Shout out to Cincinnati!

I am very proud to oversee the prospecting here at RSVP in our Cincinnati, Ohio zone. Of course we love all of our zones (all 12 of them!) but Cincinnati will always be very special to me. I was born and raised here in Dayton, but I have considered Cincinnati to be my home away from home. Surprisingly enough I traveled there a lot while I attended the University of Dayton. Sometimes my roommates and I would need to get away from it all, and Cincinnati was just close enough to take a day trip. I was fortunate to have one of my roommates from there so she knew all the hot spots.

One of the many things I love about Cincinnati is their beautiful parks. Most of the parks in the area are free to AultParkexplore and even have events and activities in the summer. Ault, Eden, Hyde Park are just to name a few of the many  that are located in the city, all of them unique. My favorite is probably Ault Park. It isn’t the biggest of the parks and it doesn’t have any restaurants or shops. It does have a large overlook that is fun to climb. I think it is one of the most beautiful places.

CinciSubwayStationThe city of Cincinnati is  full of history. Did you know that during the 1800’s Cincinnati was actually considered one of the top ten most populous cities in the country? It’s true! Also, the growth rate during the end of the 1800’s was compared to New York City and Chicago. Wikipedia says that “6 million dollars was going to go towards a Rapid Transit system similar to Boston and Chicago.” In today's numbers, that would be like us spending nearly $74 million on it!  City Council delayed progress on the terminal because WWII had started. After the war the estimation of how much it would cost to finish the subway had almost doubled. The stock market soon hit which made it even harder for the subway to get completed.

Unfortunately the subway never did get completed, but I have faith that one day Cincinnati will have an active subway station that will be a wonderful addition to the city. Until then, twice a year the Cincinnati Museum center and the Over the Rhine Foundation operate tours through the historic tunnels. I haven’t been yet, but it is definitely on my list.

Most recently Cincinnati has been the host to a few big named celebrities. Cate Blanchett has been spotted in the city filming the movie Carol and also Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor will be in the city to shoot a film about jazz musician Miles Davis. If you’re in the city keep an eye out and you just might run into them or get to be an extra in one of the movies??? Okay that might be a little much, but still very exciting to look out for while walking around downtown.

With the summer coming soon, take some time to visit a new city. Whether it is Cincinnati or just a place you’ve wanted to visit for a long time; even if it’s just a short car ride away. Wander around the parks and explore a little of the city’s history. You will be glad you did!

Happy exploring!

Contributed by Crista Kling.

 

Crista

 

 

 

Creating a Fun {and inexpensive} Summer To-Do List!

summer

Every summer, as the school doors open and close for the last time, every family wonders the same exact thing, “What are we going to do with our kids for the WHOLE summer?!”

For the past two summers, my family has created a “Summer To-Do List,” and I thought I would share with you some of our favorite no-cost ideas that our kids look forward to doing every summer.

~ Jump in puddles! My children LOVE to run outside after a storm (once all the lighting and thunder has passed, of course) and jump in the puddles and splash around!

~ Catch some fireflies! This is something that I loved to do as a child, and I have passed my love of this to my children. We love to run outside at night and count how many fireflies we can catch and watch glow in our hands.

~ Go for a hike! We like to call them “Adventure Walks” where we count how many different flowers and birds we can find along the way.

~ Have a picnic! Why eat inside on a beautiful day when you can throw down a blanket (preferably in the shade) and eat outside.

~ Build a worm farm! This might be geared towards boys, but who doesn’t love digging in the dirt and finding some worms?

~ Splash Park! If you are lucky enough to live near a splash park then make sure to make use of it! On a hot summer day, this is a great way for your kids to cool off and have fun!

~ Go to the library! In addition to all the wonderful books to choose from, most libraries also have DVDs and video games you can rent for no charge.

~ Go fishing! Go ahead - grab your fishing pole and bait and head to the closest pond and try your luck at catching dinner!

