Tips to Drive on Snow Like a Pro

It is a white winter in many parts of the United States with the polar vortex and record-breaking cold. Storms are bringing winter precipitation to normally warm areas including snowfall in Hawaii.

Blowing snow and ice can create poor visibility and challenge the skills of any driver. Professional racer and driving expert Jordi Gené is offering some tips for winter driving.530505

It may be easy to become a white-knuckled driver when facing harsh conditions. Gené says it is vital to plan ahead and stay calm; “Anticipate what’s ahead and take it easy, that’s the basic rule for driving in harsh conditions.”

“Using the engine brake is fundamental. Driving downhill in low gears will help handle the vehicle and it takes a lighter toll on the brakes”, explains Gené.

530507His recommendation applies to both winter and summer, but is especially true in the cold season as at low temperatures the wheels lose grip on the asphalt.

There are shadows on the road and those may hold dangerous surprises Gené cautions: “When driving on snow, pay careful attention to dark patches on the road where there could be black ice. You have to turn the wheel gently and lightly step on the brake until you’re over the ice patch and the wheels begin to gain grip again”, he points out.530506

The driving expert recommends increasing the safety distance between your vehicle and other cars during inclement weather. The professional driver keeps an emergency kit in the vehicle in case there is an accident or a long wait on a highway. Your emergency kit should be personalized to reflect your family’s size and needs, but should contain blankets, water, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies and any other essentials should you become stranded in a winter storm. These steps and frequent inspections of your vehicle will help make your winter travel safer.stocksnap_dmt6vye04m.jpg

Locally Owned and Locally Loved – My Small Business Fan Letter to a Store Making a Difference for People, Pets and a Top Zoo

Businesses spend a lot of money and effort on branding and marketing to capture the consumer’s attention. The best marketing campaigns are a reflection of what a business does for customers and how it helps them succeed. That is why I found a Good Neighbor Pharmacy network slogan “Locally Owned. Locally Loved” a perfect fit for Lindenwood Drugs.

It was a disastrous customer experience at another small business that first led me to the pharmacy on the corner of Lansdowne and Jamieson in the Saint Louis neighborhood of Lindenwood Park.

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My UPS package was shipped to a UPS store owned by a franchisee in Richmond Heights, Missouri for pick up. The UPS store staff received the insured package and then rejected it, sending it on a week-long odyssey where it was lost. I spent many hours on phone calls and sleuth work trying to find the package I needed desperately. Despite several visits to the UPS store on Clayton Road where the package was shipped for pick-up, the staff was rude and offered no help. The shipper was assured at another UPS store I could pick-it up at the Richmond Heights location to avoid porch thefts. Instead the staff at the UPS store accepted it initially only to propel it into the lost package abyss because I wasn’t a box holder. They didn’t seem interested in helping me get my package.

So what does a UPS package rejected by a UPS store have to do with a pharmacy in another neighborhood? Tom Hunt, owner of Lindenwood Drug offers a free service for people to have UPS packages delivered to his business for pick-up.

“It helps us create traffic plus it is a service to the community,” explains Hunt.

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His pharmacy serving as a UPS Access Point also helps fight crime allowing people a convenient way to avoid becoming victims of “porch pirates.” One in four Americans say they’ve experienced package theft according to a survey by Comcast.

After days of searching and tracking down an insured package UPS had classified as lost; I picked it up at Lindenwood Drug avoiding losing it again to porch theft.

While Hunt is keeping neighborhoods safer, his primary focus at Lindenwood Drug is keeping people healthy. The pharmacy is well known for personalized options including compounding service and delivery at competitive prices.

Lindenwood_pet_1452505_563791443702493_382433641_nLindenwood Drug’s healthy living services extend to animals as well. The Lindenwood Park business is one of a few pharmacies in St. Louis that will make human medications in dose strengths for animals. They make medications in flavors for dogs, cats, horses, birds, reptiles, and pocket pets where none is available in a veterinary form or human form that is palatable for pets. The pharmacy’s Facebook page is filled with gratitude from pet owners who found a specialized solution for their animals at Lindenwood Drug.

