July 2011 - Posts

Finding Time for Family Time
Friday, July 29, 2011 2:10 PM

I don't know anyone who isn't pressed for time. The existence of the popular phrase "work-life balance" grew out of the time crunch of our always-on-the-go world and implies that sometimes one or the other is out of whack.

True "balance" may be a moving target but finding time for family time must be a priority, especially during summer, when kids have downtime from the rigors of school and sports. Don't let Labor Day dawn without having carved out some quality time with your loved ones.

Finding Time in a Packed Schedule

Erin Doland of the organization blog The Unclutter takes a step-by-step, list-driven approach to organizing both her home and her time. Read her post on organizing your household routine for strategies on finding more time in your day for family time.

Say No in Order to Say Yes

Finding time in a crowded schedule requires the fine art if saying no. Too often our schedule fills up with play dates, sports, camps and social outings. Protect family time by saying no to some of these distractions. Read this piece by the BBC for making the most of family time. The top piece of advice? Guard family time carefully.

Take a Family Vacation

Ah, the open road. Or is it, oh no, the backseat bickering? Sometimes travel with toddlers and teens can seem so daunting that we stay put. Instead, put the notion that family travel is too taxing behind you and read ParentDish's tips for family travel. Go ahead, make a memory.

How do you make the most of family time? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.



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Keeping Abreast of Apps
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 9:32 PM
Just a few years ago the word "app" conjured up images of bite-sized snacks served before an entrée at dinner. Now apps are no longer merely shorthand for a pre-meal appetizer, they are applications, the lifeblood of many daily interactions...
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Finding Time for Family Time
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 9:15 PM
Sometimes it seems as if summer's indolent days are merely a vestige of memory and of youth. The once "lazy, hazy" days of summer are jam-packed, as the demands of work and children unencumbered by school, compete for the week's finite...
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School's Out: How Working Parents Deal With Summer Downtime
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 2:22 PM

School's out: two simple words that elicit such joy in kids and corresponding dread in parents, especially working parents. How to fill those summer days when school's out but work continues?

Now What?

In The Cost of a Working Mom's Summer Non-Vacation, , Huffington Post blogger Stephanie Losee estimates that it costs her approximately $1,400 in babysitting and camp fees per summer week to keep her three kids, aged 2 to 12, occupied so she can work. That's a pretty hefty price tag.

Camps and babysitting may work for some families but not all can afford such arrangements. Other ideas for childcare include staggering vacations with your spouse to maximize parental (i.e. free) childcare blocs of time.  This may not cover the entire summer but can buy you a few weeks. Likewise, tap willing family members for "Camp Grandma" or trade weeks with a working sibling; kids get quality family time and the adults get needed coverage.

Or consider creating a babysitting co-op with working families in the same boat. If two or three families team together, it can be possible to reduce childcare costs by splitting them several ways or to have participating parents cover the days. Creative neighbors can also band together to create a mini-camp within a neighborhood. Read Turning a Neighborhood into a Playground to learn how two Palo Alto moms run a neighborhood camp a week at a time.

Parents can also broach flexible work schedules with their jobs. By working longer four day weeks, it's often possible to take Fridays off. Some jobs may even be open to summer sabbaticals.

Finally, we leave you with an article with ideas on summer activities to keep kids engaged and learning while on break from school. While these ideas won't help solve the summer childcare conundrum, they will help make whiling away the long days a tad easier.

How do you balance your children's summer schedules with work? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Remember Not to Forget: Tips for Enhancing Memory
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 2:03 PM

Imagine if memories could be retrieved with the flick of a switch. Scientists have recently made that very breakthrough with rats. But since the nascent technology is a long way from use in more complex mammals, anyone looking to boost memory is better served with the tips we've rounded up from across the web.

Clean Desks & Mind Games Make Sharp Memories

Clinical psychologist and author of the Total Memory Workout, Dr. Cynthia Green, has eight tips for helping your memory rival those elephants who never forget. We like the first: keep your desk clean. Studies show organized individuals can better remember.

Green also advocates simple steps such as aerobic activity and stretching breaks to enhance memory. Other ideas include using "neurobic" activities such as mind exercises, puzzles and teasers to keep the brain's cells firing away. For more, read about Dr. Green's eight strategies here. 

