Staying Alert When You’re Working Late

nightowl

Hey there, night owl!

Yeah, you!

The one who stays up past midnight on any given day to get work done so they can sleep in a bit the next day.  The one who gets his/her second wind around 10:00pm and will actually have a coffee to keep going. The one who just has so much work to do that you have no choice. The one who hates mornings so they stay up late instead.

This blog post is for you.

Here are our top 5 tips for staying productive when you’re staying up:

  • Do the big tasks first: It’s pretty self-explanatory. You use your brain power at its greatest peak before it starts fogging up and dwindling down.
  • Make your workspace as distraction-free as possible: No cell phones, no social media, no washroom breaks (just kidding). The more focused you are the better.

 

  • Brighten your workspace: Dim lighting may cause you to become drowsy which will lessen your focus and drive to continue your tasks. If you are already feeling sleepy? Darkness won’t help.

 

  • Get your blood flowing: Jumping Jacks, a few push-ups, maybe a brisk jog around your house? It should up your energy level and give you an added boost.

 

  • COFFEE- or a caffeinated beverage: They say not to just chug the drink though. Taking small amounts in periodically throughout your late-night work mission will keep you afloat.

 

These tips should help but the most important thing that you have to understand is when to know when to stop. Don’t push yourself into a canyon of “I am going to have to redo this work, because I am exhausted and when I read it tomorrow? It is going to be CRAP”.  It’s a slippery slope into that hole… so just know your limits.

What I have learned being an entrepreneur… so far.

CEO Crystal Lengua

Making the decision to become an entrepreneur wasn’t easy. There is a lot of risk involved, you lose the comfort net of corporate and I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance it all properly. Two kids, a house and a husband PLUS a company sounded like a lot of work but the flexibility I was going to have ultimately made me take the leap.

Entrepreneurship is EXACTLY what I thought it would be in some ways and NOTHING like I thought it would be in others. It really is an adventure and I thought I would share the top 10 things that I have learned in my (almost) first year of entrepreneurship.

  1. You need to keep a schedule

If you think that you can manage your own social media, blogging, marketing, sales, business development, life and anything thing else that comes along WITHOUT a schedule? You are in for a treat. It won’t be easy. I am luckily very much a “schedule” person but I had no idea that I would eventually have to schedule in housework to ensure it gets done on a weekly basis.

  1. You need to follow your gut

You know what the right move is deep down. If you are sitting across from a potential client and you don’t feel good about it/them? Walk away. You don’t have to take that job. Another one will come. It’s better to walk away (professionally) than to regret not doing it later.

  1. Don’t sell yourself short

You will hear on more than one occasion when you are just starting out “I have a job for you, it isn’t paid BUT it is GREAT exposure!”

Trust me. Work hard enough and the exposure will come organically. You don’t need to work for free- exposure doesn’t pay the bills. If you feel the need to discount for a charity or friend? That’s fine! That’s up to you but value your time and your work.

  1. Be productive- Not busy

It is easy to get caught up in “being your own boss”. Lunch meetings, day freedom, getting lost on the web. Yeah, you FEEL busy but what have you produced? Set goals for yourself and achieve them. Make sure that you can measure your productivity so that you can feed your success.

  1. Keep your finances in order

If you can’t afford an accountant off the hop? Invest in a program to help you with your accounting! Losing track of your finances is frustrating and when it comes down to tax time you don’t want to be in the red. Stay diligent and take your company seriously regardless of its size or income when you are just starting off.

  1. Keep learning

Stay on top of your industry trends and news. It will help make your sales meetings flow naturally with great conversation, it will help inspire your next moves and help you grow as an entrepreneur. It isn’t easy but when I first started I always had a business oriented book I would pick up a couple times a week. When I got busier I didn’t even notice that I had stopped until I got into a mental entrepreneur rut (it happens) and picked a new book up. I instantly noticed a difference in not only my creative self but my confidence grew as a business professional.

  1. Shut work off for your important relationships

Work isn’t the most important thing. It feels that way sometimes- but it isn’t. Life is too short and kids grow too fast. You really need to make sure you are nurturing your relationships as well as your business because it is too easy to get caught up in the chase and too easy to miss out on memories.

