A Simple Secret 1 in 4 Americans Use to Feel Better and Improve their Lifestyle

Would you like to feel better and perhaps get a professional boost too? It is not a new juice cleanse or exercise regime I want to share; it can be as easy as walking a dog or reading to a toddler. It is an opportunity to grow personally and professionally as a volunteer. Health and lifestyle research finds there are many benefits for volunteers.11084281_825868887478501_532518496970130019_n

Here are just a few:

Volunteering connects you to others
Volunteering increases your social and relationship skills
Volunteering increases self-confidence
Volunteering combats depression
Volunteering with animals has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress
Volunteering can reduce anxiety
Volunteering can provide career experience or allow you to practice work skills

Many of your neighbors are enjoying these benefits. More than 62 million people give their time according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. It works out to one in four Americans volunteering their time.

Do you have a story about a volunteer experience to share? I would like to hear your tips and experiences as a volunteer. I volunteer in a couple of ways, but my favorite is the adoption center where I found my pets, the Animal Protective Association of Missouri (APAofMO).

Volunteers and educators from APA of MO Adoption Center work with children

Volunteers and educators from APA of MO Adoption Center work with children

Adoption Angels Allows Business and Community Leaders to Help Pay It Forward for Homeless Pets

ImageAre you an animal lover and friend to homeless pets? There is an easy way to expand your influence through your power as a consumer and community member to get your favorite businesses, clubs and organizations involved as well! The Animal Protective Association of Missouri, a not-for-profit animal welfare organization, has a great way for businesses and organizations to reach out to loyal animal lovers and connect with consumers concerned about homeless pets as an Adoption Angel sponsor. Many entrepreneurs and organizations are unaware of this powerful way to ignite social conversation and increase opportunities for community connections.

The APA’s Director of Development, Eileen Musial says “Adoption Angels encourages people to ’pay it forward’ to help homeless pets.” The Adoption Angels initiative is an opportunity for companies, organizations and individuals to become month-long sponsors of 5-25 homeless pets’ adoptions.

The participating pets designated as Adoption Angels is unknown to both the sponsor and the adopter until the APA staff informs the adopter that their new friend’s adoption fee has been paid. What a wonderful surprise; a new furry family member and a wonderful gesture made possible by a leading local business or community organization! Many times this generosity leads to the adopter leaving a donation to help another animal lover enjoy the benefit of an Adoption Angel. In addition to reciprocal generosity, the Adoption Angels initiative connects benefactors and animal lovers on an important day and for the life of the pet.

These Adoption Angel stories shared in person between animal lovers and through online posts, social media and community interactions amplify the good will and consumer engagement for sponsors. In addition, organizations, businesses, and individuals donating as Adoption Angel sponsors receive photos and background information of the adopted pets as well as the additional amount raised through donations as a result of their sponsorship. Could your employer or favorite business benefit from this kind of powerful exposure to ignite social conversation and increase opportunities for community engagement?

There are three tax deductible levels of sponsorship in the Adoption Angel initiative: $5,000 – Man’s Best Friend, $3,000 -Purr-fect Together and $1,000 – Homeward Bound. If your neighborhood business, favorite entrepreneur or civic group wants more information on the many benefits of Adoption Angel sponsorships; have them call the APA Development Department office at (314) 645-4610 ext. 115. Please take a moment and participate in the poll!

Want to Give Work a Boost? Take Your Dog to Work Day is Friday, June 20, 2014

ImageHow would your favorite business like to increase productivity and profitability; while reducing workplace stress and boosting morale? Research by Virginia Commonwealth University touts the benefits of dogs in the workplace, citing reduced perceived stress and increased job satisfaction for employees with their dogs at work.

