Category Archives: Lifestyle

Why We Need Halloween

Is Halloween good or evil? On the surface, it seems that Halloween is about scary movies, costumes, parties, candies, and a reason to scare our friends and family. Not much is said about the origin of Halloween or how it came to be a part of North American culture. If you have a look at Halloween from an entrepreneur perspective, however, you can see that it brings out qualities in people that should remain after all the Halloween candy is gone.

Face your fears; leave that zone of comfort

October 31st is about more than horror. It’s about facing our fears: freaky ghosts, bizarre clowns, and creepy crawly spiders. People challenge themselves to brave haunted houses to get a fright from costumed actors jumping out suddenly at them. Some people enter cemeteries at night, or take cameras to supposedly cursed buildings to find proof of an afterlife. It seems we have it in us that night to brave our darkest terrors just for a little fun.

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Jack-o-lanterns were originally made from turnips not pumpkins. (Credit: Irish Central)

As an entrepreneur, I’m always having to push myself and other entrepreneurs out of their comfort zone. When you face your fears, learning happens. For example, you build your confidence. You also start to rewire your brain into focusing on the best thing that could happen, and whether you can survive the experience. Halloween is just another reason to step out of your comfort zone.

When I was a girl, I was afraid of spiders, so I went to the library one day and borrowed ten books on spiders to learn what I could about them and to find out if a fear of them was necessary. When I was an adult, my friends asked me to go to a haunted house. They wanted a chance to scream and be frightened; I challenged myself to stay calm in a tense situation. My friend and I entered a room that was completely pitch black.  At the room entrance, I visualized walking through the dark at a normal pace, before actually walking into the darkness, while focusing on a mental image of me walking calmly from room entrance to exit.

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Walking into a haunted house is one way to face your fears.

Mindset and reward

Halloween is a psychological experience. Not only can you face your fears, but you can also work on self discipline. Candy seems to be everywhere. And if you’re a Halloween enthusiast, the chances to part ways with your money are also plentiful.

Halloween brings much business to retailers. Some recent Halloween spending stats: two-thirds of Americans hand out candy, spending an average of $25 each. Costumes make up a large part of the Halloween expense, with men spending about $96 each, and $77 each for women. The costumes are for men, women, children, and even pets. On average, buyers spend $86 each on Halloween candy, decor, and/or costumes. That works out to 6.9 to 9 billion a year spent on Halloween since 2012.

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People are willing to spend money on costumes and decorations.

At the end of October, candy is promoted in stores, found in bowls on office reception desks, and is abundant at parties. You can also get them on sale post Halloween. As an entrepreneur, I would like to say that I can control myself around sweets, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes I have a cheat day and eat more than a day’s share of leftover Halloween candy. On the flip side, treats can also be used as a reward for going to the gym or climbing sets of stairs. It’s a time to reflect on health and fitness goals. Self discipline is important, so those candies can be used as small rewards for hitting daily or weekly goals. It’s all about mindset.

Halloween is also a time to change identity and blend in with the crowd. For one night, either at a Halloween party or on Halloween night itself, we can be someone else and it’s considered normal.

Empowerment and sense of community

We can dress as superheroes and pretend we have superpowers at Halloween. At a costume party I went to with a superhero theme, people talked about what powers they had. Wonder Woman, Batman, and The Flash wannabes had chosen people with qualities that they admired or wanted for themselves. I wondered if they did have the power of super strength or flight, then would they use these powers after Halloween to help people? That is a scenario I would like to explore.

What I really like about Halloween is the sense of community that it brings. At two events, costumed characters came together to enjoy the occasion. At the Parade of Lost Souls, several people got together at the community centre to follow a parade route. On Halloween night, thick crowds of adults and children walked through the streets of Burkeville to go trick-or-treating at well-decorated houses. It’s the only time of year when it’s not at all creepy to gawk at the unusual collection of scarecrows and gravestones in a front yard, and then walk up to the lighted front door to say hello to a neighbour.

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Children walk up to a house for candy.

