Retooling Approaches to Changing Your Life

Posted June 4, 2018 By Frank Strona

If something feels like it’s been off lately, it may be time to think about what aspects of your life need some refreshing and retooling. Don’t panic at the thought. We all go through this at one time or another. In fact, incorporating small changes and adjustments can breed big ones without you even realizing it. When you start to make better choices, you may notice that other areas of your life begin to improve, too. So instead of looking at it as an improvement, consider it an investment in retooling yourself. 

I selected four areas this month for you to reflect on and take out for a test spin for your retooling.

Finances

If you’re struggling financially, consider how retooling how you spend money might look like. most people would tell you to the place to start is to trim back your budget and be more frugal. That makes sense and we all have some “wants” that pad our budgets that are not clear “needs” for us to thrive and be healthy. However, another option is to start making more money.

Maybe you’re not over-spending, or you genuinely feel like the things you spend your money are or more than worth it. Look for extra income streams. Exploring the idea of a side job you can do from home. Sometimes taking on those side gigs allow you to enhance a side-love or hobby you have a passion for and might inspire other changes. Or look closer to home with a focused effort and assessment of what you have around the house that is just taking up space. This could be all inventory that you could be selling and reinvesting those funds back to you. Several new tools are out that make selling from home super easy. Smart device applications like Letgo, eBay and Etsy can be managed from your computer and your smart devices. Being short on money doesn’t always mean you’re over-spending; sometimes it means you’re under-earning.

Job Opportunities

If you’re unhappy with your current career or role in your job, retooling your thinking about careers or options for a different role in your industry all start by learning more about them. Research new career paths or delve into a niche of your field. Sign up for classes or attend lectures. Make it clear to your manager that you’re interested in moving up and that you’re taking the necessary steps to expand your knowledge and experience. One of the basic tools to not overlook is the “informational interview”.  These meet-ups with those in the workforce who hold the roles you are considering (or the places you would like to be in) offer a casual, low-pressure way to make a first impression, explore the place and culture without feeling like you are on display. It also expands your network and practices your “small talk” skills.

Something to always consider is getting out of your comfort zone. If you hate sales or haven’t experienced pitching things to others, maybe it’s time to try it out. Sometimes it’s doing the things we hate that can lead to greater success and happiness. Be open to change and to taking a chance when it comes to job opportunities. But, that being said – there is a difference between expanding your comfort zone and pushing your personal ethics and boundaries. 

Health

Retooling your body and health; have you found that you’ve been taking care of yourself less? Perhaps overeating, or overindulging in drugs or alcohol more and more as a way to cope with something stressful or painful in your life? Maybe something else has happened, such as an injury, or other health issues that have caused you to take substances that are bad for you. It happens. However, according to MIA, “In most cases there are more areas for improvement than simply alcohol and drug abuse.” Maybe this includes more exercise, daily interaction with a neighbor or a friend, getting out for a walk, and just being productive.

Even if you don’t feel like there’s a way out of the cycle, it is possible to overcome and grow beyond these less constructive behaviors, especially with all of the professionals out there to help. Sometimes something as simple as attending a meeting is a significant first step toward making healthier choices.

Relationship

Are you struggling to enjoy your relationship? It might need some retooling as well. It could be your perspective that needs changing. For the next month, keep a gratitude journal specifically about your relationship and your partner. Every morning, write down three things that you appreciate them and try not to repeat the things you write down. This appreciation may help you view your significant other differently, which could be all you need to have a happier, more satisfying relationship. You can write old school with a journal or notebook, or adapt newer technology and incorporate tools like Notes or EverNote. Doesn’t matter which you use, its about doing it routinely and rereading it from time to time.

Remember, you don’t have to make massive, drastic changes to improve your quality of life. If significant changes do need to be made, consider breaking them down into smaller changes. Over time, you’ll make vast improvements, even if you go about them slowly and methodically.

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Four Business Skills That Can Improve Your Work and Social Life

People learn most of the fundamental skills for business when they’re young. Some kids take leadership roles, while others create the games or activities in which they participate. These salient skills become better defined as individuals take high school and college courses and complete challenging projects, though not every skill can be learned in school. In the corporate world, however, the most successful people cultivate many business skills that can also carry over to their social life. 

The same could also be said about habits that can leave a person less than able to do and be the best that one can be. This is where coaching and mentoring comes in. A well-seasoned coach can offer support and guidance for those with strong habits that need to be nurtured, retooled and in some cases relearned. Here are some of the essential skills you’ll need to succeed in your career and social life that you can develop on your own or with the help of a coach/mentor.

