Tag Archives: relationships

Preparing for new year ambitions

December marks the joyous excitement leading up to Christmas, which is swiftly followed by New Year’s celebrations. If you are like 58% of the American population, then you have probably already started planning your resolutions for the new year. goalsAlmost 6 out of 10 people start off with the best of intentions to make significant differences in their lives over the following 12 months, but 80% of these have already failed by February.

The majority of resolutions involve health (healthier eating, losing weight, exercising more), money (saving money, spending less money, paying off debt), and spending more time with your friends and family.  Being more productive, and kicking other habits that you no longer want are also common goals that people set for themselves. With this in mind we wanted to take a look at some of the best apps out there that can help you to achieve your goals:

  1. Mint – A really great tool which is an aggregator that allows you to create and mintmaintain a comprehensive family budget. You have visibility of all of your household’s income and expenses, and can easily collaborate with other members of your family.
  2. Personal Capital – Similar to Mint, Personal Capital is a platform where you can track all of your finances. There are many standard capabilities such as calculating your net worth, monitoring debt, and tracking financial goals. Personal Capital has some great capabilities when it comes to planning for retirement through its Retirement Planner. This platform analyzes your investment portfolio (IRA’s, 401k, investment accounts, 529 funds) and provides feedback about your progress, stock allocations, and management fees.
  3. FitBit – Samsung Health, Google Fit, all of these are great fitness trackers which will allow you to set and monitor health trends such as heart rate, distance, steps, weight, and quality of sleep. Many health insurance companies have discounts and rewards available for customers who meet specified fitness goals within these platforms.fitbit.png
  4. Castbox/ Stitcher – One way to kill two birds with one stone is to listen to podcasts while you are exercising. This is a great way to take on new information while your mind is clear, and is also a great way to take your mind off of the stresses of your life.
  5. Blinklist – Many people set out with the goal of reading more books over the coming 12 months. There are some great tools out there that can make this habit much reading tableteasier than it has been in the past. E-readers such as Kindle and Nook provide you with the material you need, wherever you may be. You can buy new books, rent them from your local library, or even share them with friends. For those who are keen to broaden their knowledge, but are put off by the length of time required, there is a solution. Blinklist is a simple tool which provides you with book summaries that allow you to “read” books in just a fraction of the time it typically takes.
  6. Map My Run – This is one of the most popular fitness apps on the market, and it’s easy to see why. This program has a very simple user interface and is super simple to use. They have a goals section where you can set things such as the targeted number of runs per week, monthly miles, days run per week, or total miles over the course of the year. One of the most common goals is to complete 1000 miles within a calendar year.
  7. Ramsey Solutions – This is a platform of knowledge that is likely to be able to ramseyprovide you with valuable information to help you in areas where you need support. Dave Ramsey of The Total Money Makeover fame, started this company with purely financial advice. Since then, the program has developed opportunities for people to learn more about retirement, spending time with family, starting a new business, or making a career change.
  8. Local support groups – As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you are struggling with something that is really holding you back and you are looking for support, please connect with a local support group. This can be done through a simple Google search, can be recommended by your Doctor, and are often supported by community centers such as churches, fire stations, and fitness centers.

What are your resolutions for 2018, and what are some creative ways in which you are planning on keeping on track? We would love to hear your ideas, as well as be made aware of some excellent apps that can make such a huge difference in the pursuit of success. Until next time, stay focused, and Expect The Exceptional in everything that you do.



Homemade for the holidays

As a child, I used to really, REALLY look forward to opening gifts on Christmas morning.  I love surprises, so I was never one to search for gifts ahead of time.  I truly enjoyed guessing what was in those beautiful boxes!  Walking down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought and then spending an embarrassingly long time opening gifts from family – who could ask for anything better?  However, as a grown-up and parent, things have begun to change.  I now look forward to others opening the gifts I picked out for them more than anything else.  This year I have spent an added amount of time and love on a number of gifts, as I am making quite a few of them on my own!  I won’t get into details in case one of my family members is reading, but I have truly had such a wonderful time putting together these gifts that are straight from the heart.  Another added bonus to the homemade variety is the money it saves!  Now, admittedly, I am not making macaroni frames so I have had to spend a little.  But when I divide through the number of gifts I will be able to create, it is a very small amount of money per person, yet the gifts are going to mean so much more.  I hope.