Costumes, candy, and haunted houses are only a small part of Halloween. It’s a time to reach out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself, as well as become a part of a community of people who share the same interest. That to me is the heart of what Halloween is: the people who celebrate it.

 

 

 

 

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Why We Should Teach Kids to be Entrepreneurs

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of marrying a wealthy business owner, and when I got older, I dreamed of becoming a successful business owner, but teachers and family had other plans for me. They wanted me to attend university and have a career as a doctor or dentist. Helping people and changing lives appealed to me, but being around sick people or staring at teeth all day did not. When I finally decided to step out of the box and become an entrepreneur, I discovered all my years of schooling weren’t enough to fulfill my dream.

Employee vs entrepreneur

School taught me how to be an excellent employee. I went from obeying the teacher to obeying the boss, from taking six classes a day to working set hours. I performed according to expectations and job requirements, and challenged myself to leave my comfort zone when it meant a pay raise or getting fired. Having a job and a career were great – I really enjoyed my writing career after I graduated from university. However, it didn’t bring me any closer to fulfilling my dream.

Now that I have my own business, I’ve realized that there are entrepreneurship skills that school doesn’t teach you that are relevant no matter what career you choose for yourself. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson and Henry Ford, were not known for having a shining academic performance.

Students who are well behaved, complete their homework, and perform well on tests are praised by their teachers. Students like Branson who struggled with dyslexia, or who found schoolwork boring, or generally didn’t fit the good student stereotype, were given assistance so they could fit closer to this stereotype. A friend who failed in school because it didn’t challenge him now owns two flourishing side businesses. Perhaps, in addition to the current school curriculum, children should be taught entrepreneurship from an early age. Entrepreneur wannabees would benefit from these skills, but students seeking careers would benefit also.

Leadership and communication

Two of the most important entrepreneurship skills are leadership and communication. Children who lead by example and communicate effectively are known for their charisma and optimism. Peers are drawn to their ability to make decisions and have a clear vision of their objectives, such as making teams and establishing rules for a game. They are able to convince others why building a sandcastle would be a fun activity.

These leaders are the type of friend who will listen to your problems and show understanding, or offer advice if needed. I remember a popular girl in my grade three class. Everyone liked her. She was always smiling, and when you spoke to her, it seemed like you were the only person in the world.

I have never heard anyone say that they admire their bossy supervisor. But I’ve heard how much people admire leaders who get their hands dirty and treat their coworkers as part of a team of equals. That’s similar to a child who makes the extra effort to make the new student feel welcome, and encourages classmates to do the same.

An example of how leadership can inspire others is acclaimed speaker and author Adora Svitak. She advocated kids to take action about academic and environmental concerns and has also spoken for causes such as feminism and literacy. Her Ted Talk “What Adults Can Learn From Kids” has received more than 4 million views and established her as a prodigy by the age of 12.

The ability to sell yourself

Not everyone likes to sell, or become a salesperson, but everyone should learn how to sell to be successful in life. Before the age of 18, children have done various jobs, from opening a lemonade stand to paper routes, to mowing lawns, to baby sitting. It’s a way to experience bookkeeping as you track sales, as well as selling your wares and skills to customers. If you know what you’re good at, there is a way to sell it.

Moziah Bridges was 11 when he started to sell his bow tie creations on Etsy. He had learned to sew from his grandmother. He’s made more than $600,000 in sales and continues to grow his business with a seven figure deal with the NBA to make bow ties for 30 professional basketball teams.

Evan of EvanTube reviews toys and covers topics that interest other kids his age through the use of video recordings. He makes more than one million per year with his brand, and he’s not even ten years old.

Having the ability to sell can start at a young age, and be just as valuable when you’re an adult. If you can convince someone that you have what it takes to do a job, you will ace a job interview. If you can show someone that you have the personality and qualities that he or she is looking for, you will do well on a first date.

