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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?

Saving the Day

Saving the Day

We all have had the experience (I’m guessing here) of accomplishing something with a special team of people, particularly in sports.  It might have been a strenuous time, with its ups and downs, conflicts and resolutions, questions and answers, but it was a time of learning and growth that we remember.  It was influential and we will never forget those people and those events, at least we don’t think we’ll ever forget…

As a coach, Apple Awards owner Dennis Smith has had many of those memories.  He knows that life changing lessons can be learned on the soccer field, or the basketball court. The young people on his teams come to know that too.  These team efforts teach and support important skills and attitudes. This explains the passion Dennis has for Apple Awards newest business acquisition, Sport Plaques.

 In the coming weeks Dennis and others will be sharing some of those important team memories with readers as an introduction to the concept behind Sport Plaques.  Why not preserve those important memories complete with names, dates and faces in a way that can be shared with each team member as well as the organization for which they play? Sport Plaques makes it possible and easy.

 What team effort do you remember as influential, inspiring or heartwarming? It might not make a hit movie but it might be one we’d like to share with readers.  Share your story in the comment box below or email to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with "apple" in the subject line. 

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A Gift for Everyone

A Gift for Everyone

 We give gifts, especially at this time of year, when we want to convey to someone that they are loved, special, valuable, and important. We instinctively love those gifts that are well thought out, and personal. We admire those people who can choose the perfect gift, and sometimes even hire them to shop for us. We joke about re-gifting and the “white elephant” exchanges. We agonize over decisions and finally, in desperation, buy that Starbuck’s gift card because we don’t know what that special person needs or wants. Gift giving is a skill, an art, and sometimes a sacrifice.

 The Biblical story celebrated at Christmas tells of the gift of God’s Son and the salvation offered through him. The gift was well thought out by a master gift giver and delivered in a unique, surprising, and mysterious way. The gift is available to everyone who will accept it, and is given with knowledge of what we truly need. It is personal. When we accept it, the Words engraved on our hearts signify just how personal it really is.  It was a gift from our God who would rather become man and die than live without his creation.  Even today, with every gift we give, we subconsciously seek to copy this loving, sacrificial event in our own small way.  

In the tradition of this kind of caring, Apple Awards and Sports Plaques honors the concepts of personal gift giving, of written words of appreciation, of beauty and quality of product. And beyond present business concerns, it is our hope that this season will bring you a heightened awareness of the greatest gift of all.

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A Customer Service Experience

A Customer Service Experience

Customer service is a term not taken lightly by the staff at Apple Awards. Our customers are individuals and companies with unique needs and concerns that are considered and dealt with as the situation demands – and sometimes situations demand a rescue mission!

As the time for expected delivery of their order came and went, one Orlando customer began to get nervous about the upcoming award ceremony where 1200 pounds of beautiful crystal apples were due to be handed out. Even more concern arose when another company's product showed up on their door and it became clear a mix up had occurred. Where were their crystal apples? They had been shipped 3 weeks prior to the due date! 

Apple Awards owner, Dennis Smith took up those concerns and began tracking the shipment through numerous phone calls.  By the time the shipment was found, in Iowa, the deadline was only two days away and there was no way the shipping company could make delivery timely and certain for the worried customer. But where there is a will to serve, there is a way to do it. Dennis planned a rescue mission!

 The shipment would be intercepted and held in Memphis TN on Wednesday evening of that week, picked up by courier on Thursday afternoon, and transported and delivered to the customer by the Friday afternoon deadline. There was no extra time for delays or deliberation. It had to be put into action immediately.

And the courier? Another of the Apple Award team, business blogger and sister to Dennis, Shirley Dietz. Me. I live only two hours from Orlando and miraculously had no scheduled commitments for the next two days.

 As Dennis suggested, on Thursday I drove to Orlando and took a flight to Memphis, rented a van and picked up the apples at the shipping center located close to the airport.  There was time to drive for about six hours that evening. The next day finished the 12 hour drive and I arrived in Orlando at 3 pm on Friday to be greeted by a relieved customer.

Team work, cooperation and dedication to customer service made this rescue mission not only possible, but, dare I say, FUN. And very satisfying.

