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Tag Archives: health

How to Fix America’s Broke and Broken Healthcare System (Guest Blog by Kent Anthony)

The following post comes to us from Kent Anthony, president of Anthony Insurance, who writes this article based upon his 40 years of experience in the insurance industry.


broken glassI am a small business owner and employer. My expertise is in the Property/Casualty Insurance field, but, I am also licensed in Life and Health Insurance. Not a week goes by that I don’t get a call from someone that asks for a good Health Insurance plan that is affordable. Sounds simple, right? What if that elusive question has no answer? What do I tell people who trust me and need my help? Who has the answers? Government? Private Industry?

I read a recent Pew Research study that indicated 60% of Americans said that the government has a responsibility to ensure that every resident of the United States has health care. That means to me that the majority of Americans feel it is a “right” to have the coverage. It also means, I think, that they feel that private industry is ripping people off by not giving them what they want – free, unlimited coverage.

Reality check, people: Our founding fathers set up a system of checks and balances that requires compromise in order to get laws passed. What is “broke” is that there seems to be no such thing as any type of compromise today. If it is a Democratic plan, the Republicans hate it and vice versa. To complicate things further, factions within each party make compromise impossible as they all have to have it their own way. Obamacare is a perfect example. Mitt Romney, a republican who ran for President, essentially set up the same program as Governor of the State of Massachusetts. If Mitt had been elected, I am firmly convinced that the Democrats would have been against his health care plan on political “principal” alone. National organizations, such as AARP, the AMA, Drug Companies and all of the affiliated Hospital organizations, unions of all types, you name it… force the political process to grind to a halt when they exercise their influences. They all want it their own way.

Second reality check: This stuff isn’t free. I am amazed by how many people honestly think a magic wand can be waived and that we can just pass the bills off to the “rich people.” Maybe the rich people are tired of the “jam it to the rich,” class warfare or socialistic approach to their wallets. They have tremendous political influence. Are they ready to allow themselves to pay more?

Last reality check: Obamacare was designed to fail. Whether you think it is a good or bad program, there simply isn’t any funding to pay for it. It was designed to get something in place and worry about who and how it would be paid for later. Private industry was promised reimbursement by the federal government for their losses for the first 3 years if they participated, knowing that the worst health risks would be signing up right away. The last statistic I read is that they have only been reimbursed 12.3% of what they are owed! No wonder they are bailing out of the program.

What are “fair” answers?

Compromise has to be obtained for a lasting solution. Everyone has to participate; no opt outs. All Americans have to be enrolled and pay something. Insurance, whether it is car, home, business is about spread of risk. The healthy young, the poor, the rich…everyone has to pitch in to pay. The Heritage Foundation calls it “individual responsibility.” By having people pay something we may be able to end the cycle of entitlement. We can’t have people thinking everything is “free.” It isn’t. Actuarial tables exist that show what people should pay. Subsidize disadvantaged groups if necessary, but make them pay something.

Allow the health system the legal ability to negotiate costs of drugs, hospitalization, etc. We have cost control right now in Pennsylvania for auto, medical billings and workers compensation payments. Prior to those controls, the billings were totally out of control. This has to be in place or any system will spiral out of control. I have read that doing this will lower costs 30-60%. We have to make premiums affordable and save taxpayers on Medicare programs.

Finally, I would love the healthcare industry to be mostly privatized. We have seen how government gets too tied up in politics, crippling the system. I have to point to the inadequacies, bureaucracy and cost overruns of Medicare to make a simple point: Is Government really able to run anything the way the American people need it done? Allow free and open competition, with cost controls, and you will see a system that innovates and provides incentives to be better, rather than bloated bureaucracies that are too subject to politics to provide the services that the American people want and deserve.

What has been your personal experience with health care? Do you have an opinion on how we can improve things? Share your ideas by leaving a comment!

