Do you have a work uniform?

Do you have a work uniform?

It’s Monday morning and I’m running late. My “Sunday Night Anxiety” has prevented me from getting enough sleep. So here I am, sleep deprived and staring at my closet for a whole 15 minutes, just deciding on what to wear to work. That is time that I do not have.

My day has just started and I’m already struggling. I have had zero coffee and have equally zero willpower. Why is making a decision on what to wear so hard?

Raise your hand if you’ve had an episode like this before. Is that everyone? Yeah, I thought so.

I know we all want to look like we put some thought and effort into how we look for work. Everyone wants to look professional and “put together” but if we’re spending an hour and fifteen minutes each week just to decide on what to wear, couldn’t we at least take a look at how to make our morning routines more efficient?

In 2015 an article written by Matilda Kahl [1], creative/Art Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York went viral and has been shared over 100,000 times. She writes about how she wore the same outfit to work everyday for three years.

She’s not alone in this. In fact, there is a list of people who ascribe to wearing a work uniform. This list includes very famous people like Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Anna Wintour, and Angelina Jolie. Mark Zuckerberg has a closet full of grey shirts. Barack Obama only wears blue or grey suits with a blue-ish tie. As you know, Steve Jobs is famous for that iconic black turtleneck shirt. Anna Wintour wears Manolo Blahnik mules exclusively. Angelina Jolie’s head-to-toe black outfit has been the uniform of choice of the 90’s generation.

Work uniforms are common in a lot of industries like healthcare, aviation, food service, hospitality, etc. But for other industries where they have more freedom over what to wear to the office, more people are finding that a standard iteration of a work uniform makes their mornings easier.

It has something to do with decision fatigue [2]. Studies show that the more choices we make as the day progresses, the harder it is to make decisions. What does a tired brain do to cope? It makes shortcuts. When you’re making important decisions all day, you can’t afford to make short cuts. In a Vanity Fair article, Barack Obama says “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Sure, we’re not world leaders. But wouldn’t it be nice to save that 15 mins spent on deciding what to wear and actually have a relaxed journey to work instead of rushing. No one’s asking you to make decisions about the nuclear arms code or the state of the nation. However, eliminating one decision making task in the morning can help you streamline your morning routine and help you start your day off like you’ve got it together. Won’t that feel awesome?

Do you have a work uniform? What does that look like? Let us know in the comments! Stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by: Jaie O. – The Help

 

References:

1 http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10441/why-i-wear-the-same-thing-to-work-everday/

2 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html

 

 

Working with Teams

Working with Teams

So you’ve been tasked to work in teams. The boss has assigned you together with some other team members to work on a very important milestone project. Because you show the most promising leadership skills and amiability, the boss assigns you to lead this group.  As fate would have it (fate has a wicked sense of humour), you’re pooled in together with the most difficult person in the office. As if introducing himself/herself, this person proceeds to say “I don’t work well in groups. I find that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth!” You are off to a rocky start indeed. Yikes!

At some point in our careers, we will all find ourselves in this situation. Besides, we don’t have to like each and every one of our co-workers, we just have to have a good working relationship with them in order to accomplish tasks. Looks like you should suck it up and start working with the difficult person. I know this is easier said than done, and people will avoid working with that difficult person if they can – even leaving him/her out if they have to. However, that person is most probably in the company because he or she has a special set of skills that your manager thinks would help you reach your goal.

So what do you do in situations like these?

Keep your cool.

This is the most dispensed advice in any challenging situation. And why not? It reminds you to keep your emotions in check. It forces you to look at things objectively. Showing panic or frustration only makes this “less than ideal” situation worse. So remember to keep your cool.

Keep an open mind.

Practice empathy and compassion. Do you find yourself judging this person based on what you have heard about him/her? Maybe you’ve heard other co-workers say not so good things about him/her. Are these things founded on concrete reasons or are they just hearsay? Because if not, they’re just gossip. Are you fanning the flames by believing them? Give him/her a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Seek it out.

Find the cause of trouble and start troubleshooting from there? What makes this person difficult to work with? Is it attitude? Is it poor work ethics? Do they lack the skills? There are reasons why people are deemed difficult. Most of the time, it’s just differences in perspective and working styles.