Rescue mission starts with a flight to Memphis. 

 

The cooperative dispatch team, ready and waiting with the shipment.

 

 

Generous help with the loading of precious cargo.

 

 

 

 

And finally, after the 12 hour journey, a relieved customer in Orlando.

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It's Not Just Good Manners!

It's Not Just Good Manners!

Thank you! TY! Hey, thanks! Thanks a million! I can’t thank you enough! Many thanks. How many variations of this sentiment have you heard or used yourself? Why are those reminders to say “Please” and “Thank you” among the earliest lessons most of us remember being taught? It is about having good manners, of course, but it’s also been proven to have a lot to do with satisfaction in life.

 In a 2014 article on gratitude, psychotherapist Amy Morin gives seven benefits of thankful thinking and speaking that are pretty amazing. Most people would pay a doctor for a pill that could produce these results. Here’s her list:

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships (acknowledging others creates opportunities)
  2. Gratitude improves physical health (fewer aches and pains)
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health (reduces depression)
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression (less thoughts of retaliation)
  5. Grateful people sleep better (your last grateful thoughts produce better and longer sleep)
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem (reduces social comparisons)
  7. Gratitude increases mental strength (reduces stress and helps overcoming trauma)

 As Amy points out, these are proven benefits with associated research. Go on over to the Forbes website for her full article. 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude That Will Motivate You to Give Thanks Year-Round

 In case there is anything on that list that addresses a need you have had, you can be grateful right away that developing the gratitude habit does not have to cost you money. It can start with a smile and a sincere word. It can be practiced on a daily basis, in almost any environment, and will have lasting results.

 This November, Apple Awards is thankful for you, the reader, the customer, the friend. TY!

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Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle

Exercise Your Gratitude Muscle

November, with its major holiday on the third Thursday, is a month of gratitude reminders and thoughts of being thankful for things great and small. Haven’t we heard that gratitude is like a muscle that needs to be exercised and strengthened?Haven’t we heard that practicing being thankful actually has physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effects that can be measured and felt? So, do something good for yourself today and the rest of this month with this simple exercise.

Make a short list of 10 people who have brought you happiness. It might be by spending time with you, making you laugh, encouraging you in a difficult moment. Maybe they are a longtime friend, or someone you met yesterday on your commute to work, or a family member whose hugs always comfort you. Maybe it’s someone you don’t even know well but wish you did, like the clerk at the grocery store who smiles at you regularly and helps you find those coupons in the flyer.

 Add to your list 10 times you can remember being happy, pleasantly surprised, proud of yourself for an accomplishment, or in awareness of how beautiful the world is. Remember, this is exercise – you might think it’s hard to put this list of 20 people and moments together, but you can do it. It will get easier as you get into the groove of remembering.

 Over the next 20 days of November, take one thing from the list each day and spend a few minutes feeling gratitude for that person or experience. For instance, look over the pictures from that family reunion. If you are a writer, describe the experience in your journal. If you’re not a writer, find a person who will listen to you for a minute and tell them about that beautiful sunset, or the time your teacher in grade school was kind to you. If you can, pass it forward by buying someone a cup of coffee, or listening to them empathetically for a few minutes. You can put another one of our culture’s current buzzwords to use – be mindful as you take that item from your list and dwell on it. Enjoy the moment.

Memories can be precious and this exercise will help solidify memories worth keeping. And who knows, the gratitude habit that you’re developing might just stick with you into December…

 

 

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Her Story

Her Story

There is hardly a family anywhere that has not been affected by breast cancer in some way.

Several years ago during an annual check-up, Kim, a young mother in her early thirties, was surprised when the doctor discovered a lump, perhaps a simple hematoma it was thought. Instead, tests confirmed a diagnosis of breast cancer and her family geared up for the treatment process. A supportive husband and newly adopted little daughter, along with parents, her sister and extended family made up her team. The times of waiting were hard. The times of treatment were hard. The decisions were complicated. Over the next nine months Kim navigated the journey that all survivors will affirm is a bit like riding a roller coaster, except that very little of it is fun. It is a life changing journey.

