Places You Need To Be Seen

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Have you ever noticed that when you see a advertisement you see it over and over again, until one day you need that service or product, then what has been in front of you 100 times is the thing you purchase.
The same goes for us little guys… entrepreneurs and business owners who need to promote our businesses. There are many studies out there that statistically show that people remember what they see, more than what they read and hear.
Here are some great examples of where my clients are using their photos to be seen.
The Newsletter
The Banner Ad
The Business Card
The Radio Show Promotional Materieal
On The Opt-In Offer and E-Book
The Feature Magazine Article

The E-Mail Signature


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Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Enjoy It While It Lasts

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If you were to ask, “When is summer?,” most people would state the obvious: June 21st. For business professionals, however, summer unofficially spans from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. During this time, barbeques and beaches rule the day. When it comes to an end, how sad we all can be!
But what if we could get more out of the summer? What if we could make the season last? Turning the calendar is a fact of life; enjoying the time we have is necessity, too. Here are four simple ways you can get every bit of pleasure from the season.
Become a better time manager and finish your work with nothing left over.
When something important is on the calendar—a friend’s birthday dinner or family vacation—most of us will mobilize and accomplish everything that needs to get done before the event. We focus on time management and stay committed to not “wasting time” so that we won’t miss the event. What if we used the same approach during the more relaxed days of summer? Time management should be utilized in all facets of your work and life, no matter the time of year.
Try to front load your week and so you can feel a bit more relaxed on Friday.
If possible try to accomplish a good portion of your work in the first days of the week so that you don’t have to execute burdensome deliverables at the end of the week or even over the weekend. There are always instances when the unexpected can pop up but for the most part planning your week accordingly will grant you more flexibility when Friday rolls around.
Exercise outside, regularly, for as long as you can.
There’s time enough to head to the gym when the weather turns, but for now get as much exercise outdoors as possible. Why use a treadmill when you can run or walk and enjoy fresh air, too? Yoga and Pilates can also be done in a park or in your backyard or terrace.
How about a picnic?
Lunch doesn’t t have to be done in a conference room or restaurant. While the weather is still nice, how about moving your lunch outdoors.  There are lots of places to picnic in the city these days. Alternately, take a walk in a park? You’ll get to enjoy the weather and free your mind, too.
If nothing else, be conscious of how you use your time and consider whether or not you’re taking advantage of the rest of the summer and the early fall as well. The winter will be here soon enough!
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Read this before you get out of bed

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We’ve all heard the sayings “dress for success” and “clothes makes the man” (or woman!) but what do they really mean anyway. We’ve come a long way from Mad Men and our standards of dress are certainly much more relaxed but one thing remains true: the first thing that people notice when they meet you is your appearance and what you are wearing.
Once upon a time there was much more consistency and perhaps that made it all a bit easier. In this day and age “standards” vary dramatically and what might be considered perfectly acceptable dress in one company might be grounds for dismissal in another. For instance, hoodies and jeans may be the norm in technology firms but definitely don’t make the grade at Vogue or law firms.
But for now let’s forget the extremes – those places in which T-shirts and ripped jeans are part of the culture or places where everyone seems to be at the height of fashion and decked out in designer wear regardless of their position in the company. Let’s talk about everyone else, you and me for instance!
Here are some of my personal “rules” about “dressing for success”:

  • In most situations dressing to get attention (i.e. Lady Gaga) doesn’t work. You want people to appreciate you for what you think, implement or create not for the outrageous clothes that pull their focus away from what is really important – YOUR WORK!
  • It’s interesting but many people find that they do better work when they are dressed well. I know someone that works out of a home office yet they dress each day as if they were going to work in a fairly formal work environment. When I asked them why they did this they said that it made them “feel the part.” Try it. Ditch the super casual clothes and see what a little “dressing up” can do for your work output.
  • Observe the two “C’s” – current and clean. You don’t have to spend tons of money to stay current and in style. There are clothes that are virtual classics and span the ages looking as good now as they did ten years ago. Invest in these types of garments and forget about the fads that will be out of style in one season. As for the second “C” – clean, that goes without saying. Your clothes must be clean and devoid of stains, rips, tears and anything that will lead people to have a negative impression. Sure dry cleaning is expensive but there are lots of great clothes that can be hand washed or washed in the laundry. You don’t have to break the bank to be neat and clean.

I know there are days when I can be a little more casual and have “fun” with color and I also know when I have to look very serious and buttoned up. Wearing the “right” clothes for different situations helps to give me confidence and I know for sure that when I’m dressed right I find it easier to do my best.
How about you?
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

I Have A Story For You

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Have you ever sat through a presentation where the speaker went on and on about their specific product or service, where they inundated you with facts and figures and features galore but throughout it all not once did they reach you on a gut level.
That’s what storytelling can do and smart businesses are leveraging its power in their marketing and business development efforts.
The reasons are quite clear:
People respond to “storytelling” and for good reasons. Stories can:

  1. Grab our attention and create a bond between the storyteller and the audience
  2. Generate passion and commitment in a way that most advertising and marketing cannot accomplish.
  3. They incite action, promote commitment and overcome inertia.

