EducationProductivityUncategorized

Rubik's Cube

Wolf pack
The big city was of course, the upstairs of grandma’s house

As children, we loved to play games.  Childhood is the age of games.  “Let’s play house,” “Let’s play a board game,” or “Let’s play family of wolves who are having trouble finding food because of the encroaching big city.”  Okay, maybe that last one was just me and my siblings…  The point is that children primarily learn through games.  The most effective way to get a child to learn something is to turn it into a game for them to play.

 

Eventually, we grow up.  Games are something that must be put away in favour of more somber pursuits.  They’re too unstructured for regular life, which requires rules and regulations to keep things running smoothly.

 

Monopoly money
What? No, that’s not monopoly money in my glass. Why do you ask?

But what if I told you that’s not quite true?  Games don’t have less rules than real life.  They just have different ones.  In real life, the rule is that in polite society we walk upright.  But in “family of wolves who are having trouble finding food etc….” the rule is that you walk on your hands and knees.  It’s a different rule but it’s still a rule.  Taking all my monopoly money and stuffing it into my coat is fine, if a bit strange, in regular day-to-day life, but when playing Monopoly it’s called cheating.

This cuts to the heart of why games are important.  They give us the ability to try out several approaches to a problem, also known as lateral thinking.  Lateral thinking is one of the most important tools for problem solving and sadly it’s one of the most overlooked, in part because our brains just aren’t naturally good at it.  Our brains love routine and lateral thinking forces them to step back from the rules we’re accustomed to so that we can see if there is another way to solve the problem.  Because we always do things a certain way, it’s easy to continue doing things that way, but when you play a game you have to step outside of that routine to embrace a new set of rules.

Of course, I’m not saying that you should get your boss to pay you to play Monopoly. Even if you don’t like board games, or card games, or word games, or any sort of game at all, you can still turn things into games.  Even work can be turned into a game.  If you take a goal or task you have to complete and make a game out of completing it in the most efficient way possible, in addition to the obvious benefit of work being a lot more fun, you can step outside of your work routine and look for what exactly you can do differently to boost your efficiency, since ultimately that’s what a game is.  “What’s the best way to do this thing as soon as possible.”  Whether the goal is bankrupting your opponents in Monopoly, getting more goals than your opponent in a game of hockey, or even figuring out the best way for your pretend wolves to get food from the fridge upstairs without getting caught, gaming teaches you how to achieve your goal with an (often) arbitrary set of rules and conventions.  It’s a quick jump to being able to use the same tools you build in the game world to achieve your goal with the rules and conventions of the real world.

I’ll leave you with this lateral thinking puzzle.  The answer will be in next week’s post, so try not to Google it until then.  A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water.  The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man.  The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out.  Why?

BloggingMarketingProductivitySocial MediaUncategorized

So you’ve hired someone to manage your social media accounts. It takes time to manage so many accounts and see growth and that’s time you just don’t have as a business owner. While social media is widely used for sharing funny memes, and picture perfect content, your social media manager should be doing much more than that when it comes to their clients.

Marketing Objectives

marketing

You social media manager should know and ask about your marketing objectives and follow them. There could be many marketing objectives for your business and it’s important your social media manager is knowledgeable in all of them. This is after all what is going to make it worth it in the long run.

Tracking progress

Statistics

Keeping up with how many followers you gain each week or month is great but not all of these followers will be potential clients or customers. Tracking how many organic engagements you are getting, will give you a greater understanding on how your day to day strategy is working rather than being swayed by the big numbers your ad gets. While ads are great for exposure, the insights may not be as relevant. Ads show the number of impression your content is receiving, but did you know some ads count impressions where if one account has been shown the same ad 100 times this counts as 100 impressions. So while the big numbers may look great, the organic ones are where you want your social media manager to focus their energy on. Being smart on how you track your progress and statistics is just as important as the insights themselves.

