Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

Early New Year's Celebrations

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.
Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

January 1 Becomes New Year's Day

The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days, with each new year beginning at the vernal equinox; according to tradition, it was created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the eighth century B.C. A later king, Numa Pompilius, is credited with adding the months of Januarius and Februarius. Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today.
As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches and attending raucous parties. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation); Pope Gregory XIII reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582.

New Year's Traditions

In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1. Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, round out the feast in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere. In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.
Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular "Auld Lang Syne" in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)
In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City's Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 700-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds. Various towns and cities across America have developed their own versions of the Times Square ritual, organizing public drops of items ranging from pickles (Dillsburg, Pennsylvania) to possums (Tallapoosa, Georgia) at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Friday, December 13, 2013

13 Freaky Facts about Friday the 13th.

Does Friday the 13th freak you out? If so, hold on to your rabbit's foot extra tight, because there are three of these supposedly unlucky dates in 2012, though perhaps luckily, this Friday (July 13) is the last of them. Though, there's always some fear to be had next year, 2013.
Read on for 13 strange facts about this day of superstition.

1. This year is a special one for Friday the 13ths: There are three of them: Jan. 13, April 13 and July 13. The freaky thing? The dates fall exactly 13 weeks apart. That hasn't happened since 1984.

2. If that scares you, you may have paraskavedekatriaphobia (also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia). Those are the scientific terms for fear of Friday the 13th. Triskaidekaphobia is fear of the number 13.

3. It's not clear when or why Friday the 13th became associated with bad luck. The association may be biblical, given that the 13th guest at the Last Supper betrayed Jesus. His crucifixion was the next day, apparently a Friday. Or maybe 13 suffers from coming after the more-pleasing number 12, which gets to number the months, the days of Christmas and even the eggs in a dozen. (There are also 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles of Jesus.)

4. Whatever the reason, fear of 13 has spread far and wide: Hotel and hospitals often skip the 13th floor, and even airports quietly omit gate 13 sometimes.

5. The next year in which we'll have three Friday the 13ths is 2015. They'll fall in February, March and November.

6. If you think your Friday the 13th is likely to be bad, be glad you aren't a 14th-century Knight Templar. On Oct. 13, 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France raided the homes of thousands of these Crusades warriors, imprisoning them on charges of illegal activities. Though the charges weren't proven, more than a hundred died of terrible torture, according to "Tales of the Knights Templar" (Warner Books, 1995).

7. Fittingly, director of psychological thrillers Alfred Hitchcock was born on the 13th — Friday, Aug. 13, 1999, would have been his 100th birthday. Perhaps aptly titled "Number 13," a film that was supposed to be Hitchcock's directorial debut never made it past the first few scenes and was shut down due to financial problems. He allegedly said the film wasn't very interesting. (Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was born on Friday the 13th, in August 1926.)

8. Why does the Friday the 13th superstition stick so firmly in our minds? According to Thomas Gilovich, who chairs the department of psychology at Cornell University, our brains are almost too good at making associations.

"If anything bad happens to you on Friday the 13th, the two will be forever associated in your mind, and all those uneventful days in which the 13th fell on a Friday will be ignored," Gilovich said in a statement. [13 Superstitions & Traditions Explained]

9. For pagans, 13 is actually a lucky number. It corresponds with the number of full moons in a year.

10. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is said to have avoided travel on the 13th day of any month, and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

11. Mark Twain once was the 13th guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. "It was bad luck," Twain later told the friend. "They only had food for 12." Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest. [13 Odd Occurrences on Friday the 13th]

12. Stock broker and author Thomas W. Lawson, in his 1907 novel "Friday the Thirteenth," wrote of a stockbroker's attempts to take down Wall Street on the unluckiest day of the month. Reportedly, stock brokers after this were as unlikely to buy or sell stocks on this unlucky day as they were to walk under a ladder, according to accounts of a 1925 New York Times article.

13. This fear of Friday the 13th can be serious business, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., which, among other things, offers therapy to help people overcome their fear of the freaky friday. Their estimates suggest hundreds of millions of dollars, up to $900 million are lost due to people's fear of flying or doing the business as usual that day, though that number isn't backed up with other estimates.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Maintaining a TOP PERFORMANCE level

People perform better in mental tests at the age of 50 if they have engaged in regular intense activity, such as playing sport, running, swimming or working out in the gym, since childhood.
*Lifelong exercise can lead to improved brain function in later life*

More than 9,000 individuals took part in the research from the age of 11.
Interviews were conducted at regular age intervals to monitor levels of exercise. Participants also undertook tests of memory, attention and learning.
Those who had exercised two to three times per month or more from the age of 11 scored higher in the tests than those who had not.

