Why Is News Still Important?

I think it would be an understatement to say there is a lot of information from the news out there, at our fingertips through the newspaper, magazines and the internet, in our ears from the radio and as we sit to relax in front of the television

Recently a friend of mine told me a story of how her sister was scanning through Facebook and came across an article that causes stress and anxiety for her sister, based on its content and coincidental applicability to events taking place in her life. In an effort to calm her sister she checked out the article discovering that it was not a recent publication and is what is referred to as “click-bait”, where an article provides a shocking title or introduction to lure people to read it and click on a link to another page, which in this case was to sell a product she didn’t need. This particular situation can be related to so many people facing a daily bombardment of information and requires us as consumers of information to ask the right questions.

If there is so much out there that is not reliable, why is news still important?

It is still important to know the facts about what is going on around us to help us make better decisions. This could include the simplest news like the weather person telling us its going to rain, so you make decisions to pack an umbrella, to changes in the stock of a corporation you are currently investing in. Also keep in mind that positive stories are still out there. It can brighten one’s day to read a story of a student who volunteers her time after school to set up activities in her local elder’s residence or community coming together to help out a family

How do we decipher the information coming in and why it is important to look into where news comes from?

When looking at a source of information there are a few best practices in determining the reliability of the information. Some of these can take some time and research, but if someone is really determined to measure the reliability of a source there are a few steps that can be taken. These can be quick checks such as verifying the date of the publication of the article is current, checking who the author is and doing a search of the author to determine if they have credentials in the field they are discussing and verifying the publication source.  Further research could be in identifying the company or organization that is publishing this article, are they a known source, are they a source in the related field of the article topic?  Finally, another level of research could include determining the organization’s place in the industry and what their best interests would be.  For example, if you came across an article stating “Brand X” dog food is known to cause digestive illness in dogs and it is published by a communications division of “Brand Y” dog food, you might question what the motivation would be for this article.  Is it to warn people, or have “Brand X” purchasers move over to “Brand Y”, increasing sales?

What responsibility does the reader have in distinguishing fact from fiction?

As the reader we need to watch what is real and what is not to ensure we are looking at information that is correct and to know our limitations in how much to take in, by understanding the cues from our emotions.  If something induces a very negative emotion, it may be time to step away from that article, at least for the time being. Which leads us to…

When and why it is time to shut the news off?

As mentioned above, negative emotion can be your internal alarm to let you know when some news might just be enough and it may be important to interrupt the messaging being taken in at that time, to move onto something more productive and positive.

In these days of 24/7 information, give yourself permission to set boundaries around what is good for you and what is not good for you. You and your mental health are important!

Excuse me, you have a little something in your teeth…

small business goal settingHave you ever come out of a meeting, or the end of day and caught yourself in a mirror and realized that you have a piece of schmutz in your teeth, or your cow-lick is asserting its personality again?  We have all had that moment when we think “WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME?”

As small business owners we can spend so much time in the tasks that we forget what our goals are.  If only gauging how well we are running our business is as simple as looking in the mirror!  When it comes to taking your business to the next level, a level of self-awareness is required to assess the needs of your business and how your management style can be maximized for growth.

Take a look at your business and your strengths and values (and be honest about it!). Determine what makes sense for you to do and what is reasonable for someone else to take care of.

To identify exactly what you need, do the following for one work-week:

  1. As you go through each workday, write down the daily tasks that you dislike doing (or, put another way, make a list of the things you do last because you keep putting them off)
  2. Write down all the projects you’ve “had on the back burner”; those projects and tasks that never seem to get done week after week, month after month.
  3. Write down all the things you spend too much time doing (why are you really in the office all the time?).
  4. Write down all the things you wish you had more time to do.
  5. Write down all the tasks you must do as a business owner.

Ask people you know to work through this with you as they may provide a different perspective. There might be metaphorical spinach in your teeth that they are begging for the chance to tell you about!

Don’t think about how much it will cost or how long to get these resources in place.  Just think about you for now and ask yourself what you need to do in order to move your business forward.

