Cindy Novotny

Falling in Love with Uncharted Travel

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Today I drove from Houston, Texas to Sikeston, Missouri with my friend Shelley Marlow and my parent’s wonderful Malamute, Charley. Why? Because every year my parents leave the heat of Texas and enjoy their summer in beautiful northern Michigan - that’s why!

What I realized during my drive is that I love the scenery of our country. The rolling hills, Bluebonnets, farm land and the vibrant green woods. For me, this is uncharted travel at its best. My normal travel consists of planned flights, Uber rides to a hotel and flights to the next destination.

Although I love my life, I thoroughly enjoyed my 8 hours of driving north today and will equally enjoy it tomorrow as I continue north to Michigan.

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I love packing my bag and heading to a new destination and this wanderlust only grows deeper the older I get.  Sure - when you are a millennial it is so fun to pick up and go.  No kids, pets, or worries.  But if you plan better you will end up with more money to make memories.  So no matter your age, pick up and go when you have the freedom to do so.

Here are some of my tips for you to ‘pick up and go’ -

  1. Save money for a spur of the moment trip
  2. Don’t make too many plans
  3. Be open to try new things
  4. Don’t be afraid to travel alone – I do it all the time and meet so many people
  5. Travel pushes you out of your comfort zone - be ready to grow as a person too!

As I left my parents’ home at 4:00 AM in their van with their dog, I watched them wave goodbye as we pulled out of the driveway.  No matter how old I am, my parents still worry.  This was the first time I was driving this trip without one of them.  They wrote out my directions with precision so that I wouldn’t get lost and this gave me the comfort to hit the road and enjoy the ride. 

Get out on the road and enjoy the beauty of life on the road!

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If Someone is Drowning, Throw them a Life Ring

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The pressure is on everywhere I look.  The pace of work is increasing with less resources than ever before.  I have never heard more sales professionals and executives use the phrase ‘I have too much of a work load.’  Now I hear it every day.  We are all expected to do more in less time.

So what do you do if you have a person on your team who can’t keep up?  First, figure out right away what is causing the issues.  What is the root cause of their slacking? Is it laziness, not understanding what to do or just that they are not motivated? In many cases, this person might be struggling with a new task or devoting too much time to certain projects because they’re a perfectionist. Don’t make assumptions.

Allocating the right amount of time on projects could be the biggest issue.  If that is the case, you need to start each day with this person and review their tasks for the day and what you expect as far as productivity.  Even if you have an idea of what the root cause might be, ask the person directly.

Try being curious and less punitive.  Help them solve their own problems but guide them along the way.  Be direct and make sure they know what is expected of them.

You can’t solve the problem on your own.  You need to involve them in the brainstorming so they will take ownership of the outcome. 

Don’t let one person pull down the team – keep the energy high, the goals on the wall and the excitement to enjoy the pressure along the way.

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Wake Up and Smell the Apples!

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How do you jumpstart your day?  The old adage of ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ applies to energy as well.  A green apple is said to give you as much energy as a cup of coffee with better health benefits.

When you wake up feeling groggy in the morning, should you reach for an apple or a hot cup of coffee? Apples and coffee are harder to compare than apples to oranges (at least they are both fruit), but both coffee and green apples make you feel energized. 

Coffee

Coffee gives you a zippy zap in your step because it contains caffeine. One cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine, which works as a stimulant for your brain and nervous system. That stimulation may make you feel more energized, but coffee isn't actually giving your body energy because that cup only contains 2 calories and no sugars or other carbs.

Apples

An apple doesn't provide the stimulation that coffee can, but it does fuel your body with more energy while helping to stabilize blood sugar. An apple keeps you going because it contains calories and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals.

Now you may be mystified at my new take on health, but always remember I am known as the ‘energizer bunny,’ and that happens without going for a run.  I am a firm believer in getting the day started off right and that is a critical first step in my success. 

I have recently started having an apple in the morning before my first cup of coffee and I can actually tell the difference in how I feel.  I drink less coffee, feel satisfied without eating a huge breakfast and have even more energy than before!  Watch out!