Today Kim is ten years cancer free.  She is a homeschool mom, an active organizer in her daughter’s dance troupe, an involved member of her church, a worker in the concierge industry, and a person who does not take life for granted. She is quick to offer help and words of wisdom to others experiencing breast cancer because she has “been there” and knows what it is like.

 What her experience has taught her, she states this way, “I used to spend way too much time in cleaning my home, having things a certain way, always working on something. Now, I value time with my family. I realized how little time we have on earth and I wanted to change how I used it. My family now puts our time and money in time together, travelling, seeing the world, experiencing all we can together, being there for each other.” She is a grateful survivor.

 October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, reminds us that research has provided treatment options for those experiencing breast cancer.  Apple Awards supports ongoing research by donating proceeds from sale of the pink crystal apple to this important cause. Do you know someone who needs encouragement or who needs to be recognized and celebrated as a survivor? This crystal apple is a gift that will do just that and also contribute to research for future advancements in treatment. Win/win.

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Caring for Teachers

Caring for Teachers

When you are a teacher, the possibilities for complications and stressful situations in your workday are endless. No matter what the subject material is, a teacher has to believe that something more than that is being communicated to students. A teacher wants students to develop a love, or at least a respect for the subject and for the learning process. Every teacher has some days when they question whether this is happening. They need reminders of the good times.

A teacher's story:

"Beautiful music was coming from the piano room. The young man sitting at the instrument had dropped in for a visit and couldn’t help himself – he had to sit down and play something. I was amazed at the ease in his playing. Complicated riffs and fills were everywhere in this piece that he was playing by memory. I was impressed. He had come a long way since being a 10 year old, fascinated by the keyboard.

 Years before, I had been playing music in the park in his neighborhood and it drew children in like flies to honey. “Could I play it, miss?” “Could you teach me?” He was the one with the most interest and he did take lessons, sometimes riding his bike the two miles to my house. He struggled to read notes but his ear could pick up a tune and figure out the chords. He learned progressions and listened to and copied what he heard. He transitioned into playing gospel music and was brave enough to start taking church jobs.

 I had lots of piano students with varying levels of motivation and skill and there were lots of bad days. This visit reminded me of a good day – the day when the love of music knocked on my student's door and asked to come in.  He actually credited me with starting things for him, and teaching him some basics. A memory like this makes teaching worthwhile, and fuels my desire to teach better."

 Do you have something that you remember about a favorite teacher? Have you told them about their good influence on your learning experience? Give a teacher some good memories to help them through those inevitable “bad days”.

 

 

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Going Pink in October

Going Pink in October

 Most of us are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is the “IN” color this time of year. This year this horrible cancer has hit close to home for us at Apple Awards. In May, my beautiful, courageous, and faith filled wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. For the past 15 weeks, she has been receiving chemo treatments for her cancer. Yesterday she had her final infusion before surgery and will likely have some additional treatments.

 Even though there is nothing good about the treatment for cancer we have learned through the process that there has been much progress made over the years in how the disease is treated, the mortality of its victims and the management of the side effects of treatment. All of this progress is a result of research and development, much of which comes from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  

 For the past three years Apple Awards has donated 10% of its total sales of pink crystal apples to this foundation.  In honor of those who have gone before us due to this terrible disease, and those who have survived or are currently battling breast cancer, we will increase this donation percentage to 100% of total sales of any product with our pink crystal apple, for the remainder of 2017. With this change you can make a 100% donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and encourage someone at the same time. The apples can be used as awards, memorials, or simply as a personalized gift of encouragement for someone battling for their life with this horrible disease. You can check out our selection of pink crystal apples on our www.appleawards.com  website. 

Posted 8 hours ago

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Weathering Storms

Weathering Storms

There is nothing like a storm, be it one of life or of nature, to put us in touch with our need for community. Storms can leave us feeling helpless, fearful, threatened and anxious. I was in touch with all these conditions over the past two weeks as a hurricane passed over our home. I felt a bond with all who have experienced the ravages of Hugo in Texas and Irma in Florida.

