Business Travel

Business Travel: What to bring and what to leave

Packing for a business trip can be a colossal pain. Different from packing for vacation, which is a low-stress activity, business packing requires a lot more forethought and the consequences of forgetting important items are even more steep. In order to avoid an embarrassing situation without packing your whole entire house, here are some good tipAlan_Rasof_Business_Travel-What_to_Bring,_What_to_Leaves and tricks:

Lay out your Outfits: It’s hard to talk your way out of wearing the same shirt or dress for three of the five days that you’re out of town. Think through your outfits in depth before you actually start throwing stuff in your suitcase. That way, you neither overpack nor under pack. Think about how many outfits you can stretch out of one item like a pencil skirt or a pair of slacks. Also consider the breadth of formalities you need to prepare for. Do you need a dinner party outfit? What about hiking or golfing clothes?

Put your chargers next to your devices: The bane of our modern existence, chargers determine whether our precious devices live or die. It’s embarrassing and frustrating to travel with dead devices and spend extra money on chargers when you have a perfectly good one sitting at home. Make sure all your batteries are fresh and your devices have all the necessary wires and bricks.

Look through your To Dos: If you’re being sent on a business trip, you’ll presumably have some important tasks to accomplish while you’re on the road. From presentations to evaluations, you need to be prepared to execute your tasks to the the best of your ability. As you look over your assignments, write down what you’ll need for each one. Does your presentation require that you have print outs or a clicker? Should you be bringing along rubrics? Work out exactly what you need to bring, and bring only those things.

Bring what makes you feel good: Sure, it may be gratuitous to bring along a scent diffuser or a favorite blanket or a travel-sized French Press. But it’s important that you feel good and confident about yourself while you’re conducting business away from home. Bring what’s convenient to retain as much of your regular routine as possible so that you can continue to perform at the top of your game. As long as they fit in your suitcase or backpack, bring them along.

Land a Job with Style

If you’re on the prowl for a job, you know just how important it is to nail that first interview. For one, there’s the substance — you need to know about the background of the company, the technical skills for the job, and your personal qualifications. But perhaps more importantly, you hAlan Rasof Land a Job with Styleave one split second to make a good first impression with the way you look. From your hair to your outfit to your shoes, making sure you look the part is crucial to setting the tone for the rest of the interview.

Firstly, as the old saying goes, cleanliness is next to godliness. If you show up with wrinkled, stained, or otherwise unkempt clothing, the interviewer will make assumptions about your work ethic and your ability to prepare for important meetings. Ensure that your clothing smells fresh and is properly ironed. Completely avoid clothing with stains, runs, or frays on the edges. You may also want to take your shoes to a shoe shine or shine them up yourself. Attention to details is key here.

Make sure your clothing fits your comfortably. If you haven’t been on a job interview in a while, you may break out an old outfits that may be a little to snug, gap at the buttons, and simply don’t fit the way they once did. Interviewers will be able to zero in on people who haven’t given the interview 100% of their effort, so it’s important to make sure your clothes fit your body the way it is now. Oversized blazers or tough-to-button pants demonstrate that you haven’t properly prepared for this appointment.

You’ll also not want to overwhelm with your wardrobe palette. As important as it is to have fun and be yourself, consider the context of your interviews. It’s usually a safe bet to choose greys, navys, blacks, and creams. Naturally, if you’re applying to be a graphic designer, you could opt for something a little more creative with a pop of color or some fashionable statement pieces of jewelry, but for the vast majority of jobs, opt for something sleek and subtle.

Make sure you feel good. If you’re in tight shoes or your blazer is scratchy, you’ll be distracted during the interview and fail to put your best foot forward. As important as aesthetics are, your personal comfort goes a long way in making you feel your best.

The overall goal of all these tips and tricks is to demonstrate engagement and interest. A recent CNBC article noted that of all the things that can derail and ruin an interview, the number one way to sabotage an interview is to display low energy. Interviewers sift through hundreds of resumes and chose you as one of the finalists, and for them not to see you excited about learning about the job can turn them off quickly. In addition to practicing good posture and manners, your outfit needs to demonstrate that you’re eager to engage with the interviewer and take this appointment seriously.  

Beat the Heat in the Office

The weather’s warming up again, but unlike summer time when you were in high school, we still have to report to the office everyday for our regularly scheduled jobs. It’s important to stay cool while  you’re at the office during the summer months, but shorts and flip flops usually aren’t valid options. Below are some ways you can beat the heat within the boundaries of work appropriate behavior.

