Branding: Go Big or Go Home

Posted By: on May 8, 2014

Branding, or re-branding, is a huge undertaking and poses a big risk for any business. It’s nearly a niche skill in marketing: One wrong move and you could turn off an entire demographic.

But that doesn’t mean you should play it safe if you need to buff up your image. If you’ve done your research and found on a skilled artist to come up with a phenomenal new graphic for your logo, devised exciting taglines, and covered the other marketing issues, be proud of the end result.

If you don’t feel thrilled about the idea of plastering it on the side of the bus, then go back to the drawing board.

In an increasingly digital era, it’s too easy to shift all your focus to online marketing efforts. Of course you have to look there, but don’t forget about branding in the real world.

Those wrapped cars, eye-catching trade show signs, and floor displays also make an impact and may even be a more effective approach for certain industries. Is your marketing on the right track?

The risk of doing things safely

Springing for a mobile marketing campaign or an arresting sign is a little like a marriage proposal on the big screen at a baseball park. When it works, it’s really great, but you’d better be certain about the result in advance.

The wow factor is no substitute for quality and knowing your market. The campaign should be the result of serious analysis, not a wild shot in the dark.

Understanding the demographics of your market and what they want is key to any successful marketing campaign or re-branding. If the majority of your market hangs out on a particular social media site, you’ll want to market accordingly.

If they’ll be at an upcoming convention and you’ve lined up a booth, make every square inch of that booth count. Otherwise, you’re wasting time, money, and energy.

When to use big, real marketing

There are many industries that fit better with “real-life” marketing such as signage and wrapped cars. They might include industries that target commuters in a certain city, bikers, or consumers who attend outdoor events on a regular basis. You should know where your market is and the approaches they prefer.

Once you have a sense that your market is likely to respond to real-life branding or re-branding, don’t do it halfway. There’s a lot of competition out there, and sticking with door hangers because “that’s the way it’s always been done” isn’t likely to cut it.

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Research Indicates Walking Enhances Creativity

Posted By: on May 7, 2014

The notion that physical exercise not only offers benefits for your fitness level but produces mental advantages as well is not a novel one. In fact, engaging in exercise is often framed as an opportunity to blow off steam, take a break from a busy work day, or clear you mind and regain a sense of tranquility. walking

But those aren’t the only ways in which adding some movement to your day can improve your mental state. According to recent research published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, simply taking a walk can help provide a significant boost to your creative faculties.

A small walk for a big brain boost?

Researchers at Stanford University found that even small amounts of walking produced significant enhancements in creativity. Most study participants thought of 60 percent more uses for an object after taking a walk than the amount they dreamed up prior to walking.

This was just one of several tests designed to assess creativity in the study led by Dr. Marily Oppezzo.

Study design

In order to test the effects of walking, study participants were first placed in a room with minimal furnishings and as dull an appearance as possible to rule out creative sparks coming from the participants’ environment. In this room, the participants tackled several tasks designed to test creativity, such as listing all possible uses for an everyday object. The tests lasted for about eight minutes.

After completing those tests, the participants were asked to walk on a treadmill that faced a blank wall in the same room. The study organizers then led the participants through the tests again to assess the effects of this light exercise on creative capacity.

In almost every case, the participants performed better in terms of creativity while on the treadmill as oppose to prior the treadmill activity.

Lasting effects?

Further, Dr. Oppezzo sought to understand whether the boost in creativity might linger after the exercise session ended. A group of participants engaged in a round of pre-walking creativity tests, walked on the treadmill, and then re-took the tests after sitting back in the original location.

Once again, the researchers found that the second round of testing revealed increased levels of creativity, which suggested that it was the exercise that bolstered the thought process, and that the walking strategy offered legitimate practical benefits for those who couldn’t simply stroll for the entire duration of a brainstorming session, but who get time for a brief walk before sitting back down to think.

Does the scenery matter?

The study also indicated that the creative benefits of the walking session are not reserved only for those who have beautiful or inspiring environments in which to walk. The researchers found that there was no significant difference between the degree of creativity increase for those who walked on a treadmill in the uninspiring room compared to those who walked around the scenic Stanford campus.

