A Festivus (at work) for the Rest of Us!

Festivus! A holiday celebration created by Seinfeld writer Daniel O’Keefe, which became a popular culture phenomenon when it was written into a 1997 episode of Seinfeld. Seinfeld fans, as well as, those who have never seen the show celebrate the unofficial holiday annually. Typically celebrated on December 23rd, Festivus is celebrated as an alternative to commercialism and the pressure of the traditional holiday season.

Keep reading to learn about traditional Festivus activities, and how to make them safe for your workplace this year!

festivusFestivus Pole

In contrast to your fully decorated office Christmas tree, a Festivus pole is a plain, unadorned aluminum pole. This is the ultimate symbol of Festivus, with no glitz or glamour. You can buy an official Festivus pole for the office from FestivusPoles.com, or go to your local hardware store and pick up a plain aluminum pole. However, in the anti-commercialism spirit of Festivus try to find an aluminum pole in an office closet or storage room.

Festivus Dinner

The official dish of Festivus is meatloaf! Although meatloaf might not be practical for your office Festivus celebration, why not turn it into a potluck. Ask everyone to contribute by bringing a dish. After all the importance of the meal is to prep for the Feats of Strength!

Airing of Grievances

Now this part of the celebration, although it created many comical TV moments, may not be work friendly for some. A few tips for including this in your work celebration are to remember to keep your grievances light-hearted, try to focus your grievances on celebrities and politicians and most importantly, remember that you need to keep your job!

Feats of Strength

Lastly, the Feats of Strength should follow your meal and Airing of Grievances. Although the traditional Feats of Strength wrestling match isn’t work appropriate, you can choose from some of these suggestions; arm wrestling, thumb wrestling, staring contest or board games.

 

The most important thing to remember when celebrating Festivus in the office is to be safe! We hope that you enjoy your Festivus celebration and have your share of Festivus miracles.

 

 

National Letter Writing Day

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you actually wrote a letter? Not an e-mail, or a text message, a paper and pen, envelope, and stamp, letter? For most of us the answer is “I don’t remember” or “third grade?” Well it’s time to get that pen and paper out, buy some stamps, and sit down to write because December 7th is National Letter Writing Day!

lettersLetter writing has a very long history; it can be traced back to ancient times in Egypt, India, Rome, and China. Only recently has society begun to correspond in 140 characters or less. Although you might not feel a need to write a letter to your family and friends (because they follow you on Twitter), let’s discuss who would still appreciate receiving a letter…Potential employers!

Writing a thank you letter after an interview is still an important use of the letter. Whether you actually mail the letter or attach it to e-mail in letter format is still hotly debated. The point is that potential employers love to hear words of gratitude from those they’ve interviewed.

Here are some tips when writing thank you letters.

Address the letter to your interviewer

Addressing your interviewer by name will reinforce to the potential employer that you are detail oriented. The best way to make sure you get the name and contact of an interviewer correct is to ask for a business card before leaving the interview.

Reaffirm your interest in the position and company

Let them know that you are still interested after the interview. Include a few highlights from the interview that reaffirm why you’re interested in the position. Make sure to be enthusiastic, but genuine.

Highlight your strengths

Was there something during the interview that made you think, “I would be really good at that?” Make sure the interviewer knows what it is! Tell him again what you would bring to his team, and why you’re a better fit than the other candidates.

In conclusion, don’t “write” sending letters off as an ancient art form, but use them to your advantage to wrap up a great job interview and land your dream job!

#ShopSmall: Small Business Saturday is Coming!

“Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores – these didn’t come out of nowhere.” – Paul Ryan

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Many of us will look forward to Black Friday Shopping after we eat our turkey this week. With so many deals and steals, who can resist? However, you should make sure to save some of your Christmas budget for November 26th and help celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop small and shop local. The event was first observed on November 27, 2010, and was sponsored by American Express. To this day, it is still a registered trademark of American Express and has been celebrated Saturday after Thanksgiving every year since 2010. In 2011, the United States Senate passed a resolution in support of Small Business Saturday.

The event has taken on its own life on social media through Facebook advertisements and “likes”, various hashtags such as, #SmallBizSat and #ShopSmall, and American Express sponsored ads for small business owners. According to American Express, in 2015, 95 million people went out to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Supporting local small businesses is both good for your community and good for the business owners. Small businesses are the backbones of many communities across the country. Are you planning to celebrate Small Business Saturday this year? American Express has provided us with this handy tool that allows you to easily locate your local small businesses, just click here! Although the point of Small Business Saturday is to visit brick and mortar shops, if you are an online shopper you can still find local business on their webpages and online shops like Etsy.

 

Have you shopped Small Business Saturday in the past? Share your favorite small businesses and products in the comments section!

4 Business Life Hacks to Make Life Easier

Who doesn’t like a good life hack? A way to make dinner, exercise, cleaning or another everyday activity easier. From apps to technology to organizational tips, the internet is full of ways to make your life easier. Today I want to show you a few life hacks that can help you stay organized at work, avoid interruption, and use technology to its fullest potential.

