This time of year, giving back is on the forefront of our minds. As we look around at our own situations, we often feel blessed for all of the good in our lives. This feeling is sometimes followed by guilt, remembering that not everyone has so much to be thankful for. Consequently, we begin to wonder: what can I do to give back? In case you have asked that question lately, here is a list of ideas to get you started!
Local church – whether you belong to a church or not, they are always looks for volunteers to help with various things, as well as donations of clothing or food.
Participate in a charity fundraiser – find an organization that is close to your heart and run in the 5K, or volunteer at one of their fundraising events.
Volunteer as a coach in the local parks and recreation sports program – this is a great way to get involved in the community, as well as give a child a role model that they may be needing in their life! In Johnson County, KS you can simply lg on to the parks and rec website for opportunities.
Salvation Army bell ringer at Christmas
Lead a charity event at your place of work – This is great for team building. Check out Royal’s website to learn about the different community outreach programs in which they have become involved, it’s a great place to get ideas!
Clean up – Volunteer your time in helping to clean up the local school playground in preparation for the start of the school year. Collect litter from the highway or help clean the local stream in your neighborhood.
Make a financial donation – if you feel you are too swamped to attend an event, financial donations are always appreciated. Just make sure you know where your money is going to be used!
Volunteer at a local soup kitchen – soup kitchens are full of volunteers around the holidays, so try volunteering at another time of year when they truly need the extra help.
Get involved with an inmate program designed to help people prepare for life after jail.
Create an event yourself to support a charity – if you can’t find something you are passionate about, make up your own event!
Find someone in need and personally help them – make a grocery run for your elderly neighbor, or buy a few toys for the kids down the street whose dad just lost his job.
Carry a survival pack in your car that includes socks, gloves, toothpaste, a toothbrush, some snacks etc. that you can give to homeless people when you see them.
These are just a few ideas, and most of them are things you can do all year long! Do you have any other things you like to do to give back? Leave your ideas in the comments below!
A great company culture is not something that can be created overnight. It takes months, even years for this to evolve and there are certain things that need to be in place for your company to thrive. One of the most important decisions to make is whether you want to be a boss or a leader. There is a huge difference between these two, and it is only possible to create an incredible company culture with one of them. Hopefully you know which direction to take, and that is why you are here. The simple thing to remember is a leader will create a killer company culture, whereas a boss will literally kill company culture. The choice is yours!
Lead by example – Live everyday the way you want your employees to behave. You are the leader, which means you do things first, and your team will follow. Set the standard for your team, and then hold them accountable. If you are late for every meeting and continue to keep people waiting, you will be quite a hypocrite if you get mad when employees are late. If you act in this way, you will soon be seen as a boss instead of a leader, and your culture will begin to crumble.
Hire smart – When you are adding to your team hire people according to their behavior rather than their skill set, whenever possible. There are obviously some vocations where you can’t follow this principle, such as within the medical world where you need to hire a surgeon who is qualified as a surgeon! However, there are many positions where the skill set can be trained, and the most important thing is to find people who easily slide into your company with minimal disruption.
Understand your why – You and your team need a purpose for coming to work everyday. If you are just going through the motions, and have no true purpose, it’s going to be very difficult to motivate people to deliver what you are looking for. Understand your why and make sure this is something that is discussed during the hiring and onboarding processes. This is your company’s DNA and needs to be your north star in every decision that you make.
Tell your story and continue to refer back to it – Your company might be 25 years old, but the new members of your team haven’t experienced the trials and tribulations that you have been through. They don’t understand the hurdles you have overcome, the economic downturns, the bankrupt clients, the successes, and the differences that your company has made over the years. Tell your story so that your entire team understand more about your history, and the path traveled thus far.
Establish traditions – these are activities that will help to motivate your team and make them feel more like a family. Company-wide lunches are a great way to achieve this, as are social events, team-building activities, community outreach projects, 5k’s, marathons and other charity events.
Document core values – Decide what matters to your company and what you want the focus to be on. Document, share, and live by these values on a daily basis. Keep referring back to them and make every decision according to what is stated here.
Recognize and reward – Let people know that you are proud of them for their achievements and reward them accordingly. Surprise thank you’s are always fun for everyone involved and require very little effort. How good would you feel if your boss swung by your desk, gave you $50, thanked you for your incredible effort over the past few weeks, and told you to take your spouse out to dinner? Wow your employees and show everyone that you appreciate what they are doing.
Treat others how you would want to be treated – If someone is performing at an incredible level and continues to deliver exceptional results, reward them for it. If someone is struggling due to a death in the family, or a sick child is causing lack of sleep, be empathetic and go easier on them. Show them that you are a human being and truly care about your team.