Good stories need to be honest and communicate on a very personal level. You must set the stage, provide the action or specifics of the story and then of course have a conclusion. Stories are a dime a dozen however it is good stories that can help you to market and sell.
Here are some best practices to use in your own story telling endeavors:
Be unassuming, honest and sincere
No one likes a boaster yet there are folks that imbue their stories with frequent mentions of their own acumen, strength or daring-do! It not only takes away from the power of the story itself but it makes the audience skeptical and resistant to the points being raised. Be humble and win more attention.
Spark emotion
Not every story is a good story. Reflect upon the overall story that you wish to relate and if you objectively feel that it has the potential to spark interest and emotion. You can select stories about topics that strike a common thread at least for the audience to which the story will be presented either in writing or in a presentation or communicate stories that can appeal to almost everyone. Overcoming adversity and making the most out of a difficult situation, success and achievement, new innovations – these can all be the foundation for a good story.
Don’t drag it out
There’s an Uncle Fred in everyone’s family. He’s the much-loved Uncle that loved to tell stories at the holidays. They were good stories too and everyone was interested; well, to a point anyway. Uncle Fred had a tendency to drag out his stories, provide way too much detail and take much too long to get to the conclusion. Don’t be like Uncle Fred!
Practice your presentation skills
Public speaking evokes a tremendous amount of fear for many people and story telling can be the most difficult type of presentation of all. It’s personal, somewhat extemporaneous and may even cause the presenter to get emotional him or herself. As with any sort of presentation the key to success is practice and unfortunately there is really no shortcut. (People well known for their intense amount of practice BEFORE a presentation or performance: Steve Jobs, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Tony Robbins)
So step back and think about some of your personal situations, accomplishments and challenges. Are they the stuff of good stories? I’d love for you to share them with me and perhaps we can repurpose some of them here.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white. 

Are You Buried?

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”– Albert Einstein
I can certainly appreciate that quote, because, well, Albert Einstein was Albert Einstein. But truth be told, working in a cluttered environment gives me great stress. How about you? Are you at ease surrounded by stacks of papers and files strewn everywhere, assorted business cards poking out from beneath an overflowing “In/Out” box, Post-it notes affixed to just about everything?
I can’t imagine so.
We all know the net gains of being better organized:

  • Increased time – no need to continually search for what you need
  • Reduced stress – avoid the helpless feeling that comes from being unable to locate something important or valuable
  • Enhanced productivity –added time and lower stress means you can make greater headway on critical tasks

Working in a clean, inviting space is essential to your professional wellbeing, even if it seems like a no-brainer. Here are 3 simple tips to unclutter your office.
Designate a place for everything
Allowing “things” to pile up on your desk and spill onto the floor is a hazard in more ways than one. Organize your papers, folders and supplies into proper, identifiable storage locations. Ask yourself, do you need to access certain materials or and files on a daily basis, or can they be placed in a drawer or on a shelf (in the proper receptacle, of course)? Most important to designating a place for everything is to put it away and remember where it is. Peruse your local office supply store; I guarantee you find some extremely attractive folders, containers and storage boxes to help with your organization!
Evaluate what is and isn’t important
Many of us can’t seem to “let go” easily, and we hold onto things we might not truly need. This is especially true for busy people who can’t find the time to review everything in their office to make that all-important determination: stay or throw away. It’s not an activity to do while in the middle of a big project or facing an important deadline. It is, however, something that should make its way onto your calendar.
Allocate time at the end of each day to straighten up
Clear off your desk, file papers in the proper folders, discard what you don’t need and try to arrange your desk so that you are ready to be productive when you arrive at work the next day.
The more you stick with it and unclutter your workspace as a matter of habit, the easier it will be to maintain an organized office. And forget about what Einstein said: a clean office is nothing to be ashamed of!

How do you play the game?