Finding opportunities

Teaching children about entrepreneurship includes teaching them about how to weather financial difficulties. If they would like money to buy a new outfit or video game, they will be unafraid to speak with neighbours, friends, and family members to make some cash by shovelling snow, painting a fence, or selling a toy collection they no longer want. We can also teach children to see opportunities instead of problems. For example, if they receive an allowance, they may be seeing only the problem if they have only $100 in allowance money and the toy they want to buy is $130.

The creator of Nay Games, 14-year old Robert Nay, learned how to code through research at the public library. He programmed “Bubble Ball,” which received more than one million downloads. Nay Games now has games to help students with spelling and physics-based puzzles. Nay saw an opportunity, and followed through with it.

Learning problem solving

Children who learn about entrepreneurship also learn problem solving. They learn more than how to operate technology such as their iphone or tablet to play games or message friends when their homework is done. They learn to find solutions to their problems by tacking the situation head on.

In the case of Cory Nieves, a six year old boy became the owner of his own business after he decided he was tired of taking the bus to school. He wanted to buy a car instead because it was too cold. He sold hot cocoa, and later branched out to selling lemonade and cookies to achieve his dream and save up for college. In 2014, when he was ten years old, he was making sales of a thousand cookies a weekend.

Busy vs productive

Time management is a valuable skill when you own your own business. You learn to be productive, instead of just busy. Children who are adept at time management accomplish more, and efficiently. Instead of taking two hours to finish a homework assignment with plenty of breaks, they can finish it in one hour and have time for other tasks.

Business mentor and coach Cameron Herold has spoken in favour of having parents and teachers encourage kids to be entrepreneurs. At a Ted Talk in Edmonton, Alberta, he speaks about how he was bored and failing in school because teachers did not identify entrepreneurial traits as worth encouraging. For example, at the age of seven, he  was able to sell coat hangers at a higher price than originally expected, but negotiation was not a skill that he was taught.

 

Stories of successful kid entrepreneurs all echo a similar theme to Herold’s story: Child entrepreneurs who didn’t pay attention in school but became thriving business owners. Young teenagers who were told to set aside their business ventures until they were older, but instead continued to pursue their dream until they reached their goal or surpassed it.

My earliest brush with entrepreneurship was in grade five. One day, we were asked to bring some belongings we no longer wanted and place them on our desks at school. We walked around the class and looked for things we wanted to barter for, using our own items. A classmate had a pair of three inch tall glass boots I liked. I asked her what she wanted from my desk in exchange. Sadly, what she wanted was only worth one boot – she didn’t like the other items I had for exchange. To this day, I only have one glass boot in my display case, a reminder of my early attempts at commerce.

If you have a say in the education of a child, consider how entrepreneurship can provide them with opportunities to succeed as adults, whether they choose to have a job or own a business. One lesson that successful kid entrepreneurs have taught us is that we should never limit what we want to accomplish.

Why Your Brand and Image Matters

Think of what you associate with the people in your life: from your coworker’s tendency to use “totally” in almost every sentence to your best friend’s preference to buy almost everything in pink. These associations are what people think of when they hear a person’s name or a company name, and these connections are what makes up a person’s image or brand. Walt Disney, Madonna, J.K. Rowling, and Steve Jobs are famous people who have built brand associations with their names. Even if you don’t plan to become famous or own a business, you should know that branding yourself has become important now more than ever.

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Lego, a highly recognized toy manufacturer,  is named one of the most successful brands.

Why care about your brand or image?

It only takes seconds for someone to make a lasting first impression with a stranger.

That’s right: a first impression is hard to change. A quick glance on the internet will show several entries on how to overcome a bad first impression, as well as multiple entries on how to make a lasting, killer first impression. It’s clear that people have had their share of bad experiences, from a horrible first date to a failed job interview – experiences that they would not care to repeat again. These search results also show that a first impression can stick like a shadow, and there are people who are very concerned about how others perceive them. This brings us to the question: is there anything you can do to maximize your chances of giving a lasting, great first impression?