~ Lemonade Stand! What better way to entertain the kids and have them earn a little bit of spending money? The kids will love creating and decorating the stand, and also have a blast serving the best summer refreshment to friends and neighbors!

These are just some of the fun activities you can do with your family this summer. What memories will you add to this list during the summer of 2014?

 

Contributed by Marcella Gillespie

Marcella

The History of the Chocolate Bunny… and other Easter Traditions

EasterTargetPic

This is just one example of Easter ad's from years past. You'll find a lot more by clicking on this picture!

When spring arrives there is a lot to look forward to like warmer weather, brighter colors, beautiful flowers, and of course Easter!! One of the most celebrated holidays, Easter is among a favorite of many. It is observed here in the states and across the world.

An Article in Women’s Day Magazine called ‘Easter Traditions from Around the World’, shares that

“In some parts of Western Finland, people burn bonfires on Easter Sunday, a Nordic tradition stemming from the belief that the flames ward off witches who fly around on brooms between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In Rome, Mass is celebrated on the evening of Holy Saturday, and on Easter Sunday, thousands of visitors congregate in St. Peter’s Square to await the Pope’s blessing from the church’s balcony, known as “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and to the World).”

My favorite tradition is in France.

“Each year a giant omelet is served up in the town’s main square. The omelet uses more than 4,500 eggs and feeds up to 1,000 people. The story goes, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they stopped in a small town and ate omelets. Napoleon liked his so much that he ordered the townspeople to gather their eggs and make a giant omelet for his army the next day.”

Here in the States we have our own Easter traditions that we look forward to each year. For example, the Easter Bunny coming to everyone’s houses with Easter baskets, coloring eggs, hiding the eggs, and of course the chocolate bunny! The question is though how did we come up with these Easter traditions? Being of German heritage I was fascinated to find out that the Easter bunny originated among German Lutherans. It was used to judge the behavior of children during the Eastertide season much like Santa Claus at Christmas. If the children were good throughout the year the Easter bunny brings candy and colored eggs.

Wikipedia says that the “The custom of the Easter egg, however, originated in the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection. Easter eggs are also a widely popular symbol of new life in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and other Central European countries.”

 

As for the delicious chocolate bunnies that children around the world receive in their Easter baskets… well those started during World War II. A Foodimentary article says that “the chocolate bunny can be searched back to the 19th century as a by-product of World War II coco rationing in Germany.”

SweetCityCandy.com reports that, “Americans buy more than 60 million of these chocolate bunnies each year, which undoubtedly makes Easter one of the biggest candy-eating holidays.” Big holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas use the holiday to promote their product. Many large corporations such as Target, M&M’s and Subaru have used this holiday in their marketing campaigns.Easter

I hope you all get chocolate bunnies in your baskets and that you all get to celebrate your own traditions with family and friends! Have a very happy Easter everyone!

 

Contributed by Crista Kling.

Crista

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.womansday.com/life/easter-traditions-from-around-the-world-105074

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg

http://foodimentary.com/2012/04/03/a-history-of-chocolate-bunnies/

http://www.1designperday.com/2013/03/11/45-most-creative-easter-advertisements/

“How Do You Even Get Out of the Door In the Morning?”

BlueEyedBaby

 

“How do you even get out of the door in the morning?”

As I return from maternity leave for the fourth time in six years I hear that question, a lot. I asked myself that very question six years ago as I was coming back for the first time. I remember being very overwhelmed and frequently forgetting the things I needed for the day. Important things like my lunch or parts to my breast pump. I was lucky at that time because I had home childcare and I didn’t have to take my daughter anywhere.

Fast forward six years and now I have to get myself out the door along with three of the four kids. Fortunately I have gotten better at it. The only way I’ve been able to do that is by being super organized and having a plan.

