Blog : Monday Mojo

Your Passion

“You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” —Dr. Seuss

People often say that if you follow your passion, you’re never really “working” at work. But that’s not always true. To understand why you can still feel mentally overwhelmed, let’s look at how the human brain is configured.

The prefrontal cortex is the most advanced segment of the most advanced section of the brain. It contains the most expansive evolutionary structures, and is responsible for the cognitive functions we think of as uniquely human, such as the ability to set complex goals, plan our futures, restrain our instinctive impulses, make informed decisions and organize our activities. Collectively, these sophisticated abilities are often referred to as the executive functions of the brain.

Given that the prefrontal cortex in humans is far more capable than that of any other species on the planet, why do we still feel mentally overtaxed so much of the time?

Consider the dramatic economic shifts that have occurred in the last century or so. The number of people doing physical labor has significantly decreased while the number of “knowledge workers”—as author Peter Drucker named them—have significantly increased.

One aspect of this transformation is that the vast majority of our modern workforce needs more emotional intelligence (people skills) as well as more facility with abstraction (conceptual skills) than it ever needed before. Both of these abilities are anchored in the prefrontal cortex.

To be clear, we’re not arguing that we work harder today than our great-great-grandparents did. But during the last few centuries, the demand for executive brain function seems to have increased and become more widespread. And because it takes anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million years for relatively minor changes to occur in existing biological structures, we could be waiting a long time for our prefrontal cortex to enlarge its capacity in response to the demands we place on it.

Multitasking is not the answer.

In various kinds of companies across all types of industries, we meet people who are worn out, lack focus and who tend to be more reactive than strategic. They believe multitasking is the only way they can stay ahead of the myriad demands put before them.

The problem is that our brains can provide us with only a finite amount of focus at any given time. Scientists such as Daniel Kahneman, author of Attention and Effort, have conducted research that bears this out. According to some estimates, it can easily take up to 40 percent longer to complete projects when you’re interrupted than it does when you can maintain specific focus.

It’s fine to perform two or more tasks at once if quality or accuracy is not a high priority. But the widespread belief that multitasking makes us more efficient is far more myth than science. At every level, we see rampant exhaustion and intellectual depreciation as a result of this misunderstood social norm.

Create an island in the stream.

When faced with the unceasing flow of communication that vies for our limited attention, think of a way to put yourself in a separate zone—a kind of “island in the stream.” Zones can be physical or a temporal.

You might believe it’s impossible to take even short timeouts from your particular brand of madness. We’ve heard some of our clients say, “My boss requires that I always answer quickly!” and “Everything needs my attention immediately because my co-workers count on me.” But there are workarounds to address almost any challenge.

Communication to others about the appropriate thresholds for interruption in our zones is critical to their success. There are many creative ways to establish your boundaries. In one hospital we studied, nurses wear brightly colored sashes while they dispense medicine to ensure there will be no intrusions, which could cause potentially fatal mistakes. One office we toured has a noisy bullpen; co-workers there designated a specific conference room as a silent workspace. Find ways to meet your needs for concentration.

When you set and agree to flexible limits for your zones, you not only commit to them yourself, but also encourage others to respect and support your parameters.

Change the culture.

It’s not unusual to walk a fine line between collaboration and continuous interference. In high-tech, future forward companies, we often hear about the eradication of private offices. In some instances, we’ve seen the replacement of desks assigned to a specific person in favor of impersonal cubbyholes claimed only one day at a time.

An open and flexible office setup has many advantages, but the resulting breaches of privacy can dissipate mental resources. Still, we don’t have to accept continuous interruptions as a fait accompli.

Try these tips to establish your zones and boost your productivity and focus:

  1. Put zones on your calendar.

Block out a portion of time during which you will work “in the zone.” Use this time to perform tasks that require accuracy, quality and creativity.

  1. Establish a quiet physical space where you can go to concentrate and be “in the zone.”

This might require a door that you can close.

  1. Communicate your boundaries to co-workers, friends and family so they know how to interrupt you—and under what conditions.

Explain why and how you are using zones to get more done. Be sensitive to their needs as well—don’t overdo your zones.

  1. Use an app or a plugin to cancel or silence alerts for emails, texts and phone calls.

Most of these tools will still allow you to be reached in case of an emergency.

  1. Calm and clear your mind as you transition into your zone.

Source: http://www.success.com/article/how-to-train-your-brain-to-focus

Monday Mojo: Spring

This is why science loves Spring, we think you should too!

1. Temperatures Are Moderate

Spring marks the end of blistering winter and the transitional period to scorching summer. The Earth’s axis is angled between its closest and furthest position from the Sun, when temperatures are the most extreme. You can finally ditch the winter layers.

