Daily Prompt: Toxic

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

7 Signs That You Work In A Toxic Environment

A job I once had provided an unwanted look into what a toxic work environment can be. It frustrated me everyday, and quickly turned into something I loathed thinking about, even during my off time. The signs of a toxic environment are not always easily identifiable, but once you are made aware of what they look like, recognizing them is simple. What you do after that is up to you.

  1. You have a boss, not a leader.

A real leader is willing to put in work alongside their employees, not crack a whip from the safety of an office. They don’t point fingers and search for someone to blame if something goes wrong either. Instead, an effective leader will work with the team or individual to improve their understanding and hopefully their results.

2. Management is feared, not respected.

Ruling through fear only works for someone who doesn’t understand what respect is or how it works. However, most adults in the workforce fully understand that by showing respect, they get it in return. This creates a positive cycle of respect being shown to everyone else that they may encounter throughout the day. As a result of a positive and respectful work environment, there will inevitably be an increase in productivity and morale.

3. Only failures are recognized, not successes.

Every manager is different. The good ones will point out successes, either through email, a private conversation, or in front of colleagues and co-workers. They will also point out failures, but usually behind closed doors, and will be willing to spend time to help you correct the issue. A bad manager tends to only dwell on failures, call you out like a child in front of everyone, and can even stoop so low as to continually bring up old failures, even in unrelated situations. These bad managers will almost never give you recognition or praise for your success.

4. Absentee ownership.

This is more important to the health of the company than the individual employee. Absentee ownership is probably the worst offence an entrepreneur can can commit. If you’re 65 years old and have a well established team, perhaps you can take more time off, but if your company is struggling, it, as well as the employees, can benefit by having you spend more time there, not less.

5. Unhealthy competition.

Sales competitions can be a great motivator, helping to drive in some extra revenue, especially in the slow times when employees can tend to get complacent. But overlapping of territories or customers can result in animosity between employees, and a disdain for the manager who implemented the contest. Hopefully, any form of competition is well thought out ahead of time, and outlined in full detail with the employees before it begins.

6. Drugs and alcohol at work.

This is pretty straightforward. Drugs and alcohol consumed at work is dangerous to everyone, and a sign of a serious addiction. If anyone is at the point that they require drugs and/or alcohol to get through the day, serious psychological help should be acquired.

7. Nepotism.

In my experience, when I worked for family members, I was always expected to output more effort and productivity than other employees. It taught me that regardless of how I got my job, I had to work to keep it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Too often, family members are hired, put in a few years of actual work, then coast for the rest of their career. Ultimately, they manufacture a sense of entitlement, which leads to an abuse of power, unprofessional actions, and a distrust between the employees and employer.

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Daily Prompt: Warning

via Daily Prompt: Warning

 

Warnings used to be reserved for dangers that weren’t inherently obvious to the average person. They kept us from doing things that we may or may not have been aware of otherwise.

Today, warnings seem to be on everything. Caution: Hot Coffee, or Warning: Slippery When Wet, are two things that anyone with even a shred of common sense would not have to be told. However, as the old adage goes, common sense isn’t that common.

Sometimes I wonder who these warnings are for. Then I have a look around, and there’s usually someone that reminds me of one reason or another. You’d think that over time, we would learn from certain situations or accidents, and not repeat the same mistakes. But some people just never learn, leading to lawmakers to have to protect us from ourselves. Unfortunately, the more that lawmakers try to protect us, the more dangerous to our own well-being we become.

As any parent would know, if you coddle your child for too long, that child will remain helpless and susceptible to the dangers of the world, without knowing how to navigate the landscape of life.

Parents and mentors need to point those who look to them for guidance in the right direction, and the best way to do it, is by showing them how to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others.

Daily Prompt: Betrayed

via Daily Prompt: Betrayed

In the past, I have felt betrayed by outside sources, be it an individual, or a business. I would feel that they owed me something and when I didn’t receive anything in return for my efforts, I just wanted to turn my back on them. This fed into a certain level of depression and loss of self-worth, which I, in turn, used as fuel to accelerate my anger and frustration.

Over the last year, I have been working toward the betterment of myself, by taking the advice of Gary Vaynerchuk, whom I look to as sort of a spiritual guide, so to speak. He is as forward with his message as I tend to be with mine, which can be overwhelming for some, but necessary for all.

