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?

BloggingEducationMarketingMobile AppsSocial MediaUncategorized

Social media for your business

Most have a good understanding about what common social media platforms offer. Some think the more the better (target as many people on all corners of social media and you’ll reach more potential customers), but with social media this isn’t necessarily the case. The best way to approach social media is to find channels that are the most beneficial to your businesses unique needs. Each platform attracts different age, gender and even industry demographics. Depending on your target audience you want to be present on the platforms your audience is using most often.

Facebook: facebook

This is the best platform to start on for any business, it has the widest range of age demographics, and currently has 2.38 billion active monthly users. This is a great platform to make connections and build community. You can easily share important aspects of your business, and find potential customers. On this platform you want to post videos and curated content. Although if your business is targeting a younger audience, ages 13-17 this age group spends less time on Facebook than 18 and up.

 

Instagram:Instagram

Instagram has quickly become a massive platform, with 1 billion active monthly users. This platform is great for product based businesses, as it is highly visual and just recently released the shopping feature making it even easier for customers to buy your products. Instagram is focused on creativity and building community. If your target demographic is under 35 this is a platform you cannot skip. 63% of users are between the ages of 18 to 34, and to make it even better its virtually an even split between male and female users. On this platform you want to post good quality aesthetically pleasing images and stories, use this platform to become more personal with your customers.

 

Twitter:Twitter

Twitter is the go-to platform for being updated on the latest news and trends, it is fairly fast paced so posting often is key. This is another great platform for sharing interesting information, or contributing to a conversation about your industry. Studies show that tweeting content with visuals does significantly better than without, although other studies show posting your traditional “one liner” tweet is just as good (we’ll leave it up to you to decide for your business on this one.) This platform also tends to have a younger audience 38% user are 18-29. But with that said, still a high number of users age 30-49 are active on Twitter making up for 26% of adult users. Both male and females are active on Twitter so if your business targets one or the other, or both this is a great platform to gain exposure on.

 

LinkedIn:LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for professionals. This channel is best used for business-to-business brands aiming to make interactions with the decision makers of a business. Gender demographics are well balanced here as neither male or females are more active on this platform. Businesses are looking for certain industries or job titles rather than ages or genders. This is a great place to post job openings, update other business owners and professionals on company changes and share professional content. 34% of users between the ages of 18 to 29 and 33% of users between the ages of 30 to 49 are active on LinkedIn.

 

Pinterest:Pinterest

Pinterest is a platform that is often overlooked as it used to be a community of home makers sharing recipes and DIY projects. While this is still true, the user base is more female dominant on this platform, 50% of new accounts are being made by males. Pinterest should be seen as a search engine more than a social media platform as 2 billion searches are made every month. It’s a great site to direct traffic to your website and gain exposure for blog post, and products. The content on this platform is highly product based, as users on Pinterest are usually searching for a product.

 

There are so many more platforms you can choose to be active on but these are the biggest ones you want to focus on as they are highly popular. Social media is a great way to reach more people and build rapport with customers. It’s a way to show off your aspects of your business that may otherwise be looked over.

Tip: remember to be social on the accounts you have, respond/leave comments,  and share things you find interesting. Whatever your company culture may be let your content also express this same energy to your viewers. Your account can be whatever you want it to be, not just what everyone else in your industry is doing!

CommunicationEducationUncategorized

I love riddles.  Give me a book of riddles and my productivity tanks as I spend the rest of the day thinking about them.  I love old riddles, new riddles, and I especially love creating riddles.  My wife and I will try to stump each other with riddles for hours and we even created our own riddle game where one of us thinks of a punchline for a joke and the other person has to create the setup.  (It’s great for long road trips.)  But why do we riddle?  What purpose do riddles serve?