“A lifelong learner is a lifelong winner.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo
I get it, I really do. Learning is a lifelong activity and I welcome the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and information each and every day. I will also admit that it is sometimes just a bit challenging. The pace of it all and the sheer volume of facts, figures and skills can feel a bit overwhelming.
There’s a lot to absorb but I know that I have to do so in order to stay at the top of my game. Here are three things that I do to help myself keep pace in this fast moving world:
I take care of myself
Let’s face it. You have to stay healthy to be able to keep up in today’s world and so I make certain that I get adequate sleep and plenty of exercise. It’s easy to skip out on exercise with the ever-ready excuse of “I have so much to do” and of course, text messages and emails that ping all through the night interrupt sleep. I calendar in the time for the gym and my phone gets turned off at night to afford my body and mind the time to rejuvenate. These two simple steps enable me to be at my best and ready to tackle the world the next day.
How Sleep Helps the Brain Learn Motor Tasks
I take breaks and don’t allow myself to get overwhelmed
Hundreds of emails, tutorials, webinars and more are right at our fingertips and it’s important to be able to take a break from the work and self learning opportunities that present themselves at our desks. I know I should take a ten-minute break every hour to get up, walk around and stretch and free my mind so that when I return I am more focused and creative than I was before.  (Do as I say not as I do)
I try not to multi task
Okay, I’m not 100% successful with this one either and will find myself trying to do multiple things at the same time. Hah! I know it’s the wrong approach but somehow I still feel that I can save time by doing multiple things at the same time. We all know how that works out! Rather than save time we usually find that we have to redo work, correct errors or quite simply find that it didn’t shave off minutes, but rather it added them, because the quality of work output wasn’t up to par. The best time-saving strategy is to focus on one task at a time; complete it and move on.
The Myth of Multi-tasking
These practical strategies help me and I’m pretty sure that they’ll work for you too. Do you have some other “hacks” that help you to stay at the top of your game? Apps that you can’t live without? Share them with me and I will share them with our readers too.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

The Importance of Vacations

Vacations sure are great. We all have our opinions about the “ideal” vacation, too. What is yours? Is there sun and sand? Mountain vistas? Exotic destinations and extreme adventure? Or just a restful “staycation” to relax, putter about, and enjoy your backyard or apartment? Whatever the place and activity, vacations are something to look forward to. Yet many professionals don’t take their hard-earned vacation time, citing too much work and/or fears about falling behind.
Aside from pure enjoyment and a break from “the norm,” vacations offer some other benefits for the mind, body, and soul:
Recharge our brain
Today’s digital world forces us to stay connected 24/7 (whether or not we want to is another story!). Every one of us—and this is true regardless of how much you enjoy your work or how much energy you have—needs an opportunity to step back and recharge our brain. You shouldn’t have to be told that falling asleep to the light of your iPhone is bad for you. Vacations allow you to take a break and just let your brain relax, leading to greater efficiency and productivity upon a return to work. The result: a win-win for both employee and employer.
Expand our horizons
It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do to our creativity. When we are completely wrapped up in the “daily grind,” we settle into a routine that saps our ability to think outside the box and bring some originality to our work. Just a few days away from the office and the humdrum day-to-day will expand horizons and allow us to think more imaginatively. The result: fresh outlooks and new solutions to existing situations.
Strengthen our relationships
Considering the 40+ hour workweeks and even greater time spent just thinking about work, the sad truth is that most of our waking hours are spent at the office and/or in work-related activities. With just a few hours each day to enjoy the company and support of friends and family, it is no wonder that some of our personal relationships may be a little rocky. Vacations allow us to reconnect with the people who are important in our lives, to share moments with them that can not be recreated while you’re at work. The result: lasting relationships that allow you refocus and prioritize.
Gain perspective
Work can be very stressful, and the relentless pace of organizing meetings and delivering quality work can cause us to lose our perspective on what is truly important. Time away from the office offers an opportunity to put work situations into better perspective and potentially revise old, obsolete processes and procedures. The result: clarity and newly gained initiative.
Given these benefits can you really afford to say that you have “too much to do” to go on vacation? I think not!
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Handling Difficult Conversations at Work

Having a difficult conversation at work can be stressful however the downside and cost of “not” having the conversation can be much more severe. Ignoring the situation can negatively impact individual performance and overall departmental or company-wide productivity and in almost 100% of the cases, the situation will not resolve itself.
Here are 5 tips on how to have a difficult conversation at work and move forward in a more positive manner:
Plan what you wish to say
Much like giving a presentation, preparation is everything. Make certain that you have your facts lined up and they have been verified. Eliminate ambiguity and keep the conversation centered on the circumstances. Don’t make it a personal attack.
Be positive
Keep your tone and manner positive and constructive. A combative demeanor will prompt similar behavior from the person with whom you are speaking and the conversation will deteriorate into a “he said, she said” standoff.
Sharpen your listening skills
Effective listening is an important component in any conversation and especially in one that requires a good degree of tact and diplomacy. Listen carefully to the other person and the undertones of their conversation. Their tone and manner can contradict the words they are saying and therefore cannot be ignored.
Be goal-driven
What do you wish to accomplish from the conversation? Don’t lose sight of your desired outcome and get drawn into minutiae that can cause you to deviate from your original plan. Stick to your intention and follow through until the end.
Summarize and follow-up
Conclude the conversation with an action plan and obtain agreement on the desired changes and improvements. Follow-up in a timely manner to make certain that things are moving forward successfully and there is no cause for additional conversation.
From time to time you may need to have a difficult conversation with a client or a vendor as well and the same tips apply. Don’t shy away from having these difficult conversations. When done properly the results far outweigh the discomfort experienced when having the dialogue.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Ugh, It’s That Time Of Year

