Hitting All the Right Notes

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is one of 11 constituents of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.  The Society presents an annual series of concerts and educational events.  While some promotion for these events now takes place online, the Society has found that an annual printed catalog is still an invaluable way to interact with music lovers old and new.
“Symmetry is definitely the best value for our money we have found
– Emily Holum, Director of Marketing and Communications
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
A Change in the Program
After months of preparation, the Society’s 2017-2018 catalog was just about ready to go to print with only a little time to spare before the mailing deadline.  Then, an unexpected change of personnel completely changed the entire concept for the piece.  Society staff needed a new printing estimate right away.
Tuning Up
Changing the specs on a print piece is seldom a straightforward enterprise, especially if the piece in question is a multi-page booklet with several different parts.  The new concept for the Society’s 2017-2018 catalog changed the way the reply card would fit in the center of the book.  It also changed the way the perforated “at a glance” calendar would fold out in the back.  Symmetry carefully made the necessary adjustments so that the piece would print – and function – properly.    As we were doing this, we noticed that a further adjustment in the size of the book could yield significant postal savings.  Working with the Society’s creative team, we resized the piece to take advantage of this.
A Pitch-Perfect Performance
The final 2017-2018 Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center catalog was a huge success.  The entire project was packaged in an impressive custom envelope with full bleed.   Symmetry delivered the piece on time and on budget and helped our client save on mailing costs.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white. 

All Eyes Are on YOU

Do you remember the good old days when you could say or do something immature, inappropriate or down right nasty and didn’t have to worry about it showing up in your Newsfeed or posted on Twitter for the entire world to see. The circle of individuals that could become privy to your words and deeds was much smaller than it is today and nothing, truly nothing, happened instantaneously.
Of course there was gossip and yes, the word could spread, but nothing like it does today.
After all, who doesn’t recall Justine Sacco, the PR executive that got fired after posting a politically incorrect and insensitive tweet?  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/22/pr-exec-fired-racist-tweet-aids-africa-apology
Of course it was her own doing; she didn’t have to tweet that comment, but think about this – before social media she might have made that comment to a few friends, they may have been dismayed by her words and told a few other people, but that’s when it would have ended.
And it’s not only the words and pictures that you may post on your own. These days technology is everywhere and anyone that is armed with a phone can snap pictures of anyone, anywhere, doing anything.
Did you ever do something stupid at a party or perhaps had too much to drink when you were in high school or college? You might have feared getting in trouble with your parents but that would have been about it. You could rest assured that you weren’t going to see your bad behavior online and for all to see. You didn’t have to worry about a future Google search that could alert a hiring manager to a bad decision you made in your youth.
By now most people understand the far-reaching trouble that can be caused by social media and are getting more and more cautious about what they post and where. But it’s not only social media. Here are some other places where a little bit of decorum could go a long way:

  • You never know who is in the elevator with you, do you? Conversations with a friend about your company, your boss or another employee should be curtailed for the duration of the ride!
  • Office parties and business get-togthers are not the place to let your hair down and do and say what you want. You may very well find your shenanigans posted on the company Facebook page easy to be “shared” by all.
  • Mind your manners and watch your words and actions when dining with co-workers and clients. Making a gaffe could cause problems especially if the unfortunate situation along with your name is posted on social media.

Remember that it is far easier to watch your words and actions than it is to retract and apologize.  Your reputation is all you have. Guard it well.
Because printing isn’t always black or white. 