A few things I have found helpful:

  • If you’re a nursing mom and going to be pumping at work, invest in a second set of flanges and extra bottles to keep at the office. And if you’re able to swing it, get a second pump. Not having to remember the equipment everyday makes it a lot easier to get everybody & everything out to the car.
  • Pack your lunch for the week. On Monday I bring stuff to make my breakfast & lunch for the entire week. Also bring some healthy snacks.
  • Keep an extra change of clothes and shoes in your car. You never know what may happen between the door & the office when kids are involved. It helps to know if someone has an accident and it involves your work clothes, you don’t have to go all the way back home to change.
  • Get everything ready for the kids the night before. We have a kid’s corner where coats, shoes and backpacks are kept. The backpacks are cleared out and refilled in the evening. The coats and shoes are kept together. Nothing runs you behind like searching for a missing shoe.
  • Have a list of everything you need for the day hanging on the door you exit. Do a final quick check before you head out the door.

There will be days where things don’t run smoothly. Someone will spill breakfast on their outfit; there will be a missing shoe or nap time animal. Accepting that things don’t always run smoothly makes it less of a tragedy when it does happen. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself it will get easier.

Contributed by Jodie Hook. 

Mirror Neurons, Glossophobia and A Thousand Paper Cuts

Spotlight

You are standing up on a stage bathed in the blue-white light of a spotlight. You know there is a crowd before you, but you can’t see past the very stage you stand on. Tremors buzz through your chest that turn your stomach into a hollow knot. The feeling works its way to your limbs as your heart begins to race and your mouth goes dry. You try not to breathe too hard, but surely they can see you practically panting up here. Your hands begin to tremble as you take hold of the microphone. You begin your speech, praying that this time your voice doesn't shake.

Good grief – I’m stressed out just reading that. Glossophobia: the fear of public speaking. 74% of Americans in 2013 suffered from speech anxiety. Interestingly, the feelings we create for ourselves in public speech situations do not really change even when presented with a similar smaller-scale situation. I recently spoke with a friend who said she panics when speaking in front of a handful of her colleagues at regular meetings. It doesn’t matter if we’re standing up to give a presentation in front of 5 people or 500 – we still feel the glare of that spotlight.

I realize public speaking for most may be akin to death by a thousand paper cuts: slow and painful. You may never be a world champion Toastmaster, but you can still be an effective and engaging speaker. There are a few things I’ve learned over time that have helped me with addressing a room full of people: boost your confidence – talk yourself up before you begin. No one can do a better job than you right now. There is always someone in your audience who is a worse speaker than you are. Just strive to be better than them. Regardless if it’s true, the confidence you give yourself will make all the difference in your presentation.

Be mindful of your body. How we move says more than our words ever could. Video tape yourself – even just the first couple minutes of your speech. You’ll be critical of yourself, but be sure not to overdo it. Just identify the nervous habits that are distracting, and change them. We all have mirror neurons in our brain which help us to mirror how another person is feeling. If you are passionate about what you are talking about, even if I typically don’t care, at that moment I’m engaged and passionate with you. If you are nervous, I am just as uncomfortable as you are.

So the next time you sit down with a potential client, a roomful of co workers, or the whole world, sit up straight with your shoulders back, raise your chin and smile. You are a fabulous speaker, if only for the moment.

Contributed by Ashley Hudson.

Ashley

What Can We Learn About Advertising From March Madness?

MarchMadness

This time of year much of the programming on television is dedicated to March Madness.  For about six weeks in March and April the content of hundreds of college basketball games fill the schedules of multiple networks.

If you are watching many of these games surely you noticed there are a ton of advertisements.  In a college game there are a minimum of eight television timeouts, in addition to the five timeouts each team has available to them in every game.  Because of all these timeouts it’s no doubt that you could easily name more than five brands that are continuously being promoted during all these breaks.  Obviously there is a lot of value to putting those brands in March Madness to make sure you recognize them.

March Madness is an event.  That event is what brings the viewers, which brings the advertisers.  It’s the event that makes it extraordinarily easy for the advertisers to get the most viewers in the smallest amount of time and space.