  1. Take ‘YOU’ time

Whatever it is you like to do- do it. Shut off work mode and just be in you mode. Yoga, running, walking, climbing, eating, mani-pedis- WHATEVER IT IS. You owe it to yourself to reward yourself for a job well done. OH and having a husband, house and kids is no excuse. Sorry.

  1. Don’t take criticism to heart

Of course you need to take some constructive criticisms to your head. If you feel that it warrants attention then by all means you need to always be seeking to improve. But not everyone has your best interest at heart. Some people will envy you, some people will be negative by nature and some people won’t really know what they are talking about so their opinion won’t really matter. Learn to decipher constructive from callous.

      10. Failure is only a detour sign pointing you back to the drawing board

Not every idea will work or work right away. I have tried seminars that no one replied to. Videos that no one watched. I have blog posts that no one read and twitter chats that I AM STILL working the kinks out of. But guess what? I tried and I have put some ideas onto the backburner JUST IN CASE the future holds a re-try. You can’t let a little bit of failure stand in your way. There are good weeks and bad weeks, good and bad days and hours… You won’t always succeed and that is ok. Stay focused.

What have you learned since opening your business?

-Crystal Lengua-

CEO of BROCCOLI Consulting

Ten Tips For More Confident Presentations

Professional-Project-Presentation-20l4qcb

A powerful presentation stems from much more than a fancy PowerPoint slide- or even the information on it. In order to deliver a presentation worthy of an engaged audience you will need more than just ‘the facts’.

Here are five top presentation tips to help make your next presentation a success:

  • Be confident: You are the master of this presentation and you need to demand the respect and attention from your peers. Stand up straight, make eye contact and speak clearly at an understandable pace! Speak too fast you will lose them and too slow you will bore them.
  • Outline the purpose of your presentation early on: This will help your audience follow along and come to their own conclusions as you flip through slides. It will help inspire follow up questions and comments.
  • Don’t read your slides: Yes the information is there (and hopefully not jamming up the entire slide) but that doesn’t mean you are there to read it word for word. I am assuming you are presenting to adults and I am assuming they can read. Your slides are there to back up your “speech” not to be it!
  • Longer doesn’t mean better: Time is of the essence and using it wisely is the new black. Take as much time as you need to properly get your point across- but lose the fluff that traditionally was used to extend the length of a presentation.
  • Be aware of your body language: Standing is better than sitting when giving a presentation- it demands attention. You can move- but don’t pace! No one wants to feel like they are on a boat (sea sickness much?) Be aware of your hand movements- are you using them enough? Too much? Also, don’t keep your arms crossed (It comes across more snotty than serious.)
  • Practice your presentation: Even if you only say it aloud to yourself? Go through your slides. Be aware of what information follows what and know your time frame!
  • Leave room for questions and comments: Everyone is busy and has blocked off a set time frame for this presentation- respect their time by ensuring that you’ve worked in ample time for any questions or conversation that will follow.
  • Have handouts ready: Whether or not you choose to hand them out before or after is up to you- but it’s nice to have a summary of information to walk away with. Handing them out before MAY distract your audience so unless you need them to follow along? Make it a surprise extra at the end.
  • Be yourself: Don’t be afraid to add a bit of humor or include a personal experience if it supports your cause. Being yourself will come across as more natural and create a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Don’t forget to breathe: Take pauses in your presentation when necessary to give everyone time to absorb the information. This follows along with the speaking pace tip in number one but I feel it’s necessary to reiterate how important it is to not sound mechanical.

In the end knowing your information will go a long way and practice makes perfect! Your first one may not go as planned but they more you do? The better you will become!

 

Honest Work & Your Integrity

Be Honest I recently stumbled upon a website of a company offering similar services. They ‘liked’ a picture on my company’s instagram account, my curiosity set in and I clicked the link to their website. Their site was well designed and professional. I selected the services/solutions button on their menu and what happened next was not only a complete fluke, it left me speechless…

They had copy & pasted my ENTIRE website. Every word. Every definition. Everything- word for word. Even the organization of information… everything. It was like I was reading MY site on theirs and I instantly felt sick to my stomach. A few phone calls later and the issue was resolved with apology and I know that I am very lucky. Things could have taken a turn for the worst. I can honestly say that the feeling of having your hard work duplicated without your consent is one that I don’t wish on anyone. You feel helpless, angry, empty and numb. It’s a whirlwind of emotion.

