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Just a short from a video the other day.

Posted by Eric Grundhoefer on Thursday, March 9, 2017

This is one of my favorite scenes from a Vlog I did a while ago. It just turned out amazing and it shows off our beautiful city that we get to see every day.

4 Ways To Get The Creative Juices Flowing

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The new “Information Age” has made it easier to find jobs that pay for creativity. Changes in the workforce reward those who are talented, educated, and can create intellectual products. But this can be both a blessing and a curse. Creative works becomes less appealing when it’s required as part of your job performance.

Professionals practice a number of techniques to help them produce creative work:

  • Get a rough draft going. Sit down with a pen and paper (or at your computer), and piece ideas together. Create a draft that becomes the starting point that you can work with later. Even if you don’t feel creative, get to work. In the process, you may get hooked on one element of your draft and can begin the real work right away. If it doesn’t happen, though, don’t worry. You can go back to your draft any time.
  • Remember, it’s ok to admire. As a creative professionals I will tell you that it is ok to get ideas from other people. It’s okay to say the same thing in your own unique way. I call this “Reverse Engineering” There’s no shame in using inspiration from someone if it’s proven to work. Pick and choose elements from different people’s work, and combine them in your own way to make the project “your style.” Emerson said “imitation is suicide” so just don’t blatantly copy someone else’s work.
  • Break your routine. For some people, the morning or work routine is semi-sacred. They won’t have breakfast before coffee no matter the circumstances, because the routine forbids it. But often most creative people don’t have any routine at all.  They say a routine limits them from finding creative inspiration whenever, and wherever, it may be. Tomorrow, change things up a bit.
  • Take your project outside the office. If your cubicle feels like an isolated trap, get out of it immediately and work somewhere else. Trade for someone else’s office, go to a nearby cafe, or take your work outside and into the sunshine. Explain to your boss that you just need the change of scenery, and if he or she says no, work on your project outside office hours. Spend ten minutes at home making your rough draft, and then bring it into the office the next day.

Sometimes we’re just not feeling it, and that’s okay. Even the most talented creative professionals have to work at their skills, and experience the days when nothing clicks. The difference between them and the others is they know how to channel their creative inspiration, because “fake it till you make it” will only get you so far.

Do you have a special practice or strange ritual you do to get in the creative state of mind? Share it in the comments, you may be able to help us out too!

3 Signs You’re Too Comfortable At Your Job

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Are you happy at your job? If you are, congratulations! Job satisfaction is a huge factor in staying motivated and achieving your career goals in the long term. Even so, being content with your current position can lead to complacency – and unless you’ve achieved your absolute dream job, being content can potentially hold you back.

How can you tell the difference between merely being happy at your job and being too content with the status quo of your career? Here are three signs that you are too comfortable at your job, along with some tips on what to do to renew your drive.

  1. You are no longer eager to impress.

When you first start in a position at a new company, you’re hungry – and ready to complete any task set before you.  This leaves a positive impression on your co-workers and superiors.  But the longer you stay in a job, the more likely you are to stop taking on certain assignments because they’re outside of your normal job duties, or too difficult.

Rather than falling into this trap of complacency, challenge yourself to stay motivated.  Otherwise, you may find yourself being asked to do less and less, and you may end up stuck in the same position for far longer than you’d like.

  1. You stop trying.

If your daily work routine means sticking to your schedule like clockwork with little to no variation, it may be a sign that you’re losing interest in your job. While a healthy balance between work and life is absolutely necessary, if you’re not taking on exciting and challenging assignments that make you want to come into the office, you might be growing bored with your current position.

To combat this stagnation, keep an eye out for tasks that are stimulating and challenging to you, and volunteer to help out with them, or take them on yourself. Taking on responsibilities beyond your usual job description can excite you – and open up new possibilities.

  1. You don’t voice your opinions.

One excellent way to show ambition and get noticed is to speak up and make your voice heard. Most people are eager to do this when they first begin a new job, but as time goes on, they might stop speaking up and pushing for better ideas. Coming up with fresh ideas is time-consuming, and it can seem easier to just go with the flow. Don’t do that—because it means accepting mediocre and even boring work. Stay ambitious and keep pushing to find the best solutions possible, even if it means working harder and longer.