Study leader Dr Alex Dregan, from King's College London, said: “As exercise represents a key component of lifestyle interventions to prevent cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, public health interventions to promote lifelong exercise have the potential to reduce the personal and social burden associated with these conditions in late adult years.”
The findings are published today in the journal Psychological Medicine.
Government guidelines say that adults aged 19 to 64 should exercise for at least 150 minutes per week.
“It's widely acknowledged that a healthy body equals a healthy mind,” said Dr Dregan. “ However, not everyone is willing or able to take part in the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. For these people any level of physical activity may benefit their cognitive well-being in the long-term and this is something that needs to be explored further.
“ Setting lower exercise targets at the beginning and gradually increasing their frequency and intensity could be a more effective method for improving levels of exercise within the wider population.”
Intense exercise appeared to provide greater benefit for the brain than regular moderate activity, said Dr Dregan.

Monday, December 9, 2013


It may be cold outside but winter needn't be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family.
Here are five ways to make sure that even when your body is telling you to hibernate you can keep healthy and fit, no matter what the weather's like:

1. Eliminate your sleep debt

"On average we sleep six-and-a-half hours a night, much less than the seven to nine hours recommended," says Jessica Alexander, spokesperson at the Sleep Council, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of a good night's sleep to health and wellbeing. But in winter, we naturally sleep more, due to the longer nights. "It’s perfectly natural to adopt hibernating habits when the weather turns cold," says Jessica. "Use the time to catch up."
Read more about how to get a good night's sleep.

2. Drink more milk

You are 80% more likely to get a cold in winter so making sure your immune system is in tip-top condition is important. Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of protein and vitamins A and B12. They're also an important source of calcium, which helps keep our bones strong. Try to go for semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, rather than full fat, and low-fat yoghurts.
Read more about healthy eating.

3. Eat more fruit and veg

When it’s cold and dark outside it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food, but it’s important to ensure that you still keep your diet healthy and include five portions of fruit and veg a day. If you find yourself craving a sugary treat, try a juicy clementine or satsuma instead, or sweet dried fruits such as dates or raisins.
Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal for the whole family. Explore varieties of fruit and veg that you may not normally eat.
Read more about how to get your 5 A DAY.

4. Try new activities for the whole family

Don’t use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and lounge around. Instead, get out with the whole family to try out a new activity, maybe ice-skating or taking a bracing winter walk on the beach. Regular exercise helps to control your weight, boost your immune system and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
Read more about different types of exercise for your and your family.

5. Have a hearty breakfast

Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Eating a warm bowlful on a cold morning isn’t just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps you to boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre, which give you energy and help you to feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack mid-morning. Oats also contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals.
Make your porridge with semi-skimmed or skimmed milk or water, and don’t add sugar or salt. Add a few dried apricots, some raisins, a sliced banana or other fruit for extra flavour and to help you hit the five-a-day target.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Determination: How to get what you want

Twenty-nine-year-old Micha Burden wasn't the fastest swimmer when she was in college. She didn't have the most powerful—or graceful—strokes either. But she had always dreamed of becoming a professional swimmer. So when she was two years out of school (and out of shape) and heard about a grueling ocean marathon called open water swimming, she not only wanted to compete at the highest level, she wanted to win.

"I showed up for my workouts and got my butt kicked every day," she says. But she didn't give up, despite the fact that even Kenneth Baum, the sports performance consultant she had hired, pointed out how difficult it would be for her to reach her ambitious goal. "Her times were so slow; she was far off the national mark," admits Baum, author of The Mental Edge, who nonetheless stuck by his client. "At one point I was thinking, You're kidding—this isn't going to happen. And then she blew everybody's mind."

And everyone out of the water. In October 2007, Burden managed to beat 24 superior athletes to win the U. S. Open Water World Championship Trials in Fort Myers, Florida. How'd she pull it off? Baum chalks it up to grit.

