NEW Employee Spotlight : Bethany Briggs

Get To Know Our Graphic Designer, Bethany!

What is one thing Bethany could never live without? Her FAMILY

(Left to Right -Thomas, Shelly (Dad & Mom)

Stratton, Bethany

Zane, Kirsty

Nevaeh)

 

Bethany’s favorite place to be is at the lake with friends and family. It’s a lot of fun whether they go tubing, kayaking, fishing or they are just hanging out by the fire.

 

Bethany cannot resist petting all the animals. She is definitely a softy for fuzzy critters. She has a pooch of her own named Willow.

 

 

Bethany was born into a racing family. Her dad raced and now her brother races midgets and sprint cars. It’s a very intense sport but once you get into it it’s hard to not want more! Forever cheering for #71, Stratton Briggs! 🙂

 

 

Bethany’s favorite place she has traveled to is New Orleans. She says that words can’t describe how beautiful New Orleans was. Street performers, local artists and amazing architecture had her in awe of the city. She stopped at Cafe Du Monde for some mouth watering beignets and coffee and was not disappointed! She recommends if you get the chance to visit New Orleans, Beignets from Cafe Du Monde.

 

 

Picture of Bethany is owned by Leslie Nicole Photography and may not be republished without express written permission.

All other images are Bethany’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.

#Unplugged

Last week, we were blessed to travel to the lovely Dominican Republic home to gorgeous white sand beaches, gracious hospitality, and very spotty almost non-existent wi-fi.

We were very excited for our nine-year-old son to experience his first trip out of the country. Between the three of us, we had 2 cell phones, one work laptop, our family laptop, an iPad, and a Fitbit.

Upon arrival, like bonafide tourists, we were snapping photos of the palm trees and buildings and ourselves with tropical beverages. And what would one do with these photos next, upload to Facebook, of course! No such luck. Downloading…. Error…. Unable to process….

I joined the gaggle of other guests at the lobby desk in search of wi-fi codes. In a resort that attracted visitors from various parts of the world, I could see this desire to connect is not unique to the USA.

But alas $40 per day!?! I’ll pass, thanks. Reluctantly, we unplugged for the week.

In any language or even without words, you can see the disconnect being connected has created. It’s no wonder this video has been viewed over 50 million times.

In our week of being unplugged, we discovered:
1. We didn’t miss it that much. (Okay… maybe after day 2)
2. We still like each other. Whew!
3. Work went on fine without us. The people we trusted did what they were supposed to do.
4. We spent more time really appreciating the beauty of our surroundings instead of just photographing the sights for social media.
5. We made new friends poolside from all over the USA, Canada, and France. We learned about their culture and even picked up a few new words in other languages.
6. We got a real kick of watching people take selfies (one gal must have taken 40 selfies in the pool) and Snapchat (one musclebound dude nearly broke a leg on sandcastle while capturing his best kissy face on camera). Very entertaining!
7. Without tracking it via the device, we’re pretty sure we logged 20k-30k steps/day. There’s a lot more time to walk and discover when your heads not down on a screen!
8. On the four-hour flight home (GASP) we played cards and talked while others watched movies solo they had downloaded in preparation.
9. By day 7, disembarking at home and observing entire families deeply entranced in their phones, we found ourselves reflecting on what impact all this connectivity is having on real social relationships.

I hope that you will get the chance to be #unplugged if not, by force, then perhaps by choice. In a recent survey, 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without.” I assure you, you can. It’s quite refreshing!

Challenge: Set aside a day each week to be device free. Can’t do a whole day? Start with an hour each morning.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” —Anne Lamott

 

All images belong to Adventure Photos & may not be republished without express written permission.

5 Steps to Up Your Road Warrior Game

According to the Washington Post the average commute for most employees has sharply risen over the last couple years to an average of 27 minutes in 2015.

comute

I for one can attest that I spend hours a week behind the wheel driving to and from appointments.

Back in college, I was spending several hours a day using Chicago’s public transportation.  I took advantage of the metro in the morning, plus the El train, and bus in the evening.  Between two part-time jobs, that commuting time was the only study time I could carve out.  I can only imagine if I had the technology available today back then.  How much more could I have accomplished? Or how much more would I have been distracted?  Maybe I would have said “I’ll just check my Facebook real quick”

If you’re lucky enough to have public transportation, surf away.