Are you too comfortable in your job? If so, apply these strategies to shake things up at work and to find your passion and motivation again. Comfort and familiarity can be good things, but not if they lead to complacency. Don’t be afraid to make a few waves at work!

7 Ways To Communicate More Effectively With Your Employees

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We all have to work at communication skills, whether it’s at work or in our personal lives. But if you’re in an executive or management position, you will be expected to clearly communicate with all your employees. Unclear communication can frustrate and derail your employees from completing their tasks effectively. You can improve your employee relations across the company by implementing these practices into your daily communications:

Use as many channels as you need to reach all employees. Some people check their emails religiously. Others prefer a face-to-face interactions before they communicate digitally. Relay important messages through a combination of communication methods, including face-to-face, email, text, and message boards. And if someone has questions, make sure you answer in a way that is most appropriate for the situation.

Write clearly and concisely. In written communication, using technical jargon or long letters/emails can deter from your message, making the content unclear to your reader. Use short sentences, with a style that is easy to understand quickly. If you’re sending an email, your employees will likely skim over it, only reading the highlighted sections. Clear and direct written communication reduces the need for follow up.

Keep records of your communications. It’s best practice to send important information via email, letter, or if necessary by recording your conversations. That way, if there is ever a discrepancy  you can refer to the original document for clarification. Companies practice this when they record customer calls for quality assurance. You should do the same with your employees so any miscommunication can be solved promptly.

Communicate in advance. There are few things that employees hate more than feeling rushed or pressured. If you wait until the last minute to communicate, you should expect disgruntled employees and mediocre work. And if you communicate last minute, take responsibility if the results are not what you wanted.

Invite questions/feedback. If you announce an important company decision, make sure your employees know who they can contact for further questions. Communications regarding certain issues should come from different departments, and the head of that department should initiate the message and respond to all questions or suggestions. It makes employees feel much better if the end of an important email is signed with a contact name, rather that sent by a “no-reply” email.

Address problems before or as they arise. If you’re faced with a difficult company decision, or are aware of a potential problem for your employees, address these before they become significant issues. Employees want to be prepared for changes in their work life. If you communicate problems as they occur, and not after they have caused damage to the company, then your employees will feel a greater trust for those making the decisions that affect their jobs.

At the very least, remember to always be honest with your employees. Even if news is bad, they deserve to know what is going on at all levels of your organization. To receive trust you must give it, so always remember to trust your employees and be truthful when communicating them. If you follow these best practices, then you should minimize communication problems and build a better culture within your business.

What Are Young Employees Looking For In A Job?

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Recruiting employees today has a few different ground rules than it used to. For one, the very method of communication with a candidate has changed drastically. Where recruiting relied on face-to-face or phone-based communication, at one time, it is now possible to get all the way through the recruiting and placement process without even living in the same city as your candidate.

A surefire method of successfully recruiting young candidates to jobs is to determine what graduates today are seeking from the workplace.

Young employees are seeking opportunity.

Today more than ever, young employees are looking to take on a job that excites them, brings them fulfillment in some way, or allows for career growth and an upward trajectory. Employees today do not want a 40-year career that ends in retirement and a watch. Young employees want to work in a field that they don’t consider a “dead-end.”

Young employees want flexibility.

It may seem like a luxury to a generation of 9-to-5ers, but today’s young employees want to know that there is a possibility for working from home or telecommuting. Young employees often seek the flexibility of non-traditional office hours or co-working spaces, shared workspaces that bring together professionals from many different fields. Young employees also want the option for more flexible vacation time – earned paid time off in tiny increments that expire at the end of the year is not the ideal for most young employees, who prefer flexibility to traditional stability.

Young employees are looking for respect.