How to Manage Stress at Work

These are stressful times for sure. Tension and even fear, about what is going on in the world at large, the idea of work-life “balance” being just a fallacy for many people, and at work, well, we seem to be tasked with having to accomplish more but with fewer people.
Feeling stressed can negatively impact your health and wellbeing as well as your overall productivity and effectiveness at work. It’s important to learn how to effectively manage stress so that you can better accomplish your work and do so with energy and optimism.
Here are three tips for stress management that you can put into action immediately:
Eat right and get enough sleep
Research shows that if you get enough sleep (7-8 hours per night for an adult) and eat nutritious foods you will be better prepared to tackle work in a more relaxed and effective manner. Nothing undermines your productivity more than trying to get by on 3 or 4 hours of sleep and with a bag of chips or a cupcake for lunch. You’re certain to hear co-workers say “I can get by on just a few hours of sleep” or “I don’t really need to eat during the day” but don’t let them fool you! The fact is that science proves them wrong and just imagine what more could be accomplished if these same people were taking better care of themselves.
Eliminate interruptions
The constant deluge of email and texts has turned all of us into digital zombies that stare at our devices fearing the onslaught of messages that will come in if we disengage from our technology for even just a few minutes. But disengage is exactly what we should do thereby eliminating the constant digital interruptions that break our concentration and sabotage our best efforts to complete our work. You’ll find that you are less stressed and can accomplish more when you can focus without interruptions and breaks in your concentration.
Don’t surround yourself with negative people
In almost every office you’ll find employees that are extremely vocal about their dissatisfaction. There’s nothing more stressful than spending your lunch or break time with people that are negative. Spending time with these individuals is exhausting and can contribute to any work-related stress you might be feeling on your own. A far better approach would be to work with a Manager or Supervisor to come up with a means to improve the situation and minimize your stress.
One of the best antidotes to stress is to be grateful and make the personal choice to look at the positive rather than dwell on the negative. There’s always something that can make us stressed at work but there are always things that give us pleasure as well. Focus on them instead and you’ll find that work provides much more satisfaction rather than stress.
Bonus – just think how these tips will help your personal life also.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white.

Making New Year’s Resolutions Isn’t Difficult – Sticking to Them Is!

December – it’s that time of year when many people make their list of New Year’s resolutions. Business resolutions (aka goals) such as hire an intern, delegate more tasks, clean out your desk are some of the changes many hope to put into effect when they turn the page on the calendar. Doing more exercise, spending more time with the family, organizing the closets and eating better find their way onto many a person’s personal resolutions yet no matter what’s on the list there are certain things that can be done to help make the resolutions sticky.
Here are some of the things that I do to ensure that I stay on track and accomplish my business goals for the New Year:
I find that it’s always easier to work towards a smaller quarterly goal rather than look ahead to a yearly goal that seems quite overwhelming. My quarterly goals are realistic and help to keep me working towards what I hope I will accomplish by the end of the year. Seeing my progress, step by step, motivates me.
I’m a big believer in the philosophy that which gets recorded gets accomplished and so I write down my goals and keep them front and center on my bulletin board at work and in the notes section on my tablet and phone as well. It’s not that I think I’m going to “forget” my goals; it’s simply that I find the visual reminder helps to keep me on track when I feel myself getting distracted by other parts of my business.
I personally find myself to be more successful when I set goals that are very specific rather than vague as well as establishing an action plan to accomplish the goals. It’s one thing to say that I am going to do more prospecting; it’s another to say that I will dedicate 2 hours per day (10AM-Noon) to new business prospecting initiatives.
While I am a pretty determined and disciplined person I find it much easier to have an accountability partner to help me stay on point. Your partner can be a business coach, a trusted colleague or business resource but for me it is the consistency of contact and answerability that helps me work towards my goal.
Perhaps the most important thing for me is to not let failure stop me from continuing to move forward. I know that there are going to be obstacles and that’s okay just as long as I keep going even if it means that some adjustments must be made. Failure does not mean stop; it simply means readjustment.
What about you? Do you have some suggestions on how you keep your goals from slipping? Share them with me and I’d be happy to send them out to our readers as well.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white. 

Do you eat lunch at your desk?