Image result for homemade gifts funny

In case this is something that interests you, I have compiled a list of ideas for homemade gifts that will not make people put on a fake smile and look around for a non-existent receipt.  I hope it can be of some use to you this year!

  1. Drink kits – whether it is a hot cocoa kit for the kids, or a hot toddy kit for mom and dad, providing someone with all of the ingredients for a yummy winter drink is a great idea and something they will certainly use on those snowy nights ahead!  Yes, people probably have hot cocoa powder on hand, but do they also have marshmallows, crumbled peppermint and chocolate stirrer sticks in their pantry?  Probably not.  Other kits that are fun are ice cream sundae kits, cookie making kits, and even beer bread kits!  (My mom and I did this one year, just put the bread ingredients in a plastic bag, wrap it in burlap and attach a tag that says “just add beer!”)
  2. Ornaments – granted, these are a once a year gift and one they probably won’t get much use out of this year, but if they are made well enough, they will last for years to come.  This year, I spray painted small wooden shapes purchased at Michael’s, drilled holes in the top, mod podged pictures on the front and tied a ribbon!  So easy, and so durable!
  3. Coasters – I did these a couple of years ago and they were a big hit.  I purchased tiles from Lowe’s, but just found them online from my new favorite store Menard’s for only $.14!, and again mod podged pictures onto the front.  I also added felt pieces to the back to prevent scratching and now my family has adorable pictures of my children to place their drink glasses on!
  4. Spa gifts – depending on how natural and how homemade you want these to be, this could take a little more planning to purchase the required items.  But everyone uses lotion and shaving cream and lip balm, so wouldn’t it be great if you could provide them with a homemade version that actually works, and does not include all of those unnatural ingredients?  Amazon has everything you need to make a yummy smelling spa treat for the special people in your life.
  5. *Hats and scarves – this time of year, we are reminded that we can never have too many scarves, hats and mittens.  And if we can happen to find a pair of mittens that match, bonus!  What if we had the whole hat, mitten and scarf set still intact?  Oh right, that’s impossible.  So a matching set will always be a much appreciated gift, and they will think of you and feel thankful every time they put them on.
    *disclaimer: only choose this option if you are actually skilled at knitting or crocheting, and also only if you promise to use solid, neutral colors.  We don’t want to make people feel like the dog in the picture up above!

These are just a few ideas, but they all include a spoonful of love and that’s all anyone really wants this time of year!  Good luck, and please let me know how it goes in the comments!

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The right thing or the easy thing?

Do your employees always look to do the right thing, or do they look to do the easy thing? This past weekend we visited Nashville, TN to watch the Tottenham Hotspur game at the spurs logoNissan Stadium, as well as squeezing in a couple of site visits and meetings with clients for my husband’s business. It turned out that this was tax free weekend in TN so the resort that we stayed at had very limited availability when we booked it a couple of months ago. Due to the high number of visitors, we actually had to make three different reservations, one for the first night, one for the second night, and then a third for the remaining three nights. This would have meant 3 room changes during the course of our stay, which normally wouldn’t be a problem and would provide us with a clean condo each time, but when there are two young boys in the mix, as well as the fact that I am 6 months pregnant and it’s almost 100 degrees outside, remaining in the same room was much more appealing. When we arrived I asked the gentleman at check in if it was possible to stay in the same room for the duration of the stay, even if it meant having a slightly smaller unit. He took a very quick glance and informed me that there was no way that anything could be done as there were three different kinds of rooms involved with the reservation.