Be Interested, Be Visual & Be Well-Rested

It's probably no surprise to learn that the better rested your body and brain, the better your memory, says Dr. Alex Lickman in Psychology Today. Sleep deprivation causes all cognitive functions, including memory, to dive off a cliff. But you may be unaware of the link between memories and images.

Memory making is primarily a visual process so if remembering where those car keys are is a challenge, create a visual memory by zooming in on the details, colors and dimensions of the spot where you put them.

Lickman also emphasizes that interest plays a role in memory-making. The more interested you are in a person or information, the easier it is to make and maintain a memory. For more strategies, read Linkman's article How to Remember Things: Proven Strategies to Improve Your Memory. 

How do you remember not to forget? Do you have a foolproof means for remembering important items? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Summer Lovin’
Saturday, July 23, 2011 5:11 PM

Summer is in full throttle. Have you taken time to enjoy it? Downtime is critical for reenergizing and rebooting productivity.

If scheduling a vacation (or packing for one) sounds like just another to-do list, we're here to help.

We've created a get-you-to-the-beach-without-your-Blackberry guide that will have you kicking back for some needed R&R in no time.


It's Not Too Late: No vacation booked? Travel web site lastminutevaction.com  offers deals and destination ideas.



Packing Tips From Travel Pros: Can you fit 40 garments and two pairs of shoes in one overhead suitcase? Read this article and you may soon be able to say yes. Tips include rolling, not folding your clothes.


Packing for Family Vacations: Need to pack for the entire gang? Travel web site, wejustgotback.com  has advice for packing  and thriving (not just surviving) for family travel.


Leaving Work at the Office: Worried work will encroach on your vacation time? Read 5 Key Tips to Avoid Working on Vacation. 


Still on the Vacation Fence: Not sure if you can spare the time (or cash) for a vacation? Think your boss or business can't survive without you? Read New York Time's reporter Jay Glotz take on taking a vacation:  it may help you see the wisdom of vacationing when you can.


Do you have tips for taking a break? What are your favorite travel tips? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Work that Network
Friday, July 22, 2011 5:08 PM

Summer is a time for socializing. And while much of your mingling may be at beach BBQs or outdoor events, don't neglect to work your network during the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Need a little kick in the pants to move you from beach chair to business cards? Read our round-up of networking advice from across the web.

Quality, not size, matters most says the author of Managing Yourself: A Smarter Way to Network Networks that are too large don't allow relationships to be properly nourished. Instead, rely on a group of 12-14 core contacts that provide developmental feedback and new sources of information and expertise. The article also provides tips on winnowing your network and making sure you are using your contacts most effectively.

We recently posted about networking wunderkind LinkedIn. Click here for their useful primer on how to optimize their service and network within their 100 million plus community.

And of course there's always what NOT to do. Inc.com offers "don't let this be you" advice in 6 Social Networking Faux Pas To Avoid. 

Finally, for something fun (hey, it's summer!) we like the tips in 10 Apps to Up Your Social Networking Game. 

Do you make regular time for networking? What are the most productive ways for you to work your network? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.



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Top Salespeople: Born or Made?
Thursday, July 21, 2011 5:06 PM

What sets a top salesperson apart from merely an average one? Are top sellers born with a set of innate qualities that allows them to outperform their peers? Or can a successful salesperson be nurtured over time to develop the traits that add up to a star seller?

In a recent post we rounded up tips from top sales people including the importance of forging personal connections with customers and listening first, selling second.

In this post, we look at what experts call the traits of successful salespeople. If nature didn't deal you a strong hand, time to work on nurturing those must-have qualities.

Seven for Success

After interviewing 1,000 top salespeople at global business leaders, sales expert Steve W. Martin identified seven traits that he says define successful salespeople. See how you stack up.

Modesty: Turns out that glad-handing, over-the-top salespeople only succeed in movies. Customers prefer a more modest approach, one that puts their needs front-and-center, rather than a salesperson's over-the-top efforts.

Conscientiousness: Top performers are driven by a sense of responsibility and duty. They are detail-oriented and feel an obligation to do their best work and care about the results they provide for their customers.

Achievement Orientation: No surprises here; top sellers are driven to succeed. Many top sellers played sports and carry a sense of drive and competition with them into their careers. They get results because they expect results.

Curiosity: Inquiring minds do more than want to know: they seal the deal more often than not. When an effective salesperson trains a curious mind on a customer, they can unearth information that helps sell solutions to their client, this closing the deal.