Unlike a handful of advertisers, the vast majority of businesses can’t afford the prices charged for advertising during an event such as March Madness.  If your business can’t afford those prices, does that mean you are out of luck, or should you create your own “event” instead?

Actually, neither.

Fortunately, your business can benefit from built-in “events” throughout the year that don’t have outrageous advertising rates attached to them.  One such “event” has to do with the change of seasons throughout the year.

Take advantage of the change of the seasons.  Consumers almost instinctively adjust their buying habits on a seasonal basis.  Consumers are active during seasonal changes and you can make money from this by asking for their business at these specific times.  One of the biggest benefits of the change of seasons “event” is that you don’t have to pay a premium to participate.  There’s no extra fee or producer of the event to charge outrageous advertising fees.  Get active promotionally during these times and adjust your offerings according to the seasons.  Even if you don’t have a seasonal product or service, it doesn’t matter.  You can always adjust pricing or add-ons in order to make your offerings more attractive and valuable to consumers when they might not have otherwise been thinking of you.

Keep this in mind though, if you don’t get proactive about marketing your products and services at key times of the year, someone else will.  Who do you think would earn that business?

Contributed by Jeff Vice.

Gratitude

Gratitude

As our five-year-old son prepares to enter kindergarten this year, I'm reminded of a classic book highlighting life’s basic principles: All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.

We're trying to mold his values and character and the more I think about it the more these lessons apply beyond our family life and crossover into our business lives.  What we’re teaching him at 5 is just as applicable at 35, 55, and beyond.

I’ll share a personal story. One of Cole’s household chores is to put away his own laundry. Sometimes this requires some gentle nudging, a lot of repeating, honestly sometimes even raising my voice.  Yesterday, as if it were a miracle he picked up his laundry without being asked and brought it upstairs.  I paused. I placed my hands on his shoulders, looked him right in the eye and said “Do you know how grateful I am for what you've done?” “Done what, mama?”  “Cole you made me so happy - just look at my smile.”  He ran downstairs and said “Dad!  Put away your clothes, it'll make mom really, really happy!” Then he asked for a dollar…Well, not bad. I got close but not quite.

I’m sure you can identify professional scenarios where the same is true.  While a bonus is fun and cash is easy to hand out, public recognition or an unexpected token gift with a note of sincere thanks may have more impact.  I find the simplest gestures are remembered most by our team members.  When you value and encourage gratitude, you’ll soon see the appreciative gestures reciprocated through the ranks until it builds momentum and creates a whole culture of gratefulness and acknowledgement. Recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember psychology 101: behavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately.

Execute the long-standing principle from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People: give honest and genuine appreciation. Take your praise beyond your office walls and share your admiration for your clients, your favorite vendors or service providers.  Don’t wait until the traditional holiday client appreciation gift when they’re inundated with token gifts; thank them often.  Electronic media outlets let us share our thoughts with the world.  When someone goes above and beyond, write meaningful recommendations for them on LinkedIn or Angie’s List.  Your unsolicited endorsement is priceless.

You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.

― Zig Ziglar

 

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

The Introvert Bias

Quiet

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is one of my favorite public figures. She herself is an introvert, but has found it within herself to speak to the world about the power of introversion and why the world is leaving them behind.

Cain explains that there is a difference between shyness and introverts, yet as a society,  we've come to regard them as one in the same. She says shyness is a fear of judgment and introversion is simply introspective, reflective and quiet.

She goes on to question why we have started emphatically using group work, open office spaces and stimulating environments. Introverts feel most alive, creative and capable in a quiet, less stimulating environment. The ironic part is that up to half of Americans are introverted – so nearly half of the population’s needs are being either ignored, or worse, shamed.

Something I found very interesting that she said was that extroverts get so excited that they put their own stamp on things, and other people’s ideas might not as easily bubble up to the surface. Recently I took a leadership class, and this truth was very self-evident.