Researchers today are homing in on this previously neglected mental trait and uncovering its colossal influence on success. Turns out, grit explains why your college roommate is a business wunderkind, and how Molly-down-the-street became a black belt in tae kwon do after popping out four kids. It's not that they have more brains, athletic prowess, or talent than you do. They just may have a better-developed ability to gut it out—that is, to set a far-reaching goal and drive relentlessly toward it.

"Micha Burden is living testimony that great things can happen when you dream big and follow through," says Baum. "She had a real fire inside her to perform her best. She lived it every single day. That is grit. Athletic abilityshuts down when there's adversity. Grit doesn't."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top Ten things to be Thankful for!!!

1) Family
I would be nowhere without my family. There’s my mom, who forwards me about 12 emails a day about the happenings of Brad Pitt. My dad, whose favorite game to play with me is “Spot the Mester Brother in the Composite in His Old Frat House” at one in the morning on a Friday. My youngest brother, who can best be characterized by the list of things he is thankful for: electricity, fantasy football, the Constitution, “Mean Girls” and Eli Manning’s arm. And last, my middle brother, with whom I struggle for the custody of our car like it’s our child.
2) Health
As someone who has been afraid of school nurses since elementary school, any semester that goes by without a trip to Student Health is a good one. Though I am convinced I have mono or strep throat at all times, living largely sickness-free is one of the things I feel most lucky about. Major kudos to those who have stayed strong through a personal or family illness.
3) Friends
Who else can you count on to stay in Clemons with you doing nothing until 2 a.m.? To feed you soup when you think you’ll never get better? To never tell anyone about that one time you bruised your face walking into a bathroom stall in Trinity? It’s hard to imagine what it would be like without them. Be thankful for the big and small things they’ll do for you, the lengths they’ll go to to make sure they have your back.
4) Food
Although it’s sometimes hard to be thankful for that fourth piece of Christian’s pizza you wish you hadn’t eaten, we take it for granted that we have food whenever we want it. Things I might never be able to do: enjoy O’Hill, understand why coffee costs $10 at West Range, or figure out where Wilsdorf CafĂ© actually is. But what I know I’ll always be grateful for is being able to meet this basic human need.
5) The Internet
Thank you, Internet, for allowing me to procrastinate, watch 30 consecutive minutes of “Friends” bloopers, have access to all zillion seasons of “Lizzie McGuire”, look up things on Wikipedia that are probably completely wrong, see a dog try to bounce on a trampoline (look it up — cutest thing ever), experience Justin Bieber throwing up on stage and be judged for how much time I spend on Perez Hilton. Without you, my GPA would probably be a lot higher, but I’d be much less amused.
6) Cell phone
My friends often tease me that my cell phone is practically my third arm. Having something to simultaneously keep me in contact with all my friends and family, entertain me and help me avoid awkward eye contact is a blessing. Where better to find out my friends’ political prowess than through looking at 12 Instagrams of an “I Voted” sticker? Also, you can’t deny that there is nothing better than a marathon phone call with a close friend or family member. Sometimes that’s all you need to brighten up a day.
7) Advil
I might go as far to call this tiny miracle drug the best thing that has ever happened to me. It might be singularly responsible for my presence in Friday 8 a.m. discussions. Drop a dumbbell on your toe in the middle of a crowded gym? It probably won’t save your embarrassment — it won’t, trust me — but at least your toe will feel better. And because I’ll never be a doctor, it gives me a lot of satisfaction to give out the only medical advice I know: Just take a few Advil, you’ll be fine!
8) Sleep
There is nothing quite like the feeling of your head hitting the pillow after a long day of class, work and meetings. A good night’s sleep or a well-timed power nap seem to be the cure-all for everything, whether it’s stress or that headache that won’t go away. Because we, as college students, choose to do so many other things when we should be sleeping — see number five, Internet — what little sleep we do get goes a long way. Use Thanksgiving break to catch up.
9) Music
My friends are thankful I play it loud enough to drown out my awful singing. I’m thankful I play it loud enough to drown out my friends complaining about my awful singing. Nothing brings people together like a mutual fondness for a band you’d thought that no one else had ever heard of. Music is an instant connection, a conversation starter, a party starter and, if you’re lucky, a productivity starter.
10) America
I am truly thankful for all the freedom and opportunity living in this country brings. I was a first-time voter last week, and no feeling quite compared to the satisfaction I got from walking out of the voting booth. Though it’s hard to imagine how a single person can affect the outcome of something as large as a presidential election, the fact that we are all entitled to our own opinions and are able to put them to use is a pretty special thing. That, and the abundance of America-themed parties. Nothing says “I love my country” like wearing a flag as a dress and shotgunning a beer from an American flag can.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to Motivate Employees in Less than Five Minutes