Business Skill 1: Communication

Our first business skill focuses on how we get ideas and thoughts across to others. Communication skills include the ability to listen, speak, read and write effectively, according to the Center for Development & Learning. You must be able to listen, hear and read instructions to complete tasks the right way. Understanding how to write and speak effectively to get your point across or inform your colleagues, and leadership is a key function in a company’s performance or financial results process. Even in your personal life, communication is crucial. Kyani explains “Dating coaches and sales professionals often teach the need to create desire, and want for more in a conversation in order to achieve success.” In your social life, good communication alleviates stress with your loved ones, enhances relationships and creates new opportunities based on clarity instead of confusion.

Business Skill 2: Networking

We have spoken about the power of talk before. Perhaps one of the most frightening skills to master, the ability to socialize in work settings, or networking enables you to develop contacts for which to conduct business, find colleagues and develop an identity in the workplace.  Business is a numbers game. The more people you know, the better your chances for success. Networking is also essential as a way to enhance your social life, whether you meet people through social media, church, events or online dating sites. The technique of “making small talk” can help take you from “standing in the corner” to “being part of the group”. Start increasing your exposure today in both your work and personal life. You’ll enjoy the fruits of your efforts. Take little steps; one of my favorite exercises is to suggest someone go to a coffee shop but instead of keeping your face on your tablet or phone, engage someone a conversation. The conversation doesn’t have to be long or in-depth but it should be enough to do the following take you out of yourself and bring you at the moment with salient topical talk. 

Offer an open-ended greeting

Add to it an inquiry [note -This could about the weather, the taste of what they are eating, observational query on what they are reading etc]

Be aware of your body language. are you looking at the person? are you making eye contact?

Do they appear interested in talking more?

Listen to the reply and respond as appropriate.

It will feel forced, but as you practice it will begin to feel more natural as you develop your natural sense of inquiry.

Business Skill 3: Decision-Making

Making proper decisions is an essential step in becoming a leader, according to Mind Tools. When you make a decision, you must take a systematic approach to get there. For example, if you’re deciding which features or styles you need for a product, your modus operandi should include surveying or talking with customers. Developing decision-making skills is one of the most valuable abilities you can learn, and business leaders know how to make the hard calls. They’re the ones buying your product. Similarly, the ability to decide where to go on a date or how to handle a personal situation is an attractive quality to the opposite sex.

How you communicate as we mentioned above also relates to this process. Hearing “I don’t care” is very different than “I do not have a preference and willingness to “. The intent is often not implied, so practice clarity in the decision making process.  What are you needing to make the decision?

Business Skill 4: Negotiating

Negotiating is one of the most valuable and fundamental compromise skills anyone can learn. In sales, for example, you have competitors who may be vying for the same clients. To get the order, you must stress the benefits of your product over competitors, defend any organizational shortcomings and even change the price to close the deal. Negotiating is also essential in your personal life. You may need to sacrifice a session at the gym or skip a favorite event to appease your spouse.

Start developing some of these essential business skills that can have a profound effect on both your work and social life. You’ll be a much happier and contented person because of it. It may feel awkward at first – but you have to learn to stand before you can run!

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Boosting Your Confidence by Finding Your Niche

Posted April 26, 2018 By Frank Strona

Finding the Power of Self

With the stresses and hardships of everyday life, it seems like our confidence and self-esteem are among the first feelings to suffer, along with overall happiness and wellness. We all have those moments when it seems like whatever you do, someone else does it better. Or worse, it feels like we are a “day late” to the party. Sometimes we make a decision at one point in life professional that moves us away from a place of confidence, for good reasons, only to find out along the way, a part of “you” got lost. I know it happened to me when I moved from being more of an independent educator and facilitator to working from within the system of some organizations.  In my effort to be the best I could be “at work”, I forgot how to keep the best of who I was in private.

But there’s no need for despair, finding your own self-worth is a journey that takes time. Learning how to trust in yourself is the part two of that journey. But for now, let’s consider some ways to get back in touch with the parts of us that inspire, bring joy and a sense of fulfillment.

stuck in a circle

It’s all too easy to get stuck focusing on getting to the “goal” and miss the moments of the journey.

Luckily, there are quite a few simple strategies you can use to boost your confidence and find success. It all works the same, once you are finally realize you are in a place in your life when discovering a fun hobby, beginning a new career, or finding your niche in something new and exciting. It is the process of that discovery which leaves us with the lessons, that are the best confidence boosters available. From completing crossword puzzles and sketching landscapes, to woodworking, and taking online courses, trying a new craft, doing stand up or even joining a book club. If you search thoroughly enough, you are bound to find your niche. And remember – you don’t have to lock yourself into any one of them. Take the time to try several out for size.