As a result of this new self awareness and motivation, I now understand that the only one who has ever betrayed me, is myself.

Daily Prompt: Micro

via Daily Prompt: Micro

Do not micromanage me!

I have worked for an eclectic mix of employers, in a variety of different industries. They all have their upsides and downsides, but my biggest frustration with any manager/boss/owner is micromanagement.

Once I have been trained, if you’ve done your job as a trainer correctly, I do not need someone standing over my shoulder every minute of the day. In fact, I will begin to freeze up, and second-guess myself if they’re watching my every movement. This includes role-playing scenarios, “pop quizzes”, and shadowing. Even if I have done the job for years, and am perfectly capable of performing all tasks entailed in the position, when management is watching I get nervous and can’t do my job to my fullest potential.

If I am underperforming, a clear and concise conversation between manager and employee can get the information across in a fraction of the time, without feeling like I need a babysitter.

If you are happy with my work, good. Leave me alone, and if I need your help, I’ll ask.

The Benefits of CBD

Many of us who are generally healthy tend to take the ease of daily activity for granted. We go about our lives, only experiencing ailments sporadically. Unfortunately for those living with a physical or mental disease, daily activity is not always a reality.

When the average person thinks of a horrific disease, they think mostly of cancer, AIDS, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer’s. They forget about the thousands of other debilitating diseases that plague Canadians everyday.

For one in every 1000 Canadian citizens life includes an ongoing battle with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, more commonly known as Lupus. This debilitating autoimmune disease, nicknamed the Great Imitator, is very difficult to diagnose. It can affect any and all parts of the body including major organs. Some of the symptoms include fatigue, chronic pain, rashes, arthritis, and osteoporosis, which explain the difficulty and long timeline for doctors to diagnose the disease correctly.

For Anna, a 56-year-old Ontario woman, living with the chronic pain, arthritis and fatigue caused by Lupus has become the only life she knows. Diagnosed at the age of 28, Anna has gone through a laundry list of prescriptions. Currently she is taking Prograph, Ramapril, Plaquilnil, Hydromorphone, Pregabalin, Risedronat and Amlodipine. These different medications allow her to have a slightly better quality of life but not without their side effects. Having lost track of all of the side effects after taking a number of different pills over the past 28 years, Anna chooses to focus her attention mainly on what helps her the most. If she is prescribed something that has adverse effects she immediately consults her doctor and her medication is adjusted accordingly. Thus far nothing has been perfect, however a new and somewhat controversial medication has recently been introduced into Anna’s daily routine, resulting in some positive changes.

Cannabidiol or CBD as it is known in the medical cannabis industry, is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Patients both young and old have used CBD in various forms such as; smoking CBD-dominant strains of cannabis flower, applying topical creams, adding CBD-rich salts to a bath and most effectively micro-dosing CBD tinctures and pure extracts. These different methods are used to combat ailments from a wide array of physical and mental illnesses.

At first, Anna was nervous and skeptical due to having tried so many different cocktails of medications over the years. Had it not been for a close family member who first introduced Anna to CBD in early June of 2017, she likely would never have tried it. Anna, like many others had not been properly educated, associating cannabis only with Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main psychoactive chemical that gets users “high”. However, Anna quickly warmed up to the idea once she was assured that CBD, as a chemical compound is free of psychoactive properties.

Anna is now more than seven weeks into her daily use of her new CBD tincture. It has allowed her to cut in half the daily use of Hydromorphone, her current pain medication, at the same time providing better rest while asleep or awake.

Anna hopes that CBD will replace more of her current medications in the future and says that she will continue to use it in her daily routine. She also highly recommends it to anyone suffering from chronic pain as a result of just about any disease, especially Lupus.

Know Your Guide

When visiting a new province, state, country, or an unfamiliar body of water it is best to head out with a guide, at least for your first trip. Most beginners or non-anglers would believe that any guide service in a particular body of water will get you on some fish, maybe even that trophy you’ve been looking for. But any avid angler that has chartered a guide, especially a one that isn’t great, will tell you to do your research.

Recently, I took a trip to Fort Myers, Florida to visit my parents who have a small condo on a golf course. The bass fishing in the ponds around the course is good, but I had grown a little tired of fishing the same old spots. My brother-in-law, who also happened to be there at the same time, suggested that we go goliath grouper fishing. We had seen the videos online, which were absolutely insane, and decided without doing research on the guide or experiences had by others, to book a trip. He was charging $800USD for a 4-hour trip. I thought the price was a little steep, but he was supposedly the best.