Candidates of any age want respect in the workplace, of course, but young professionals demand it. Recent graduates have grown up in a world where information is accessible at their fingertips, and they are used to driving the conversation and having their ideas taken seriously. Young employees want to earn their ranking, and may expect to be considered with the same respect as an employee who has been on the workforce longer. These days, life experience is considered a selling point, even if it is not it the industry one begins a career in.

Young employees want a deeper meaning.

Rather than enter a career field because it is a guaranteed higher paycheck, many young employees are hoping to find a career that will fulfill a charitable purpose. They want to make the world a better place, and they want to use the platforms of their careers to help do it. Achieving goals of a work-life balance and doing work that makes a difference in their communities or across the world are common themes amongst young employees and employers need to listen up.

Why Remote Employees Are The Best Employees

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A new age of the workforce has taken many companies by surprise. Prospective employees are looking for a better work-life balance, flexibility, and are more interested in developing their careers independently rather than working for someone else. These workers, many millennials and tech-savvy business leaders, are looking for positions they can do remotely. But why hire someone remotely? There are several benefits to hiring remote workers that many employers don’t recognize at first:

It seems counterintuitive, but remote workers are more productive and focused than most in-office staff. Because they don’t have coworkers to socialize with and other calls and conversations to distract them, they are more likely to get their work done quickly and effectively. They can choose house which they feel are best for working (whether it’s 6 a.m. or 11 p.m.), which helps them get their work done more efficiently.

Remote workers are also happier to work for you because they have some independence and control over their schedules and work-life flow. If someone likes to be at home most of the time, they will appreciate not having to dress up and go to the office every day. But people who enjoy socializing may choose to do their work in a cafe, or want to work as a remote salesperson, fitting their work meetings in with other activities. Remote employees are able to choose their work environment, maybe even the beach, which would make almost anyone satisfied with their job.

Remote employees are often more loyal employees. Freelancers and contractors especially tend to be loyal, because they depend on keeping clients to maintain a steady income. Remote employees don’t have to worry about tensions with coworkers or power-hungry managers. It’s easier to keep an employee on board when they have such autonomy, that any work issue can likely be resolved by simply changing their own process.

Less absenteeism occurs with remote workers. Those that are paid by the project will rarely say “no” to assignments, and can work on vacation if necessary. Because remote workers set their own schedules, they are less likely to ask for time off for personal reasons.

Hiring remote employees lowers your operating costs. You don’t have to pay for office space, a computer or phone line, supplies, or coffee refills for your remote workers. Because all of these costs are absorbed by the freelancer, you can invest more into the company itself. Most remote workers don’t mind (and often prefer) using their own equipment. With remote workers you can potentially run your organization without a physical office space, which greatly reduces costs.

Remote workers often produce faster, higher quality results per project. You’re not paying these employees just for showing up, so they are naturally more motivated to finish tasks on a timeline and exceed expectations. If you pay your remote workers by the project, you’re even more likely to see better work ethic and receive work early.

If you have positions open now, consider hiring remotely to maximize efficiency for your company. You may find it is the best option you could choose for hiring and recruiting new talent.

Time to get with the times and help your people have better lives.

Put Your Employees Before Your Clients

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It can be easy to forget just what an important role your employees play in running a successful business. A strong team of employees creates the positive customer experience that keeps customers loyal to your company. And yes, it seems like the customer’s satisfaction is more important to consider, but your employees’ experience with the company is just as important. Your employees will be with the company much longer than any customer, and their attitudes reflect your brand strongly.

Employee satisfaction directly relates to customer experience and loyalty. If employees are happy, then customers are more likely to recommend you, and use your product or service again. Most customers that have poor company interactions complain that the customer service was their main problem. Your employee attitudes directly affect the bottom line. If they are happy to show up to work, the customer will be able to sense that and feel more confident and choosing your brand.

And, though you can’t admit it, the customer is not always right. Some people create poor interactions with brands, or are already geared towards causing arguments and issues. In these cases, when the customer is in the wrong and refuses to admit it, you must advocate for your employees. Choosing to let the customer run over your staff is not only detrimental to employee morale, but it will further your problematic relationship with a customer that may not be worth your time. You have to stick up for your employees so that they feel comfortable coming to you when problems arise.

