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Pumpkin Pulled Pork and Catching Up on Fall

I love fall. From the the crisp smoky aroma of wood stoves to the brilliant foliage filled trees, cascading over country dirt roads, forming a tunnel of bright yellow.

Fall always catches me off guard. Which is bizarre because I live in the state that invented Fall, Vermont. I have just put my pumpkin decorations in our living room built-in and have subsequently decided that I must share my favorite fall recipe, and tips for enjoying the season.

Here’s a few ways I absorb the glorious months of September through November. I’ve designed a sharable bingo board so you can keep these ideas in your camera roll and share with friends and followers. Be sure to cross off the activities you’ve completed this year.

Right click and “save” to share on social media!

Now that you have 25 ideas to safely enjoy Fall, let’s eat!

Years ago I made pumpkin pulled pork for an office spirit week. If you know me you know I love office spirit weeks. I take them very seriously and it’s one of the few times I will cook from a recipe found on a blog post that takes 17 minutes of scrolling to see the ingredients.

Here’s my pumpkin pulled pork recipe. I hope you will make it for friends and family this season. It sounds gross but it’s divine. Pair it with soft rolls and coleslaw for a hearty Fall meal.

Ingredients

5bs Pork Roast

1 Can Pumpkin Puree

1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

3 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar

1 TBSP Black Pepper

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1 TBSP Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 TBSP Onion Powder

Directions

Throw it all into a crockpot on low for 10 hours or until at the desired consistency. I have cooked it for 12-15 hours with great results!

I hope you enjoy the remainder of the season. Remember, it doesn’t have to be Christmas until you say so, or December 25th.

Nellie Working from Home

A Marketer’s Guide to Working from Home

You’ve probably seen dozens of similar articles floating around the internet or pushed to your inbox. I’m sorry. Here’s another one. Yep. I am going to write another one of those articles about how to work remotely; however, this comes from someone who has tested these methods and actually uses them to push through an eight hour day with their chihuahua and homemade coffee.

Get A Dedicated Space

I see you at your kitchen table. You think you’re cute. But you might regret where you’ve placed your new corner office. Please do yourself a favor and build a dedicated location for your work. If you’re going to use your kitchen table, that’s okay, but it’s no longer the kitchen table. It’s a desk with all of the materials you need for work. It’s set up with monitors and maybe even pushed into a corner so it no longer feels like a kitchen table. Eating dinner will happen elsewhere.

If you have the luxury of living in a residence with a separate office, use it. Close the door and don’t spend time in that space when you’re not working. Similarly, don’t continue sitting at your kitchen table office when you’re not working. Keep it as a separate space for the intention of work. This will help you feel more relaxed when you’re off the clock and more focused when it’s time to get your 40+ hours in for your employer.

Embrace Technology

When I was a child the thought of a video call was a big deal. It was not accessible and definitely not cheap. Fast forward to 2020 and there is little point in a verbal phone call because every piece of technology has a video component. If you’re a leader that is holding regular meetings, turn your camera on. Most laptops come with cameras and showing your face in a meeting is a great way to bolster your contribution to the team and your support of the company that employs you. If you’re a business owner, consider inviting your clients to join you on a video call. I recently heard a great piece of advice (sorry I don’t have attribution for this), if the meeting facilitator has their camera on then yours should be on too.

I should share one caveat with you about video calls. Learn how to use your camera, speakers, and microphone, before you make or join a call or meeting. There is no excuse for the echo. Google how to fix it. Speak to your IT department. figure it out. Oh, and if you hear feedback in a meeting – it might be you. So mute unless you’re talking. Please.

Snacks and Drinks Help You Think

Trying to work on a detailed project while you’re depleted of glucose is not useful. Leaving your dedicated workspace every ten minutes for a small cup of water is distracting to your productivity. Pack a bag of snacks and drinks to last at least four hours. Use ice packs. Or, invest in a mini-refrigerator. It’s worth it and will save you at least an hour in lost productivity. How? When you go to grab a drink you also see the dirty dishes, the dog that wants a treat and the plants that need to be watered. Don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you can meander over to other tasks when you were simply looking for a Fresca.

