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What are they feeding us?

November 19, 2010

What were you eating 5 years ago? How about 10 years ago? Like fashion, foods have trends that are highly influenced by society. The big question is, do brands jump on board? Depending on how quickly they recognize what consumers want, the faster they move to the top of the branding food chain.

Remember the days when those wanting to drop a few pounds would only buy zero sugar, zero fat (in  my opinion means 100% processed) items? Now it’s the gluten-free, organic, zero corn syrup and high fiber foods that consumers are buying (at least those that see benefits or want healthy lifestyles). Having a daughter who is gluten-free, I am very aware of the pros and cons to certain foods and am constantly scouting the store to find creative yet delicious choices. I’ve noticed over the last year more and more stores offering better selections….even Target!

My Favorite Brands/Foods are:

  • KIND Bars
  • Trader Joes nut mix packs
  • Almond Breeze Milk
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers
  • Veggies: Kale, Spinach, Peppers

Recently at a @mnwin (Women in Networking) event, I had the pleasure of meeting raw chef Cynthia Johnson. In addition to being stunningly beautiful she spoke with such passion and confidence about her diet and cooking.  By the time the event was done I insisted she email me some information that I could pass along to all of you!

I find this information interesting and motivating. I don’t plan to go all out and subject my body to a 100% raw diet, but am definitely moving in a direction of adding more raw items! It’s been 2 years since I gave up red meat, I have minimal to no foods with corn syrup (except the Halloween candy I splurged on) and buy as much organic as I can. I love to cook and prepare healthy options for my family.

The Benefits of Raw Foods – Cynthia Johnson

A raw lifestyle simply put – gives life, energy, and rejuvenation – you feel renewed, alive, energized, light and restored. Raw is high nutrients, fiber rich, phytonutrients, low-calorie, mineral high and very nutrient dense

Living Food is food provided by nature, organically grown and in its original uncooked state. It provides the body with the life-giving, easy-to-digest nourishment, which is needed to strengthen the immune system. Seeds, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables in their natural, uncooked state are the Living Food which is used for rebuilding health – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

There are four major components in
raw and living foods:

  1. Hormones
  2. Oxygen
  3. Phytochemical
  4. Enzymes

That makes them viable for healing and for the prevention of disease.  They make you live longer as well as heal and prevent disease

The more digestion that is accomplished by food enzymes in the stomach the fewer enzymes need to be secreted by the pancreas and intestines, conserving the body’s enzymes for metabolic processes such as repairing tissues, organs and other functions.  That’s especially important when you consider how your body’s ability to produce enzymes diminishes with age.  This reserve can be depleted if too many enzymes are required for digestion alone.  Enzymes also digest viruses, bacteria and toxins and other antigens.  Enzymes actually eat the protein coating of several types of viruses and bacteria, making it easier for your immune system and white blood cells to destroy them.  These enzymes also seek out and dispose of foreign substances like undigested proteins, sweeping them out before they can make you sick.

Some of the benefits of a raw lifestyle include

  1. Increased energy
  2. Dramatically improved Clear skin
  3. Improved Mental Clarity
  4. Easy weight loss
  5. Detoxifies the body
  6. Dramatically improve digestion

Research shows 75% of raw foods help prevent cancer, heart disease and other degenerative illness.

For more information, feel free to contact Cynthia at Living Soul Cuisine or visit their website at www.livingsoulcuisine.com

Other Foodies I love Tweeting with include: 

  • @ForkKnifeSpoon Food lover and photographer extraordinaire
  • @katenthekitchen Passionate writer and chef, weaving food & stories together, one blog post at a time.
  • @alisonlewis Recipe Developer, Food TV & Media Spokesperson, Cookbook Author, Food & Mom Blogger and Mom of 3
  • @TJCabrera Head cheese and cheesehead @Muddy Paws Cheesecake

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Do Some Good

November 13, 2010

Hats off to the businesses that give back to their communities and who have optimistic messages! I love their passion. What is even more interesting are the stories about how they began.