No public transportation, maybe find a trustworthy a carpool buddy.carpooling-done-wrong

For the rest of us suburbanites burning up the highways and by-ways, here are five ways to make the most of your drive time:

#1.  Dashboard education.   With nearly an hour in the car every day what could you learn?  A foreign language? The history of the world?  And in just 90 days you could finish the entire Bible.  Audible app offers a monthly subscription service to download the latest in audio books.  There are abundant free resources from your local library including overdrive and hoopla apps.  Listen to a podcast or a Ted talk to develop your skills or learn something new.

#2.  Rekindle relationships.  Take this time to personally phone someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Don’t just check in on their Facebook page and assume you know what’s going on in their life. Plug in the Bluetooth and give them a call.

#3. Write a book. Well, not literally.  I don’t advocate writing while driving! But in all my hours spent on the road I’ll attest I’ve seen it! I’ve even seen people reading a novel while driving.   Please don’t–for our safety!  But seriously there are apps for translating talk to text.  Check out the free app Dragon dictation.  Each day dictate a short story by the end of the year you may have enough to build your own novel or biography.

#4.  Clear the clutter.  So you finished your long commute  just to encounter a completely full email inbox.   Not the most motivating and invigorating way to start the day.   Take advantage of apps that will read your emails out loud and prompt with delete, save, spam, etc.   Ah, done!

#5.  Meditation.  Turn off the radio.  Tune in to the moment.  Eyes open and on the road, folks. Think about your accomplishments for the week.  Give yourself a pat on the back.  Set goals.  Focus your priorities.  Is what I’ve done today getting me closet or further from my life goals.  Take in a glorious sunrise for a moment.  Appreciate the change of season.  I’ve talked to many a business professional who enjoy their 30 minute commute home to decompress from a stressful day.   No need to bring home work stuff.   Work through relationship challenges in your mind and decide how you’ll positively address them in the coming day.

May I add things not to do: apply makeup, text , eat a meal.  (we’re all guilty at some point–but let’s stop!)

Somebody wise once said “life’s not about the journey but the destination”. I say, “yeah but at least we can make the most of it!”

 

 

American Commute source: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/25/how-much-of-your-life-youre-wasting-on-your-commute/?client=safari

Carpooling source: http://www.shearcomfort.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Carpooling-done-wrong.jpg.

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek

Heather

 

 

 

My Home Before & After

One year ago this week I closed on my first home.  Here is a little of what I’ve accomplished so far:

KITCHEN – Probably the most dramatic, I basically started with a blank slate. Added a fridge, stove, wall mount microwave and dishwasher. Installed new cabinets on the left side and painted the existing cabinets so that they all matched. With the help of my uncles installed a new counter top, sink, faucet and garbage disposal. I added subway tile back splash and bought a kitchen island for more counter top space.

Kitchen2

Kitchen1

 

DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM – I didn’t have to do as much to update the downstairs bathroom. I gave it a fresh coat of paint, replaced the hardware on the vanity and added a tile back splash.

Bathroom1

Bathroom2

 

DINING ROOM – I am still on the hunt for the perfect junk to decorate with.

DiningRoom_1

 

SUN-ROOM – I painted the walls and added wooden blinds. I also restored the stain glass light.

Sunroom

 

OFFICE – The smallest room that had the most work put into it. The original wooden floor had carpet on it. I decided that I wanted to have all wooden floors on the main floor. So I got rid of the carpet and started the process of restoring the floor. The finished product was worth it.

Office_1

 

LIVING ROOM – This room is mostly complete. I painted the walls, put up blinds, and enjoyed finding places for all of my antiques and furniture. It came together pretty quickly and I am pleased with the finished product.

LivingRoom1

 

There are plenty of project that still need to be done. I am excited to continue making this home into the perfect space for me!

 

Caitlin

Contributed by Contributed by Caitlin Tuohy.

All images are the author’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.