Have you ever bought a new gadget or toy for your kids or yourself and seen that mildly annoying “batteries not included” sticker?
Getting the right batteries for your new gizmo is similar to finding the right motivation for your employees. The end goal is the same: energy for action, but you need the right connection to trigger that flow of energy.
Motivating your team can be more art than science, but here are four techniques that will increase your chances of finding the right fuel:
1. Focus on the bigger picture. One of the most universal motivational triggers is connecting a current action with a bigger vision. For example, when you started your business, it’s very likely that you had some motivation beyond having a business for business’s sake. You might have wanted freedom to build a better life for you and your loved ones, to help people or to make the world a better place in some way. What drives you is the bigger picture, not the daily to-dos.
Your team is no different. If you’re seeing a lack in motivation or productivity, it’s probably because they’ve lost the connection between what they are doing and their “why.” Actively search for their “why” during conversations, so that when there is a lull in motivation, you can be there to remind them of the big picture. Help them see how their puzzle piece fits in to build a larger picture.
2. Emphasize the importance of process. Sometimes teams procrastinate because they don’t think there’s any harm in putting off certain tasks. Little do they know that what seems inconsequential to them is actually a cornerstone for your next steps. You might need to explain the chain of events that are necessary to accomplish the big goals. No step is unimportant. Like they say in theatre, there are no small roles, only small actors. In your business, there are no small steps, only small thinking. Of course, this only applies if you don’t have unnecessary redundancies. If you do, it’s a good idea to do an audit and clean out the cobwebs of your procedures.
3. Pay attention to what excites them. The best kind of motivation doesn’t come from you; it comes from people themselves. When you’re having a conversation with someone, pay close attention to what they say and how they say it. Chances are, they are giving you clues on how to best motivate them in that moment.
I like to call these clues "keywords." They are words or phrases that stand out from the rest. Keywords are more charged when spoken. The person will lean in or sit up straighter. Their voice might get louder or more pointed. Their eyes might widen when they say their keywords.
For example, I was running a communication training session for a small group of company leaders. I could tell that one person was not receptive to the training. During our first break, I approached him and asked for his thoughts.
“Don’t get me wrong, the training session is great and all, but you've got to understand that there’s been a lot going on with the company and I just don’t see how this helps us move forward.”
When he said the words “move forward” his gestures and voice accentuated his point. After a little more discussion and keyword investigation on my part, I concluded that forward motion, progress and the future were big motivational triggers for him. He also hated anything that had to do with feeling stuck, reviewing past events or repeating himself.
I spent the remaining five minutes of the break making a case for how the training helped his company move forward, achieve their goals and even help his employees progress further within the company. After our brief conversation, he was extremely attentive and participatory the rest of the day. When you detect more energy behind certain words, latch on to them and use those keywords to help your motivational efforts.
4. Use positive reinforcement. One of the best ways to lay the groundwork for future motivation is to acknowledge and reward successes. If you motivate someone to take action, but don’t acknowledge the accomplishment, they will be jaded when you approach them again in the future for something else. Recognition of past successes is a motivator for future progress. Failing to do so can lead to bitter and defensive employees.
Leaders need to be a constant source of motivation. Your team should come to you to recharge their batteries, not leave feeling more drained. Pay attention their needs.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rest is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for all ages. It rejuvenates your body and mind, regulates your mood, and is linked to learning and memory function. On the other hand, not getting enough rest can negatively affect your mood, immune system, memory, and stress level.

What you can do

Make time for downtime. Just like with doctor visits and other self-care appointments, make relaxation time a priority. Taking this time is especially important when you are feeling stressed and over-burdened, even if it’s only a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.Follow a routine. Rather than waking up and immediately jumping into the day at high-speed, or vice-versa when going to bed, follow a routine that allows you time to transition from one part of the day into the next. For example, consider waking up 10 minutes earlier and before turning on the TV, radio, computer or cell phone, take the time to do some simple stretches.