Business Hacks

Apps

Dropbox

If you don’t already have Dropbox, you don’t know what you’re missing. This app and website allow you to save, then access your files from anywhere you have the app or website access. You no longer have to worry about putting files on a flash drive or e-mailing them to yourself. Let Dropbox use cloud technology to help you.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a to-do list you can always have at your fingertips. Using this app you are able to make and share multiple to-do lists to help you manage your personal or professional life, as well as multiple projects. Who doesn’t like to check off items when working their way toward a goal?!

Organization

Erin Condren

For those of you who like to hold their to-do list in their hands; Erin Condren has a solution for you. The website’s “Lifeplanner” allows you to purchase a custom planner with inserts for just about anything. Custom additions range from custom post-it notes to wet erase to-do lists to interchangeable covers.

LastPass

Everyone forgets a password now and then; let technology help you. LastPass keeps your passwords organized for you by importing your passwords from all of your browsers to help keep you safe and organized. Also offered by Last Pass is credit and identity monitoring, cloud services and tech support.

Last but not least, treat yourself to this self stirring mug to make your morning pick me up even better!

Do you have any business hacks you use to get through your work day?

Office Etiquette: Halloween

As we reach the end of October things are starting to get spooky. Halloween is approaching and many of your coworkers may be ready to get into the holiday spirit. Halloween in the workplace can get a bit frightening if you’re not sure of Halloween office etiquette. Whether your workplace has an official Halloween celebration, or you like to bring the celebration to your own workspace, you should probably switch out your sexy pizza costume, for a more work appropriate peanut butter and jelly costume this year.

Halloween costumes for work

Since sexy costumes are out of the question, you may be asking yourself if it’s okay to put together something scarier. Experts suggest that a good rule of thumb is to skip the mask, excessive fake blood, or anything exceptionally gory in the workplace. This is mainly for safety purposes. It is best for the working environment if your coworkers can see your face, and know that you aren’t really hurt or in danger at work.

So you want to try out a new recipe you saw on Pinterest and bring some creepy treats into the office this year? Keep in mind regular office etiquette when it comes to bringing food into your workplace. Do you have a place to store the food safely? Also, try to be considerate of those with allergies by either avoiding the reaction causing ingredients or, at least, by adding a warning to your dish so that they can avoid it if necessary.

Most importantly, remember that you are at work! Unfortunately, a celebration isn’t a reason to avoid your work for the day. Don’t ignore your phone, e-mail, or other responsibilities just because you’re feeling spirited. You’re boss will still know which witch, ghost, or werewolf was responsible for your work, and why it didn’t get done. This could jeopardize future holiday celebrations for everyone!

 

Does your workplace have a Halloween party? Do you have a costume chosen for this year? Let us know in the comments!

3 Organization Tips for the Fall

“The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching.” — Enya

As summer comes rapidly to an end, many welcome fall with pumpkin festivals, haunted houses, and road trips to see the vibrantly colored trees as they shed their leaves and get ready for winter. Like the trees, many of us could use this time to ready ourselves for the winter by shedding our old habits and introducing new ways of organization for the end of the year.

bench-560435_960_720Set winter goals

Maybe you set goals this summer to go on vacation, unplug when you’re out of the office, or get your ideal beach body. Whether you met your summer goals or not, reset for the fall. You can get a jump start on your New Years Resolutions, define new career goals, or set goals for the holiday season.

Clean out your e-mail (or text messages)

As you spend more time inside this season, you may find that you are looking for a project or two. Take this time to go through your e-mails or text messages and get rid of what is bogging your inbox down. Answer messages to friends or acquaintances you’ve been putting off, make a lunch date, or just follow up and check in.

Take time to relax

Many of us have a bad habit of rushing. Rushing to meetings, rushing to dinner, to the forest-road-1345751_960_720gym, or to appointments. Take a step back this fall and take some time to relax. The summer is typically viewed as a time for vacations and relaxation, but you can’t forget to take some time during other seasons as well. Relaxation can make you happier, healthier and more productive.

These are three tips that can not only be used in the fall to reset yourself, but can be used every time the seasons change. Do you have any fall organization tips that you follow? Let us know!

3 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment

EMPOWER; (verb) to give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means.

This dictionary definition of empower probably makes you say… “I would love to be empowered at work, give me the power!” What would you change? Who would you hire? business-1564366_960_720Which problems would you solve first?

How can we take the definition of empower and use it to change the culture of the office? Let’s take a look at the business definition of empowerment.

EMPOWERMENT; (business definition) A management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance.

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”- Theodore Roosevelt

Now all of that is easier said than done. Let’s take a look at three ways a company can build a culture of empowerment.

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Find your passion
If employees can identify with a company’s passion or purpose, they can find passion in their work. Passionate and purposeful employees can help take an organization from “old school” to innovative due to extensive engagement in the business.