2. There Are More Hours in the Day

Following the spring equinox, when the Earth’s horizon is perfectly aligned with the Sun, the days begin lasting longer and the nights get shorter. That means you have more time in the day to get things done.

3. All the Animals Come Back

Many species of animals migrated south to follow their food supply during the winter. Once the spring returns, these animals do too. There is no better indicator of spring than birds chirping outside your window.

4. There Are Baby Animals Everywhere

Animals reproduce in the spring when food is plentiful. Farms are overrun with adorable chicks, bleating kids, and frolicking calves.

5. You’re Actually Happier

Exposure to sunlight increases the hormone serotonin in your brain, which makes you feel happy.

6. You Feel Energized

Exposure to sunlight decreases the chemical melatonin in your body during the day and increases it at night, which helps you sleep better.

7. Trees Suddenly Have Leaves

Spring brings growth back to plants and trees. A successful spring leaf growth ensures a cool canopy to relax under during the hot summer.

8. Plants Turn Green

It’s amazing what a little sunlight, moisture and warm soil can do for plants and grass. Plants convert sunlight into energy and produce the pigment chlorophyll, which turns them green. And it’s not just nice to look at—a 2012 study found that people who saw green before a challenge came up with more creative solutions. Spring’s green plant life will hopefully do the same!

9. Fruits and Veggies Are Ready to Eat

After staying dormant all winter and conserving energy underground, many fruits and vegetables sprout in the spring. There is nothing more pleasant than eating a peach right off a tree or a string bean from the pod.

10. Flowers Bloom

After months spent conserving energy, colorful flowers bloom in the spring, signaling to the bees that they are ready for pollination. And science has proven that looking at buttercups can make you happy. A 2007 study found that people in yellow rooms at cocktail parties were more lively and talkative. Spring’s yellow flowers could also lift your mood.

11. The Snow Is Gone

Increasing temperatures means that snow and ice will no longer plague your commute or lawn.

12. Your Pets Shed

Pets grown extra thick fur to keep themselves warm during the winter. As messy as it can be, when pets shed their winter coats, they are lighter and more full of life.

13. No More Dry Air

More moisture in the air means more precipitation in the form of rain. Sit under a metal roof during the rain for a relaxing evening.

14. You Can Open Your Windows

With warm weather comes warm air. Open your windows to allow the breeze to refresh your home.

15. You Can Get Your Vitamins Naturally

Sunlight triggers your body to produce the vitamin D3, which keeps your bones strong.

Enjoy the shift in weather, get outside, smell the roses and soak in those Vitamin D’s.  You may just find that Spring is one of your favorite seasons too.

Source: http://mentalfloss.com/article/55573/15-scientific-reasons-spring-most-delightful-season

Monday Mojo: Happiness Equals Success

Monday Mojo: Happiness Equals Success

Do you believe your attitude plays a part in your ultimate success or lack thereof?  If you believed that you had more control over your own success, wouldn’t you take it?  Today’s Monday Morning Mojo will motivate and inspire you.

Kathy Caprino with Forbes.com shared an article about a riveting TED Talk by the world’s leading positive psychology expert and bestselling author Shawn Achor on The Happy Secret to Better Work.

 

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Shawn is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard, and has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success. His TED talk is one of the most popular of all time with over 4 million views, and he has a new lecture airing on PBS called “The Happiness Advantage.”  

 

When my client told me about the talk, I questioned whether there would be anything new that I hadn’t already heard about happiness in my training as a therapist, but wow, was I wrong.  Throughout it, I laughed out loud (Shawn’s a hoot!), but then stopped in my tracks and pondered hard on how my own level of happiness and joy are impacting my success.

 

The following is the interview with Shawn Anchor

 

What specifically impacts our happiness and how can we shift it?

The three greatest predictors of happiness are optimism (the belief your behavior will eventually matter), social connection, and how we perceive stress (as a challenge or as a threat).  If we want to raise happiness we need to make both mindset and behavior shifts.

What are the five key steps that we can take each day to increase our experience of happiness?

1)      Bring gratitude to mind – Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day

2)      Journal – About a positive experience you’ve had recently for 2 minutes once a day

3)      Exercise –  Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity

4)      Meditate – Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes a day and

5)      Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness –  Write a 2-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media

 

Do these steps for 21 days, and you will begin to see a lasting shift in your mindset towards more positivity.

 

How are you using this information to increase the success of organizations and leaders?

