December Dates

As we rapidly approach December and are immersed in the holiday season, we recognize that this time of year we choose to spend time with those we love.  Whether you’re single and dating, in a happy relationship or in the process of making decisions about your current relationship, what can you do to make the most of this season?

1-create space for your relationship.  Set aside time each week, if not each day, to spend with your partner.  It will help you get through the busy season and encourage you to work on your relationship at a time that you would typically brush off issues yet some of the biggest issues are raised.

2-try new things.  There are tons of great experiences available in the holiday season, so get curious and try something new.  You never know what a new experience will reveal about each other or your relationship.

3-pick date activities.  While being accommodating can be good for a relationship at times, it’s important to not lose yourself in the relationship.  Each of you picking an activity will allow you to assert your independence and have fun too.

4-24 days of love.  Christmas is the perfect time to remember why you love each other.  Show or tell each other in a little (or big) way each day up to Christmas what you love about the other person.

5-visit your roots.  The holidays are all about family, so take time to learn about each other’s past and the people who have made them into who they are.  You can visit a graveyard, church where parents were married, school where you grew up or your favorite hideaway as a kid.

What do you do to make holidays special as part of your relationship?

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December Dollars

It’s almost December, a month of spending and the end of the year for many businesses.  As we prepare for the festive celebrations that December brings, I thought we’d talk about money today.

1-be generous:

This holiday season I encourage you to be generous to your family, friends, clients and yourself.  You don’t have to spend amounts of money that you can’t make back or offer discounts that will break you financially, but you can show your family and clients in little ways that you’re thankful for them.

2-spend wisely:

Since it’s a given that you’re going to be spending money this month, spend it wisely.  Put it in gifts that will last or that people really want.  Invest in other companies and in services and products that will support you for what you need now and in the long run.

3-plan for January:

As a business you may be struggling to bring in money right now.  If so, stop worrying about having clients this month and start booking for January dates.  You can have them pay half or full price now to get some money in your business this month.  As a family, it’s important to not spend more than you can pay back in a reasonable amount of time.  If you’re still going to be paying off the credit card bill next December, you’re spending way too much.

One last though for businesses, use December’s less booked schedule to prepare your marketing materials for the next year.  It’s a great use of time and money to get prepared now and be all set or mostly set for the next year.  As for families, take advantage of the toys that are coming in and do a little cleaning and donate toys to some of the families affected by Sandy and other financial struggles at this time.

What are your thoughts and words of advice about December spending?

Family Legacies

This month we’ve talked a lot about being thankful, but we’re also thinking about what it means to create a legacy.  As parents we’ve been given a responsibility to care for the children we’ve brought into the world.  As caregivers, we’ve accepted the responsibility of caring for our own children, as well as relative’s children and other children we come in contact with.  Dirk Benedict said:

“Children… are our legacy. Our responsibility. They are our destiny and we are theirs.”

It’s that simple.  Our legacy isn’t just the books we write, the things we do to and for the environment, the people we put in office or the things we leave behind, it’s how we prepare the next generation.  Our legacy is more than what we leave behind, it’s what those who come after us do with what we leave behind.  George Washington wouldn’t still be famous if we weren’t still the USA, Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t still be famous if segregation was still practiced, Helen Keller wouldn’t be famous if we didn’t have such advanced resources for those with disabilities, the list goes on.

How we raise our children, what we teach our children, how we live our lives around our children, our attitude towards the world and the people we interact with all impact our children, which in turn impacts the legacy we leave.  After all, legacy is defined as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”. In other words, there has to be two sets of people involved for a legacy to be created.  If there’s no next generation, there can’t be a creation of legacy.

I don’t know about you, but I’m very interested in the next generation not having a bad taste in their mouth when they think of the legacy we’ve left them.  Are you doing your part to ensure the next generation has a better chance than we were given?  What are you doing to leave a legacy?

Business Today and Tomorrow

Tomorrow in the USA we’re celebrating Thanksgiving.  It’s a chance for all of us to reflect on the reasons we should be and are happy in our lives.  It’s a chance for those of us who are too stubborn to thank others throughout the year to actually express our gratitude.  It’s also a chance to gather together with people we don’t always spend time with and catch up. Of course there are the shadows of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday that follow almost too quickly behind this day of relaxing and eating.  What can businesses learn from the practice of taking time off for Thanksgiving?  Martin Boroson shares some wisdom:

“The standard caution that comes with all investment opportunities is right: Past returns are no guarantee of future performance.  In other words, no one really knows what’s going to happen next. So why not invest in the present?”

Each day we think about ways we can improve tomorrow.  And as business owners, and legacy makers, it’s important to think this way.  We have to plan for tomorrow or we may not make it there.  But there’s something to be said for making sure that today is taken care of.  For example, it’s better to help a customer today than wait to answer their issue tomorrow.

As a business owner I understand the opportunity of the sales and special days coming up in the next few days.  I also know that taking a full 24 hours off isn’t a bad thing.  We need to care for ourselves, our families, our businesses, our employees, and our clients.  Thanksgiving is an opportunity to not only appreciate today but prepare for tomorrow.  Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee, the only guarantee we have is in today.  Do what’s good today that will help you prepare for tomorrow.