 It is a good time to review those events and recognize those who made up that supportive community that formed because of the storms. I want to thank:

  • Those who helped prepare - boarding windows, filling sandbags, putting in supplies, testing generators, informing us, calming us.
  • Those who rode out the storm with us. We did it better together, than we would have alone.
  • Those who called us, prayed for us and sought us out immediately after to see if we were alright.
  • The staff and volunteers who worked in the many shelters, ALF’s and hospitals for the duration
  • Those first responders who went out to assess the danger, while we were still under curfew
  • All the men who love their chain saws and used them so skillfully to clear our driveways and roads
  • The neighbors who help pick up the debris, load after load, and haul it away
  • The friends from local churches who spent time delivering food and water, and helped with cleaning my yard
  • Those who were too far away to come but gave financially to ease the burden, share the loss

For all these and many more the past few weeks have not been “business as usual”, and for some, life will not get back to normal for a very long time.  Thank you for coming to our aid and helping us weather yet another storm.  Those blessed hours when we dropped our social, political, racial, idealogical and religious differences and became a community of people caring and helping each other are what I will choose to remember about the storms.

A volunteer with a chain saw and a smile is a welcome sight!

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About Productive Work

About Productive Work

 

The language may differ slightly from business to business, but when employers are able to openly express what they are looking for in an employee, there are some fairly clear characteristics. The following three posts highlight some of those qualities from a survey found at America's Job Exchange, and from the personal experience of Apple Awards employer, Dennis Smith.

  Post Three: Fitting the Business Culture

 We define our business culture with words like honesty, integrity, service and productivity. Are you dependable? Can you see yourself taking personal ownership of the different aspects of this job? It is such a relief to me to have an employee who is on the job when expected, who looks the part, who conducts themselves professionally with a high level of commitment. The ability to apply yourself during work hours and give your best effort is so important. 

And do you realize that you represent our brand to the public? Even when you’re not at work, your words and actions can reflect on the business. Do you have a good sense of what is appropriate, and do you consider yourself a “balanced” person, giving full value to all areas of your life?

 

From Dennis: The last thing of tremendous value to me is that an employee be efficient in their work. Balancing home life, community service, hobbies and work can be complicated and sometimes overwhelming. At Apple Awards we strive to offer our staff flexibility as they coordinate these areas of life. In return we ask team members to demonstrate efficiency. Because we actually assemble and personalize most of our items to order, on site, a lot of time and labor goes into each product. We expect that time spent at work will be as productive as possible in order that we can give our clients the best product at the best price.  

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About Creative Work

About Creative Work

 

The language may differ slightly from business to business, but when employers are able to openly express what they are looking for in an employee, there are some fairly clear characteristics. The following three posts highlight some of those qualities from a survey found at America's Job Exchange, and from the personal experience of Apple Awards employer, Dennis Smith.

 

Point Two: Self-motivation,  Creativity, Desire to Learn and Grow

 Are you self-motivated? Will I have to show you everything that needs to be done, or will you assess what is happening around you and step up and be a contributor? I need problem solvers and creative thinkers. I want to be aware of your “inner drive”.  

 As an owner, I want this business to grow and succeed. I want you to be able to grow with it and have long term potential as your skills and experience increase. Don’t be afraid to investigate new methods

 

From Dennis: Another thing I look for in my employees is a desire to grow in their work knowledge and a sincere interest in what they are doing. Just going through the motions results in poor quality work and poor customer service. I like to see an employee thinking through the production process, learning and asking questions about what, how and why. That is how they add value to the process. It is my opinion that we work in a very complex industry. Personalized recognition products are just that, personal! They often include custom features such as specific colors and fonts that reflect the tastes of the presenter. It's so important that we take the time to read the notes, ask questions, offer our professional opinions based on experience, and work as a team to offer the best product possible.  

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About Teamwork

About Teamwork

 

lThe language may differ slightly from business to business, but when employers are able to openly express what they are looking for in an employee, there are some fairly clear characteristics in common to them all. The following three posts highlight some of those qualities from a survey found at America's Job Exchange and from the personal experience of Apple Awards employer, Dennis Smith.