Happiness is a choice, but leaders and companies can make that choice easier by providing education about how to raise positivity in the workplace, creating social engagements, authentically praising individuals.  My job is to use the science to convince companies to realize that the greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged workforce. Those that realize that, focus helping cultivate positive work environments which results in the happiness advantage.

 

What is the Happiness Advantage exactly?

Your brain works significantly better at positive than at negative, neutral or stressed.  Every single business and educational outcome improves when we start at positive rather than waiting for a future success.  Sales improve 37% cross-industry, productivity by 31%, you’re 40% more likely to receive a promotion, nearly 10 times more engaged at work, live longer, get better grades, your symptoms are less acute, and much more.

As an expert in positive psychology, what do you know about happiness that the rest of us don’t?

Genes and environment will define your happiness, UNLESS you make conscious changes to your mindset and habits. If you do the latter, your happiness will no longer remain under the tyranny of your genes, childhood and environment.

In the end, happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change.  It is the belief that we can.

Mantras to Live By

Mantras to Live By

We are a couple month into the year.  Have you ditched that New Year’s Resolution yet?  About half the New Year’s resolutions made are already out the window after the first month.

It’s easy to forget what is most important, especially when something that seems urgent outweighs what is truly important to you.

To make this year more productive—and more successful—make these 7 affirmations every day in this Monday Morning Mojo.

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1. “No one else is willing to do that, so that’s what I will do.”

Often, the easiest way to be different is to do the things other people are unwilling to do.

So pick one thing other people won’t do. It can be simple. It can be small. Doesn’t matter.

Whatever it is, do it. You’ll instantly be a little different from the rest of the pack.

Then keep going. Every day think of one thing to do that no one else is willing to do.

After a week, you’ll be uncommon. After a month, you’ll be special. After a year, you’ll be incredible, and you definitely won’t be like anyone else. (And, in the process, you will develop remarkable mental toughness.)

 

2. “Hey, that wasn’t so bad after all.”

The most paralyzing fear is fear of the unknown. (At least, it is for me.)

Yet nothing ever turns out to be as hard or as scary as we think. Plus, it’s incredibly exciting to overcome a fear. You get that “I can’t believe I just did that!” rush, a thrill you may not have experienced for a long time.

Every day, do something a little scary, whether physically or emotionally. (If you need a quick boost of confidence to get you going, here are some really simple tricks to use.)

Then, trust that you will figure out how to overcome any problems that arise.

Because you will.

 

3. “I can’t do everything today, but I will take one small step.”

You have plans. You have goals. You have ideas.

Who cares? You have nothing until you actually do something.

Every day, we let hesitation and uncertainty stop us from acting on our ideas. Pick one plan, one goal, or one idea. And get started. Just take one small step.

The first step is by far the hardest. Every successive step will be a lot easier.

 

4. “I won’t care what other people may think.”

Most of the time, we should worry about what other people think—but not if it stands in the way of living the lives we really want to live.

If you really want to start a business—which you can do in just a few hours, mind you—but you’re worried that people might say you’re crazy, do it anyway. Pick one thing you haven’t tried because you’re concerned about what other people think or say, and just go do it.

It’s your life. Live it your way.

 

5. “I’ll show you.”

I’m ashamed to admit it, but one of the best ways to motivate me is to insult me—or for me to manufacture a way to feel insulted, regardless of whether I’m actually justified in feeling that way or not.

“Justified” is not the point. Fueling my motivation to do whatever it takes to prove that person wrong, and, more important, to achieve what I want to achieve, is all that matters.

Call it artificial competition or manufactured anger; call it immature; call it creating perceived insults—whatever you call it, it works for me. (Hey, it was good enough for Michael Jordan.)

And it can work for you.

 

6. “It’s not perfect, and I’m fine with that.”

Yes, you get only one chance to make a first impression. Yes, perfection is the only acceptable outcome.

Unfortunately, no product or service is ever perfect, and no project or initiative is perfectly planned. Work hard, do great work, and let it go. Your customers and colleagues will tell you what needs to be improved, and that means you’ll get to make improvements that actually matter to people.

You can’t accomplish anything until you let go. Do your best, let go, and then trust that you’ll work hard to overcome any shortcomings.

 

7. “I could have done better.”

We’ve all screwed up. We all have things we could have done better. Words. Actions. Omissions. Failing to step up, step in, or be supportive.

Successful people don’t expect to be perfect, but they do think they can always be better.

So think back on your day. Think about what went well. Then think about what didn’t go as well as it could have and take ownership. Take responsibility.

And promise yourself that tomorrow you will do a lot better.

 

8. “I can always do more.”

Like Jimmy Spithill, skipper of America’s Cup-winning team Oracle USA, says, “Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy.”