Employees have more power than before. Competition for talent recruitment is high, and most of your employees could find another job elsewhere if your company does not meet their needs. Plus, employee referrals are the most common way people fill new positions. If your employees are happy, they will refer more talented individuals to open positions, which saves you money in recruitment. Creating a strong staff comradery also decreases turnover rates.

In general, your employee attitude, feelings of security and trust towards your brand can make or break your customer experience. Find ways to motivate your employees and instill trust in your leadership. When you facilitate a positive working environment, your customer experience will naturally improve.

Shut Up and Communicate.

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People do not communicate properly. This is not only my opinion but it is 100% true, just look around. Next time you are having a conversation with someone I want you to watch them, just pay attention to them while you are talking to them, don’t be creepy. 99.9% of people are just not paying attention, they are either on their phone, looking around, cutting the other person off, thinking about what they are going to say next instead of actually listening and getting involved with the conversation. I just want to know why this is an acceptable thing, I understand being distracted and having things going on if someone jumps in to a random conversation with you off the street, that is completely understandable but in casual every day conversations it is not.

So here are three simple rules to help you become a better communicator. (these should be obvious but I promise most people are not doing this)

  1. Eye contact-Even if it’s awkward you need to maintain eye contact, breaking eye contact is natural and fine but the persons eyes are always the point of return, this comforts the other person because they feel like you are more engaged.
  2. Body language- Be casual and comfortable, not lazy or fidgety. Your body should be facing the person, if you are not facing them re-adjust in a natural way. If you are standing make sure your feet are pointed towards the other person (this is similar to eye contact, the person will feel like you are more focused on them and not off somewhere else) If you are sitting sit straight up, don’t be a stiff, but sit up and make sure you are facing the person speaking.
  3. Timing- Timing is a tricky SOB. You wait too long to speak after the persons done, and its awkward, you jump the gun and you are a jerk and you cut the person off. This is the hardest one out of all 3 tips, but my only advice here is if you are using 1 and 2, the timing of a conversation will be easier to gage if you are paying closer attention to the person.

Bonus tip- If you cut someone off in a conversation and you do not want to be rude then simply communicate and acknowledge that you cut them off. That is the worst when someone cuts you off, doesn’t say a word about it continues on talking and then doesn’t let you finish what you were saying! (there’s a word for people like that) But if you interrupt someone acknowledge it, “Hey sorry to interrupt I just didn’t want to forget to tell you this, I apologize, now what were you saying?” Get it? Ironically the key to better communication is communicating about your communication.

There is so many different types of communication styles out there, and some do not mesh well together but hopefully with these minor adjustments it can make it more bearable. A perfect example is a of a very good friend of mine and me, we had no idea how to converse with one another, it was frustrating and at times extremely annoying. Michael (pictured above) is quiet, and careful with his words (when he wants to be) and because of this his style of communicating seems very laid back and slower paced. Where my communication style is loud, I say what I think as I am thinking of it and it makes me seem more off the wall. But once I noticed this was starting to be a problem I started to pay attention to what the problem was, not only do our brains work in completely the opposite way (we still end up with the same answer and/or solution) I believe our problem was just timing, which made it awkward, which made conversations longer and harder to understand one another. One day I sat Michael down and after we acknowledged that we are poor communicators and started to understand each other more, it has been great ever since!

I just want people to acknowledge this, if you have someone that is doing this to you, you should say something in the nicest way possible. If you have a close friend or buddy at work, significant other or family member around, ask them their honest opinion about how you communicate if you aren’t self aware enough or 100% sure if you are properly. I think it’s important to get feedback from other people, you might not know if you make funny faces, or cut them off, or stare awkwardly etc. I have been in sales my whole life so I have role played thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of times with other people and I still do not have it down all the way. From body language to facial expressions to timing it is a lot to have to worry about, but if you practice, practice your face off, it will make you a better employee or boss or friend or relative blah blah blah blah. Role play with your dog, role play in the mirror, we all have to get better at it. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

-Eric Grundhoefer6