 

Artistic Mediums

Sketch & Draw It

If you enjoy doodling and drawing, something in the art field may already appeal to you. This can include anything from pursuing a career as a cartoonist or illustrator to a tattoo artist or skin painter. You can use your passion for art in a variety of different ways. One easy way to start is to get yourself a journal or notebook and just begin doodling. Try committing to doing something in it once a day. Small or big, original or just a “copycat”; it won’t matter for now. Just start to get in the habit, and get your hand-eye coordination in a creative mood. Some time back I posted about some journals and notebooks that I suggested – go ahead and reread that post here on some of my fav books. Don’t underestimate the power of “doodling” either. Sometimes those random sketches is a person way of working things out in your brain. I often keep a doodle pad at my desk exactly for that reason.

Write It

If writing is one of your passions, there are countless writing opportunities online alone, many of which you can complete remotely, from the comfort of your own home. Producing pieces of art and writing can, not only increase confidence but cause feelings of accomplishment and even pride in one’s hard work. Start simple – remember, no one has to even read them. But after you write something – pay attention to how you felt during and after. Remember some of us, no matter how tech we are, still are drawn to the old school pen and paper. While others gravitate to e-journals & blogging. Getting an account on Medium.com is a perfect way to start slow and also read how others do it. You don’t always have to publish your work right away. But I found over the years, its always better to save it.

Picture It

A favorite shot from Boston Summer 2017

Photography is another way to express yourself, view the world, and use visual art to better understand yourself. If you’ve dabbled before, try photographing something new. It could be close-ups of nature, long shots of landscapes, or maybe candids of the people you love. Try doing a selfie just to see what you do or don’t like about the medium. You don’t even need a fancy camera to get started, just try taking simple shots on your phone camera. Our smartphones have amazing capabilities to capture what the most expensive equipment can and it’s something you can start anytime.

Design It

Artspace in Atlanta

Interior design could be your niche if you enjoy the visual arts. Decorating your home or office can help give you artistic passion an outlet and improve your own living space. There are many different resources here as well, from staging and house flipping programs to online reviews and decoration advice forums, you’ll find many different ways to explore decoration and arts in your own home. Remember – you can always start small and help those of your friends who need a new look. It’s good practice for you and they are paying for the materials so it’s a win-win for both. 

Craft It

Crafting is not only a good way to pass the time but can be a real challenge for your brain. Whether you start by creating jewelry, knitting, or scrapbooking, crafts offer an opportunity to use your mind in new ways and find solutions to tiny problems. Using crafts as a form of artwork is also a great way to express your inner self and find more meaning in the smallest things. You can use these talents for years to come and will continue to find practical uses for your crafting. This holiday season, for instance, I started making a bunch of bookmarks and journal “keepers” for friends that has now ended up as a little side project. You read more about them in my blog post about them at BiteTheRoad.Com.

Physical Challenges

Me letting go and getting out

Maybe you prefer exercise or sports to improve your mood and self-esteem. Routine exercise, whether you walk, run, swim, lift weights, practice yoga, or play badminton, not only improves your physical health but your emotional health as well. Exercise increases serotonin levels and other feel-good hormones, which help to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression, improve mood, appetite, and sleep, and boost confidence, self-image, and self-esteem.

Exercise programs like CrossFit help to encourage beginners by giving them actionable goals and motivated friends and mentors. You can find a gym, class, or program that turns into a great community of support and friendship.

Get “Edumacated

Online learning makes anywhere you are the classroom

ok – I mean “educated”. Another way to boost your confidence is to explore new learning opportunities. Nothing is better nor more powerful than knowledge. Do you have any college credits? Are you ready to learn something new that could easily develop into your perfect niche? You could attend a physical university or take online courses from your own home, and on your schedule. The possibilities are endless. The best part “learning for the joy of learning” is it is often less tethered than the demands of grades. That lack of pressure can actually allow being in school again feel like a fresh experience.

There are thousands of schools spread across the United States and countless fields of study from which you can choose. You can earn a degree in botany, biology, business, accounting, literature, education, music, art, history, medicine, or real estate.

Share Yourself

Give back. When you find yourself, you have the opportunity to share what you’ve learned and the skills you’ve gained with others. Sometimes volunteering and outreaching with different programs is actually the best way to discover yourself and your own worth. Mentoring, speaking in classes or forums and sharing your know knowledge

 

Whatever sparks your interest and becomes your niche is certain to improve your confidence, especially when you begin gaining momentum and achieving success. Use these ideas as a jumping-off point to find what sparks your interest.