Psychological scientists conducted studies to find out just how lasting a first impression can be. In a study of about 200 participants, people were asked to judge whether a coworker had improved or worsened in her behaviour. Over a period of several weeks, this coworker started off with a neutral first impression, and then attempted to make a bad impression with behaviours such as cutting in line and gossiping. She also attempted to make a good impression with behaviours such as opening the door for others and making compliments. The researchers found that it didn’t take long for participants to believe that their coworker had become a bad person, but it took much longer for participants to believe that their coworker had become a better person. Similar studies in other scenarios such as social dining yielded similar results: it was easier for people to think that a person has turned bad than changed into someone good.

The Harvard Business Review says that, “The reason people don’t often change their initial impressions is that our brain is optimized to conserve energy; if there’s not a compelling reason to re-evaluate something, then we won’t.” If you want to change someone’s initial impression of you, then you will need a bold strategy, such as surprising them or overcompensating over time with a forceful change in behaviour.

The next time you go to an interview, or meet a new friend, think about how you want to brand yourself. What image do you want to present to this person? What do you want them to think about you? Establishing yourself in a positive light by behaving well will give you a good start. But remember: You will only have ONE first chance.

Your appearance can affect your value.

People will form a first impression based on how you talk, act, and behave. They will also form an opinion of you based on your appearance. Just how important are your looks? Studies on appearance and income show a correlation between the two. So when you groom yourself, or choose clothes for the day, think about what statement you are making about your personal image. Are you successful or average? Social or introverted? An athlete or couch potato?

Studies have shown that traits that you cannot control, such as your height, and traits that you can control, such as your posture, all have an effect on your value. For example, in a poll of half of the Fortune 500 companies, they found that on average, their male CEOs were just under 6-feet tall, or 3 inches taller than the average man. This complements a study that six-foot tall males make $5,525 more than five-foot-five males. Similarly, for a study on women’s height, they found taller females earn five to eight percent more for every extra three inches of height that they have over their average-height counterparts.

These studies suggest that investing in high-heeled shoes can help your increase your salary. However, it’s difficult to add an extra foot to your height if you’re very short. Other ways to raise your value is to carefully choose how you dress. True, your attire should be a personal choice, but the opinion of others can influence your ability to get ahead.

Dressing professionally and conservatively can help you to appear as a leader if you want the role. Being well-dressed produces self-confidence, and can help to advance your career, according to Harvard Business Review. Women have an additional element to consider: women who wear make-up are seen as more professional, according to 64 percent of directors in a survey reported in The Times.

Even the way you carry yourself affects how others see you, so consider the message you are sending with your posture. Sitting in a power position, such as legs up on your desk and leaning forward, will make you look powerful and in charge to others, according to a Harvard Business School study. Those who took on power poses were more likely to take risks while those who didn’t take on power poses were more risk averse. Think about the implications of poses if you’re trying to negotiate a promotion to management at work, or if you’re trying to convince your spouse about a vacation destination.

Your appearance affects your salary, how people perceive your ability to lead or be taken seriously, and how people judge your decision making. What value would you want to associate with yourself? Are you the manager whose decisions are trusted by your superiors and your team? Are you the friend who is frequently responsible for booking group vacations and keeping a tally on who has paid? What characteristics describe you?

Establishing a personal brand is not easy. First, you need to make a solid first impression. Then you need to maintain it by the way you dress and behave. All of these factors put together become another person’s image of who you are as a person. This branding doesn’t stop with in-person relationships. Your branding online matters as well.

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Social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter are becoming a part of people’s identity.

Social media has become a prevalent way for people to get to know you.

You may be applying for a new job. Or just “friended” someone on Facebook. Or written a restaurant review. You might not be on social media at all. All of these examples have a profound effect on how people perceive you, so the following facts are worthy of a serious read.

According to Statista, one of the leading statistics companies on the internet, about 2.95 billion people (one third of the world’s population) are expected to be involved in social networking worldwide by 2020. In Canada alone, internet users visiting social networking sites as of January 2017 is 63% of the country’s population. That’s more than one out of every two people! The number is as high as 99% of the population for the United Arab Emirates. Somewhere in those statistics includes potential clients and employers, which means you aren’t the only one surfing the internet during office hours.