This event really got me thinking and a friend suggested that I write about the importance of having an honest work ethic. That plagiarism in any form is nothing to be proud of and that in the end you are only disgracing yourself and your work if you decide it’s better to get credit for someone else’s labour. You embarked on your professional journey because you feel like you have what it takes to succeed. That you are an expert in your field or that you have created a unique product/service that people can benefit from… so shouldn’t you be able to use your own words and communicate your vision? OF COURSE YOU SHOULD.

Maybe you lack the confidence because you are just starting out and you are inspired by someone or a company? That’s normal! We all have people/places/things that inspire us- but you should never pass someone else’s hard work off as your own. It isn’t fair and at the end of the day? It isn’t going to help you either. You will never memorize someone else’s work enough to pass it off as your own for long and people will quickly discredit you and BOOM there goes your reputation.

If you had what it takes to embark on the entrepreneurial journey- you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. Have faith in yourself. Give credit where it’s due, ask for permissions and remember that (at the end of the day) copyright infringement IS against the law.

Honesty and integrity play a huge part in success. We can never forget that.

”Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”

 –Oprah Winfrey

Volunteer Etiquette

Last Friday I spoke at a local volunteer fair. The ‘My Time to Give’ fair was created to help students find a suitable placement- which is great!

Both profit and not-for-profit companies set up tables and had information readily available for the taking.  I spoke on the importance of personal branding and how proper volunteer etiquette on the job would help the students get the most out of their experience.

I have hired MANY volunteers and I have to say that there is a certain level of uncertainty when it comes to “working for free” which is why I felt the need to address rules of etiquette. Some of you may utilize volunteers so I wanted to share the handout I created to coincide with my topic!

 

Volunteer Etiquette Top 10

 

 

If you want to print it out- feel free to use it as a handout!  You can download it here for free: BROCCOLI Consulting- Volunteer Etiquette Handout

 

BEATING THE WINTER BLUES

winter blues

Is it over yet? Is it spring?

I am not usually the type to linger on the weather, but man… This season has been a doozey!  It doesn’t seem to want to end! If you are like me and are solar-energized then you are feeling the drain of this cold, dreary winter.  I am finding it hard to get up and get motivated to get anything done! (My toddler and infant help- but it still isn’t easy)

So what are you gonna do about it?! What am I gonna do about it!?

I didn’t really know either… so I looked it up.

Here are some of the tips I found helpful:

  • VITAMIN D: During the winter, we don’t get enough vitamin D, which can cause a decline in our immune systems. Without this vitamin our body’s T Cells — which work to ward off foreign pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses — are weakened and cannot do their job. Taking vitamin D supplements and consuming foods such as fish, mushrooms, eggs and meat will help keep us healthy throughout the season.
  • DON’T BE A HERMIT: Make a concerted effort to not withdraw from social situations. Resist the urge to bail on plans with friends just because it’s snowing and you don’t want to leave the warmth of your apartment. Being around people you enjoy is a way to get laughing and elevate your mood, which will also release endorphins and make you a happier, healthier person. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
  • VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME: Gandhi once wrote that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Positive psychologists like University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman and Dan Baker, Ph.D., director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, believe that a sense of purpose–committing oneself to a noble mission–and acts of altruism are strong antidotes to winter depression
  • EXCERCISE: As if we needed another reason to get fit! Exercise isn’t only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy. It’s great for relieving the stresses of life. Plus, the effects of a good workout can last for several hours after you hit the showers. You’ll have more energy throughout the day, and your metabolism with stay elevated too. Exercise also helps your mind by releasing those “feel good chemicals” that improve your mood. 
  • ADD SOME COLOUR TO YOUR WORLD: Bring in fresh flowers, add brightly colored accents or pictures to your home or paint a room with a bright color. Having bright colors around can improve mood.

Do you feel better already?
There are more tips where those came from- check out my reference links below!