We showed up to the marina about 15 minutes early and proceeded to wait. The guide showed up 20 minutes late, and made some excuses for his tardiness. It wasn’t a big deal to us as long as he gave us back the time on the end of the trip. However, to our disappointment, the story got worse.

He took us to the bridge pilings where the GG’s shelter themselves from the sun. He instructed me to grab a jack – a small but powerful fish – out of the bait well so that he could hook it up. I assumed, as I began to open the lid, that there would be at least a dozen or so in order for us to have enough bait to last the entire trip. Man was I wrong. He had one. Yes, only one baitfish for us to use on these monster fish. I grabbed the jack by the tail, pulled it out of the water and handed it to the guide. He hooked it up, then handed me the rod. He then verbally instructed me on how to lower the fish into the right area, and right away I got a bite. This is when things started to go really sour. Myself being a bass angler felt the bite and tried to set the hook. The GG ripped the jack from the hooks and I was left with no bait. The guide decided that now was the time to tell me that I was supposed to reel down on the fish, which was no help now that we were out of bait. He also had the audacity to ask if I had ever seen his videos on YouTube, hinting that I was supposed to learn everything about GG fishing from some low budget videos of him basically screaming like a banshee.

With no bait left, much to our dismay, we were now paying to do his job, which is preparing for a fishing trip. So he threw out a large bait net and dragged in a bunch of small bait fish, dumped them in the bait well and started up the motor so that we could head over to another area in order to catch more jacks to use as GG bait. Three hours later, we had two jacks in the boat and less than a half hour left in the trip. With the ride back, which he counted as time on the water, we were done for the day.

I have since been informed that this is not a unique experience, which did very little to calm me. I was angry because I had overpaid for jack and snook fishing which basically set up the guide with bait for his next trip, was yelled at for not being able to read his mind, and all the while had to listen to delusional stories of greatness by a guy who had just ripped us off.

I can’t stress enough, that should you use a guide service, do your research before you book anything. There are review websites and social media outlets that are littered with customer experiences. You could even call around the area to the marinas or bait shops, which usually know a number of guides. While they may not throw one of their own under the bus, they can steer you in the right direction.

Fishing you the best of luck!

You Need More Gary Vee in Your Life

“Get off your ass, find out what you’re fucking good at, and triple down on that thing.”

This was the first line I had ever heard from Gary Vaynerchuk aka. Gary Vee. He’s rough around the edges, he’s unorthodox, and he’s unapologetically straightforward. Gary takes the message of motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, flips it on its head, and beats you with it, but he’s not trying to be a jerk, just a realist.

Last year I was unemployed, stressed, angry, and sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. As I would do most days, I found myself searching for jobs that I didn’t want, and scrolling through the endless feeding trough of Facebook. I was consuming mostly mental garbage, when I stumbled across a video of Gary. He was harsh and he cursed a lot, but he told the truth and his words resonated with me. “If you’re lucky enough to be good at what you like, become tunnel fucking vision,” exclaims Gary. “The reason most people are not doing that thing [they’re supposed to] is they’re worried about the opinion of somebody else.” It was there and then that I stopped trying to live up to what I believed others expected of me, and decided to pursue a career in what I have always loved as a hobby, writing.

I have since been following Gary on different social media platforms, and have learned more about myself than I ever thought possible. I know that I am not unique in this personal revelation as millions of people following him throughout social media share similar stories. Gary also has dozens to hundreds of people voluntarily showing up to his “meet-ups”, which are impromptu gatherings in whatever city he finds himself that day, and are initiated through his social media channels. He openly answers questions, and to his benefit, has a chance to network with new and interesting people. He gives sound business and personal advice by telling people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear

Gary the Entrepreneur

At a very young age, Gary was already an entrepreneur. He would buy, sell, and trade baseball cards, comic books, and toys on the weekends, making himself thousands of dollars in the process. After graduating from college, Gary began working at his father’s liquor store. He transformed it from a 3 million dollar company into a 60 million dollar empire called the Wine Library in just 5 years. From his success in the wine industry, he branched out to digital marketing and investments by starting the companies Vayner Media and Vayner X. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies such as PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch, and General Electric, and helped and invested in successful tech start-ups such a Twitter, Tumblr, and Uber. He continues to invest in new companies, start new businesses, and has recently been working with individual social media and music personalities, such as Rome Fortune and Tierra Whack, helping them to forward their own careers.