So next week just try it – I dare you to give yourself a new boost in the morning that will last all day. 

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Happy Friday!

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It is beginning to look like springtime and it is time to be ‘happy.’  Not that you shouldn’t be happy all the time, but sometimes you need to focus on what makes you happy and that happens when you have sunny days.  So why don’t you start NOW!?

  1. Don’t compete in life in areas you really don’t care about
  2. Focus on what matters most to you and your family, friends and loved ones
  3. Never cheat at life
  4. Be authentic and true
  5. Give more to your job so you are valued and happy
  6. What is your goal today, tomorrow or for the rest of your life?
  7. Set your sights on being happy everyday
  8. Look at the obstacles thrown at you and learn from them
  9. Know what makes you happy and spend more time doing it
  10. Be gracious, grateful and curious everyday!
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The Italian Job

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I have spent several weeks in Italy over the past few months and in addition to the love of their food, fashion, history and art, I am enjoying their creativity and innovation more than ever.  ‘The Italian Job’ always reminds me of the 2003 American remake of the 1969 British film of the same name.  A team of thieves plan to steal gold from a former associate and although it is a remake, the plot and characters definitely differ from those in the original film - taking you to my story today.

For 200 years, Brooks Brothers has created the classic American suit.  I purchased my first Brooks Brothers item 39 years ago when I bought a briefcase there for my boyfriend – now known as my husband Lefty!  At that time it was a big ticket item for me and I had the best time in the store choosing my gift.  Now all these years later, he still has the case, we have the memories and Brooks Brothers is taking on their next chapter. 

With a renewed focus on made to measure, a veteran of Milanese menswear is bringing Italian spirit to the heritage brand.  While in Milan, Lefty and I visited several fine gentlemen clothing boutiques.  Lefty is the guy who no matter how casual business becomes, he is always booted and suited.  *Brooks Brothers Heritage

Lucky for Lefty, he is always in fashion as suits have changed much in 200 years.  Jacket, vest, tie and trousers.  Shoulders have risen; 2 button, 3 button, 1 button lapels; pleats have come and gone and are back again.  The American version has always been a representation of Italian and British flair. 

In 1818 Henry S. Brooks invented the button-down collar and “off the rack” suits and has dressed American conservatives from Abraham Lincoln to Don Draper.  Today, the brand is owned by Claudio delVecchio, son of the founder of the Italian Luxottiaeyewear conglomerate since 2001.  So what is the next chapter of American Suits?

Made to Measure!  Matteo Cavaliere is the new Director of Brooks Brothers Made to Measure program which offers custom suits starting around $2,000.  People today want luxury and they are not afraid to pay for it.  If you are not comfortable in whatever you are wearing, you will never look elegant.  You can’t fake this.

So back to my story and how this is about your business and mine.  ‘The Italian Job’ remake was different but kept the same bones of the original story.  Brooks Brothers’ DNA is woven into the fabric of every suit and that legacy is being kept alive in America with Italian leaders.  When Cavaliere is asked who is better at designing suits, Americans or Italians, he always tells the same story...  “Italian fashion is where it is because of America.  After the Second World War many Italian tailors came to America to work in the apparel industry.  Many returned to Italy with American industrial know-how thus improving their native lands tailoring industry.”  “We want to keep this exchange program working and the tradition of classic tailoring alive.”

When many people think that the traditional, conservative ideas and looks of the past are not for the younger generation, they need to think again.  Companies that produce fast fashion with low prices and only a casual look like the Amsterdam company, ‘Suitsupply’, are losing market share.  Luxury retailers are seeing a swing of younger consumers buying classic looks that will last a lifetime. 

So as you consider throwing all the ‘old fashion rules’ out the window for high-tech technology solutions that take the human element out of your business, just remember how this company is going through an evolution not a revolution and has lasted 200 years. 

I must say Lefty looked very up market this month as we traveled through Europe wearing his suit with a waistcoat.  Classic is always in style.