This finding appeared to emphasize that it was the physical activity, not a change of scenery, that supplied the creative benefits.

A healthy workout routine will be a varied one that can help you not only achieve athletic goals but improve your overall quality of life. The results of this study confirm that point; even light activity can help enhance creativity and possibly workplace performance.

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TopCultured Legends

Punishing Your Child Like A Boss

Posted By: on May 11, 2012

It’s good to see one of thos idiot kids who post pictures of themselves smoking or drinking on Facebook finally get punished. If only this could be done to the duck face, instagram, wannabe photographer, Read On »

John Lennon’s LSD Stash Found

Posted By: on April 19, 2010

40 years after he threw his drugs in the stash box they’ve been uncovered. Fans of the Beatles were searching around the grounds of Lennon’s Surrey, England home when they discovered a few large glass Read On »

Here’s Why IT in Healthcare Is Important

Posted By: on October 30, 2013

Now more than ever before, healthcare requires a robust IT strategy. Strong IT solutions offer the ability to manage vast amounts of healthcare data more easily than in the past, which allows health organizations to Read On »

How To Keep Looking Great, Even While Traveling

Posted By: on May 7, 2014

When it comes to travel, it can be hard to determine which of your favorite outfits you should take with you. If you’re going to be taking photos of yourself while exploring new places, it makes sense that you’d want to look your best. travel

However, if you’re concerned that you won’t have enough room in your luggage to bring back some amazing souvenirs for your family and friends, unless you give up that extra set of shoes to make the space, here are some tips for looking great while traveling.

Arrive in style

If you’ve ever taken a long flight, then you know how frustrating, if not utterly impossible, it can be to have to get dressed up nicely just to sit on a plane for hours. Many people end up wearing sweats or more casual clothing for the flight.

But think about what that means: Once you get to your destination, you’ll have to change out of what you wore on the plane to put on another set of clothing. And if your sweats are baggy, they’ll take up a lot of unnecessary room in your luggage.

To avoid all of this, go ahead and take the trouble to look good while traveling; wear a nice outfit on the plane. You’ll arrive in style and just possibly get through security more quickly, without having to spare much room in your suitcase for an extra set of clothing.

Multifunctional shoes

One of the most difficult aspects of the travel experience may be trying to figure out what shoes you should take. Women may want to take heels, flats, and athletic shoes. Men may decide on business shoes or loafers and a pair of sneakers for the gym.

When you start to add a few different options beyond these, you’ll quickly run out of room in your suitcase. So be sure that you take shoes that are going to be the most accommodating for whatever you plan wear and the activities you expect pursue while on vacation.

If you plan to sightsee and walk around a lot, then you’ll need to have something that’s more comfortable. But if you expect to spend a lot of time in the boardroom and meetings, then a pair of shoes that are more suitable for business will be preferable.

Dress like the locals

One great trick to create room in your suitcase is not to pack one on the way to your destination. It might seem a bit crazy, but you can simply buy local clothing once you get there, instead.

That means you’ll have a few extra souvenirs and plenty of room in your luggage, while also being able to look more like a local at wherever it is that you’re visiting.

No matter where you go, you can look great while traveling. But instead of taking your entire wardrobe with you, consider the foregoing tips to guarantee that you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way, while also remaining stylish.

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How Customer Service Skills Help You Eat Better

Posted By: on May 7, 2014

Think a waiter is the only possible link between customer service and eating? Think again, because the two realms actually have quite a bit more in common. customerservice

Whether you’ve worked in customer service before or have only been the “customer” in the equation, the next time you’re looking at a meal, consider the following tips to enjoy a better experience. You’ll be surprised at the skill sets you already have.

You know that customer support is the foundation of nearly every business that delivers a product or service. But think about how you receive your food, whether at a fine dining establishment, doughnut shop, or food cart, sets you up for your eating experience.

You deserve great service, but if you don’t get it, you have to prepare mentally to let it go. You can allow this to motivate you to frequent places where the service is good and thereby ensure the best possible experience.

Indulging all the senses

The secret to great customer service is actually listening, not talking. Similarly, the secret to a great meal is enjoying it with senses beyond just your taste buds.

