Recent blog posts - All things Apple Awards

All things Apple Awards

Who is Apple Awards, what do we do and how can we help you honor and recognize achievement and loyalty to your organization and the people closest to you?

Warm Chair Attrition?

Warm Chair Attrition?

It’s a world of computers and internet access, at home and at work. The temptation is there to take that quick Facebook break, maybe even during work hours?

Lately it doesn’t seem to matter if you reduce effort a little, like your coworkers gossiping in the coffee room. You need some coffee, right?

There were several people missing in the last project meeting. It was kind of hard to get anything done. You wonder if it’s worth going to the next one…

Have you had experience with any of these situations? If so, you are in danger of coming down with warm chair attrition. You and your workplace need some recognition therapy.

Recognition therapy starts with paying attention to what is happening around you. What are the behaviors that make your job, your business, your workplace, successful and a great place to work? How might those behaviors be encouraged? Research shows that behavior that is noticed and positively reinforced is likely to be repeated. Employers, this is why having a recognition program in the workplace is becoming an effective motivator and a way to communicate appreciation. Employees, a recognition program can help you focus on specific tasks and behaviors that make being on the job happier and more productive.

Need help developing a recognition program for your workplace? Check our next blog post for some timely ideas.



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Personal, Public, Permanent

Personal, Public, Permanent

I’m talking to you, the person reading this. You are a great reader! You have sought out something new to learn and are exercising your mind. You have already risen above the average by taking time out of your day to read, an activity most people DON’T DO. I’m going to recognize you and your unusual dedication to intellectual growth by presenting you with a beautiful award, a lasting reminder of this time,  naming you and your accomplishment, and we’re going to do it in public where others will see that I value your effort!

 No, sorry, I’m not really going to do that, but wasn’t it starting to feel good? It’s true that a lot of people don’t read, and you do. I noticed and told you so. Research bears out that the power of recognition will accomplish several things. It will increase the likelihood of you reading again. It will show others that this kind of activity is valued. It will increase the likelihood of others reading and following your example.  

 Now, apply the same principles to any group of professionals whose performance matters greatly to you – those teachers trusted with the education of your children, those medical specialists taking care of your health, those employees working in your business. Notice what they do, name what you value, make it personal, public and permanent. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s good business!

 Coming  up next time: have you hear the term “warm chair attrition”? If it sounds like a new disease to watch out for, you are right!

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A Powerful Moment

A Powerful Moment

We all witnessed it last week. As Vice-President Joe Biden had the Presidential Medal of Freedom hung around his neck, he was overcome with emotion. It was a stunningly satisfying moment for our country when we saw a humble, deserving servant receive a physical symbol of appreciation. As Joe Biden put it “it came from his heart” (the President) and that gave it great meaning to him.  A physical symbol has great power to express what words alone may not always convey.

 Given its power to influence, what should we keep in mind about recognition? Foremost is the fact that recognition defines behavior that we appreciate and want to see repeated. In the workplace, it is a motivator high on the list, along with salary and job security. Recognition bolsters self-esteem and job satisfaction because it is tangible proof that work has been noticed and appreciated. Just as valuable in other areas of life, personal recognition given to family and friends goes a long way in building relationships and encouraging people who are important to us. 

Similar to the detailed and finely crafted Presidential Medal of Freedom, the awards produced at Apple Awards are of quality materials, made to last, and can be specifically personalized to convey those messages of appreciation. Whether in the business world or other professional arena, the power of recognition is available to all and has well documented positive results. How will you use that power, maybe even today, in your company, your workplace, your family?



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Make It New!

Make It New!

There’s not a big difference between December 31st of any given year and the January 1st that follows and yet there is something in us that wants to recognize a chance to make things new. New is exciting! We want to be reminded that we can re-organize, we can commit again to that exercise program, we can promise to read more and watch TV less, we can aspire to be a better person in some way. And what about work, that part of our life that gets a major portion of our time? In 2017, what newness is waiting for you in the work world?

In considering this question, it doesn’t matter whether you are president, CEO, manager, team member or a self-employed company of one. It doesn’t matter if you are a new hire or a multi-year veteran. Everyone can do something toward a fresh start. Examining your ability to bring new ideas and attitudes to the workplace can make all the difference in job satisfaction for yourself and others. In the posts this month I want to suggest some thoughts for the new year.

#1 Review your reasons for working.

Is a paycheck coming at regular intervals your reason for clocking in every day? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to love work, making it worth your time in more existential ways?  Even the most routine or seemingly unimportant work can be done in a way that communicates important values like integrity, patience, timeliness, loyalty or even FUN. Here is a challenge for you from writer and workplace trainer Catherine M. Mattice. If you had to make a 20 second video about how you live out the values of your workplace, could you do it? Could you name those values? Being able to identify workplace values is the first step in applying those values to each daily task.  That conscious application can give new perspective to routine activities. For example, if great customer service means a lot to your company, the routine filing of customer records, instead of boring you, can be viewed as a challenge because it is very important the next time that record is needed. 

 #2 Review your growth goals.