Kent AnthonyAbout the Author: Kent Anthony is president of Anthony Insurance, an independent insurance agency headquartered in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. Kent has more than 40 years of experience working in the insurance industry, specializing in both personal and business insurance. Learn more about Anthony Insurance by visiting them at www.anthonyinsuranceinc.com.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Guest Blogger, Life

 

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9 Quick and Effective Ways to Relieve Stress During the Workday

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


9 Quick and Effective Ways to Relieve Stress During the WorkdayOne area of my life which is a constant work in progress is managing stress. As an entrepreneur, wife and mother, you simply cannot avoid all the triggers that can cause you to worry or feel anxious. I will also admit that my desire to have things fit into pretty little boxes in life doesn’t help in this effort one bit.

Throughout my workday, I can feel subtle signs of stress creeping in. My shoulders get tense, I hold my breath and I get easily distracted. This is something I can’t – and shouldn’t – push through. I need to address the root of the problem and take action to relieve my stress. It’s the only way I can change this mindset and get back to working effectively.

Can you relate? If you have ever experienced stress at work (or even at home), here are nine techniques you can put into action quickly and discreetly to let go of this tension and get on with your day.

Take one minute to simply breathe

When tension sets in, one of the most common reactions is to hold our breath. Do you remember the last time you took a deep, conscious breath? Try it right now. Breathe in and out slowly three times. Not only will this drive oxygen to your brain, it will also give you a brief moment to collect your thoughts and reflect on what’s really weighing on you. I personally tend to carry stress long after that stressful moment has ended, leaving me feeling anxious and “off” for the rest of the day. A few deep breaths can do wonders for restoring a peaceful mindset.

Do a quick stretch

Even at your desk, you can get in a discrete but effective stretch that won’t draw too much attention to you (and make your co-workers wonder why you’re in a full on yoga pose in your cubicle). Lift your arms over your head, look side to side and pull your arms forward while looking down. Focus on whatever seems tight and tense. Stretching, combined with breathing, will get your blood moving and help you to feel more alert. It will also relieve stress.

Get outside

If you work in an office space that lacks windows or natural light, make getting outside for a few minutes throughout the day a priority! Sunlight, fresh air and new scenery are all great stress relievers. This will also boost your mood. If you are feeling particular stressed or tired, get outside and take a few minutes to reflect on how you can improve what’s getting you down.

Mentally list a few things for which you are grateful today

When we’re stressed, we tend to only focus on the problems of our day, but forget about everything that’s actually going right. Make a mental list of all of the positive things you’re taking for granted and appreciate the little blessings of the day. Most of what we’re stressed about are first-world problems anyways.

Browse a collection of inspirational quotes

Over the years, I have compiled a folder on my computer that consists on inspirational quotes. These cover all topics imaginable and are from authors old, new, famous and unknown. Whenever I’m feeling stressed or uninspired, I turn to these quotes. In just a few minutes, my mind is no longer on whatever was bothering me and I have a renewed positive outlook. I highly recommend trying this!

Make positive small talk with a co-worker

As an introvert, I have never been fond of small talk, but I promise it can do wonders for relieving stress. Talk to a co-worker, friend or complete stranger and keep the conversation light. Talk about the weather, plans for the weekend or a funny show you recently watched. When I’m stressed, I love talking to someone who knows nothing about my problem and is simply happy to see me. Realizing there are other, wonderful things in life aside from we are I’m worrying about is a refreshing reminder to not overlook the good all around us.

Look at photos of happy memories

Similar to keeping a folder of inspirational quotes on your computer, keep a folder of some of the best memories – family vacations, weddings, holidays and birthdays. When you are feeling stressed during the workday, take your mind to a positive place and reflect upon happy memories. This will give you a brief distraction while reminding you that the big things in life are really the small things. Tip: Limit each folder to no more than 20 or so photos so that you don’t risk browsing photos for hours as a means of procrastination.

