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Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday
This is the most dreaded and loved weekend in retail history.  This is the weekend where the rules do not apply.  This is the weekend where mild mannered customers turn into savage beasts in a fight to the death (often times literally).  

Black Friday.

Many people love this “holiday” for the great prices on all the gifts for the holidays.  Sometimes these prices are steals compared to the regular price of the item.  If you can strategically shop the store you might be able to get everything for everyone on your list.

Others, hate this “holiday” for getting up early, lines that wrap around the stores multiple times and the potential to get attacked over a sale item.  It can almost end up being more of a hassle to try and shop on Black Friday and that’s if you can even get to the store early enough to get the hot items that you wanted.

My alter ego unfortunately has to deal with working on Black Friday for one of the major retail chains (red and khaki).  I had the wonderful pleasure of getting up at 1am on Friday and dragging my butt over to the store to hide in the stockroom, filling computer generated batches to go to the floor.  When I walked into the store I couldn’t believe what was going on.  There were more people in the store than I have ever seen.  I had to “disguise” myself by keeping my overcoat on while I walked to the stockroom so that I wouldn’t get bombarded.  To top it all off I had to stay at the store until 11am.  I was very tired to say the least.
I think we all know what Black Friday is.  We all know about the deals and the craziness.  But it never occurred to me why it was called Black Friday.  My store calls in Green Friday, and on the radio I heard stores calling it Purple Friday.  After looking it up I found that the term “Black Friday” was coined because it was the first initial point in the year that the stores were turning pure profit or being “in the black”.  I didn’t bother asking how much that profit was for my store and it was probably some ridiculous number.
The biggest question that comes with Black Friday is, are the deals actually as good as they seem?  Well to be honest, this year my store didn’t have anything that jumped out at me.  The 42’ TV was a Westinghouse.  Can’t say that it’s the best TV in the world.  Even though these deals might seem like the best you can get, often times the deals might not be when you would expect.  For Christmas, a lot of people say that two weeks before is actually better for shopping than Black Friday.  Personally, you’ll have to wait until then to learn my opinion because I don’t know off hand.

On reflection however, it makes sense.  The retailers are trying to squeeze every penny out of its customers so they will take a hit on items during the crunch times to attract the people who steered away from shopping at the beginning of the holiday shopping season.  Super Bowl Sunday is another great example.  You are going to watch football and you are going to want to watch it on a really nice TV.  So retailers will drop the prices and get the football fans to buy new TVs so they can get the best experience from that year’s super bowl.  Retail chains are good at getting people to buy products from their stores.  They wouldn’t survive if they weren’t good at it.
Now, on the flip side the workers have to deal with every crazy customer.  From the lines, to the hectic scramble to get the last of the item that they really wanted.  It can get pretty scary having to work Black Friday.  Lucky for me I was able to hide from the customers in the stockroom.

Customers can get ridiculous when they really want something.  I heard stories of people getting tazed by police at two different stores and I’m sure everyone has heard the pepper spray incident over an Xbox in California.  I also heard there were no charges being pressed but I could be wrong.

Because of all these crazys coming out to shop I think the workers should get holiday and hazard pay.  Many people had to change their holiday plans to come in to work.  These retail companies are making billions upon billions of dollars in one day and they can’t pay us holiday time to help them make those billions of dollars?  I find that there is a bit of a discrepancy with that.  I could go on and on about the errors in retailers ways but I will save you from having to read it.

To sum it up the holiday season can be a hectic time for everyone customer and worker alike.  Please be safe and courteous to everyone so that we can all enjoy the holidays.

Included are links to a couple articles about the holiday season.

Photos From:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks. Giving back.

Well, it’s the week of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday. It has no real commercialism tied to it. It isn’t a religious holiday or marking politically important event. It is simply a day to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy in this country.

Initially the Pilgrims were giving thanks for basic food and shelter. Almost half of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower had died the first winter in Plymouth. The “First Thanksgiving” was a festival where the Pilgirms gave thanks for their health and wellbeing, and the bountiful harvest that next year. You can read more about it here.