As a class, my professor took us out of the classroom and outside, down the stairs and past the parking garage until we had walked a total of about ten or so minutes from the classroom. He stopped us all and started passing out bandanas (to which we gave him very confused looks). He stated we’d have to make it back to the classroom…blindfolded. And we had to do it all together, never letting go of each other. If that wasn’t enough, we had only 5 minutes to make a plan and get ready, then only 1 hour to reach the classroom.

What happened next was interesting. In a room full of leadership students, chaos broke out. Quickly and subconsciously the group broke in two, with the loud students shouting their ideas and the quiet, more introverted speaking quietly amongst themselves and observing the other group. Eventually the decision was made (in well under 5 minutes), and the plan was executed. Was it the best solution? Maybe. Maybe not.

When all was said and done our professor stood before us and recapped what he saw. He told us that while the group was deciding on a solution, the extroverts completely shut out the introverts, who were in fact coming up with the more creative ideas. But because they wouldn’t yell above everyone else, their ideas were never heard. His lesson for us that day was that sometimes a great leader isn’t the one who will yell the loudest, but rather the one who won’t.

Susan Cain did a very entertaining and informative TED Talk , which you can watch below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

Contributed by Ashley Hudson

Finding Your Rhythm

MetronomeEver feel like you can't seem to make progress?  Feel like some days you are taking one step forward, and three steps backward?  Can't get in the groove?  In a funk?  Maybe it's your work, or your family, your relationships, your workout plan, or your faith....  Maybe it's all of these?

Moderate and periodic chaos is part of real life, agreed.  However, if we find ourselves reacting and running, then I would suggest we may need to find or recapture our rhythm in life.

What is rhythm?  It’s that place or condition where  most aspects of your life that are important to us are all being advanced in a net-positive direction daily or weekly and in moderation.  When rhythm exists, setbacks and stress in any area of life can be addressed in a healthy way, and the gifts of this life can easily be recognized and embraced.

I've noticed in my life that lack of rhythm manifests during periods of interruption.  Interruption can be caused by outside influence, by trying to please others, trying to accommodate others’ requests of us, calendar overload, running the kids from activity to activity, over-attending work or social functions, or lack of margin in our schedules.   It can also be caused by not defining and protecting the boundaries around those resources and activities that are critical to our health and well-being and our success.

My Dad used to say "easy does it" to my brothers and I as kids.  I used to think, why take it easy, when you can go wide-open, and get done quickly and now!  He understood that slow and steady wins the race.

Rhythm is often associated with and so important in music.  We often hear about the pace of play in sports, golf, soccer, football.   Rhythm is critical in education, as we know that life-long learning occurs when material is absorbed in a consistent and methodical fashion.  Cramming hours for a test and pulling all-nighters for a week is far less effective than 30 minutes of exposure daily over the semester.

Imagine attending a symphony performance, where the conductor or any of the members allowed a call or text from his own cell phone to interrupt the rhythm of the orchestra.  Or mid-performance, an audience member jumped on stage and said "excuse me sir... can I speak with you?"...  These things don't happen because there are defined and understood boundaries around behavior during a symphony performance; otherwise the rhythm of the performance would be disrupted, and the effectiveness of the movement is lost.

There are many good reasons to stop, react, divert, interrupt, or be distracted.  Catching a baby's smile, spontaneous activities with our spouse, significant other, or family member.  Or stopping what we are doing to help someone in need.  We must be flexible to recognize and react in these and similar situations.

However, in order to be successful in accomplishing business and personal goals, we must establish and protect our rhythm.   At work, it’s staying focused on the 20% of activities that generate 80% of our effectiveness.  We must protect that time in our calendar, and protect others inside and outside the organization from interrupting that rhythm. The same applies at the gym, at the dinner table, during family events, and at our place of worship.

When we are in our rhythm, we are focused and in our zone for maximum yield.  We can sell and produce more at work, support and connect more at home, build more muscle and burn more calories at the gym, connect and worship deeper in our faith.

Thomas Merton said “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”  I believe the quality of our life is in direct correlation to the rhythm we choose to establish and maintain!

Contributed by Anthony Sucato