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!