Take Breaks. Sometimes Many. 

Some people can focus non-stop for hours on end. I am not one of those people. I need variety. If you have worked with me then you know I am a conversationalist. This was a way for me to take a mental break between projects. My work in marketing is very project based and interpersonal interactions help me create transition time between projects. Working at home means being alone. There is no one to chat with about the odd power outage that happened because of a herd of deer. I am not sure that has ever happened but it’s possible in Vermont. 

Oh, right, breaks. So instead of speaking with colleagues I take periodic breaks. I use this time to check in with myself physically. Do I need water? Food? Social interaction? If I need social interaction I may not always scroll through social media. I may actually take that time to speak with followers or post something. This helps me still feel like I’m speaking with someone. Other times I will take the dog out for a five-minute walk down the street. Or, I’ll pop through the drive-thru for coffee. I try to do something that has an obvious ending. For example, going for coffee means that once I get the coffee and arrive home, the break is done. It’s on to the next project.

If you feel you need to take more breaks and work a longer day, do it. If you’re hourly and working from home, speak with your Manager about how you can best work mini-breaks into your day. If you’re salary, get to a full day and build your breaks in as you go.

Set Boundaries

I’m feeling very empathetic toward parents that are working from home. Especially parents who would otherwise have the escape of an office environment. Yes, I said escape. It can be very jarring for a parent to go from a 40hr office work week to a 40hr co-working space with their toddler. For those without children, like myself, it’s still important to set boundaries.

So what boundaries can we set to enhance our remote work experience? Consider the following ideas:

  • Set a start and end time for work. If you’re taking more breaks, then your day may actually end later than usual.
  • Break up the childcare duties. I don’t have much experience with this matter but balance in all things is valuable.
  • Be careful not to set lunch dates or social visits when you should be working. Granted, we’re all pretty confined to our homes but a socially distanced brunch could drag on and distract you from your day.
  • Do still use PTO. Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you don’t need a vacation or time to focus on your medical appointments. Early on in the pandemic I took a Friday off just to process what was happening in the world. You can too.
  • Don’t work 15hr days because you can. I remember working so late in one office that I had to wave my hands to turn the sensor lights back on. Overworking can lead to physical and mental stress so be sure you’re setting the expectation that the day ends after eight or nine hours. Or less if that’s what is required of you.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Perhaps they’re the same tips you’ve seen all over your TikTok “For You” page. Regardless, stay sane out there. Grab a snack and enjoy this time of personal grounding as we get through 2020, together.

Five Fantastic Business and Self-Development Audiobooks

Friends and followers. We’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, yes. We also have ample opportunity to consume content, namely books. Because my work often requires me to travel, I have come to love audiobooks. I use Audible (#notsponsored) and I love getting Audible recommendations from others. So naturally, I want to share a few of my favorites with you. I hope you will consider consuming some of these great reads while you’re sheltering in place.

Grant Cardone – The 10X Rule 

This is my latest listen and it’s really kicked my butt into high gear. My favorite part of this book is the section in which Cardone says it’s okay to be obsessed with your work or passions. He highlights the revelation that if more people were encouraged to be obsessed with their work or passions then we’d have better inventions and greater prosperity in our country. He also cuts through the notion that success is evil. If you work in sales, or you’re starting a business, this is the book for you.

Mel Robbins – Work It Out 

Every woman needs to listen to Work It Out. I’m serious. Any woman that has ever been employed, or is heading back into the workforce, needs to listen to this content. This is actually an Audible original and can only be heard through Audible. This is worth an Audible sign-up. Again, this post is not sponsored. I just love sharing amazing content with my followers and readers. Robbins is a phenomenal speaker bus she also cuts through the nonsense that’s in the female brain when it comes to our careers. In this audio content, she interviews women from different career backgrounds. She listens to their struggles and helps them overcome internal and external obstacles.