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Spring Clean Your Business

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March 20th marks the first day of spring.  For me it marks the end of the first quarter and time to dust off the winter blues and clean up your act! Springtime gets people thinking about getting their gardens into shape and getting rid of the extra winter pounds you put on during the holidays.  But for me I think about ‘gardening my business.’

Here are a few business gardening tips to jump start your second quarter:

  1.  Any clients that you haven’t connected with need a springtime call - or even better send a bit of spring to them.  Grab their attention and personalize what new ideas you have for them.
  2. Spring clean your website - Now is also a good time to clean your site and social selling platforms.  Make sure you are up to date with pictures, links, blogs and ideas.  Put something new and fresh on your site to show you are springing into the future.
  3. Come up with some new offers - A good way to grab ones attention is to come up with some new offerings or packages.  Think about new, fresh ideas that would prompt a new client to call you.
  4. Get outside and meet new people - Attend local shows, events and business meetings in your own neighborhood.  You would be surprised at how much business potential is right under your nose.  Due to travel, weather constraints and other winter obligations you sometimes lose sight of these prospects.  Go out and meet people.
  5. Plan for filling your pipeline by June - You only have 3 months until the half way point of the year.  Get your pipeline as full as possible by June so you do not have to panic for year end.  Push harder in this second quarter so you have time to plan better for next year in the third quarter.
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Take Action

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Let’s take some action friends.  Nothing in life happens unless someone does something.  There may be someone or something prodding you to take some action and you need to listen to your instincts.

Don’t let the outside world or personal circumstances stop you from being all you can be.  Let’s motivate ourselves away from the masses.  Back away from the herd and the branding iron and lead your own stampede – only a stampede that will get you closer to your results.  We only have 3 weeks left in March which ends the third quarter.

What are you going to do about it?

 

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Who is Your Mentor?

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When it comes to mentorship many organizations try and force a ‘mentor program’ which often doesn’t work.  A mentor must be a trusted adviser, someone who puts your best interests before their own.  I am so proud to have my own father as a mentor.  Both of my parents have been incredible role models to me my entire life and in different ways they have become my mentors.  But in business, my father is my rock. His own success in sales, leadership, education and training have helped us build our business and continue to help me thrive in this crazy world. 

In addition to his vast experience in organizational development, he keeps me motivated every week.  Just this week he started sending me daily ‘tips’ on many topics.  The one I received just yesterday is so critical to business today.  We were talking about competition and he made it very clear why so many people fail at selling against the competition.  His point – ‘when you are selling against competitors or they are selling against you, the question isn’t your competitive advantage, it is - are you really competing against them or are they competing harder to win the business?’

Simple but not easy.  Most people give up too fast because they don’t want to fight and compete harder. 

There’s a certain competency ALL WINNERS must possess. I know I have it… do you?  You need the HUNGER TO SUCCEED.  Not once in a while, but every time. In order to do that, the winning competitor knows every strength and WEAKNESS about both the competition and the customer.  So I leave you with this….

  • Be Hungry
  • Be Aware
  • Be Analytical
  • Be Strategic

This was my lesson this week from my mentor.  If you don’t have a mentor – find one!  A few tips when looking for a great mentor:

  1. The relationship is critical and will evolve into a mentorship – not the other way around
  2. Look for character rather than competency – look for self-awareness
  3. Reach out to a person who you feel you can learn from and ask for their time
  4. Become a mentor yourself – you will learn so much from each other
  5. Put egos aside and open up to learning
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I am a “Prioritizer!”

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Recently I took a survey that said I was excellent at prioritizing.  It made total sense to me because I am able to successfully travel every week, manage many projects and lead an impressive team while still having time for family.  This illustrates my ability to prioritize.  Although I am not what most would call a logical and analytical thinker, I am realistic and get things done.  I use my time effectively and focus on the highest-value tasks, accurately completing significant amounts of work.