HAPPY ‘ALMOST THE END OF’ WINTER!!!

-Crystal-

REFERENCES:

http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/adult-adhd-274795-5.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/oz-garcia/seasonal-affective-disorder_b_809056.html

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/01/04/12-winter-depression-busters/

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=341

Sales Tips for Entrepreneurs: Breaking Bad Habits

Entrepreneur: Bad Sales Habits

Selling doesn’t come naturally for everyone- some people find it especially hard to sell themselves and their business. It is an art- it takes strategy and preparation and unless you have a killer sales team willing to work solely on commission of the hop? You are going to have to hit the pavement yourself.

To be successful with sales, you need to be aware of your bad sales habits. They happen to the best of us- the key is correction.

Here is some top sales behaviour that could be tarnishing your end results:

1. Not having a sales strategy.

It’s hard when you are wearing multiple hats but you need to have a plan. Your strategy will outline how you intend to sell your product/service, attract repeat customers and meet sales goals. You want to be able to measure your sales efforts and if you are selling on a whim and aren’t consistent? It isn’t going to be easy.

2. Not setting sales goals.

Sales goals will motivate you and help you tweak your sales approach. If you aren’t meeting your (realistic) goals perhaps you need to review your pitch.

3. Not dedicating enough TIME.

I get that you’re busy, but you need to know when to call a spade a spade. If you aren’t managing your time properly, following up or sourcing sales opportunities? You may need to hire some help. The money you put out short term will free up needed space for you to focus elsewhere and will ultimately pay for itself in productivity.

4. Push- selling your product/service and not listening to your clients needs.

You need to have sales. You know it, I know it, they know it- but you can’t force anyone to buy from you. You especially won’t be appealing if you reek of desperation. Show your value but listen twice as much as you speak. Tailor your sales experience to their possible solution.

5. Under charging your friends and family.

They should understand that you have a business to run. You don’t have to charge them full pop, but make sure you are at least breaking even and that you aren’t leaking too much of your valuable time into these “special” jobs…you could be selling to someone else for what you’re worth! For every job you just break even, you could be missing out on profit. PROFIT- the heartbeat of your business.

6. Taking rejection to heart.

No one wants to be rejected. It isn’t ideal- BUT you can’t let it jade you. It isn’t YOU they are rejecting; it is your product or service. Just because Joe Shmoe didn’t sign a deal doesn’t mean Ally Shmally won’t! You need to toughen your skin, reset and focus. We aren’t all meant to mesh. Not all sales are meant to be. Don’t take your anger on Ally… No one likes a bitter salesperson.

7. Not looking the part.

Ah. You are selling me high quality merchandise wearing… track…pants? Did you even shower today? WE ARE ALL BUSY, MAN! Get it together. Dress for success. You never know when a sales opportunity will arise.

8. Following all leads with the same amount of effort.

I know, I am big on consistency so what the heck am I talking about? Well, it may take experience for you to decipher the good leads from the not-so-good leads, but it will come. That little voice or feeling in your stomach that says ‘I don’t see this deal closing’ is trying to tell you something. Listen to it and focus your efforts on the sales efforts that you feel confident about. I am not saying ignore the other guy, good customer service is key. Just use your better judgement to adjust your energy accordingly.

9. Not pitching to the decision maker.

Is the person you are talking to able to give the final say? If not- pitch to the person who can. If the person who can give the green light isn’t interested in meeting with you? Perhaps this account falls into the “not-so-good lead” category. Tread accordingly.

10. Not knowing who you are pitching to.

Seriously. Invest the time. Know the person or company that you are pitching to! Know their competition… get to know them as much as possible before walking into your meeting. It is amazing what you can find online these days- utilize your search engines and customize your package.

Practice makes perfect. If you are nervous? Practice with friends and family, videotape yourself and make corrections if you have to. The best sales weapon is preparation. If you know your stuff and know who you are talking to? You will feel more confident and confidence is the second best sales weapon.

Any other tips you want to share with your fellow entrepreneur? We’d love to hear them! Comment below.