Engagement

engagement

If your social media accounts aren’t active this may be a big concern. One of the biggest parts of hiring a social media manager is to get the activity on your account that you don’t have time for. This is a time consuming part of the job and extremely important. Just as importantly the content being published needs to be engaging to your audience. You social media manager should be researching and learning your audience and what interests them, as well as their needs and how your business can help them. Along with being active on your accounts, your social media manager should be keeping track of inquiries and directing them to the right people or resources within the company. If someone is inquiring about a service you offer they should make the initial contact with the customer, then direct them to the professionals in your business if they can’t answer the questions, or feel it’s better left to the experts in that area.

Scheduling & Calendars

calendar

Scheduling content is not just a trick of the trade, it’s necessary. This is how content can be posted at any and all times, based on your insights of optimal times to post. Keeping a calendar of content planning is a habit your social media manager should be doing. This is key to not only organization, but to have a plan for future content. Your social media should have a goal, and planning in advance helps you stay on track. A content calendar improves the efficiency of your social media specialist, so your content isn’t being left to the last minute, rushed to get out and susceptible to simple mistakes.

Content Curation

content

Content is another one of the biggest jobs for a social media manager. This is probably one of the main reasons you hired them in the first place. You didn’t have time to find or create content, and still don’t. Finding info to share that meets your audiences needs and interests is a very important part of a social media managers job. While your social media specialist doesn’t have to be a professional photographer, they should be creative in the kind of content and images to capture. They should also be somewhat photo savvy or have connections to a photographer they can work with, as making an attractive Instagram account etc. is part of their job. If your social media manager works remotely, they should at least be sending you content ideas that are easy enough for you to take yourself, or for a hired professional to take, and they should not be using only stock photos on your account.

Customized graphics

graphics

Part of branding is being recognizable. Your business colors are a big part of who you are, as is your brands voice, and logo. All these things should be used as much as possible. Don’t be stuck promoting others graphics, or words. Your social media manager should get creative and create a template that you can post quotes on, or promote sales. This helps increase brand awareness and makes your content original and shareable, let others promote your business and graphics not the other way around.

Trends

Trend

Your social media marketer should be keeping up with the latest trends for your industry and on social media. This also means keeping up with algorithms on social platforms. If video content is doing the best, your social media manager should be encouraging videos. If other businesses in your industry are active on Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc. then you should be too. Your social media manager should be keeping your business in the loop so you don’t miss out on opportunities to be seen and heard.

Research

Research

This may be overlooked by some social media mangers, and definitely shouldn’t be. Research should be done on your business, on the things you offer, and the people you are selling to or targeting. This is actually an important part of their job as well, if they don’t know what you offer and the people you are targeting, how will they be able to cater your content or ads to the exact people that want and need to see your business.

Social media managers are extremely important and helpful for your business. As social media is growing… and definitely not going away anytime soon, you will want your businesses social media presence to be made known. Your social media manager should be posting content that is relevant to your industry, they should be doing their homework on your business so they are sending out content that is appropriate to your industry. When done correctly, social media managers can help increase brand awareness, sales, grow digital presence, generate new leads, retain existing customers, along with so much more.

ProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Habits to keep you organized at work

A tidy work place not only looks good but actually helps you stay focused and productive. We’ve all spent time looking for things that get lost in the mess, so keeping a tidy desk will help reduce clutter which in turn reduces stress. Did you know that a clean desk actually saves you time, spurs on creativity and communicates professionalism. That’s right, it might actually have more of a benefit than just looking neat. These are some ways I like to stay tidy in the workplace.

What I organize constantly:

My deskDesk

I have a specific place for my bags when I come into the office at the beginning of the day. I keep one water bottle or glass of water on my desk, during the day, there’s no need for more than that really (unless I’m drinking coffee, then you can find my coffee cup as well.) I keep only one pen, and one highlighter along with my daily planner on my desk. Anything that comes out of my desk goes back right after I’m finished with it. My biggest tip is to clean off your desk at the end of the day so you have a fresh start the next morning. Keeping only the things you need on your desk eliminates unnecessary clutter.