Here are some productivity tips to help you get better at prioritizing:

  • Put all to-do’s on your calendar on the date you will do them
  • Streamline your work flow weekly and prioritize daily
  • Use your tasks and to-do stamps on your iPad or computer
  • Invest in apps like Evernote
  • Use “ScanBizCards”, which lets you scan business cards on the run
  • Send yourself voice notes
  • Take pictures of receipts for expenses
  • Plan your day the night before
  • Do revenue producing activities first

Do not become overwhelmed with life.  Grab the reins and live your best life!

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The Best Skilled Player May Not Be Able to Win the Game!  

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I love the analogy of sports and business even though I am a novice in the sports arena.  But, I still have strong opinions about talent, skill, attitude and strategy both in business and in sports.  In the NFL’s biggest game, with a loud and excited crowd, the old master failed at one play he needed to make while the underdog executed his play to perfection. 

My Super Bowl celebration was a bit different as I was working in Australia.  But, in between meetings on Monday, I watched online what I could.  What I did see of the game proved to me that you can never be too sure of yourself and never be too confident that you will always win.

In business just like sports, there is always a play that changes it all - the very thin margin between winning and losing.  It seems like a small thing to decide such a significant game.  The success of a quarterback catching a ball rather than throwing it surprised the most dominant team in the NFL – just like that!

I read in an article this morning that Eagles QB Nick Foles later said when describing the mental approach that allowed him to handle the moment suddenly thrust upon him,  “You need to worry about the little things.”  YES!

This is music to my ears!  I always tell people, the saying that "you don’t have to sweat the small stuff" is rubbish.  Yes you do, to win!

So the greatest quarterback in NFL history could not beat the ‘career fill-in’; the player the team had to turn to when they needed someone to play while they looked for a better replacement.  Foles was labeled as the worst quarterback Tom Brady had ever faced in a Super Bowl.  Foles stepped up when Philadelphia’s star quarterback Carson Wentz had a season ending injury and ended up as the Super Bowl MVP.

Never rest on your laurels, always pay attention to the little things, improve your communication during the game and stop making so many mistakes.  Lessons learned on the field are also true in the board room.

My Best ‘Aha’ Moments Come When I am Calm!

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Definition of aha moment: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.

I know I am viewed as an ‘over the top’, energizer bunny, crazy traveling road warrior that goes 100 miles an hour.  But what you don’t know about me is that all my best ideas come when I am sleeping, dreaming and relaxing.  I keep a pad and pen on my nightstand and when I come up with an idea, I actually wake up and jot it down.  You may think this disrupts my sleep pattern and is not a good habit...(and you may be right). 

My research shows that a wonderful way to wake up refreshed despite minimal sleep is to wake up during a period of your lightest sleep.  Being woken up in a light stage of your sleep cycle has proven to make people feel more energetic and alert upon awakening for the day.

We all know that when you fall asleep you experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep throughout the night.  The beginning stages of sleep prepares your body to shut down – this is where you can be easily awakened by noise or thoughts.  Then, the middle stage (lasting about 25 minutes) also involves light sleep.  This is where most of my ideas come up and then I write them down. 

This is NOT affecting my deep sleep (REM) as it is the last stage of the sleep cycle – also where you have the most dreams. 

My point to this message is to relax, rest, think, find solitude and create the next brilliant idea.  It may even happen in the shower in which case, you can call out to Alexa or Siri and tell her to record your thoughts!  I always believed in this philosophy; the best ideas and solutions to our problems come to mind when we are quiet and our consciousness is relaxed.  As busy as I am, I find that the best ideas come when I am in a quiet place or with my headphones on, outside just relaxing or simply focusing on my thoughts.

I wish I was the type of organized person who could block out 20 minutes each day to mediate but I can’t seem to do it.  So instead, I find greatness at the wildest times when I least think I have the time to solve a problem. 

Good ol’ Fashion Hospitality Starts in Sales!

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Since I have talked about goal setting this entire month, I thought I would end January with thoughts on how to actually succeed.  Everywhere you look businesses are focusing on getting back to basics, and yet there are some leaders in the hospitality arena who are still trying to be ‘cutting edge’ without considering the actual customer or guest. 