Enjoy the aroma, the ritual of breaking fresh bread or cracking into the surface of a crème brulee, and the company around you. There’s a reason many people believe you shouldn’t eat in front of the TV at any time.

Try enjoying a single square of chocolate with no distractions, and focus solely on the sensations (similar to how a great salesperson focuses solely on the customer).

If you want to provide good customer service, you should avoid any multi-tasking, because it makes the customer feel like he or she is not important. It might be convenient to slurp up that breakfast burrito during your morning commute, but how long does it actually take to sit down and truly enjoy it?

Probably about 15 minutes, if done correctly, and you can even count that as your meditation for the day. (Food meditation is a very real activity.)

Closing the circle

Great customer service is a process that improves over time. After each transaction, the conscientious employee will reflect on the transaction, note what was good and what needs work, and strive to do better the next time.

You’re not always going to choose the healthiest menu option or make time for a leisurely meal. But you can use each experience to grow.

Food service and customer service are closely linked, yet people tend to focus more on how they’re treated at boutiques rather than how they engage in their food experience. Food is both a necessity and a joy. So indulge in that joy.

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Foster Parent Appreciation

Posted By: on May 7, 2014

If you think biological and adoptive parents receive too little appreciation from their kids, that can be even more the case for foster parents. It’s human nature for children not to show gratitude (or even understand the notion of it) with regard to their parents.

However, it’s also not that unusual for everyone else to neglect to give it up for parents, as well. Nobody becomes a parent for the glory, of course, but sometimes it’s nice to get a “good job,” a figurative pat on the back, or just recognition that you’ve done a hard job well.

Showing fosters parent a little appreciation can be done any time, but May’s the best time of the year for it, since it’s National Foster Care Month. If you know any foster parents, carve out a little time to let them know you appreciate how much they do.

Something as simple as a kind word, positive Facebook post, or email can seriously brighten someone’s day. Keep in mind how quickly the happiness chain of reaction can spread.

How to show your appreciation

There are many ways to show you appreciate someone, from simply saying so to joining the person for a foster care fundraiser, hobby, or other outing. For some reason, humans are really good at staying mum about things that matter, yet having no difficulty at all with voicing complaints.

It should be the other way around, and why not start it yourself? When’s the last time you let someone know how much you appreciate him or her?

With foster parents, it’s not hard to tick off all the things they do to make the difference in the life of a child. They provide a nurturing environment, share their knowledge and skills, help the child to grow and thrive, and expand a family to make it even better.

That’s an amazing accomplishment, and one that deserves a little recognition. No matter how you happen to know a foster parent, he or she will always remember your kind words and the fact that you took notice.

The power of appreciation

Humans so easily overlook many things they take for granted, from their morning cup of coffee to their foster parent friend whom they could meet for coffee. Look beyond the surface and see what your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are up to on a daily basis. They might just be changing the world, and you hadn’t noticed.

Even better, opening up a dialogue about foster parenting means you’ll probably learn a thing or two (and possibly hear some fascinating stories). It’s much better material for conversation than the latest reality TV recap.


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7 Things Anyone Can Do to Prevent Child Abuse

Posted By: on May 7, 2014


Child abuse is a devastating tragedy that millions of children across the nation are faced with every day. Fortunately, there are several things people can do to help fight this national disgrace. Seven of the best ways to get involved are described below.

1. Learn the warning signs

Perhaps the most important thing people can do to help prevent child abuse is to learn the warning signs of possible abuse. While some of these may not necessarily indicate abuse, it’s always better to get involved if you notice them occurring.


  • Extreme nervousness around adults

  • Aggression toward other children or animals

  • Severe fatigue

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Dramatic changes in behavior and/or activities

  • Low self-esteem and/or poor hygiene

  • Unexplained and/or frequent bruises and/or other injuries

  • Acting out inappropriate sexual behavior

2. Understand who’s at risk

Another thing you can do to help prevent child abuse is learn which children are most at risk of being abused. While child abuse can occur in families of any race or social background, children who possess one or more of the following characteristics are more likely to be abused.

