some form or another. A right brained person probably doesn’t like reading directions and solves problems intuitively. Additionally, they are said to be cat lovers. When it comes to learning, they thrive with hands-on activities and with visuals. They love working on projects in groups and interacting with others. Also, they think more about the big picture than the small details.

Two Become One

Reading both lists, I definitely have characteristics of both and wouldn’t necessarily say I’m one or the other. The same is probably true for a lot of people. The key is to strengthen the side of your brain that isn’t favored. Who says you can’t write a non-fiction story if you’re a left brainer. Just like anything, the more you practice the better you’ll become.

Fun company outing ideas
by On March 1, 2017

Team building exercises or the annual company outing doesn’t have to be a drab affair. Does your staff need a little pick me up? Long gone are the days of dreading quality time with your coworkers. Especially since a lot of companies are seeking different and more creative ways to inspire their staff. Not only does a good company outing help your employees bond, but it can help reduce stress around the office. Plus, they’re just plain fun! For some great ideas, check out the list below.

Volunteering

First of all, offering up your services to a cause that may really need it feels spectacular. But sharing that experience with other people is a really great way to bond. In addition, there are so many different organizations out there that you’ll never run out of ideas. For instance, activities that require people to work together include building a house for habitat for humanity. Or, for those animal lovers consider helping out at a local animal shelter.

Who Dun It?

Secondly, a really fun company outing is a mystery dinner. Depending on the size of your company, you may need to go in groups. The idea is that your employees enjoy a great meal, sometimes up to 4 courses, while trying to solve a murder mystery! This is just all around a great company outing, and sparks interesting conversation.

Escape

Next, escape rooms are gaining so much popularity lately. The idea is that a number of people go into a room. There are clues and puzzles that have to be solved within a certain time frame in order to “escape the room”. An escape room is a great bonding experience because you have to work together to solve everything. To up the ante, give a prize to the fastest time!

Kayak

For the outdoorsy type, a kayaking trip can be a great way to work together. In fact, it takes a lot of effort to paddle the right way, and prevent your team from going in circles. Encourage people to kayak with those they don’t normally interact with at work. If you’re interested in something not as fast paced, a canoe might be your cup of tea.

Become a tourist

Yes that’s right, get out there and doing something ultra touristy. Your city may have some great things to offer and you should embrace it. For instance, duck tours are really fun and slightly embarrassing but you’ll probably learn something new. Inspire your staff to be goofy and laugh at themselves.

Get Cooking

Additionally, nothing brings people together quite like food. Instead of making a company outing to a restaurant or bar, have everyone cook for themselves. I’m talking about taking a cooking class! It entails following directions and working together to create something delicious. And, the best part is that when you’re done you get to eat.

Sweat

Get that blood pumping. Organize a company wide yoga session, day hike, or workout. Exercising helps alleviate stress and you feel great afterwards. Also, you’ll find that your staff will encourage each other to succeed and reach their goals.

Do you Remember? Brain Boosting Tips
by On February 22, 2017
I’ve never encountered someone with a perfect memory. Not that I can remember, anyway. Everybody is a little bit different when it comes to memory retention. But there are ways to improve your memory, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting something important.

Workout your Brain 

Firstly, just like a regular workout, you need to stimulate your brain in different ways to keep it healthy. The more time you spend working out your brain, the better your memory will get. However, the activity should be something new to you, that’s how you strengthen your brain. In addition, a great brain exercise will be something that is challenging and requires your full attention. Find activities that start at an easy level, and get progressively more difficult as you improve. Most importantly, find activities that are not only challenging but interesting to you.

Workout your Body

Second, physical exercise is just as important as mental exercise. So don’t neglect the gym! Staying active will ensure that your brain stays sharp. Not only does exercise increase the oxygen to your brain, but it also reduces stress. As a general rule, any sort of exercise that gets your blood pumping is good for your brain. Also, a morning workout can help get rid of morning fog and prep your brain for the rest of the day.

Get to Bed

In order to avoid sleep deprivation, you should be getting a solid 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night. As a matter of fact, getting even a few hours a sleep can negatively affect your memory. For this reason, make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Don’t break your routine, even if it’s a weekend and you feel like sleeping in. Additionally, melatonin is a hormone that makes you sleepy and is suppressed by certain light. Try to avoid any sort of screen such as a TV or phone at least an hour before bed. Also, limit your caffeine intake. Needing caffeine can be a vicious cycle, keeping you up at night but then you might need it to wake up the next day.