Invest in your employees 
Investing in your employees is as easy as giving them the proper tools, knowledge and training to do their job well. This will help everyone avoid the frustrations of not knowing the answer a customer’s question or concern. Proper training also leads to great innovation and process improvement through higher levels of thinking

Create a process for change
Empowering employees leads to changes in workplace culture. Why make these changes difficult? Clearly define to company employees the process for pitching an innovation or process improvement. The knowledge that change is possible and clearly defined will inspire employees to think about their role in the company.

Does your company foster a culture of empowerment? Do you have any suggestions for how your company could promote empowerment better?

Let’s Talk About Labor Day!

We all look forward to the first weekend in September, the kids have just gone back to school and everyone needs a break from their new hectic routine. While relaxing this Monday, take a minute to reflect on and honor the history of Labor Day.

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A Brief History

Labor Day, observed on the first Monday of September, is a celebration of the achievement and contribution of American workers. Labor Day was declared a federal holiday in 1894, but the tradition goes back a little further to the Industrial Revolution.

During the early days of the Industrial Revolution, 12-hour workdays were common, as well as seven-day workweeks. In some states, children as young as 5 would be working in dangerous positions for long hours. As time went on, workers in these conditions became more vocal about their rights and needs, they would organize strikes and protests to make their voices heard.

On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history. This event planted the seed that became Labor Day, states around the U.S. began to recognize the “workingmen’s holiday” and eventually Congress declared it to be an official holiday.

Ways to Celebrate

Attend a parade!

Take some time to relax and honor yourself and others who are contributing to American achievement. Many union workers and other laborers march in parades recognizing the history and significance of Labor Day.

Learn the history!

Dive deep into the history and learn more about the history of workers in America. You will develop an understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices American’s have given up in order to ensure the progress of the nation.

Expand your knowledge!

Read up on current worker’s issues. Some of these may apply to you or those that you know. Minimum wage, support for teacher’s, and wage theft are just a few topics to get you started. Make sure to read many viewpoints and form your own opinion on these topics.

How will you be celebrating this Labor Day? Leave some ideas in the comments!

 

Be a Back to School Leader this Year!

board-928378_960_720Whether your child is headed to school for the first year of kindergarten or the last year of high school, getting involved at school can help both you and your child become leaders in your community. Giving back at school is a great way to show interest in your child’s education, build their self-esteem and enrich your community.

Keep in mind that there are many opportunities within the school system and that not all volunteer opportunities are right for everyone. To decide which opportunities are right for you take into consideration your personal skill set, and the amount of time you have to dedicate to school involvement. Be sure to assess your options before committing to any long-term projects or activities. Below are a few ways you can volunteer inside and outside of the classroom.

In the Classroom:

  • Act as a classroom helper
  • Volunteer in the school library
  • Chaperone field trips
  • Mentor or tutor
  • Speak during Career Day

Outside of the Classroom:

  • Attend school board meetings
  • Coach sports teams
  • Volunteer to travel with the school band or orchestra
  • Lead the local Girl or Boy Scouts
  • Donate classroom supplies

pencil-918449_960_720Parent Teacher Association:

Many schools have Parent Teacher Associations (PTA). The PTA is an important part of the school system. The organization brings parents and school administrators together to discuss important school related issues including, budgets, curriculum, discipline issues, etc. There are various roles within the PTA that need to be filled including, President, Secretary, and Treasurer. If you do not have time to take a named role within the organization you can ask to serve on a committee of your interest. If you are interested in joining the PTA at your child’s school attending an open house, usually held in the beginning of the school year, is a great place to start.

Are you planning to volunteer this school year? Do you have any prior PTA experiences? Share additional ideas for getting involved at school in the comments!

How to Unplug When You’re on Vacation

“A vacation should be just long enough for the boss to miss you, and not long enough for him to discover how well he can get along without you.”
-JACOB MORTON BRAUDE

Do you have a vacation or even a staycation planned this summer? Do you plan to bring your work phone, tablet or laptop along with you? Take note of the quote above and take a break from your work as well! Here are some steps you can take to “unplug” while you’re on vacation this year.


cell-1344985_960_720Set Expectations

Discuss with your coworkers the fact that you will not be taking your work with you on your trip. Decide who will make decisions on pressing matters for you. This will help alleviate any anxiety you may have about leaving your work, as well as, save you some time when you return. If necessary, let them know where they can reach you in a true emergency.

Pick your Tech
Will you totally unplug from technology for the week? Or, will you still use your personal devices to connect with friends and family you might not have seen in a while? Maybe you can’t live without those vacation selfies! Decide what level of technology you will be using for the week. By making this decision before your trip you will be able to better stick with your unplugged lifestyle for the week.

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Turn off Reminders and Notifications
Just like you’ll be turning off your wake up alarms during a relaxing vacation, turn off other notifications. This includes; Facebook, Twitter, E-mail and maybe even your text message and phone call alerts. This will help you fight the urge to check your phone each time it makes a noise or you hear a vibration.

Finally, if you can get away with it completely leave your devices at home or plan a trip outside of cell service and WiFi. Disconnecting allows you to reset and refresh your outlook, body and mind. You’ll go back to work more focused!

Do you completely go off the grid while on a vacation away from the office? Or do you still tend to do some work here and there?