 

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What Mentoring Does in The Long Run

Posted April 23, 2018 By Frank Strona

Mentoring is crucial for success

Yes, I said that. Whether it’s in school, on the job, or in any other hobby or other organization, mentoring can be mutually beneficial for the mentor as well as the mentored. From having someone whose advice can be trusted to watching a person take one’s advice and grow into an excellent employee or student, mentoring can provide benefits neither person ever imagined. To learn more about what mentoring can do in the long run, here are some important points to consider.

 

Multi-Generational Connection

Since most mentoring arrangements involve a more seasoned person offering to provide a setting for someone as an informal protege. Some combinations are because of technical or trade experience, other times it’s building on a multi-generational connection can result from a mentoring partnership or even based on cultural similarities and shared challenges. For example, while the more senior mentor can bring a strong work ethic built from years of showing up on time for work, the new to the workforce mentee can bring a level of passion and enthusiasm that may have escaped the mentor over the years. By combining their talents, both can learn something new, and perhaps recapture something lost along the way. This is especially compelling for establishing inclusive cultures in the workplace especially for women, people of color and those who are LGBT.

 

Lessen Stress and Anxiety

Particularly important for students, including those who are struggling in school, mentors can play an important role in reducing stress and anxiety. Whether working with an inner-city student who worries about making good grades to get into college, or a law school student hoping to do well enough to work in the office, mentors can be living proof that while they were in a similar position, hard work can pay off in a successful personal and professional life. Sometimes these mentoring relationships even crop up without prompting. Many a criminal defense lawyer, social worker, or nurse have taken on more than their position requires and truly befriended a client or patient. Mentoring is often a natural and open way to communicate and learn new skills in a new kind of environment.

Learning New Skills

In any mentoring relationship, both parties come out of the relationship learning a variety of new skills. For the mentor, they may learn new technology skills, since the mentoree will likely be younger and more accustomed to using today’s technology.  How do you think many of the top organizations got on social media so fast – yup the mentorship and internship programs. However, the mentoree can learn the importance of establishing a network of personal and professional connections, which can pay off handsomely in the long run. By watching and listening to their mentor, mentorees can learn that nobody makes it through life entirely on their own and that it’s fine to ask for help now and then.

By having the mentor and mentored take their partnership seriously, great things can happen. An older individual can feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the challenges of today’s world, while a young mentoree can see that by listening to their mentor, they too can achieve a level of success that may have been unimaginable only a few weeks or months earlier. In doing so, mentoring indeed becomes a win-win situation.

In fact, some workforce data suggests that having a mentorship program in place can improve the onboarding of new staff, discover new leaders from within your own organization and reduce turnover rates.

Making It Happen

Back in the fall last year I got to take to the stage and talk some about mentoring and diversity. It was my first time with this group but you can read more of the details here and get a peek at my presentation below. Not having a mentorship program in the workplace is no excuse. Advocate for one if you feel you have more to offer and want to share. If your workplace won’t – then explore other ways you can mentor people. Many school and organizations are looking for placements for participants. If you have a program in place already, take some time to assess it. Do some program assessment to see if it is still relevant and reaching the goals that fit with today’s workforce. Here is a great read on transforming mentoring programs or seek out a program you know of and get some networking time in and share strengths and experiences.

 

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How to Use Your Daily Look to Create Inner Confidence

Posted April 17, 2018 By Frank Strona

Inner Confidence

The way you present yourself to the world says a lot about your personality and your inner confidence. When you think you look good, you feel good too. It doesn’t always matter how others think you look, but knowing you like how you look goes a long way. Our confidence levels have a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves. So how we feel when we see ourselves is a part of our confidence both in person and in the workplace.

Depending on your perception I could be cool and trendy or distant and scary here of me taken on a break from a meeting

There are so many fun ways to make your look unique and fun. Fashion and clothing are great tools to use to express yourself and boost your confidence. Looking amazing means feeling amazing, too. To learn more about how to use your daily look to build inner confidence, continue reading. For some of us, being unique is also apart of developing who we are as a person. This is especially important to those that have a strong community, cultural and ethnic tie to how we are perceived. Understanding the impact we have in how we present ourselves, and knowing when to blend or shine is a skill.

 

Dress to Impress

Taking the time to put together a really nice outfit and putting some effort into your appearance can pay off in a number of ways. Whether we like it or not, other people often form opinions of us based on the way we look. While it is easier to just throw on a pair of sweatpants, this can give the impression you don’t care or aren’t invested in the people you meet. When we really put effort into our clothing choices, we not only look more presentable, but we feel better about ourselves too. You will probably find that you have the confidence to approach others when you are feeling good about your look. In addition, a lack of inner confidence can cause you to miss out on a lot of opportunities. But remember “nice” does not mean “expensive”. It means a well thought out, clean and fit outfit. Sometimes it means bumping it up a bit. This could mean adding a suit jacket to your business pressed untucked dress shirt, casual jeans, and boots or swapping out flats for a more modest heal.