Riddles Unite Us

Sumerian Mosaic

Riddles serve to pull us together.  Throughout human history, riddles have been a part of life.  All cultures have them and many riddles have been shared across cultures and languages.  The riddle of the sphinx comes from Greece originally but versions can also be found from Estonia and even on the Marshall Islands.  This connection with people across cultural and linguistic divides helps us to understand them and to see how similar they are to us.  it transforms them in our minds from the Other to the Same.  Riddles even bridge the gap of time.  As long as there as been English there has been people telling riddles in English.  But going back to the dawn of written language we even have riddles from the ancient Sumerians.  Here’s an example:

A house based on a foundation like the skies
A house one has covered with a veil like a secret box
A house set on a base like a goose
One enters it blind,
Leaves it seeing.

The answer?  A school.

So in a sense, we ask riddles because we always have.  Asking and answering riddles is a part of the human experience.  It unites us across cultures and eras and helps connect us to them.  We can now say that the Sumerians valued education just as much as we do.  All from one short little riddle!  That still doesn’t really answer the question though.  The unity riddles give us is a powerful effect of riddles, but it is only one effect. It is not the purpose behind them.  What is that purpose?

Why Tell Riddles?

Oedipus and the Spinx
Um… Uh… A really weird cow?

Ultimately, riddles teach us.  They teach us essential problem-solving skills when we’re young and they help us enhance those skills when we’re older.  Sometimes riddles teach you that the answer was hidden in plain sight.  Which word in the dictionary is spelled incorrectly?  ‘Incorrectly.’  These sorts of riddles rely on double meaning.  What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?  A stamp.  Some riddles rely on clever metaphors.  The riddle of the sphinx is a classic example.  What walks on four legs in the morning, two at mid-day, and three in the evening?  A person.  No matter what trick the riddle uses, when you’re told a riddle you know it’s a trick.  You know the answer is hiding right behind it waiting to be discovered.

There’s an even greater challenge in creating a riddle.  A good riddle is solvable but not too solvable.  If there isn’t an answer, then it’s not really a riddle.  If it’s too easy to find the answer, the thrill of the chase is gone.  When you create a riddle, you have to solve it yourself without any clues.  You need to figure out what the twist is going to be and then build the riddle around that.  And once you know the answer to your riddle.  You just have to figure out the question.  So both solving and asking riddles requires creativity and helps us train our brains to think laterally.

Riddles in Life

The lateral thinking that riddles give us is essential to success in the modern world.  Unexpected problems crop up all the time and they usually require unexpected solutions.  If you’ve trained your brain to be prepared to think laterally, to step outside of the box and wrestle with your problems, you’ll be better equipped to solve them.  Whether it’s figuring out what’s wrong with the code in your program, discovering a way to stay under budget in your department, or even finding the best angle to chop down a tree, lateral thinking and problem-solving skills are essential for success in life and enable us to take charge in our lives and deal with our problems head on.

A very real example comes to us from the 19th century.  Until less than two hundred years ago it was a point of professional pride for doctors to never wash their aprons since they showed how experienced they were.  To make matters worse, they’d only wash their hands at the end of the day since they knew they’d just get them dirty again.  The high infection rates in hospitals were attributed to stale air but the real source of the problem was completely unknown even though it was right in front of them.  Along came Dr. Joseph Lister.  He was able to step outside the box of accepted medical practice and so he realized that the lack of hygiene was the real culprit.  He was gradually able to convince others and the changes he made to the medical industry saved countless lives and he is now called the father of modern surgery.  If he wasn’t able to think laterally, how many more people would have died from easily preventable causes?  While the situations we’ll be faced with in our daily lives generally won’t be that dire, lateral thinking is still just as necessary for us now as it was then.  Without keeping our brains sharp we won’t even know what problems we’re missing, let alone how to solve them.

The Bayeux Tapestry

As a final thought, I’ll leave you with this Anglo-Saxon riddle from the book of Exeter.

I am an eminent thing, known to nobles,
and I often abide, notorious among the people,
both mighty and poor, traveling widely,

standing a stranger at first 
to my friends, a plundering hope—
if I must keep hold onto the profits 
or a brilliant good in the cities.

Now wiser men love me the most,
my companionability. I must reveal wisdom
to the multitudes. They never speak there,
any of them across the earth—

Although the children of humanity,
of the land-dwellers, pour over
my tracks, I conceal
my footsteps from every man
at times.

CommunicationEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Last week I was helping out at a local father-son summer camp outside of Calgary called Arcatheos.  A lot of theatrics and explosions and all those great things.  We like to joke that it’s a camp for teaching boys to become men and men to become boys again.

One of the characters with his fire sword
I mean a LOT of theatrics

Leadership Requires Service

This year the theme of the camp was “To Serve is to Reign”.  We really focused in on this theme of service with the teenagers who would become our version of camp counselors, called “knights.”  To be able to effectively lead the boys in their charge, they couldn’t simply order them around all day without a care for their well-being.  They had to be emotionally invested in both the boys they were in charge of and in the other members of their teams.  with that emotional investment, every order or directive is followed because the boys know its for the good of the camp and themselves.

I was struck by how well this carries into the workplace.  If an employee feels that his boss is invested in him and his life, that he’s not just another cog in the machine, the extra overtime needed to finish an important project becomes a lot easier to deal with.  It no longer feels like a forced task from a faceless overlord but like an urgent request from a friend.

Respect

Aretha Franklin
“Find out what it means to me”

We taught the “knights” that the easiest way to serve their boys is to respect them.  If you respect those around you, they’re more inclined to respect you.  If they respect you, they’re more likely to incorporate your feedback into their behaviour and truly listen to what you’re asking them to do.  They won’t merely sit around after completely a task waiting for you to hand them the next one, and instead they’ll proactively seek out ways to be helpful.

Don’t be a Drill Instructor (unless you are one)

Drill sergeant
Johnson! Did you finish that spreadsheet yesterday!

Meanwhile, if those under you feel they have to walk on eggshells around you with even the slightest mistake causing them to get raked over the metaphorical coals, they might try to work their hardest to not make a mistake, but a lot of their attention that could go towards doing their job right is now going towards watching over their shoulder to make sure they haven’t awoken the dragon.  In addition, if given a choice, people prefer leaders who are caring and compassionate instead of leaders who are taskmasters and drill instructors.  So if your employees have a choice, they will eventually leave for greener pastures.

Don’t be a Door Mat

Welcome
Please ignore all my directives on your way in.

At the same time, you won’t have respect if your employees feel they can walk all over you.  If missed deadlines are never a problem, unexpected absences are rampant, and no one listens to your instructions, sure, you won’t have employees flocking to leave your company in droves for better conditions, but you’ll also obviously end up with inefficient employees wasting the company’s time and money.  Resulting in them, and probably you, being let go.

Be a Compassionate AND Effective Leader

Cool dudes in cloaks

Instead of either of those two extremes, a synthesis of the two is required.  There are times when you need to lay down the law and reprimand the people working for you.  There are also times when those people need an ear to understand the problems and difficulties they’re facing and a helpful hand to guide them.  Using only one method or the other cripples your leadership abilities and it is only when you are both firm and compassionate as a leader that you will earn the respect and trust of those underneath you and unleash your full potential.

Ultimately, these leadership lessons we taught to the boys are vital for everyone, whether or not they’re currently in a position that requires leadership.  Everyone at some point in their lives will be in charge of something.  Whether that’s a multi-million dollar project or 10 children at a summer camp, no matter how large or small the opportunity effective compassionate leadership inevitably leads to further leadership opportunities down the road.

BloggingEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementSEOSocial MediaTechnology

job application tips

So you’re looking for a new job.  Maybe you’re just entering the work force and ready to put your fresh knowledge into action. Or maybe you just need a new start or a change in careers. It can be difficult for anyone to stand out from the crowd when you send in your application. But with these 4 tips you’ll be able to spark interest with your potential employer and possibly score an interview.

Cover letters aren’t optional

cover letter

Please don’t skim over the area to add a cover letter. Although some job posting say ‘cover letter optional’ this shouldn’t be the case in applicants minds. The chances you will be rejected almost immediately are quite high if you avoid adding a cover letter. Especially if the job posting specifically asks for one. A cover letter should show your personality. It’s your opportunity to talk yourself up without shame. Employers love to see personalized applications, it keeps you fresh in their mind and most importantly stand out from other applicants. Add why you are a good fit for the position, address the employer specifically rather than “to whom it may concern.” Let your personality shine. Tell your strengths, if you are outgoing, love learning new things, have talents that have served you well or could serve you well for the job, this is your chance to include them all.