Enjoy a healthy treat

People respond to stress differently when it comes to appetite. Some have no desire to eat at all, which can leave you tired and weak. Others crave junk foods as a coping mechanism, which is equally as detrimental. No matter what camp you’re in, you could benefit from eating a healthy snack when you need a stress relief. Why? These nutrients will provide your body with fuel to combat stress, grant you a break from whatever task you’re working on and give you the peace of mind that you did something good for yourself.

Get off social media

Finally, resist the temptation to turn to social media for distraction. Social media is a great platform for personally connecting with people, but it can also be a stress and anxiety inducer. Have you ever been casually browsing social media and feel your mood worsen? You are not alone. Many people experience this effect as they see the “highlight reel” of everyone else’s life and compare it to their own. Combine this with already being stressed out about other things going on in your life and you have a recipe for disaster.

Stay away from social media and anything that might tempt you to compare yourself to someone else. Everyone’s journey is unique. Instead, relieve your stress by practicing any of the techniques mentioned about (or combine two or three for added effect)!

How do you relieve stress during the workday? Share your tips and tricks by commenting below!

 
 

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How Fasting Affected My Work Flow

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A little more than a month ago, I felt like I needed a “reset” on my health. I’m someone who enjoys staying active and fueling my body with (mostly) healthy options. However, Pennsylvania’s winter weather, the stress of work, and keeping up with the demands of caring for a family and running a household was taking a toll on me, I could tell. I felt under the weather and drained far more than I have in the past. It was time to do something different.

I’ve heard about the juicing fad, and the benefits it boasts. Thanks to a generous neighbor, I even got to preview a few of these “green juices.” I liked them, but I also knew they came with a pretty hefty price tag at about $5 to $8 per juice, and that’s if you bought them in bulk. After a particularly bad 24 hour flu bug, I had enough. I was sick of feeling sick and decided to look into a short-term juice cleanse to see if fueling my body with only raw fruits and vegetables for a few days would do anything to jumpstart my immune system.

There are plenty of raw, cold-pressed juice companies out there. I started with a google search and a quick browse of Groupon. I found one that featured a 3-day juice cleanse that seemed really reasonable. I could commit to three days, anything longer made me anxious about how it would impact my lifestyle – I mean you can only watch your kids suck down chicken nuggets for dinner while you sip on blended spinach for so long.

The juices arrived frozen with very strict instructions for keeping them frozen until you were ready to consume them in the next 24 hours. For three days, I had 18 bottles of various juice blends to fuel me. I could drink as many as I felt like I needed in a day and I could mix in other raw fruits and vegetables as well, if the juice wasn’t enough. Tea and black coffee were okay too, as well as lots and lots of water.

So for three days, I cleared any social commitments that might involve food – why torture myself? Here are the highlights from my first experience with juicing and how it impacted my work flow.

Without food structuring my day, my schedule and my mental capacity seemed to open up

For three days, eating wasn’t a pleasure or pastime, it was a means to fuel my body. I didn’t have to think about what I wanted to eat for my next meal, because it was pretty straightforward and only took a minute or two to consume. I didn’t snack because I was bored, mostly because I wasn’t all that interested in snacking on raw vegetables. I opted for a lot of tea and water to sip on while I was working. This showed me how I was misdiagnosing boredom for hunger, and how much I was really consuming over the course of a day. Without mealtimes (and those routine snack times) structuring my day, I felt like I had so much more interrupted time to get things done.

The change to my health was gentle, yet noticeable

Unlike those crazy fad cleanses that I have heard leave some people running to the bathroom all day, drinking raw, cold-pressed juices was about as gentle as it comes. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience, I felt less bloated and like I was functioning so much better after just one day. I felt mentally alert and, for the most part, in a really good mood. Even if this is a placebo effect to knowing you’re doing something good for your body, I’ll take it!

I did not have to give up my routine schedule or activities

I often think people worry that a cleanse means you have to take it super slow, giving up exercise and sleeping all day. That was not my experience. I completed a normal workout my first day and lighter workouts the next two days (solely because of my schedule). I still put in normal work days, took on client meetings and events and kept up with the kids. I made sure to give myself the opportunity for a good night’s sleep, but that’s a smart habit to practice – cleanse or no cleanse!