Office Yoga: Some poses to help us relieve tension & stress.

yoga-office

A popular resolution heading into the new year is to be “less stressed” in the workplace (lets face it- it’s hard not to be at times- especially after the holiday season!) So I’ve reached out to Jennifer Toste, founder and instructor at Love Life Yoga studio located in Woodbridge, ON, and asked her to provide us with some yoga poses and relaxation techniques that will help us keep our cool under pressure and that can be done in the comfort of our own offices/workplaces.

She was kind enough to provide us with this:

“The holidays have come to an end, and despite the happiness and joyful times we are able to experience, the holidays can sometimes have the effect of leaving us even more stressed on top of the daily stress we were experiencing up until those longed-for days off!  As you return to your office, make a promise to yourself this new  year:   commit to incorporating 5 simple yoga poses into your work day that are easy to do, right at your desk, and whose benefits you surely will reap daily.   Be sure that whenever you practice any yoga pose, you take your time, listen for any pain (it’s a warning!), and breathe deeply through each pose.  Remember this is supposed to alleviate tension and stress, not add to it!

Begin with a gentle Neck/Head Tilt:

Sit up nice and tall in your chair at your desk or standing. Simply inhale through your nose and let your right ear fall towards your right shoulder, without any forcing, take two or three more inhales and exhales, feeling tension release through the side, tilt your head forward and towards your right arm pit and take two more breaths, helping to stretch the front of your neck.  Gently roll your head back up and take a breath with your head facing straight, then repeat on the left side.

Shoulder Stretch and Forward Bend

Standing tall with room in front of you, draw your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers.   Keep your feet hip distance or wider apart and your knees softly bent.  Inhale and lift your chin, feeling your spine grow long and then gently roll forward allowing your heart to come towards your thighs and your nose to face your knees.  If your shoulders are very tight, you might just leave them on the low back, or move the hands to your hips, if you want to experience a stronger stretch through the shoulders, then allow the arms(while hands still interlaced) to come off the back and fall towards your head.  Breath here and then gently roll up, while the feet remain firmly planted to the ground.

Seated Twist

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To bring relief and release of tension to the spine, bring in the practice of a seated twist, even a few times a day can really revive the spine!  Sitting on your desk chair, with knees hip distance and feet firmly planted on the floor, feeling a sturdy connection of the buttocks to the seat, gently inhale and feel yourself sit up very straight, then gently turn towards the right, bringing your left hand to reach for the right knee, while the right hand can rest by your right hip or even hold the back of the chair.  With every inhale the spine feels like it is lengthening, and on each exhale the twist may feel like it can be deepened.  Really remain calm and breathe deeply, when you are ready to release, exhale and turn back to center, take a moment or two, then repeat to the left. 

Half Downward Dog

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Standing about arms length from your desk, place your feet hip distance apart.  Keeping a gentle bend in the knees, inhale and feel your spine grow taller and lift your arms up, palms facing each other, gently begin to come forward, keep your core engaged, and let the hands come to rest on the desk, putting your body in a L-shape.  Allow your heart to relax towards the floor and your chin to come towards your chest, and feel as though you are lifting your hips.  Ensuring your breath remains steady, continue to breathe deeply and feel your spine getting longer, relieving compression through the spine and softly stretching out the backs of the legs.  When you are ready, press your feet firmly into the ground and roll up slowly.

Last but not least, a breathing exercise, an essential part of the practice of yoga, and a wonderful way to calm the mind, and bring clarity and peace throughout a busy work day:
Sitting comfortably in your desk chair, hands resting on your thighs, close your eyes, and bring your focus to the sound of the inhale, as you breath in, count to 3 (this can become 4 or 5 depending on what you feel is comfortable or after some practice), hold your breath for 3 seconds, and then slowly and gently exhale for 3 seconds, and hold your breath for 3 seconds.  Do this 3 to 5 times, keeping your attention on your inhale and exhale, and this will help to bring the mind into focus, and allow a few moments of quiet to be had.

May this easy and simple sequence of poses help to bring you relief and relaxation as you work hard day in and day out, and may your new year be blessed with focus, good energy, good health, and joy.”
Namaste,

Jennifer Toste

To learn more about Love Life Yoga studio visit: www.lovelifeyoga.ca or find them on facebook at: www.facebook.com/lovelifeyogastudio