Point One: Have a Positive, Customer Centered, Team Enhancing Attitude

 Obviously, none of us succeeds alone in our work. We are a team and have to help each other. How are you at giving praise to others for work well done? Are you an encourager? Do you like working with the other employees and do they like working with you?

 How will you react when there is a crisis in our work? We don’t always anticipate angry customers, rush jobs, and short staffing but we have to respond to solve those problems and not escalate them. Do you meet challenges like these with a positive attitude?

  From Dennis: I would ask my employees to be humble, team players and to treat their fellow workers with the utmost honor and respect. Customer service is super important at Apple Awards and is the core of our work culture. I believe that customer service starts with the way we treat and interact with the people we work with. Yes, I believe the way we treat our teammates precedes the way we treat our customers. If we don’t get it right in the workplace there is no way the customer is going to get the kind of service they deserve from the whole team. In our industry, the customer experience starts with the sales person, the order is assembled by another employee, engraved by the next worker, often cleaned, inspected, shipped and serviced by additional personnel. There is nothing worse than thinking you are serving the customer by putting down someone on your own team. We can and should find healthy, constructive ways of dealing with our internal problems.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One on One with Your Employer

 

The language may differ slightly from business to business, but when employers are able to openly express what they are looking for in an employee, there are some fairly clear characteristics. The following three posts highlight some of those qualities from a survey found at www….. and from the personal experience of Apple Awards employer, Dennis Smith.

 

 

Post Three: Fitting the Business Culture

 

We define our business culture with words like honesty, integrity, service and productivity. Are you dependable? Can you see yourself taking personal ownership of the different aspects of this job? It is such a relief to me to have an employee who is on the job when expected, who looks the part, who conducts themselves professionally with a high level of commitment.

 

Do you realize that you represent our brand to the public? Even when you’re not at work, your words and actions can reflect on the business. Do you have a good sense of what is appropriate, and do you consider yourself a “balanced” person?

 

From Dennis: The last thing of tremendous value to me is that an employee be efficient in their work. Balancing home life, community service, hobbies and work can be complicated and sometimes overwhelming. At Apple Awards we strive to offer our staff flexibility as they coordinate these areas of life. In return we ask team members to demonstrate efficiency. Because we actually assemble and personalize most of our items to order, on site, a lot of time and labor goes into each product. We expect that time spent at work will be as productive as possible in order that we can give our clients the best product at the best price.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Open Letter to an Employer

Open Letter to  an Employer

A healthy business relies on open communication between management and employees. A small business is somewhat like a family where all parties have direct access to each other, often on a daily basis. Responsibility for issues like problem solving and recognition for accomplishment rest equally with all parties, since they all may be sharing job descriptions and wearing several hats. But what happens when the workforce grows and management and employees become separate and less accessible to each other? Formal recognition programs can help, but they still rely on open communication, such as the letter below.

Check our next blog post for "I Am Your Employer". 

 

I Am Your Employee

I have noticed that the business world is full of books, blogs and conferences about how you as an employer can recognize me and my work. It is true that there are organized ways of doing this, the nuts and bolts of rewarding work well done, but I want to add something.

The plaque on the wall, the paperweight on my desk, the mention in the newsletter only take on real importance to me when they have a face behind them.

I need to know that a person who not only cares about the company, but also cares about me has appreciated and responded to my work efforts.

I want to have regular feedback that encourages and directs. Once a month is not regular.

I want to remember the sincere words of the person who benefits from my efforts – my manager, my boss.

I want to feel trusted, encouraged to use my skills and empowered to do even more, to grow.

I want my job to do more than “put bread on the table”. I want it to be a means by which I add value to other people and to society.

I do, however, want my job to “put bread on the table”.

I want to know that you’re planning with me for my future welfare.

If you can do these things through a reward and recognition program I will gladly join your recognition culture. I will come to work with a positive attitude of expectation and engagement. I will think about my work and how I can improve. I will be creative. I will encourage others and I will work in cooperation with your vision.  I am your employee.

 

Are you an employee? What would you like to add to this communication?

 

 

 

 

 

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An Oscar (or an Apple?)

