Celebrating Summer Birthdays

Birthdays are funny because some people really don’t enjoy them while others want them celebrated in a big way. One of the more interesting times to have a birthday is in the summer because it’s a lot harder to celebrate because people are taking vacations and off doing a myriad of different things and not in their usual places. Even adults have less predictability in their lives during the summer. I’m not a summer baby but I know several people who are, so today I thought we’d talk about ways to celebrate them, ways that also work for those who have a birthday on Christmas or Christmas Eve.

Go ahead and celebrate anyway. Your birthday is about you, so maybe you don’t get to have a big party because not everyone can attend, so go ahead and do what you want. Maybe it’s a special dinner or other meal, maybe it’s sleeping in, maybe it’s hanging out with just one special person, maybe it’s doing something special with just your immediate family. Make your birthday what you want it to be.

Celebrate your half birthday instead. Celebrating your half birthday means that it would be during times that people are around, and maybe even looking for something to do in the rather tame months of January and February. Of course if you celebrate your half birthday with your friends and your actual birthday with your family it’s like having two birthdays!

Pick a day, any day. Yes, pick another day that appeals to you and make it your honorary birthday. Maybe you really hate celebrating your birthday so you make your honorary birthday February 29 so you only have to celebrate it every 4 years. Maybe you love your Irish heritage so you celebrate it on March 14. Maybe you love all things spooky so you make it October 31. Maybe you like the idea of starting with the calendar so you celebrate on January 1. Regardless, you’ve got lots of other days to choose from.

What about you? What fun and creative ideas do you have for summer birthday celebrations?

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A Green Summer

Many of the special days and holidays this month have to do with the outdoors and/or nature. The first week of the month is national gardening week, it’s also fresh fruit and vegetable month, camping month, international mud month, and great outdoors month, not to mention we’ve got the official start of Summer. It’s really a great month to focus on the outdoors because it’s typically not super hot yet and yet it’s consistently nice enough that you can plan to be outdoors and only get bothered maybe by a fast summer thunderstorm.

I grew up with a nice backyard and two parents and a grandmother who had green thumbs, and other grandparents who lived by the beach, so I was raised to be outdoors and to love nature. I’m also a big fruit and vegetable lover, and always enjoy trying new recipes with them as well as going to outdoor farm stands. There’s something magical and exciting about being part of a thriving natural scene and eating food that you know where it was grown and that it was picked that day or that week.

The good news is that more places than ever are encouraging the creation of green space and protecting those that are there. Rooftop gardens aren’t a fad, they’re a thing that communities are embracing. I’ve always had plants indoors and while I may not have the greenest thumb I am able to keep a few alive and look forward to having a space in the future where I can grow more edibles like tomatoes, beans and more herbs.

Gardening outdoors and in helps teach kids some valuable lessons, from where food comes from to how things grow to what it means to care for something (or someone) to the impact of time and resources to patience. It’s also a fairly low investment option that can really show your kids some good progress and has rewards that they really appreciate (food). Gardening is also a great opportunity to spend time together as a family. Even if you can’t do it outdoors there are inexpensive smaller window boxes and pots at Dollar Stores and big box stores that are great to fill and put by sunny windows indoors. Gardening indoors means you can have the great greenery all year long no matter the weather and plants are good for helping to keep the air you breathe cleaner.

If you’re looking to do something as a family this summer, gardening or getting into the natural world are both great, and inexpensive, options. What will you do in the great outdoors or with nature this summer?

A Summer of Victories

We’ve arrived at the weekend of the unofficial arrival of summer, Memorial Day weekend. As I was thinking about the next few months and what we could do with them and the hopefully great, warm weather we’re going to have, I thought I’d share a few ideas for what you can do with your family and your partner to make the most of these next few months.

One of my favorite things about the summer is all the fresh, local healthy food. Not only is it great to eat more of the fruits and vegetables that are so good for us, it’s also great to be able to support local farmers. It’s also a great opportunity to talk with the men and women who grow the food and get their recommendations on how to eat and prepare foods that you may have struggled with in the past.

It’s also a great opportunity with the better weather to be able to get out and go places. Everyone loves to travel during the summer, so why don’t you introduce the kids to some of the places and things you did when you were their age? You’ll be able to show them some of the places you’ve talked about and do different things than may be what you typically do for vacation.

Or, why don’t you finally conquer that to-do list? Get your finances from the first 5 months of the year in order for tax time next year. Move your investments to the other organization you’ve been wanting to switch to. Get signed up for that class you’ve wanted to take. Start working with that fitness trainer. Clean out and organize your basement, attic and closets. It may not be the most restful summer, but it will leave you satisfied at the end.

Finally, if you’re someone who’s always on the go, summer is an important opportunity to slow things down, take time for you, work on renewing and rejuvenating and rediscovering who you are and what you want to do with your future.  Don’t feel guilty with not being on the go all the time.

What will you do with this summer?

Summer Victories

This week begins my favorite season: summer.  Summer is a great opportunity for making victories in our lives, especially those that have to do with health.  So today I thought we’d talk about 3 of those healthy victories we can work on this summer.