Gary believes that social media is the most powerful tool in business today and anyone not using it to its full potential results in missing numerous opportunities. Much like a contractor, he understands that the use of every tool (social media outlet) is necessary to do the job effectively. “If you have the greatest hammer, the greatest screwdriver, and the greatest wrench in front of you. If you don’t use them properly, you will lose,” he says.

Purchasing ad space on Facebook can help, but getting into the heads of your target market and penetrating all of the media channels available today is the way to truly win. He uses his own advice in all of his businesses by working 16-18 hours per day and providing content and information about his companies, his personal brand, and his mentorship to his followers and fans on a daily basis. He speaks mainly of his successes, failures, the realities of business, and the amount of hustle required in order to succeed.

For people like me who are relatively new to Gary Vee and his accomplishments, he can conveniently be lumped into a sea of social media personalities. However, unlike most people making money from social media and documenting their entire lives for the world to see, Gary understands how and why social media celebrity works.

Gary continues to be highly influential and a driving force behind a number of young entrepreneurs. He doles out new business ideas, by the mouthful, and when asked if he cares about people stealing his ideas, his answer is as direct as can be expected. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of people listening will not think twice about these ideas. Of the few that will, maybe one or two people will actually attempt to make it happen,” he says. Gary fully understands the reserved state of mind possessed by the typical human being, and does not fear having an idea “stolen” by someone. He would rather see someone take his idea, make it happen, and ask for advice if they get stumped somewhere throughout the process.

Gary Vee’s underlying message to anyone willing to listen is simple; self-awareness is the key to personal growth and success, love the process, put in the work, “don’t give a fuck about others’ opinions of your failures,” and patience, patience, patience. With a global following of millions of people ages 13-80, many successful businesses, and a keen eye for the next big thing, Gary isn’t just playing the game and winning, he’s rewriting the rules.

The Big J is for Jerome

The caravan of tourist driven rental vehicles snaked slowly up the mountainside toward what was once known as the “Wickedest town in the west”. In the distance, rocks formed a large snow-white letter J which contrasted with the foliage and red rock of the Cleopatra hillside as it overlooked the tiny ghost town. I ran my sandpaper tongue over my dry, cracked lips as we passed an old sign that read, “Welcome to Jerome, Arizona”. The anticipation of fulfilling another bucket list item grew stronger with every passing mile. The intense heat of the Arizona desert only served to increase my anxiety. Our twelve-passenger van proved almost too large for the narrow, winding streets of this abandoned copper mining town. As I laid my eyes on my true destination, a pinch on my arm was necessary to confirm my being conscious.

I hopped down from the oversized vehicle, like a child on his first field trip, full of excitement and anticipation. Four of my five senses were abandoned leaving me to survive solely on tunnel vision. I crossed the single lane meant for two-way traffic in a zombie like state. The cavalcade of tourists and local hippies roaming aimlessly throughout the art shops and the spillover of bikers from the neighbouring town of Cottonwood were merely a blur. Being drawn in closer as if caught in a tractor beam, an invisible wall slammed me to a stop but a few feet from the door.

Breathing deeply, I inched forward, for there was no turning back. I had finally arrived at Caduceus Cellars, an intimate wine tasting room owned and operated by a lifelong idol, Maynard James Keenan. Having been a fan of his bands, art, and philosophies on life, I felt a tangible connection to him and his work.

Floating through the winery, my senses were restored allowing the scent of wine and weathered oak barrels, along with the familiar sound of Maynard’s music to comfort me in this surreal experience. Awaiting the arrival of my group, I squeezed past the other patrons, scanning the inventory of wine, clothing and other memorabilia, which lined walls and covered tabletops.

Trickling through the door one by one, our group was boisterously greeted by an unrefined yet welcoming tattooed woman. She stood no higher than five feet with a larger-than-life personality. She promptly took our order returning only moments later with glasses and our first tastings.