An Oscar (or an Apple?)

The concept of awarding excellence has probably been around as long as people have been doing excellent things (a long time…). One of the early ceremonies in the United States, the Academy Awards, has been held since 1929, and has acquired a lot of interesting trivia. Since it’s summer and time for a little fun, here are some facts you can use to impress friends while you’re sitting around waiting for the hamburgers to come off the grill.

 

The Academy Awards, now called The Oscars, is the oldest awards ceremony in the worldwide entertainment sector.

The ceremony in 2017 was the 89th and next spring will be the 90th birthday of the awards.

The first Academy Awards ceremony was only 15 minutes in length and had only 270 viewers.

The Best Picture Award in 1929 went to the movie “Wings” starring Douglas Fairbanks and William C. deMille. 

Live radio coverage of the Awards was held most years starting in 1930.

Coverage was cut short in 1939 since the station did not have permission to broadcast live. The radio host was whispering the names of winners as he sat, out of sight, in the balcony.

NBC was the first network to broadcast the event nationally in the 50’s for 8 years.

ABC has broadcast the Awards for 42 years to date and has contracted to continue until 2028.

The longest Best Picture Winner was “The Departed” in 2006, lasting 3 hours and 51 minutes.

The Awards highest number of viewers was in 1952 with 40 million watching as “The Greatest Show on Earth” got the Best Picture Award.

57 million viewers watched in 1998 when “Titanic” got the Award.

Bob Hope takes the prize for hosting 18 of the Academy Awards Ceremonies!

Only 4 women have hosted the Awards more than once – Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda, Ellen DeGeneres, and Goldie Hawn.

Awards are given in 24 different categories of the motion picture industry. The Emmy awards (theater), and the “Grammys” (music and recording) were all modeled after The Oscars.

3, 048 Oscars have been awarded since the practice began.

Nameplates on the “Oscars” are left blank to prevent winners being identified ahead of the ceremony.

Since 1950, legally, neither the winners or their heirs can sell their award statues without offering to sell them back to the Academy for $1.

The heirs of Orson Welles sold the Oscar he won for Best Original Screenplay, “Citizen Kane”, for $861,542 but they had to win a court battle to do it. They claimed he did not sign the legal agreement.

Harold Russell, the winner of Best Supporting Actor for “The Best Years of Our Lives” is the only Academy Award winning actor to ever sell his own Oscar. He won it before 1950 and no agreement was yet in place. 

Approximately 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vote to determine the winners of The Oscars.

Our Crystal Apple Awards may not yet have the fame of The Oscars, but you can know that 90 years from now they will look just as beautiful as they do today.

 

These and many more interesting facts about the Oscars can be found online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Awards/

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The Next New Thing

The Next New Thing

Have you ever thought of sending your work team on a cruise? Or scheduling a meeting around "happy hour"?

Would you ever consider doing away with the conference room table and putting in couches and a pleasant view?

These are not isolated examples of how to encourage laziness and cut productivity. They are, in fact, examples of what some companies are doing to enhance the creativity of their work teams. According to Boland Jones, founder and CEO of PGI, a global provider of conferencing and collaboration solutions, it does just that.

Innovation, coming up with the next new thing, is an important element in the success of any company. From his article, Jones gives ideas that have helped innovation teams be at their creative best.  Among them are the "happy hour" approach, similar to the example given above and the "take a mental break" suggestion, which would describe the cruise. He also thinks small breaks, like checking social media or having a conversation with a co-worker, can refresh the mind and clear the way for a new idea. 

Another suggestion, "throw out the rule book", was to encourage all ideas. Even the ones that seem impossible might inspire someone else to think of a solution. Writing all the ideas down also makes a visual impact and makes good use of those whiteboards and post-it notes. Since the hardest part is often starting the flow of ideas, Bond suggests making a game of it, and focusing on what the goal should be instead of how to get there. That's how innovation starts.

Innovation is used to solve problems, and every business encounters problems of some kind. Does your business have a current issue needing to be worked on? Problem solving methods such as these can also work at home and in personal relationships. Unlock your creativity! Check out what innovation research might offer to your business.

www.entrepreneur.com/article/232656

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228171

 

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Where Do You Fit?