Hang Out With Friends

Most people are pretty sociable beings. Some good news for those chatterboxes, meaningful relationships with others is very beneficial to memory retention. In fact, there have been studies that show those with the most active social calendar have a slower rate of memory decline.

De-stress

Not only is stress, well, stressful, but it can also lead to memory loss. Continued stress over a long period of time will destroy brain cells. To combat this, try to focus on one task at a time and don’t forget to relax. Many find solace in meditation which has been said to actually improve memory.

Laughter is the Best Medicine 

It’s true, laughter is great for your emotional health and can help with memory retention. Learn to laugh at your embarrassing moments and share with others. Also, surround yourself with others that can find humor in everything. You know what they say about laughter being contagious.

Diet

For the most part, your diet should consist of a nice balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and of course healthy fats. Eating this way is good for your brain and will help with memory retention.
Successful Family Owned Businesses
by On February 15, 2017
There are a lot more family-owned businesses than you might think. Some of today’s largest companies are owned and operated by families. In fact, over 30% of businesses with sales over $1 billion are family run. However, working with family members isn’t always easy. Companies that are successful got to that point because of hard work and determination. Some say that it shows great maturity if you’re able to work with family. Interestingly, more and more women are taking over family owned businesses. Traditionally, the first born son would take over the business. In this week’s blog, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the most successful family owned businesses.

Walmart

First, Walmart may be the most well-known family business there is. It was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and is still run by the Walton family today. The growth was incredible, and within the first five years, Walmart went from one store in Bentonville, Arkansas to 24 stores all across Arkansas. In addition, Walmart has become one of the top retailers with sales well into the billions.

Nike

Nike was founded by Phil Knight in 1964 and was originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports. The company grew into one of the most successful athletic apparel and accessory businesses in the world. In the beginning, employees sold shoes out of their cars. However, in 1966 Nike opened it’s first brick and mortar store and that was no longer a job requirement. Additionally, the very famous Nike swoosh was first used in 1971. Throughout the companies ups and downs, Phil Knight was the chairman until 2015 when he announced he would be stepping down. To keep the family legacy alive, his son Travis Knight will be taking a seat on the board.

Volkswagen

Secondly, we’ll take a look at the German automaker, Volkswagen. The company has been around since the 1930’s, a time when most vehicles being produced were luxury cars. Therefore, the majority of germans were unable to afford vehicles. On the other hand, Volkswagen (with the help of Adolf Hitler) encouraged people to save money every week until they could afford a car. Currently, Volkswagen is the largest automaker in the world and ranked seventh on the Fortune Global 500 list.

Ford

Next, the Ford Motor Company has been around since 1903 and was founded by Henry Ford. The company was the first to introduce large-scale manufacturing for vehicles using assembly lines. Also, Ford has been family run for over 100 years. Unfortunately, the 2008 financial crisis lead to hard times for the business. But, the company has and continues to make a strong comeback.

Comcast

The Comcast Corporation is widely known for being one of the largest telecommunications company in the world. The Roberts family have had the controlling stake since 1963 when it was known as American Cable Systems. Despite having a reputation for not so stellar customer service, Comcast has continued to grow. In fact, the CEO is one of the highest paid executives in the U.S.

Sales tips for the Startup
by On February 8, 2017
Owning your own business can be extremely rewarding. How many people do you know that wish they were their own boss? On the other hand, it’s not always easy. A lot of work gets put into owning your own business. In addition, marketing your business correctly can lead to financial success. Done incorrectly, and you may feel like you’re throwing money away. If you weren’t born a salesperson, never fear. We’ve compiled a list of sales tips for the startup.

Listening skills

First of all, listening is one of the most important sales tips. Rather than going straight into a sales pitch, let your customer talk. Sometimes, you’ll find that they need something completely different. Ask questions and listen to their answers. Consequently, you’ll be more able to recommend a product that will fit their needs. Plus, this approach is more personal, and customers appreciate that.

Build awareness

Secondly, market your product or business right away. A lot of businesses wait until their product launch day before they do any sort of marketing. Not a good idea! How do you expect to start selling right away if people don’t know anything about your product? If there is no demand, you’ll waste a lot of time and money fixing that. However, marketing campaigns before a product launch will prevent that issue.