  • Children who are mentally disabled

  • Physically disabled children

  • Premature or unwanted kids

  • Children living in poverty

  • Demanding, stubborn, or inquisitive children

3. Help a parent

Parenting can be an extremely stressful job. Many times, the only thing it takes to prevent child abuse is to offer a little help to parents from time to time.

Even little gestures can mean a great deal to a worn-out mom or dad. A few great ways to help stressed-out parents are:


  • Offer to babysit for a few hours

  • Offer to take the kids to and from school

  • Listen to their concerns

  • Invite them to a movie, dinner, or party

  • Cook a meal or two for them

  • Invite their kids for dinner and/or a sleepover

4. Become a foster parent

Although being a foster parent isn’t the easiest job in the world, the rewards from fostering children are too numerous to list. The best reward people gain from becoming foster parents is simply knowing that they’ve helped prepare vulnerable children for a more stable and secure future.

5. Volunteer your time

You can also help parents in your community by volunteering your time to various causes. For example, you can help out in a play group or maybe even start your own. Other things you may wish to consider include volunteering for after-school activities, mentoring programs, or parental education classes.

6. Report suspected abuse

If you think a child is being abused, it’s vital that you report it to your local child protective services agency. Take note of any evidence of abuse and whether or not the child has displayed any of the previously mentioned warning signs. If things just don’t seem right, go ahead and make that call.

7. Spread the word

Finally, spread the word about child abuse by observing Child Abuse Prevention Month. You can accomplish this in various ways, such as flying a Children’s Memorial Flag, distributing information about child abuse prevention, and sharing child abuse prevention information on social media sites.

By enacting one or more of these activities, you can help to put a dent in the nation’s child abuse statistics. When you spread the word, you can encourage others to get involved as well.

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How to Throw a Great Theme Party

Posted By: on May 6, 2014


Just because you’re no longer five years old or even smugly cruising through your undergraduate years, that doesn’t mean you can’t hold a great theme party. Everyone, regardless of age, likes to dress up, and it provides a better icebreaker than just another dinner or cocktail party.

However, it all starts with the guest list and deciding on the theme. You have different circles of friends, and they’re likely to respond differently to various party themes.

Maybe a mini high-school reunion is on the table, in which case an Arabian Nights theme might hearken back to prom night. For a work colleagues’ get-together, you might want to dress as your favorite literary characters if you work at a bookstore or publishing house.

Tap into what your guests will probably like most, and you’re halfway there.

Themes on a budget

Another approach is to look at what you already have in terms of decorations and design the party around them. If you go too far out on a limb, you might get caught having to reinvent the wheel (or in this case, your decoration stash).

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a potluck or BYOB approach. Guests understand budget restraints. However, this is also a great time to work on your creative chops and start perusing Pinterest or other sites for inspiration.

The right lighting can work wonders, and those extra pillows you have in the closet can make great “seats.” There’s no wrong or right way to host a theme party. Just don’t forget that it’s supposed to be fun.

Rally the troops

Ask your friends to help with set-up and/or any decorations they have that might help. Making it a group effort doesn’t just ease the stress for you; it also helps bring people together outside of the party.

The whole point is to get social, and what better way to do that than with a little pre-party shenanigans?

Absolutely any party can have a theme; all it takes is a look at some of the stellar wedding themes to see the possibilities. You don’t need an excuse for a themed event; all you really need is some inspiration, creativity, and a guest list that brings interesting and exciting people together.

Your theme will provide the excuse people need to get a little kooky and let their inhibitions go out the window. But what really matters (the company, the food, and the effort) is what’s going to ensure this party turns out to be one for the record books.

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Keeping an Open Web

Posted By: on May 6, 2014

There are those who want to change how the internet works. They want to make it less accessible to all. Don’t let that happen. Firefox is leading the charge as the only major browser working to protect user privacy. Join them by expressing what kind of web you want at http://mzl.la/1hHyqBq

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How To Dress Your Best, No Matter the Situation

Posted By: on May 6, 2014

Whether you’re the kind of person who spends the majority of your days in a boardroom, or someone that has all the free time in the world, it’s important to dress for the lifestyle you lead. Everywhere you go, people are going to judge you by the way you dress.