Jen Sincero – You Are a Badass

This one of my favorite audiobooks because Sincero is a fantastic narrator of her own story. Jen walks us through her experiences living paycheck-to-paycheck and dreaming of a better life in which she feels prosperity and peace. Sincero finds both when she starts taking her life seriously and empowering her journey with the right mental energy. This is a great read if you’re down in the dumps and need a positive pick-me-up and gentle motivation. Sincero’s second book, You Are a Badass at Making Money is another great read.

Pam Grout – E-Squared

I’ll admit, I didn’t love the sound of Pam’s narration at first; however, I’ve listened to this book several times over. If I’m feeling concerned about my week, I listen to this book. If I need to manifest something, I listen to this book. The little experiments in this book are incredibly motivating if you try them out. Especially the experiment involving the color of nearby vehicles. Pam’s second book in this series, E-Cubed, is also fantastic but is narrated by a different female voice. Now, I wish Pam had narrated both books. Each of these reads can be life-changing if you have an open mind.

Jia Jiang – Rejection Proof

Find yourself always afraid of rejection? This book clearly outlines why we’re afraid of rejection and how to overcome any rejection that comes your way. In this book, Jiang shares his experience with his own fear of rejection and how he was able to get almost anyone to say yes to almost any request. This is a great book for anyone seeking to overcome fear or kill it in a sales role.

I hope you take some time to enjoy one of these titles. If you want to sign-up for Audible you can use my code which I’m told does something nice for me. Remember, every new Audible member gets a free book with their membership. Choose wisely!

Be free. Be focused. Be determined. Be yourself.

Au Revoir,

Christal 
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Networking: Three Steps to Becoming a Meet & Greet Rockstar

It’s January, and pretty soon we are going to be going into the spring events season. You are probably already rolling your eyes in contempt at the amount of networking that you may be required to do in a few months.

Have no fear, there are a few things you can do to not only enjoy networking, but become a networking rockstar.

1. Prepare

Whatever you do, don’t go into the meet and greet blind. You should have some expectation of who is going to be at the event, and a few things you can talk about to strike up conversation.

Consider looking up a few key people on LinkedIn ahead of time. Check out their company’s recent news events, and brush up on where they went to school and some of their recent projects.

As a word of caution, don’t look up everyone that’s going to be at the event and don’t connect with everyone either. It will be pretty obvious that you are trolling the registration list if you do this. No one likes a LinkedIn stalker.

Another way to prepare is to have three key talking points. This could be conversation starters that are related to the type of event you are attending, as well as things that you really want to mention about your organization. But be sure not to force these items of conversation. These topics are simply to drive the conversation forward if there is a lull.

2. Go in confidence

This may sound a little New Age but you need to be sure that you are mentally preparing yourself for the event before you go. Remind yourself that you are very talented at what you do, that you get along with people really well, and that you are great in conversation. Walk into the event with your head held high feeling that you can move about the room and enjoy yourself. If you have done the preparation this becomes much easier to accomplish. Another way to feel confident as you enter the room is to be sure that you’re wearing comfortable clothes that are aligned with the dress recommendations for the event. Ladies, getting your nails done before an event is another quick win in the confidence arena.

3. Don’t force connection

You are not going to hit it off with everyone at the event. Frankly, you shouldn’t. Your time can be much better invested in meeting a few people and building a few great long-term relationships versus meeting many people for a brief amount of time. Again, this goes back to your preparation. If you know who you want to meet then you can focus on meeting those people, but if you click with someone allow yourself to let the conversation flow. Make sure that you are enjoying the event and that the event is a catalyst for you to build long-term business or personal relationships. Today’s business minded individuals can see through bullshit and they love to speak to people who are genuine and passionate.

How to Know When to Take a Break

 I find it really interesting that there are a lot of articles about productivity online, but there are not a lot of articles about when to take a break. Or learning how to calm your mind to be more productive later on. This post is about learning when to be calm, take a break, take a nap, or take some time out for yourself to unplug. Here are a few ways to know when to take a break:

You’re having trouble focusing.