 

Dress in layers: Even when it’s hot out, your office may have varying temperatures depending on the room. To make sure you’re prepared for whatever the temperature holds throughout the day, dress in layers like light blazers and cardigans so you can easily read and react to the appropriate attire and climate.

 

Opt for lighter fabrics and a little extra skin: Whereas winter calls for wool, heavy knits, and fleece-lined everything, go for lighter fabrics in the summer when you can’t wear shorts. Cotton and linen are very breathable and light and will help reduce how much you sweat during the day. Also, within the bounds of your job’s culture, opt for sleeveless dresses, boatneck shirts, and all-around less fabric on your body.    

 

Drink plenty of water: Water is one of the main ways your body stays cool in multiple ways. Firstly, cool water will instantly quench your thirst, so always make sure you have a full glass with fresh ice at your desk. Your body also uses water to get rid of excess heat via sweat, which will help you stay cool. Lastly, water is one of the main ways your body gets rid of waste, so staying hydrated will help your body flush toxins from your body with ease.

 

Cold Snacks: You can also opt for snacks that will keep you nice and cool throughout the day. Cold or frozen fruits, for example, are perfect summer snacks because they’re full of nutrients, pure sugars, and water. You can also freeze yogurt or fruit juice to make your regular snacks more suitable to the heat.
Small Fans or Mists: As your desk space allows, plug in a small desk fan next to your computer for a small steady breeze throughout the day. You can also purchase a small mister from the Dollar Store or Target and spritz yourself throughout the day. You could also infuse the water with rose petals for a fragrant misty experience.

Desk for Success: Keeping Yourself Organized at Work

 

Desk for Success Alan Rasoff

 

For many professionals, their desk is a comfort zone in their home away from home. Significant items usually linger on a desk such as family photos, favorite coffee mugs, and of course important work materials. However, when a workspace becomes overcrowded and messy, a disruption in overall productivity is likely possible.

 

Keep it Simple

Certain individuals argue that clutter equals a creative mind, but knowing exactly where vital pieces of information reside, poses more important than innovation. The best way to ensure a workspace remains organized it to keep the arrangement of the space simple. Although folders and tabs for everything can seem proactive, too many possible options can get overwhelming. Limiting the number of locations of a specific item creates a more user-friendly experience when time is a factor. Creating limitations on what is necessary on the desk and keeping that list short, will set an organizational standard to follow in the future.

 

Give Everything a Home

Lucky for those who tend to be messy and aren’t sure where to begin, Quartz Media shares tips on desk organization. One of the most important points made in their article references not allowing piles to even find a temporary home on the desk. Immediately finding a permanent location for papers or non-essential resources off of the workspace gives a great advantage in the organizational process. Everyone has certain items that they use on a daily basis, so having them easily accessible is important. Creating a space for everything else is vital because if there is no a permanent resting spot, it will most likely find that spot on the desk.

 

Utilize Technology

Though everyone has a unique style, CNN Money suggest there is a “right” way to organize a desk. Giving pointers on the position of essentials, the experts express just how important desk organization is to productivity. The transition to more technology in the workplace actually benefits the organization of a desk. Whereas in the past, sticky notes and calendars were the reminder tools of choice, these days almost all email and computer systems create reminders virtually. Most programs additionally have the ability to link all information and send it to cell phones. Having access to thousands of apps and online resources is guaranteed to assist during professional organization. The small task of scanning documents and storing them in a digital file alleviates any hassle of scrounging for a specific piece of paper, especially when needed in a timely manner.

Distractions

A desk full of items unnecessary to a current project causes small distractions, most of the time not recognized by humans, but the brain still processes even a glance at such items. Consequently, CNN recommends no more than 3 personal items (photos, memorabilia, etc.) positioned on the workspace. Music, though necessary for many working professionals to ensure a productive day, should be monitored. Listening to music during the workday can distract a professional more than they realize and should be turned off for portions of the day. Another common distraction includes consuming food directly at the workspace. Experts discourage professionals from eating at the desk as it allows for clutter and interruption. If provided, employees are encouraged to take advantage of a kitchen, or eating space, should they decide to take meal breaks on-site. Stepping away from the desk allows the brain time to regroup and dismiss itself from work, a healthy break is always highly encouraged.