Minimalist table setting
Do you ever eat at your desk? Well, me too, but the fact is that eating at our desks is terrible. TERRIBLE. I don’t mean to imply that we should consider returning to 3-hour, 3-martini lunches circa the Madmen era, but I do mean to say that we simply need to treat ourselves better. Our physical and mental health depends upon it!
Taking a well-deserved lunch break away from your desk is a smart thing to do.  Here’s why:
Eating at your desk means that you limit your opportunities for social interaction
As a rule, the workdays are filled with meetings, deadlines, and a certain amount of stress. There’s rarely a convenient opportunity to have a casual conversation with a co-worker, exactly the kind of conversation that helps to build community and foster teamwork. A break from the frenetic pace of the office provides a social outlet and a chance to get to know your co-workers apart from the work that you produce together.
Whether you go to a restaurant or eat in the company lunchroom, getting away from your desk for lunch provides an opportunity to get up and move around
Sitting is the new smoking! Our sedentary lifestyle is causing great problems and so you must seek out opportunities during the day when you can get up and move around. Taking a walk at lunch with colleagues is a terrific way to get some much-needed exercise AND be social. Have a quick (healthy) bite and don’t sit down again until the lunch break is over. You’ll find yourself with more energy and a better outlook on the rest of the day than if you had stayed at your desk for the duration.
It’s important to recharge your brain 
Staring at the computer for endless hours can cause headaches, eyestrain and prompt a lethargy that undermines the efficiency and productivity that must be deployed at work. People who eat at their desks usually do so WHILE they are also working on the computer. Technology runs our businesses but we can’t have it running our lives too. Disengaging for a lunch break is a healthy thing to do for both your body and mind! 
Make certain that the social interaction in which you engage at lunch includes positive and upbeat conversation. Talking about hobbies, family, vacations, movies and more are good ways to learn about what makes your co-workers “tick” outside of the office. Complaining about work and engaging in a group “gripe-fest” does nothing but fan the flames of discontent and isn’t at all healthy.
Make a plan for the New Year. Get up from your desk even if just for 30 minutes and enjoy your lunch without doing work at the same time. You’ll find that you accomplish more and do better work with that little break.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white. 

Do You Like Going to Work?

Let’s take a quick poll: Do you like going to work? Do you feel that your company has a positive work environment? Would you recommend working at the company?
Most of us spend more of our waking hours at work than anywhere else. This can be true for all employees, from the lowest-paid employees to the most senior executives. As such, the work environment plays a significant role not only on the quality and quantity of work produced but also on the emotional and mental health of employees.
As a business owner or manager, it may be time to check in on your own office and assess the work environment that has evolved. Are changes needed? Is the work environment the best that it can be?
Here are 4 key tips and suggestions that can help you to create a more positive work environment for yourself and your co-workers:
Be Social
No one says that you need to be “best friends” with your co-workers, but a friendly and amiable demeanor goes a long way in making the day more pleasant and satisfying. A good-natured greeting in the morning can help to start off the workday on a positive note, especially if there are demanding clients ready to bust in the door. Participating in office activities such as office pools, going away parties, even recreational sports leagues can help to strengthen relationships and contribute to better teamwork when on the job.
Be Positive
Maintaining a positive attitude is a choice. Positivity doesn’t mean that you are content and happy, but it does mean that you face situations with a spirit of optimism and look for ways to get things done rather than assume that there is no solution to be found. One can expect to be faced with occasional challenges at work; it is the manner in which you address these challenges that can either contribute to a positive work environment or somehow turn the situation into one filled with despair.
Be Responsible
Mistakes can happen, some more serious than others. How you address the mistake and devise a solution is critical to creating a positive work environment. If you cast blame onto others, the situation will become hostile and enmity will form. Conversely, in a positive work environment, employees will take responsibility for their actions and work diligently to correct any of their own mistakes as well as try to assist others that may have also had occasion to slip up.
Be Communicative
A positive work environment thrives on transparency, and the ability of employees across all departments of the company to have an honest discourse. A negative work environment is built on rumors and assumptions and undermines morale and the quality of the work being produced.
Sure, changing a negative work environment into one that is positive can take some time, as old attitudes may prevail until there is improvement across the board. The key is patience and believing that the outcome is well worth the wait.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white. 