Beyond self-driving cars and robots serving your breakfast, maybe it is time to shake a hand, give a smile and welcome a guest back to your hotel. 
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Let’s take the actual customer journey in sales and catering in the hotel industry.  If you are in a different industry, there are many similarities to what I will share.  General Managers, VPs of Sales, and Regional VP’s need to step into the life of a sales professional today.  The inquiries, RFP’s and technology tools (like Cvent, Knowland and LinkedIn) have changed the competitive landscape.  Selling in the industry today takes a ‘back to basics’ approach.  Stop trying to complicate the sales and customer journey with convoluted sales strategies.  Make sure your phones are answered by ‘live people with energy’ instead of having calls go to an automated message.  Make sure there are sales professionals available to take the calls, have proactive sellers finding new business and stop making it difficult for a sales person to quote a rate or a price. 

Every focus group we have done in the past 6 months with clients has supported these same thoughts.  Stop making this so hard!  We are in the hospitality business and we have lost the art good ol' fashion hospitality.  Let’s find it! 

It doesn’t stop at sales.  We need General Managers to act as hosts again, meeting with guests and clients.  We need guest rooms that are comfortable and workable.  If you have the latest in AI technology and Alexa (who knows my every wish), GREAT!  BUT - when the room is so cold and I can’t figure out how to change the temperature without an engineering degree, that is a real problem. 

Beyond self-driving cars and robots serving your breakfast, maybe it is time to shake a hand, give a smile and welcome a guest back to your hotel. 

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Make it a Great Year!

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I will continue with my goal setting mantra in this week’s blog.  I have a great feeling about 2018 and I hope you do as well.  But without a good plan, your year may be just like last year with no real improvement.  Simple but not easy

So let’s review one more time.

  • You are the only person who can limit your success – make something happen
  • Remember you have a full life – it is not just work, so plan goals for each part of your life
    • Family
    • Friends
    • Spiritual
    • Business
    • Educational
    • Hobbies
    • Sport
    • Health
  • Write down these goals and share them with an accountability buddy
  • Make the goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Aggressive, Realistic and Timely
  • Break bad habits by being honest with yourself
  • Know what motivates you and spend more time on that
  • You can achieve more together – so get your team to support the goals
  • Stop living a life you do not enjoy and start living YOUR LIFE
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Two Broke Girls is Not a Reality Show... Or Is It?

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It is easy to understand that people in their 20’s and 30’s may not consider retirement planning important.  Well, 20 becomes 40 real fast and I am here to tell you that you must start saving for plan B.  This month I am focusing my social media feed on goal setting, saving money and planning for the future.  So let’s start with my younger audience (although those of you who are older may want to read this also) because I think "better late than never" is KEY when it comes to your financial planning.

My parents taught me to save (well, they suggested it loudly) and also taught me to push the element - live right at the edge.  My husband made that a reality.  I learned early on that paying myself first was the only way to grow your wealth.  So... the first step is to SAVE MONEY and RESPECT MONEY.  

How? Use these tips:

  1. Set SMART Goals

  2. Get a financial buddy or coach to hold you accountable to save

  3. Be a smart shopper and look for deals – don’t pay retail if at all possible

  4. Push yourself, live at the edge but make sure you can pay your bills every month

  5. Don’t try and "keep up with the Jones"

Make sure you are saving your 401K or equivalent that you may have.  Try and contribute as much as you can to your 401K within reason.  Look into Roth IRA’s.  With the new tax plan, you need to make sure you are doing what you need to do to save more money.  It is simple; take a strategic approach to your savings, investing and planning so there is no need for the emergency that could happen tomorrow.  

 

Ending up in a real bad financial situation should not happen if at all possible.  Think about your future now so that when you catch up with your future, you have no regrets.  

Thoughts to Carry You into 2018!

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Welcome to 2018!  What a year we have ahead of us... I wanted to jump-start it by thanking everyone who is part of our MCA family; employees, clients, partners, friends and family.  I took the last 2 weeks off from blogging and filming my Monday Mentor Moments to give us all a break, but it is time to kick it into gear.