You may not be as experienced, as well funded, as well connected, or as talented, but you can always outthink, outhustle, and outwork everyone else. (Or, as I like to say, the extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.)

Even when everything else seems stacked against you, effort and persistence can still be your competitive advantages—and they may be the only advantages you truly need.

Happy President’s Day

Happy President’s Day

Happy President’s Day Today!  I hope you have a chance at some point to celebrate in Washington DC, visiting our suggestions from last Monday.

How about some Presidential facts you didn’t know for today’s Monday Morning Mojo.

 

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  1. George Washington

Washington was an ultra-successful liquor distributor in the new country. He made rye whiskey, apple brandy and peach brandy in his Mount Vernon distillery.

  1. John Adams

Adams and Thomas Jefferson were close friends and correspondents — but they also had a bit of a rivalry. Adams’ dying words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” unaware that he had died hours earlier. In another shocker, both died on July 4, 1826.

  1. Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson and John Adams paid a visit to William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1786. There, they chipped off a piece from Shakespeare’s chair as a souvenir.

  1. James Madison

James Madison was Princeton University’s first graduate student.

  1. James Monroe

Monrovia, the capital of the Liberia, is named after James Monroe. He supported the American Colonization Society in its work to create a home for freed slaves in Liberia.

  1. John Quincy Adams

During his presidency, John Quincy Adams enjoyed skinny-dipping in the Potomac River in the early mornings.

  1. Andrew Jackson

Jackson was involved in as many as 100 duels, most of which were fought to defend the honor of his wife, Rachel. He was shot in the chest in a duel in 1806 and took a bullet in the arm in a bar fight with Missouri Sen. Thomas Hart Benton in 1813.

  1. Martin Van Buren

Van Buren’s nickname was “Old Kinderhook” because he was raised in Kinderhook, N.Y. A popular theory states that the term “O.K.” is derived from the O.K. clubs that sprung up to support his campaign.

  1. William Henry Harrison

Democrats ran a smear campaign during Harrison’s campaign that tried to cast him as an out-of-touch old fogey who would rather “sit in his log cabin, drinking hard cider” than run the country. Harrison one-upped the haters by adopting the log cabin and hard cider as campaign symbols. He even commissioned bottles of hard cider shaped like log cabins.

  1. John Tyler

John Tyler had 15 children, more than any other president. Two of his grandsons are still alive today. One of Tyler’s children, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, born in 1853, fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. in 1924 and Harrison Ruffin Tyler in 1928.

  1. James K. Polk

Here’s one for the underdogs. James Polk, nicknamed “Young Hickory,” was America’s first dark horse presidential candidate. He was considered a Plan B after the more likely choice, Martin Van Buren, failed to secure the party’s nomination.

  1. Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor was a tough guy — a major general in the U.S. Army and hero of the Mexican-American War. But oddly enough, what brought him down in the end was a glass of milk and some cherries that he enjoyed on July 4, 1850. The cherries were likely contaminated with bacteria that caused his death by cholera five days later.

  1. Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore lived the dream of many a teenage schoolboy. Fillmore’s first wife, Abigail Powers, was his teacher while he was a 19-year-old student at the New Hope Academy in New York.

  1. Franklin Pierce

Pierce had a tough time guiding the nation and perhaps an even tougher time guiding his horse. During his presidency, Pierce was arrested for running over a woman with his horse. Charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence.

  1. James Buchanan

James Buchanan regularly bought slaves in Washington, D.C. and quietly freed them in Pennsylvania.

  1. Abraham Lincoln

Get ready to rumble: Abraham Lincoln could throw down in the wrestling ring. As a young man, he was only defeated once out of approximately 300 matches. He made it to the Wrestling Hall of Fame with the honor of “Outstanding American.”

  1. Andrew Johnson

In his youth, Johnson apprenticed as a tailor. Even as president, he never stopped making his own suits.

  1. Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant smoked a ton of cigars — at least 20 a day. After a great military victory at the Battle of Shiloh, citizens sent him more than 10,000 boxes of cigars as gratitude. He died of throat cancer in 1885.

  1. Rutherford B. Hayes

Hayes was the only president to be wounded in the Civil War — not once, but four times. Four horses were shot down from beneath him (ouch).

  1. James A. Garfield

Not only was Garfield ambidextrous — he could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other at the same time.

  1. Chester A. Arthur

Chester A. Arthur was known for his impeccable attire, earning him the nickname “Elegant Arthur.” On his last day in office, four women offered him their hands in marriage. Also, he owned 80 pairs of pants.