Give your mind a break. Relaxation isn’t only about resting your body—resting your mind is just as important. If you struggle with constantly worrying or stressing about certain concerns, write it down, put the list aside for a few days and then revisit it. Sometimes when we give our mind a break from certain thoughts, we return with greater clarity. Also, consider participating in an activity that requires your full attention, such as playing an intramural team sport. This type of activity can give you a mental break by requiring you to be fully ‘in the moment’ both physically and mentally—leaving little time to think about your to-do list.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Manage Your Work, Don't Let It Manage You!

                              Seven Suggestions for Effectively                                   Managing Your Time

1. Be Organized

  • Use time saving tools: appointment calendars, "to do" lists, e-mail, answering machines, file folders, etc.
  • Have an organized workplace (don't waste time constantly looking for your work).
  • Use your appointment calendar for everything, including listing study time.
  • Use "to do" lists for both long-term and for each day/week.
2. Plan Ahead (Schedule it and it will happen!)

  • Determine how long your tasks will take (do this before agreeing to take on a task!)
  • Consider whether any activities can be combined.
  • Determine if big tasks can be broken down into smaller tasks that may be easier to schedule (such as studying for exams and visiting the library as part of an assignment to write a term paper).
3. Prioritize Your Tasks

  • Use an A-B-C rating system for items on your "to do" lists with A items being highest priority.
  • Set goals for both the short term and long term as to what you want to accomplish.
  • Look at all of your "to do"s to gauge the time requirement and whether additional resources will be needed to accomplish them (if yes, schedule time to obtain those resources). Don't postpone the small tasks (a sense of accomplishment is good and overlooked small tasks can become larger tasks.)
4. Avoid Overload

  • Include time for rest, relaxation, sleep, eating, exercise, and socializing in your schedule.
  • Take short breaks during study and work periods.
  • Don't put everything off until the last minute (for example, don't cram for exams).
  • Learn to say "no" when appropriate and to negotiate better deadlines when appropriate.
5. Practice Effective Study Techniques

  • Have an appropriate study environment.
  • Split large tasks into more manageable tasks.
  • Read for comprehension, rather than just to get to the end of the chapter.
  • Be prepared to ask questions as they come up during study, rather than waiting until just before an exam.
  • Do the most difficult work first, perhaps breaking it up with some easier tasks.
  • Don't wait until the last minute to complete your projects.
  • Read the syllabus as soon as you get it and note all due dates (and "milestone" times) on your calendar.
  • Be a model student! (be attentive and participative in class, and punctual, prepared, and eager to learn)
6. Be Able to be Flexible

  • The unexpected happens (sickness, car troubles, etc.); you need to be able to fit it into your schedule.
  • Know how to rearrange your schedule when necessary (so it doesn't manage you - you manage it).
  • Know who to ask for help when needed.
7. Have a Vision (why are you doing all of this?)

  • Don't forget the "big picture" - why are you doing the task - is it important to your long-term personal goals?
  • Have and follow a personal mission statement (personal and career). (Are your activities ultimately helping you achieve your goals?)
  • Know what is important to you. (What do you value most?)
  • Have a positive attitude!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ok, so we’ve got 75 days (!!!) left in 2013. I know most people wait until December or even January to set goals for the following year, but if you’ve been following me for a while, you know I don’t believe in that. The truth is that if you’re going to accomplish anything meaningful in 2014, you need a running start. You need to get organized. You need to do research. You need to reach out to people. You need to get some things done.
The next 75 days is your time to do that.

So here’s the process,


Let’s start with the vision. Close your eyes and imagine December 31, 2014. You’re in the perfect place 0 you’re happy and calm after a successful year. What have you accomplished? How did those accomplishments feel? How does your life look? How do you experience your life? Out of this vision, goals are born. For example, maybe you see yourself weighing less on December 31, 2014. Then the question is, how much less? Once we know the number, we can create a goal. The same applies to all of your other vision – the difference between a vision and a goal is parameters.

Now we can build timelines around those goals and get really clear about what they are. Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds so you can set that as a goal and begin thinking about what you need to do to achieve it.

This is important! This is where vision boards trip people up – they give you the warm and fuzzies but there’s no PLAN attached to it. (Tip: If you have a vision board, you should have an ACTION BOARD right next to it with activities and deadlines for making your vision come to life!) Your plan is critical to your success. You must take the time to think through what you want to accomplish in a logical way so that you know how to allocate your time and resources to the achievement of those things. A written plan brings clarity to your thoughts and actions.