Everyone is looking for inspiration in their lives and my goal is to try and contribute some positive thoughts and encouragement.  Holidays can be as stressful as they are joyful and the "post-holiday blues" affect more people than you know. 

So here I go with ten thoughts to get you back on track after the holidays.

  1. Slow down for the first few days after the holidays to get things organized for a hassle free year
  2. Take a few minutes every morning to be thankful for what you have
  3. Open your eyes to what is around you, pay attention to those who get ignored
  4. Don’t take this life so seriously – even those of us who are dealing with trouble in our lives need to remember the joy
  5. Be mindful – let your heart talk to you
  6. Have some faith – regardless of what your beliefs are, you should put faith in others
  7. Stand strong and have perseverance. Continue to go forward even on the toughest days
  8. Silent nights are not just for the holidays – try it every night
  9. Be an optimist – yes, my glass is not just half full IT IS FULL!
  10. Give me warmth – I will leave you with this winter thought... For all the warm things of the season, I thank you. For the warmth in my house, I thank you. For the glow of the sun, I thank you. Let it draw all of us together against the cold stormy winter!
For all the warm things of the season, I thank you. For the warmth in my house, I thank you. For the glow of the sun, I thank you. Let it draw all of us together against the cold stormy winter!

Christmas is About Giving!

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What I love about our team is that we will do whatever it takes to make it happen.  Yesterday on the way home to LAX from Santiago, Chile, Austen Ward from our team had to use his medical skills in addition to his social awareness that we use in training to help a young girl who was having a seizure at 30,000 feet.

He was sleeping when he heard screams from a mother and an announcement from the flight attendant on United Airlines that someone needed medical attention.  As a certified EMT, Austen immediately took action.  There was one hour left on the flight before landing at LAX and after Austen monitored the vitals of the passenger, he spent the last hour keeping her calm.

Falling back on his sales and service, he used his social skills of listening and asking questions to keep the passenger awake and calm throughout the rest of the flight. 

We always say that MCA goes the extra mile but in this case, Austen went further.  Even when United Airlines offered to give him a voucher for another flight, he asked to have it donated to a veteran who could use it more than him. 

Christmas is about giving and Austen fully embodied the spirit of Christmas yesterday.  Whatever you may be celebrating over the next few days, please remember to reach out to others.  Happy Holidays to all. 

XO, Cindy

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The Popcorn Report

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In 1991 I read a book by Faith Popcorn called the Popcorn Report.  To say I loved it is an understatement.  I read it several times and referenced it often.  So why am I talking about it now, 26 years later?  Simple.  What she said then has a much relevance today and I thought I would give you a glimpse into the trends of years ago and the meaning today.

  • You have to see the future to deal with the present
  • In 1991 Faith said that in the year 2010 there would be two visions:  Gloom vs. Hope
    • Corporate America as we knew it in 1991 would be over in 2010 – WOW!
    • Culture is back in the hands of the people
    • Values are doing a turnaround

Now for her 10 Trends:

  1. Cocooning would become the trend – hence all the focus on home renovations, vintage, cooking, farming and heritage
  2. Fantasy Adventure – Everyone is escaping reality now and that is not just in travel but in how we lead our lives
  3. Small indulgences – we have too much stuff so therefore today we are seeing people spend money on a wonderful experience vs. the Armani jacket
  4. Egonomics – Faith said in 1991 that we would have everything customized and look where we are.  Your Amazon Echo knows your every wish and customizes the weather reports for just you
  5. Cashing out – people are retreating to peace and quiet
  6. Down-Aging – Botox anyone????
  7. Staying Alive – health is the new wealth
  8. The vigilante consumer – welcome to Yelp!
  9. 99 lives – living longer and happier
  10. SOS (Save our Society) – Never stop believing that the good guy always wins

So my friends, you can see that what Faith Popcorn wrote about in 1991 is alive and well as we wrap up 2017.  Her book may seem like an outdated read, but I assure you that it is worth the time.  Enjoy The Popcorn Report!

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What Matters in your Life?