Need help?  Click here to get my free e-book to help you gain clarity.

 

What time is it in this global village?

advantage of hiring virtual assistanceRemote support was pretty much non-existent 25 years ago. Facebook didn’t exist 20 years ago. Times, they are a’changing…

Remote work has grown in popularity over the last 5-10 years and more so with the pandemic we’ve been dealing with the past 2+ years, it’s become a necessity. The Internet and evolving technology drive the ability for remote support workers to be just that: “remote”.  That can mean being remote locally or remote internationally; it can mean telecommuting for employees or freelancing as a contractor from anywhere on the planet for clients anywhere on the planet. The world has become larger and smaller at the same time: larger because remote working can easily tap into new markets around the world and increase competition (which can be a good thing); smaller because it takes less time and cost to do so.

It wasn’t too long ago that the average person didn’t know too much about video meetings or needed an international calling plan. Today, companies are expanding their enterprises globally without ever leaving their hometown; hiring remote employees who are local to new markets gives enterprise an edge. While this can be a very cost-effective way to conduct business, it takes more than just hiring people to work for you; it takes a thorough review of all factors that come into play for all stakeholders. It’s important to know the legal and accounting aspects of these relationships as well as being mindful of language barriers of both employees and clients.

Even in spite of the pandemic, the world is open for new opportunities.  With ever-evolving technology and lower costs to connect, open your mind to the endless possibilities that are happening around the world and around the clock.

Unplugging: the new necessity

balance work and personal lifeIn a previous blog post, we discussed un-plugging from the virtual world including from media, and from work, as I do in the summer to take some much-needed time off at a cottage in the remote Quebec countryside for a week of peace and quiet.  Upon my return, everything is still functioning, even though I’ve taken a full week to un-plug.

This year though, COVID came for me just prior to leaving so I didn’t do much more than sleep. Usually, though, I spend the entire week reading, knitting and writing. I love to kayak on the lake in the mornings when the water is still. It’s very peaceful and lets me just think about things without all that daily noise in my head. Some might say that I’m downright lazy during my week off.  Is that okay? Yes, it certainly is because I deserve it. Do I miss technology when I’m at the lake? No, because I don’t need it there.

For those that are making the attempt to relax and take a break from work and media, but don’t want to travel, a ‘staycation’ may be an option. Whether by themselves or with family in the house there are a variety of ways to relax such as spa-at home days, reading, creative projects, music, further learning or games. No matter what the relaxing activity there are plenty of ideas out there to get the staycation started!

While the suggestions below may require some online research to get started, once the information is found, there is a choice to shut off this technology or enjoy it depending on the person. Maybe they are a true “no tech staycationer” or maybe they “un-plug” while playing online games, watching movies, listening to music and so on.

In the spirit of getting the staycation underway, here are a few resources if you are not sure what to do:

Want to relax in your personal spa?  The PennyHoarder has some fantastic ideas for creating materials for a spa at home and as a bonus creating some of these can be considered a little project!

Do you have a creative side and would love to work on something, but are not sure what? DIY Projects has a few ideas to check out. Maybe you just want to enjoy art or music from home, but don’t have access to great works of art or music. Check The Guardian’s list of virtual museums and art galleries, Billboard’s and Glamour’s lists of virtual concerts and performances. Even orchestras have live performances online as listed on classicalfm.

Do you just want to learn something to keep your brain moving or perhaps you miss the library completely?  There are a number of open university courses out there to get you thinking and OpenLibrary is an excellent online library if you are just looking for something to read.

Or maybe you want to get up and get moving, take a look at Runtastics 28-day at home workout.

It doesn’t matter how you “un-plug”.  What matters is that you bring yourself to a place of relaxation and contentment, while staying safe.

July down time: Cleaning up your brand image!

brand image tips

Our guest blogger is Loreto Cheyne of Lola Design.  Summer is a great time to work on your branding and marketing gear, getting ready for the busy 4th quarter…

After what seemed like an endless winter, summertime’s here, and that means joining colleagues at a patio, leaving the office early, and honing your BBQ skills. It’s a nice fantasy-but if you’re a business owner, it means if there’s any downtime, you’ll likely be catching up on the marketing projects you had hoped to tackle much earlier in the year.