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It’s about that time – let the Spring Cleaning begin! No, I don’t mean moving furniture to vacuum away the dust bunnies that have made a home under the sofa nor do I mean washing windows or clearing out the winter clothes from the closets.
I’m referring instead to the Spring Cleaning that should take place at work whereby you dust off, clean up and refresh some of the most important components of your business.
Here’s what this “cleaning” should entail:
Take a look at your clients.
Let’s face it there comes a time when some of our client relationships are no longer what we want them to be. Perhaps the scope of work has changed or your key contacts are no longer part of the company or maybe it is simply a case in which your business focus and their needs are no longer in sync. While we always want to “retain” our clients there are circumstances that may cause us to end the relationship. It makes good business sense to conduct a periodic assessment of your client relationships to determine if any “cleaning” is required or if, perhaps, you need to rethink your target market and change the parameters of what constitutes a “good client.”
Take a look at your operations.
Making operational changes are very difficult and many organizations tend to ignore or at best learn to “cope” with a process or procedures that might not be the most efficient. It can be a mistake for all involved. There’s clearly a downside for the company but it can be a mistake for every employee as well. If you’re involved in a department or working with a team that is using an outdated process for the work that they’re doing it’s time to speak up and help to effect operational changes.
Take a look at your deliverables.
Are you proud of the work that you do or has a certain amount of complacency set in? Spring is a perfect time to review what you are delivering to the marketplace and to determine if enhancements or modifications are necessary. In our fast paced global economy cleaning out the old strategies, products or services and adding something new can help you stay relevant and competitive in the marketplace.
Remember that it’s a positive thing to clean up and refresh what you have. Use the season to prompt your Spring Cleaning and you’ll probably feel better for doing it.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.

Multi-tasking, What a Crock

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Phones ringing, screens flickering, messages coming in 24/7. Family commitments, work obligations, “me” time and more. Is it any wonder that many of us find it challenging to maintain our focus?
Gone are the days when getting something fast meant sending it by messenger, when 5PM meant quitting time and no one could interrupt your personal time. Nope, not anymore! We live in a highly frenetic time and you have to develop a method that enables you to maintain your focus, stay centered and get things done!
Here are some of the things that allow me to maintain focus. Perhaps they could work for you as well.

  1. Schedule time to “power down,” when you disengage from technology and human interruptions and concentrate on the task at hand.

The more plugged in we are, the easier it is to let distractions impact our thinking and flow of work. A sensible alternative to the commotion in our brains caused by endless texts, calls and emails is to simply shut them off for designated hours in the day. You’ll be amazed at the clarity that comes through when you’re not getting interrupted every minute or two with a beep, ping or chirp.

  1. Determine when you are at your best and can focus most clearly, and schedule your work accordingly.

You should schedule your most demanding or creative work for the hours when you have the greatest clarity and focus. Are you an early bird? If so, jump-start your day and get working when many others are sleeping. The same holds true if you’re a night owl and find that you get your best work done after midnight. Don’t let anyone else dictate when you should be doing your most challenging work. Listen to your own internal clock, and you’ll find that your focus comes more naturally at these points in time.

  1. Don’t kid yourself: multi-tasking encourages a loss of focus.

You may need to re-train your mind to concentrate (focus) on one thing at a time. In today’s highly cluttered world, we are often doing two, three and sometimes four things at the same time. When your trend of thought gets interrupted, mistakes happen, the quality of work and decision-making declines, and ultimately we’re no longer able to concentrate on pretty much anything at all. Make it a habit to focus on one activity at a time even if just for five or ten minutes.

  1. Stay organized.

Having an organized desk and workspace helps you to stay focused on the tasks at hand. It’s easy to get distracted when there are piles of paper on the desk and floor and post-it notes affixed to every surface. Make it a point to organize your work (paper and digital) and you will find that you have greater clarity and focus.

  1. Make time for distractions.

Regardless of how diligent you are, distractions and interruptions are a fact of life. The best way to make certain these distractions and interruptions don’t cause undue stress is to build in time to accommodate the internal and external distractions that come your way. Ten minutes to peruse Facebook? Go for it, just make certain that you have the discipline to shut it down. People asking for your time? Rather than let interruptions come at you throughout the day, try to schedule time for informal conversations with colleagues. Of course, even if you carefully try to “plan” this time, the unexpected will happen so make certain that each day has some cushion to absorb the unexpected.
Maintaining focus can be a challenge however the upside is being able to produce higher quality work and perhaps even getting to go home at a reasonable hour. Now that’s an idea worth pursuing!
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black and white.