Summer with the warmer weather and longer days makes for a great opportunity for us to get together with friends and family, giving us the time to work on those very important relationships. There’s something about these days and nights that makes us want to gather with friends, have a BBQ or just hang out by a crackling fire and roast marshmallows. The memories made during these events may be some of the best of your life, I certainly have some good ones from these types of events, and they’re great for building friendships and relationships that last.

It’s also a great time to take advantage of the weather and do more outdoor exercising and playtime, whether that’s walking, swimming or playing Frisbee.  There are lots of opportunities and activities that can get you more physically involved in the summer, from the very casual to the very physical, whether you want to do it alone or with friends. Many bike groups and swim groups meet seasonally, so it’s another opportunity to get connected in your community while getting healthy, too.

My final favorite source of victories in the summer comes from all of the fresh local fruit and produce that’s available.  Yes, we can get fresh fruit and vegetables all year long, but in the summer it’s much easier and cheaper to get local produce, and support local farmers.  I have a market I love going to all year ’round because they’ve got fresh, healthy foods at great prices, but in the summer I make the extra effort to stop at the roadside stands or pick up the produce in the stores that are labeled as coming from my local area. It’s even a little more fun to cook and eat because I know it’s local!

So with summer officially a few days away, what are your plans for victories this summer?

The Question of Customer Loyalty

As we head into what is the busiest shopping season of the year for many businesses, I think it’s a good opportunity to talk about customers and customer loyalty. As a business you have to have customers, otherwise you won’t be in business very long. The next thing to consider is whether most of your customers are repeat customers, or if you offer things that people buy once or extremely rarely. If you offer something, say heart surgery or roofing, you probably will ever work with someone once. But if you offer something like ice cream or hair cuts, and you’re not having repeat customers, something probably has to change. Here’s what one very successful entrepreneur had to say:

“Customers aren’t loyal. And it’s a waste of time trying to convince them to be….Life changes. Priorities change. Competition changes. In reality, almost no one is 100% loyal….Fact: 87% of a brand’s customers don’t stick to just that brand. They’re promiscuous at best. And if they’re offered something better, they’re gone.” Ramit Sethi

Those are some pretty serious percentages. So the question becomes: do we even try to gain customer loyalty? The first answer that comes to mind is that if you don’t give any effort to making your customers come back, few probably will. The second thing to consider is that it’s consistently proven to be cheaper in all ways to keep customers coming back than to gain new customers. The third thing to consider is that even if you have a service or product that’s purchased maybe once in a lifetime you can still gain loyal customers, it’s just not the same type of loyalty. Fourth, if you ask employees who really love your company about their favorite customers, they’ll often tell you that they enjoy connecting with the “regulars.” Fifth, loyal customers are those who share about your great products or services with their friends, and/or leave you nice testimonials you can use to get more customers.

One thing to remember is that everyone is human and everyone goes through changes in their life. So it’s really unrealistic to expect that every customer would stay with your business and your products and/or services for the full duration of their life (or their need for that product/service). But my answer is that we should work on making customers loyal, or at the very least, increasing the amount of times they purchase from us. Whether you use email newsletters, social media, events, physical mailings, a blog, a loyalty card or even just new products or services that are in line with those you already offer, there are tons of ways that you can build loyalty and encourage repeat customers. What are your favorite ways to connect with your customers and build relationships with those who are loyal to you and love you?

Summer of Change

Summer is a great time to work on change with your kids and family. Why? Because most of us have lighter schedules that allow for taking a little time off to do those big projects, weather that allows both indoor and outdoor activities and plans to be done, less things on the schedule and more opportunities to put in a little time each day to work on those changes, and an abundance of people home from college who can watch the kids if you and your partner need to work independently of the kids on something. It’s not always easy to work on change, but having the abundant resources that the summer provides to work on changes does make it a little easier and remove many of the excuses you’ve been using to hold yourself back.

Why work on changes? Because whether it’s the mile-long to-do list that you’ve been adding to for too long, or the stuff that’s just sticking around bothering you or holding you back, neither is good for your family or you personally. If you’re familiar with the concepts of Feng Shui, the law of attraction and the laws of abundance, they also speak to the importance of having a space that allows you to think, grow, love, create and prosper, which aren’t things you can do if you’re feeling pressured by that to-do list or all the stuff just hanging around.

Also, if it’s on your to-do list it must be there for a reason. Sometimes we do put things on there that we think we’re supposed to put there, but most often it’s stuff that really does need to be there, even if we end up doing the lower priority stuff first because it’s less intimidating, or less of a commitment, or less of a change.

So what are the big changes you might work on this summer? Organizing clothes, organizing the kitchen, organizing the garage/shed, cleaning up the outdoor areas, organizing the office, changing diets/eating habits, increasing exercise consistency, setting aside consistent time for personal development, making more consistent time for your partner and/or kids, reducing your bad habits (including overspending, too much TV, too much junk food, not enough sleep etc.) or even job searching (or starting a business), just to name a few.

What will you (finally) work on this summer?