Acknowledge.

Do not shy away from responsibility and let the team know that you are working on a solution to make the working environment as conflict free as possible. The difficult person may not even know that other teammates find their behavior unsatisfactory. So, try to get all sides of the story. And if the person acts up, draw attention to the behavior and not the person. You can say “It is a challenge for me when you do the bare minimum on X (task) because I think that you can do better. Can you help me find out what we can do so that you feel more motivated to do X”?
As you can see from the tips above, these are all things that YOU can control. Don’t hand over the reigns to your perception to other people. You can control the narrative. If you can accomplish this, then you’re on your way to having a more manageable team and a smoother work relationship. How do you deal with difficult teammates? Let us know in the comments. As always, remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

The Art of Networking

The Art of Networking

Whether you’re marketing your business, selling products, or promoting your skills and services, networking is one way to get your name known. The key is to build trust and working connections with your contacts. Every social event can be a chance to network if you play your (business) cards right!

Let’s start off with some easy tips:
Have a professional business card
This is not the place to get “gimmicky”. Keep your card face clean and your fonts clear. Stay away from black cards or glossy embossed fonts that wear off over time. Use high-quality stock paper, because your contact might want to write down some details about you on the back of your card. Your business card is part of the first impression you leave. So make sure that your card has all of your important details including:

  • Your company name – as the heading
  • Your name – of course
  • Your title – underneath your name
  • Pertinent Phone numbers – mobile number and direct line (no one wants to call the main office and go through hoops to reach you. So if you have a direct line, put that in the card)
  • Your email address
  • The company’s website

Don’t be a hard seller
The trick is to sell through your contacts, not sell to them. You have to build trust and rapport. Tell them who your are and what you do. Let them understand why you are passionate about your business. Be someone memorable – but for the right reasons. Don’t be someone who comes across as desperate. Remember to keep the conversations light and never go into ‘technicalities”. That is a surefire way to lose your audience.

Have a goal
Have a goal when you go into networking events. Come to events knowing what you want to get out of it. For example:

  1. You want to be known – you want to introduce yourself as a player in the industry or you want to let people know about your product and services.
  2. You want to be informed – you want to learn who the other key players are or what the competition is doing.
  3. You want to be well connected – you want to make contact with the other players in your industry or line of work.

Start close to home
The first “network” you build will always be family and friends. They will always be happy to help spread the word about you and your business. But don’t slack off on professionalism just because these are people you’ve known all your life. Be prepared with your “elevator pitch [1]”. Let them see how your product/business/services can help. They should understand the value of your work and how they are placed to help you in growing your business.

Lastly, remember to be sincere and have fun. Have a strong handshake and don’t forget to make eye contact.

Do you have any networking tips of your own? Let us know in the comments. As always, stay humble and hustle hard!

References:
1 https://www.thebalance.com/writing-effective-elevator-pitch-2951691

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

Going All Google

Going All Google

Are you still using Microsoft Office? Ever dream of breaking away from your reliance on the MS Office Suite? Do you really think you can go “All Google”?

I know, I know…trusty old Microsoft has been our go-to office productivity suite since the beginning of time. Back in the days when the only word processing app was MS Word and we all relied heavily on MS Excel for creating those helpful spreadsheets, there was only one company dominant in this space. I can even remember passing time by playing with MS Paint…yes, Microsoft Paint!

Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft Office is still king. However, times have changed and so have our technical requirements. We have to consider our business needs and how it will scale. The top two priorities when considering tech would be functionality and cost.

One of the biggest challenges that small to medium business owners face is adapting and keeping up with technology. A lot of offices are seriously attached at the hip with Microsoft Office Suite. But when you’re a start-up company or a small business – you can’t always immediately get IT staff on location to install software, fix installation problems, and troubleshoot existing tech. There’s also the problem of hardware – God forbid that your computer breaks down or gets stolen and you have to recover your info, reinstall, and relearn the software that has just been updated for the nth time.