Navigating the Election at Work

Counting the minutes until Election Day? Feeling the stress? Want it to be over? Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, most of us could agree that this year’s presidential race has been one of the most heated and rancorous in anyone’s memory. The accusations have been personal and deeply cutting, and the issues so important to the nation swept aside almost from the very beginning.
There might be no larger wedge to drive between coworkers than a disagreement over politics. Regardless of one’s personal or political opinion, conversation about the election must be held at bay. The office is not an appropriate arena to hash out strongly held viewpoints; it is where esprit de corps and teamwork must prevail.
And as you well know, work must get done in the days leading up to the election and thereafter. No matter who wins on November 8th, it must be “business as usual” the very next day.
So, how can you navigate the minefield during these last days of the campaign?

  1. Minimize office conversations about the election. It’s quite possible, even likely, that your coworkers are interested in discussing the candidates and the issues. My suggestion is to steer clear of these types of interactions even if you think you agree with someone. Oftentimes the most benign political conversations can turn nasty with little intention. Remember that you’ll be working with the same people long after the election is over.
  1. Remain unemotional and objective if political conversation cannot be avoided. Sometimes politics comes up in ordinary water cooler talk, and, of course, you simply cannot run away. When pulled into such a conversation, you should do the following: A) Attempt to redirect the conversation into other areas; B) Explain that you would rather politics not enter the workplace; and C) Stay calm and be factual.
  1. Use third person neutrality and cite undisputable statements of fact whenever possible, thereby removing any personal attribution to the statement. Avoid saying to someone, “You don’t understand,” “Candidate X is unfit to be President,” or “Candidate Y is a liar.” These types of opinionated statements can cause major conflict.
  1. Focus on the work that needs to be done in the office. There’s nothing that can stop a politically charged conversation quicker than realizing work remains to be done. Get to it and refrain from conversations that do nothing but distract.

Follow the path of decency. No matter what (repeat after me: no matter what) make certain to take the high road and be sure to remain polite and non-confrontational. It can’t be said enough – long after the election is over you will have to work with this co-worker. Their impact on your day-to-day activities will probably be felt more sharply than anything either candidate can dish out especially in the short-term.

Things You Can Do to Get Noticed and Promoted at Work

One bright color smiling pencil among bunch of gray sad pencils
It’s one thing to have a job, and it’s another thing altogether to get ahead in that job. There are some people who advance in their position seemingly with ease. They leapfrog past others doing the same job and before very long have left their previous coworkers behind and assume more responsibilities and seniority.
Is it luck? Fate? Did they “know” someone? What did they do to get noticed and promoted at work?
Employees advance when they:
Do more than what is expected in their position. Advancement is not typically given when an employee simply meets the expectations of their supervisors and employers. Instead, they must exceed expectations on all levels. A project “well done” gets a nod and a thank you; work that goes “over and beyond,” however, gets noticed.
Show initiative and complete tasks without being asked. This includes taking care of even the small “headache” tasks that no one else might want to do. The task itself might seem insignificant, but when an employee takes on something without being asked to do it they receive recognition.
Build rapport throughout the company. Common sense dictates that people want to recognize and reward people who they like. This doesn’t necessarily mean socializing outside of work and becoming best friends. It does mean that they convey a sense of camaraderie and of “being in this together” and this helps them to advance.
Bring in a new client or participate in business development. Nothing helps to advance a career more than demonstrating the ability to generate revenue for the company either directly or through new resources that can point the way to gain.
Never talk badly about anyone in the company or about the company itself. Talking trash might relieve tension but can get you into trouble if (and when!) the words you said spread throughout the organization.
Discuss their desire to advance. You can’t assume that your boss knows you are hoping to advance in the company. You must bring it to their attention and ask for their help and advice so that you can accomplish your goals.
Remember: don’t let any other opportunities pass you by. Start now to deploy these actions and be strategic about your own career advancement!
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white. 