Global recruitment company Careerbuilder says that 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to learn more about a potential hire’s qualifications for a job. They want to find out more about a candidate’s online professional portfolio and persona, as well as what people are saying about this person online. Forty-one percent of employers (in 2016) say they are less likely to hire a candidate if they cannot find information about that individual online.

Even if you aren’t looking for a job, or your relationships with your clients are strong enough that social media won’t affect a business deal, you should consider the impact of social media on your personal life. As of April 2017, Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide (according to Statista).

Who you choose as your friends on Facebook, the pictures you post, what posts you like, and which posts you are tagged in are all part of your image. Picture yourself looking at Facebook profiles right now. What conclusions do you draw about a person who has three Facebook friends? How about 5000 Facebook friends?

Now have a look at some photos. One of your Facebook friends has posted several pictures of vacations, family gatherings, and various dogs. What do these photos tell you about this person?

Now have a look at the photos of another Facebook friend, someone you just met last week. This friend has photos of people drinking alcohol, links to political news articles, and short jokes. This friend has tagged you in a photo of last week’s house party. Your other Facebook friends can see this tagged photo of you. Would you like to be associated with this person who has tagged you? How will this photo affect your personal brand?

With the prevalence of social media today, your reputation can precede you. A prospective employer may have scanned your LinkedIn profile prior to your job interview. A casual acquaintance from your volleyball league can learn about your experiences as a volunteer from your Facebook photos.

Even if you avoid technology, your reputation can still precede you. When you told your customer you weren’t going to give him a refund, he wrote a review online which was shared on Twitter and Facebook. The tweet on Twitter was shared 15 times and the post on Facebook was liked 18 times and generated 7 comments. One of those comments advised people not to visit your store. More alarming still, that Facebook post appeared in the news feed of someone who was planning to visit your store for the first time.

These social media statistics clearly indicate that your online presence is part of your brand. The world has become a much smaller place, and your new next door neighbour may already have an opinion of you: she’s Facebook friends with your sister’s husband.

Why care about your brand?

You might not be famous. You might not be a business owner. But people will have associations with your name when they meet you for the first time, or even before they’ve met you. If you’re maintaining a relationship, they will also have ideas about the type of person you are, and these opinions are not easy to change.

The question to pose, thus, is: Who are you, and what do you stand for?

Your brand and image matters.

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing Our Kids for the Future

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming, and you should be preparing your kids to be successful in this future. Unlike the first three revolutions which were about production, mass production, and automated production changing the world at a rapid, but linear pace, this revolution will be exponential. Technology will impact us in several ways: how we communicate, how we shop, and how we choose our careers, just to name a few.

Technology will change communication

Social media platforms open channels for communication across cultures and bring the world closer together. They also allow ideas and ideologies, whether good or bad, to spread quickly from one country to another. As a result, kids today are growing up in a generation where it is possible to become friends with someone they’ve met online but not in person. They can play online games with other kids in another city. But it is also possible to bully a kid and harm someone’s reputation solely by making remarks on social media.

Technology is changing how we shop

Online shopping provides convenience from your home or smartphone, but it also means innovators can adjust products, delivery, and services based on this consumer data. When today’s youth are old enough to have a credit card, they can use online reviews to educate themselves about a product before making a purchase. They can also be influenced by social media posts about what their friends have liked, or make an impulse buy with a few clicks on their convenient mobile app.

Technology is influencing careers

Not only is technology changing the way we communicate and shop, but it is also changing the future of jobs. The World Economic Forum released a report about how the future of jobs will be affected by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here are just a few of the findings:

  • In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.
  • 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
  • Demographic changes and technological advancements may lead to the net loss of 5 million jobs by 2020.

Another noticeable trend is that highly skilled workers are more in demand, while workers with less education and lower skills are less in demand as a result of advances in technology. How can we prepare kids today for tomorrow?

