Nutrition Notes

Although we’re wrapping it up in a few days, March is National Nutrition Month.  For families it’s a chance to evaluate what’s being served and kept at hands reach.  Today I’ve got a few of my favorite tips and ideas for you.

Visit Farmers Markets:  these gatherings of people with fresh, local foods are a great chance to not only support local growers and eat healthier foods, it’s also a chance for your kids to see some variety.  Even if you don’t buy that strange looking vegetable, it’s a chance for your kids to learn about what else is out there.

Make sure you’re getting fiber: fiber comes from the stuff we avoid the most, stuff like whole grains, green veggies and other fruits and vegetables.  Beans, bran, oatmeal, broccoli, and nuts are a few high-fiber foods you can add to your diet.

Eat a variety of proteins, including seafood: variety is important in your diet.  Eating the same thing every night won’t give you the benefits that the other proteins have, and are necessary to keep your body functioning right.

Eat more stuff that actually has substance: we’ve gotten used to all the stuff that tastes good but isn’t really good for us (aka junk food).  The biggest trick to eating food with substance is actually buying stuff with substance.  If you don’t have the junk food in the house, you’re much less likely to eat it!

Don’t stress, be smart: in today’s world there’s only so much you can do in a day.  I believe in balance and doing your best.  If you eat healthy meals and healthy snacks it’s OK to have a cookie a day or chocolate covered somethings.  If you raise your kids not having any access to the junk food and not-so-healthy stuff they’ll sneak it when they know you’re not looking, so it’s better to limit access, not eliminate access.

Healthy eating isn’t about depriving yourself of the “good stuff” it’s about opening up to the options that will actually be good for you, not just taste good.  And it’s something the whole family can, and should do together!  What do you do to eat healthier in your family?

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Power in the People

“In organizations, real power and energy are generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.”  Margaret Wheatley

The power in your organization is from the people you connect with.  If you’re not connecting with people, empowering your employees and satisfying your customers, you aren’t generating anywhere near the money or the status that you could be.  The internet is great and all, but the best way, the guaranteed way, to spread your message is through people.  So what’s a business to do?

Ask for recommendations.  There are many ways you can do this, whether you’re a physical business or an online business.  You can include recommendation requests in your emails, on your product packaging, on social media and you can just ask people what they think!

Share with people.  Whether you’re talking on social media or sharing with a friend, just about everyone likes to know when there’s something noteworthy or something that will improve their life.  Get in conversations with people in real life and on social media about the gifts, talents and abilities your company and your employees have.

Train your people.  Under-trained employees are one of the biggest mistakes companies make. By not educating your employees about the business, things they should and shouldn’t do, what they’re empowered to do to make a better customer experience and skills training, you are missing out on money and customers.

Your business has the power to change the world, but if you’re not making and sustaining the relationships that are necessary to support that change, you won’t be able to change the world to the degree that you could.  This week I encourage you to get out there and talk with your employees, customers and fans and see what they have to say about what you do.  Go with an open mind and you’ll learn lots of helpful information that will help you bring your business to the next level.

Putting the Spring in Your Relationship

Winter can be a drag in more ways than one.  You’re constantly together, stuck in the house, especially if you live in a location that gets much snow and cold over the winter months.  With the advent of spring it’s time to get some fresh air in your house and your life and in your relationship too.  Here are some things you can do to put some fresh air in your relationship.

Redo your bedroom, or at the very least clean it:  If your bedroom is dull, drab, tasteless or uninviting, it’s time to spruce it up!  A fresh coat of paint, new storage system or rearranging the furniture can help bring new life to your bedroom.  If you don’t need a makeover, you may need a clean up.  Take time to go through closets together and get rid of stuff that’s not stuff you wear or use anymore and make room for the stuff that’s all over your floor.

A weekend date: Yes, get away for the whole weekend!  Leave the kids with a relative or trusted family friend and get away from it all.  You don’t have to go too far (unless you want to), the point is just to get some space and time to relax together without the issues of normal life.

Make an outdoor space:  If you have a porch or backyard, make sure there’s some place you can go and spend time after the kids are in bed.  Like a seating area, comfy furniture or fire pit that you can relax and will make your outdoor space inviting.  Spending time in the outdoors is important because the outdoors are naturally life-giving and invigorating, two things most relationships need.

Take a local course together: Lots of high schools and towns offer courses like finances and hobbies.  These are great options to spend a few hours together learning something new or learning about each other’s hobbies and interests.

Work with a coach on the stuff you’ve let stick around like that last pile of snow that doesn’t leave:  If you’re really suffering as the weather is this year, it may be time for some outside help.  It’s normal and healthy to talk/work with a coach or pastor, it’s an outside perspective that can help you two work through the issues that have been bothering you for a while, or just figure out what’s next in your relationship.

What do you plan to do to get some fresh life in your relationship this spring?