The Business of Summer

This week we had the beginning of summer! It’s my favorite season and I’m always happy when it gets here. As I sit here listening to rain pour down outside and feel the warmth in the air, I’m reminded of the challenges and opportunities businesses have each summer. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can take advantage of the summer in your business.

Work with the weather. The weather can discourage people from coming out and shopping or it can bring people out in droves depending on your business. If you’re one of those businesses that doesn’t benefit from the summer showers or hot days, those days can be a great opportunity for you to take to social media and email and send out special day-of discounts that your customers can take advantage of (and bring you business you would not have otherwise).

Work with visitors. Summer is one of the seasons that brings lots of visitors and travelers to different parts of the country. Having a “visiting” section of your website, a visitor’s guide in your business, and even offering special locally-inspired products are all great ways of introducing people not familiar with the local area to your business and the area as well as letting the out-of-town visitors know that you appreciate them and are glad they’re visiting.

Get smart with scheduling. Summer does shake things up a bit with lots of employees wanting time off and people interested in staying out later at night. So maybe it’s a good opportunity to change your hours to be open 5-6 days a week with extra extended hours. That gives your employees some time off and gives people a chance to come visit and shop at the hours they’re looking to do exactly that. Having those days off can also be great for doing a deep cleaning of your site, refreshing your website and marketing, taking some courses or doing some other types of educating or learning, and getting some good rest, too!

How will you make the most of your business this summer?

Olympic Lessons

As the Olympics finish up this weekend I thought we’d take some time to look at some of the lessons we can learn from this big event to apply to our businesses.

1-Competitors can work together.  Normally there’s talk about how different sports compete for TV/air time, sometimes even competition within a sport over games that are played at the same time.  But the Olympics shows that not only can different sports work together to create something great, they can share the glory too.  A great opportunity for many business owners is to get involved in their local area with other businesses, regardless of whether they have a physical location or not.

2-Good things don’t have to last forever.  The summer Olympics only come around every 4 years and are only talked about occasionally during the in-between years. Yes, you can celebrate your medal status at any time, but most people and companies aren’t talking constantly about the Olympics.  If you’re focus is going viral and staying viral you are probably aiming too big.  That doesn’t mean you don’t market your business or service, it just means that you can’t expect to be king/queen all the time.

3-Everyone has a story.  The news loves to talk about all the different athletes and the story behind their previous medals as well as their journey to the Olympics and what they may have worked to overcome.  Are you telling your story in your business? Do people know you have a story?  Or are you just pushing the services you offer and focused on your bottom line? What about the story of your customers?  Are you even aware of the stories that are their lives?

4-There will be imperfections.  With every Olympics we hear stories of poor conditions, buildings not being ready, failed technology or challenges to travel, not to mention the weather issues that may happen that the host location has no control over.  Focusing on perfection usually just leads to frustration, so instead work on doing the best you can and address the issues when they appear as soon as possible.

What have you learned from the Olympics that you’re applying to your business?

Productive Inspiration

Last Wednesday I shared some thoughts on how you can have a more productive summer in your business.  Sometimes in order to be productive we need some inspiration to get us going.  Here are some quotes that might inspire you to success this summer.

“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” Frank Lloyd Wright

“A professional is one who does his best work when he feels the least like working. Frank Lloyd Wright

“I don’t work at being ordinary.” Paul McCartney

“Think globally, act locally.” Paul McCartney

“If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it. It sounds trivial and obvious, but if you unpack the idea it has extraordinary power.”  Scott Adams

“The ability to work hard and make sacrifices comes naturally to those who know exactly what they want.” Scott Adams

“When things go bad, it’s easy to point fingers. People who attempt to switch the blame are afraid to fail. We’ve all been afraid to fail before a game, but it shouldn’t stop us from continuing, and from doing what we have to do to get the job done.”  John Elway

What words of wisdom have you heard lately that inspired you?

Joy in Seasons

Can you believe another month is almost over?  Today is our last post really looking at our topic of the month: seasons.  What I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the joy that can be found in each and every season.  I know, you’re mentally complaining about at least one season in your head right now, like how much snow there is in winter, how much rain there is in spring/the rainy season, how hot summer/the dry season is, how cold fall gets and miserable it is to watch the leaves fall off the trees etc.  You don’t have to like every season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some joy in each of them.  For example,  I don’t like snow but still find joy in watching kids go sledding, or sitting in a comfy chair watching the snow fall with a cup of hot tea and a good book.

Like so many things, the seasons are really what you make of them.  Last Wednesday I talked about what to do if your business is heading into a slow season for the summer.  Just because you may not be making many sales, it doesn’t mean there is nothing you can, could or should be doing during this time.  Just because it’s raining out today doesn’t mean that you have to do nothing because your outside plans were cancelled.   Just because you have a broken arm or leg doesn’t mean there’s no summer fun to be had.

I really believe that life is what you make of it a majority of the time. If you are feeling miserable, that’s the life situation you’ll create around you.  If you’re feeling like a winner, that’s the situation you’ll create around you.  If you want to enjoy your least favorite season, I believe you’ll be able to find reasons to do so!  But it only happens when we choose that path.    So what path will you choose this summer? Will you choose to find some reason for joy in each and every day?