  1. Grover Cleveland

While serving as sheriff of Erie County, N.Y., Grover Cleveland had to spring the trap at a hanging on two occasions. This earned him the unflattering nickname “Buffalo Hangman.”

  1. Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison was the first president to have electricity in the White House. However, he was so scared of getting electrocuted that he would never touch the light switches himself.

  1. Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland’s epithelium, a small tumor that was removed from the roof of his mouth, resides at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

  1. William McKinley

William McKinley almost always wore a red carnation on his lapel as a good luck charm. While greeting a line of people in 1901, he gave the flower to a little girl. Seconds later, he was shot by an assassin, and died eight days later.

  1. Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt was shot in an assassination attempt while delivering a speech in Milwaukee. “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot,” he told the stunned audience. “I give you my word, I do not care a rap about being shot; not a rap.” He completed the 90-minute speech with the bullet still lodged in his chest.

  1. William Taft

William Taft— also known as “Big Bill” — was the largest president in American history. He once got himself wedged into the White House bathtub and had to call his advisers for help getting out.

  1. Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson’s face is on the $100,000 bill, which very few have ever laid hands on. The bills were mainly designed for trade between Federal Reserve banks, but fell out of use with the invention of the wire transfer. They still work as legal tender, but good luck finding someone who can break the change for you.

  1. Warren G. Harding

At 25, Warren married a divorcée, Florence “Flossie” Mabel Kling DeWolf. She was five years older with a 10-year-old son from a former marriage. Flossie’s father once threatened to kill Harding if he married his daughter, but she pursued him relentlessly until he gave in. Girl power!

  1. Calvin Coolidge

If you thought you had a tough boss, think again. Calvin Coolidge would occasionally press all the buttons in the Oval Office, sending bells ringing throughout the White House — and then hide to watch his staff run in. He just wanted to see who was working.

  1. Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover’s son had two pet alligators, which were occasionally permitted to run loose throughout the White House.

  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, was actually his fifth cousin. She was also the niece of Theodore Roosevelt, FDR’s idol and U.S. president No. 26. They married on March 17, 1905.

  1. Harry S. Truman

The “S” in Truman’s full name doesn’t stand for anything. His parents couldn’t decide on a middle name for over a month, so they settled on the letter “S” in honor of his maternal grandfather, Solomon Young, and his paternal grandfather, Anderson Shipp Truman.

  1. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Eisenhower played a big role in popularizing golf. He installed a putting green at the White House and played more than 800 rounds while in office — exceeding the record of any other president. He holds a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement Category.

  1. John F. Kennedy

JFK was a huge James Bond fan. He first met the author of the series, Ian Fleming, at a dinner party in 1960. They allegedly bounced around ideas about how to get rid of Fidel Castro.

  1. Lyndon B. Johnson

LBJ wasn’t scared to show off his, err, Johnson — he nicknamed his penis “Jumbo.” According to biographer Robert Dallek, Johnson met with a reporter who asked him multiple times why American troops were in Vietnam. In response, Johnson unzipped his pants, pulled out “Jumbo,” and yelled, “This is why!”

  1. Richard M. Nixon

In China, the most well-known Western names are Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon.

  1. Gerald R. Ford

Gerald Ford worked as a fashion model during college, appearing on the cover of Cosmopolitan.

  1. Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter filed a report for a UFO sighting in 1973. He called it “the darndest thing I’ve ever seen.”

  1. Ronald Reagan

In 1940, the University of California bestowed Reagan with the Most Nearly Perfect Male Figure Award. The prize was the opportunity to pose nearly nude for an art class learning to sculpt the human body.

  1. George H.W. Bush

On Sept. 2, 1944, Bush was flying over Japan when his aircraft was shot down in the Pacific. Bush and another crewman were able to bail out, but the other man’s parachute malfunctioned, and he went down with the plane. Bush was eventually rescued by a submarine off the coast of Chichi-jima.

  1. Bill Clinton

It wasn’t just Clinton’s southern charm that did it for the ladies. His face is so symmetrical — an important component of human attractiveness — that he ranked in facial symmetry alongside male models.

  1. George W. Bush

“Dubya” garnered the media attention with his frat boy past, but he also has a more wholesome side (aside from painting, that is). During his senior year of high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., Bush was captain of the cheerleading team.

  1. Barrack Obama

Obama’s high school nickname on the basketball team was “Barry O’Bomber,” which he earned due to his awesome jump shot.

  1. Donald Trump

The Donald has never smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol or done drugs. His older brother, Fred, was an alcoholic for many years and warned Trump to avoid drinking. Fred ultimately died from his addiction.

