A List for Santa- and One for Yourself

It has arrived again, the Christmas season and all it entails: the anticipation of get-togethers with family and friends, shopping for special gifts, and the festiveness of holiday lights and decorations. Along with the holidays, however, can come the occasional frustration – long lines and impatient shoppers, indecision on what to buy, and perhaps trepidation on those very get-togethers that signify the season.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed or worn out and just can’t find that Christmas spirit, consider the following “time-out.” This short and easy exercise in appreciation will honor your feelings while keeping you focused on what really matters.  

Grab a piece of paper or open a new document on your computer and revel in those grouchy feelings. Make a list of your complaints, whatever they may be. Anything goes – body aches, venting over that reckless driver, the snail’s pace of the checkout line – it’s all valid. This is your opportunity to get it all out in a safe, non-judgmental way. The only feathers you’ll ruffle are your own!

Now, with the bad stuff aside, start another list on a new page. Take a few minutes to shift gears and consider what you’re grateful for. What has gone right with your week? This could be a positive outcome at work, or the satisfaction of finding the perfect gift or recipe to share with the receiver. Maybe it’s as simple as feeling invigorated after a daily walk. Think of everything, even if it may seem insignificant.

This second list is a gift to yourself, a reminder of the advantages you benefit from. Who are you thankful for? What or who has helped you or given you a new perspective? Even breezing through the checkout line at Meijer is cause for celebration! You may find the process of creating this second list to be a mood-changer.

Lastly, take one list and put it in a drawer. You get to pick which list goes where. Picking your list is possibly the most important thing you'll do all day.

Take the other list and tape it up on your bathroom mirror. Read the list in the drawer once a week, month or once a year, just to remind you that it's safe and sound. Read the other list every day.

The daily list will determine what you notice, how you interpret what you see and the story you tell yourself about what's happening and what will happen.

Where will you choose to focus your attentions?

Our wish list for you this season is to enjoy all the gifts the season brings, material and otherwise.


All about perspective: Do you see treacherous roads or beautiful scenery?

All about perspective: Do you see treacherous roads or beautiful scenery?

Veteran's Day Reminiscences

Despite playing Taps at Veterans Day observances as a high school band member, and growing up in the household of a WWII naval officer who participated in many of that horrific conflict’s South Pacific island invasions, Veterans Day had over the years become just another perfunctory national observance.

Until last weekend that is.

In New York with family and touring the air/sea/space exhibit on the Hudson River, I was the recipient of an unexpected jolt of patriotism and gratitude.

People of all ethnicities and backgrounds, and speaking different languages, flooded the exhibit, most of them in visible awe of the aircraft carrier, submarine and huge space shuttle on display.

Snatches of prideful conversation among U.S. veterans, many of them aged, could be overheard. And the retired service men and women who staffed the exhibits, patiently answered questions and told stories about their time aboard these now dated displays of America’s efforts in the defense of freedom and world peace.

Seeing all this through the eyes of our grandchildren made me especially aware of the sacrifice countless men and women have made.

As an antidote to the seemingly inane and pointless politics of today, might I suggest a conversation with a Veteran? Or maybe a visit to one of the memorials our country has enshrined to remind us that freedom is not free.

We owe an unpayable debt to those who have served. Marking Veterans Day is a small reminder of that.

Semper Fi!


Finally, time to design your website

After months of planning and strategizing, making lists and spreadsheets, targeting keywords and gathering images, we were ready to build a website. (Read about the first steps of planning here and here.)

We sent out RFPs, asked around and talked to multiple designers. One proposal stood out because it suggested using SquareSpace. What better way to get to know a content management system than to use it, right? Well, we love it. We have clients on multiple CMS, which makes for a varied day at the office, but so far we’ve enjoyed all of them. SquareSpace doesn’t have storage for images, like WordPress and its media library. It also uses “blocks,” for images, text, etc., but they’re very adaptable.

We met with our designer, Joe Mielke, settled on a cost and schedule and let him get to work. Phone calls, emails and updates were common and useful and we checked in regularly against the schedule we’d drawn up.

Changes ensued, naturally. Pages that we envisioned didn’t make sense anymore and pages we hadn’t planned on suddenly seemed like a good fit. We kept referring to our theme of “Simple, Yet Beautiful” so we wouldn’t lose sight of what we wanted.

One part of digital marketing that we embrace is its fluidity. We aren’t locked into anything because we can change it. So, if that time comes that we want to add another testimonial or change a picture or add pages or … well, you get the picture.

How to plan a website redesign

This redesign took time. And work. And thought. It was creative on our part, technical on our web guru’s part. It was fun to see our ideas become reality. And we learned a few things along the way too, especially about planning. Redesigning a website, it turns out, is a lot like painting a room. Most of the work is before you actually put that final color on the walls.

Collateral damage

Collateral, those sales support tools that wind up in space-taking file folders that you’re never able to find when you need them, are office collections we all share.

Brochures, leave-behinds, sell sheets, media releases, newsletters, fact sheets … They all fall into the category of collateral.

Freshen up

It’s that time of year. Even the heartiest of winter fans are feeling a little bit of cabin fever. The antidote? Bust up that routine.

The same is true in the office. Grinding away day after day will just slow you down over time. You’ll become less effective and your creativity will suffer. And, oh yes, your clients will notice it too.