The most important part is to DO something. Once you have a clear plan, break it up into pieces. Break it down into quarters, months, weeks, and days. Get specific and take baby steps if you need to. Just make sure you’re consistently taking action toward the goal.

***My challenge to you for the next 75 days is this: Don’t wait or wish for things to happen – WORK to make them happen.***

If you have a vision, you have a place to start. Get going on this now and you’ll greet January 1 with anticipation for a successful year.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

2013: Stronger than EVER

As Capstone Consultants looks forward to a wonderful new year, we would like to recognize some major milestones from 2013.

With the hiring of a new office manager in July, Capstone has managed to more than double it's office size. Overall production has reached record highs thanks to the addition of so many talented and driven leaders. Our clients are happier than ever with our results driven methods and our numbers speak for themselves.

Our team is comprised of some of the most driven and self-motivated entrepreneurs in the nation. Employees enjoy the nurturing environment in which they are able to learn and grow according to their own individual strengths and talents while still valuing the importance of teamwork. Each part of our organization working fluidly together ensures our continued success in 2014!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Here at Capstone, we not only pride ourselves on putting the customer first, but also in creating an outstanding work environment for our employees. Great professional work relationships encourage and motivate our employees to build, and maintain, great client relationships! 

After a successful month of promotions in August, Capstone looks forward to further expansion throughout the rest of 2013. Capstone Consultants hopes to have a new office opening in 2014 and wants to send a thanks out to all of our hardworking employees and trainers for helping move us into our new chapter of development!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Capstone Consultants Participates in 5K for Operation Smile

This month the Capstone team participated in a 5K race for Operation Smile. The race was held at Veterans Park located off Central Ave. in Charlotte. Fortunately for us the race did not begin until 5 p.m. on Saturday evening so it had cooled down a good bit by the time the race began. We were pleased with the turn out for the event that had just over 60 participants. Half of our office ran the 5K while the others volunteered to stand through out the course offering encouragement, water, and making sure that everyone stayed on track. Operation Smile is a nationally recognized organization that funds operations for children with cleft pallets and oral deformities. Early in the summer Capstone hosted a BBQ to raise money for the foundation. We are very passionate about the cause and were excited to participate in the event to help raise over $4,000 for the foundation.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A CEO’s Guide to Leadership Development

“The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” — Martina Navratilova

“The biggest differentiator of companies that excel in leadership development is the commitment and ownership of the CEO or top executive.” — Dan McCarthy

So when it comes to leadership development, what’s the difference between a CEO that is just “involved” and one that is really committed?

1. Focus on results and don’t let the process be the tail wagging the dog.
There are way too many organizations get caught up in the process and lose sight of the results. They create complicated processes and forms, thick binders, have long meetings, and put way too much importance on impressing their board of directors in their annual talent review. Once the meeting is over, the binder gets set aside and nothing happens until the next year. VP and senior managers soon catch on that it’s nothing but an exercise and focus on looking good instead of being good.

This doesn't mean the annual CEO and board reviews are not important — if you don’t do this, then nothing happens. Events, like annual check-ups, force things to happen that otherwise get pushed aside because they are not urgent.

2. Have high expectations for the head of HR.
The CEO’s HR partner not only needs to know all of the best practices and processes, but they have to have the ability to influence and be trusted by the executive team as well as be the CEO’s trusted adviser on talent. It’s a tough balance — they may be coaching a struggling VP one day and recommending to the CEO the same VP be replaced the next day. They have to be able to play match-maker and broker job changes, and manage all of the ego and politics involved.

3. Practice what you preach.
Committed CEO's  publicly work on their own leadership development, then work on the development of their executive team. They coach them, give them feedback, and develop individual development plans with them. They support their development. A CEO’s behaviors are powerful — they set the expectations for the rest of the management team, creating a trickle-down effect of leadership development.

4. Know how executives really develop.
Think back on your career — where and how did you learn your most valuable leadership lessons? It was probably:

       New jobs
       Challenging assignments
       From other people (good and bad bosses, a coach, mentors, etc.)
       Courses, books, articles, and other means
Too many companies spend too much time on the last bullet point — it’s not only the least effective, it’s lazy. The top companies understand it’s all about learning through experience. When you think about it, it’s a sunk cost – you might as well leverage it. Don’t get me wrong — courses can be effective, when they are designed in ways that incorporate the other points.