We must become careerpreneurs

Career Professionals of Canada believes that “Canadians in the labour market must assume responsibility for their own careers.” We should teach our youth to be careerpreneurs, which they define as an individual who works for their own career success by looking for emerging opportunities and taking advantage of their own career development.  To do this, they must have the following approach: a strong understanding of the labour market, and a skill set for the 21st century.

The job market will change, depending on how technology affects the demand for specific skills. For example, STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) will increase in necessity. People will need to be literate in new media forms. Work will be available for those who can manage large amounts of data.

Small Medium Enterprises (SME) have an impact

Entrepreneurs, here defined as someone who operates a business, will be no different than employees. They too must be able to keep up with technology to continue to thrive. The most recent statistics from the Government of Canada on small medium enterprises (SMEs) reveal the following data:

  • As of December 2015, there were 1.17 million employer businesses in Canada, and 1.14 million (97.9 percent) of the 1.17 million were small businesses.
  • In 2015, 70.5 percent (8.2 million) of private sector employment consisted of employees working for small businesses.
  • The majority of small and medium-sized business owners are in the “40–49” and “50–64” years of age categories. The highest percentage of SME owners is in the “50–64” years of age group.

Small businesses have a significant impact on employment. However, the percentage of SME owners in the 50 to 64 age group is consequential enough to have an impact on SMEs as this age group retires. Other research of note is that those who own small businesses tend to have around 5 to 10 years of business experience, and are more likely to have a college or trade school diploma, as shown below:

  • The percentage of small business owners with 5 to 10 years of experience is higher than the percentage of medium-sized enterprise owners. But the percentage of medium-sized enterprises was higher in the 10+ years experience category.
  • More than 60 percent of medium-sized business owners have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, compared with 38 percent of small business owners.

The current data suggests that SMEs have an important impact on the Canadian economy. Having a university degree may not be as important for owning a small business. But, considering the advice for careerpreneurs, SME owners must be aware of what skills are in demand in the 21st century, and be aware of how these changes will impact their businesses.

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming. It will greatly change our personal and professional lives, from the way we communicate, to how we buy goods, to what careers we choose. Children entering the school system today may be working in jobs in the future which don’t yet exist. To best prepare them, we must teach them to be labour market and skill set savvy.

Why We Should Accept Change

The molting process of humans is something not often discussed. By this, I mean the figurative shedding of our own skin and our old personalities as we become someone new. All of us change in order to survive. Each day, we learn lessons that influence who we are. Gradually, we evolve so that we make the progress we need to achieve our dreams.

They say our skin regenerates every 27 days. The overall effect is we look pretty much the same to anyone who interacts with us on a daily basis. But for someone who hasn’t seen us for months, or years, we have more wrinkles, dark spots, or sagging in our skin. Graying in our hair. And that’s just the visible differences. It’s the changes in personality and beliefs that are harder to spot.

Every day, we change in small ways

Someone who used to be a best friend a decade ago would say I like to eat fast food because of my busy schedule. I’m a writer who went from my work office desk straight to my home office desk to keep up with my writing schedule. Over the years, I remained as dedicated to my work, but health became a larger priority so my friend would be surprised that I eat healthy now. I’m still a writer, but I have increased obligations to family.

Sometimes it’s better to forget old grudges

I’m not the only one evolving over time. Your old enemy and untrustworthy friend is too. That person you hold a grudge against in high school, or the person that you don’t think belongs in your social circle simply because you don’t have common interests. I think we should keep an open mind that these people change and we should give them a second chance if we cross paths with them again. But do it with caution of course. In ten or twenty years, a person can change for the better, but also for worse.

You need to evolve to stay with your friends

People who stay friends over the decades need to evolve as well. A person changes their perspective on life as they grow from teenager to adult. A friend who was single a decade ago is getting used to being a dad, so evening hang outs have turned into quick visits in child-friendly environments. When I changed from employee to entrepreneur, another friend and I clashed in our work and financial values but we’ve learned to respect each other and stay best of friends.