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The countdown has begun - we are officially 17 days away from Christmas!  As 2017 comes to a close, this is always the best time to take a step back and look at your life during the past year. What were your wins, losses, successes, failures, highs and lows? Who in your life contributed to those times - both the good and bad? Are you living your best life as your best SELF?

We know that our lives are meant to be lived well with energy, joy and excitement but we also know that the coarse of our lives are shaped more like roller coasters with twists and turns you never see coming. So look around - who are the people around you that lift you up during the hard times? Unfortunately, sometimes the people closest to us in life take the most advantage and chip away at your armor rather than building you up. As you're reading this, if someone popped into your head and you are aware of someone who is taking away rather than adding value to your life, it may be time to reassess the relationship.  The people, processes and things in your life should be adding to your happiness and helping you reach your goals.

The holidays are a magical time with friends and family - a time to stop and smell the hot cocoa. However, it can also be the hardest time of year for those going through tough times or feeling the loss of family members, etc. No matter where you are this season, take time to fill yourself up - invest in yourself and get ready for a clean slate in 2018!

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#MULTITASKINGISOVERRATED!

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It is NO secret that multitasking is overrated!  Years ago there was an article written in Time Magazine about how many mistakes are being made by the lack of focus in multitasking, but now there is even more evidence to support how it is destroying productivity and hurting relationships. 

Stanford University recently wrote an article on this topic after significant research was conducted. Here is what they had to say... “High-tech jugglers are everywhere – keeping up several e-mail and instant message conversations at once, text messaging while watching television and jumping from one website to another while plowing through homework assignments." But after putting about 100 students through a series of three tests, the researchers realized those heavy media multitaskers are paying a big mental price. “They’re suckers for irrelevancy,” said communication Professor Clifford Nass, one of the researchers whose findings are published in the Aug. 24 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Everything distracts them.” Social scientists have long assumed that it’s impossible to process more than one string of information at a time. The brain just can’t do it.

Although I am not a scientist, I have thought for a long time that multitasking is so unproductive (and that is coming from a person who is going 100 miles an hour).  I know that when I am working on so many different things at one time, I always make a mistake or do not produce stellar work.   

Now Stanford has validated my thoughts; multitasking is less productive than doing one thing at a time.  In addition to this, researchers also found that all of us are overwhelmed with many streams of electronic information from emails to social media.  

Many people who know me would argue that I multitask all day long.  Well I have news for everyone – I work on a lot of projects all day long – one project at a time.  As I sit here writing this blog, I am only focused on this.  I haven’t looked at my email once, checked Facebook or picked up the phone to talk to someone.  I blocked out 30 minutes to write this blog and that is what I am doing. 

Multitasking does NOT make you more efficient.  In fact, it slows down your productivity because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Never Be Lost in Translation!

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I spend a great deal of time outside of the United States.  Traveling throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America, etc. has given me the ability to experience the wonders of this amazing world and all that comes with it.

I am writing this as I sit in London (one of my favorite spots) and it reminds me of many years ago when I first started traveling abroad.  Global business travel was reserved for executives of large corporations and back then, building relationships across nations was expensive and took a lot of time.

BUT - No longer!  Things are so different nowadays.  Easy access to air travel and sophisticated communications and technology make it easy for startups to begin anywhere in the world.
I love traveling the globe and the world has become so small to me.  I used to be lonely in a ‘foreign’ city when I didn’t know anyone, didn’t know my way around and didn’t speak a local language.  Today, there is almost no city that I land in where I don’t have friends, I am always able to get around easily (Uber!) and lucky for me, most speak English.  

But with all this said, there is still a need to understand cultural differences. So here are some tips :

  • First impressions count – correct handshakes, business card protocol and tone of language
  • Know specific taboos in each country
  • Know the preconceptions that people have of different cultures
  • Be diplomatic
  • For now, the official international language of business is English, but learning a few phrases is good
  • Observe everything
  • Be mindful and remember business is all about people and communication
  • The more open and curious you are, the more friendships you will develop.  Pack your bags, grab your passport and enjoy traveling the globe.
     
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