Immediate Access
When you have cloud based productivity tools, you don’t have to worry about the downtime when you’re getting your machine installed or fixed. If or when your computer breaks down – you can immediately start working using another machine without having to wait for the faulty one to get fixed. You simply grab another machine and get back to work, picking up where you left off. You never lose access to your most valuable asset – information – specifically the information stored in your work files. Your documents will not be tied up to a machine, they can be ready in a jiffy from any device, from anywhere.

The pesky cycle of upgrades, patches, and updates.
If you have a different set-up from your co-workers, switching back and forth between different machines could be a huge hassle. If you’re doing this yourself, without the help of an IT professional – it could be a challenge to reinstall software and migrate files. There will be document versions and you have to contend with document incompatibilities. Switching to Google guarantees that you always have the latest version every time you refresh your browser. Plus, you never have to pay for the upgrade.

Still packs a punch.
Sure, Google Apps may not be as robust as the very formidable Microsoft Office Suite – but it’s NO lightweight and Google is still the industry leader in cloud at the moment. If your business isn’t heavy on design, then the basic layout features of Google Docs will do for preparing those reports, creating quotes and proposals, or formatting a price list. If you’re not using any of those advanced features of MS Excel, Google Sheets have a strong set of capabilities to help you with those spreadsheet requirements.

Another strong point and very important feature is collaboration, multiple people can work on the same document at the same time. When you use the desktop version of the MS Office Suite, you have to go back and forth with emails in order to collaborate on one document.

The price difference
Google Apps for Business costs $50 per user – for a whole year. If you want cloud – based convenience from the Microsoft Office Suite, it costs about $198 – that’s the subscription price per month.

This is just one of the options available for small to medium business owners. It’s up to you to decide if going “All Google” is right for your business. As always, stay humble, and hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O. The Help

Keeping the Communication Lines Open

Keeping the Communication Lines Open

In order to keep your team running like a well-oiled machine, it is very important to keep constant communication. Lack of communication in the workplace leads to less than stellar project outcomes and unproductive hours.

Imagine collaborating on a project where the team members are not available to answer questions or monitor task progress. There will be a lot of waiting…waiting for go signals, waiting for answers, waiting for input, and waiting for contributions from team players. That’s a lot of wasted time and resources that could have otherwise been put to good use. It could also mean missed deadlines and lost clients.

Thankfully, instant messaging and collaborative tools have helped make collaboration and communication easier for teams that work remotely or in different locations. It is just as easy to talk to a co-worker on the same floor or work area, as it is to talk to a co-worker in a different time zone (given, that they’re awake and within their working hours).

 

Here are a few of the best instant messaging services for your team:

Google Hangouts:

Google has everything – an outstanding webmail application, a drive for file storage, and a host of other things that make work life easier. Of course, they would have an instant messaging service. They have quite a few of those, actually. They have Google Hangouts (my favorite), Duo, and Allo. Pick one that you can easily integrate into your work team.

Slack:

Now Slack is a different animal altogether. Like most instant messaging tools, Slack is simple and can be easily integrated into your work teams. You can upload files that show up inline, as well as add links that show up inline as well. All conversations are searchable. And as an added bonus to this already awesome tool, you can create Google Hangouts from within a chat room.

Skype:

Skype is one of the first ever instant messaging tools that have robust functionality. It has stayed as one of the major players in this space for a long time because they keep adding useful features and updates like Skype to Skype calls, call outs to mobile or landline phones, group calls, and more. You can share files, images, and links, hold group meetings (of up to 25 people) or even get your own Skype number.

Zoom:

At the enterprise level, Zoom is a super powered communication and collaboration tool rolled into one. It has the web and video conferencing and lets you hold a host of online meetings. You can use it for one on one meetings, group meetings (up to 50 people), town halls, training, webinars, and even events.

GoToMeeting:

GoToMeeting affords you the convenience of scheduling meetings straight from your Outlook or Google calendar. Aside from that nifty feature, GoToMeeting has HD video conferencing, screen sharing, drawing tools (helpful if you’re giving instructions), and the ability to record meetings (for when you missed taking minutes of the meeting).

 

Ever used any of these tools before? What is your favorite? Let us know in the comments. Stay humble, hustle hard!

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help