The following morning my husband went down to the front desk and asked again if anything could be done. The employee responded without even looking at the computer system and informed my husband that there was nothing that could be changed as they were very busy, and we should expect our new room to be available at 4pm. This makes life extremely difficult when you have to be out of your current unit by 10am and have 2 young children who are going to need naps, as well as refrigerated and frozen food which is going to be homeless for 6 hours.

This employee then left as her shift had come to an end. My husband went up to the desk and asked the newly arrived employee about the situation, and the response was completely different. Stacey checked the reservation system and noticed that the room that we were due to move into was a 2 bedroom lock-off which actually included the room that we were currently in, so there was actually no need to move anything! We would just open up the door between the two rooms and have double the space for that day! She also saw that the last reservation was actually the second half of the lock off by itself, so again no need to move a thing. My husband returned to the room with a cup of tea for me and the news that we had the comfort of remaining in the same unit for the duration of our trip.  Music to my ears!

If he had not asked the newly arrived employee, we would have gone through all of the hassle of packing up our belongings, our food spoiling, and our boys going without a nap, bored employeeonly to find that there was no need to move in the first place. This was a very simple thing but the first two employees just didn’t take the time to look into the situation, instead deciding to share canned responses with us. The second employee was about to end her shift, and sat with her jacket on and her bag on her back for 30 minutes before the clock struck 7am. She had no interest whatsoever in helping guests, she was just passing the buck with minimal effort until she could get out of the door.

The third employee thankfully had a focus on customer service, and wanted to do whatever she could to make our experience enjoyable. In the end, she actually didn’t have to change anything, as we had already been assigned connected rooms which meant there was no need to move. However, she took the time and effort to investigate the situation, and made our whole experience much more enjoyable.

In your position at your work, do you do what it takes to get the job done the right way, or do you just do enough to squeeze by and get to clocking off time? Do you have employees who are engaged enough that they will do whatever is needed to make the customer experience a special one? Or do you have employees who do the absolute minimum, and spend the last 30 minutes of their shift looking at the clock with their bag packed and ready to go, as many of us did back in school during the last hour of the day? How do you train this quality? Can it be trained? How do you develop a culture of providing impeccable service? What drives you to do the right thing, regardless of how long it takes, or the obstacles that might be in your way? We are eager to hear your thoughts on this, as well as examples where you have had similar experiences. Until next week stay safe, and expect the exceptional in everything that you do.


When it comes to customer service, these guys are winning.


Consolidated Communications – Our local cable company here in Overland Park, Kansas. These guys provide incredible customer service, are very receptive to feedback, have lightning fast response times, and deliver a very high quality product. Also, theyImage result for cable television have great promotions for new and existing customers, and go above and beyond to make your experience as positive as possible. This is especially nice as this is an industry in which I have experienced some very poor companies over the years, and am so happy to be with Consolidated.

ADP – We started using ADP to run our small business monthly payroll back in April 2010 and have been very impressed with them ever since. The customer service and portal are incredible, but the thing that I really appreciate is that they were able to customize a program to meet the needs of our small corporation. They are a huge organization, but they treat me uniquely, and go out of their way to make sure that we are taken care of and not boxed into using something that doesn’t meet our needs.

Sprint – These are one of the biggest employers in our community, and I have many friends that work there. Supporting a local company definitely plays a part in my decision, but the most important items are the exceptional customer service, great coverage which is constantly improving, and flexibility with services and pricing to meet my family’s needs. There is the ability to own or lease phones, great programs such as I-Phones for life, and they are constantly releasing new concepts.

Amazon  I am always amazed that a company of this size, with such a large number of employees, manages to offer amazing customer service each and every time I need it.  When something goes wrong with an order (which is rare), they always take care of the issue and go above and beyond to make it right, even if it was not their fault.

Southwest Airlines – Very few changes to flights means more convenience for travelers, lots of direct flights, great rewards program with Rapid Rewards, bags travel for free, Transfarency with no hidden costs, but most importantly is the company culture and the incredible employees who make flying with SWA such an enjoyable experience. Personally, I really appreciate the transparency with things and the flexibility that they provide to their passengers. Last month, I had a flight booked with SWA but when I went online I was able to find the flight at a lower cost. There was no charge to cancel and rebook, and the refund hit my account within 24 hours. These guys put the customer  first in every decision that they make.