Thankful for Family

“As a child, I didn’t know what I didn’t have. I’m thankful for the challenges early on in my life because now I have a perspective on the world and kind of know what’s important.” America Ferrera

The world you’re raised in as a child impacts who you are as an adult.  Parents can do a good job of helping their kids to understand and succeed despite the situations they face as a family.  Parents can also essentially poison their children’s minds with thoughts and words of failure, poverty and hate.  Some kids will have people who come along side them, like teachers or people of a local church, who help them find freedom from the life where they were raised.  Others won’t have any help in life and will be left to their own devices.  The many factors involved are responsible for kids being successful in their lives or being failures.

For the children and people who are able to find America Ferrera’s perspective and apply it to their lives, they’re able to not only find success for themselves, but find kernels of truth and wisdom in their past.  Some people are not only able to move on from the past, but apply forgiveness and thankfulness to the situations and people.

Life is full of lessons, it’s up to us to decide how to apply those lessons.  Yes, some people and lessons are better off left in the past, but other lessons and people can teach us about ourselves and our future if we’re willing to take the time to work through the challenges.

What about you?  What challenges are you thankful for?  What challenges can you help your kids be thankful for?

Business Building Legacies

This month, in addition to a look at being thankful, our theme is legacy.  Typically a legacy is defined as something handed down to you/us from the past.  I believe legacy is a little more involved than a simple passing on of items or money.  You can read more of my thoughts on that here, and the important thing to realize is that you have the ability to impact or create, to some extent, your legacy.

As a business owner, you’re not only in charge of your present life, and your future, but also the legacy you leave behind.  You’re doing more than filling a position and being part of stories that will remain after you leave, you’re impacting many lives and creating something that has present and possibly future ramifications.

You’re not just instrumental in creating the legacy you leave, but the legacy created by your company and the people who work for your company.  For example, Steve Job’s legacy is intertwined with Apple, Bill Gates with Microsoft, Emeril Lagasse with cooking, and Barack Obama with the presidency just to name a few.  The things these people have done is not about them anymore, it’s about the company as a whole and all the people affected by it too.

With that in mind, would you do anything different with your company?  Do you think you’ll like the legacy you’re shaping through and with your company?  If you don’t like the direction presently, there’s a good chance you won’t like the future legacy either.  I encourage you, as we head into the last few weeks of the year to look at your company and your life and see not only the immediate future impact but also the legacy impact that you and your work will have on the area and the world.  Would you make changes?

Breaking Bread as a Family

One of the great things about living in 2012 is our ability to control what we eat and how it’s prepared.  One of the things that has come into debate over the past few years is bread, and with November 17th being homemade bread day, I thought I would share some recipes that are delicious and you can make either in a bread machine or in the oven at home.

Simple:

Artisan

English muffins

Potato bread

Oatmeal bread

Sourdough bread

Crescent rolls

Whole wheat

Flax sandwich bread

5 minute bread

Irish brown bread

Sandwich rye

Something Special:

Cinnamon swirl

Cranberry orange

Cinnamon apple

Cheddar and walnut

Date nut

Banana bread

Apple oat

Whole wheat zucchini nut

Cranberry walnut

Pumpkin bread

Apple, oatmeal and walnut

Gluten free:

Whole grain

Sandwich bread

Corn bread

Zucchini bread

What’s your favorite bread to make?  Share the recipe below.

Growing Gifts and Talents

As I was thinking about what it means to be a good leader today, I was thinking about our responsibility to not only care for the people under our leadership, but to empower them to be all they can be.  If you’re thinking that you may want to take a break from being a leader to following a leader, consider if you’re ready to be empowered by someone else, or if you still want to do the empowering.  Assuming you’re still reading, let’s talk about one of my favorite things about empowering your people.

As a leader not only do you want people who are passionate about the vision you’ve set before them, you also want to empower them to be better people and better leaders themselves.  A true leader raises up the next generation of leaders, not because they want to be worked out of a job, but because everyone has gifts and talents that they can use to do good in the world.

One of the things I’ve always loved about working with others is the moment when they realize they have something awesome to bring to the table.  That moment when their face lights up and they realize they’ve just done, can do or will do something that will impact another person or help with the cause is truly life-changing.

As a leader how do you make this happen? First, you have to be willing to listen and hear what the people are saying, or see how their heart is reacting to the situation.  Second, you have to ask good questions, and get to know your people.  Third, ask them what they like!  Fourth, give them some different opportunities to use their desired talents, as well as other opportunities you see as things they could do.  Once you’ve worked with them for a while, not only will you know their strongest talents, and some really great ways they can not only help you as a leader, but also help in the community, you’ll also have helped them discover some things they may not have known about themselves and their talents.

Who can you encourage today to use their gifts and talents?

Let’s Read Together!

One of my strongest memories growing up is of reading.  My family instilled a love of reading in me, and always encouraged us to spend time reading or being outside.  My love of reading definitely helped in school and being well read has helped me in my business as well.  So what are some creative ways you can help your kids learn to love reading?

1-let them read what they want.  No, don’t let them read slasher novels at age 6, but don’t restrict their choices to only books that you read or books that you 100% approve of.

2-get them to read in other ways, such as creating a “thanksgiving jar” and having them read the contents at the end of the week

3-provide incentives.  Some kids will read for money, others like other incentives like food, treats, TV time or time alone with mom or dad.

4-share books.  If you don’t have a public library near you, connect with some of the other local parents and trade books around so that you don’t always have to purchase new books to interest your kids.

5-have family reading time.  Pick a chapter book that you can read as a family over the course of a week or several weeks.  It’s an opportunity to be together as a family and spend time reading.

What do you do as a family to encourage reading?