My Time with Oglala Lakota Nation: A Photo Essay

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
-Winston Churchill

I spent my Fourth of July week volunteering somewhere new this year. Last year I worked in Peru but this year I thought it would be good to help in the states with Re-Member. I took my first solo road trip out to Pine Ridge, South Dakota to work along side the Oglala Lakota Nation. With so much going on in everyone’s day to day lives it can be hard to make the time to be aware of the conditions other humans live in and what we could be doing to help. The best way I can think to celebrate my independence every year is to use that freedom to help others and I strongly encourage anyone else to do the same. It’s not about the money or time you have. There’s always a way to help.

Re-Member shares the following statistic:

“From 1980 to 2000, the counties that make up Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (home to the Oglala Lakota Nation) comprised the poorest of our nation’s 3,141 counties. The 2000 census found them the third poorest, not because things got better on Pine Ridge, but because things got worse on two other South Dakota Indian Reservations. The poverty on Pine Ridge can be described in no other terms than “third world.” It is common to find homes terribly overcrowded, as those with homes take in anyone in need of a roof over their head. Many homes are without electricity, running water, or sewer.

  • Unemployment rate of 80 – 90%
  • Per capita income of $4,000
  • 8 Times the United States rate of diabetes
  • 5 Times the U.S. rate of cervical cancer
  • Twice the U.S. rate of heart disease
  • 8 Times the U.S. rate of Tuberculosis
  • Alcoholism rate estimated as high as 80%
  • 1 in 4 infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome or effects
  • Suicide rate more than twice the national rate
  • Teen suicide rate 4 times the national rate
  • Infant mortality 3 times the national rate
  • Life expectancy on Pine Ridge is the lowest in the United States and the second lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Only Haiti has a lower rate.”

 I took a series of photos to show how beautifully strong and resilient this oppressed culture still is. If you’re looking to take a volunteer trip solo or with a group, or make a donation feel free to learn more at www.re-member.org.

IMG_1001 IMG_1020 IMG_1019 IMG_1018 IMG_1017 IMG_1016 IMG_1015 IMG_1014 IMG_1013 IMG_1012 IMG_1011 IMG_1010 IMG_1009 IMG_1008 IMG_1007 IMG_1006 IMG_1005 IMG_1004 IMG_1003 IMG_1002

Contributed by Syd Miles.

adult-Syd

 

All photographs are the author’s own & may not be reprinted or published without express written consent.

Lessons From My Grandfather

“Relationships are everything.” My grandfather has told me this thousands of times, ever since I first understood what it meant to be personable. When it comes to doing business, my grandfather has bestowed in me valuable lessons about how two people should conduct themselves and find success in what they are trying to achieve. Whether it is a formal meeting behind a desk, or a lunch meeting on a Friday, the way you present and handle yourself is everything. My grandfather, who is now in his 90’s spent his whole life since he was 16 doing business with others and building great relationships on top of it.

Being 22 & fresh out of college, there is nothing I appreciate more than wisdom from a man who has seen life from not only a different generation’s perspective, but also from a different world. He was born and raised in Vienna, Austria until he and his family immigrated the United States – but not before living through the Nazi invasion. While his family was not Jewish by religion, they were by blood, which prevented my grandfather from ever graduating from high school. Starting at age 15, he worked at a service station until one day the owner told him that he was taking a job elsewhere & gave my grandfather full responsibility for operating the station. Even at such a young age, my grandfather took over the service station, and managed it until he came over to the United States in 1939, when he began working at a lamp factory in Cleveland.

This was only the next opportunity for my grandfather, and while working at the factory in his new land, he began to learn English – and even found love. Only two weeks later, fate led him to my grandmother. A short time after that, he enlisted in the U.S. army and became a member of a mysterious, elite team that was so secretive in its mission, it was known only as PO Box 1142. My grandfather’s team was responsible for listening in on conversations of German Prisoners of War who were stationed there. No one else knew what PO Box 1142 did – it was all highly confidential because the work was very important to the war effort.

After leaving the army, my grandfather worked for the Motch & Merryweather Machinery Company and then left to join Pesco Products, a division of Borg Warner Corporation as a Senior Buyer. Ultimately, Picker X Ray asked him to provide non-magnetic stainless steel tools for the MRI. He and a German business acquaintance went into business together and became the sole importers of such products; 2 years later, his partner developed the only titanium tool line available, and they successfully sold that product for 15 years.