A few weeks ago while at @Nordstrom at @mallofamerica I noticed some buzz and activity in the shoe department.   I watched as an artist sat, donated his time to customize and hand paint TOMS Shoes for a special promo event called “Style-Your-Sole“. I’d been wanting a pair of TOMS anyhow… so what a great opportunity (and good excuse to splurge)! I carefully selected and purchased an olive green pair and waited while he painted them for free. Check out my original TOMS with peace signs and flowers (per my request).

TOMS Shoes
Brand Motto:  ONE FOR ONE

TOMS Shoes was founded on a simple premise: With every pair you purchase, they will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. As of September 2010, TOMS has given over one million pairs of new shoes to children in need through Giving Partners around the world.

KROCHET KIDS:
Brand Motto:  BUY A HAT, CHANGE A LIFE

I have to hand it to Nordstrom again! This is another “give back” product that they are selling. Check out the story behind Krochet Kids >>

LIFE IS GOOD
Brand Motto:  DO WHAT YOU LIKE, LIKE WHAT YOU DO
RELAX-A-DAISICAL

(neighborhood shop at Mall of America)

What started in 1989 with two guys from Boston making t-shirts with a smiley face and the “Life is Good” motto developed into a major company producing products and giving back to their community with their Kids Foundation. Read the full story >>

What can we do?

What can we all be doing to give back to our communities?  These are questions to be asking ourselves, our employees and co-workers. Get talking and get out there! You never know what creative and inspirational ideas will form.

Other notable companies and brands worth mentioning….

@HungerSolutions
End Hunger walk at Mall of America scheduled for Thanksgiving
Element Six
Green Advertising
J-HAP Housing and Programming
(one of my client’s …I created the logo/branding)
@TheBabyGuyNYC tshirt company UnBully.Org—100% of profits go to GSA Network.

Stimulate Your Right Brain

November 9, 2010

Driving in my car is where I do my best thinking. Allowing myself to just relax (yes, driving is relaxing as long as the kiddies are NOT in the car) my mind will “zone out” and my most creative ideas creep in. During the day with my hectic work and mom schedule, I am not able to generate anything other than tasks at hand.

Since I can’t live in my car (nor would I want to), I took this past week to come up with some ideas on how to stimulate my creativity!  I can’t guarantee these will all work but sooner or later one or two should produce some effect.

How to Get More Creative:


Visit a New Place: Ok, before you buy a ticket to Europe, what I mean is that you need to venture out of your normal routine. Visit a nature park, go to a baseball game if you haven’t been, try out an indoor water park. Whatever it is, just open your eyes to a new experience.

Go Back to Your Roots: Visit the house you grew up in, reconnect with an old high school friend or classmate, call up a teacher that inspired you.

Read, Read, Read: Whether it’s the newspaper, a magazine (my favorite source for inspiration), comic book, fiction or mystery, just do it.

Meditate: Well, this doesn’t work for me but might for you! I just can’t seem to shut my brain off long enough but many think that sitting in silence and relaxing and attempting NOT to focus does generate ideas and productive thinking.

Volunteer: Giving back not only makes you feel good and productive, but connects you with people you might not come in contact with in your daily life.  Get to know others, learn from them and appreciate what you have.

Observe: Find a place and just sit. Observe your surroundings, take in the sights, smells and sounds.

Write Down Everything: During all these unique experiences whether you’re visiting a new place, connecting with an old friend, etc. write it down. Jot notes, create a story of your experience and share with others!

 

“Don’t allow your work to be repetitive, boring and have no meaning!”

Since I always try to relate my blog back to business. I thought I’d share with you some businesses that “hit the mark” in their creative ideas.

Fashion Playtes (oh how I wish they had this when I was a little girl!) Design your own clothes. Let your imagination run wild.

Font and Ink is a company that creates custom invitations for events. What I love is the personable approach the owner takes in getting to know you and your vision. Or if you don’t have a vision, giving you ideas to work with.

Bubbly Paws is a self-service dog wash and Spa. I love this idea! They don’t open their doors to the pups until January but I’ll be taking my @pacerpup there with the kids to try it out.

Quirky is a web site dedicated to creative products. Their categories include shop, invent, influence and learn.You can have a lot of fun digging around this site. @quirkyinc

Business Week has created a site devoted to innovation and design. This is a great opportunity to get to know what other businesses are doing and get inspiration.