For a large portion of the population, a majority of their time is spent in their place of work. Whether a large office or small desk to work from, staying on top of organizing the space is crucial to productivity levels. Simple tasks, including limiting the number of personal items creates optimization of output for job-related responsibilities. There are endless amounts of purchasable and DIY items to help enhance organizing, rather making the task more enjoyable than tedious.

 

Great Resume Advice to Ignore

Alan Rasof | Great Resume Advice to IgnoreAs the old saying goes, you never get a second chance at a first impression. To that end, your resume has to be absolutely perfect. It has to be eye-catching, but not obnoxious. Give potential employers insight into who you are professionally, but not too much insight. It has to be concise, but cover all the necessary bases. If you google “resume advice,” you’ll drown in all the different directions you could take your resume. While there’s no “right” way to construct your resume, there is some advice out there that I highly recommend you completely ignore.

Bad piece of advice 1: Keep it to only one page

Starting in high school, everyone tells you to keep your resume only to one page and make that one-page maximum the priority over designing a good resume. If you feel like you need to go over a page, in this day and age, that’s usually okay. You may be incredibly accomplished and have lots of relevant experience in the field. Of course, it’s never a good idea to babble on where it’s unnecessary, and you can reserve your more in-depth analyses of your work for your linkedin profile or for your in-person interview, but if you need to expand your resume beyond a page to capture who you are, that’s just fine.

Bad piece of advice 2: Keep it completely plain

Teachers and professors caution strongly against anything besides Times New Roman black font on white paper with traditional microsoft word bullet points. There are lots more options now, though, and as long as they’re done well, they’re perfectly viable. The real rule of thumb here is that your resume has to be appropriate for the setting. If you’re applying to be an accountant, a well-organized, simple resume is probably perfect. If you’re applying to a marketing agency, though, consider something more creative like a canva resume or an infographic. It’s all a matter of what’s best for the setting.

Bad piece of advice 3: Razzle Dazzle to distract from gaps in work history

Many well-intentioned career counselors will suggest a “functional resume” to hide the fact that you took some time off work. Put most simply, functional resumes highlight the skills and use the work history to demonstrate the skills rather than vice-versa. In today’s age, though, we value transparency and honesty above all else. If you had to take time off to care for children or a family member, say that and draw attention to what you did in that time to prepare you for the job for which you’re applying. “Functional resumes” are red flags for employers, since nobody with a linear work history uses that format.  

Bad piece of advice 4: Write a strong objective statement at the top of your resume.

Space is precious, and most objective statements are just a jumble of entrepreneurial buzzwords. Rather than kill a sentence on a generic blurb on your work statement, use your cover letter and introductory email to detail who you are, where you’re going, and how you’ll get there.

Get Up! Don’t be sedentary in your office

“Sitting is the new Smoking” reads numerous headlines that debuted around 2013. Mounting evidence has lead leading scientists, chiropractors, and public health professionals to caution office workers against the long-term damage that sitting all day can cause. Of course, not moving all day can cause problems, but the postures assumed by sitting for upwards of 8 hours per day can upset the body so seriously that no amount of exercise can undo what sitting does. For the sake of your present health, weight, and longevity, here are some ways to get more mobile in your office space.

Make standing regularly a habit. Set a timer on your phone or computer reminding you to stand up, take a lap around the office, drink some water, and reposition your posture. Google Chrome extensions will help you keep track of time and alert you when you’ve been sitting too long. Or, if you’re into trying some wearable technology, fitbits or jawbones will notify you when your heart rate need a little extra boost.

Work at a standing desk. While not all offices will be able to accommodate this, it’s certainly worth a try. Standing for at least parts of your day will help stretch your muscles, relieve any aching or pain caused by ill-advised sitting postures, and at the very least, burn a few more calories per hour. If you don’t want to buy a brand new standing desk, often times a tall box on top of a desk or a cafe bar will allow you to stand and work without the sometimes exorbitant costs of a new gizmo.  

As you’re able, conduct meetings while walking. If you’re not bound to a computer and are just trying to brainstorm ideas, you can just as easily conduct meetings while you’re walking. Mobile phones will suffice for taking notes as needed in such instances, so the concern about where you’ll jot down ideas is thus assuaged. In 2014, Stanford released a study indicating that walking helps stimulate creativity in the brain, so if what you need is fresh ideas, a walking meeting might be the best thing for you.

Stretch! Sitting is known to shut off electrical activity to the leg muscles, causing a reduction in calories burned and the potential for the muscles in the legs to atrophy. There are some basic, unintrusive stretches you can perform at your desk to help wake up your muscles and burn a few extra calories. Simple activities like touching your toes or twisting your back can help negate the damage done by the posture of a desk chair.