Grammar

Grammar

If you wouldn’t want grammar mistakes in your reports to clients, college assignments, or Facebook posts then don’t allow them in your cover letter or resume. Attention to detail is included in most job descriptions. Employers want to know you are taking your time and doing your best.. Your resume is a short preview of the kind of worker you are, the effort you put into your work and the value you have for making a good impression when it matters most. Always double check your resume and fix mistakes even if it’s in the final draft stages. It’s noticeable when time and effort are put into an application.

Follow Instructions

Following instructions

Nothing is more frustrating for hiring managers when instructions are added to a job posting and they simply aren’t followed. If it asks for a short description of why you think you are a good fit for the job, add it. Say a cover letter is requested, please include a cover letter. Or maybe instead of clicking ‘apply now’ you need to send it straight to an email. If you really want the job it will make a world of difference to your employer if you can follow their instructions.

Be a Human

Be human

Well of course you’re human. Sometimes we get so caught up in making lists of things we are good at or the experience we have, we forget to be personal. If your resume is boring you, it’s probably 10 times more boring for your employer. Okay maybe not 10 times, but it will be a lot less interesting for the person reading it than it is for you. A well formatted resume is a way of adding personality rather than a blank page with a bunch of lists. It’s okay to use a template, but be sure to customize it to be your own. Don’t worry about making a lengthy resume with every single skill you obtain, but customize for the position you want. A quick tip, add where you can find examples of your work . If you’re a photographer, include your social media accounts, so they can get to know your style and you better.

It can be tough to stand out during the application process but these few things will go a long way with employers. Don’t let to the process discourage you, and definitely don’t take job rejection personally. Apply to each job seeing it as a fresh start and a new opportunity for your career.

BloggingEducationMarketingSEOUncategorizedWeb Development

Today when people are searching for your business they are mainly going to their phones or computers to find you. Google is the biggest search engine out there, and if you aren’t on board, people may be missing you. Starting a Google My Business account or optimizing your existing one is vitally important for your business and how it appears in searches.

Setting Up a Google My Business Account

Google My Business listings

If you haven’t set up a Google My Business (GMB) account yet, you’ve got one mission for today…set up a GMB account! No seriously, it may seem like just another place to add your business to but this one is important and here’s why. When people are searching for a product or service they jump onto Google. For example, searching “office supplies” pulls up the Google accounts of places that offer these supplies. This image is what your GMB account will show up like. You will see the rating of your business, location, some images and much more as you go in further. If you have a good GMB account, this may even show up before your website listing. The initial set up is straight forward, but it’s the actions you take in each of those steps and after your account is set up that makes or breaks your account.

Images Are Everything

images are everything

When you have the option to add pictures of your business, always, always do it. You don’t want to resort to stock images because Google will find them and remove them. Take this chance to show off your business, inside and out. Take multiple pictures of the front and inside of your building. People feel comfortable when they can see different aspects of your business. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer either. Take clear, well lit images of the first place you see when you walk in, the staff and definitely your products. Don’t make people feel like they are going on a blind date when they are coming to you. If a business adds stock images as their product photos or avoids images of their building, I usually question why their products weren’t deemed “good enough” to make it to the front page. Or what the building looks like so I wont drive past, or wonder if I’m at the right address. Including these images shows you are proud of your work and prepared. Add pictures of the people working there, recognizing a face when walking into a business, even if it’s just from a picture, helps puts people at ease and builds trust.

Take advantages Of Features

using features

Just recently, Google made it available to get a short name for your business. Creating a short name makes it easier for people to send links to others to leave a review. When adding a logo to your profile be sure corners aren’t being cut off and it is a good quality image, a square usually works best. Choose a header that represents your business well and be creative when writing your business description. Please don’t copy and paste directly from your website, make your description unique.