Instead of focusing on food, I focused on other ways to fuel my body

Over the course of those three days, I stopped looking to food for comfort and pleasure. Instead, I found other ways to get a similar mood boost. I would go for a walk, take a long bath, catch up on a favorite TV show or paint my nails. These activities were so good for my soul, not only my body. I felt like I was finally taking care of myself.

I felt empowered

At times, I definitely felt hungry, agitated and craving my normal foods (even a bowl of oatmeal seemed like a treat by day three!). But those moments were short lived. Knowing it was just three days made it a really reasonable commitment. How many days do I not eat healthy? My body deserved this three day break. I was determined to do this and do it right. At the end of each day, I felt empowered by my discipline and will power to stick with this. The experience caused me to get a little uncomfortable and dig a little deeper. This newly ignited “fire” is still burning and continues to help my accomplish other undesirable or challenging tasks life requires of me daily.

By the end of three days, I was ready to be back to solids!

The first morning off the cleanse, hell yeah I was excited about a hot breakfast! Normal, healthy foods seemed so indulgent. It was awesome! Fruit tasted like candy and I really had no cravings for sugary or greasy foods. Why undo in one day what took me three days to accomplish? The cleanse really helped me to reset my relationship with food and to see areas where I was getting a little lax. Have I indulged since them? Absolutely! Life is about balance. Since this three day cleanse, I have done a “mini reset” where I juiced for just one day if I felt bogged down by sugar, alcohol and caffeine.

Will I do it again?…Yes!

I will, and look forward to, keeping a juice cleanse part of my journey toward good health. I want to stress that for me, this was not about losing weight. That wasn’t my goal. I wanted to nip some bad eating habits in the bud before they caught up with me. I wanted to boost my immune system and retrain my cravings to be for good, nutrient-dense foods, not junk. I learned a lot about my will power of the course of those three days, as well as my tendencies to misinterpret cravings. I see no reason why, anyone who wanted to, couldn’t do a three-day juice “reset” to better their own health!

Have you ever taken on a cleanse, reset or otherwise “challenge” to better your health? Share your experience by commenting below!

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way, so I did not want to call too much attention to the brand of juice. However, I’m sure you’re curious so I used Raw Generation (www.rawgeneration.com). Be sure to use the 70% off coupon they offer. Shipping is steep, so if you think you want to stock it, it’s better to do it all in one order!

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Business & Success, Life

 

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9 Quick and Effective Ways to Relieve Stress During the Workday

9 Quick and Effective Ways to Relieve Stress During the WorkdayOne area of my life which is a constant work in progress is managing stress. As an entrepreneur, wife and mother, you simply cannot avoid all the triggers that can cause you to worry or feel anxious. I will also admit that my desire to have things fit into pretty little boxes in life doesn’t help in this effort one bit.

Throughout my workday, I can feel subtle signs of stress creeping in. My shoulders get tense, I hold my breath and I get easily distracted. This is something I can’t – and shouldn’t – push through. I need to address the root of the problem and take action to relieve my stress. It’s the only way I can change this mindset and get back to working effectively.

Can you relate? If you have ever experienced stress at work (or even at home), here are nine techniques you can put into action quickly and discreetly to let go of this tension and get on with your day.

Take one minute to simply breathe

When tension sets in, one of the most common reactions is to hold our breath. Do you remember the last time you took a deep, conscious breath? Try it right now. Breathe in and out slowly three times. Not only will this drive oxygen to your brain, it will also give you a brief moment to collect your thoughts and reflect on what’s really weighing on you. I personally tend to carry stress long after that stressful moment has ended, leaving me feeling anxious and “off” for the rest of the day. A few deep breaths can do wonders for restoring a peaceful mindset.

Do a quick stretch

Even at your desk, you can get in a discrete but effective stretch that won’t draw too much attention to you (and make your co-workers wonder why you’re in a full on yoga pose in your cubicle). Lift your arms over your head, look side to side and pull your arms forward while looking down. Focus on whatever seems tight and tense. Stretching, combined with breathing, will get your blood moving and help you to feel more alert. It will also relieve stress.