This is certainly going to be true of coworkers and others in your professional life, but just as true of the stranger at the supermarket or gym when you’re on your personal time. If you’re hoping to look your best all the time, below are some tips for dressing to fit your lifestyle.

Sort by importance

When it comes to buying a new wardrobe, this can be quite an investment. However, once you’ve graduated from university sweats and hoodies, it’s necessary for you to be prepared to look great as an adult.

In order to ensure that you spend your clothing investment wisely, you should sort your purchases by importance. For example, if you work in an office and need suits to make you look great, then be sure to put the emphasis for your clothing there.

Once you’ve accomplished that, you can work your way down and select the casual clothes that will make you look good outside of work, and special gym attire for working out. Because if you spend all your money on great-looking clothing that happens to be perfect for places where you won’t need it, you won’t have enough for the situations you will.

Take account of your body type

Part of dressing for your lifestyle also includes dressing for your body type. Your figure can change a lot as you get older and move through the workforce.

It’s entirely possible that the clothes you’ve had for years won’t last you much longer. So be sure that you purchase clothing that looks good on you, and compliment your body type. If you make the mistake of wearing overly baggy outfits or clothes that are too tight, you can bet that people will notice it and judge you for that.

Be ready for anything

Most important, it’s vital that you make yourself ready for any situation that might come up. Whether it’s a business meeting with the CEO of an important firm or a stroll around the lake with someone who could become your significant other, looking great all the time is a desirable goal.

After all, you never know when you’re going to encounter someone who is or could become important to your life. If you aren’t dressed your best, you run the risk that they’ll start having opinions about you that you may not appreciate.

You can look great all of the time. But in order to do so, you may need to ditch that current wardrobe and invest in an array of new outfits. If you do so, you can look great and have clothes that fit you well, no matter where you are.

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How to Find the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Property

Posted By: on May 6, 2014

Digital Image by Sean Locke Digital Planet Design www.digitalplanetdesign.com

Choosing the right real estate agent or broker is critical if you want to sell your property in a reasonable time, at an acceptable price. This person will be responsible for listing the property, marketing it, and negotiating the sales price.

A top-selling agent may specialize in a specific type of home or price range. If your home doesn’t meet specific criteria, the agent may not be qualified, or interested in selling the property. A real estate agent who’s familiar with the neighborhood and the kinds of homes where your property is located will be much better prepared to sell it.

This person will know how to attract buyers for your home.

Where to find a Realtor

Realtors are relatively easy to locate. There are usually numerous real estate agents and brokers working in a given area. They often send out mailers to residents in the neighborhood where they have recently made a sale.

It makes sense to study these resources, because the Realtor has recent knowledge and experience with homes in your area. The agent may also have a list of potential buyers from previous showings.

You can also locate a realtor through one of the sources listed below.

  • Newspapers

  • Mailers

  • Real estate magazines

  • Search Realtor websites on the Internet

  • Recommendations from friends and family

  • Neighborhood realty signs

What to look for in an agent

There are numerous reasons people choose a particular Realtor. Some people decide to work with an agent simply because the person is someone known to a friend or relative.

In other cases, a prospective home seller may choose the Realtor who proposes the highest listing price for the property This may or may not be wise reason to choose a Realtor.

It’s important to consider whether the real estate professional is being realistic, given comparable sales in the area. If your home is priced substantially higher than its market value, that will discourage potential buyers, and your home will remain on the market longer.

It’s essential to take time to interview a Realtor so you can evaluate his or her communication skills. The Realtor you choose should be someone you have a good rapport with, to avoid conflict at a later date.

He or she should also be proactive and genuinely interested in your home. A good Realtor will ask questions about your house to determine if he or she is really suitable to represent you.

Questions to ask a Realtor

Many Realtors have a presentation that should answer many of your questions. However, you will be able to determine if the Realtor is a good match if you are prepared with a list of questions.

The questions below will help you evaluate a prospective agent’s performance and enable you to determine how effectively he or she communicates.

  • What is your fee?

  • Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors?

  • How many sales have you made in the past year?

  • What is the price range of the homes you’ve sold?

  • How many days were those homes on the market?

  • Do you have a specialty?

  • How will you market my home?

  • How often may I expect to hear from you?

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