This background is probably one of the reasons that I get so mad when, right after Halloween, I start to see Christmas decorations go up in stores. Hey, there is another holiday here! Can’t we enjoy it before you start pushing the next one on us!?

Commercialism is almost antithetical to Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday about remembering what is good in your life. Yeah, you may not have everything, but you have something, more than many people in the world. You probably have more than many people in your country, state and even city. It’s a holiday about giving thanks for that something, no matter how small it is.
It is a fitting beginning to the Christmas season, which starts essentially the day after Thanksgiving.

Christmas has been commercialized far too much, but at its core Christmas is about helping those who are less fortunate. The whole idea of Christmas presents comes from stories about St. Nicholas, who helped those in need, at least once by giving gifts. The thing that enables us to give is our thankfulness for what we have. When you realize what you have been given, you want to give back.

So, as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, pause, think about, and actually give thanks for the blessings you enjoy, big or small. There will probably be more than you think.

Then, this Christmas season, think about helping those who are less fortunate than you are. We’ll be outlining a few ideas on how to give back in this blog, so stay tuned!

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Steve Jobs

Here is a tribute to Steve Jobs by a friend of mine:  Larry Walker.  Thank you for allowing us to post this blog.

The Biggest news in tech is an unfortunate story.  Apple inc. co-founder, Steve Jobs passed away, after a long battle with Pancreatic Cancer.  He was a young 56 years old.  Reactions poured in from around the world almost immediately.  Statements from the President, and nearly everyone in the tech world.  Even Microsoft had it’s flags at half mast at all of it’s locations.  
Steve Jobs co-founded Apple in a garage with Steve Wozniak in the late 70’s, and led the company as it introduced products like the Apple 1, II,  and after visiting the Xerox Palo Alto research center, made the graphical user interface a part of the personal computer, first with the LISA, and the Macintosh, and changed the way we all view our computers.

Steve Jobs, in addition to co-founding Apple, also had a large part in Pixar Animation Studios, and after being ousted from Apple in 1985, created “NeXt” a small computer company who’s technological advances are a large part of Mac OS X, even today.  Steve re-joined Apple in 1996, and is credited with saving the company, with helping develop products like the iMac, and later, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes Music Service, and much more.  Apple is now the most valuable name in technology, with a stock value in the range of Exxon Mobil, in sheer worth.

Steve stepped down as CEO in August of this year, and his death came just one day after the iPhone 4S was introduced by new CEO Tim Cook.  This was the first major announcement to come from Apple Inc, after Steve stepped down as CEO.  Apple has since announced the iPhone 4S pre-sales were over 1 million.  
Some of the more amazing reactions also came in from Christian leaders.  Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church here in Southern California wrote via his twitter account  “Steve Jobs, the Thomas Edison of my generation. Miss him already”.  Greg Laurie, from Harvest church in Riverside, CA wrote an extensive article about how Steve Jobs helped bring the gospel to our generation.

One look at how churches often do reach their local and global audiences, it’s not hard at all to see how that is true.  Apple pioneered desktop publishing early in the Macintosh system.  Digital Video editing and finishing largely started on Mac, thanks to companies like Avid in 1990 developing the Avid 1 on a Mac, and later programs like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, iMovie, and others all found a home on the Mac.  Audio recording and post-production found a home very early on with Macintosh, and podcasting via iTunes is a largely used outlet for churches big and small to reach the world.  Steve Jobs, legacy will be felt for a long time, especially in the church world. 

Make shift memorials popped up at several Apple Stores.  The only authorized biography , titled “Steve Jobs” has been rushed to print, as it has already hit #1 on Amazon pre-order charts. Perhaps one of the most telling things about Steve and his recent battle with cancer, comes from a 2005 commencement address to Stanford University, which can be viewed in it’s entirety via Stanford’s Youtube channel.  Here is a clip from that speech. 

