Why should you travel? Laying my cards on the table, I love to travel. It doesn’t matter if it is two a little town I haven’t been to before that is only an hour from home or if it is across the country or an international border or two. The great thing about traveling is how it opens our eyes up to see new things and creates new ideas in our own minds.travel

Just one example: Starbucks wouldn’t exist in current form if Howard Schultz hasn’t taken a trip to Italy and tried an expresso.

Travel is less about where you end up visiting and more about how well you can adapt to new cultures and surroundings. These skills along with the new inspiration that comes from seeing things in a new perspective are attributes that leaders, business people and entrepreneurs value.

When you travel, you experience new ways  of doing things, new cultures, new languages, new shops, new products and we often, if we will keep our minds open, see things that we think would be great ideas back home.

So where are you going next?

 

Recently I posted the following on Facebook:

Stuck? We each have 24 hours in a day. 8 for sleep, 8 for our job, which leaves 8 for us. What are you doing with your 8 hours? Be proactive with your 8 hours and you might find that life improves.

The responses surprised me as I didn’t think this was a confrontational or contentious post. Many people seemed even angry that I would say such a thing. One point that was made was quite valid though. Many people don’t work an 8 hour day. They may work two jobs, overtime, or have other solid commitments in their life that they don’t feel are really taking them forward, but are what they have to do to get by for now.

Here is my thought on that. We all do what we have to to get by. I have worked maintenance at a trailer park shoveling out the sewage treatment sand pits in the hot July sun. That wasn’t my end game. It wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my career, but I did it and was happy to have a job. I worked fast food in college, I have worked in retail, convenience stores and other non-prestigious career moves. Note that I didn’t stay there.

So what is the difference between those who stay at a dead end job, barely making it for years, and those who get ahead, move out of those jobs to something better? Maybe the second group moves on to a different career, maybe they move up in the company to a better paying position, but how do they get there.

Here are some of the ways people who succeed use their time effectively  to move forward…Really it is one thing: Learn new skills. This isn’t just college. It is taking your own time to make yourself more valuable to the world and to your employer or possible future employer. So how can you do that if you are struggling to get by now and don’t have much free time?

  • Read a few good books on the field that interests you.
  • Take a class. (I don’t just mean college classes. One of my good friends had a college degree that he felt was useless. He then went and took a 6 week course in Real Estate. He began selling houses and was very soon making at least 30% more than he had been making at his previous job.)
  • Start a small home business. It could be one of those normal ones like selling Mary Kay. It could be something entrepreneurial like offering to clean houses of a few friends. (I have a good friend who started cleaning a few houses…now she has enough clients that she runs her own cleaning company and is doing just fine financially.)
  • Get a new certification. Sometimes that piece of paper does open the door. Not all certifications are a 4 year college degree. Some are a weekend, a semester, or a year long. There are so many certifications that I can’t begin to name them, but they range from Welding to Teaching English as a Second Language to Real Estate to Technology…

Freeing up your time can be tough. For some of us, it could be as simple as not watching TV as much. For others, you will have to get creative. Maybe offer to do a neighbors laundry in exchange for them doing your grocery shopping. You both gain some time as you had to do laundry anyway,  and they had to go grocery shopping anyway. Now each of you have a little more time for something else.

 

Some people seem to be born lucky….or so people say. It seems to me that luck is really just reward for making the right decisions and taking the right risks. We don’t always know what the right risks to take are, but I guarantee that if you don’t take them, you won’t be lucky.

As I write this, someone won a huge powerball lottery. I didn’t win…I didn’t even watch the drawing, because I didn’t buy a lottery ticket. I had a zero chance of winning. (Which is slightly lower than the real odds for those who did buy tickets.) I am not a proponent of the lottery system, but it does make a point. Only those who take a risk and buy a ticket have a chance of being lucky.

There are many other risks we can take though.

  • Write a book (Maybe no one will read it?)
  • Start a business (It might go bankrupt.)
  • Ask someone out (She might say “No.”)
  • Try to market that invention (What if nobody buys it?)

The list goes on…and if we listen to the little voice in our head that tells us “It won’t work, don’t even try”, then we won’t do it…and we will never be “lucky”. OR we can ignore that depressing voice and give it a go! We can follow that dream, take that risk and do something that could lead to our making our own luck.

How far will you go to make your dreams come true?

 

Coffee is big business. In the specialty coffee arena, from mom and pop shops to Starbucks there is a ton of money being made. One thing I have noticed is that the larger the corporation gets, (especially once they go public and have shareholders to answer to), the tighter they get with the labor budget.

Oddly, to me, this seems counterproductive.  I am not really talking about Barista wages here, that is another issue completely. I am referring to the amount of labor hours that the company will let the manager schedule per week. This post is more of an open letter to large coffee chains with ideas to consider.

Most of you started out loving coffee and wanting to share it with the world.

You had plenty of staff on hand for each shift to give great customer service.

THEN

You went public and had to shave costs to increase earnings for shareholders….

What happens long term if, instead of looking for the short term profit, you look for long term customer satisfaction and return to the idea of having more staff on the floor for each shift. Having one more full time employee could possibly cut your profit by $50,000. For most successful coffee shops, this is less than 20% of the profit and for some it is less than 5%.

What are the benefits?

  • Your employees are less stressed. (This means that more will get done, with less griping and complaining about being overworked.)
  • Your managers have more time to focus on the customer.
  • You have time in the day to keep a very clean store.
  • There is now an ability to add things like tastings or other special “events” in the day to delight customers.

I believe that when these things are added in, the profit margin will grow, not shrink.

I am sure this can be applied to other industries who have a customer service based product and try to save money on labor to satisfy the shareholders. What could you do to change things in your company?

 

Who are those Millennials that people keep referring to? One can define them by birth date, those born after 1977 -1980  depending on your source up through about 1995 or so who come of age in the first decade of the year 2000. Beyond that, who are they. We expect them to be tech savvy, but let me assure you that while this generation has never really known the thrill of a library card catalog or having to use a paper dictionary or encyclopedia to find out about something, they, just like their predecessors of gen X and boomers, only know what they are familiar with. This means that if they can’t do it on their phone, it might not be their forte. Before I jump into too many generalizations though, it is important to note that as a group, they are quite fragmented. One might say, “Oh, Millennials are early adopters, they love new technology and gadgets.” That is true of some of them, but only about 26% of them…which means if you are targeting the other 74% in your marketing, you targeted wrongly.

So, my wise words when it comes to dealing with Millennials is that they want what we all want. Community, a sense of belonging and feeling like they are doing something good in the world. Give them a chance, listen to them, show them you care and you might just gain a loyal partner for life.

 
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