If you’ve tried to start the same task three times in the last 10 minutes and can’t seem to make any progress you may need to step away from that task. Go take a quick walk around the office, grab a cup of coffee, or sit still for a few minutes and think about the task at hand. It may even help to write out a few bullet points about the task just to get get to the next step. 

You feel overwhelmed.

Some of these steps will be similar to what you would do if you can’t focus. Take a walk, grab a glass of water, or take a quick break. You may also want to talk about how you feel with one of your coworkers, or start making a list of what is overwhelming. You can even do a brain dump of absolutely everything you’re thinking about at the time. If you feel your heart racing then you really need to stop what you’re doing so you can calm your mind. Hold your breath for five seconds and release. Repeat this a few times until you feel calm. If you cannot calm after this exercise you may be experiencing a panic attack. Seek the advice of a medical doctor right away if you believe you have experienced a panic attack, or feel any shortness of breath, or rapid heart beat. 

You feel frustrated.

Perhaps you’ve been working on the same task for a while but the outcome isn’t what you hoped. Use your frustration as an opportunity to channel your energy towards something positive. For example, this would be a good time to go work out, take a brisk walk, or start a physical project in your office like filing, or cleaning your desk. When I find myself frustrated at work I typically organize my desk drawers or other areas of my professional working space. 

You are physically exhausted.

This is the most common reason people take a break. But for some being physically exhausted is seen as a weakness. It is not a weakness. When you are physically exhausted your body needs to rest. You need to physically recharge so that you can handle the stressors of the following day. Perhaps you’ve had too much caffeine, or not enough water, or you’re not eating nutritious food. Those factors contribute to physical exhaustion. The greatest factor that contributes to physical exhaustion is lack of sleep. If you’re having a very tough day at work try to take a nap on your lunch break. Give yourself a physical timeout. And avoid future physical exhaustion by giving yourself a bedtime.

As you go about your week pay attention to the times when you need to take a break. You may find that there’s a trend, and you may be able to get in front of the problem and start having a more successful, calm, and productive month.

How to Dominate Social Media with Zero Free Time

  If you’re like me you don’t have all day to be posting on social media. In fact you really don’t want to post on social media at all. Your primary focus is to get a job done. Maybe you’re working for your own company, or maybe you’re working for another brand, but if you’ve been tasked to post on social media you can slash your tasking in half with one simple tip — batch processing.

In fact, I’m batch processing this blog post right now. I am writing this blog post late in the evening and I plan on posting it later this week. You can do the same thing with social media. All you have to do is schedule it.

So what do I mean by scheduling your social media? I mean you can write your posts in one day and then schedule them to be distributed throughout a week, month, or even a year. I would caution you not to schedule posts too far in advance, you may want to change your thought later on. 

What platform?

So how do you schedule posts? Where do you go to batch process your thoughts so you can send them out on social media? 

There are a few apps that can help you with this. Some of my favorite apps that I use for publishing on social media include: Buffer, HootSuite, TweetDeck, and Crowd Fire. If you use a CRM, or a marketing automation platform, you can typically automate your posts and publish them in a scheduled format there as well.

Personally I find Buffer to be one of the best tools for publishing on social media. I really like it’s minimalist platform and suggested posts they offer.

What’s next?

Once you’ve established a platform that you’re going to use to publish on a regular basis you should really create your content. Think about the type of brand you want to have, and the type of media you want to distribute, and then start writing it out. Collect 20 separate social media posts and schedule them out over the next couple of weeks. Be sure to use hashtags, photos, videos, and attribute any sources that you use.

Once all of your content has been written, and everything is scheduled, sit back and watch the fruits of your labor. You will be able to track your analytics and see how your posts are doing on social media. Remember to duplicate the types of posts that do well, and don’t waste time on the posts that didn’t deliver engagement to your brand.  

Now get scheduling! 

Four Steps to Begin Marketing Your Brand Today

Lately you may have felt inundated with marketing ideas. Do this online, write that on your blog, post this on social media, re-brand that to attract these customers.

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to expand your brand. But how do you build exposure to your business in a short period of time?