Hunt and the other pharmacists at Lindenwood Drug fill prescriptions for animals at the Saint Louis Zoo. During his decades of veterinary pharmacy experience, Hunt has learned a lot about animals like puffins are susceptible to lung infections and Asian elephants are prone to the herpes virus.

Whether person or pet, the staff at Lindenwood Drug offer personalized and professional service that extends well beyond the charming pharmacy’s walls. Tom Hunt and his staff seem to have your best interest in mind, like a good neighbor should. No wonder they are a part of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy Network and why many customers travel past other drug stores to shop at Lindenwood Drug.Lindenwood_1965648_682687301812906_5338784854066700399_o (1)

Change Your View and Other Lives Too With Volunteer Vacations

482902_10200536274353607_1093409579_nYour next getaway could change more than your view. More travelers are finding a way to help others while exploring experiences and cultures through volunteer vacations. Social impact travel is growing in popularity for individuals seeking unique experiences and real connections with locals as they explore new communities. This type of vacation may be described as a cultural exchange, service adventure or educational tourism.

Volunteer vacations can also strengthen family bonds while working together to help others. Volunteer get away programs may offer opportunities to spend meaningful time as a team while learning new skills.

Travel adventures for a cause can involve some tropical paradises or exotic scenery, but require more planning than your typical vacation advises travel expert and author of Voluntourist, Ken Budd: “Taking a volunteer trip isn’t like spontaneously going to the beach. It requires a lot of homework and research. You want to find organizations that are meeting a legitimate need, and projects that need volunteer labor; not projects created to give volunteers something to do.”

Fall_Park_sheltephoto-1465940617394-6c04e5525665Finding a great volunteer vacation opportunity starts with being realistic about your desire and abilities for the adventure. Taking a good look at what you’d like to get out of the trip will decrease your chances of disappointment.

Think about what areas and subjects are important to you: Do you want to study climate change in Alaska, volcanic activity on a tropical island or preserve the campground where you vacationed as a child? Budd suggests you ask questions about a volunteer vacation adventure before packing your bags.

  • What is the volunteer work?

 

  • Who will benefit?

 

  • Who runs the volunteer programs?

 

  • Where does the money from program fees go?

 

  • May I contact previous volunteers about their experiences?

 

hotel.jpgMany volunteer vacation organizations will ask you to submit to a background check, particularly if you’re working with children. Others will want you to provide references or to write an essay on why you want to volunteer. When organizations don’t require some kind of registration that should be a warning sign.

There are many volunteer vacation opportunities close to home.  For example, public conservation trips combine service and vacation locations. These popular options combine living in national or state parks with service projects.Fall_lake_photo-1444492827838-96343b09c9af

The National Park Service offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups to work behind the scenes or in front line positions at park locations throughout the United States, including the territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. There are artist-in-residence programs at some parks for visual artists, writers, musicians, and other creative media.

Some volunteer adventures travel on the rails as Amtrak and the National Park Service are partners in an initiative to educate travelers on the heritage and natural resources of a specific region while traveling by rail. In 2017, there were 600 Trails & Rails volunteer guides who gave 43,000 hours of time to the program.

banner on VC2-croppedWildlife refuges are another popular option to volunteer and get away within the United States. Volunteer opportunities may be found at more than 500 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges and hatcheries. Volunteer conservation opportunities may include activities like wildlife photography, trail work, counting butterflies, banding birds, maintaining gardens and sprucing up buildings.

Volunteer vacationers often get access to parts of wildlife preserves and parks not open to the public. There is always have free time to enjoy the beautiful public lands they’re helping.

Whether your volunteer tourism takes you across your nation or around the world, it can change more than your view and teach you a lot about people and the places they call home.

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Business Takes Center Stage as LouFest Cancels and Community Support is in the Spotlight

Financial issues and a wet weekend weather forecast are two of the reasons the producers of LouFest gave for leaving music fans and local businesses high and dry with just three days notice.