 

Accessorize

Accessories are a fun way to really spice up an outfit. A bland look can be transformed into some unique and stylish jewelry, such as Bohemian or boutique-style jewelry. Purses, ties, bags, hats, sunglasses, and shoes are also a great way to accessorize and make your look stand out. The great thing about accessories is that they can easily be paired with neutral or subdued clothing pieces. A beautiful necklace or striking tie can really pull your whole look together and bring your personality to light.

Umm, yeah even as a kid, Mom made sure I wore a clip-on for those pictures.

Another easy way to add some impact is your watch and socks. Need a pop of color? Look for watch bands with a bright contrast trim, even better if you can swap them out. I think socks are a great way to show your style and unique, so while it’s a subtle thing, it can add a touch of whimsy and is a great icebreaker.  Another way you can add impact is with a touch of vintage/retro and use one of those original “grandma” pins on your blouse or jacket.

I know for me – its watch bands and ties all the way – I love vibrant and rich colors in a tie on those rare occasions I wear them.

 

Wear Flattering Clothes

Learning how to dress in a way that is flattering to your body is important. Certain styles and fabrics look good on particular body shapes but can be unflattering to others. In addition, some colors are more complimentary to certain skin tones. Much of your confidence comes from how good you feel in your clothes. If you feel like your blouse or shirt makes you look top-heavy or your skirt accentuates your hips too much, it can knock down your confidence significantly. Experiment with different cuts of clothing and see if you can get tailoring done for a better fit. Many times tailoring is less expensive than you think.

One tip I learned last year was even as a big guy, not to shy away from “trim” fit shirts. I was finding those dress shirts that fit my neck all hung too long and baggy. Then I found that a “trim” fit was not as “skinny” as I thought. Instead, I ended up with a more tailored look.

Using fashion as a way to express yourself and gain confidence is an exciting part of self-presentation. There are so many styles and fabrics to experiment with, and a good look will really make you feel good about yourself. Much of our inner confidence comes from the outside, so have fun with fashion and dress in a way that makes you feel good.

So, what about the clothes we can’t see? Well, it makes sense to pay attention to what you wear under your outfits as well. New blends and fabrics now can make lines disappear, can adjust for those of us who run warm (and want to avoid wet stains) or run cold. Knowing your fit is important, nothing it worse that constantly tugging on that pair of underwear that is creeping up or finding out that bra isn’t holding up the way it should. For many of us, we are hesitant to recycle old undergarments, “because they feel good still”,  well save them for your off days and keep your workday ones fresh and in good shape.

 

My Secret Weapon

My Dad impressed on myself and my sister’s many things as we were growing up and giving us opportunities to be all that we could be. One tip I hold to this day is the importance of taking that extra time and making sure my shoes are always polished and in good shape. I am not someone who is going to spend thousands on my shoes, but I will pay out a few extra bucks for a good standard dress one. Then sometimes I break down and buy a pair simply for fun!

No matter how much they cost, here are a few extra tips:

>> Wipe them down each day

>> Polish as needed, that includes the sides of the soles and heels. (note – Ladies your shoes need to get polished too)

>> Have your soles checked and fixed if they wear unevenly

>> Don’t wear the same ones each day. By switching them out you will get longer life from them.

 

 

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Read? Who has time to read these days?

Posted April 13, 2018 By Frank Strona

I do… In fact, I read a lot.

And when I say a lot, I mean I average 2-3 books a week sometimes in addition to work required reading and newspapers. I will read anywhere. Always have, even as a child. My Dad used to value reading and it was the one place we always connected on. It’s not always the lofty social or political stuff. Sometimes it is just fun stuff. For instance, I just finish the series Sky High Pies Cozy Mysteries by Mary Maxwell  This mystery-themed series is based on the concept of Cozy mysteries; accordingly to Wikipedia a cozy is a “subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community” (think “Murder She Wrote”). While not Shakespear – they are a perfectly fun way to spend a quiet afternoon in the sun or rainy weekend reading. Of course, when this type of genre won’t do, I tend to default to my classic horror genre (don’t judge) with an occasional mash-up of horror and cozy my writers such as Michael Todd and his “Protected By The Damned” series or Michael Anderele’s (who coauthored with Todd on the Damned series) “The Kurtherian Gambit” series with it’s mash-up of vampires, werewolves, and sci-fiction space travel all packaged in an adventure setting. Remember.. don’t judge me, I need the mental break sometimes.

In May I Read…

But I also make an effort to read at least one book a month that explores ways to engage myself for the better – not so much in the self-help fashion as James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy, rather more in a “what if I considered doing something or thinking and acting differently” kind of way. Last month I spent some time with Edward Hess & Katherine Ludwig’s “Humility Is The New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age”.