I closed my eyes as I sipped away, allowing the fruit and tannins to fill my mouth and nostrils. For the first time I understood the effort involved in the arduous process of working the land, as well as the years of back breaking labour and mental exhaustion before a single harvest was made possible. Most overwhelmingly I heard the Arizona desert call out in approval of my presence.

Jerome, Arizona holds a permanent reservation in my heart and mind, however any visitor will feel an undeniable spiritual connection to this hidden gem.

Don’t Defend a Lead

Far too often sports teams will play their butts off to get a healthy lead in the game, only to lose that lead, and often the game itself. This leaves spectators baffled and wondering, “How could something like this happen?”

The answer to this question is quite simple. The team that once had that healthy lead decided at some point that they would defend it, which couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

You may be asking yourself, “Why is this wrong?” The answer to this question is also quite simple. What got the team to this point was not a defensive attitude, but rather a hungry offensive one. In order to then win the game, the smart thing to do is stay hungry.

Hunger is what keeps successful people at the top of their game/industry. If Steve Jobs had decided that the Apple computer was enough of a success to coast on for the life of the company, then all of the successors in the Apple lineup would cease to exist and Apple itself would not be the global powerhouse that it is.

Do yourself a favour, stay hungry, or that lead will disappear before you know it.

The Ultimate Tourist Trap

As a family, one of our favourite places to go on vacations was Cancun, Mexico, which we visited four times. I have been back twice since that last family vacation and has it ever changed.

The first time we went to Cancun was over New Year’s week in 1996/97. I was 14 years old and it was my first time to an all-inclusive resort. I remember that I only left the resort one night with it was my oldest sister, who was 18, and a group of people around her age that she had met earlier that week. We jumped on a bus packed shoulder to shoulder, and headed toward the club district with our “travellers” (drinks for the bus ride).

The bar we went to that night was Dady Rock; a pretty well known place in the heart of the club district. I could barely move through the sea of tourists. This was a time when the only locals in the bars were the staff. We had an amazing night, some drinks and some laughs and headed back to the hotel around three or four A.M. This was my first time really partying and I loved it.

Over the next four years, we went back three more times and the partying just got more wild each time. Cancun was a safe, exciting place for tourists to just let go.

Fast forward to my most recent visit in 2011, which was a sales incentive trip, consisting of approximately 30 people. Only a couple of us had been to Cancun before and knew what we were in for. On my prior trip, I had noticed some shady police activity, and questionable practices of the staff in the clubs but shrugged it off. This trip was to be a major eye opener.

The first night that we went out it was very apparent how the area had changed. While walking from the bus stop to the club, we noticed a group of seemingly very unsuspicious young tourists handcuffed in the back of a police pickup truck. My co-worker and I were offered drugs and prostitutes more than a dozen times in the three-minute walk and it didn’t end there.

Once in the club, the most dangerous thing you could do was go to the bathroom. That’s right. Each time I went, a guy at the door would rudely cut me off. He would ask me if I wanted to buy cocaine, and each time I said “NO.” He would then follow me into the bathroom and offer it again while standing beside me as I did my business. Once again, I would dismiss his offer.

After a couple of hours of that garbage we decided to leave. We walked back to our hotel, this time making sure not to look anyone in the eye. During that walk, we began to put the pieces together about how Cancun works these days, recalling horror stories that we had heard from friends, and through our own observations.

We came up with how we believe the trap works.

Everyone knows that the Cartels run Mexico and that many of the police are on their payroll. But the intricacies are quite clever.

Bouncers let in drug dealers to attempt to sell you the drugs. If a dealer is successful, he’ll give you space to think that you’ve gotten away with it. The bouncers are then tipped off by the dealers and bust you. You have two options at this point; leave with, or without the drugs. If you leave without the drugs, they go back to the dealers and they repeat the cycle and split the cash. Should you be able to leave with the drugs, chances are, police will stop you once you exit the building. The police will then confiscate the drugs, and what they do with them at this point is anyone’s guess. However, this should be the last of your worries. At this point you once again have two options; give up whatever amount of money they are extorting from you, or go for a ride to the police station, where you’ll still have to pay them. This happens once they are done with their strip search in a room full of other police officers and whomever they decide to invite in. You will leave the station feeling degraded and extremely embarrassed, which is something you should never experience when away on vacation.

I have since been asked by some friends to go back to Cancun, and my answer to them was, “I hear Jamaica and Cuba are both nice this time of year.”