Get outside

If you work in an office space that lacks windows or natural light, make getting outside for a few minutes throughout the day a priority! Sunlight, fresh air and new scenery are all great stress relievers. This will also boost your mood. If you are feeling particular stressed or tired, get outside and take a few minutes to reflect on how you can improve what’s getting you down.

Mentally list a few things for which you are grateful today

When we’re stressed, we tend to only focus on the problems of our day, but forget about everything that’s actually going right. Make a mental list of all of the positive things you’re taking for granted and appreciate the little blessings of the day. Most of what we’re stressed about are first-world problems anyways.

Browse a collection of inspirational quotes

Over the years, I have compiled a folder on my computer that consists on inspirational quotes. These cover all topics imaginable and are from authors old, new, famous and unknown. Whenever I’m feeling stressed or uninspired, I turn to these quotes. In just a few minutes, my mind is no longer on whatever was bothering me and I have a renewed positive outlook. I highly recommend trying this!

Make positive small talk with a co-worker

As an introvert, I have never been fond of small talk, but I promise it can do wonders for relieving stress. Talk to a co-worker, friend or complete stranger and keep the conversation light. Talk about the weather, plans for the weekend or a funny show you recently watched. When I’m stressed, I love talking to someone who knows nothing about my problem and is simply happy to see me. Realizing there are other, wonderful things in life aside from we are I’m worrying about is a refreshing reminder to not overlook the good all around us.

Look at photos of happy memories

Similar to keeping a folder of inspirational quotes on your computer, keep a folder of some of the best memories – family vacations, weddings, holidays and birthdays. When you are feeling stressed during the workday, take your mind to a positive place and reflect upon happy memories. This will give you a brief distraction while reminding you that the big things in life are really the small things. Tip: Limit each folder to no more than 20 or so photos so that you don’t risk browsing photos for hours as a means of procrastination.

Enjoy a healthy treat

People respond to stress differently when it comes to appetite. Some have no desire to eat at all, which can leave you tired and weak. Others crave junk foods as a coping mechanism, which is equally as detrimental. No matter what camp you’re in, you could benefit from eating a healthy snack when you need a stress relief. Why? These nutrients will provide your body with fuel to combat stress, grant you a break from whatever task you’re working on and give you the peace of mind that you did something good for yourself.

Get off social media

Finally, resist the temptation to turn to social media for distraction. Social media is a great platform for personally connecting with people, but it can also be a stress and anxiety inducer. Have you ever been casually browsing social media and feel your mood worsen? You are not alone. Many people experience this effect as they see the “highlight reel” of everyone else’s life and compare it to their own. Combine this with already being stressed out about other things going on in your life and you have a recipe for disaster.

Stay away from social media and anything that might tempt you to compare yourself to someone else. Everyone’s journey is unique. Instead, relieve your stress by practicing any of the techniques mentioned about (or combine two or three for added effect)!

How do you relieve stress during the workday? Share your tips and tricks by commenting below!

 
17 Comments

Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Business & Success, Life

 

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One Habit of Highly Effective People I Follow (Almost) Everyday

cat nap

As a busy entrepreneur who is also the mother of an even busier toddler, you might imagine my days are scheduled by the minute and packed tight with meetings, conference calls, walks to the park and library classes – and they are. But I want to confess one habit I keep almost daily that will completely contradict your vision of a fast-paced, work-from-home mom.

I nap.

Yes, picture that! I prioritize about one hour of every afternoon during which I close my laptop, turn off my phone and snooze. I’m highly protective of this time and avoid scheduling meetings, calls or work projects if I can help it in any way. What I’ve found is something quite remarkable, that the days I go off the grid to re-energize, I actually accomplish more in less time than the days I forego my midday slumber.