I can’t say I loved it. I had to struggle with some language nuances that I found judgemental and minimized some. professional skill sets, but when I let some of that go (I suppose that was one of the book key lessons is the “quieting of the ego” as they call it) I did find some interesting ways of looking at the very trending theme of mindfulness.

While mindfulness as a tool for personal development  is not something new, and I had been of fan of it as a method many years ago when I worked in substance use treatment programs, this take encourages the reader to see it as a professional skill set that some organisations are even implementing as part of a commitment towards workforce staff development as a way to inspire new ways of leading and collaborating both in the work setting and externally with consumers and clients.

What About This Month?

So this month I jumped feet first into Manoush Zomorod‘s “Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self”. I came across this one, from recommendations from a pal who was also reading it and heard the author speak “about the ways to “unlock your, most productive and creative self“. I actually started this one in March, but then life took over and I didn’t get very far until I added it to my “to do” list for this month.

No really.. I am reading.. I was just reflecting a moment..

So far I am just into it a few chapters in and already find that I am liking it. I tend to not like to highlight in my books (maybe it’s my upbringing that books were important and not to be written in) but I am a huge fan of post-it tabs! Even if my journals and notebooks look like a crazy man sometimes. I even made myself a special bookmark (I make others using vintage jewelry as a hobby – you can read about those here) for it!

So far into  “Board and Brilliant”, I have to say it is hitting me in all the right? wrong? places. I am someone who is always on the move. Last month alone, I worked my traditional full time job, had more clients generated here for mentor and coaching, taught two online classes all while being the full-time nursemaid, cook, cleaner, laundry person, bottle washer, driver, dog walker, etc for the last 6 weeks while my partner has been recovering from unexpected foot surgery. So my creative time has been stretched at best.

I did manage to make and design some new bookmarks with a stash of vintage leather buttons as well as several of my favorite journal keepers to submit as auction items (You can read more about them on my personal blog BiteTheRoad.com and the extras will get added to the Etsy store later this week) But my mental creativity has definitely been lagging and the thought of just “spacing out” made me feel guilty and unproductive.Especially problimatic as I have scripts for a storytelling event here in San Francisco in April and my first lisceneced TEDx Talk in Provincetown this summer due.

But The Reading Will Continue

Well more to come as I work my way through Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self” and I plan to share any insights I glean along the way. For now, I will leave you with this page shot right from page 13. Really, folks – you should check this book out.

Note to readers: All book reference links are affiliate links to Amazon, more as a point of navigation. You are more than welcome not to use them if you prefer to do your own search manually, please do so. Affiliate links allow for a tracking mechanism to see what material I share about sparks interest with readers, inspires them to purchase etc. Yes, I do get a small percentage of each sale, but it also means I don’t need to create a MentorSF bookstore and worry about inventory, markup pricing etc.  

 

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How Important is a New Hire’s First Day?

Posted April 5, 2018 By GuestSpot
How Important is a New Hire's First Day

“Half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first 120 days,” according to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). That eye-opening statistic is the reason managers and human resources professionals take a proactive approach toward onboarding and retention. If you want to promote your company’s brand, maximize revenue, maintain positive morale and decrease cost, you will make your new hire’s first day builds a foundation for a long-term career with your company.

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is a process that means more than new hire paperwork completion, orientation and a tour of the facilities. It is pivotal to the success of the new and your business. It sets the tone for what employees can expect. SHRM reports, “Organizational socialization or onboarding is a process through which new employees move from being organizational outsiders to becoming organizational insiders.” It eases fear and builds trust.

Importance of New Hire Training

SHRM’s report, “Onboarding New Hires,” states, “The faster new hires feel welcomed, the quicker they can contribute…” Happy employees are productive employees in every aspect of your business,e.g., customer service, marketing, sales, and management. Recruiting and selection are priorities, but strategic onboarding is also vital.

Types of Onboarding

You need to determine whether a formal or informal onboarding plan works best for your company. A formal strategy requires a written set of policies and procedures that help employees adjust to a new job. Tasks and socialization entail weekly, monthly or quarterly activities. Team members openly support the new hire. Self-service onboarding software like this may be used.

An informal plan does not include structure. Employees learn by on-the-job immersion, a kind of trial-by-fire approach that can end in ambiguity. It should be noted that performance will suffer if expectations are not clearly defined. Studies reveal that employees in the United States and the United Kingdom lose $37 billion because employees do not understand their jobs (MarketWired).