President’s Day Prep

President’s Day Prep

Presidents’ Day weekend (Next weekend) is a great time to visit Washington, DC and pay tribute to America’s most famous leaders. The national holiday, Presidents’ Day, was originally a commemoration of George Washington’s birthday. America’s first president was born on February 22, 1732. After Washington’s death, our nation began celebrating his birthday as a way to remember his life and how he contributed to establishing America’s independence.

In 1865, the year after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, America began celebrating Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th. Until 1971, both February 12 and February 22 were observed as federal public holidays. In 1971, President Richard Nixon combined the two holidays into one and ever since we have honored all past presidents on the third Monday of February.

Presidents Day 2017 is February 20th. Special festivities are held in the Washington DC area throughout the weekend. See your Monday Morning Mojo to learn about a variety of attractions to visit and unique ways to celebrate Presidents Day in the capital region.

 

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Celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

Visit the Lincoln Memorial and honor President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at a wreath laying ceremony with a dramatic reading of the “Gettysburg Address.” Presidents Day weekend is a popular time to explore one of the nation’s most important memorials. The historic landmark offers panoramic views of the nation’s capital and is one of the top attractions in Washington DC.

Date and Time: February 20, 2017, noon

 

Attend George Washington’s Birthday Parade

The country’s largest Presidents’ Day Parade is held annually in Alexandria, Virginia along the streets where George Washington once walked. Spend the day exploring historic sites in Old Town Alexandria, the historic town that was an important port during the colonial, revolutionary and Civil War periods.

Date and Time: February 20, 2017

 

Visit Mount Vernon and Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday

The 500-acre Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, the home of George Washington, offers three days of special events for Presidents Day weekend including music, demonstrations, wreath-laying ceremonies and storytelling. It is a great time to visit the historic attraction and learn more about the life of the first president of the United States. Admission is free on Presidents Day!

Dates: February 18-20, 2017

 

Visit the National Portrait Gallery

View the “American Presidents” exhibit and see a portrait of every American president including rarely seen works of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. On Presidents Day weekend, the National Portrait Gallery will offer a variety of family fun activities ranging from calligraphy workshops to scavenger hunts, games, music and hands-on activities. Read more about the National Portrait Gallery

Family Day: February 18, 2017, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

 

Attend the Annual Birthnight Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

Each year, the Saturday night before President’s Day, a Birthnight Ball is held at Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia. The ball is complete with toasts, dinner, a historical program and George Washington’s favorite 18th century dances. Gadsby’s Tavern is one of the few 18th century taverns still in use in the United States. George Washington, John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson frequently attended dances, theatrical performances and meetings here.

Reservations are required as this event always sells out!  For tickets, visit www.alexandriava.gov.

Date: February 18, 2017

 

Take a Free Walking With Washington Tour of Alexandria

Take a free tour and walk in George Washington’s footsteps through his hometown, historic Alexandria. View some of the sites connected to the General, like where he filled his prescriptions or slept overnight. Begin your journey at the Ramsay House Visitors Center (221 King Street, Alexandria, VA).

Date and Time: February 19, 2017, 2-3:30 p.m.

Super Bowl Aftermath

Super Bowl Aftermath

So we all survived Super Bowl LI. But did we really?

Do you take it so personally that you let a loss screw with your emotions and rub on all those around you? You aren’t alone, I promise.

In spite of the feelings of anger and depression and even the increased chance of heart attack if your team loses the Super Bowl, the general consensus from the available research is that the more that a person identifies with a sports team, the more likely they are to also be psychologically healthy.

Having a sports team improves one’s sense of belonging, shared goodwill, being a part of a community, and feeling a sense of connection with others…all things that actually help to prevent depression.

No matter where you go, wearing your team’s jersey identifies you as part of a family where you will be welcome. It improves your chances of being able to be social, especially during the winter months that are toughest for those who suffer from depression. The fact that there is always another season, another chance to win, is tangible hope and something to look forward to…also good for preventing depression.1

It’ll be ok, eventually. If your team won… CONGRATS! Here are a few fun facts around the Super Bowl.

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The Super Bowl is one of the biggest junk food fests of the year for many Americans. So how much food is consumed?

Though figures tend to be exaggerated, Pizzerias estimate a staggering 60% increase in take-out orders, while other traditional Super Bowl foods such as guacamole see over 278 million avocados being purchased, 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, and 1.3 billion chicken wings – that’s enough to feed every American citizen 4 wings each!

Are you one of the 43.3 million Americans planning to throw a Super Bowl party? If not, you will likely be one of the 70 million attending one (estimates are based on the NRF’s Super Bowl Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics). Nearly 8.7 million new TVs will be bought leading up to the game.