Never stop growing – of course I’m talking about wisdom, intellect, and skills, not pant size. Growing is the process of bringing in the new. Learn something new by reading a book related to your job description or searching online for free articles on a relevant subject. Ask coworkers for ideas that have interested them. If time permits, volunteer to work in a completely different environment doing something you’ve never done before. Perhaps there are opportunities at your workplace to “shadow” or work with a mentor in a related department. I’m helping my daughter with a new diet and am learning a wealth of information to write and talk about. In addition to helping me as a writer and a health educator, it’s given me a different direction in my own eating lifestyle. I’m growing and it gives me a mental boost that is empowering.

 #3 Review your relationships.

Especially at work, relationships can make or break our happiness and desire to contribute. It takes time and effort to build good relationships with coworkers. Are there coworkers that you would like to know better, or how about the one that annoys you? Make a list and arrange to have a work break or lunch with them and talk. Being approachable, appreciative, and aware of opportunities for interaction can add to your own sense of satisfaction with the workplace as well as encouraging others to do the same. People who like each other, or at least understand each other, work better together, give appropriate feedback to each other and accomplish more.  Having a team spirit at work makes it less likely that bullying and aggressively competitive behavior will occur.  

 At Apple Awards, we hope that the year ahead has something new for you, whether it be a new job, or a new and fresh attitude toward the job you already have. Enjoy 2017 at your work!

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Making the Friendly Skies Friendlier

Making the Friendly Skies Friendlier

Let’s face it. When we travel for the holidays in higher numbers than ever, there are going to be challenges.

AAA projects that 103 million people are in motion this year-end holiday season. Most of them drive, 93.6 million , but 6 million fly. Having just made a journey that took about 12 hours and traversed three airports I am familiar with some of those challenges – cancelled flights, delayed flights, crowded flights, all three on one trip. How easy it is to become impatient and critical and fail to consider the near miraculous travel we experience in this country. Even though this was a difficult trip, the major airline I used has a record of 86% of its flights being on time, the best in the industry.

 A few things to consider:

- What happens to your own schedule when you are too ill to meet obligations? Cancellations have to occur. But, you say, airlines have multiple people to call on. However, the logistics of having those people in the right place at the right time are pretty complex.  I don’t know why my fully booked flight was cancelled but I’m sure the airline considered the effect on that many people and weighted their decision accordingly.

 - What happens when equipment suddenly does not work or is unsafe? AAA recorded 320 million rescues in 2015 for motorists with dead batteries, empty fuel tanks and other happenings. That number has gone up this year. For an airline, it’s always a challenge to handle an unexpected repair, or an extra fuel stop, but aren’t we glad that they do? A plane and crew that had just flown from Paris, France and experienced that extra fuel stop making them 2 hours behind schedule, took me to Seattle last night. I heard a lot of complaints, but knowing the back story really gave me compassion for those giving service under an adverse situation.

 -What happens when a weather event suddenly creates a crisis situation in your travel plan? I think of motorists stranded on highways for extended periods of time, of accidents caused by slippery roads or low visibility. When there is no one who is responsible or to blame for these scenarios, all we are left with is the ability to control our own reactions and to help others if we can. 

 If you find yourself traveling this holiday, whether on the highway, in the air, or on the rail you will probably have an opportunity to exercise compassion and practice gratitude. In this day of common rudeness, “road rage” and other extreme and dangerous behaviors, isn’t it a relief to be treated with kindness and grace when traveling? Apple Awards stands behind the culture of kindness this season, encouraging us all to be thankful and gracious to those who travel with us and those who serve us in the travel industries.

 Statistics from and


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Christmas Wisdom

Christmas Wisdom

December has a holiday that is celebrated around the world – Christmas. Christmas is all about recognition. Maybe you have a box full of cards and letters that were received at Christmas the year before so that you can remember to recognize the thoughtfulness of people who greeted you. Maybe you have a list of people who you intend to recognize with a gift. These customs are so common that many are tempted to think that Christmas is a marketing scheme to sell everything from cards, trees, decorations, candy, and jewelry to… well, everything. It’s all about putting businesses “in the black” (Black Friday) and sometimes ends up putting people in debt and depression.

 Want to put some love and kindness, along with recognition into your Christmas customs?  Let’s go back to the origin of this giving and see if the Christmas spirit has anything to do with marketing…

 The story is found in the Bible, the book written by Matthew and it goes like this…

 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory – this was during Herod’s kingship – a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on a pilgrimage to worship him.”

 When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified – and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religious scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

 They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

                ‘It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear.

                From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.’ “

 Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”

 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

 They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they knelt and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

 In a dream they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.  (from the Message Bible)

Tradition has added details to this story that may or may not be accurate. We don’t know if these visitors were kings or even if there were three of them. They arrived after the birth of Jesus and came from a distance so they didn’t find him in a stable. But they found him and they recognized him as a king with gifts that were valuable and designed for royalty.  For more of the legends surrounding these scholars visit  A good explanation of the spiritual side of the story can be found here

 These travelers went to a great deal of trouble to recognize Jesus as a king. Time, effort and cost were evidenced in their travel and the gifts they gave, and we can use their example to recognize others in meaningful ways.