Here are four steps to begin marketing your brand today:

1. Establish your mission
It’s all well and good that you have a company, and maybe you even have a product that you’re trying to sell, but the most important thing you need to do for yourself, and for your customers, is to establish your mission. I’m not talking about a mission statement. I’m talking about your passion, your why, the reason you get up in the morning. Write down one solid goal that you want to accomplish for your business in the next six months. That is your mission. That is your driving force for your marketing strategies. If you’ve mixed more than one goal into your mission then you’re doing it wrong.

2. Design your brand
Anyone who says that a good logo and a good color scheme is bunk isn’t aiming to scale their business. Customers are attracted to the familiar. Make sure that you use a color scheme and art that appeals to the regular man, or woman. Even the most artistic are drawn to the most simplistic graphic design. Finally, if you’re not an artist—go find one. It’s okay to admit that you’re not a graphic designer and that someone else could do a better job than you.

3. Develop a multi-channel approach
Multi-channel means marketing through multiple channels. What is a channel? An example of a channel would be television, radio, print, social media, etc… A multi-channel approach means targeting more than one of these channels. The easiest way to create a multi-channel approach is to create a piece of marketing that can be utilized across these different platforms. Consider writing a headline, a piece of body copy, searching for a photo that aligns with your headline and copy, and using that marketing piece both digitally and in print.

4. Be consistent
If you’re going to write a blog, post at least once a week, or in a time frame that’s consistent and works for your schedule. If you’re going to post on social media then be consistent with that too. You can use tools like HootSuite or Buffer to help you schedule posts so you don’t have to sit in front of your computer all day. If you’re selling a home decor item, make sure that you post on Pinterestconsistently as well. Don’t underestimate how closely customers pay attention to your posts. Customers are interested in what you have to sell. Customers are also interested in what you have to say. Also understand that even though I use the word customers, customers could be people who read your blog, follow you on social media, or people who buy your product. You should consider everyone who interacts with your brand a customer. 

There you have it. Four steps to begin marketing your brand today. Now what are you waiting for? Get going, and be sure to post your success stories below.

Put Down Your Cell Phone – Pick Up Your Imagination

It’s come to my attention that few are using their imaginations to build their marketing initiatives. Many Modern Marketers are instead spending their time tweeting, posting, sharing, crowd sourcing, hashtagging, re-purposing content, and swarming.

What these marketers are not spending enough time doing is: using their imagination, copywriting, holding quality brainstorming sessions (meetings), getting outside, going to events, stealing other successful ideas, going to conferences, getting topical education on the product they’re marketing, learning about topics that matter to their audience, and being silent.

We all get lost in the minutia. You have invoices to pay, venues to book, tweets to schedule, and campaigns to launch — but that’s not what it’s all about. It’s about telling a story. It’s about being successful and conveying, as Simon Sinek writes, “your company’s why.”

So how do you break loose from the hamster wheel? Be silent and get away from your desk. Find a good place to focus, pick an idea and run with it. The very best idea I ever formed developed this way. I also brought along a sketchbook and pen. You don’t have to be an artist to use these tools. They can be extremely  helpful in mapping a webpage, logo, campaign, or slogan.

You may also consider using the Pomodoro Technique. This is when you hyper-focus on a project for a set number of minutes then break for 10-15 minutes. I typically go for 90 minute intervals. This compartmentalized time asks that you avoid distraction and gives your mind the freedom to work solely on the project at hand — thus allowing imagination and free thought to form.

Another technique is Batch Processing. Just like you would prep food for an evening restaurant service you can get a large chunk of one task out of the way and then move along to the next. You can batch process tweets, email scheduling, designs, phone calls, almost anything. By batch processing you leave time to explore new ideas without feeling the stress of many tasks.

Eventually all great marketers find their way to disconnect, reflect, and refocus. Whether you batch process or write it out, take time to recharge your imagination and be open to what’s new.

Don’t Let Others Choose Your Dream

Photo courtesy of www.dollarphotoclub.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.dollarphotoclub.com

If you want to be a leader you’re most likely going to start your own business, or create a unique idea for your existing employer. It’s difficult to do this if you’re only chasing others opinions of what you should become.