My grandfather’s valuable knowledge and wisdom that he shares with me to this day helps me strive for great relationships with everyone that I do business with now and in the future. I owe much of my personal and professional demeanor to my grandparents and one day I will be able to pass that along to my own children. I personally believe you cannot do good business without showing others your own commitment to and strong belief in what you are selling. Even today my grandfather takes me with him when he meets with different people, just to prove how right his statement is. Relationships in business may start with a simple handshake but end with a partnership for years to come.

ethan gpa

Me & my grandfather at my recent college graduation.


Contributed by Ethan Tanney. All photos are the author’s own & may not be reproduced without permission.
Unknown

 

Free Your Time

Every day, I feel blessed to meet inspiring business owners through my work at RSVP. Each of them started their business with some passion, end goal or dream in mind. Each story shares that uniquely American can-do spirit & independence. I hear things like:

  • “I was tired of the corporate rat race.”
  • “Why work for someone else when I can work for myself?”
  • “I want to create a legacy.”

But their reasons run even deeper than that. At the heart of their decision to strike out on their own is the desire for a sense of control over their lives and futures. They year for independence, yet they find themselves working harder, burning the candle at both ends, no end to the workday, perpetually tethered to the business they created & nurtured. Instead of resting easy they lay awake thinking about hiring new employees or tackling the next big project, answering emails in the wee hours of the morning or at their kid’s soccer practice.

windows-phone-440

“OK, we do monkey bars until 3:15, then the slide from 3:30-3:40, and that should give us enough time to have juice & crackers before our 4:00 meeting with Mom regarding your most recent finger-painting performance.”

That original laser-focused dream that started it all becomes a little cloudy in the weary mind of that business owner. Now she may be totally in charge of her own destiny now, but she’s somehow a little more out of control. And yet she still has the same spark of passion and energy that inspires her to get up every day and do it all again, living the madness to create her dream for herself. Despite the unique challenges and struggles that come along with being an entrepreneur, most are proud and wouldn’t trade the freedom that comes along with it for the world.

Our conversations often turn to the real reason they’re working so hard: the freedom to do what they want with their downtime. The desire to be able to take a vacation without requesting time off from someone else, relying on another person’s approval. Common escapes include foreign travels, a beach, a lake, camping. Living a life of pleasure & relaxation in a place of peace & serenity. A place to reboot & recharge. I have to smile when I hear that their escapes are often jam-packed with activity, from adventure sports, boating, or other adrenaline-pumping, white-knuckle, edge-of-the-seat activity.  It isn’t surprising that the same business owners who pour their passion into creating & sustaining a business during working hours tend to approach their downtime with the same fervor.

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For example, this is how I relax.

But it takes time, dedication, and delegation – and delegation seems to be the hardest part! For business owners whose ventures are in their infancy or growing years, these escapes must be postponed. Sometimes it may be for personal reasons – “We’re waiting until the kids are a little older before we buy a cabin on the lake.” – but often it’s for professional reasons. They have to wait until such-and-such employee is able to handle the workload – or even have to wait until their business grows enough to hire employees! Other business owners have grown their company & begun to hand the reins over to capable individuals. These owners are enjoying their time, living in the moment…and looking back, they wish they would’ve done it sooner.  They wish they would’ve spent more time with their children and escaped from the daily grind even if that grind is one they created for themselves. If you’re nervous about delegating business responsibilities to others so that you can enjoy the life you’ve created for yourself, let Entrepreneur magazine help you out with their 4-step guide!

In his book The 4-Hour Workweek, author Tim Ferriss recommends to readers to not to work until retirement, but rather to live your retirement a little each week. Build those little escapes into your life so you can enjoy them now, rather than waiting for some undetermined future date – when you hire more people, open another location, add another service. I know it’s hard to believe, but work can wait.  What may seems like an urgent problem requiring your attention RIGHT NOW, TODAY may simply work itself out in the hands of capable & trusted employees if only you would make like Elsa & let it go.