 

 

My daily planner

I like my day to be planned out in front of me on paper. Once a task is completed I check it off or highlight it. This helps me balance my work load throughout the day. At the end of the week I make a plan for the next week (so I don’t forget tasks over the weekend) and when I come in on Monday I eliminate the ‘Monday fog’ and have my day already planned for myself. I update my planner frequently during the week and balance out my work load if any new tasks arise.

My Computercomputer

Instead of keeping all tabs and programs open, I like to filter through the things I am absolutely finished with, save and close them. If I have a few things on the go I simply minimize the programs until I am actually working on them. This way I don’t tempt myself to jump back and forth between projects. But can focus on one thing at a time and close projects when they are completed. I go through my emails/voicemails (like most people) at the beginning of the day and throughout the day I reply to the ones that require my attention as well as delete any junk mail that may come through.

 

What I organize occasionally:

Files

My whiteboard

I have a whiteboard on the wall by my desk and this is where I jot down things that I need to look at daily. I don’t update this as often as some things are analytics, strategies and reminders. I do however make sure that when I jot down things on my whiteboard, since they will be there for a while, that I keep it looking neat and legible.

Computer Files

This is something I will admit that I need to be more organized with. I have a tendency to save documents or pictures in the ‘all files’ or ‘all pictures’ category. I do however still go through and move files and pictures into their correct places. Just like your paper documents this keeps the clutter out of your computer files.

Desk Drawers

Desk drawers are sometimes a dangerous place! If you want something off your desk it gets thrown into a drawer as fast as possible, out of sight out of mind right! Cleaning out your drawers may be more rewarding than you think! You may find your favorite pen that you were sure was lost to the darkness behind your desk. I’m curious what the craziest thing was that you found in your desk drawer you didn’t even know was there!

Organization bonus:

Since I am the social media specialist at the office, I definitely organize my social media accounts. Going through your social media and cleaning up old tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram photos is a great habit to get into. Keeps your accounts looking fresh and professional. Once a year I go through the accounts that I follow, and I unfollow accounts that no longer serve purpose to me, are spam, or accounts that hinder my mental well being.

 

Share some things you like to do to keep organized or if you have some tips for me leave a comment below!

BloggingSelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Gratitude

As humans we seek happiness everywhere we go. In the people we are with, the things we buy, the jobs we work at, the music we listen to and so on. But do these things make you the happiest you can be? When you are away from the people who make you happy, can you still be happy? When you retire from the job you LOVED, can you still find happiness? And if the radio doesn’t play the perfect song on your commute, can your day still be just as happy? The simple answer is yes. In fact the answer is gratitude. This goes with you no matter the people you are with, the job you work at, or the weather that day.
grat·i·tude
/ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
As Marc explains it; ‘Happiness is an inner feeling, focusing on yourself, whereas gratitude is an outer quality, focusing on others.’
gratitude
Gratitude creates happiness, but with better outcomes. Happiness may lift your mood, or improve your day, although gratitude improves your life. With Thanksgiving this weekend, it’s a great time to start practicing gratitude daily. Five minutes a day may not seem like it’s doing all that much, but over the span of a few months you will definitely start to notice the benefits.
Being grateful actually encourages patience, humility, and wisdom!
Say someone cuts you off in traffic, you can choose to be angry or you can be grateful you weren’t harmed and arrived at your destination safely. At times it may be more difficult to show gratitude, but this is when I feel it makes the biggest impact. When something doesn’t go our way, most of the time we let it affect us negatively and this has a ripple affect. Stop a bad day in it’s tracks and instead think of all the good things that have happened to you already, this will ripple out into other areas of your day and make a way better impact!

My Challenge To You

So my challenge to you is to start showing more gratitude in your everyday life! Start with the people who are close to you. Do something thoughtful for them, like offer to help clean up after the Thanksgiving meal! Give them a compliment on something you appreciate or admire about them. Don’t stop there, do something for people you interact daily with, like give a generous tip when you pick up your coffee, or bring flowers to a co worker and leave a note telling them they are appreciated and doing a good job. And definitely show gratitude to the people who challenge you. This might be listening to what they have to say without telling them they are wrong. Maybe you can use it as a lesson to practice patience, courage and compassion.