My Doctor – This obviously is a huge decision in everyone’s life. I am so lucky to have such an incredible medical professional who listens and treats me as an individual, takes the time to make sure that my needs have been met, displays an incredible knowledge of her content, and shows genuine interest, rather than just doing what a textbook tells her to. She is extremely compassionate and has a great bedside manner which makes me feel very comfortable when visiting her.  I occasionally have to wait a little longer than expected, but I know this is because she is giving all of her attention to the patient she is with, and I can expect the same when I am in her office.

State Farm – my family do a lot of business with State Farm including auto insurance, home insurance, personal property, life insurance, 529 college savings funds, andstate-farm-logo personal retirement accounts. We have been with the same insurance agent for the past 4 years as he is reliable, honest, trustworthy, knowledgeable, dependable and always there when we need him. However, the thing that sold us on the front end was the fact that instead of just throwing a policy at us to make a quick buck, he took the time to get to know us, asked questions about our dreams and aspirations, and customized a program that would meet our needs and allow us to achieve our financial and personal goals.

Real estate agent – We found our Realtor by chance as we visited an open house, but her low pressure approach, knowledge, and outgoing personality made it an easy decision for us. She was able to get asking price for our place as well as negotiating on our behalf for our new home. She was always there for us during the process, which was especially helpful for myself, as I was the primary decision maker. The thing that has really impressed us with Megan is that she was not just after the sale, but was, and is still keen to develop a long lasting relationship.  Almost 3 years after purchasing our home, we still receive a newsletter and fun gift frequently, and now socialize with Megan and her family when our schedules allow!

Cantina Laredo – My husband and I stumbled across this little slice of heaven while in Branson, MO, celebrating my birthday. After quickly reading some online reviews, I Image result for cantina laredo branson modecided that this would be perfect venue for our family to celebrate this special day. From the moment we walked in we were taken care of by every member of the team. Eli, our sever, was spectacular. His knowledge and tenacity, combined with his outgoing personality and sense of humor created the perfect atmosphere for this occasion. Definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area and hungry for some excellent Mexican cuisine!

Go through each of the qualities listed above and see how many of them you and your company are currently doing, you might surprise yourself! Qualities such as being knowledgeable, diligent, trustworthy, honest, and understanding have allowed Royal Services to evolve into one of the nation’s leading facility maintenance companies, and we hope that these ideas will help you take your company to the next level.

Make sure you and your team are not only attracting new customers, but also retaining those that you already have. New customer acquisition is much more expensive and much less enjoyable than taking care of your existing clients.


Remember Who You Are — Millionaire’s Digest

Some really amazing ideas discussed here all centered on The Lion King and the Circle of Life. What more could you ask for?! Thank you Aui!

sisir ghosh search for value to enlighten life

I guess the young kiddos reading this article still recall this scene from The Lion King Movie when Rafiki told Simba that his father was still alive and later show him where he was. Here is how their conversation goes:

via Remember Who You Are — Millionaire’s Digest

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Investing in yourself, a guaranteed win

Most people think that investing in the stock market is the best thing that they can do for their financial future. However, investing in yourself is significantly more important for a variety of reasons. Today we look at 11 ways in which you can do just that. 

(1) Get a mentor – Find someone who you respect, has a track record of success, and is beard-2286440_960_720willing to help you grow. You are essentially searching for a personal coach who can help guide you through the many minefields you will encounter throughout your career. Find someone who has been there and done that so that they can save you time, effort and money. This doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who is closely tied to the position that you occupy and the industry that you work in. Working with an “outsider” can be extremely beneficial as they have no bias and are naturally more inquisitive to understand your business more. Another benefit of finding someone outside of your company is they don’t have a personal stake in your success, meaning they give you unbiased feedback, share their experiences, and offer the support system that you need to take your career to the next level.