Steve Jobs started out as a college drop-out working for Atari. What if he kept building video games and never followed his passion of building the technology empire that is now Apple? Jobs was good with technology. He probably would’ve built some pretty neat games. Jobs could have also finished college, got a job at an existing technology firm and done as he was told by his superiors. But he ignored the skeptics, his peers, and probably his parents. Thanks to Jobs, our entire personal and business workflow sits in the palm of our hand.

Elon Musk, one of the co-founders of PayPal started out with a degree in physics and economics. Musk could have stopped his entrepreneurial work with PayPal. After all, the company was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion, but Musk didn’t stop with his work on PayPal – he had bigger aspirations, and overcame skeptics to achieve his dreams. In this article posted by www.sfgate.com, a recent 60 Minutes interview with Musk, conducted by Scott Pelley, reflects on the early years of Musks’ life.

“Although he’s seen as one of the Silicon Valley’s major players, things weren’t always so rosy for him. In his interview with Pelley, Musk says 2008 was the worst year of his life when both companies came close to going bankrupt and he was both broke and in debt.” 

Elon Musk has gone on to build Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and other major corporations that could substantially improve the way we create renewable energy, travel, and see the universe.

According to this article by Business Insider, at age 19 Oprah Winfrey began her television career as a co-anchor for a local TV news affiliate. What if she stayed in the news business? What if Oprah, reportedly worth an estimated $2.9 billion, just threw in the towel on her dream of being a talk show host, actress, philanthropist, and owner of her very “OWN” television network?  Oprah could have made a career for herself in news – but she had bigger dreams.

Don’t let anyone choose your dream for you. Don’t stay put or settle for being comfortable. To become a leader you have to define at least one dream you want to aspire to. Be it grandiose, or just exciting, decide what your next supreme venture is going to be.

Six Ways to Become A Happier Leader

Photo source www.dollarphotoclub.com.
Photo source http://www.dollarphotoclub.com.

New entrants to the workforce may consider their new office leader(s) to be scary, or intimidating. These types of leaders, while sometimes successful, often lack a key facet of leadership — personal happiness.

If you’re on the edge of losing your temper after one more interruption or request, utilize the following steps to become a happier and more content leader.

1. Be Grateful Everyday 
It’s easy tell yourself to “be grateful”. It’s more difficult to remember what you’re grateful for on a daily basis. Stick a post-it reminder to be grateful every day. Each morning, or maybe at lunch, think of five things you’re grateful for. Try not to repeat the same things you mentioned the day before. See how many days you can remember to be grateful.

2. Say Thank You
Part of gratitude is outwardly showing how thankful you are to those around you. Additionally, when you thank those you lead they become more cheerful. You begin to boost the mood and culture of your organization thereby making you and your staff happier.

3. Gather Up the Pieces 
No one can operate in a state of chaos. Begin your day by organizing your desk, then list your to do’s. You may even find the previous post on the prioritization helpful.

4. Take a Walk 
Your body produces happy hormones when you workout. It doesn’t have to be 3 hours of hardcore body building. Go for a walk, swim, jog, kayak or hike. Bonus Tip: Vitamin D is a plus! Grab some rays while you’re out and soak up the extra sunny nutrients your body needs to be happier.

5. Snooze Before You Lose 
It’s okay to take naps. Just like your body needs activity it also needs rest. Cranky leaders are often fatigued. Pay attention to your natural signals for rest. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to lead your team because you’re too tired to listen. 

6. Grab a Drink
Loneliness can plague a leader lifestyle. Frequent traveling, long work hours and extra projects can shut you out from the ones in your life that matter most. It is vital that you embrace some social experiences to build personal memories, and enhance your interpersonal skills at the office. Take your vacation, get a group together for a game, dinner or party. Spend time with your family, or grab a cup of coffee with a friend. Make time for others and you’ll become a happier you!

What helps you feel like a happier leader? Post your reply below! 

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