A survey by the American Pet Products Association found that nearly one in five U.S. companies allow pets in the workplace. In fact, the survey found that:
55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment
50 million believe having pets in workplace helps co-workers get along better
38 million believe having pets in workplace creates a more productive work environment
37 million believe having pets in workplace helps improve relationships between managers and staff

Nestle Purina and Build a Bear are among Saint Louis area businesses where pets are a part of the workforce. An upcoming event hopes to increase the number of companies with pets on the job! The 16th annual celebration of Take Your Dog To Work Day (TYDTWDay®) is on Friday, June 20, 2014. Many businesses—even those not traditionally pet friendly—are opening their doors to employees’ dogs for this day to celebrate the great companions dogs make and promote pet adoptions.

Event creator Pet Sitters International offers these tips for participating dog owners to help ensure management, employees and pets are all comfortable on TYDTWDay:

1. Do an office check. No one will mind your dog being in the office, right? Well, maybe. Check with management and co-workers to see if anyone is allergic, afraid of or opposed to you bringing your dog to work on this special day. Be respectful of those you work with and plan an alternate celebration, if necessary.

2. Puppy-proof your work space. If you plan on working with your dog, make sure your office environment is safe. Remove poisonous plants and pesticides, hide electrical cords and wires and secure toxic items such as permanent markers. Any office items in question should be placed out of paw’s reach.

3. Make sure Fido is fit for work. Even dogs don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Be sure your dog’s shots are current. Make plans to have your dog bathed and groomed before accompanying you to work. Be mindful of your dog’s “work readiness.” You know your dog’s demeanor, so if he is aggressive or overly shy, it’s best to leave him at home. Consider how your dog has behaved in the past around strangers before making the decision to bring him. If your dog has shown fear, irritability or aggression, or if your dog has never met strangers, the workplace is not the best place for him.

4. Prepare a doggie bag. Include food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, paper towels, clean-up bags and pet-safe disinfectant. If you are routinely in and out of your work space, consider bringing a baby gate for your doorway or a portable kennel for your dog’s comfort and your peace of mind.

5. Plan your pet’s feeding times carefully. During an important sales call is probably not the best time for a puppy potty break. Plan your dog’s feeding time around your work schedule and be sure to choose an appropriate area for your dog to relieve himself afterward.

6. Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog. Dog lovers will make themselves known. Sally from accounting and Joe in human resources may not want to play fetch or offer belly rubs, so be mindful of fellow employees’ time and space. To avoid pet accidents, monitor the amount of treats your pet is being given from your co-workers. Remember that chocolate, candy and other people food should not be shared with dogs and that not all non-dog owners will be aware that these items can be very toxic to your pooch.

7. Have an exit strategy. Although most dogs enjoy TYDTWDay, your pet may not. Should your dog become overly boisterous, agitated or withdrawn, consider taking him home or plan in advance for your professional pet sitter to offer a midday check-in visit. Never, under any circumstance, leave your pet alone in a vehicle while you work.

Are you interested in planning a TYDTWDay event at your office? Or perhaps you are involved at a shelter, rescue group or pet-care professional interested in encouraging local businesses to participate; there is a free downloadable TYDTWDay Action Pack at http://www.takeyourdog.com/Get-Involved/register.php

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Made in the USA: Online Reality Series Get on The Shelf Invites Consumers to Have a Say

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Made in America an important selling feature.

Made in America an important selling feature.

When shopping  do you check where the product originates or is produced?  I know I do.  It is a global marketplace we live in and consumers know not all nations’ standards are the same.  In China, about 38 percent of Chinese surveyed in a recent Pew Research Center poll reflected food safety is a very big concern in China.  This is a jump from 2008, when only 12 percent of Chinese respondents agreed.

It is little wonder with these concerns, “Made in the USA” is currently one of the hottest labels around!  Seventy-four percent of the Americans in a Consumer Reports National Research survey had tried to buy a U.S.-made product in the past year.

Made in America is not just a marketing slogan!  It is important to your family and your future.  Did you know these facts about manufacturing in America?

The United States is the world’s largest manufacturing economy, producing 18.2 percent of global manufactured products, according to the World Bank. China is second with 17.6 percent.