Tip: Your mentor doesn’t have to be older than you! They also don’t have to be in the same line of work. They just need to be successful and be willing to share their secret sauce with you! 

(2) Join a group or organization – This can have multiple benefits as there are many different opportunities that typically arise from surrounding yourself with similar minded people who have common goals in place. You could join a professional organization such as the NSCAA, your local IFMA chapter, or the nearby Chamber of Commerce. All of these will provide you with opportunities to share problems with professionals in similar positions as well as giving you multiple opportunities to network and participate in industry specific workshops and trainings. Associated benefits include newsletters, discounts, the chance to be recognized for your work, and access to thousands of people in the same boat as you.

Tip 1: If there isn’t a group that fits your needs, create one!

Tip 2: Attend your first event as a guest to see if it is something that you see value in before committing financially. 

(3) Volunteer –  Besides the good you will be doing for others, another major benefit of donating your time and efforts is the associated feel-good factor which can significantly improve your health and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

Tip: Volunteer for something that means something to you, and as above, if it doesn’t currently exist, create it!

(4) Work sponsored professional development opportunities

Speak to your HR department to see how they are prepared to support their employees in their pursuit of professional development. If you can demonstrate how the training will benefit the company, the impact it will have on your work performance, and the total cost of your venture, you should be able to secure financial support.

Tip: Try to find online classes as well as training sessions that are held outside of work hours to minimize disruption to your work schedule and responsibilities. 

(5) Listen to a podcast

woman-977019_960_720If you can’t find anything that fits your needs, create your own podcast! This could even be a collective effort where you collaborate with a couple of other individuals to discuss current issues in your industry.

Tip: Save time and look after your health by listening to a podcast while walking, running or biking. 

(6) Participate in webinars

There are many free webinars that are available online these days, and many of these are available at multiple times throughout the day. The typical structure is that they have the webinar live during work-hours, but upon it’s conclusion a recording is sent to all registrants so that they can watch it in their own time.

(7) Watch a YouTube video

I think that there is a “how to” YouTube video out there for any need that you can think of. My husband and I repaired our washing machine a couple of months ago by following step by step instructions by an appliance repair store who had posted the video on their Facebook page.

Tip: Search for industry leading companies and individuals and see what they are creating or watching.

(8) Read 

You can read fiction books to feed your imagination, or you can read non-fiction and books-1701522_960_720professional development books that will provide you with ideas that you can integrate into your daily activities. You could also look into starting a book-club with colleagues or friends where you get together monthly to discuss how you can take the ideas presented in the book and add them into your workplace.

Tip: If you aren’t able to get together to discuss in person, you can use applications such as Skype and Microsoft Teams for face to face interactions. 

(9) Take a class or seminar

These are available all over the place! A good starting point is to visit an industry specific membership group such as IFMA is you are a facilities manager. You can then view and register for training events that meet the criteria that you have in place. You can Google nearby events, and you can also communicate with fellow professionals for recommendations.

Tip: There are many great classes out there that are available for free from platforms such as Alison and Coursera.

(10) Have a monthly expert present at your place of work

This is something that has had tremendous success for many reasons. The best aspect is giving a presentationthat it can be held at your place of work so that everyone can attend. It’s also great as the content can be tweaked to hit the key ideas that you are looking for support with. Any questions that are asked are relevant to your business, and you will be able to have great follow up conversations with your teammates who were in attendance. Find someone who is an expert in the area that you are focusing on, reach out to them, and see what it would take for them to present to your team.

Tip: Many professionals will be honored to be considered for this opportunity, and they are typically very motivated by the new clients that can emerge from the interaction. 

(11) Attend industry specific trade-shows

This is a great way to keep up to date with industry trends, rub shoulders with potential clients, meet strategic partners, and to get a better understanding of what your prospective customers are looking for.

Tip: Many trade-shows provide free access to the exhibit hall where you will have the opportunity to connect with vendors, see demonstrations, sign up for newsletters, and enter drawings for some cool gear!