Post regularly

Post regularly

Be active on your Google My Business account, post every week about new features or products. Bring to life aspects of your business that go unnoticed. Posts will expire so keep your account updated for the best reach. Regularly check your categories because they are often updated and new categories are added that you may want to be found under.

Reviews

reviews

Reviews aren’t as scary as they seem. We have an entire blog post about how to manage bad reviews. So when it comes to Google reviews, don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave a review after their visit. It’s a great way to hear about their experience and gain exposure! Although in the event that a bad review pops up, don’t take it personally. Be professional, address the issue, create a solution, if it hasn’t been solved already, and apologize for their experience. Keeping emotions out of it is the best way to professionally solve a problem. Since you can’t control the actions of others, it starts with you. Don’t become aggressive or invalidate their experience. Accept it and always apologize, then respond to them in a positive way. This is important. Always respond to reviews, good or bad, in a positive manner. Recognize that some bad reviews are good. Many people want to look at bad reviews just like they want to look at good reviews. They take note of how you responded and what your solution was to the problem.

Creating a Google My Business account increases the amount of people you reach. It helps give more information about who you are and what you do. It encourages people to find you in other areas, like Facebook or maps. You don’t want to skip on an opportunity for people to see your business and to gain more customers.

BloggingEducationSEOTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

Improve Your SEO

Everyone wants to be seen and heard, but when everyone wants to be seen that means almost no one is. In case you got lost at the title, I’ll briefly explain what exactly SEO is.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of getting more quantity and quality traffic to your website through the free, organic, or natural search results on search engines.

This of course is something you want for your business, free, organic, natural traffic. We’ll dive into some tips you can practice to achieve good SEO on your website.

1. Create Relevant Content

Blog content

Did you know the amount of time people spend on your website affects your SEO? This means, you want to put out content that people will want to read. Ideally content with more words does better than those with fewer words. But this doesn’t go to say that a post with 2,000 words will do better than one with 500. Pay attention to the quality and relevancy of your posts as this is what makes the biggest difference. The idea behind “the more words the better” is that, you have more space to add keywords, add more outbound links and get people spending more time on your page.

2. Add Quality Photos

good quality photos

Adding photos increases the legitimacy of your website. You can easily find high quality photos for free or take your own pictures for your website. Make sure when adding photos to add keywords to the various components of the image. Such as the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption. Images are processed 60,000 times faster than text and 65% of people are visual learners. Images hold a tremendous amount of value for readers and SEO.

3. Readability

Readability

To make posts inviting to viewers always try to break up text with headers. Just think, if you click a link that is only somewhat interesting to you and are greeted with a huge block of “mono tone” looking text, the chances of you sticking around are pretty slim. The title would have to be extremely compelling for you to read past the first sentence. Don’t give your readers “Mount Everest” type of  content to tackle. What I mean by this is, you can have a heavy or highly informative topic to write about but if you just lay it all on your readers you will overwhelm or even lose them. Break up your text with images, headers, and shorter paragraphs to avoid exhausting or boring readers. To give your SEO a boost try adding keywords into your headers. The easier your content is to read the better you will rank.

4. Mobile Optimization

Mobile Optimization

Back in 2015 Google started penalizing websites that aren’t mobile friendly by pushing them down in search engine rankings. In fact, taking a look at some statistics on just how many website visits were from mobile devices in 2018, 58% were from mobile devices. This number just keeps jumping each year, if your website isn’t mobile friendly good chance you are also seeing a high bounce rate. If you are a B2B marketer mobile optimization is especially important. 77% of executives use their smartphones to research a product or service for their business.

5. Website Speed

Website Speed

Search engines pay attention to your websites loading speed. The chances of users leaving your site increases if they have to wait  longer than 7 seconds for pages to load. Try optimizing the size of your images, larger images can slow down your page. Reduce the number of plugins, the more plugins you have the more resources are needed to run them which slows down your website. The recommended loading speed for your website is under 3 seconds. Since so many websites fall short of the recommended speed, you will have an advantage on your competitors if you increase your website speed.

There are many aspects to SEO but making these few changes will increase your search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your website.

EducationMarketingSelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Client Relationships

Have you ever bought from a business knowing full well that you could go somewhere else and get a better price? Some people have, but why?

Maybe it’s that they’re closer to your business, or the quality of the product, but the main reason people keep coming back is because of the relationship you have with the staff, manager, or owner. Sometimes companies buy from other companies because there’s a history between them. Maybe it’s a personal friend you want to support. But most likely, it’s because they have great customer service. Client relationships are valuable for your business and your customers. In fact, avoiding taking an interest in your clients or taking too much interest can hurt your business as much as a poor product.

Learn your customers

Client Relationships

Getting to know your customers helps you get to know more about their business, why they buy your product, and their buying habits. This helps you anticipate their needs and fulfill them. But on a deeper level, learn the person. Learn their interests, if they have a family, and how they got into the business in the first place. This helps you leave a lasting impact on them. I’ll give you a story of how asking about people and their lives leaves people feeling valued and wanting to come back.

I used to always go into the bank to do all my business, walk up and talk to a teller instead of stop at a machine and tap a screen. The one particular teller began to recognize me every time I came in. She recognized my mom and sister and took an interest in their lives as well as my own. This lady would ask about trips we were taking, offered places my (fresh out of high school) sister could stay as she traveled abroad. This teller became the person we all looked forward to talking with when we went in to do business. Before leaving she would always ask us to say hi to the rest of the family and knew us by name.

She started with small personal conversations, asking about our family, what we do for a job and how we like doing it etc. I’m not necessarily saying offer your home to anyone who walks into your shop or even at all, but you may share similar interests that you never knew about. You my gain a golfing buddy or a fellow sports fan of your favorite team. Building trust with customers is so important, you can easily ask questions about their life, go beyond the small talk, and bringing up the weather. That’s how you become familiar with clients but never create a relationship. 

Client loyalty

Shaking hands

These two seem to go hand in hand. If you invest time into the clients that walk through the door they will keep coming back. In a marketplace where your customer competition is high it’s vital to rise above the rest and show amazing customer service. Don’t promise too high and deliver low.

Recognize the people who buy from you, and remember things about them. If a person buys three cans of paint and is telling you about a project they are working on. Remember it and ask them how it turned out the next time you see them. As easy as it is to walk to the ATM machine, I preferred to go to a teller because of the positive experience I had. If you give this to your customers they will chose to buy from your flower shop instead of buying at a Walmart, or stop at your coffee shop instead of Starbucks.

Angry customers tell their friends

Angry Customer

People don’t generally say anything if they are satisfied. That’s because they aren’t blown away if their expectations are met. But if they are mistreated, the word will likely spread fast. If someone has a bad experience they will tell friends and family. They don’t want others wasting time and money if they are getting mistreated or their needs won’t be met.

 

Client relationships are extremely important when running a business. Building trust and community with your customers will keep people coming back and make it easier to get new work.

 

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

Learning

Leah Learns has been in the works for a while now. What started as an office joke has grown into a fun opportunity. We finally released a new video on YouTube last week you don’t want to miss it. It’s comical, entertaining and educational all in one!

Leah is our SM (Social Media) specialist at Panda Rose, we have started a YouTube channel challenging her each week to learn something new. We have plenty of talent within our team, and community. She will be learning skills we never knew she needed to learn.

Origami

Our First Video

Last week a video was made teaching her how to open bottles without a bottle opener. It is both practical and fun! One method was placing the bottle in the heel of a shoe and forcefully banging it against a hard surface. The momentum pushes the cork out of the bottle and the shoe prevents the glass from breaking. After many swings it was surprisingly successful! The other, more risky, method was sabering. This includes a bottle of champagne (or sparkling wine) and a knife, or in our case a bayonet.  This idea here is to follow the seam of the bottle (which is the weak point of the bottle) and carry the knife in one quick swift movement up the seam and against the top of the bottle. This force will literally slice off the top of the bottle and cork. The other way to open a bottle which unexpectedly had it own difficulties was to simply twist off the cap. The trick here is to twist left, not right.

What’s Next?