Stay out of the ivory tower – Get out and about and interact with your team. If you keep yourself locked up in your office and employees only see you when things are wrong, there will be a massive disconnect. Be present, interact with your team, get to know them, pick up trash, replace the printer toner, and show them that you are a team player. Everyone will benefit from it and the collaboration is guaranteed to improve when people feel the collectiveness.
Develop your team – Show your team the paths that they can follow to work their way up in your business, and provide them with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. Increase their hunger and show them what they are capable of. This is so much more enjoyable and rewarding than hiring external people, and will allow you to positively impact so many people’s lives.
Get to know your team – Your staff don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Understand what matters to them, what makes them tick, and how you can help them realize their dreams.
Catch your people doing the right thing – Far too often we try to catch people doing the wrong thing. This is such a negative way of living and isn’t enjoyable for anyone involved. Instead of searching and waiting for the bad, hunt for the good and celebrate when your team do the right thing. It’s a similar idea to when parents look at a child’s grade card and focus on the one C, instead of the four A’s that the student has achieved. Focus on and reward the things that you want your team to do, everyone will be so much happier.
Smile – If you are following steps 1 through 12, this will happen naturally and you will live a full life.
Thanks to modern technology and advances with cell phone capabilities, you no longer need a camera, an alarm clock, a Rolodex (remember those!?), a journal, a notebook, a diary, a shopping list, a watch, or a music player! These are all great technology improvements and benefits that have occurred over the past decade. While the emergence of the smartphone has had tremendously positive impacts in so many areas, and has helped make the world more connected than ever before, there are unfortunately many negative consequences that have accompanied the evolution of the modern day mobile telephone.
Addiction – dopamine and serotonin is released when we hear a ping, receive a message, or have a post liked by one of our peers. Do you think you may be addicted to your phone? Check out these signs and symptoms.
Reduced productivity in the workplace – due to problems associated with number one, addiction, it is very possible that you could spend more time on your phone than you do in face to face interactions. And I’m not just talking about work-related items; answering texts, personal calls, checking Facebook and other social media, as well as news updates coming through almost by the hour can eat up a huge chunk of time each day.
Dangerous driving and an increased number of accidents – this is something that constantly amazes me. There have been so many senseless deaths and injuries due to cell phone use while driving – so why do people still do it? NOTHING is that important, but if you feel like it is, PULL OVER!
Poorer social skills – it is so aggravating and rude when you are speaking to someone and their phone rings and all of a sudden it’s like you are no longer there! Why do phones get priority over people?
Cyberbullying – this is obviously a huge problem, with adults and children alike. Having all social media and communication available to us 24/7 makes this so much easier. If people took the time to think about what they were going to say before they started typing, perhaps the problem wouldn’t be so big, but cell phones do not require that we take that time allowing for immediate, and often rash, responses.
Increased crime – people always know where you are because you constantly check in or post a picture of your dinner. And how often do you see your friends posting pictures of their children in front of their school? Anyone who wants to find you can do so, at any time.
Health issues – from minor issues such as back and neck pain due to being hunched over a phone all day to major issues such as cancer, there are a number of health issues associated with cell phone usage that should not be ignored.
Disruption of sleep – exposure to blue light can cause us to not sleep as well as possible, while constant updates coming through buzzing at us through the night will disrupt our sleep patterns.
We are always connected – this leads to increased stress as it is nearly impossible to disconnect from work, and the world in general.
More distracted and less interactive with those around us – it’s amazing to me the number of parents glued to their phones while their kids are playing at the park. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the urge. Your kids are occupied, you have a second to breathe, what a perfect time to check your email! But as we know, it only takes one second for a child to be hurt, or even worse, taken by a stranger! Not to mention, they know when you are focused on your phone instead of them, and we certainly don’t want to give them the impression that a phone is more important than they are.
This is a great video that takes a look at millenials and cell phone usage. I recommend the whole thing, but the cell phone segment begins at 3:20 – take a look!
What problems have you encountered due to increased cell phone usage? Put your thoughts in the comment section below!
There are many things that we are required to do as the clocks go back, the nights draw in, and cooler temperatures move in. This varies across the country depending on the microclimate you reside within, but here in Kansas City we have to winterize irrigation systems, take plants inside to protect them for the winter months, and complete the painful task of leaf removal. Those of you with large, old oak trees will know exactly what I am talking about here…
Despite making all of these adjustments for “things” leading into the winter months, there is something much more important that we need to prioritize: what to do with our kids! This applies to children of all ages, as here in KC it’s typically too cold to go outside during the day with toddlers, and it’s already dark by the time older students get done with school activities. As I am a mother of 2 young boys, with a third child due next month, here are 10 activities that you can do to keep your young children active during the not so nice part of the year. Enjoy!