Leading for Today

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been following the journey of electing a new pope to replace Pope Benedict who chose to retire.  What some people have been saying about the newly chosen pope, Pope Francis, is that he will be humble, authentic and credible, or at least that’s how it seems so far based on what we know about his past.  There are a couple of important leadership keys to be noticed in this transition and in what people are saying about him.

First, a leader must be able to connect with their followers.  If the followers can’t relate to or connect with the leader on a personal or even organization level, the leader isn’t doing a good job.  As much as the leader needs to lead, without followers passionately following the leader and taking up the cause, there’s no point to being a leader.  If you as the leader of your business don’t understand the basics of what’s important to your followers, why they’re following you and how to communicate in a way that they understand you and spread the word, it’s something you need to work on immediately.

In addition to being a leader people can connect with, the leader also has to be in touch with reality.  In the case of the Pope, he can’t pretend that it’s still the 2nd century and teach/preach/speak from that perspective.  He has to figure out how to present the organization’s mission and vision in a way that people today can relate to, without voiding the true message.  If you’re running a business that has been around for a while you need to make sure that you’re up on the current technology, understand what your employees need from you as their leader and boss today (not yesterday), and what your customers are looking for in this day and age, not several years ago.

Third, don’t pretend you know it all.  Even the best leaders have a team of people around them supporting them and helping them accomplish their mission.  These people help the leader stay in touch with reality and connect with their followers.  Having the team in place means you don’t have to pretend that you know it all and can be a leader people can relate to and admire.  It means that you can be down to earth, friendly and humble about your position as the leader.  You’re not God, don’t pretend to be.

This week I encourage you to take a look at your organization and leadership.  Are you leading as though it’s almost April in 2013, or are you back in 2012, 2000, 1900 or earlier?  The future of your organization depends on you choosing to lead from today and help your followers create a future worthy of the dream you started your organization with.

Spring Cleaning

Ah, spring is in the air! I’ve seen several robins and they always signal spring’s arrival.  This week I was working with a client and she said to me “Even though this room (with toys) is picked up now, it still looks messy!”  We had a laugh because “neat” and “kids” are often opposites, but there are a few things you can do to neaten up your kid’s spaces.

First, do annual clean outs.  Yes, go through all the toys and donate all those that aren’t age appropriate anymore or your kids don’t play with.  This is a great activity to do with your kids, especially if they know their toys are going to a local church, shelter or child you sponsor somewhere in the world.

Second, don’t have all your toys out at one time.  Invest in some boxes and a storage space (cabinets or a shelving unit) where you can hide about half of their toys on a regular basis.  A garage or storage shed outside is a fine place to store them. Monthly or even weekly you can switch the toys around taking them out of the long-term storage box and putting them in your playtime storage boxes and containers.

Third, have boxes and containers to put your kids toys away at the end of the day.  It teaches them discipline and care for their things and helps you keep the house a little neater.  There are lots of options at the Container Store that both store stuff well and look nice, and Amazon always has some good options too.

Fourth, have one or two play places/storage spaces for the kids in the house. By limiting where toys are kept, you’ll limit the mess. If they bring their toys to another area of the house, they must clean those toys up by the end of the day.

Finally, think long term.  Although many things aren’t made as well as they used to be, try purchasing items that can be used for their toys, their projects, their books, their homework and their creativity from pre-school through high school.

What do you do to keep your kids organized and contain the mess?

Marketing Content vs. Context

One thing I always find when I work on marketing with companies is the need to remind people about the importance of both their content and the context.  Let’s take a really simple example: a Facebook post.  If you see just a link in the post and nothing else, what is the likelihood you’re going to click on it?  Unless you’re really familiar with the person and know the type of stuff they usually post and that it’s usually stuff you’re interested in, you probably won’t click the link, right?  After all it could be spam.  With this example in mind let’s take these two concepts and examine how important they are in your marketing.

Content: this is what you’re sharing including what’s on your brochures, store (fronts), websites, newsletters, blog posts, Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube videos, pinterest posts, and anywhere else you’ve got stuff that people would see in direct relation to your business.  As a business, in your marketing first you’re usually answering the question “What’s in it for me?” that all potential customers want to know.  Once you’ve answered that question, hopefully telling them in enough detail to help them know why they can’t wait any longer for your help, then it’s up to you to reinforce that information with things that will reassure them that you know your stuff and build enough trust for them to reach out and work with you.  Content that you share with your clients and potential clients must be informative, relevant and interesting.  The most important of those 3 is relevant.  Unless you can prove to your viewers the relevance of that bit of information, it’s not relevant and you don’t need to share it.   A simple example would be a marketing company posting silly videos on their Facebook page that have absolutely nothing to do with their branding or services, interesting maybe, but totally not relevant.