Where Do You Fit?

As a business person, are you aware of the benefits of sponsorship?

Most businesses know they need to advertise in some way and have a budget for that purpose. It is easy to think of advertising as a simple explanation of goods or services and an invitation to prospective customers to buy in. But, there is another interesting level of advertising that has great potential to raise awareness and good will – it is sponsorship.

In every area of business or service there are “movers and shakers”, innovators, leaders, and examples of the best in their field. In most of these areas there are organizations in place to recognize the accomplishments of these people and teams of workers. This recognition often takes the form of an annual awards celebration that needs sponsorship. If your business is in a related field, there is no better place to get your name and brand in front of interested people. In cases like this, advertising dollars can serve your business and, in addition, serve the industry and the public by encouraging excellence.

A good example of this would be the annual Organic Trade Association’s Annual Awards Celebration, a peer generated awards program for outstanding accomplishment in the organic foods market. You can check out their website for 2017 here and see their statements encouraging and soliciting sponsorship.

Can’t find an organization that matches your business niche? Well then, look for any event that draws a crowd. Many communities have local celebrations that need sponsorship. They can be sporting events like baseball games or “mud runs” that benefit a cause, or events that highlight a characteristic of a community like the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida or the American Birkiebeiner in Hayward, Wisconsin. Add sponsorship to these events and you are adding to the success of the whole community. The good will generated will serve everyone.

Sponsorship is a good way to enter the culture of recognition, good for your business and good for those people and events in your community that deserve recognition. What might you sponsor this coming month or year?

 

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Helping Those at Risk

Helping Those at Risk

Another school year is soon to end. With 83% of our high school students completing their studies, according to statistics from government websites, chances are you know someone who is celebrating graduation. Graduation is a time to honor those who have put in the hard work of learning, the hard work of teaching and the hard work of mentoring. Without those elements the picture becomes altogether different.

 For some, the hard work of learning is harder than for others. Some young people come to school having not slept well the night before. Some have had little or nothing to eat in the morning. Some have been caring for siblings and doing housework instead of their homework. Some do not have clean clothes to wear. All of these conditions stand in the way of learning.

 There are children whose schools are overcrowded, whose teachers are stressed and overworked. They may not have adequate funds to supply their classroom. And sometimes they have lost their passion for the job and just aren’t good teachers. They may have been put in positions for which they were not prepared.

 These students may not have a parent or a friend they can rely on to encourage and support them in learning. The people in their lives may be abusive, struggling with addictions, and at risk themselves. Their peers become their mentors, and the pull may very well be away from school, not toward it. For these “would be” students graduation is not a celebration but a painful reminder of missing the mark.

 Picking up the pieces are much needed continuation schools, “at risk” schools and alternative education programs. Short on government funding, they are sometimes funded and organized by community and business interests that care about that 17% of students who otherwise would have no chance to complete an education. Do you see yourself fitting anywhere in that picture? Is there a student that you could encourage or mentor? Do you know the graduation rate of your state? (Click HERE for that information.) How about your local school?

   Black Rock Continuation High School  is a model school in the Mojave desert of California.   This school was featured in an award winning documentary film and was aired on PBS in several episodes of “The Bad Kids”. Check out what these dedicated professionals do for their “at risk” kids.

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Hi, Mom!

Hi, Mom!

On Tuesday, May 9th, we all had an opportunity to think about the teachers that inspired us, motivated us and prepared us to become who we are today. How wonderfully natural it is for that to be followed this weekend by Mother’s Day. Motherhood, whether a function of biology or adoption, is the mandate to become a “first teacher” for another person. What an awesome responsibility to be “the first”!

 Becoming prepared for that responsibility is a function of learning. In thinking on this subject, I started to write that how a person “mothers” is not an automatic process. For many, motherhood happens before they have thought much about what it entails. Our society/culture doesn’t put much time into formally educating young people to be parents. But the truth is, before anyone is formally taught, we all learn a lot from experience.  Most of us learn our most indelible lessons on mothering from our own mothers. For good or not, that learning is quite automatic. 