In the future we will be teaching Leah a variety of skills. It’s exciting to get to know the small businesses around the community through learning small aspects of their work. You can look forward to a new video every week. Simply Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out and comment on the videos ideas you have for our next Leah Learns!

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We want to hear from you! Leave a comment with an idea for a new video!

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

DSLR camera

Your product is ready to sell, and one of the most important aspects of selling a product is how you display it to your customers. Today I’ll give you some simple tips on how you can take amazing product photos on your own.

Eliminate Distractions

Remove any background distractions and place your object on a clean surface or in front of a clean bright wall. This gives your product all the attention it deserves. A clean background or surface keeps your products and photos looking crisp and professional.

Busy and distracting:

Crisp and clean:

Choose Your Lighting

Choose your lighting carefully, take a few seconds to find space near a window with indirect sunlight (natural light). Taking photos indoors can sometimes be tricky. If you’re under florescent lights your pictures may turn out more blue. If you are under incandescent lights, your picture will have more of an orange tint to them. Natural light gives a good balance and shows the products truest color. Steer clear of dark hallways or rooms as this will also distort your image and make it difficult to see the details and quality of your product.

Natural light:

Dark Hallway:

Incandescent:

Florescent:

Focus

Lets take your photography skills one step further now. A really simple trick that will set your pictures apart from the rest is to give your pictures a blurry background, called “bokeh.”  Bokeh  (BOH-kay) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. If you are shooting from a DSLR camera, like I am in these images, you can change whats called the aperture. On your camera it will look like this:  f/5

Changing the number higher like f/10 will give less blur but changing the number lower to f/4 will give more blur.

This image is at f/25

while this image is at f/4.5

See how the glass is blurred drawing the eye towards the mug. This feature is great to use if you are taking pictures of multiple products but want the closest one to stand out or if you want all products in focus. This simple trick takes your photography skills to a whole new level.

Choose your camera

If you take your pictures with a phone, the new iPhone’s have a feature called “portrait mode” in your camera settings that allow you to artificially create the bokeh look. Select Android phones offer this feature as well called “live focus.” Keep in mind with a smartphone camera your outcome may not always give the same effect. The trick is to keep a steady hand when using portrait mode. Shaky hands can confuse the camera and your outcome won’t be as impressive.

iPhone portrait mode (fail): Right corner of the mug has been incorrectly blurred. Shaky hands or improper focusing may have caused this. Sometimes, certain objects confuse the camera. In this case the clear glass and liquid was difficult for the camera to properly blur out.

iPhone portrait mode (success): Steady hands, focus is directly on the mug and a different background object is in place = success!

With these simple yet effective techniques you will notice a huge improvement on your images. It’s always worth the little bit of extra time to play around with your products and camera. Taking great pictures can seem intimidating. These tips will help your pictures look clean and professional, all from the comfort of your office, home, kitchen, shop, etc.

BloggingEducationMarketingMobile AppsProductivitySecurity & PrivacyShoppingSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

In our office we share memes, eat cake and brainstorm… a lot. But there’s one thing we do even more of.

We use our phones, like a lot, a lot! We use them for testing apps, testing websites, social media management, communication, the list goes on. So with that said, we want to give you the inside scoop of what apps we love to use day in day out, and why they are vital to our entertainment, productivity, communication and lifestyle.

We wrote an article a few weeks back about some of our favorite phone gadgets. Some were for pleasure, others for productivity. If you missed it, you can check it out here as today’s article goes hand in hand. So between, web designers, developers, digital marketers and our CEO, these apps are the ones you need to download, like yesterday!

Let’s begin with entertainment.

Head phones

Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music, we need music like we need our coffee!

Podcast can be under entertainment and productivity as there are so many different types of podcasts out there. Our top favorite podcast apps are Podcasts (Apple) and Castbox. Castbox has over  95 million volumes of content and is available for almost all devices.

A few musicians came forward in the office and shared their favorite apps. Guitar Tuna was recommended by a few as an app to tune your guitar on the go or as a back up. It is available for both Apple and Android. Tabs is an app that has thousands of guitar, bass and ukulele tabs and chords for all your favorite songs. If you are looking to take up an instrument here’s two apps that are a go-to’s for the musicians in the office.