Just hours after the cancellation announcement, the Saint Louis community began organizing to minimize the impact on music lovers, entrepreneurs and small businesses impacted by the LouFest cancellation.les_paul_guitar

Front Gate Tickets, the festival’s ticketing agent is set to refund music fans for their tickets. A two day pass for the event started at $105.00 and went up to $360.00 plus fees.

The artists and businesses taking part as vendors are not as lucky. Most have paid thousands of dollars in vending fees to be part of the festival and invested even more money in extra inventory to be ready for the fans in what was touted as the biggest festival ever with more than 40 acts.

A lot of extra food was ready to feed hungry fans. Local restaurants are working together with cross promotions and special events this week to minimize the impact.

Saint Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson is urging people to get out and support area restaurants and music venues. She posted lists of the local artists, restaurants, brewers and craftspeople who are a part of the LouFest vending list on social media.

The St. Louis Brewers Guild also went to social media to appeal for support for the local hospitality community: “We are devastated to learn news that LouFest Music Festival has been cancelled just days before the event. We loved supporting this event and were thrilled to be working with their team to help create a local beer-focused footprint for the event this year with “BrewFest”. Our local breweries and restaurants have invested so much in terms of time, planning, sponsorship fees, brewing and packaging tons of beer, food ordering, promotion, and staffing and this is a huge blow. Please take a look at the lineups for both BrewFest and the Nosh Pit and go out of your way to show these folks some extra love if you can. Thank you for supporting our local beer and food scene.”

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Schlafly Beer designed a special commemorative can exclusively for the festival along with a special run of that beer. It is a big investment for the brewery.

Schlafly is also reaching out to LouFest attendees with a special offer; “We’re inviting all Loufest ticket-holders to join us Saturday, September 15 at the Schlafly Tap Room. Doors open at 11 a.m. with the tasting from noon to 4 pm. We will be offering 10% off tasting tickets starting today at 10 a.m. through this weekend for Loufest ticket holders here with the code ‘LOUFEST18’. Loufest ticketholders can also pick up a free commemorative can by showing their ticket stub, wristband, or receipt at either one of our brewpub location starting on Friday at 5 p.m. While supplies last and limit of one per ticket-holding customer.”

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Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters who were supposed to headline at LouFest will perform at The Pageant Sunday night. rock-concert-crowd_925x

Other alternative LouFest performances include two stages at the Grandel Theater in Grand Center from 2-10pm Sunday with more than a dozen bands scheduled to play. The event will be free and local vendors are invited to take part.

Retailers who invested money in LouFest are also a part of a pop up experience all weekend on Cherokee Street.

Arch Apparel, a Saint Louis based clothing manufacturer that created special LouFest branded merchandise is offering an alternative weekend event for fun and to support businesses. The ArchFest is an indoor event scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Arch Apparel’s showroom and warehouse at Watson Industrial Park in Crestwood. The warehouse block party will feature music and many of the vendors who were planning to be a LouFest. Want more information on #ArchFest? Check out Arch Apparel’s Event Page.

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To read the entire LouFest cancellation statement and view more of the participating vendors visit http://loufest.com/

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How Drones Are Helping Keep Ford Workers Safe

A Ford manufacturing plant is using drones to inspect the facility’s machinery, roofing and other equipment to improve safety while saving money and time. 518536_v2_Ford_Drone

Before putting the drones to work, Ford’s maintenance team put up scaffolding and platforms for the inspections that took 12 hours to complete. It wasn’t just the time and work to put up the scaffolding that was costly. The platform and scaffolding construction made it necessary to close the facility during inspections.

