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

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.”

Social Media Savvy Seniors and Boomers Busy Online

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People are discussing photos they share on Pinterest, the blog on their travels or the app they are using to track their fitness and exercise schedule.  These conversations on technology are not restricted to the local social media clubs; they are hot topics for senior services communities like Laclede Groves near Saint Louis and coffee shops where baby boomers meet.

Social media savvy seniors and boomers are busy online.

Vibrant seniors and boomers are blogging and using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep up with families and friends. Social media savvy seniors and boomers may also be boosting brain power new research suggests.

Vibrant seniors and boomers are blogging and using Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep up with families and friends.  Social media savvy seniors and boomers may not be the first to try the newest app or gadget; but are eager to adopt them once the technology is mainstream.  Older users on social media are active to discuss and share travel, health, hobbies or search for products, values, and discounts.  The social and digital contribution of these connected seniors is impressive! Baby Boomers are 80 million strong and growing.

In just five years, 50% of the US population will be 50+ projects Nielsen Research. (August 2012)

US Boomers’ Internet usage now is impressive:

– 33% of all online users

– 33% of all social media and Twitter

– 33% are heavy internet users.

Currently, there are about 21 million online seniors (those aged over 65 years old) in the United States according to Forrester Research, (June 2012).

Forrester finds 49% of digital seniors in the US are using Facebook.

– 91% of online seniors use email

– 59% have purchased products online in past three months

– 46% send/receive photos by email

– 44% play solo games online

– 24% sign up for coupons/freebies.

Staying connected online and through social media may be a great way for seniors to stay healthy. One recent study shows social media can give older adults a brain boost.  Researchers at the University of Arizona taught some seniors, over 65, how to use Facebook and then put them through cognitive and memory tests.  The new Facebook users fared 25 percent better on the tests than seniors who did not use the social network.

Boomers were raised in front of the TV and have always embraced media and technology. The size of the screens is now shrinking as they continue to grow with a constantly changing tech landscape that could help keep them young and connected for socializing, shopping and entertaining themselves on social media.

To see some of these savvy seniors in action on Facebook, I suggest you visit the Lutheran Senior Services page on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LutheranSeniorServices.

Small Business Tip: McAfee to Launch New Online Support Community

Small business owners and entrepreneurs will soon have the opportunity to link online with the world’s largest dedicated security technology company. 
blogpainMcAfee is working to launch an online support community so users can interact with each other to share ideas, discuss emerging trends and help resolve problems.  McAfee technicians, developers and product managers will be able to engage customers in new ways to enhance products and improve processes according to a media release.

Barry McPherson, executive vice president of worldwide support and services at McAfee, said the online community “will enable us to evolve beyond traditional phone and e-mail based services and focus more on collaboration with our customers through discussions, blogs, wikis, user groups and community polling.”

McAfee already monitors Twitter and Facebook. The online community, which will launch in the fourth quarter, will run on Jive’s social business software platform. 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   To learn more about vital technology issues impacting your enterprise; head to http://www.sbtv.com/Technology

Socialtext Free for 50 users

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Socialtext a tech startup providing wikis and Twitter-like corporate communications goes free for up to 50 users!  The new offering allows mainstream business use to collaborate using Socialtext’s social software platform.  Employees can join or create their own private collaboration networks by using their work email address at Socialtext.com.

Socialtext Free 50 provides online collaboration with Twitter-style micro-blogging, social networking, personalized dashboards, weblog publishing and a wiki workspace. Built on Adobe(R) AIR(TM) technology, the desktop application includes “drag-n-drop” file sharing across the enterprise. The businesses IT departments can control of the private network’s content and participation in Free 50 at no charge, and the free service is governed by IT friendly policies. Socialtext Free 50 also offers the ability to seamlessly upgrade to Socialtext Hosted and secure Onsite Appliance deployment options for the Socialtext Platform.

Love to Connect Online & Social Media: But What About Privacy?

I was working on an article last week about unusual marketing in public restrooms. I posed the question to my Facebook friends asking the most unexpected place they’ve found an ad. It was an immediate and varied response including some perspectives and experiences I was able to use in the article.

I am new to Facebook, but I am eager to share by participating in conversations online, getting opinions, sharing experiences and catching up with people who are very important to me—but I don’t see on a regular basis. This has been a great joy connecting with people where miles and time have come between us. I have been surprised at how the joy and satisfaction of these relationships springs to life online.

The biggest surprise has been the new and rich ideas I am enjoying as a result of my new and what some might call, “friendsters” I’m meeting online. I am discovering new ideas and perspectives as I share my experiences and ask questions. For instance, a new Facebook friend who has a cleaning business focused on public buildings has a perspective on what many business owners do wrong to turn off people who visit their facilities. I know I have in the past made some judgments about a business based on a visit to their restroom. It isn’t just cleanliness, but strong air freshener or even questionable colors, in a restroom can change the way visitors view a business.

At a time when we are all trying to do more with less to succeed in a down economy, I realize great ideas can come from anywhere. I’m excited to connect and talk with close friends and

those I don’t know well, but are willing to share their thoughts and perspectives with me. My employer, SBTV.com has an online community especially for small business owners, self-employed, and aspiring entrepreneurs where you can connect, blog, podcast, and find resources online to grow and promote your business.

With all the ways to collaborate and collaborate online, more of us are sharing our lives with people who are further removed from our daily lives. I was wondering about the loss of privacy as we reach out into the world to connect and share. What do you think? Do you manage your social media to protect your privacy? Or are you bravely entering the wide new world of social media with abandon? Please let me know what you think and what you are doing. I’d also love to hear some of the memorable conversations or ideas you’ve learned or come across via social media.