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And now the song is in your head. No need to thank us.

So as my family & I pack up and head to the lake this Fourth of July season, I’ll be counting my blessings: not just my own personal or professional success, but also our nation’s independence, and our country’s long history of encouraging men & women to make their own way by doing things their own way, freeing us to create the life of our dreams. I like to think that the fantastic fireworks displays with all their awe-inspiring moments of “Ooh!”s and “Ahh!”s are symbolic of these blessings, and a reminder to keep your head up, dream big, be grateful, and be present.

I hope these business owners see it the same way, and that they continue to work to fulfill their dreams, but remember to get away and savor the here & now.


Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.
Heather

 

 

 


Image sources: 1, 2 and 3. Frozen copyright Disney 2013.

 

 

Feeling “Sew” Creative!

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Image found on pintrest.com.

I have worked at RSVP for 12 years now, and I still love my job (not many people can say one of those things, let along both of them – I’m lucky!). Every day is a little different. Over the years I have been fortunate to wear many hats in the business: bookkeeper, salesperson, general manager, etc. One of my favorite hats was that of graphic designer. I wasn’t awesome at it, but I wasn’t terrible, either. I did pretty well for myself, and not only did I enjoy having a break from the dollars & cents I normally focus on, I also found it was a fun creative outlet. Our business has grown in the years since I wore the graphic designer hat, and we now have an amazing graphic design team that handles our increased artwork load, which means I have fewer & fewer opportunities to be Jodie Hook, RSVP Graphic Designer. That has allowed me to focus on what I am best at, but I felt I had lost my creative outlet.

That is, until recently.

This past November, I decided I didn’t like any of the pajama options out there for my 9 month old baby. She’s big for her age, and the stores’ offerings were just not cutting it. On a whim, I decided I could make some for her. I had taken sewing lessons one summer in middle school. It was something I excelled at but didn’t make much time for; I made a few Halloween costumes in college, but nothing since then. I moved forward with Operation: Baby Pajamas. I found a pattern with a zipper online, and I even modified it to add fold-over cuffs. I felt a real sense of pride after I finished this first project.

jammies

The pajamas that started it all!

 

It felt so right, and I knew that I had found my true creative outlet & passion. I started waking up early & staying up late to work on sewing projects for my kids, challenging myself with more difficult or intricate work each time.  My kids were amazed – granted, one of the great thing about kids is that they are easily impressed.

outfit

An outfit I made as a birthday gift for my youngest child.

 

I continued sewing for my friends and family, and when I would proudly tell people that my sons & daughters were wearing something I made, I started hearing that I should sell my creations. I played with the idea for a little bit and decided, “Why not?” Why not take something I love doing, and that I am good at, and not only make a little money from it, but – more importantly – share my labor of love with others?

A fun Hello Kitty-themed craft bag I made as a gift for a friend's daughter on her birthday.

A fun Hello Kitty-themed craft bag I made as a gift for a friend’s daughter on her birthday.

While I really wanted to jump head first in & get started, I also realized there was more to it than just making stuff & selling it. After some research, I discovered there were multiple law of compliance to make sure that children’s clothing is safe. After starting the process in January, I am finally ready to take the plunge!

As I start this adventure, I have a few tips for anyone else getting started:

  • Do your research. If you are selling anything, you need to make sure it’s safe, especially if it’s for children. Be sure to check any federal, state, and local regulations that apply to what you want to do.
  • As the saying goes, the only certainties in life are death & taxes, so be sure to track everything from the very beginning. This includes inventory, expenses, and the like. This will make your life much easier once tax season rolls around and you have to give Uncle Sam his dues.
  • Most importantly, make sure it’s something you love, and will continue to love for years to come. Otherwise, you’ll burn out & what started out as a labor of love will become just another chore or task you have to do, but don’t enjoy doing.

I’m looking forward to the road ahead, and am excited to share my love of sewing with others!’

One of my more recent creations: a colorful bear-print t-shirt for one of my sons.

One of my more recent creations: a colorful bear-print t-shirt for one of my sons.


Contributed by Jodie Hook.
Jodie

Simon Sinek quote picture found on Pintrest.com here.