I’m glad I did vs. I wish I had

Will you look back on life and say “I wish I had” or “I’m glad I did”?

Taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves is crucial to our success journey. We shouldn’t shy away from opportunities that require us to step out of our comfort zone, yet we often do. Are you the kind of person who is a little more reserved race-695303_960_720and conservative, and in hindsight find yourself thinking “I wish I had”? Or are you more courageous and inquisitive, always striving for new ideas and experiences and frequently experience the thought of “I’m glad I did”?

When my husband first walked into Greg Aldridge’s State Farm office 4 years ago, I don’t think he had any idea what a huge moment in his life it would turn out to be. He was looking to get a new quote on his auto insurance and walked into Greg’s office with the goal of saving a few dollars. It just so happened that this was the first day of Greg’s ownership of this State Farm agency. Greg is a third generation State Farm agent, who had been working for the corporate office in Oklahoma, but recently purchased the book of business from the previous owner who was retiring. As my husband entered the “office” he had to stop and make sure he had gone into the correct building, as Greg had just started remodeling the entire space, which looked more like a building site than a professional establishment.

Jamie put his current insurance policy on Greg’s desk and asked if Greg could do it cheaper. Greg said that he could definitely get a lower priced policy for Jamie, but also state-farm-logosaid that it wouldn’t be worth anything if an accident were to occur. Instead of taking the easy sale, Greg offered us the chance to meet with him, and this is definitely one of the strongest “I’m glad I did” experiences that we have had. Neither of us knew anything about auto insurance as our previous policies were from online only providers and the only thing that mattered was price. This was a very naive approach to something so important, and we will forever be grateful for the knowledge that Greg has shared with us.

In our meeting with Greg, he first asked questions to find out more about our lives and what mattered to us, so that he could create insurance policies that would adequately cover our loved ones if something were to happen. We ended up leaving Greg’s office with auto, home-owners, and life insurance policies, and continue to develop both our professional and personal relationship with Greg, his family, and his incredible team. We both vividly remember Greg introducing the idea of “I’m glad I did, rather than “I wish I had” in our initial engagement, and this is something that we both frequently think about when making big decisions in our lives.

For some reason this isn’t the only time that we have experienced the “I’m glad I did” feeling in the area of 87th and Pflumm in Lenexa. On February 5th, 2010 on a cold winter’s night, I entered Tanners Bar and Grill for a couple of post-work drinks with a colleague. Little did I know that later that night I would meet the man who is now my husband and father of our two incredible sons.  I wasn’t overly excited about venturing out in the snow, and Jamie almost went to Callahans on the opposite side of the street, but for some reason we both entered the same establishment and will be forever grateful that we both made the decisions that we did. Life is full of moments where you have tough decisions to make, and my advice to you is to always think about the incredible things that can happen when you get out of your comfort zone and are open to new opportunities.

Everyone in their life frequently uses the phrases “I’m glad I did” or “I wish I had”, sometimes without even realizing it. If you think about it for 30 seconds I imagine there will be several scenarios like this that will immediately enter your mind. You might have planned a vacation and declined travel insurance, only to have to reschedule your vacation costing you hundreds of dollars in change fees. It might have been stretching the budget to go and visit a sick loved which turned out to be the last time you saw them. It might have been spending that extra $19.95 per month for OnStar which came in handy when your spouse and children found themselves stranded and needed mechanical assistance. Or it might have been that time you finally plucked up the courage to leave your dead-end job behind, and pursue your dreams of owning your own business.youth-active-jump-happy-40815

Next time you find yourself at a crossroads in your life and are faced with a difficult decision to make, think about all of the positives that could come from getting out of your comfort zone. What’s the biggest “I’m glad I did” experience of your life? What is the biggest disappointment that you have experienced where you have found yourself thinking “I wish I had”? Life is full of difficult decisions, but next time you are faced with one, think about all of the incredible things that could happen if you get out of your comfort zone. I know that you are all thinking “I’m glad I did” after reading this article! Until next time, Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do.