Audible is another app that fits into productivity and entertainment. Audible is a mobile library, with loads of books you can listen to or read.

Quora is an app to share opinions, knowledge and feedback. Ask a question and get a helpful answer.

Productivity

editing

Lynda.com is a popular app for taking online courses. You can choose a topic you would like to learn, for example: photography, web design, film, finance, interior design. The list is endless. You can also choose software you would like to learn. So if you are a photographer, maybe a course that is beneficial to your business is learning how to use Photoshop. If you are looking to get into finance industry, a valuable course might be learning QuickBooks, you can learn QuickBooks for payroll, online, for a Mac, etc.

We also have a lot of photographers in the office, so photo-shop apps or editing apps came up right away. Our favorites are Lightroom and Photoshop Fix, both are easy to use and high quality.

Our office uses Microsoft Teams to communicate and share info with each other (as well as a truck load of memes) it’s a secure way to create group messages. There are so many features within the program to expand functionality: like creating different groups, include files, planners and meetings.

If you want to create logos or invitations an extremely useful app is Canva. You can create logos, Pinterest graphics, resize images to fit other social media platforms, create business cards and so much more! We use this everyday to create our graphics, and images.

Lifestyle

Family Organization

Everyone has those apps they use regularly or occasionally that just make your life so much easier. When it comes to lifestyle, the office has a variety of favorites.

Some of us are obsessed with the weather, so we’ve got you covered with choosing the best weather apps. WeatherCan and The Weather Network are our most reliable apps we would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Cozi is a popular app for family organization. You can add shopping lists, cleaning schedules and upcoming events that your family has planned. It’s the perfect app for a busy family and even busier parents.

If you are prone to migraines which some are in the office the Migraine Buddy app is the best app according to both patients and doctors. This app helps you record and identify all aspects of your migraine. For example; what triggers them, your symptoms, medications and so on.

Headspace is a meditation app that helps you let go of stress, learn to relax and get a better nights sleep. If you don’t already have this app it’s definitely a must! Everyone can use a few techniques to reduce stress and anxiety during our busy lives.

 

What are some apps that are essential for you or just plain fun? Let us know in the ‘leave a comment’ section at the bottom! We’d love to hear from you.

 

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySEOSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

pinterest

Pinterest: An app where women find recipes and DIY projects, right?

recipes

Many people see Pinterest as an app women use to find home improvement ideas or recipes, but it has far progressed from when it was first released in 2010. Marketers are using it as a platform to drive more website traffic and increase sales. Pinterest has become a major visual search engine in the past few years. So how can you use it for your business in 2019?

 

Pinterest is 80% more viral and 3x more effective at generating leads than Twitter

traffic

1. Pinterest Drives Heavy Traffic 

Pinterest has a hover feature that when clicked it directs users directly to your site, This eliminates the amount of steps people have to take to get to your site. The other benefit is that users can pin pictures directly from your site, increasing your websites visibility.

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2. Longer Post Exposure

The average lifespan of a Pinterest post is three and half months,  that’s 1,600 times longer than a Facebook post. Pins last forever, meaning that it’s easier for people to search for you and easily find your latest pins. As time goes by and your pin gets shared by other users it continues to spread like wildfire. No need to re-share content and repeat your pin over and over.

3. Excellent SEO Strategy

Use keywords in your description for higher visibility and your target audience to find you easier. Continue to post with those keywords and create boards that are relevant.When a google search is made with that keyword, your pins will show up.

4. Free Marketing From Your Fans

The more your content is pinned the more visibility you gain, just like with any social media, although you don’t need to invest in content marketing, just spend time getting quality images and a good description and your pin is ready to be shared countless times. Users want to be inspired, so inspire them.

share

5. Engage Easier With Customers

Even though Pinterest is smaller than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is easy to engage with people on this platform. Users are eager to share, they want to send their ideas and dreams with others, so if they like your content they will be eager to share it.

 

We’d love to hear your Pinterest strategies. Leave us a comment below!