Create space in your garage for them to kick a ball, and ride a bike around.
Set up an obstacle course in your basement
Visit a museum – there are so many small children’s museums, many that you may
not even know about! Search your area and check reviews for good ones that are close by.
If you still have indoor malls close by, these are typically quiet during the day and provide your little ones with plenty of space to run around and get some energy out of their systems.
Indoor games with modified equipment to prevent damage to valuable antiques and decorations – play with small wiffle balls, foam soccer balls, and this Hover ball is a great indoor toy as well!
Take an inflatable pool and fill it with balls to turn it into your very own ball pit
Trips to your local community center, swimming pool, YMCA etc.
Buy a simple trampoline that will keep them entertained for hours at a time – just be prepared for some serious fistfights when multiple children want to bounce at the same time.
Have them help you with cleaning and laundry where they will be on their feet for an extended period of time. You can time them cleaning up from multiple rooms, turning a chore into a game!
In Kansas City, we have a place called Rainbow Play Systems, which is a place that sells playground equipment but has their product line set up inside to “test out.” For just a few dollars, your kids can have a playground/park experience in a temperature-controlled environment! Look around your area to see if there are any places similar to this, I would highly recommend it!
These are all great for your children but be sure to plan some physical activity for yourself. Here are just a handful of ideas to get you started:
Join a gym – this way you have no excuse for not working out when it is 3 degrees outside.
Stationary bike/elliptical, or another piece of equipment that you can store in your garage or basement where it isn’t going to get in the way.
Join a team where you will play weekly games – Indoor soccer and basketball are just two options that you could get involved with.
Exercise during your lunch break if you are fortunate enough to have on-site fitness equipment, or a nearby gym.
Use the fitness programs of your fitness tracker, activities from an app on your smartphone, or a fitness DVD from someone like Jillian Michaels to give you simple and easy to follow workouts during the short days of winter.
What are some ways that you keep your children and yourself entertained and physically active during the short days of winter? What works and what doesn’t work? Please share your thoughts so that we can all be prepared for this crazy time of year! Thanks for reading, and until next time, Expect The Exceptional in everything that you do.
In the modern world that we live in, it is often part and parcel of many positions to travel the country, and potentially internationally, for business meetings. I am lucky that my husband doesn’t have to travel too much, but when he does there are several things that he does to make the process as simple as possible.
TSA pre-approval – It only costs $85 for 5 years and is so worth it! Some benefits include skipping the security line, not being required to remove shoes at security, and leaving your electronics in your bag.
Frequent flyer miles – take advantage of these, whether though the airline or through a credit card. United offers the added option of admission to the United Club Lounge, which offers free snacks and drinks and a much larger area to relax before a flight. When we had a 12 hour layover in New Jersey with a one-year-old, the United Lounge was perfect. There was even a room for families and children where we were able to lie him down for a nap!
Eye drops – to combat the dryness of the air on the plane and the conditions within your hotel room. This will help you look refreshed for those meetings that are scheduled right as you arrive in town.
A quality carry-on bag – Find a bag that fits your needs and can also fit easily into the overhead storage compartment on the plane. This saves time when you are checking in and also eliminates the chance of the bag being lost.
Download music and movies on your phone – This will provide some in-flight entertainment without having to pay for Wifi on the plane.
Book a room that includes breakfast and has a mini-fridge inside the room – on his most recent trip, my husband stayed in a Holiday Inn and Suites and was able to collect extra food at breakfast that he could then eat when it was convenient for him without the need to go out to purchase food.
Lyft/ Uber app downloaded on your phone – everything is done digitally and one of the great things is that if you leave something in the car, you can immediately contact your driver on their cell phone, which is not possible with the traditional cabs. (Bringing back terrible memories of the time I left an entire suitcase full of shoes in a London cab, never to be seen again!)
Plenty of water throughout to stay hydrated – you often don’t realize how dehydrated you can get on a plane. Drinking plenty of water will keep your energy levels up and your appearance looking somewhat normal!
Expensify – digital expense tracking to keep the CFO happy at all times!
If you ever find yourself on conference calls, I am sure you will be able to totally relate to the video below. This is a classic example of something that is seen as being important and necessary for a company to function, but something that has the chance to negatively impact all parties involved. When I watch this video I immediately get flashbacks to previous companies where conference calls were a frequent occurrence.