We unexpectedly say goodbye to Steve Jobs, entrepreneur, inventor, leader,  a man with many reputations, and a man who helped spread the gospel to this generation and the next.  He was 56 years old.

Thank you for all of these links for the great shots of Steve Jobs.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Who are you?

Has this ever happened to you?  

You are at your local grocery store picking up something for dinner and you hear your name.  You turn around and you're sure you know the person but the Rolodex in your brain isn't going fast enough to remember their name. 
You then carry on the entire conversation without using their name, covering with phrases like, "That is great Man.  How have you been? It has been a long time."   Well maybe this week we can help you out with on-the-spot amnesia.  

The tips are brought to you by the Dale Carnegie Training website.

Remembering someone's name is an important aspect of any business relationship. You do not want people to perceive your forgetfulness as indifference, causing them to think they are just another client, employee or prospect.

It Is To Your Advantage To Remember Someone's Name.

Everyone is often required to pay attention to many different things at once; and when we are introduced to someone, a name can literally go in one ear and out the other. Unfortunately, this has happened to most people.

Avoid The Embarrassment Of Forgetting A Name.

Remembering anything requires making connections and often using more than just your sense of hearing; but remembering names sometimes takes extra practice because you are often introduced to someone while otherwise engaged. You also need to believe that you are going to remember rather than convincing yourself that you will "never remember anyone's name."

4 Quick tips to help you avoid forgetting a name:

Tip #1 Become Genuinely Interested In That Person:  Stop what you are doing for a moment and purposely focus on that person’s face.  Give them your undivided attention and actively listen by asking questions about their statements and using their name in the process.  If time allows, ask personal questions about their hometown or their family.  You can even ask them what they prefer to be called.  If you find a commonality during your conversation, you will identify with that person even more.

Tip #2 Use Word Play: Remember elementary school rhymes and mnemonic devices?  They work when remembering names, too. Say the person’s name is Jessica and she appears disheveled.  You might remember that Jess is a mess.  If Joe Smith moves around a lot, use alliteration - Jumpin’ Joe Smith.  Humor has a way of not being forgotten.  You can also exaggerate the syllables in somone’s name - STEEEELLLLLLLLLAAAAAAA!

Here is a really cool link that can help you create a memorable string of words. mnemonics link

Tip #3 Create A Visual:  Pull in your other senses and use images to help you remember names.  If a person’s name is Frank, envision them inside a hot dog bun.  Dawn can be remembered by a sunrise behind her head.  And of course joe is standing in front of you with a cup of coffee.  You can also picture Joe’s name written in heavy duty marker on his forehead (choose your favorite color).  Or, you can associate someone with a celebrity of the same name, thus programming it into your brain.

Tip#4 When All Else Fails, Ask Again And Use Their Name In A Sentence:  There is no shame in politely asking them to repeat their name, or even to spell it for clarification.  In addition, say something positive about them personally (as you repeat their name in a sentence.)

We all have a ton of things on our minds, from our businesses to our families and on to our to-do-lists.  Some people have a natural ability to remember a person's name while others have no clue.  If you spend a little bit more time and put a little extra thought and effort into remembering names, you will be make someone feel special.  Give it a try and comment about some silly stories that have happened to you in trying to remember someone's name.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A.D.D. - A Curse or a Talent

Over the years we’ve all seen Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) become more widely diagnosed in children through our society. It is, in fact, being diagnosed in adults at amazing rates as well. Some people blame it on an ever increasing use of electronics, including the anti-social behaviors expressed by teens texting 24/7 or blocking out their environment through the use of devices like iPods. Before these behaviors were prevalent, people blamed it on absentee parents relying on the TV or Video Games as a babysitter.

Having experienced children on medication while trying to teach them martial arts, I was also under the impression that parents need to be parents and children need to learn to behave!

Having children of my own now, many years after my initial observations, I found that there is more to it than simply parents being parents. When placed in non-structured environments my son struggles. This is true in school, at home, during sports, and other activities.