Initiatives for the New Hire

Effective onboarding requires the active participation of the new employee. Stay engaged in small talk, meet with team members for lunch, volunteer for company functions. Establishing a relationship with his supervisor and assuming additional responsibilities are also key.

The bottom line for a well-developed Onboarding strategy is simple: long-term success. All employees can be brand ambassadors. A great first day resonates with new hires, not just on that first day, but for years to come.

          

5 Tips for Getting Hired as a Person in Recovery

Posted April 2, 2018 By Frank Strona

Recovery from addiction is a process.

As I was working remote recently, I had several people ask for insight on transitioning back into the workplace after time away to get some priorities in order. Previously in my career, I did a lot of work those in recovery and I still commit to supporting those in that process. But like any process, being in recovery has crucial milestones along the path for you to rediscover your sense of worth. One important way may be by finding employment.

You have had the courage to overcome the hold on your life that mind-altering substances (alcohol and other such drugs) once had. part of this process of recovery is also getting back into the workforce. There are employers who will value your journey and embrace you as the positive contributor you yearn to become. Here are five tips to help you obtain and keep a job as you transform your past struggles into a story of success.

Be Honest in Your Interview

When you interview with potential employers, hiding the truth of your past can be a liability, not an advantage. This is especially the case if the interview process includes drug testing; hair strand tests can be especially revealing of a drug history. Although your previous decisions and actions were far from trustworthy as you spent your days satisfying destructive habits, a heartfelt description of your recovery gives you instant credibility. Share the things you learned in rehab. The supportive reaction you receive might include the words, “You’re hired!”

Reflect on Your Accomplishments

Once you have been hired, give yourself repeated pats on the back. Take pride in the accomplishment of following through with all steps of the application and landing the job. Any successful completion of a task, big or small, helps fuel your self-improvement.

My Journal style

This is the actual journal that I use to plan holiday gatherings.

After each shift, spend a couple minutes recounting your achievements through journaling, meditation, positive self-talk, whatever works for you. This will keep your spirits flourishing and inspire you to leap out of bed the next day.

I liked Ms. Gimes post so much I even shared it and my grizzly self, holding one of my favorite notebooks.

If journaling is not something you do routinely, it may be due to the fact that you haven’t the found the right type of journaling” style that fits you. I often struggle to find a style that worked until a read the post “A new (to me) concept for keeping a notebook” by writer Shaunta Grimes writing for BetterHumans.coach about the use of “notebooks” and realized I was confining my thinking to what I perceived was journaling and needed to expand it to fit me. Many versions of notebooks and journals exist, from old school pen and paper (which I still do) towards more tech-focused ones. Check out a few variations here with suggestions from a former blog post of mine or my “Tips to Make Yourself More Marketable post. 

For types of notebooks, I tend to lean towards, the Moleskine Classic Notebook, Extra Large, Ruled, Black, Soft Cover (7.5 x 9.75) or the 200 page “big boy”, Zequenz Classic 360 Soft Cover Notebook, Soft Bound Journal, Medium, 5″ x 7″. I also and a huge fan of “tabbing” so invest my favorite sticky tabs as well as an additional pen holder.  These are linked to Amazon (as an Amazon Affiliate) but mostly for suggestions to give you an idea.

Make Friends with Your Co-workers

Finding quality people to befriend at your new job is a free resource to help you stay on the right track. Friends offer encouragement. Good ones offer an ear to let you openly vent when you are frustrated at work. When you return the favor by offering to listen to their issues, it puts your problems into perspective.

Replace Negative with Positive

40-60% of addicts in recovery find themselves in danger of relapsing (The Recovery Village). Even going to rehab makes no guarantee. Keep your mind free from relapse urges by filling your days with healthy replacement “highs.” For instance, going for a walk on your lunch break provides a boost to your mood by connecting you to nature, as well as adding a physical accomplishment you can be proud of. Other healthy pick-me-ups include gym classes, community clubs, or nurturing a hobby.

Create Emotional Checks and Balances

Shield yourself from emotional pitfalls. When you are stressed, remind yourself of the struggle your life became when you masked stressful situations with drugs. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Take pride in the perseverance you have developed. But as I said earlier – a new career isn’t the type to toss out all the lessons and tools you learned to get your recovery in place. That extra effort you take to make it to a meeting or call a sponsor may, in the end, is as important as the gym. So balance your time.

Winners are just former losers who listened to the lessons from their losses. Your past might be loaded with disappointment and addiction. Utilizing your tools and seeking support, you can supplant that past with hope and work to make a future swelling with accomplishment.

If you are still struggling to get help. Several months back I posted about different options that exist, you may find it useful to revisit that post. Written initially for those trying to move past anxiety or an accident, some of the same resources apply. You can read the post here.