There have been days when my to-do list was just far too long to justify a nap and I found that my creativity, efficiency and passion for my work substantial declined to the point where had I just stopped to rest, I would have accomplished the same amount of work in that time and likely would have done a better job. Now these are simply my own findings, but it got me thinking if this whole “nap habit” was something anyone else had caught on to or if it was my own justification for shutting down as soon as I got the least bit fatigued. I discovered I am in very good company.

According to this article, some pretty incredible people were habitual nappers. I’m talking Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan to name a few. Now, I’m not saying this was the only thing that led to their world-changing successes, but I do find it intriguing that this is one aspect of their lifestyles that they had in common.

The Benefits of Napping

Simply google the phrase “benefits of napping” and you will have more than enough material to convince you thoroughly. I highly suggest trying it out to experience these benefits first-hand. This article does a great job of highlighting some of the best ones. To summarize:

  • Boosts alertness – Even just 20 minutes has been shown to drastically increase alertness once you fully wake up
  • Improves learning and memory – Brain activity remains higher in nappers all day compared to people who don’t take a rest
  • Increases creativity – A nap is like an intensified way of walking away from a problem to find a solution. It’s amazing how you can come back to that issue that had stumped you before and come up with several new ways to solve it in minutes.
  • Boosts productivity – Studies have shown that a nap is more powerful than a cup of coffee to get you going again.
  • Puts you in a good mood – Here’s a simple example, have you ever been around a toddler pre-nap and post-nap? I “rest” my case.
  • Zaps stress – Even if it’s only for a short period (say 10 minutes), the sheer luxury of escaping for a nap can be a great stress-reliever.

How to Prioritize Your Nap

  1. Make it the same time every day

First, pick a time of day that general works best for you. When do you not have any other standing obligations? When do you normally feel most fatigued or distracted? When can you go “off-line” without anyone really missing you? Once you determine your nap time, respect it as part of your schedule just as you would any other commitment.

  1. Shut down all other distractions

Next, make the most of the precious time you carve out for your nap by turning off your phone and removing your computer from eye-sight. Don’t turn on the TV or read a book, rather lay down, close your eyes and let your mind rest.

  1. Set your alarm

To ensure you don’t get carried away with your nap (which can negatively impact the rest of your day by creeping into the time allotted for other tasks or making it hard to fall asleep at night), set your alarm. I have napping down to an art where I am asleep within a minute or two of closing my eyes and as soon as I hear my alarm, I spring back into action. You may need to experiment to find the perfect nap length that rejuvenates you without making you groggy, but once you find this sweet spot it is totally worth it!

  1. Napping is a priority, but also a privilege

Finally, remember that while napping is a healthy habit, you have to earn your nap each and every day by working hard when you are awake and being efficient with your time. For me, I know if I want that afternoon rest, I need to stay focused all other hours of the day, plan ahead and prioritize.

I’ll close with this final thought. Why do we believe that napping is something we must grow out of at a certain age? Just as it’s a healthy and necessary habit for my toddler to take his daily nap, I believe it’s just as healthy and necessary for us adults. Our daily activities may be different than a 1-year-old’s, but they are just as stimulating and demanding in their own way. Many cultures embrace an afternoon nap as a time to reset, allowing you to return to your duties with a fresh mind.

For as long as I continue to benefit from it, I will embrace the lifestyle of a habitual napper. While there are many more ways in which I could urge you to do the same, I’d rather end this article here so I can settle down for my nap.

Do you believe that daily napping could make you more effective at your job? Share why or why not by commenting below!

 
15 Comments

Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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A Low-Information Diet – The Solution for Overwhelm and Overload?

fries wrapped in newspaperWhen I was in college I struggled with the perceived pressure to always be “in the know” with local and national media. As soon as I woke up I would turn my TV to the morning news as I checked emails and got ready for the day. On the way to class I would grab our Daily Collegian and a USA Today and scour the top headlines. During breaks I would sit with my phone and scroll through the feeds from various news apps. For all intents and purposes – I was completely wired. I self-prescribed this high-information diet so that I would never appear oblivious or ignorant to the outside world I was just learning to navigate. I was utterly convinced that absorbing as much media as I could was the only way to ensure I could hold a mature an intelligent conversation in the real world.

