Daily Prompt: Archaic

via Daily Prompt: Archaic

I currently work for an electronics retailer, which I will be leaving soon for another employment opportunity. Their style of doing business, advertising strategy, and even the internal computer system is extremely archaic. Unfortunately for the workers who have made a career of this type of work, the company will be completely out of business within the next five to seven years due to their lack of understanding of the market, the products that people are looking for, and the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. The result will drive those workers into a world that they will not understand if they haven’t kept their eyes open over the last five years.

Business Style

Back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, when the entire lineup of electronics had anywhere from a 50-500 percent markup, salespeople were trained to be sharks that cared more about  their commission cheques than the customers. Back then, a sales associate could make a living wage, support their family, and didn’t mind their employer treating them like garbage because the financial upside was so great. Today, with the cost of living far exceeding what a retail employer is willing to dish out, company culture and being treated well has become more important than ever. “Treat your employees well and they will take care of your customers for you,” is a philosophy that has been adopted by some of the best companies in the world, and has allowed those companies to succeed in bad economies and tanked markets.

The Changing Landscape of Advertising

A successful marketing strategy these days differs from the strategies of old in a few ways. Today, social media and direct marketing through electronic media outperform radio and print advertising for a fraction of the cost. The ability to pinpoint the exact target demographic has become easy enough that a child could do it, and they are. Teenagers who understand how to properly utilize social media for business are moving more product than brick and mortar retailers, without the overhead of a fixed location and inventory. And when you consider that manufacturers are willing to drop ship products directly to the customer’s home, these businesses can save once again on their shipping costs. As the landscape continues to shift, we will see more online stores, as the people running these businesses have chosen to embrace technology, instead of hiding behind ignorance, doubt, and fear.

Out-of-Date Operating Systems

The company I work for uses an internal computer system from 1982. That was the year I was born. They are also using a dot matrix printer, and carbon copy invoices. There isn’t even the ability to email a receipt to a customer short of printing out a hard copy, scanning and emailing it, or even worse, the obsolete process of faxing. If a business is not willing to supply its employees with tools from within the last decade, how can one expect customers to take that business seriously?

“We’ve Always Done it This Way” are Words That Should Never be Spoken

Lack of evolution in business is a one-way ticket to bankruptcy. Carrying the same old products and believing the future to be a fad is the best possible way to see your business go belly up, if it hasn’t already. If you truly love your business and want to keep it running, do your research, understand how the world around you is changing, drop dead weight employees, and hire the best people to do the things that you are not good at.

Evolution, not change for the sake of changing, is the key to thriving in today’s business world. Know it, embrace it, and you will reap the rewards.

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Daily Prompt: Tide

via Daily Prompt: Tide

This would be an easy prompt to pick on foolish teenagers for eating Tide pods, because ingesting harmful chemicals is just plain stupid. However, while most people over 18 years of age can’t wrap their heads around this, many of those same people smoke cigarettes, drink excessive amounts of caffeinated, alcoholic or sugary beverages, and eat garbage food everyday.

Healthy living is about avoiding these excessive or unnecessary poisons as often as possible. For those who have trained themselves to require that caffeine jolt in the morning, one coffee per day is enough. You don’t need four. In fact, you could wean yourself off of coffee altogether and still be able to function normally.

You’ve heard the old saying, “Moderation is the key.” That statement applies to everything in life, not just food and drinks, but also excessive work schedules, exercise, and rest or lack thereof.

If you don’t require another, just put it down. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my six Big Mac meals are ready.

Daily Prompt: Song

via Daily Prompt: Song

What constitutes a good song? Is it a slammin’ beat, great melodies, lyrics that you can connect with, or no lyrics at all? Does it have real or synthesized instruments? Is it an epic tune at 8-13 minutes, or the standard radio length of about 3 1/2? Does it have to be by a band or performer that you like? Can it be from a genre that you despise?

Music like many other forms of art is completely subjective, and a song that one person might love, could sound like nails on a chalkboard to another. Sometimes a song that you once loved can be overplayed, leading to a level of disdain toward it; only to become a favourite again in ten years when you hear it at a party or bar.

Songs are as individual as the people listening, which is what makes music in general so unbelievably fantastic. The feelings or memories that a certain song can invoke are what connects us to the music on an emotional level. There really is no right or wrong answer to what constitutes a good song. Unless it’s country… then it’s just awful.

Daily Prompt: Rush

via Daily Prompt: Rush

Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart form Rush, which is in my opinion, the greatest Canadian rock band ever. Ok, maybe they’re tied with The Hip. But top two none-the-less.

Songs like Tom Sawyer, Lakeside Park, Limelight, and YYZ showcase their immense talent. Peart’s unspeakable understanding and connection with his drums set the stage for Lifeson’s face melting riffs and solos, balancing perfectly with Lee’s tight bass lines, and keys. Although their sound may have changed throughout the years, the spirit of the music always remained the same.

Unfortunately Rush is no longer, however their music lives on whether it’s a classic vinyl, or your favourite music streaming platform; and in the hearts and minds of fans lucky enough to observe the spectacle first hand.

Daily Prompt: Explore

via Daily Prompt: Explore

Exploration is one of the keys to self awareness and personal growth. Many different aspects of life can be explored, all leading to the same discovery: happiness.

Work

Regardless of age, you should be exploring every avenue available. Take different jobs, work for different companies, move laterally or up, and volunteer some time. Find out what you enjoy doing, then kick ass at it. For some, they figure it out early, and for others it takes years. Either way, don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things.

Social Life

Meet new people everyday. Engage in a friendly conversation with a stranger. It could be in line at the grocery store, or while standing on a street corner waiting for your turn to cross the street.  You don’t have to make a new best friend, but a simple conversation can teach you a lot about yourself. You never know who you might meet, and it’s great practice for networking.

Travel

Even though the entire planet has been mapped out, it doesn’t mean that you can’t explore your city, country, or any other place. New destinations come with new experiences, new people, new architecture, and new food, which are some of the building blocks of personal growth.

Ultimately exploration is about finding yourself. You’ll never know what you might like, if you don’t try it.

Daily Prompt: Churn

via Daily Prompt: Churn

“Hitchin up the buggy, churnin’ lots of butter, raised a barn on Monday, soon I’ll raise another. Think you’re really righteous? Think you’re pure at heart? Well, I know I’m a million times as humble as thou art.”

– “Weird” Al Yankovic, Amish Paradise

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.

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: Quartet

via Daily Prompt: Quartet

I grew up on the oldies, 50’s and 60’s music. When I got to high school, I discovered heavy metal, and fell in love. I felt the power of the music, and searched for the bands that had an inspiring message. My favourite band to this day is Tool, the progressive rock/metal band with a cult following for it’s high quality musicianship, open-minded perspective, and mystery.

After a couple of years I was submerged in a sea of metal bands, and thought that this was the be-all-end-all of music for the rest of my days. My mind would soon be changed when I received a burnt CD of a Tool tribute album by the Vitamin String Quartet.

I gave the album a listen and couldn’t believe how this group of classical musicians could absolutely nail every note, beat, and melody. It acted as a catalyst into my journey through the ever-growing spectrum of music.

I have since expanded my love of music into a number of different genres, with the exception of country music, which has never been appealing to me.

Learn more about the Vitamin String Quartet and the bands that they have covered: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_String_Quartet