You may not have days on end to devote to marketing catch-up. But if you can organize your projects and time, here’s three things that will let you communicate a little easier in the fall and have you ready for more marketing and networking:

1) Update your business cards. I’m always going on about the importance of your business cards, and with good reason. If social media is part of your marketing mix, be sure to have your contact info on your business card. You can:

  • add the actual URL (ex. www.linkedin.com/in/loretocheyne)
  • simply use the social media icon (blue “bird” for Twitter)
  • incorporate a QR code that when scanned takes readers to your blog.

2) Take a look at your marketing calendar and review major events coming in the fall. If you have a conference or a tradeshow you have already committed to, this is the time to do the prep work. If your tradeshow is October 1, don’t wait until September 25 to get your signage ready, or your rack cards, or sellsheets. Get ahead of the game now so you can do it right, proof properly and avoid rush charges. That way they are done, printed, and you can forget about them.

3)  Do a logo inventory. Is your logo still working hard for you? Because if it isn’t, now is the time to alter it, or completely redo it (not a week before your new ad campaign is launched). Find a designer you can work with (I will be glad to set up a consultation with you) and be sure to discuss your needs, likes, dislikes, deadlines and budget. Be realistic. Make sure your logo is created as a vector file, which will give you the most versatility over the long run (that’s an Illustrator .eps or .ai file).

These three marketing communication tips should give you plenty to fill up those pockets of “spare time” you may have this summer!

Loreto Cheyne is the principal and owner of Lola Design, an Ottawa-based graphic design studio. To book your complimentary consultation, email loreto@loladesign.ca

Website:www.loladesign.ca

Blog:www.loladesing.ca/blog

 

The Value of Black Goo

I was in denial. My driveway needed re-sealing for quite a few years and I was really hoping the night fairies would come and do it for me. Alas, no. A couple of summers ago, I thought I’d do it myself: get the bucket of black goo and the roller from the DIY store and spend time in 35C heat rolling said black goo on  my 2 cars wide and 2 cars long driveway. I never quite got around to it. I’m not a procrastinator but somehow I always managed to justify my lack of dedication to this part of home ownership.

About a month ago, a young man from 2 streets away knocked on my door and told me that he had a new business re-sealing driveways for the summer. He was studying accounting at university and thought this type of business venture would help him in school. (Great idea!)

I asked him how much to do the job and he said $195 tax in. I had to think about it – that’s quite a bit of money just to roll out a bucketful of black goo. I looked at my dismal driveway and thought woefully how long I had been putting off the task. I called him back to say that I would take him up on his offer. We scheduled the work for the following day.

My hero came over close to supper time the next day and while I was preparing the meal, I checked in on the progress by periodically going back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. The first thing I saw was him power spraying all the weeds out from between the driveway and the curb. I didn’t even think of that. The next trip to the living room I saw him power spraying the entire surface of the driveway. I would have swept the driveway; I didn’t even think of power spraying it. Then he taped off the entire perimeter of the driveway so that no black goo would get on the lawn. After that, he manually filled in all the cracks and holes (there were many). Only then did he roll out the black goo.

By the time he finished, that $195 was the best money I ever spent for value of work. Not only did he save me the labour of doing that type of work in the summer’s heat, he also provided value because he knew what he was doing. He’s done a lot of driveways and has a level of expertise that I will never have (nor wish to have). Sure, I could have done it, but outsourcing this task yielded much better quality results and freed up my time. Now I have this task off my to-do list.

There is value in everything we do, both personally and professionally; our expertise in what we do daily provides value to others.   What do you need help with in your daily life?  In my view, it’s worthwhile seeking out resources to help you get things done, things that you don’t know how to do, or have no wish to learn how to do, and free up your time on what matters most to you.  Agree? Disagree?