 Give with the right motive, not out of seasonal obligation.

Give with intent and thoughtfulness, as evidence that you value the recipient.

Give the best you can give. 

Give the gift of time, and presence – not only material things.

Give with excitement and enjoyment.

 Following these suggestions might result in doing less shopping but you might find that you have a more peaceful holiday that way. Maybe that’s why those original visitors were called “wise men”. What do you think?

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Caregiving: Caring Enough to Give

Caregiving: Caring Enough to Give

“A 2015 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the American Association of Retired Persons revealed an estimated 39.8 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or child.” (from Healthy Living, November/December 2016 p.6)

 Does this strike a chord for you? Have you been a caregiver or a recipient of care? If so you are part of a growing sector of the population getting a lot of attention, but needing even more. It is estimated that 90% of long term care is provided by unpaid caregivers, amounting to $375 billion in value. Most of this care is provided by a family member.

 Who is this typical caregiver? Statistically, she is a woman, although about 40% are male. She has some college experience and is probably still working a job in addition to caregiving. She spends over 20 hours per week helping her Mom.  She is not a medical professional but may have been trained to do complex tasks like injections, colostomy care, and tube feedings. She commonly helps with activities of daily living, meal preparation, housework, shopping and errands. She coordinates medical appointments. 

Caregiving is a job with high demands physically, emotionally and financially.  Physically, 67% of caregivers say they put off going to the doctor themselves, putting their families’ needs ahead of their own. Fifty one percent feel they do not have time to take care of themselves and forty nine percent are too tired. Emotionally, 47 – 70% have clinically significant signs of depression. Financially, 47% of working caregivers say they have used up all or most of their savings, 41% work fewer hours than they would ordinarily, 30% take leave to give care and 11% quit their jobs. Half of those who quit say that their employers were not flexible enough to allow them to give the needed care.

A 2004 report estimated that 21% of households in the U.S. were affected by the need for caregiving, although that number has increased heavily with an aging population. I have had short term experience giving care to my mother but have watched other families deal with much more. My cousin helped care for her mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A few years later she cared for her youngest daughter as she underwent major surgery and treatment for breast cancer. Several years later she cared for her older daughter who also had cancer and died during treatment. Now my cousin is caring for her sister who has cancer.  She has carried a heavier load than the typical caregiver. She and her family are definitely examples of those who care enough to give.

 November is National Family Caregivers month. About half of caregivers receive some help from another family member but a third of them get no help at all. Chances are you know one of these people. This is a great time to reach out to support and encourage someone you know, in your family or community, who is giving of their time and energy.  Let them know they are appreciated.

 For more information on this topic visit: matters/



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Our First Year as a Birkie Sponsor!

Our First Year as a Birkie Sponsor!

Apple Awards, powered with solar energy,  is humming with the activity of printers, engraving machines, copiers, and computers. The lights are on in Dennis Smith’s office as he recalls early memories of the "Birkie" as he affectionately refers to it. Both Dennis (soon to be 55) and his wife Mary Pat (won’t tell) were born and raised in Hayward. Mary Pat’s home was on Lake Hayward where one end of the Birkie Trail empties into the small tourist town.

 As a teen back in the 70’s, Dennis volunteered to help with the skier’s bags. “We would get up early race morning, my high school buddies and I, and meet the Williamson Distributing trucks at History Land. The skiers would hand us their bags filled with coats and post-race necessities before they lined up for the start of the race. Then it was off to the finish line up at Telemark, a hand full of us riding in the back of the big trucks, packed in amongst the bags.”

 Although Dennis skied very little in those days, mostly breaking his own trail on Round Lake, he eventually joined the ranks of “those crazy skiers” on the Birkie. As he puts it, “You can imagine it was very different navigating the steep downhills and climbs of the Birkie trail. In all I have skied 5 Birkies and 2 Kortes and often volunteered at various food stations over the years. This year I will be skiing the Korte with my daughter Claire who is 16”.

 Dennis has carried his love of the outdoors and specifically the American Birkebeiner into his business, Apple Awards. For nearly 20 years they have provided some form of engraving services for the races. This year they have become a proud sponsor, as well as providing many of the awards for the races, helping with phase one of the donor recognition wall at the new start line and providing new trail markers for the entire trail. “Every one of our eight-member staff have either grown up here in Hayward and have volunteered or skied the Birkie, so we are very proud of our involvement in the race.”

 And what about the solar aspect? It’s hard to grow up in the beautiful north woods and not feel a respect for the environment. The same spirit that puts them among Birkie supporters has led Apple Awards to embrace this environmentally friendly energy source. Dennis puts it this way, “For years I have had the desire to lessen our carbon footprint and go solar. We believe sustainability is the key to success, whether in business or in life.” This fall the conditions were right for Dennis and Mary Pat to make the decision to go solar, both in their business and their home. Not long after, Next Energy Solutions from Shell Lake, Wisconsin was on the scene preparing to install solar panels on the roof of his storage buildings next to the business and nearby on the property where sun exposure would be maximum. The installation is the largest system in the Hayward area and the 58 panels are designed to deliver 16 kw of energy, enough to completely power Apple Awards.