The building of this pressure was amplified by my communications professors’ preaching to always stay informed, to subscribe to at least 5 news sources a day and to read, read, read. It made sense. If I was going to excel in the field of communications, I needed to understand how people communicate and join in the conversation! I quickly allotted what little free time and free mental space I had remaining to becoming a media watch dog. Once out of college and in the midst of a hectic political campaign where information overload was the first line of the job description, I still tried to absorb the news from several different sources daily on top of everything else expected of me.  Every day was filled with overwhelm.

Then there came the critical moment in my life, the moment that if mapped out on a timeline would look something like a black hole, that I finally found the volume knob on my information feed and turned it completely off.

As you might imagine this was the time I spent re-evaluating what I really wanted to do with my life, what would make me most happy and what I had to do to get there. This was when I became an entrepreneur. It was during these critical weeks that I simply had no time or concern left for a high-information diet. All I knew was that what I was currently doing was making me miserable and I needed to stop it all in order to pinpoint the cause. So what happened when I stopped checking my phone and email, turned off the TV and closed the newspaper? Absolutely nothing. Nothing blew up, nothing burned down, I wasn’t accused of being ignorant and my career wasn’t the least bit affected. In fact, for the first time in a long time I found myself with some free time and free mental space to dedicate to things I actually cared about. The news feeds in my email no longer existed to serve as another to-do and I wasn’t under the same stress to absorb every piece of information around me and store it for later use.

I didn’t become blissfully ignorant, I became selectively ignorant.

So you might expect that with the start of my own business, I began to work this information back into my daily routine. You might even expect for me to brag about how many news sources I consume in a single day or how my finger is always on the pulse of the universe. This simply isn’t so. I still continue to enjoy a low-information diet to this day and I truly believe the benefits I receive from this are far more important and impactful than what I would receive returning to my old routine. My day begins by immediately getting to client work – not slogging through news headlines that may or may never be of any value. My inbox isn’t overloaded with unimportant emails that are basically self-inflicted spam. Most importantly, my mental focus has drastically improved from where it was years ago. I feel clear, calm and collected. This allows me to complete projects more efficiently which in return gives me even more free time. I turn this time into far more meaningful results than simply absorbing the chaos of the news world. Most enjoyable, I’ve found a fountain of focus to write and really dig deep into my thoughts. It’s this low-information diet that helps fuel the Bennis Inc Blog.

Ultimately, by exposing myself to far less information, I only expose myself to the right information. When I do choose to read or learn something, it is far more likely to be absorbed fully and used immediately. I‘m no longer in the business of seeking and storing information that can’t be of immediate value.  When I need information, I get it on demand. This has proven to be far more effective than reading, storing and trying to recall that same information through years and years of mental clutter. But most noteworthy is how moving away from a high-information diet has completely changed my mood, my sense of overwhelm and my amount of free time. I still fear becoming ignorant or oblivious to the outside world, but I now know this has no correlation to the amount of news I force feed myself in a day. As long as we remain hungry for knowledge and seek it out as we need it, we will stay as informed as we want to be –without the overwhelm or overload.

What type of information diet do you exist on? What do you think would change if you made the switch to a low-information diet? Share your personal experience with information overload or cutting it off completely!