Anyone who has taken part in a conference call knows that this video is not just trying to be funny. These things do actually occur, and at the end of the meeting you end up feeling like you have just wasted an hour of your work day that could have been spent in a much more useful manner. Instead of spending your valuable time on conference calls such as this, here are some alternative ideas that could be very beneficial to your company!
Video conferencing – Skype or other teleconferencing tools are a great solution as everyone can see each other, which will remove some of the difficulties shown in the video.
In person meetings – when possible, meet in person. If you have an hour or so drive, having one in-person meeting a month will accomplish much more than meeting four times a month over the phone in many situations.
Smaller, more personalized calls – try having fewer people on the call. Make sure you only have absolutely essential people involved, and avoid bringing those on the line that don’t have much to contribute. If you only include two or three people, those people can in turn send out a summary of the meeting to those who weren’t involved.
Collaborative work documents – Google Docs, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, etc. are all great options for collaborating through online documents rather than over the phone or even in person. They give people a chance to really think about their responses as opposed to shouting out the first thing that comes in their mind.
The main thing that I would suggest is to be as efficient as possible and don’t just have meetings for the sake of having meetings. Have an agenda and objectives, and stick to the tasks at hand. Also, stress to the members of the group the importance of timeliness. Start the meeting on time, and if people are late do not go back and recap what you have already discussed. This is especially frustrating for those of us who show up on time and have to listen to something two, or even three times!
Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to conference calls, or tips for making conference calls more effective? If so, put them in the comments below! And as always, Expect the Exceptional every day!
Our third child is due in mid-November, and I have officially entered “nesting mode.” With the other two, I was going strong up until right before they were born; I shampooed the carpets in the week before my second was born, and even attended a concert on the day of! However, this one feels a little different and I am losing steam much more quickly. Therefore, I felt it was important to start the cleaning early so I don’t have to worry about being unable to do it later on. The problem with this is the chance of the house being destroyed between now and my due date, so I have to focus on maintenance, which is not my strong suit so I have come up with a few rules to follow to help me out. If it isn’t yours either, maybe you will be able to use these tips as you are working to maintain a tidy home!
Laundry – start a load every morning. If you go to work and don’t want to leave wet clothes sitting in the wash all day, look for a delay start function on your washer and set it for about an hour before you get home. Also, try to have a basket for each person, as well as towels so you can separate straight out of the dryer instead of creating an additional task for yourself.
Batch toilets – I hate toilet brushes, and have gotten rid of all of ours. Clorox wands have disposable brush heads with cleaner built inside. This is a convenient and sanitary way to keep your toilets clean; however, it’s not as cost-effective as a reusable brush. So to cut down on use, I try to clean all toilets at the same time and reuse the brush head a few times to get more out of each one. Even if you use brushes, cleaning all toilets at the same time is a great way to stay on track and ensure that toilets are all clean.
Have a drawer for all paperwork and bills so that things don’t get lost – having one specific drawer for these items keeps things organized and minimizes the chance that something will get lost or misplaced.
Straighten up before bed – when I come down in the morning to a tidy house, I am much more likely to keep it that way throughout the day. On the other hand, if I come down to a mess, it is likely to get worse before better. This is certainly a mental thing on my part, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences it!
Break up tasks – instead of lying in bed thinking “tomorrow, I’m cleaning the whole house!” and then feeling like a failure the next night when you haven’t done much at all, try breaking up your tasks each day. For my “baby cleaning,” I set a seven day schedule for myself that covered all parts of my house, but was broken up enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I found a few templates online, but in the end decided to come up with my own schedule, specific to my home and my preferences. This was for a deep clean, but for maintenance purposes you can use the same list; you will just have less to do after the first time!
Go digital with as many things as you possibly can – this is less about cleaning and more about being prepared, but setting things up online is a great way to stay on top of things and make sure you don’t get behind. This includes utilizing auto-payments whenever you can, as well as automatic shipping on household items, such as toilet paper, diapers, laundry detergent, etc. to make sure you don’t run out.
Remotes for lights – this saves both time and money and is something that we have found extremely useful. I prefer lamps to overhead lighting, so I have a lot around the house in various places. We had some remotes for our Christmas lights and this year instead of packing them away, we have continued using them for the lights in our house. When the sun goes down, I simply have to press a few buttons to turn the lights on, and at the end of the night do the same to turn them off. Rather than walking around flipping a ton of switches multiple times a day, this simple tool saves so much time and also prevents leaving lamps on, leading to a spike in the electric bill.
Hopefully these tips help you as much as they have helped me! Do you have anything else you like to do that I have forgotten? Please put it in the comments below, and as usual, Expect the Exceptional in everything you do!