 Since being operational on September 29, the system has been delivering on its promise, keeping the lights on at Apple Awards.  The first month’s energy demand was met with a small surplus that was sold back to the local provider Xcel Energy. Dennis is pleased with the result and is hoping for a winter with plenty of sunshine during the day and snow at night, with one restriction. “We will be hoping for sunshine, unless of course it is prematurely melting the snow on the Birkie trail!”




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Serving in Time of Need

Serving in Time of Need

 How do you feel about 24/7 on call work? (sounds tiring…)

How does crisis intervention and personal drama strike you? (no, no, none of that…)

Like being involved in conflict? (easy one, no.)

How about regular public speaking? (nightmare material that one…)

 If you thought the above job characteristics sounded great, you can have them all by joining the ranks of the clergy. If ever a group of people needed encouragement and appreciation, it would be this one. Fortunately, the month of October is Clergy Appreciation Month for those who intersect with pastors, ministers, priests, chaplains, missionaries and other religious workers. Ideally, these workers should be celebrated and encouraged all the time, not just at one designated time. But we do have Hallmark to thank for reminding us.

 A relatively recent celebration, Clergy Appreciation Day (second Sunday in October) and Clergy Appreciation Month was initiated by Hallmark Cards in 1992. It is of interest to the 77% of Americans who identify as Christians and are served by approximately 44,000 members of the clergy (Gallup poll 2012).

 In the article "What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew" researcher Denise George presents some of the worries and wishes that pastors gave in response to her questions. We often forget that in choosing to help people with their spiritual needs, those in the clergy do not cease to be human themselves. The problems they encounter are ones we should all recognize.

 The first is physical exhaustion due to long hours, and many interruptions. The average pastor has a 55-hour work week but is also on call 24/7.  This is hard on them but also on their spouses and children who are often called on to be second in line for attention. Pastors care about their parishioners, considering them “family” in many cases, and when they have even a small group under their care they are subject to “caretaker fatigue”.

 Another worry is spiritual dryness, when they are supposed to be an endless well of spiritual comfort and wisdom. Long hours and physical exhaustion make it pretty hard to recharge their own personal spiritual batteries. This quote from Lance Witt in “Confessions of a Driven Pastor” sums up the reality for many of the clergy;

“I know what it is to feed others while neglecting to feed myself. It is no longer safe to assume that people in ministry have healthy souls…”

 The last concern brought out in the research was that of stress and deep discouragement. It is usually in times of distress that people call on the clergy for spiritual help. It’s when a loved one dies, or is seriously injured or sick, it’s when finances fail and fear strikes, it’s when people are challenged or in danger that they share these emotional loads and those in ministry who respond with compassion share the stress. Pastors also receive more than their share of criticism and almost daily are involved with conflict of some kind which can be very discouraging. 

 At Apple Awards we care about and appreciate those groups of people who serve our society and work to make it strong. Do you have a pastor, priest or ministry worker who comes to mind as you read this? Now, in October and every chance you get, thank them and offer your encouragement and support.

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When there's a storm...

When there's a storm...

Does it seem to you that our news reports these days consist of one tragedy or crisis after another? For every disaster you see portrayed there is a special group of people who are intimately and personally involved. They are called first responders. A great definition of a first responder, from a police officer, is “they’re the people you seeing running in when everyone else is running out”. (click her to read the whole article) First responders, for the most part, tolerate high stress, life endangerment, low financial reward and little recognition for their service. They do their jobs because they have a personal commitment to serving others.

The subject of first responders is on my mind because of our recent natural disaster, Hurricane Matthew. I sat in the path of the storm in Jacksonville, Florida and watched as people were evacuated, rescued from flood waters, and transported to shelters. One of my family members remarked that the hurricane had a positive effect on people. They began to unite around the issues of greatest importance, preserving life and serving each other.  As part of the Apple Award family I naturally began to wonder how we are recognizing these efforts of service, especially from first responders.

Ten years ago (2006) a National First Responders Appreciation Day was proposed but still has not become official, mostly because of the political process needed to establish it. More recently the movement was given new life when Andrew Collier, brother of the police officer killed in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, started a petition calling for the day to be established. Although it is said that 94% of the population believe first responders deserve more recognition for their work, only 32% have actually done something to support that belief. Most people do not know what they can do to lend support. Well, here is one way of acting – sign the petition.

 I don’t know how we came to have Administrative Assistant Day, National Boss Appreciation Day and others, but I certainly question why we do not have a National First Responders Appreciation Day. We all have friends or family members in professions such as firefighting, police work, EMT/paramedic work, disaster agencies, and the military who deserve recognition. Some states have passed bills, Colorado being the first, followed by Oregon, Wisconsin and Illinois that designate September 27 as the official day of recognition. The petition for a national day instituted by Congress and the President needs 100,000 signatures and support is mounting thanks to the website The most recent number I could find was 67,297 more signatures needed. Those who wish to sign can add their names there. I added mine. There are also several Facebook pages where stories can be told and gratitude expressed.