Today it is said that our culture creates ADD characteristics, but doesn’t create ADD… we are either born that way or we are not. It is also believed that it is passed on from our parents. It’s a way of thinking that can be traced back to early hunter-gatherers scanning the horizon for food as they were attentive to ever present threats around them. Though our culture changed, the way of thinking was ever present.

In the process of dealing with my son, we discovered that many of his behaviors were things that affect both me and my wife, now and throughout our lives. It was stated in more than one book that these characteristics are often inherited. This means that children with ADD/ADHD likely have parents who struggled with the same issues. This was no surprise to me; I felt my schooling was hindered by dyslexia. I always had issues spelling and reading quickly, among other symptoms. After study I found my issues are probably more related to my mind racing back and forth around the page and not focusing on the proper words at the proper time, and several other ADD symptoms.

I have no shame in determining this for myself because there are countless entrepreneurs and successful business people that have been diagnosed with this issue. It is no surprise that Richard Branson and Robin Williams are among the most successful people in their industries. It is also no surprise that they both have ADD. Others can be found here (Famous People with ADD ).

The book “ADD Success Stories” discusses ADD as one way a human brain processes information, neither wrong nor right. In fact the book describes ADD as being mislabeled. It is not the inability to focus on something, as it’s often described. Instead it is the activity of focusing on everything. The teacher may be talking, but there may be a fly in
the room and another student may be chewing gum loudly, and there's a guy mowing the grass outside. The ADD person sees and hears it all, they focus on EVERYTHING.

The problem comes when we expect every child to learn the same way; to sit in the same boring classroom 5 days a week for 12+ years. The fact is that there are many alternate education theories that are designed to stimulate the learning environment to engage different types of learning styles.

I believe the best thing we can do with children and adults with ADD is to find activities, environments and careers that harness this creative, hyperactive mind. Adults that are successful don’t actually outgrow the behaviors, but typically learn to cope and deal properly with the environment around them. And the super successful adults harness the power of their hyper-attentive mind.

My son loves sports like baseball & football. In order for him to best keep his attention on the field he likes to play key positions like Catcher, Pitcher, QB and Wide Receiver. But in both sports there is a great proportion of time spent just standing around. So when he tried his hat at lacrosse last spring it was no surprise when he said, “it’s great to find a sport that appreciates me.”

Instead of molding all children and adults into one type of thinker, we need to find ways to properly harness the “Skills” of ADD. This multifaceted thinking process is beneficial to creative and analytical thinking, often allowing a person to see multiple perspectives on a subject in an instant.

I recently spoke to a client who said her son approached her in high school to say he was having trouble. He was later diagnosed with ADD. It was no surprise to me that he is the starting QB on his football team. The position requires the player to focus on the location of 21 other players on the field, as well as awareness of his own actions, and simultaneously be aware of the coaches calling in plays, constantly changing defensive formations and a ticking game clock…. Let’s see a non-ADD student pull that one off!

If you or your child has signs of ADD, talk to your doctor and don’t be afraid of the diagnosis. Properly learning how to think and deal with an ADD mind early in life will help your child succeed later in life.

One book stated that it was adventurous minded people, who weren’t afraid of leaving behind the old and heading to “The New World”, who formed the colonies of early America. It is no wonder that we have the same passion and ingenuity of our founding fathers, and other creative minds like Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein.

This may have led to what is believed to be a concentration of ADD behaviors in our society. So before you label ADD as a bad thing, realize it’s been around for years and is probably responsible for the initial setting of our country as well as expansion out west, and developing the industrial revolution that propelled our country to the super power it is today. The only difference is now we know more about it.

The untreated ADD mind CAN learn to develop strategies to be successful (usually the hard way), or may live a scattered unfulfilled life, or potentially much worse. So, if you or your family members have ADD issues, learning to both manage and properly utilize ADD “Skills” to their benefit would go a long way to being successful in life.

To find out more about successful adults with ADD check out this site: ADD Success Stories/