Gratitude Journal
A great way to practice gratitude is to keep a journal, write down the the things you are grateful for. Try it in the morning to set the mood for the rest of your day. According to Greater Good Magazine, it may be more beneficial for you to journal occasionally rather than everyday.
“One study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”
In conclusion, I think we all need a little more gratitude in our lives, and the best way to achieve it, it to be the one who practices it! It’s a ripple affect, showing gratitude and kindness to others will encourage them to do the same. You may not see it directly or right away, but your actions make a difference!

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar

CommunicationSelf-Improvement

What place do personal beliefs and opinions have in an office?  On the one hand, conversations around the water-cooler about politics or religion can lead to tense working relationships to say the least.  On the other hand, conversations about the weather aren’t conducive to building strong friendships.  The heated nature of political and religious discussions arises because those beliefs are fundamental to who we are.  We have an emotional investment in them and when the topics come up we start speaking with our emotions.  So instead we discuss the regular small-talk and keep our work-life and our private-life as far away from each other as possible.

Nuclear Explosion
Don’t let your workplace conversations turn into this…

Now, personally, I think this is a fine status-quo for a large company.  Each employee represents the company first and foremost.  You aren’t going to be friends with the CEO so the office small-talk when you’re stuck in an elevator with him makes sense.  But I’m not so sure it’s the best way for a smaller business.  The biggest advantage of a small business is the personal connection between the company and the customer.  The most important tool in building that personal connection?  Seeming like a person.

The human connection is an amazing asset for small businesses, but it doesn’t come out of thin air.  It comes from building friendships between you and your coworkers and between you and the customer.

 

Donair
Now I’ve done it. Now I want a donair,

When I go to a big box retailer I’m not there to say hi to any of the staff, I’m there to get what I want and get out as quickly as possible, I’m polite to the staff of course but I don’t want to hear their life stories.  But when I go to a small family-run business like my local donair restaurant I want to know if the owner’s car got fixed, how is kids are doing, if his wife got back from her trip, etc.  Sometimes it seems I stop in because I want to catch up, rather than because I really want a donair.  Why?  Because, since he doesn’t have to represent a faceless corporation, he’s free to chat about life while he prepares my donair and to infuse his workplace behaviour with his personality.

Not to blow our own horn, but Panda Rose is another great example of that personal connection.  The other week I was sitting at my desk when the boss came over and said, “I need to see you in my office.”  A single sentence that is able to put the fear of God into any employee.  When he said it to me all I could think was, “What have I done now…”  I walked into his office, gingerly sat down in the chair facing him, and prepared myself for the worst.  “I need your help finding a Catholic priest to bless our offices.”

It goes without saying that I was taken aback ever so slightly.  This wasn’t quite the phrase I was bracing myself for.  But I rallied myself sufficiently to manage a simple, “Uh… what?”

Panda Rose Office Blessing
Even the server room got a blessing.

Because our office is such a tight-knit community, the boss knows that I’m Catholic.  We’ve seen each other at different Catholic events and I met him through a mutual Catholic friend of ours.  He also knows that I’m good friends with a lot of Catholic priests in the area.  So when he wanted to get a Catholic priest to bless our offices, he figured he could let me handle it.  I got my parish priest to drop by and bless the offices and as you can see, things went very well.

How did this happen?  Because in our office environment we’re comfortable talking about our opinions and beliefs.  They don’t dominate the discussion, and it’s never in an argumentative or confrontational way, but because we know we can have conversations on the stereotypical taboo workplace topics we’re able to understand each other and work as a team better than if we felt we had to walk on eggshells when talking about our personal lives.

One important thing to emphasize is that I’m not telling you to be obnoxious about your beliefs.  Don’t yell at your coworkers because they voted for someone else.  Don’t make every single conversation about your religion.  Don’t be annoying about it.  What I am saying is that if you are able to have friendly conversations about controversial issues where both you and your coworker walk away understanding each other better, you’ve strengthened your team, not hurt it.