Lack of Gregariousness: Again, glad-handling and over-the-top friendliness can get on the way of a sales pitch. Salespeople that remain professional and dispassionate can better finesse a transaction than a salesperson that has become too personally connected to a customer or who is hamstrung by their need to be liked.

Lack of Self-Consciousness: Top salespeople are less likely to feel bashful or embarrassed than their counterparts. A lack of self-consciousness makes it easier to cold call or push to close a deal.

For more on the personal qualities of successful sellers, read Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople. 

What qualities make a successful salesperson in your book? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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Title Inflation: Beware Too Much Hot Air
Friday, July 15, 2011 2:23 PM

Staying abreast of business trends is a goal at Esselte. But one trend worth avoiding is rampant title inflation which is alive and well across the globe.

Witness leading business magazine The Economist jokingly referring to Korea's dictator Kim Jon IL as a trendsetter for his over-the-top take on title inflation: the Korean dictator boasts a whopping 1,200 titles. 

While no one is going to confuse the average job-hunter with a megalomaniac dictator, careful scrutiny of titles is necessary for today's job-hunters and hiring managers alike.

What's in a Name?

Title inflation can spring from many wells: job hierarchies have become more complex, therefore more diverse roles and titles are required to parse differences; when money is tight, new, fancier titles are often awarded in lieu of cash; and lastly, cultural shifts have companies assigning titles such as Chief Diversity Officer, CEO of Sustainability and even, yes its true, Minister of Comedy. 

A Rose by Any Other Name

Since title inflation has taken hold, hiring managers need to carefully suss out a candidate's true experience, rather than assuming a set of responsibilities based solely on title. Smart HR pros will match job descriptions against experience, and view titles as just one set of criterion. Hiring managers will benefit from the insight in Title Inflation Emerges With A Vengeance. 

Job hunters should recognize the dangers of puffery and consider functional resumes that highlight accomplishments and expertise rather than soley relying on titles to convey worth. HR pros can sniff out embellishment, so keep it straightforward and simple.

Worried that simplicity, is well, too simple? Make sure your job descriptions showcase, rather than show off, with the advice in Does Your Job Title Get the Job Done? 

What is the wackiest, most embellished title you've come across? Does title inflation make it hard to discern an employee's true experience?  Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.



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Start-Up Don’ts from The Creator of the World’s Best Selling Toothbrush
Thursday, July 14, 2011 2:20 PM

Serial entrepreneur John Osher invented a $5 electric toothbrush that became the world's best seller in 15-short months. Osher then sold the company for $475 million dollars: talk about a smile.

Clearly Osher was doing plenty right when he built his toothbrush company. Yet the entrepreneur is almost as well known for his business "don'ts." Osher created an informal list of business pitfalls, "17 Mistakes Start-Ups Make," that is a must-read for the entrepreneurially-minded.

Osher's list of don'ts includes:

  • Failing to adequately research a business' viability
  • Making cost projections that are too low
  • Hiring too many people and spending too much on overhead
  • Failing to have contingency plans for inevitable set-backs

For more on Osher's list, read the Harvard Business Review case study of his business. 

Finally, entrepreneurs would do well to keep in mind one of Osher's "do's." Osher suggests entrepreneurs view the start-up as a potential product in and of itself. After all, Osher sold both millions of toothbrushes and ultimately the company that produced them: a double-win.

Do you have start-up don'ts gleaned from first-hand experience? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.



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Start-Up 101
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:57 PM

Launching a start-up requires constant juggling. Keep your eyes on the right balls with six tips for starting out  from Inc.com senior contributor Norm Brodsky.

Brodsky's advice boils down to six core principles:

  • Don't assume you know what customers want.
  • Pursue the right customer, not all customers.
  • Consider an on-demand business model to keep debt down and cash on-hand.
  • Master the numbers, don't rely on wishful thinking or winging it.
  • Price your goods carefully, aim for the highest the market will bear.
  • Learn from failure; keep your eyes on the prize.

New endeavors come with a learning curve so bone up on the basics with resources such as Inc.com's soup-to-nuts primer on start-ups and at Entrepreneur.com. 

Other resources include Work.com  which features nearly 2,000 how-to segments and Startup Nation, a web site offering a community where entrepreneurs can share information.

What resources proved helpful to you as a start-up? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.




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