U.S. manufacturing produces $1.8 trillion of value each year, or 12.2 percent of U.S. GDP. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy.

Manufacturing supports an estimated 17.2 million jobs in the U.S.—about one in six private sector jobs. Nearly 12 million Americans (or 9 percent of the workforce) are employed directly in manufacturing.

Walmart is again giving American inventors and manufacturing a boost with the return of the popular original online reality series. The first episode can now be viewed at getontheshelf.walmart.com, and the retailer is asking the public to decide which new products from American entrepreneurs will appear on its shelves this fall.

The five weekly “webisodes,” which go live on Tuesdays beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET from Sept. 24 through Oct. 22, 2013 feature a group of finalists under the same theme, such as Kid Stuff or Great Gadgets. The video shows give viewers a chance to learn more about the entrepreneurs behind the inventions and watch as they pitch their product to a panel of Walmart.com judges.

After each weekly online episode, voters have 72 hours to cast their votes for the winner, who will have their product sold on Walmart.com. A grand prize winner will also be selected based on the number of preorders of the product, and will receive additional support marketing from Walmart.com plus an introduction to the Walmart stores’ merchandising team to potentially be sold in Walmart stores. Last year’s three winning products are sold in select Walmart stores and on Walmart.com.

“Get on the Shelf celebrates the resilient and tenacious spirit of American entrepreneurs, many of whom have been working hard for a big break like this,” explains Kelly Thompson, senior vice president of merchandising for Walmart.com said in a statement. “The web series creates more exposure for finalists to share their inspiring stories, which makes for captivating reality TV that’s also interactive since American consumers can vote for the next great product at Walmart.com.”

A Day for Those Who Build America and Keep it Strong

There is “Talk Like a Pirate Day”, “Cheeseburger Day” and all sorts of observances that are a lot of fun and without a serious message.  But National Tradesmen Day is an annual national celebration to honor the men and women who work with their hands to build America and keep it running strong.

 It is an observance dear to my heart.  Both my father and his father were craftsmen.  Carpenters who worked out of a union hall at a time when there were not many tradespeople represented by unions in the Deep South.  They spent years in apprentice and training to perfect their skills for the wide variety jobs they completed.  I remember Sunday afternoon family drives after church, where my father would point with pride to a skyscraper or school he helped build.  It could be a bridge or a courthouse he had contributed to.  My father and grandfather knew how to build concrete forms or do intricate finishes.  Designers using exotic and expensive woods used in boardrooms or courtrooms knew my Dad could make the cuts and trim out their projects to their specifications. It was a point of pride for him to show off his work to his children.

I believe America’s tradespeople build our homes, roads, businesses, and schools. They keep our cars running, our lights on, our water flowing, and so much more. They are the backbone of our functioning nation IRWIN® Tools; a manufacturer of hand tools and power tool accessories has been honoring them for years with celebrations, recognition events and activities throughout the country

Friday, September 20, 2013 is National Tradesmen Day.  It also puts a spotlight on a problem in our nation—one caused by a shortage of people willing to work with their hands. Manpower’s recent talent shortage survey reports that for the fourth consecutive year, skilled trades are the most difficult jobs to fill in the United States. The American Society of Civil Engineers says America’s roads and bridges are in disrepair, assigning a D+ grade to America’s overall infrastructure. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate continues to hover at historically high levels while a critical need for skilled tradesmen exists. Some believe not only does our nation have a jobs problem; America has a skills shortage.

At one time, ironworkers and welders were glorified. Photographs of tradesmen eating an open-air lunch on a girder high atop a yet-to-be completed skyscraper take us back to a very different world—one where working with your hands was a dignified way to earn a living. Today, a four-year degree and a desk job are considered the keys to a desirable lifestyle. Most high schools eliminated shop class years ago, and now only six percent of high school seniors consider a career in the trades. The National Association of Manufacturing, The National Center for Career Education and Research and several other business organizations believe more schools should teach students some trades offer challenging careers where they can often out-earn their college educated peers. 

