Tuesday, September 25, 2018

3 Keys to Build Better Workplace Morale

Did you know October 7 is "Worldwide Smile Day?"


Smile day is celebrated on the first Friday of October, dedicating twenty-four hours to smiling and acts of community kindness. Why? In a "bad news" world, a little dose of joy goes a long way. Gretchen Rubin certainly believes this.


From outside perspectives, Rubin lived a marvelously successful life. She had a good marriage, a thriving writing career (formerly a Yale graduate clerk to Sandra Day O'Connor), a warm relationship with in-laws, and two lovely daughters. But in 2006, Rubin realized something was missing. She had a mild case of "the blues," a below-the-surface irritableness she couldn't shake. While she was generally happy, Rubin struggled to enjoy happiness each day.


"Did I have a heart to be contented? No, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please . . . (It was) easier to complain than to laugh, easier to yell than to joke around, easier to be demanding than to be satisfied."


Driven by curiosity, Rubin threw herself into a soul-searching experiment resulting in the best-seller, "The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun." Rubin chose monthly themes, like "energy," "love," "work," and test-drove happiness theories. In the end, this created an entire cottage industry (blogs, videos, starter kits), driving people to aggressively pursue happiness. Rubin found a commitment to simple daily habits (like making the bed) brought a drastically cheerful increase:


"This is about ordinary happiness," Rubin said. "I wanted to change my life without making major changes. I wanted to show that you don't have to do something radical."


Lighten the Mood, Lighten Their Load


Work is life, and life is work. As hard as you try to separate them, work affects your personal life, and vice-versa.


So, what if you could increase happiness at work? What would increased "ordinary" happiness do for an entire company? Statistics say employees who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days, and 36% of employees say they would give up $5000 a year to be happier at work. Happy salespeople produce 37% greater sales and "happy companies" outperform the competition by 20%!


The Keys to Building Morale


Your brain works efficiently when you're in a good mood. Forward-thinking businesses connect these dots, believing a better "company mood" brings a stronger bottom line. Here are three ways to build better workplace morale:


1. Cozier Spaces. The office layout, lighting, and aesthetics are a major part of employee satisfaction. Have discouraging cubicles or ugly paint? Throw a little money at this problem and harvest new energy from your team each day.


2. Parties and Perks. Whether its chair massages, goofy competitions, or summer snowcone festivals, everyone benefits from fun at work. Professional growth opportunities are also significant: in a 2013 poll, 84% of employees claimed the opportunity for advancement was very important. Encourage people to attend conferences, practice peer-to-peer training, or try workshops for growing specific skills.


3. Improved Communication. As you mobilize teams, tap into the foundational reasons people give their best, like self-improvement, societal impact, or ability to reach challenging goals. When Sandra Day O'Connor was asked what she thought made a happy life her response was simple: Work worth doing.


As you lead, give your team regular feedback. Without guidance, people feel deflated or unmotivated. Personal improvement areas should be private and actionable: explain to employees where to improve and give examples of change. Author Scott Halford says positive feedback is vital:


"Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, leaving the recipient open to new direction. Meanwhile, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on and defensiveness sets in. You don't need to avoid corrective feedback altogether. Just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome."

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Enduring Impact of Print

The 1960s gave us many iconic classic cars, but perhaps none is more legendary than the Aston Martin driven by James Bond (Sean Connery) in the 1964 film, Goldfinger.


A long list of tricks made it one of the most beloved movie cars of all time: machine guns, an ejector seat, smoke screens, and a futuristic onboard navigational system. Bond's reputation as a suave man of action and a smart connoisseur of fine things rocketed Aston Martin to popularity as one of the most desirable automobile brands in the world. The car was so beloved it was later stolen from a Florida airport hanger and is reportedly worth nearly 10 million today.


Vintage. Classic. Irreplaceable.


Those are some of the words we associate with things that are original, things that set the "status quo," and that just can't be shattered or ignored. Today's generation is manifesting a hunger for the authentic, and a desire for craftsmanship is at the forefront. In an age of identity theft, cheap counterfeits, and digital dominance, Carhartt clothing coined the call for craftsmanship as the "road home from a throwaway world."  


The Original Design Format


Local printers believe in the beauty and craftsmanship of their trade, and in the hard-hitting, precise, flawless quality that hard copy printing can bring. As the original format for marketing impact, we believe print design is as essential as the ABCs – in ways as basic as these:


A = Attracting New Customers


Print is essential for attracting new customers in ways digital advertising never can.