I look at photos and see that I look similar. But the skin I used to have back then has been replaced. What I feared back then is not what I fear now. What I loved back then is not what I love now. Yes, I still like ice cream. I just don’t devour it in large quantities like I used to. It is very easy to think of time as moving forward while you remain static. However, I ask that you look at the people you’ve known for more than three years in a new light. Pretend it’s your first time meeting them. What do you see?

People tend to fear change because it suggests becoming uncomfortable. It suggests more work as you learn to adapt. And it suggests you’ll be left out if you don’t go along with it by adapting to the changes in your lifestyle, to the changes in the people around you. I say embrace both the nostaglia and the unknown. Be the leader that inspires others to be a better person and lead others to change with you.

 

What If You Could Control Time?

If you could control time, would you go back to change the past so you could redo a critical moment with an old friend or a sweetheart? What an awesome power it would be to freeze this moment and have all the minutes you need to do everything you want and still have hours to spare. Time management would not be a problem for you.

A 60 Minutes/ Vanity Fair poll in 2015 found that people would like to go back in time to prevent catastrophes such as the sinking of the Titanic and the 9/11 attacks on the United States. There are people who would like to witness first hand, events such as the opening of King Tut’s tomb and the first landing on the moon. Overall, however, of those polled, 53% were more interested in what the future has to tell them, than in analyzing what went wrong in the past.

It’s possible to vicariously experience time travel. Stephen Hawking, H.G. Wells, and Charles Dickens are all associated with time travel theories and stories. Fantasies about visiting yesterday and tomorrow abound. However, for the average person, is it possible to hold power over time?

As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that time management is an important skill. Employees have set work hours, such as 9 to 5, and after those work hours, they can forget about work for a while. In contrast, entrepreneurs have to set their own work hours, and sometimes work time can easily seep into personal time.

Staying busy vs productive

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is IMPORTANT.” – Stephen Covey, businessman & author

We all have the same amount of time everyday. If every minute of your day was worth a dollar, would you waste it? Businessman Stephen Covey says that we should invest time, not spend it. To do that, you need to prioritize your tasks and decide what absolutely must be done, and what does not need to be done each day. Keeping busy is not the same as being productive.

One key to time management is finding blocks of time in your day that could be turned into investments. Author Scott Turow wrote a book during his long commutes in New York. What could you be doing while you take the train or the bus? A friend of mine used to do sit ups and push ups during part of our social conversations. That amounted to a 20 minute workout. If someone was late for a one-to-one meeting, I would send follow up texts to clients while waiting at the coffee shop.

Knowing the difference between being productive and being busy is a way to manage time. The key is identifying what your long term goals are. Checking your phone for messages and news updates over a quick lunch break isn’t necessarily productive. What messages are you looking for? Confirmation of your meeting tomorrow? Or a reply from your friend to say that she did buy a pet dog?

Time is a resource to invest in

“Either run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn, entrepreneur & author

Treating time as a precious resource means prioritizing your day. You won’t have the energy to do everything you ideally want to. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others. Everyone has their special skills. Ask a business associate or a family member for a favour. Don’t wear yourself out attempting to do everything on your to do list. And don’t forget to thank those who assist you.

You can also use a timer and set office hours. It is easy to spend hours on social media promotion. I am guilty of this because social media is one way to promote your business, so I tell myself I am being productive, but I need to keep track of how much time I am spending on it. Setting office hours is also critical to your health and well being. If you can work from anywhere, it is all too easy to fit in some work time before or during a family dinner. Instead, draw boundaries on when you are devoting time to work, and when you are devoting time to family and friends… and time for yourself.

It’s not yet possible to jump into a time machine and set a date to which we can jump forward or backward, but we can prioritize time. Stay productive, and you will look back on your life and see fewer regrets. Too many people wish they’d had the energy to fit in a 30 minute jog before day’s end. But no one regrets not watching a TV show by the end of the day.

Tick tock! What will you achieve when the clock strikes midnight tonight?

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The Alice in Wonderland Rabbit is always in a hurry. Here, he is finally standing still.