 

What inspires you?  Have a business that you think is innovative? Share your thoughts!

Experience Counts

October 31, 2010

Deciding where to venture out with the family on a Saturday night for dinner is not always an easy decision when you have young children. What they’ll eat, whether they’ll stay in their seats, and then hoping that you too can enjoy your meal in peace, are all factors in the decision. So tonight, we took our family to Kobe, a Japanese restaurant serving sushi, and featuring Hibashi style dining, or as my kids say “they cook on the table”!

As we strolled up to the large doors of the restaurant, my kids peered towards the sky, their eyes scaling the large paintings on the exterior of the building. Inside the lobby area there was a small pond with real live goldfish, the largest they’d ever seen. Right away their excitement grew. During our meal, we sat watching our Hibashi Chef slather butter and various meats, vegetables and rice on a flaming hot stove. He incorporated minor practical jokes with the kids, pretending to shoot soy sauce at them, building a volcano out of onion slices and then lighting it on fire which the kids thought was “really cool”. This was money well spent I thought! The food was delicious, kids were entertained and I was even able to enjoy a hot sake.

The Volcano…

Every business can create a memorable experience for their customer. With a bit of creativity, humor and planning it can make all the difference. Connect with your audience, understand that people need a break from their daily lives. They want to relax, enjoy themselves and be entertained.

According to Strativity Group’s “2010 Consumer Experience Study: Customer Experience Delivers Profitability,” which surveyed more than 900 consumers, customers will buy more and pay more for those purchases as a result of a superior customer experience. More than 70 percent of consumers stated that they would increase their purchases with a specific company by 10 percent or more if that business delivers a superior customer experience. Nearly half of the respondents said they would be willing to pay a premium price of 5 percent or more to a business that delivers a superior customer experience

5 Elements Critical to Consumer Experience:

  • That the employees do their job with pride
  • That the employees use common sense
  • Employees are knowledgeable and empowered
  • Employees deliver services or products with enthusiasm and passion
  • That the employees act as though they make a difference

What can you do to improve your customer’s experience?  Share your thoughts and feedback.

Find your Humor

October 27, 2010

As far back as I can remember our home was filled with laughter.  My brothers and I came up with unique games such as “ball in the hall”.  The objective was to catch the tennis ball before it rolled down the stairs.  A simple game, yet given we were supposed to be sound asleep, it was more complicated that you might think.  We had to be quiet and stifle our giggles, while still attempting to grab the ball as it came barreling down the hall. With the absence of iPods, the Wii, and the 1 hour of tv rule my parents enforced, we were creative kids and could always find ways to amuse ourselves.

Now as an adult, I try to find humor in the day-to-day stresses.

There was the time my son told us he put a rock up his nose.  He was 4 and just finished his last day of camp.  I peaked up his nostrils and chalked it up to a creative mind and a little white lie.  He continued to remark over the course of 7 days that there was a rock in his nose.  At swimming class he even told his instructor, who also peaked up his nose with curious eyes.  Finally, on day 10 as I was standing in line with both kids to get into the public pool, my son sneezed.  There right above his upper lip, stuck to a bunch of mucus was a rock the size of a jellybean!  I was in awe.  Mainly that it had been in there for so long and also that he had in fact told us the truth. Next time we’ll believe him!

Humor connects you with others

Using humor as a tool both personally and professionally is a great thing!  It breaks down the wall and allows relationships to build. Remember to use it appropriately and in good taste.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff


The Benefits of Laughter (www.helpguide.org)

Physical Health Benefits:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress hormones
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Prevents heart disease
Mental Health Benefits: 

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience
Social Benefits: 

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts others to us
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Helps defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding

Fight the Fear, or Not!

October 17, 2010

We all have fears. Some take a lifetime to overcome. For example, I am deathly afraid of being stuck in an elevator. Years ago, when I was living in Chicago and working in the John Hancock building, I was briefly stuck (less than 60 seconds to be exact) in the elevator. When the elevator arrived at the ground floor, the doors failed to open. It didn’t take long for my heart to start racing, my eyes to begin blurring and I then stumbled to the ground (passed out). Luckily a voice came over the speaker and the doors opened. Crawling out, I became frustrated with myself and this lack of control I had over the fear, which took my mind and body hostage. 