At Apple Awards we believe in supporting and recognizing our committed first responders. We want to encourage others to do the same. How will you show your appreciation to a first responder this week? Feel free to comment on your experience of sharing with us. Be a part of the recognition culture.   



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Behavioral Science and Kindness

Behavioral Science and Kindness

You’re kidding, right? There is science behind something as changeable and un-definable as human emotions and motives? Well, yes and no.

 Any time something can be observed and quantified, science can help us learn about it. Anytime behaviors can be connected repeatedly with consequences, conclusions can be drawn that help us choose our behavior. Observations and conclusions are science. They are also called common sense. Let’s look at kindness and see one way in which it has been studied.

This particular study was done in 1990 and was a follow-up of earlier research into the characteristics that create long lasting relationships. As couples were observed interacting they fell into two groups, those displaying kindness and generosity (they called them masters), and those displaying criticism, contempt and hostility (disasters). More details on this interesting study can be found in this original article.

Have you ever excitedly called for someone to come and see something you found interesting or important? You were asking for attention in hopes that someone would respond, respect your request and give some feedback. Watching these “bids for attention” between couples, researchers noted that those that were successful and happy in their long term relationships responded to bids 87% of the time. Those in uncomfortable, unhappy, or failing relationships responded 33% of the time. And while this may seem self-explanatory, they observed further that

 “there’s a habit of mind that the masters have, which is this; they are scanning the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.”

 It turns out, there are two ways to view this trait of kindness. Is it a genetic aspect of personality that some are born with and others aren’t? This may be part of the answer. It could also be that the practice of kindness is like a muscle which “can be exercised and developed”.  What happens when we don’t feel like responding to other people’s bids for attention? This is where generosity comes in – being generous enables us to be kind and to respect other’s requests, to give our time and attention.

We often think of benefits of kindness as belonging only to the receiver, but science comes in again and shows there are many benefits for the giver of kindness as well. The research is there! These benefits include increase in positive mood, more relationship satisfaction, reduced social avoidance behaviors, improved physical health, and reduced stress. In addition to performing acts of kindness, research shows that witnessing acts of kindness done by others, and remembering past acts of kindness also affect us positively. A great place to read about this research and to find stories of kindness is the Random Acts of Kindness website. You can even join them and become a RAKtivist (Random Act of Kindness activist).

Apple Awards is a business that exists to encourage the expression of appreciation and kindness and we have been busy thinking of ways of doing that, and people who deserve to be recognized. The next time an attack of gratitude hits you, we’d like to hear how we could help you express it. Let us partner with you in the culture of appreciation.

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Autumn Is Apple Time

Autumn Is Apple Time

It’s autumn. It’s the season for one of our favorite fall foods and if you’re thinking pumpkin latte, give it another thought. It’s the apple. As you might guess, here at Apple Awards we are fans of the apple in all its various forms and this is the time of year when apples provide not only enjoyable eating experiences but also enjoyable family outings. It might be time for your family to take a trip to an Apple Festival, or maybe even to an orchard to do a little picking.

Because the tree requires a cool, dormant period, apples are naturally a more northern fruit, but since they grow well in zones 3-8, they grow within traveling distance of most of our country. There are also many varieties of apples that ripen at different times so from early September until late October harvests will be occurring and Apple Festivals, parades and cooking contests abound. Many venues have apples to pick, activities for children and adults, food to sample, and interesting crafts and vendors. And absolutely nothing beats the flavor and fun of biting into that apple that you’ve just pulled off the tree yourself.

Finding that special apple venue is as easy as clicking on this address Close to Apple Awards in the mid-west, for instance, is the Bayfield Apple Festival in Bayfield, Wisconsin. It’s been called one of the 10 Best Harvest Festivals in the nation in 2015 by USA TODAY. This year it’s a three-day event, October 7, 8, and 9 from 10 am to 5 pm. The tempering influence of Lake Superior creates a climate perfect for certain varieties of apples and the picturesque farms, rolling hills with colorful trees and views of the lake are beautiful and calming. There are opportunities to sample everything apple including pies, cobblers, cakes, ciders, butters and even bratwurst and mustard! Fifteen local orchards are participating with apples for sale and orchard tours.

Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, MacIntosh, Rome, Black Gilliflower, Honeycrisp, Thompkins King, Sweet Tango, Pink Lady – some you’ve heard of and probably some you haven’t… go to an apple festival this fall for an educational, memorable and fun family activity. And don't forget, for other purposes, Apple Awards has a variety of stunning apples ready for picking too. C'mon, apple up!



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Ready for School?

Ready for School?

 In August most schools start the new educational year. Students move from one institution, the family, to another, their school and a new class experience. Some are moving from home to middle school for the first time, or to high school, or perhaps as an exchange student, to school in an entirely different country. Some students are encountering a new freedom and set of responsibilities as they start college or university. In what ways do they become prepared for meeting new challenges head on?