Sitting at a Desk Can Ruin Your Health

Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
It’s something to consider, isn’t it? Clinical research and news media have made us more aware of the health problems associated with prolonged periods of rest. But for those professionals whose jobs are, well, sedentary, there is very little to change the situation.
Consider this: Most of us commute to work by some means other than walking; we begin our day by sitting at our desk, checking email or leafing through paper files; we take a few steps into another person’s office or a conference room; and we end the day 8-10 hours later in the very same office, closing down and leaving for home, ready to do it all again the next day.
The solution is actually pretty simple – less sitting! – and here are some ways that all of us can build some movement into the course of our workdays:
Stand up
Unless you have to look at the computer, there is no reason why you must sit down at all moments of the day. Make it a point to stand up and walk around when you are engaged in a phone conversation. You may find that it actually keeps you more focused on the conversation simply because the computer isn’t there to distract you.
Have walking meetings
Much of the business day can be occupied by multiple meetings with many different people. In some cases, when the schedule and weather permits, these meetings can be conducted while walking outside or even around the office. Once again you’ll find that the activity and even a change of scenery encourages creative thinking and energy.
Take a lunchtime walk
Lunch breaks are a perfect time to factor in some low-impact exercise. Whether you go to the gym for your regular workout or once again, simply take a walk in the neighborhood, make it a point to use this time to be active. (Try not to eat at your desk!)
Take the stairs
How many times do you find yourself waiting for the elevator or in a line to get on an escalator to go up just one or two flights? The stairs can save you time and get you some much-needed movement.
You’ll note that most of these suggestions are nothing more than making a few changes to how you conduct your workday and don’t require much additional planning at all. And if you find yourself with few meetings and phone calls during which you can walk around, consider setting a timer so that for every hour sitting behind a desk at work you take 5-10 minutes to walk around or engage in some simple stretches or exercises that can be done right at your desk. http://time.com/4019563/exercise-work-desk/
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Are You Sad?

Ahh the changing of seasons. The days are getting shorter and shorter. The weather, though still warm, will start to get nippy. Summer Fridays are gone, and wouldn’t you know it, vacation days are all used up, too. Welcome to fall!
Really, the end of summer isn’t so bad. Hot and humid days are replaced by cooler temperatures, the local farmer’s market features delicious apples and autumn bouquets, and the changing colors of the leaves are just splendid. What’s not to like?
I must admit, I will miss the ease of summer the flowers in my yard and swimming in the lake. But of course, there’s nothing we can do about it, so it’s best to just get on with it and enjoy the season:
Go outside and enjoy the weather as much as possible.
Winter will be here soon enough and along with it will come the type of inclement weather that keeps us indoors. While you can, take a walk at lunch, skip the gym and go for a jog in the park, and revel in all of the daylight hours and warmth that you can from these fine autumnal days.
Enjoy the holidays and activities of the fall calendar.
A weekend that includes leaf peeping can be a feast for your eyes.  Pumpkin and apple picking can be an absolute delight for kids of all ages. There are Fall harvest festivals galore. Halloween and Thanksgiving are times to gather with friends and family and enjoy the food, fun and festivities that surround those holidays.
These are exciting times at work, too.
Vacations are over and everyone is back at work. Having a full staff can ease up on the pressures that are associated with “covering” for a colleague during their vacation days. We’re heading into the end of the year when everyone is working hard to accomplish the goals established at the beginning of the year, and the enthusiasm can be invigorating.
I know that some of you might be thinking that this all sounds OK but no matter what, there’s a longing for Summer. I completely understand that feeling of disappointment that comes right after Labor Day, but we can’t stop the hands of time.
Buy some new Fall clothes, indulge in apple pie, and remember that summer is just 9 months away.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.