Over the years my fear of being stuck in an elevator has not left me.  No matter where I go, if there is an elevator I will do whatever is needed to avoid stepping foot in it. I will walk numerous flight stairs (up to 6) but beyond that I am forced to suffer through the experience.

Where does this fear come from? I know that being stuck in an elevator represents a situation that I have NO control over. I would be reliant on someone to free me. That in itself is painfully scary. I am independent, strong and want to tackle everything solo, no dependence needed.

Most people have fears, some more irrational and debilitating than others. It’s important to remember that Fear limits our ability to be successful.

The 9 Most Common Phobias in Psychology (suite 101)

  1. Bugs, Mice, Snakes, and Bats. They’re unpredictable, creepy-crawly, and possibly poisonous – who wouldn’t be afraid? Spiders are the most common phobia.
  2. Heights. We’re afraid of them because we can’t fly and we could fall. These are reasonable reasons for being anxious at the top of cliffs!
  3. Water. Fear of water can be innate or learned due to a near-drowning experience. Water is a common phobia.
  4. Public Transportation. We feel more vulnerable in public crowded places because we have less control over other people or situations. Fleeing is much more difficult, making crowded places a source of anxiety.
  5. Storms. Hurricanes, tornado’s, earthquakes, and even thunderstorms can cause irrational anxiety – because we know the damage they can cause.
  6. Closed Spaces. Feeling trapped (imagine being in a coffin!) feels horrible. Evolutionary roots involve animals and traps or cages – our need to be free makes this a common phobia.
  7. Tunnels and Bridges. Going through a tunnel is similar to being in a closed space, which makes you feel vulnerable. The fear of small spaces is a common phobia.
  8. Crowds. Similar to being on crowded public transportation, huge groups of people can make us feel trapped and vulnerable. This common phobia is related to the fear of public speaking.
  9. Speaking in Public. We feel like we’ll be judged, we worry what we look and sound like, and some of us have anxiety attacks. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves, especially in front of peers.

 

How to Overcome Fear >>
 

Listen to your Gut

October 16, 2010

You know that gnawing feeling you get when you know something is just isn’t right?

I had that feeling a few months ago when I took @pacerpup to a 24/7 private indoor dog park.  We walked in and on sight it seemed as though the perfect place to wear out my pup and introduce her to other dogs. I met the owner of the facility, who seemed to be his own biggest fan! Bragging about how he rehabilitated dogs, how he was able to get his business #1 on Google search, he then put a few of the dogs on treadmills (which I found disturbing) to show me his training technique. While I stood listening to this guy rant and rave about himself and his facility, Pacer was playing and seemed content….that was until a bulldog pounced on her and needed to be yanked off.  I then realized that many of the dogs at the facility where being rehabilitated.  Did I need to expose my 6 month old pup to aggressive dogs, creating fear and uncertainty in her otherwise carefree disposition? NO!

Additionally, when the owner brought out a contract for me to sign in order to join this exclusive membership dog gym, I hesitated. “I’ll bring it home and review it” I said, NOT ignoring the nagging feeling in my gut (key to my decision). Needless to say, I did NOT join the dog gym and something about the experience just rubbed me the wrong way.

So, the other day when the paper arrived at our doorstep I took a double take. “Indoor Dog Park Closes” the article stated. The reason? Multiple city violations, failure to pay rent, etc. Keep in mind that many of the members of this dog park had signed contracts and pre-paid annual fees. I am SO glad I trusted my gut!

 

WATCH this Video for the FULL story on the Dog Park!


How to apply this towards your business?

10 Early Warning Signs of a Bad Client >>

1. Everything is “Easy” or “Quick”

2. Promise of Future Work

3. Unrealistic Deadlines

4. Questioning Your Rates

5. They Fired their Last Designer

6. You Don’t “Get It”

7. The Disappearing Client

8. They Require Spec Work

9. Disorganized from the Start

10. Trust Your Gut