All told: Super Bowl spending will top $15.5 billion, according to the NRF. Viewers will spend an average of $82.19 on food, decor and team apparel, up from $77.88 last year. The Super Bowl is more than entertainment – it’s an economic stimulus!

The Super Bowl is akin to Thanksgiving – diets are put on pause, calories are forgotten (or ignored) and few individuals will be keeping track of how many potato chips and chicken wings they’re popping into their mouths. Bonding over food is quite common and the diversity and display of snacks are always a good topic to discuss when your team is losing.

Here are all the food-related stats you ever wanted to know about the Super Bowl (based on 2016 stats):

  • 48 million Americans order takeout or have food delivered to their doorstep. (National Restaurant Association)
  • 12 million Americans watch the game at a bar or restaurant. (National Restaurant Association)
  • Domino’s expects to sell 12 million slices of pizza on Feb. 7 – five times more than a typical Sunday.
  • Wing prices usually increase in the fourth quarter of the year as restaurants and supermarkets increase their supply ahead of the Super Bowl (National Chicken Council).
  • A shocking 325 million gallons of beer will be consumed.

The three most popular snacks (based on sales for the week prior to last year’s Super Bowl) are potato chips ($140.2 million), unflavored nuts ($90.8 million) and crackers ($93 million). Americans spent an additional $5.1 million on vegetable trays, $22,685 on shrimp cocktail, $20.1 million on tortilla chips and $4.9 million on tater tots, according to Nielsen.

It is clearly no surprise that antacid Sales go up 20% the day immediately after Super Bowl and 16.5 million adults are missing work today!

Hopefully, you all are using today to reflect on the game, relax and drink a lot of water!

 

Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer JohnsonIt’s the last quarter of 2016.  Every new year invokes the thoughts of change, growth, motivation and drive.  Don’t wait until January to plan for next year.  Let’s start NOW!

I recently read a short story that reminded me of how easy it is to lose focus and why you should stay motivated, even during the most trying times.  Great things are coming, if you don’t believe it, this Monday morning mojo is for you.

MOJO

There is a little story, you have probably read it or at least heard of it.  It’s about cheese.

What in the world does cheese have to do with motivation and drive in my business?  Cheese is a metaphor for the things we want in life.  It may be a nice house, money, the perfect family or a profitable business for you.  To each his own.

What happens when that cheese is gone one day?  Have you experienced great loss?  How do you handle a huge shift in your life?

Some might crumble and wallow in their paralyzing despair and blame others.  Some might immediately accept it and just keep swimming! as Dory would say in Finding Nemo.  This little story helps you to understand how much better we are to accept change and downturns and just keep moving.  You might find there is more value in the journey than the success in the end.  Your joy returns even if the cheese does not.

This is the space you grow the most as you learn from mistakes and roll with the punches.

Why do so many choose not to grow and make changes?  They find themselves feeling entitled to a certain life and blame others when that disappears.  Would it surprise you, fear is the answer?  Fear has a way of making you feel trapped and hopeless.  It’s the number one reason that people don’t take risks that pay off exponentially.

Decisions are risky.  However, when you lose your fear, you realize how truly silly it is to wallow in fear, because it just leaves you wallowing in fear!  Make a decision and drive forward.  Evaluate and reevaluate as you journey.  Maybe you can help someone along the way to find their way out of the fear paralysis.

Who Moved My Cheese is a valuable book you need to read and share.  Keep it handy and remind yourself what your goals are and should be.  Once you decide what reality you choose and what future you will write, it becomes real!

Who Moved my Cheese? http://jef.mentalis.org/hersenspinsels/downloads/WhoMovedMyCheese_DrSpencerJohnson.pdf

Put your plan of action into play now!

Put your plan of action into play now!

Selling your home as the end of the year approaches is actually a good idea, but you need to have the right strategy in place.

The holidays will be here before you know it and it’s vital that you put your plan of action into play now, to ensure that you get the best results for yourself 60 and 90 days into the future as you work through the process of your move.

This week’s Mojo is a helpful article that gives you the ins and outs on what to do, what not to do, what to expect and what not to expect as you contemplate selling (and maybe even sell) your home over the last 100-plus days of the year.

As always, there’s no brain surgery involved…but there are solid ideas, processes and strategies you need to follow if you want the best results for you and your family.

Here’s your Monday Morning Mojo.

Mojo

The fourth quarter of the year can cause some sellers to worry if their home hasn’t sold yet. But according to Trulia.com, there is still time to sell.

Typically, many buyers want to move and get situated before the actual end of the year and holidays are here, but that shouldn’t give you pause. Yes, the spring is considered a prime time to sell; however, there is still time to sell your home whether you live in a cold or warm climate.