Get Social

This section is really two parts. To begin with, take advantage of social networks. Use websites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to make yourself known. In today’s world, people love to shop online and interact online. Talk to your customers and build relationships with them in a digital arena. Things like that don’t go unnoticed and could lead to more referrals and sales. Similarly, connect with peers and local business owners in the real world. Scope out some networking events and meet new people. The more you network, the bigger reach you’ll have for your business. In other words, become a social butterfly.

Don’t Focus on competition 

Additionally, try not to focus on the competition. That energy is better spent on your customers. There is always going to be competition, the important thing is how you handle that. Also, market the benefits of your product, not a comparison. Make sure you highlight the ways that your product will improve your customer’s life. Simply saying that your product is better doesn’t tell the user why.

Measuring success

Lastly, an important tip for startups is making sure you are able to measure the results of your marketing campaigns. If you are marketing your product blindly, there is no way to tell what’s working and what isn’t. If you’re not tracking, you could potentially be wasting money on marketing that doesn’t increase sales. For that reason, implement a way to measure your results. In addition, do some market research by running smaller campaigns. That way if they are unsuccessful you’re not spending a ton of money, but you still learn in the process.
Mind Your Business Manners
by On February 1, 2017
Relationships are the heart of a successful business, and in relationships, manners matter. Business etiquette goes a long way in maintaining existing connections and forming new ones. Traditional etiquette practices are still important today, but digital technology presents new considerations. It doesn’t take long to brush up on your etiquette and learn to mind your business manners.

Conversation balance

As a leader, you have a lot to say, but some people say too much. Not only is finding balance in a conversation polite, but it’s the best way to have a productive discussion. One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to dominate the conversation, spending more time talking about themselves than taking an interest in the person across the table. People who habitually dominate a conversation come across as self-absorbed. This is a turnoff for prospective employees, potential clients and current business partners.
The opposite extreme of conversation balance can also be true. Not sharing enough can be just as damaging as talking too much. Leaders who don’t contribute to discussions won’t be able to promote their ideas, share their goals and guide their employees. Their lack of participation can make them seem uninterested or unintelligent. Good conversationalists find the balance between dominance and weakness in a discussion.

Phone attention etiquette 

Communication methods have expanded with technology, and now many business conversations take place online. Business leaders have an obligation to stay connected to their partners, employees and clients. It’s a big responsibility that requires a lot of time and attention, but some people go overboard and come across as impolite. Constantly checking text messages, emails and voicemails is rude and frustrating during a face-to-face interaction. While you’re checking your messages, you’re sending the message that you don’t value the person who is right in front of you. The best practice is to set your phone aside and focus your attention on having a productive conversation in real life.

Online communication

Online communication is standard for every business. In some cases, the only contact you will have with customers is via an Internet platform, whether it’s social media, email or an instant messaging service. Messages should reflect the company’s identity and values across all platforms. Understanding how each different social media application is used will help you have an effective online presence and dodge social media blunders. Since every business has their own standards and policies for online engagement, it’s impossible to set strict rules. There are some general guidelines, however, that are applicable for every business.
Emails should be concise and professional, using correct grammar. They should always include a subject line and a sign-off to keep everything organized and avoid confusion. On social media platforms, it’s important to keep business and personal accounts separate. Monitor them regularly, because consumers expect prompt responses. Late replies or ignored inquiries will be seen as rude. Posts should be short and to the point, with correct punctuation and spelling. When you engage with consumers and business partners over an instant messaging platform, the conversation should be a brief exchange of information. This is best for problems and questions that can be easily resolved.

Etiquette in the little things

Even with the rise of digital communication, traditional etiquette practices continue to be relevant. Make an effort to learn the names of employees and partners at every level. These people are the foundation of your success, and this small gesture will show that you value their support and contribution to your business. Refrain from badmouthing the competition, employees or clients. You never know who is listening, and this can leave a strong negative impression. Sending a personalized thank you note might seem old fashioned, but it’s an easy way to build a positive reputation.
Successful leaders learn to invest in their relationships with partners, employees and consumers. Etiquette is an important part of that. Business etiquette today is built upon traditional practices and adjusted to accommodate digital advancements. Whether you’re building new connections or maintaining old ones, don’t forget to mind your business manners.