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The Power of Talk

If you are looking to start a business, you do a lot of thinking. But you always need to remember to talk. Yes, it can all get to be overwhelming. After all, there are many issues to think about. You need the right tools and resources, or you could fall into common pitfalls and risk losing your momentum early on. From the traditional “Informational Interview” to professional networking, engaging and talking to other professionals in and out of your area specialties is important. Here are a few crucial professionals when starting your business to ensure you have the best profits and least amount of expenses possible:

Accounting and Taxes

Taxes are nothing to play around with when it comes to your business. There could be significant consequences if you don’t have the right tax and business structure from the start. Get tax help from a pro, such as a CPA in Cleveland if you are based in that area. No matter where you are, make sure your tax professionals and accountants know that area.

They can also advise you on the best structures and accounting methods. You might need to write off inventory at the end of the year to catch a loophole or even have overseas parent companies if your situation is the right one for it. Don’t pay more than you have to, instead have additional cash to invest the way you want to by being smart from the start. According to J. Donohoe Associates, accountants help “provide solutions for businesses to efficiently manage, minimize, comply and plan their state and local taxes.”

Marketing

Marketing is the most crucial part of your image. If you don’t create it with the right branding, then the media will do it for you. And if you leave it up to them, you might not like what you say. Have active social media campaigns by hiring those who are the best at what they do. You won’t regret it.

Marketing professionals will show you what your brand needs in order to improve or appeal to your audience. It is this brand that will keep customers coming back. Don’t do anything to hurt that brand. Do all you can from social media interaction to digital marketing, and even contributing to fundraising efforts for various platforms. Positive reviews and outlooks toward your brand will make a huge difference for your business. If you aren’t sure how to bridge the emerging and changing social marketing landscape – check out my post “adopting the use of social media platforms in small business”  or the MentorSF Bootcamp and other sessions or contact me for help.

Product Creation

Without a great product, you won’t be able to increase sales, organic traffic, and revenue. Products that are inspiring will sell themselves by having customers want to share them with others. If you have a weak product but great marketing, then you are merely scamming people. So for the interest of higher profits and responsibility, seek the experts on how to make the best solution for your market. They can even help you design it in a way that reduces costs.

When it comes to starting a new business, it is not easy. It is essential that you speak with the right professionals so you can put your business in the best position to succeed. That way you don’t make mistakes that set you back regarding time and money. Instead, you can enjoy dominating your market by having the ear of experts in key fields.

 

          

What Your Smile Says About You

Posted March 20, 2018 By GuestSpot

“Smile! It increases your face value”

— from the movie “Steel Magnolias”

Your smile is one of the first things other people see. A beautiful smile can portray a person who is outgoing, friendly, likable, and approachable. It can show the world that you take care of your teeth and take pride in your appearance, but it also shows people that you “see” them with a more open perception. In our society, a beautiful smile says a lot about the person. Also, an unpleasant smile (or in many cases the lack of ever smiling) can often have a negative impact on an individual’s life. in a society where the first 3 seconds of meeting people make an assumption of you – a smile can be an important start to most things. To learn more about what your smile says about you, continue reading.

Are You Trustworthy?

Those with healthy, white teeth are often seen as more honest. People are more likely to trust you in relationships and business endeavors when you have a friendly smile. Part of the reason for this may be that people who take care of their teeth and appearance are often more likely to be more hardworking and ambitious.

How Friendly Are You?

A gentle smile often portrays an individual who is friendly and kind to others. People are much more likely to approach those who take care of their teeth. A beautiful smile can often mean more friends and better relationships with the people in your life.

Are You Happy?

People with healthy smiles are more likely to live happier lives than those who are unhappy with their appearance. Not only does a sweet smile boost your self-esteem and confidence, but it also impacts other aspects of your life such as relationships, jobs, and friendships.

How Healthy Are You?

Your dental health represents more than just the way you look. Good oral hygiene is linked to better overall health. Those with beautiful smiles tend to live longer lives and are less likely to suffer from conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and reduced immunity.

How Outgoing Are You?

Having a friendly smile and self-confidence often go hand in hand. Those who are more confident with the way they look are much more likely to be outgoing and have more friends. A gentle smile will help you feel more comfortable with approaching others, which can often mean better relationships and job opportunities, too.

Your smile is an essential part of your outward appearance and can significantly impact your life in various ways. Good dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are crucial to maintaining a beautiful, healthy smile. According to Sabal General Dentistry, “improve the health and look of your smile with comprehensive cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatments.” Visit a dentist today to book an appointment and obtain the beautiful smile you want to achieve. Don’t let the fear of visiting the dentist get in the way of your moving forward. Today’s new technology has greatly lessened the discomfort and time to give you a fresh new look.