Now, with feet firmly on the ground and controlling drones equipped with GoPro cameras, maintenance workers can thoroughly inspect each area in under 15 minutes. The entire manufacturing facility can be covered in a day, zoning in on hard-to-reach areas to ensure they are well-maintained and comply with rigorous safety standards.CWVAoXKWIAA3h33

“We’d joked about having a robot do the work when there was a lightbulb moment – use drones instead,” said Pat Manning, machining manager, Ford Dagenham Engine Plant. “We used to have to scale heights of up to 50 metres to do the necessary checks on the roof and machining areas. Now we can cover the entire plant in one day and without the risk of team members having to work at dangerous heights.”

Ford’s drones are also being utilized for inspecting pipework, locating air leaks and checking machinery. Ford is now evaluating the possibility of using this high-flying technology at other facilities.

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Power Skills in Business

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Business Experts Say “Soft Skills” Are “Power Skills”

Technology is impacting all kinds of business and changing the way we work. As more business operations and jobs are changing due to automation, there is a new emphasis on capabilities for business. Creativity and communication abilities are two of the skills differentiating humans from machines. For example, automation can input data for analysis, while collaboration and communication is needed to discover how the data can best be applied to the business.KOHGRXNXL0_meeting_sticky

For these reasons the “soft skills” including negotiation, interviewing and business writing are taking on a new importance. Working with executives from large and middle-market businesses, Kathy Osborn, the president and chief executive officer of the St. Louis Regional Business Council, suggested changing the term “soft skills” to “power skills.”

A majority of business decision makers agree with Osborn’s assessment of soft skills as the real power skills. Researchers discovered 77% of employers surveyed believe that soft skills are more important than hard skills. It is one of the findings in “The Rise of Soft Skills and Why They Matter Now.”

These power skills are on the rise in many industries and for many different reasons. Diverse and positive workplaces demand good communication skills, collaboration and respect.LUBQRTO8JB_handshake

Mobile technology and social media increases an organization’s exposure every day. Employees who deal with the public need power skills of listening, empathy and negotiation to be the best business ambassadors or risk a customer’s frustration becoming a viral assault on your brand.

What power skills matter most? Online learning platform, Udemy looked at what more than 20 million individuals are studying to come up with a top ten list.

Manager Training

Emotional Intelligence

Business Writing

Focus Strategies

Personal Development

Presentation and Public Speaking

Negotiation

Stress Management

Customer Service

Interviewing Skills

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How to Unleash the Positive Power of Pets on the Job with Tips to Prepare for Taking Fido to Work

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Ways to Make Take Your Dog To Work Day® a Success

Businesses across the United States are planning to make a ‘pawsitive’ change with canine co-workers. Friday, June 22, 2018 is Take Your Dog To Work Day (TYDTWDay®), the 20th annual observation of a fun opportunity for dog owners created by Pet Sitters International (PSI).

IMG_hr82mvMore American firms are opening their doors to pets at work. The number of companies allowing pets in the workplace is on the rise according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Researchers found support among the American workforce for pets on the job:

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

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Pets in the workplace can improve productivity

Are you planning on taking your dog to work for the first time? 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 reach.

Make sure your dog 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.

Petatwork_Participant_at_Pet Sitters International NCHave 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.

Plan your pet’s feeding times carefully. During an important sales call is probably not the best time for a bathroom 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.

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.

Have an exit strategy. Although most dogs enjoy being with owners at work, 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!09_tydtwday_hitachi_data_systems___staff

Publicizing your company’s participation in Take Your Dog to Work Day with local media and on social media platforms can generate some positive buzz for your business. Consider making the day a fund-raising opportunity for an area non-profit benefiting pet ownership.

“While TYDTWDay offers a fun opportunity to have dogs at work, its purpose since the inaugural celebration has always been to encourage pet adoptions,” explained Beth Stultz, PSI vice-president and TYDTWDay spokesperson.  “We hear from participating companies that partner with local shelters or rescue groups to allow them to bring in adoptable pets, host benefit luncheons or charity auctions, or plan contests such as dog-owner lookalike competitions to raise money for local pet-related organizations.”

Businesses interested in participating in TYDTWDay® can download PSI’s free 2018 Take Your Dog To Work Day® Toolkit at petsit.com/toolkit.

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