Overall, there are some important factors that may help you get your home sold: 1) remember that the number of buyers may be reduced as we head closer to the holidays; 2) there are always serious buyers looking during the holiday season, especially if they’re out looking at homes in dreary weather or nearing the holidays.

Knowing this, be sure to make the most of every showing; don’t get lazy with the upkeep of your home despite the fact that you are juggling selling a home, working, or taking care of the kids. Getting your home sold in the fourth quarter must be a priority (with the goal being to sell sooner, rather than later, in the quarter).

Next, look at the rates of sales activity in your market to determine how long to keep your home listed through the holidays. Some areas may not be hot, but that doesn’t mean there’s little chance of selling. Some people may even have to purchase before the end of the year to meet their tax guidelines.

Also, staging your home well is also vital. The fourth-quarter sale requires a good strategy like using an expert stager where you can decorate for the holidays, but don’t overdo it so as to turn prospective buyers off when they see your home. With a reduced number of buyers seeing your home, make the most of each showing by having a well-staged and clutter-free house to show off. In any market, proper staging strategies provide a competitive advantage.

Lastly, the fourth quarter can see more buyers because interest rates remain historically low. The impending threat of a rise in mortgage rates could have more buyers willing to lock into an exceptional rate, despite that it means making a move during the holidays.

A more serious pool of buyers coupled with stronger interest rates and less competition makes the end of the year a great time to sell. Please contact us if you have any questions about your specific situation.

The end of the year is on its way!

The end of the year is on its way!

We are almost to the 4th quarter of the year. For some of us, the end of the year can’t come quickly enough.

2016 was a tough year for lots of people who faced the adversity of unemployment, low income, poor health coverage, untimely deaths in their families and much, much more.

The good news is that with the year coming to a close, we have an opportunity to put a great plan together to finish this year strong and make 2017 the best year ever. If you’re currently unmotivated and feeling that the life has been “squeezed” out of your by your current situation, I’ve included some motivational secrets of successful people for you to help you light your fire again.

These secrets are in no way earth shattering, but they can be life changing…if you let them.

Don’t let your current situation dictate your future results. Get motivated, take action now and make 2017 the greatest year of your life (no matter what this year looks like).

Here’s your Monday Morning Mojo.

5 Motivational Secrets of Successful People

Some make success look easy but the truth is that when a person who has reached the brass ring is noticed it’s only after the most difficult steps have been traversed, and not when they are struggling, which all people who have worked hard have done.

Luckily for those who want to follow in their footsteps, the secrets to success are not secrets at all. In fact, there are five things that all successful people do in order to achieve their dreams.

  1. Successful people take responsibility for their actions and inaction

Have you ever wished for success but never put forth the hard work? If you can admit it, then you are on your way to becoming successful, because a person looking to become something bigger than he or she is will be honest enough to say ‘I made a mistake,’ or even ‘I was not totally committed to my dream.’

Most people would rather lie to themselves. They’ll buy new gadgets while on the brink of bankruptcy, eat out when they should be on an at-home budget, and sit around playing video games and eating snack foods while they tell themselves that they are going to be in a bodybuilding contest.

  1. Successful people are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve their dreams

Sacrifice is a must for success. Sometimes it is spelled out like the amount of time it takes to finish college. Other times it’s not, like the amount of rejections one must go through in order to publish a book.

The length of time that it may take is of little consequence when you want something badly enough.

  1. Focus and Determination

When one is chasing a dream the pursuit must be a single-minded focus at times, which requires immense determination.

Aspiring pro athletes will be in the gym when they are not in class, and some will let their grades slide in order to ensure that their bodies will be able to operate at a higher level. Like these athletes, musicians will spend countless hours perfecting their technique and compositions, and this does not come but with the focus that brings about time allotted for practice.

Abraham Lincoln was noted as having practiced his speeches repeatedly. From this, he was able to overcome being unsure of what to do with his hands and keep his voice from breaking into a high pitch.

  1. Focus leads to field expertise

From this focus people become experts in their fields. A musician knows all of his scales. Business people know all of the proper terminology, such as gross and net income, ROI, ROE, and billable hours.

Without focus, people who want to be successful may find themselves in embarrassing situations.

  1. Successful people have a written plan as well as a personal mission statement

Without a written plan, it is unlikely that success will be achieved because goals are not reached in a day, but daily. Every day must involve something that helps a person achieve their goals.

Over time priorities change and so do people, but a good plan should not. If it is not readily available along with a personal mission statement then it will more likely than not be forgotten like so many other dreams that were really just wishes.