 The place of preparation for most is called The Family. Surprised? You should not be. The family is an institution designed for the support and nurture of humanity. When it’s working well, it produces creative, responsible adults with passion for life and a sense of purpose. But, like other institutions, it needs to be working well or it becomes toxic.

 Type “recognition culture” into your search bar and you will get countless ideas about employee engagement and ROI (return on investment).  Would it be beneficial to apply some of these concepts to the family? Aren’t our families where we invest a great deal of time, money, “blood, sweat and tears”? What about a return on that investment? Perhaps the family should be the very first place we apply “engagement” principles. Some great information on how engagement looks in practice can be found in the post " Ten Ways to Create an Employee Engagement Culture ". Let’s look at a few of those principles and see if they don’t have great bearing on healthy families as well as healthy businesses.

 The first point of engagement is that of having a vision. Just like businesses, strong families usually have a vision that, if they think it through, can be stated. It might be a faith statement. It might be a focus on social welfare or on service to the community or of survival under adverse circumstances. A strong family vision that all family members can attach to creates commitment and loyalty. Does your family have a commitment to education and respect for what goes on at school?

 Another principle is that of consistent communication. Time spent being together and communicating is another characteristic of a healthy family. The dinner table (conference table), the kitchen (boardroom), the “one on one” times (in the boss’s office) are where vital information about the family is shared. Plans and goals that the family is making and progress on those plans should be shared in an age appropriate way.  We feel valued when family members share information with us. Are your children encouraged to share what goes on at school? Do you and your child’s teacher communicate well, and do you know who their influential peers are?

A third point of engagement is that of supervisor interaction.

 “There is a lot of research that shows that employees leave organizations because of their direct supervisors. The engagement of employees is tied to the leadership of their direct supervisor. This includes how information is shared, how employees perceive equity amongst each other, and how well a supervisor demonstrates care for employees as individuals”.

In the quote above, substitute children for employees and parent for supervisor – clearly applicable to the family. How a child views their parent can carry over into the classroom. Teachers will vouch for the fact that a troubled family creates a troubled child and troubled at school.

 A final point stresses the importance of reward and recognition.

“Rewards and recognition should be integrated into the way employees are managed on a day to day basis.”

Family rewards don’t have to be trophies, or medals. They are as simple as an approving look, a smile and a hug, a sincere thank you. And what parent has not at one time or another used reward as a motivation for desired behavior? Performance and achieving good grades at school does not have to be the primary goal. Every child does something good at school every day. Find that something and recognize it.

 Here at Apple Awards we stand behind the “culture of recognition” both in business and in family.  We encourage families to work toward engagement, and the back-to-school season is a great time to evaluate how that work will be done during the coming school year.

For further information on this subject click the name of the article mentioned above or type this address in your browser.

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Apples Grow Better with Sunshine and So Do We!

Apples Grow Better with Sunshine and So Do We!


In this era of watching one’s carbon footprint, and caring for our natural resources Apple Awards is not going to be left behind. It is an exciting time as we watch solar panels being installed that will soon be providing 100% of the electrical needs of our office.

Photovoltaics have improved tremendously in recent years and, depending on the area of the country and the electric service provider, some creative incentives are making solar a reasonable alternative. Xcel Energy, the local provider for Apple Awards, has partnered with us and our solar panels went up today! The remaining work will be completed in the next couple of weeks and our office will be powered up by the sun.

 Did you know that businesses can become certified as a “green business”?  The organization Green America, in existence since the 1980’s, lists the qualifications on its website. The requirements fall into these main parameters: 

  1. Green businesses are socially and environmentally responsible.
  2. Green businesses care for their workers.
  3. Green businesses protect their customers and clients.
  4. Green businesses improve their communities.


Whether certified “green” or not, businesses that adopt practices in harmony with these guidelines are to be applauded and encouraged.  It’s simply a matter of caring for the planet and the people inhabiting it.  Do you have a business that could be certified? Do you re-use or re-cycle at home? Find out more at .

 Meanwhile, join us as we watch the solar installation unfold and become a reality. Apple Awards is a fan of going “green”. (And by the way… check out our green crystal or aluminum apples for another good way to go green).


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Where Do You Sit?

Where Do You Sit?

The conference table, the office desk, the podium… These are some of the settings in which leaders interface with those they lead. But according to researcher and author Brene Brown, leaders who want to lead by example, leaders who inspire with their own stories of growth, leaders who want feedback and connection with others – those leaders “sit on the same side of the table”, metaphorically speaking with their employees, their students, their listeners. 

Who are these leaders? The definition that Brown gives in her Daring Greatly Leadership Manifesto is “anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people or processes.” This broad definition describes teachers from kindergarten to university, the nurse mentor helping new grads in the hospital, the CEO directing his staff, the project leader working with his team, or even (especially) the parents nurturing their child. We are all leaders at some point, aren’t we?