 

Death by Tomato

If you could choose how you die, would you choose death by tomato? You see, tomatoes are everywhere, so the threat is everywhere. They are in salads, hamburgers, pasta sauces, soups, and sandwiches. They are hard to avoid. For someone like me, with a severe tomato allergy, this vegetable (or fruit) is something like the plague. And for all you food allergy sufferers out there, I’m sure you know how I feel. A death by tomato is not pretty.

It’s more challenging to eat healthy.

When I try to eat healthy by ordering a salad, I find most types of salad have tomato in them. A garden salad, for example, has those deadly red bombs – I mean vegetables – in them. I could order a caesar salad, but that has a lot of cheese, which isn’t the best idea if you’re keeping your calories down. Same with soup. Most soups are tomato based, so my non-tomato-based soup choices are limited.

Most hamburgers and sandwiches have a slice of tomato in them, so either I try to eat it, or perform surgery and remove the threat. It is more difficult, if not impossible, to remove the threat from a slice of pizza unless I resort to the child-like skill of lifting up the topping and scraping off the sauce. If I want pasta or mussels with broth? I have a choice of tomato or cream. For example, a tomato-based pasta sauce with vegetables or peppers, or the fattening alfredo, three cheese, or mushroom in cream sauce.

If tomato weren’t widely available enough, someone decided to make vegetable juices, and clamato juices so that you can find tomatoes in your juice aisle and at the bar. It’s possible to get a tomato buzz with a Caesar cocktail and a double shot.

Even your food options include tomato to make your food taste better! Ketchup for your fries. Ketchup for your hot dogs, omelettes, hash browns. Just slather that deadly stuff on everything.

You might ask, if tomatoes are everywhere, then how do you avoid them? The answer follows.

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Pizzas are tasty and filling but we must not forget that tomatoes are hidden away in there.

Living with food allergies is challenging but doable.

Sometimes I succumb to the temptations of food containing tomatoes and pay the price. I enjoy pizza and hamburger. But seriously, pizza without tomato sauce is not pizza. And lasagna without the tomato sauce is not lasagna.

So I’ve learned to live with allergies. I eat the tomato, I break out in hives and eczema. My skin turns red and ugly. I become an avid user of bandaids. My skin looks terrible so I wear clothes that keep me covered up and give people the impression I lack self confidence because I wear long-sleeved, ankle-length baggy clothes. Truth is, I need to hide the scars as well as keep my clothes airy and breathable so my skin isn’t irritated or exposed to unclean surfaces. I avoid activities that aggravate my allergies, such as hot yoga, because the heat makes my skin itchy. I carry antihistamines with me at all times and got a prescription for an epi pen because on really bad days, my eyes swell shut, and on super bad days, I can feel my throat closing.

I am grateful that my allergies don’t kill me instantly. I know that there are allergy sufferers out there who will end up in hospital from coming in contact with a piece of fruit.  I also heard about a guy who had a kiwii allergy. His lips became swollen after kissing his girlfriend although he hadn’t touched kiwii. But his girlfriend had eaten kiwii for lunch.

Sometimes I wish I were allergic to chocolate. It’s not part of the essential food groups for keeping you healthy. Having a medical reason for avoiding it would be a bonus. But for some reason, tomatoes were chosen as my nemesis.

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Half of this delicious salad seems to be tomatoes!

What can tomatoes teach you about life?

First, I’ve learned that tomatoes are a popular item in our food. We really like tomatoes as an ingredient. Whole tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, crushed into paste tomatoes, and tomato juice.

Second, I’ve learned that something that is harmless and healthful to one person can be deadly to another. I have met someone who is allergic to chocolate, and I would say chocolate is found in many food items as well. On the bright side, my friend loves tomatoes, so at a barbecue, she gets my share of the tomatoes in the veggie platter.

Third, life is about adaptation. I might not be able to do hot yoga but I can always try yoga at room temperature. My skin might not be pretty, but I look for beauty elsewhere.

Do you know any allergy sufferers/ survivors? How do they cope?