5. Be the CTB (Chief Talent Broker)
While there are challenges to cross-functional movement of high potentials, somehow the companies best at leadership development figure out how to do it without damaging the business and ruining careers. They intentionally move their HIPOs — high potentials — from job to job to get them ready for bigger jobs.

If it’s left up to each manager, it won’t happen. Why should they? It’s certainly not in their best interests to give up their best talent. The CEO is the only one (other than the HR vice president) looking at leadership development from a what’s best for the company, long-range perspective. Managers won’t do it — or even see value in it — unless the CEO establishes it as an expectation and encourages them to give up their top talent and be willing to accept (and develop) unlikely developmental candidates.

6. Spend time assessing talent.
Assessing talent is all about having regular talent reviews, conducting formal assessments, and spending time with high-potentials. Know what to look for, too — indicators of success in larger roles isn’t the same as performance in a current role. Astute CEOs know how to ask the questions, what behaviors to look for, and the difference between performance (results) and leadership potential.

7. Hold others accountable for assessing and developing future leaders.
All too often companies will conduct talent reviews and succession plan reviews and discuss development and IDPs — then, a year later, nothing happens. A CEO needs to establish the vision, set meaningful goals, measure them, and hold people accountable. It takes time to change a culture, but a few public coronations and hangings help send the message that it’s important.

8. Stay involved in company leadership development programs.
Yes, CEO's should keep sponsoring those executive development programs and show up to speak — that’s a good start. However, committed CEOs don’t just show up at the beginning and end — they teach in programs, get to know participants and help set program objectives and measures.

9. Keep the board engaged.
The CEO’s board is involved in all of the other strategic aspects of the business — why not leadership development? Board members can be valuable sources of insight, advice and connections, and their support is important when it’s time to make key talent decisions.

10. Take decisive action on under performers 
Entrenched under performers block the development and advancement of an organization’s high potentials.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Capstone Consultants Hosts Barbecue for Operation Smile

Capstone Consultants hosted the first charity event of the year for Operation Smile. As expected we had a strong turn out, raising $500 for the cause in one afternoon. It was great to see everyone we work with in a causal barbecue environment. Brandon West, Capstone's president, held the grill down all afternoon making enough hot dogs and hamburgers to feed an army. As promised we did have a Championship belt for the best team. Over all the day could not have been more fun. We can not wait to see what the 2nd annual cook out will bring.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Capstone's Anna Strole Ranked 4th in the Country

Capstone Consultants would like to send a shout out to Ms. Anna Strole who was nationally ranked once again this week, coming in 4th. She has been setting the pace for our office since the New Year and is consistently going above and beyond the standards. Her tremendous work ethic and drive are hard to match let alone pass. She has the bar set high and it is great to have such driving force around us.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Two Members of Capstone's Team Earn Promotions

Capstone Consultants would like to congratulate Andy and Christian on their first promotions to the corporate trainer position.  Andy and Christian both joined the team at the beginning of March.  Andy's competitive nature and Christians's student mentality both are big assets to our office.  We are expecting big things from both of these guys and can not wait to see what they bring to the company and their growth!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Capstone's Do's and Dont's

Do:  Have that second cup of coffee in the morning.

Do: Get plenty of beauty rest.

Do: Wear that sweater Grandma made for you

Do: Sing like no one is watching.

Do: Bathe Often.

Do: Love others

Don't : Be afraid to raise your hand and ask for help.

Don't : Sweat the small stuff.

Don't : Take yourself too seriously

Don't : Be afraid to stand up for yourself.

Do: Laugh out loud

Do: Treat yourself to a glass of wine for a job well done.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Capstone Hosts 1st Annual Barbecue and Tournament for Operation Smile

With summer right around the corner the management team at Capstone Consultants thought it would be fun to host a charity barbecue. Of course we could not resist throwing a little competition into the mix.  We are going to have a tournament for horseshoes, bad mitten, corn hole, plus other fun games. All proceeds will go to Operation Smile. We can't imagine a better way to kick off the summer than good barbecue, good drinks, and good company! Plus, its always nice to help a great cause while having fun. Attendees's must have a team name and costume (just because its more fun that way.) The prizes include a champion trophy or belt, a $25 gas card, and of course bragging rights for the rest of the year. This event will take place at Mr. Brandon West's residence on April 20th.  We can not wait to see what everyone will be wearing and who the champion will be. Stand by for the results and lots of pictures.