 And how do these leaders draw creativity, innovation and growth out of those they lead? They do it by engaging (letting ideas and thoughts flow in both directions), giving positive attention, being vulnerable about their own growth experiences, and taking the risk of asking for feedback.  Any group that attempts to accomplish something is bound to struggle at some point. The engaged leader is not afraid to hear about the struggle, examine it and lead others to find a solution using the strengths they have.  The engaged leader is not afraid to be uncomfortable. In fact, he “normalizes discomfort” making it easier for others to stay calm and focused as they problem solve. Adopting this leadership style makes the office, the school, or the home a safe place, free from blaming, name calling, bullying and harassment.

As a leader, how have you made others feel valued? How do you encourage feedback from those you serve or lead?  How do you model the connection between serving and leading? Recognition plays a part in successful leading and Apple Awards has many ideas and products to assist individuals and/or institutions who wish to recognize the value in other’s contributions.  For more information on this aspect of leadership and connection click here for Brene Brown's website, read her best selling books or watch her TED talk.



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Smart Onboarding

Smart Onboarding

If you are part of an organization or business that regularly takes on new employees or new clients you are probably familiar with the term “onboarding”.  It is the cultural term for the process of taking in new people and properly orienting them for success.  We’ve probably all had some experience with onboarding failures – remember that job you were suddenly thrust into with little or no orientation (the job spelled STRESS)?

Today’s leaders in the culture of recognition realize that a new employee or client comes to some very important and long lasting conclusions in the first weeks and months of their experience.  What every company wants is to be that place with little employee turnover, the place where people love their jobs. That kind of experience starts before the first day at work, with thought and planning. 

Onboarding checklists contain many kinds of items, from orientation to parking spaces, giving of access keys, providing work space, passwords to software use, to designating mentors and introducing significant coworkers. Many of these actions begin to build a team spirit, a sense of belonging and being valued.  Many times people have a memento from a good job experience, a name tag, or some other physical reminder given to them that represented their contribution to the team.

Apple Awards is capable of helping you design that welcoming physical object for your onboarding checklist. Every business, every workplace has some unique attribute that needs to be communicated to its workforce.  A logo keychain, a branded name tag, a desk tool or ornament – all can be symbols of inclusion, acceptance and commitment to that new employee or client. For some great ideas check out our menu of products or talk with one of our specialists about creating your own unique logo item. Welcome those new people on board!


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Learning What Works

Learning What Works

It’s pretty safe to say that most of us as adults have either been an employee or an employer at one time. We’ve had some good, productive experiences and probably some not-so-good but also productive experiences (and maybe some just plain bad ones, but forget that!). In all of this we hope to learn what works in the business world.

Fortunately, there’s a lot we can learn from other’s experiences as well.

It seems that whenever there’s a business culture that puts people before profits in a careful, consistent way, that business grows. It may start with the appreciation of the customer, the end user, but almost always emphasizes the experience of the employee as well. This is becoming so recognized that now there are businesses whose goal is to help change the internal culture of other businesses to make them exciting, innovative places to work (read more profitable and productive). At the bottom line is the fact that we all want to have reasons to love our job, love our work.

Do you have some reading time this summer? If you want to come out of your summer vacation feeling inspired and energized try reading some of the books highlighted in this post 8 Great Books by CEOs. You’ll find titles such as “Let My People Go Surfing”, and “Business as Unusual” and the stories behind the development and growth of companies such as Campbell’s Soup, Starbucks, Zappos, Zingerman’s, The Body Shop and Pattagonia. Even the quotes from some of the authors might kick start your next “new train of thought”.Take this one, for instance:

“My vision, my hope, is simply this: that many business leaders will come to see a primary role of business as incubators of the human spirit, rather than factories for the production of more material goods and services.” Anita Roddick, the late CEO of The Body Shop

If you are one of those business leaders who gives attention to the human spirit of your employees and customers, Apple Awards wants to congratulate you and support your efforts of appreciation. We hope your summer plans include a great vacation and some good reading. Be inspired!


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Happy (Belated) Father's Day!

Happy (Belated) Father's Day!
Children grow up noticing what is important to their parents. They see where their parents are willing to spend time and they see whether actions match words. At a very young age, they notice parental attitudes toward education and being in school. That is why parental volunteerism in schools has always been sought and has often proved to be very influential. The face of this volunteerism has lately taken on some new and interesting changes.

Enter Watch D.O.G.S.

We have seen several national news stories recently featuring this very cool program with some much needed benefits. It has been developed by the National Center for Fathering and is operating in 5,148 schools in 47 states and some other countries as well. Here’s what happens. Any father figure or other male role model who is willing to demonstrate that education is important by volunteering for at least one day per year, may sign up and become a Watch D.O.G.S. (stands for Dad of Great Students). They come to an enrolled school (K-12) and are assigned to help with a variety of school activities as chosen by the school principals or other overseers.

They might find themselves helping in a classroom, talking with children on the playground or in the lunchroom, monitoring buses at loading or unloading time, helping with physical activities or sports programs. Often it is their very presence at school that causes the most surprising changes. They act as an extra set of eyes and ears, keeping kids safe, reducing bullying behavior, and giving children chances to practice interacting with adult authority.

