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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Writer’s Block: Is it Real?

Over the years, while I was constantly convincing myself that a career in writing was unfeasible, I would hear of successful writers complain of writer’s block. It has been hinted at, expounded upon, and driven plots throughout short stories, novels, TV shows, and movies. But, is it real? Do writers actually hit a wall, are they lazy, or is it just a crap day with no inspiration?

In my short time as a writer, I have certainly experienced days where I just couldn’t come up with something that advanced the story I was working on. However, I have noticed that those are good days to begin or continue another project, unless I am trying to meet a deadline.

If meeting a deadline is the issue and I must get it done in a timely fashion, I’ll take my dog for a walk, call someone and have a conversation, or better yet, I’ll ask someone that I trust to read it and give me an honest opinion. Sometimes, the opinion given sparks an idea or new path to take within the story. Other times, I try to put myself in the shoes of the reader so that I am able to experience it from their point of view. While the latter usually helps with copy editing and finding plot holes, everything that can be done to break up the monotony of staring at a computer screen, eventually leads to getting back on track with my work.

So, back to the original question. Is writer’s block real? For myself, it doesn’t really exist. For other writers, it may in some form or another. Either way, it’s not forever, and keeping your eyes open for the next hint of inspiration should be your main priority.

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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: 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: 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.

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.