 “It’s time that we once again present the trades as a respectable career option for the next generation. Becoming a trained plumber, electrician, or welder offers a clear and stable career path where working with your hands allows you to contribute meaningfully to our society,” says Rich Mathews, Senior Vice President of Marketing for IRWIN Tools.

There are an estimated 600,000 open jobs in the skilled trades, simply because people don’t have the proper training to fill the positions.  Many business leaders say they believe our nation is not only facing a job shortage, but a skills shortage.

Today is a day to recognize the people who lace up boots each morning before heading to the jobsite. Many of them have spent as much or more time learning their craft than workers who grab a tie and head to a high-rise office.  Recognize the contributions the trades make in your life. If you go onto a job site, or anywhere you see a skilled laborer working such as a drywall or electrician, carpenter and simply shake his or her hand and say “thanks for the work that you do.”

To learn more the annual observance head to http://www.irwin.com/nationaltradesmenday or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nationaltradesmenday

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A Team Offering High Tech Fun and Skills for the Future

 

How many fun team sports will help young students land a high paying job? Your answer may include some professional sports, but high school players who reach the pros are almost as rare as lottery winners! 

Another team sport underway at schools across the nation promises fun and long term career potential for girls and boys alike.

It is a growing initiative backed by some of the biggest names in business to get youngsters’ attention with innovative, after-school projects.  Corporations including Intel and General Motors are using high-tech team sports to recruit the next generation of engineers, innovators and scientists.

Ask any kid what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll get an almost infinite number of answers. But ask a parent what they want their child to be when they grow up and, these days, you may get one predominant answer – employed!  And while unemployment statistics vary, many large companies are having difficulty filling high paying positions that require candidates with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based education.

This is why the FIRST® Robotics Competition is more than just an exciting extra-curricular activity and fiercely competitive team sport. It is actually the beginning of a student’s recruitment connection with the companies who both provide sponsorship and are actively looking to recruit the innovators, scientists and engineers of tomorrow.

Students have fun and learn valuable skills

Students have fun and learn valuable skills


The FIRST® Robotics Competition was founded in 1992 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the self-balancing, two-wheeled personal transporter known as the “Segway”, FIRST®.  The competition attracts hundreds of thousands of students each year as well as hundreds of major corporations like Google, Microsoft, Johnson and Johnson, Underwriter’s Laboratories and General Motors who provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorship and support.

This year, General Motors will sponsor more than 70 teams in the FIRST® Robotics Competition and provide additional sponsorship and event support to over 600 teams in other programs such as the FIRST® LEGO League and the FIRST® Tech Challenge.

The FIRST Championship games for 2014 will be held at America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis April 23-26, 2014. The Gateway City also hosted the robotics competition in 2011, 2012 and 2013 with thousands of people attending to see the robots and students in action!

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Students have an opportunity to learn about all kinds of technology at competition exhibits

To learn more about the teams, how to get involved and the upcoming season go to  http://www.usfirst.org/

 

Small Business Tip: New Satellite Phone with “Smart Wireless” Features Coming

Businesses, government agencies and international organizations are the initial target markets for a new satellite phone service coming from AT&T.  The TerreStar Genus phone will be able to make calls at sea or from remote locations.  When cellular networks are unavailable, a satellite covering North America will act as a cell site in space to provide coverage to help users stay connected.

The new device expected to hit the market next year will include all the features of a “smart” device, including the ability to access AT&T’s wireless network. There are other satellite phones available, but they currently don’t offer the smart phone capabilities. AT&T has not announced pricing of the phones or service.

The new satellite phone will be introduced later this week at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference in Denver.

Looking for the best wireless device for your business now?  Check out this short informational video on cell phones and wireless devices especially for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Please follow me on Twitter to learn more about small business trends and events to give you a competitive edge in business at http://twitter.com/danitablackwood

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