Hold yourself accountable. As we all know from our yearly New Years’ Resolutions, we tend not to meet our goals unless we are held accountable for all the steps between the starting line and the finishing line. If you’re serious about reducing the amount of time you spend sitting per day, tell a coworker or a friend. Maybe schedule a daily walk around the block together, or schedule a phone call with a friend so you’re obligated to leave the office, walk, and talk every day. Additionally, there are podcasts about mindful living that will inspire you daily with others who are striving for a more healthful lifestyle.
By being just a little more mindful of how often you let your body move and stretch, you can make your office job just a little more fulfilling and live a healthier lifestyle.

Emotional Intelligence: The Good, the Bad, and the Feely

Emotional IntelligenceThe more sensitive sibling of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ), emotional intelligence, often abbreviated EI or EQ, has emerged as an additional measure of what employees bring to the table. Put most simply, emotional intelligence measures a person’s ability to recognize and manage their own emotions and the emotions of those around them. This soft skill allows individuals to harness their emotions and utilize them for the task at hand, rather than being immune to them or controlled by them.

As of late, studies have demonstrated that hiring managers are putting more and more emphasis on emotional intelligence, citing that those with high EQ exhibit stronger communication skills, collaboration skills, and overall creativity. Women in the workforce in particular have drawn attention to EQ since their lack of inclusion and acceptance at the boardroom level is often attributed to their emotional instability and lack of “masculine” objectivity. Multiple think-pieces have attempted to reframe women’s more emotional sensitivity not as a weakness, but as a great strength, and research has proved it.

Those with high EQs are infinitely more self-aware of their strengths, weaknesses, performance, and influence on others compared to those with low EQ who can’t “feel” how certain behaviors or actions are perceived by coworkers. To that end, those with high EQs exercise better self-regulation and are more perspicacious concerning how they make others feel with their presence, words, and behavior.

Contrary to what you may think when you hear the phrase “emotional intelligence,” those with high EQs actually react less emotionally to disagreements and criticism than people who lack emotional intelligence. Higher EQ is associated with being able to recognize and control emotions as they arise, so those who can identify and compartmentalize how they’re feeling from the facts at hand function better during disagreements than those who cannot separate the two.

Emotional intelligence is not the measure of a perfect employee, though, and high EQs are associated with some less-than-stellar character traits. For one, those with high EQs are so concerned with how their words make others feel that their ability to deliver negative but necessary feedback is impaired. This hyper-awareness can also inhibit these individuals’ inclination towards taking risks, since their instinct is calm calculations rather than impulsive gut feelings. Similarly, such individuals dislike making unpopular decisions for fear of how they’re perceived and the potential discomfort both they and those affected by those decisions will endure.

Worse yet, individuals with keen emotional intuition could easily use their EQ to manipulate the people around them. Not all with high EQ use their powers for good — sometimes, they use their insight into how certain words and information will make their peers “feel” to forward their own agenda.

Just as with any measure of personality traits, there’s upsides and downsides to emotional intelligence, and the ideal occupation or rank of those with high EQs may time some time to find. EQ should not be viewed as a weakness or a mark of intellectual inferiority; rather, it is a measure of self- and social-awareness and should be viewed as no more or less than that.

Write a Follow-up Email to Remember

So your networking event went really well. You made met some influential people, nailed your elevator pitch, traded business cards, and ended with a firm, friendly handshake. The next day, it’s time to act on those connections with a follow-up email to your new colleagues. Your second impression is almost just as important at your first. The diction, tone, content, and request of your message will establish who you are electronically to your connection, so it’s important to ensure that you craft a good message. Here’s some handy tips.

Utilize the Subject Line. For busy people, emails with vague subjects from unknown senders often go unread. Subjects like “Hello!” don’t pose a compelling case for being opened and will render your email useless. In order to ensure your message is opened, use the subject line to convince the recipient to open it. Including who you are, the reason for your message, and the action necessary convinces the reader that opening the email is worth his or her time. For example, a subject like, “Sam from Networking Event: Follow-up email and request for coffee” says it all.

Open with a simple greeting. After your salutation, offer a friendly introduction such as, “I hope you’re well,” or if you’re more familiar with the person, extend your wishes to members of their family or office mates.

Offer specific details about your original meeting that indicate that you were listening intently and found the conversation meaningful. If you’ve thought of something you should have said but remembered only after the conversation was over, the follow-up email is a great time to bring it up.