Knowing this can lead to the interesting exercise of examining. By asking the questions “What valuable things did I learn from my mother?” and “What valuable things do I want to pass on to the next generation of mothers?” we might make better parenting decisions, we might teach a better family culture, we might strengthen our society in ways we don’t realize.

Is all this examination worth it? Yes. Yes. Every small thing that leads us to think and consider is worth doing – like celebrating Mother’s Day. What a great time to encourage a mother who is tired, insecure in her skills, struggling in one of the many ways mothers struggle. Recognizing women who love well, ensures that they will be able to pass that skill on to others. Who will you encourage and affirm this Mother’s Day?

 

And can you tell us HOW you encouraged a mother? We all need ideas…

 

 

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It's National Volunteer Week!

It's National Volunteer Week!

A volunteer is one who serves or offers services of his/her own free will, often without any expectation of payment or reward. Although much is accomplished in the world through gainful employment, there is a great need for volunteerism to see and fill in some important gaps. The hard truth is that financial gain is not attached to every needed job. Fortunately, it’s also true that all rewards for service are not financial.

 April 23 – 29, 2017 is National Volunteer Week celebrating the power of volunteerism to strengthen communities. How does volunteering strengthen a community? This year’s theme, Service Unites,  suggests that it does it by uniting people (and what a great year to focus on anything that unites!)

Points of Light is the largest organization in the world devoted to volunteer service. It’s not always easy to determine the value of volunteer services but since 1974 when Points of Light was instituted there have been statistics available that tell about the scope and magnitude of volunteerism, statistics such as these for last year:

  • 64 million volunteers
  • 300,000 projects
  • In 30 countries
  • 30 million hours of service logged
  • $635 million annual worth of volunteer hours

Why not join an army of volunteers this week to strengthen your own community? There are many opportunities, something to fit anyone’s skill set, if you know where to look for them. The website www.allforgood.org lists volunteer projects in many major cities. If you want to get a visual of this volunteer army and see the reasons that inspire them to serve, check out this link, Points of Light. You can even download the small form and write your own reason for service, take a picture and add yourself to the army!

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Learning Through Sports

Learning Through Sports

The recent addition of Sports Plaques to the Apple Awards family and all the wonderful sports memories contributed by readers on Facebook leads us to think about the valuable role of life lessons learned through sports.

Our society puts a lot of emphasis on sports.  Just look at March Madness and how many places it pops up in our world – everyplace from work to worship (yes, it was mentioned at church and the focus of a fun event). There may be a reader or two (and yes, I was one of them) who don’t know much about March Madness. It is one of the highlights of the year for spectators and players alike, when college basketball teams compete for the NCAA championship.

While we at Apple Awards want to acknowledge that sports are not the focus of life for most people, they are important because they mirror other aspects of our lives – our work and our families. It is in sports programs that physical skills are honed, but more importantly, skills of leadership and cooperation are also taught and recognized.  What do we learn?

We learn that morale starts with leadership. Team sports like basketball, football, soccer and others show us that coaches and team captains set the tone and players respond. Even in the face of difficulties, leadership can change the direction of a team, a company, or a family by focusing on true priorities and reminding of basic values learned. 

We learn that attitude is EVERYTHING, well, almost. Skill plus positive attitude is an unbeatable force when it comes to success. Sports experiences can teach that the ups and downs of life are better weathered if attitudes remain positive. Positive attitude is a contagious condition and will spread to those around you so cultivate it and share it!

We learn that skills need development. Nobody is born knowing how to play basketball and nobody is born knowing how to complete business tasks or participate in family life. Time, patience and repetition go into learning many skills, enabling us to complete our tasks. We learn that we feel valued when others take time to help us develop our abilities. We are informed of our talents and encouraged!

Sports teach us that we must assess our progress. We must evaluate and make changes in our strategies and approaches from time to time.

Probably of greatest importance, we can learn from our sports experiences that we each have something to contribute, that we can be responsible and reliable, and that we can appreciate and respect others for their contributions. Pretty basic stuff, right?

I hope you enjoyed March Madness, no matter which team won!  

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