Context is the next piece after you’ve established your relevant, informative and interesting content.  Context is the who, what, how, when of what you share.  Think back to the example first shared about Facebook, if you’re just sharing a link and not telling people what is important about that link, why you’re sharing it and why they should care, they probably won’t!  I’m not suggesting everything you share needs pages of information and explanation surrounding it, that would lead to some big brochures, long websites, boring posts and probably a mass exodus of customers.  Context helps people understand what’s relevant about what you’re sharing with respect for their intelligence and time.  It also helps you ensure your point gets across and connects with the people you want it to.

This week I encourage you to take a look at your marketing efforts.  Are they sharing good content within context that connects with people?  If you’re discovering that your marketing is lacking in both context and content, I’d love to help you get back on track.

Family Success Foundations

As I mentioned on Wednesday, this month we’re going to talk a bit about success.  Today I thought we’d discuss three things that can help make your family and your relationship a success.

First, communication.  I may sound like a broken record, but so many people don’t communicate well!  They are either scared to tell the truth, don’t know how to express it without the other person freaking out, or just don’t bother.  If you want a hope of finding success, communication is key.  Fortunately, it’s super easy to communicate in this day and age of technology.  You can Facebook, Tweet, email, text, skype, chat or call them, not to mention the more traditional methods of physically writing a brief note saying you’ll be late for dinner or talking to them face to face!

Second, love. I’m not suggesting you don’t love the people in your family (although you may not), what I’m suggesting is that you don’t know how to show them you love them in a way that resonates loudly with them.  For example, you could shower me with gifts and I’d not feel the love; money doesn’t make me feel loved.  Some kids like to go out for an ice cream with their favorite parent and just talk about the latest kid TV craze, or spend an hour laying on the couch together watching a show or staying up an extra 15 minutes just to read with you.   You need to spend time together and ask them what will help them know that you love them beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Finally, work together.  No family or relationship can be successful if one person is pulling all the weight and work.  It’s just not possible.  They’ll self-destruct and leave the family with a big mess to clean up and no real understanding of what needs to be done.  That’s one reason it’s important for everyone to have chores and take responsibility in cleaning up the house and food preparation.  Also, if you’re working together you’re spending time together and supporting each other.  Without frequently acknowledging the support and knowing the other members of your family are there for you, you’ll be less likely to communicate with them and less likely to know how to express your love in a way that means a lot to them.

So what do you do to help make your family relationships a success, and what makes your family work well together?

What does Success mean to you?

This month one of the things we’ll be talking about is success.  Success is something that just about everyone wants to have but many of us struggle with how to get there or what it really means.

The first thing we need to know is that success is different for everyone.  You may think success is having 1 billion in sales a year, someone else will think success is making just enough money for their bills and a little extra for savings and only working 20 hours a week.  Someone will think success is getting all your kids into an Ivy League college, someone else will think success is raising kids who are loving and supportive of their fellow humans.  Point being that just about everyone has a different definition of success.  One I particularly like is from Darren Hardy of Success Magazine:

“We see success as more than rank, fame, fortune and material goods. A successful person, by our definition, is one who has achieved five pillars of excellence: business, well-being, relationships, wealth and contribution. We call this “whole-life success,” and one who has achieved it has attained a life of significance.”

So what is success really?

I think success can’t be in just one area of your life, as Darren Hardy points out.  I think that success is at the end of the day you being able to say you did your absolute best, tried your hardest, communicated clearly, accomplished your reasonable objectives (if not more), and still have time to relax or be with family and friends without being stressed out.  I think success is more of a quality than a quantity.  Unfortunately in our society so much is measured by numbers and metrics that it’s hard to avoid that.  So to that end, I would say that the quantity success needs to include on the business end, you paying all your bills, paying down your (reasonable) debt, being able to pay your employees, giving to charities, investing in the future of your business, and some left over for emergencies.  For individuals and families it would include paying your bills, paying down your (reasonable) debt, investing in your future/retirement, having a reasonable weekly/monthly cash fund for food and activities, giving to charities and some left over for emergencies.

Which brings us to the question, what does success mean to you?

Dr. Seuss on Your Relationship

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss

For many couples who are struggling in their relationship, this is the first question they need to figure out: do you actually care enough about your relationship to give the effort to make it work?  Do you actually care enough about the other person to work through, or get past, their issues, insecurities, failures, mistakes, bad habits, and less-than-loveable moments in favor of the possibilities?  I hope that you do!  If you do care, here are a few insights to help you with the not-so-good goings on.

1-pick your battles.  You can’t win every one, so you need to know what your 3-5 most important things that you really don’t want to compromise too much on.

2-you probably can’t change them.  Your efforts to get them to change could take years, if you get them to change at all.  And they won’t change if they don’t really care about you or don’t understand the benefit of changing.

3-you may be what’s not so good in the relationship.  Yes, the harsh truth is that you may need just as much work as your partner!  That’s OK, you can work on improving and growing together.

4-show them you care!  There are little things, as well as big things, that you can and should do to show your partner that they matter to you.  These things can be the encouragement they need to stay invested in the relationship and continue to work with you through the challenges and changes.

When we all care about each other a little more, oh the places we can go!