Are men willing to spend a whole day in school, away from work? The success of this program indicates that they are. Many parents simply do not know what school is like for their children or for their teachers. But being present changes that. It’s often reported that fathers have a new appreciation for teachers and discover that they enjoy interacting with the children. So much so, that men usually sign up for more than one day per year because of the good experience. And what man doesn’t want a T-shirt with WATCH D.O.G.S. printed on it?

Schools are usually enrolled in the program through P.T.A. sponsorship but any individual can get the ball rolling. It involves training for the leadership and purchase of a kit for the school. The cost is minimal for such an effective program. It is available in Spanish as well as English and is registered as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit.

So, as we continue to celebrate Father's Day, consider how we can encourage positive change in neighborhood schools and lend support to great programs like WATCH D.O.G.S.
National Center for Fathering
1 800 593-DADS (3237)
1600 West Sunset Ave. Ste. B
Springdale, AR 72762
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Celebrate June!

Celebrate June!
At Apple Awards we are all about appreciation and acknowledgement. So, who do we appreciate in the month of June? You might be surprised to find out...

Some celebrations are month long giving us 30 days to appreciate the Dairy industry, Fruits and Vegetables, Roses, Iced Tea, Turkey, Tennis, Zoos and Aquariums. Also, please don’t forget to Adopt-A-Cat this month, Drive Safe, spend some time in the Great Outdoors and for all who are parents of young children, know that it is Potty Training Awareness Month.

You may have missed Donut Day which was June 1, but don’t mourn because Chocolate Éclair Day is coming up on the 22nd followed by National Pecan Sandies Day on the 23rd. For the more health conscious, please celebrate Eat Your Vegetables Day on the 17th of June and keep in mind for next year that Egg Day is June 3rd and Cheese Day is June 4th.
Evidently we are people who love to celebrate, and it is apparent that almost any occasion or person can be cause for a national celebration of some kind.

Many of these commemorative days you don’t hear much about, but there is one coming up on June 19th that most of us have celebrated at one time or another and that is Father’s Day.

Among this group of people are many to be appreciated for their contributions to their families and to society. They are the fathers who are working to help support a family financially or managing duties at home and nurturing children, or both/all of these things. Fathers are a vital part of strong families as they encourage, inspire, and support those in their care. We also have male mentors, “father figures”, who may not have been our actual fathers but had great influence in our lives.

We can get a little over the top with our reasons to celebrate (check this interesting site if you don’t believe that: but when it comes to giving credit, a bit of honor, and a lot of love to people who have been faithfully serving in important roles, we say, YES, do it!

Who comes to mind as you think about Father’s Day? How will you show appreciation this month to those who have served well in the area of fathering?
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"Teacher, I feel sick..."

Did you miss School Nurse Day?

Smack dab in the middle of National Teacher Appreciation week was a day honoring School Nurses – did you hear about it? Perhaps not.

Gone are the days when children went to the nurse’s office and found her sitting behind a desk with her thermometer ready. The average school nurse today serves 1,151 students in 2.2 schools and is busy, to put it mildly, so you may have to search for her. In 25% of schools you won’t find her because there is no nurse for that school. There are roughly 50,000 school nurses in the U.S. and the ratio being aimed at presently is one nurse for 750 students. Unfortunately, 59% of schools don’t meet this ratio now and in some underserved states like Michigan (1 nurse for 3,611 students) and Utah (1 nurse for 4,952 students) there is a lot of progress needed. 

Since Apple Awards seeks to show appreciation to those in education and the medical field, school nurses are of special interest. They combine these roles and do it in a very challenging environment. 

The number of students with medical needs has been rising steadily since the Students with Disabilities Act passed, which means that children who would formerly have been in specialty institutions or cared for at home are now in school. Technology has also improved so that they are able to function in the classroom with help. Chronic condition like diabetes, asthma, and allergies are being managed by nurses in school. Children with cerebral palsy are in their wheelchairs at school. Children with insulin pumps are at school. Children who need their inhalers and nebulizers are in school. The school nurse monitors them all. 

And today, the school nurse must also tend to the needs of students who are pregnant and need instruction, care and support in order to stay in school.  After their babies are born and in day care, on site at school, the school nurse monitors them as well. 

What about those at risk children who are running into drug abuse problems? School nurses identify and help keep them safe and in school whenever possible. There are also homeless students who have needs, and students whose parents are incarcerated. All this is in addition to the routine wellness screenings, immunizations (that’s the part we remember hating!) and outbreaks of flu and colds in the classroom.  

One of the most satisfying parts of the school nurse’s role is the long term relationship that she is able to establish with families in the community – sometimes over the 12 years of each child’s schooling. They serve as a trusted and vital link between medical professionals and the family. To quote an article in the NEA journal “for some students, the school nurse is the only health care professional they ever see.” 

Let’s remember our school nurses this month and also the other educational support persons that help keep students in school and well enough to learn while they’re there. 

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