 

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5 Public Relations Tips For A Healthier Business

Often I talk with local business owners, friends and fellow entrepreneurs, who when they find out my line of business, ask for basic Public Relations tips that they can immediately put into action. I never mind offering such advice because they’re usually the starting fixes I would ask any client to make before we dive deeper into an all-encompassing PR strategy. Just like a doctor might first recommend some lifestyle changes before prescribing you medication, I too recommend these 5 Public Relations tips before prescribing we do something more “invasive.”

doctor prescription cartoon1. Update you web site content. Whether you created your web site or you outsourced this to a firm, you should have the working knowledge to make basic changes to your content as needed. This is crucial in ensuring your visitors and potential clients are always given the most up to date information about your business and services. If you want someone to view you as competent, professional and organized, your web site should reflect this same image. My best suggestion is to initially create web site content that is simple, direct and avoids using dates or specifics. This will help to give the content longevity and prevent you from having to update it on a weekly basis. Featuring upcoming events and your most recent blog post on your homepage are great ideas and can usually be automated through Google Calendars or WordPress. If you don’t choose to automate these features, just remember to set a calendar alert to remind you to update it when appropriate. I suggest never letting more than a week go by with obviously outdated content left visible on your web site.

2. Social media profiles – use it or lose it. Rarely would I suggest for a client to not utilize social media; however in most of these instances, I am the person who is managing their social media so I can ensure it is staying updated and on target. When simply offering outside Public Relations advice, I strongly advocate that your social media should be a positive representation of your business. If your Twitter profile is stagnant and your Facebook group has just 7 fans, then is social media really helping your business’s image or has it become a hindrance? If you don’t currently have the time to manage your social media nor do you have the means to outsource this, it is better to close down the account than push your potential customers to a page that negatively represents your organization and consistency. Just as you wouldn’t open a new store front and not put an employee at the front counter, opening a social media account and letting it sit vacant provides the same unprofessional, unwelcoming impression to visitors.

3. Communicate consistently. Similar to what I have talked about in my tips for blogging, consistent communication is paramount. Firing off three emails or three blog posts in one week and then going silent for 4 months is not effective in furthering your business’ message. I highly recommend not missing out on the opportunity to communicate with your publics, but I do suggest you choose a regular schedule for communication and stick with it. There are various low-cost ways in which you can establish regular communication. One would be creating a monthly e-newsletter through MailChimp and for fewer than 2,000 subscribers, this is completely free. I don’t recommend a personal e-blast sent directly from your email, because customers appreciate the opportunity to “opt-out” if they so desire and a professional email template goes a long way in also establishing you as a professional business.

4. Become a resource. All of the Public Relations tips I’ve mentioned also provide the opportunity for you to establish yourself and your business as a resource in your industry. Your web site content, social media updates and monthly e-newsletters or blogs should all work together to achieve this. Looking at Bennis Inc as an example, my web site content uses various locations to communicate that my services are focus on creating customized Public Relations strategies at competitive and flexible rates. My blog, also linked from my homepage slider, provides tips and advice on entrepreneurship, social media, blogging and Public Relations (like today’s). Finally, on my social media profiles like Facebook and Linkedin, I share these same blog posts (to reach my contacts that aren’t yet subscribers) and I often share articles, quotes and web sites that keep the pulse on emerging Public Relations trends. When you make yourself a resource, you build a relationship of trust and confidence with your networks. Regardless of whether they’re a client now, when the time comes when they do need a service your business offers, they will remember the confidence they have in your expertise and come to your first.

5. Evaluate your business’s message regularly. People are constantly growing and changing. And because businesses are run by people, they too are constantly growing and changing. The mission of your business that you started with years ago may no longer reflect what it has since developed into. One of the most basic and most important Public Relations tips I can provide is to regularly evaluate, and as needed update, the message your business communicates with its publics. Think about where your business gains most of its income, where you’ve developed a level of expertise and what sets you apart. All of these should be mentioned in your concise mission statement. If it changes regularly as your business grows, that’s very normal. As you learn more about your business and the direction in which it is headed, you will need to adjust your mission. Be sure to use the four other Public Relations tips I’ve provided as opportunities to weave this message into everything else you do.

I hope this “PR Prescription” has provided you with some healthy tips for your business’s communication strategy. What I enjoy so much about giving this advice is that people can immediately put it into action and see results. Whether you’re a business owner or in a position to suggest these changes to the company for which you work, I look forward to hearing about how you choose to implement them and the results it brings about. Please share!

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Business & Success

 

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