Print products allow you to uniquely target the right customers by placing your work directly in before their eyes and in their hands. While digital ads are quickly forgotten, print offers a sense of credibility and real-time professionalism that engage consumers with an immediate, tangible impact. Printed pieces also have a greater opportunity to arouse passive audiences (like those viewing a banner, poster, or printed advertisement), to keep reader attention longer, to improve reading comprehension, and to improve the top-of-mind awareness your business desires.


B = Building Traffic Online


Online content requires a combination of above- and below-the-line marketing support to drive traffic online and increase profits across the board.


Hard copy print products can increase online engagement through a variety of marketing initiatives. Consider on-page ads with online coupon options. Feature your online calendar or offer VIP discounts for those who refer a friend or add social bookmarks to your business. Use printed inserts or brochures placed at the point of sale for invitations to educational blogs, webinars, or freebie giveaways you feature only online.


As you connect your online and conventional marketing strategies, aggressively seek customer feedback and look to solidify your niche in the collective conversation. Inspire professionalism, reliability, and consistency in everything you publish, both digitally and in print. Better integrated communication will bring more consistent, profitable results!


C = Cementing Brands Offline


Often, we overlook the power of print products to cement our brand in consumers' minds.


A 2015 neuromarketing study revealed that direct mail simulated a 70% higher brand recall3, a dramatically more persuasive element than digital media.


And don't underestimate the poignant response physical print brings.


Consider the emotions you experience when you see your favorite coffee logo adorning a steaming mug, or how you feel when a co-worker walks into the room wearing a T-shirt of your favorite podcast or band. Print products bring a palpable, concrete response that digital advertising just can't match!


Whether it's yard signs, car window adhesives, banner advertising, or just good old-fashioned swag, claim some real-estate for your image and you'll find your brand developing staying power with a lasting return. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Why Aesop Would Have Been More Successful Than Bill Gates Today

An ancient Greek storyteller and fabulist, Aesop is thought to have been a slave who eventually acquired his freedom by reciting clever moral fables involving animals with human characteristics.


Insightful and astonishingly original even today, Aesop's fables continue to delight and educate us with their startling observations of human failings and strengths.


We all know who Bill Gates is--only one of the wealthiest people in the world and founder of Microsoft.


Although Gates is the epitome of the successful businessman, Aesop would have given him a run for his money, so to speak. Aesop's keen intuitiveness into the human psyche would have made him the ultimate inspirational and motivational manager or employee. In fact, Gates may have chosen to work for Aesop instead of running his own business!


Check out these three fables from Aesop and how you can apply their moral teachings to your own business:


The Donkey and the Mule


The owner of both a mule and a donkey loaded them with supplies before making a long and arduous journey. When they reached the hilly country, the donkey begged for help by asking the mule to take some of his load. The mule said no. "I'm carrying too much now as it is. You'll just have to deal with it."


Within days, the donkey stumbled from weariness and died. The owner had no choice but to put the donkey's load on the mule's back. Now the mule had to carry double the load he was once carrying.


What was Aesop trying to say with this fable? 


When you help others, you are helping yourself.


In a real-world setting, this fable is about teamwork. Although we all have encountered problems when trying to accomplish projects as a team, trying to do something by yourself means you are stuck with only your skill sets, your ideas, and your extremely subjective perception of how satisfactory the project really is. Ultimately, refusing to help others limits your ability to help yourself.


The Cat and the Mice


An extended family of mice needed to develop a good plan to protect themselves from a devious cat. One of the younger mice spoke up and said: "I think we should tie a bell around the cat's neck. That way, we'll know when our enemy, the cat, is coming for us."


An older, wiser mouse asked: "That is a great idea, but who is going to undertake the dangerous task of belling the cat?"


The mice fell silent, realizing this plan would not work.


Moral of this Aesop fable:


Successful ideas are ideas that can be fully implemented.


While it's great to throw around ideas, only realistic, sound, and sustainable ideas are the ones that provide satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, and financial benefits. The next time you are involved in a strategy meeting, remember the importance of challenging everybody, but keep in mind Aesop's catalyst for true achievements: can anybody bell the cat?


The Lion and the Oxen


A lion took to prowling a field where several oxen were grazing. The lion tried to attack the oxen many times but they always positioned themselves in a way that protected their vulnerable bodies. They met the lion with their horns instead of their tails. Eventually, the oxen started fighting with each other and went to separate areas of the field. Without the protection of their fellow oxen, each ox died a horrible death as the lion attacked them one by one.


Try this one on your own. How could you apply the moral of this story to your own business?