Get to the point. Once you’ve greeted the reader, reminded the reader who you are, and demonstrated that you were invested, make your request quickly and confidently. Don’t apologize for taking up time or waste sentences on justifying why you feel you “deserve” their time. Ask for a phone call or another meeting in another sentence or two, and suggest specific days and times as a starting point for negotiating the appointment.

Wrap it up. Thank your reader and finish the message. There’s no need to drag out the message once you’ve accomplished your mission. Especially on screens, readers and lazy and tend to skim, so big blocks of text beyond the bare essentials will likely go unread and bury the really important points in fluff.

Mind your signature. Besides your name, make sure your signature includes ways for readers to get in contact with you, including a phone number, a linkedin profile page, and maybe even a twitter handle. Give your reader plenty of avenues to reach you or find positive images of you online if they want to do more research about you on their own.

Proofread slowly and carefully. There’s nothing more embarrassing than sending an email with a missing word or a homophone. A well-written email free from typographical errors will convey attention to detail and professionalism.

Once you’re done, send it off! Rather than waiting, stressing, and eventually getting cold feet, go ahead and press send. You’ll feel better once it’s over.

7 Business Truths Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know

Business-Tips1

It’s fun to think about being an entrepreneur, but taking the step from idea to business implementation isn’t always an entertaining romp. It can be hard — grueling, even. It can be full of pain, tears, mistakes and uncomfortable lessons. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it — just that you need to know what you’re in for before you get started. Here are 7 truths every entrepreneur should know before taking the leap into self-employment and product development.

1. You’re going to make mistakes. Lots of them.
It doesn’t matter how well-thought-out your business and marketing plans are, how much experience you have, or how many college degrees you’ve acquired — you’re destined to make some mistakes as an entrepreneur. Getting mad at yourself, resentful or trying to play the blame game are bad ideas. Instead, understand that mistakes are normal and they’re also great opportunities to learn something new. Stay humble and open and your mistakes might turn out to be some of the best on-the-job training you get.

2. Some days, the only thing keeping your business open will be your persistence.
Many entrepreneurs expect to hang their “open” sign, publish their website, and then become inundated with business. Sometimes this happens, but more often business ebbs and flows leaving some months busy and other months completely free of work. On those days when you’ve got no work, your ads are being ignored, and your follow-up calls are going unanswered, your persistence will be the one thing that keeps you moving forward.

3. No one is going to catch you when you fall.
As an entrepreneur who owns a business, the buck starts and stops with you. There is no safety net or person waiting to catch you when you fall. The mistakes you make and the failures you endure are things that you must correct, sort out and make up for. It’s all on your shoulders. To be prepared for this, make sure you have plenty of cash cushion and emergency plans.

4. It’s more about what your clients/customers want than what you want.
Many entrepreneurs start their businesses because they want to be their own bosses. Some of them don’t realize that, unless you don’t rely on customers or clients for business, you are probably still going to have someone to answer to. Often, this means you have to make decisions for yourself and your business that will be appreciated by your customers, not ones that will only be appreciated by you.

5. You won’t make your own hours — at least at first.
Eventually, most entrepreneurs are able to work a schedule that they’ve chosen. But at least in the beginning, you may be scrambling for work and this could leave your schedule at the mercy of your business, clients, and employees. If it helps your business succeed, however, this sacrifice is more than worth it.

6. Passion doesn’t always create profit.
Not every idea is a good one. Not every business will or should make it. Sometimes, an entrepreneur is totally passionate about his or her work or product — but the rest of the world just doesn’t see the value of it. That doesn’t make the entrepreneur wrong or a failure, it simply means either that they haven’t communicated their idea effectively or that the world simply isn’t ready for it. At some point, though, you have to decide whether to keep bleeding your passion through this idea or to funnel it into something else.

7. Get advice from the successes and the failures.
Successful business people make great mentors. They can help you mold your business into something that resonates with your target client or customer. They can help you navigate obstacles that trip up other entrepreneurs and can inspire you to keep going even in the face of adversity. But successful entrepreneurs aren’t the only people you can learn something from. You can also learn important lessons from the failures. Often, the failures understand what they did wrong and are willing to share that information to help you avoid it. Sometimes, they don’t know what they did wrong but by hanging out with them and tapping their brain, you might be able to figure it out yourself. This will give you tremendous insight regarding the kinds of actions and behaviors you should work to avoid.