The Solution to (failed) Resolutions

Are you making any New Year’s resolutions? Do you even remember your resolutions from last year? I’m betting you don’t, and I’ll also bet the reason why is that you didn’t write it down.

resolutions

Allow me to offer a solution to the failed resolution problem. I have personally never been a big fan of resolutions, simply because they fail far too often. I also don’t see the point of waiting to start something on January 1 as if it has magical and mystical qualities to it. Yes, it’s a new year and a new beginning, but anything that you want to start in the new year can be started today. That’s not tomorrow, it’s today! Tomorrow is full of even more tomorrows. Tomorrow can be endless, but today is today, and tomorrow it is gone.

It has been well documented that writing down your plans and goals greatly increases the odds for successful fulfillment. Writing down your plan is crucial. Most goals will not completed unless you write them down. There’s something about writing it down that makes it more of commitment. And, since resolutions are more often than not, “made to be broken”, I suggest that you don’t make any resolutions. What you should do is make a plan! After all, you wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, would you? If you are a married man, you didn’t propose to your wife without planning to buy the ring and planning to ask her to marry you. It’s not like you went to the movies and just happened to ask her over the popcorn, right?

new-years-resolutions

So make a plan for 2015. Make a plan for the entire year. Plan for your success. Plan time for new and old hobbies. Plan a big present for yourself or your family. Plan to do things that you have never done before.  Most importantly, plan for a great year!

Happy New Year, and happy planning, today, tomorrow and throughout the year!

Stop being SAD – My personal cure for the winter blues (Part 1)

Hello 2014. It seems that I’ve been lax with my blog for a few months, but I will try to do better this year.

My company (4Staff, LLC) is in Washington, DC. It’s a beautiful city! To me, it offers some of the best of what big cities have to offer…a good transportation system (albeit a crowded one), plenty of parks and recreation, the culture of the Kennedy Center and Smithsonian Museums, several sports teams (professional and college) and a large assortment of restaurants that ranges from dives to fine dining. It has quaint areas for shopping and some of the finest monuments in the world. Yes, I love Washington, DC and all it has to offer.

The one thing I do not love about Washington is the cold winter. I don’t mean to whine. I know it’s not as cold as Green Bay or Boston, but DC winter, for my taste, is still far too cold. Although I have never been diagnosed by a doctor, I feel that I suffer from SAD – Seasonal Affected Disorder. This year’s polar vortex is certainly not helping either, with temperatures, often in the teens and rising no higher than the mid twenties. And, don’t get me started on the wind chill!

This year, I proclaimed to have a warmer and happier winter, so I hatched a grand experiment. My plan was to work remotely and trade-in my Mid-Atlantic winter in exchange for palm trees and delightful tropical weather. I’ve been working as an adult for over a quarter century and, aside for a few days here and there, I have rarely ever worked from home. Understandably, cell phones and laptops have made working remotely very possible, so I decided to give life to my dream of “no more winter”. Staying a few weeks with a very generous relative in Ft. Lauderdale, I knew that all I needed were a desk and a bed (I provided the laptop and cell phone). The end result is being in South Florida in January has made me as happy as a kid on Christmas Day. I’m able to start every day fresh and eager, instead of frozen-numb and worn out. For me, personally, I have eliminated all signs of “SADness”. And, because I’m working every day rather than goofing off and going to the beach, I can qualify my experiment as a definite success.

To be continued…

Small Business is Still Good Business!

This week, June 17-21, we celebrate National Small Business Week.  Last May, I wrote a blog about National Small Business Week 2012.  Without intending to be redundant, I believe that small business is still good business.

While many people regularly enjoy places like McDonalds and Starbucks where the sense of familiarity breeds monotonous choices, but without the variety of the local coffee house and friendly neighborhood burger joint, life would be a little more boring.  More importantly, our economy would surely suffer tremendous ills if they all get replaced by big box stores and chain outlets.

The United States established the National Small Business Week in 1963 to recognize the important contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.  You may or may not know this, but more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business.  More than half…Wow! Small businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.  Huge kudos to the small business owner!

Personally, I have always been a big fan of mom and pop shops, and I try to show my support whenever possible.  In my humble opinion, the small coffee café almost always offers better coffee than the colossal coffee chains.  They always seem to be friendlier and more appreciative of my business too.  In my neighborhood, I always get great customer service from my local hardware store.  While they may not have quite the selection of Home Depot, their customer service is impeccable (if you want to know, Brown‘s Hardware* in Falls Church, Virginia has been in business since 1883.  That’s not a typo…since 1883!).   It is hard not to make the occasional trip to Home Depot, but it would be a shame if you don’t have a “Brown’s” in your neighborhood…hardware store or otherwise.

As individuals, we always make personal choices, and whenever possible, please choose to patronize small local businesses.  It is understandable that you can’t do it all the time, but please do it as much as possible, and especially during National Small Business Week.

Everybody believes it is patriotic to show support for our troops, but I believe that it just as patriotic to support your local businesses.  We are all counting on you, and thank you, for your support!

Steve – aka “theguyfrom4staff” www.4staffllc.com – 4Staff is a small business, based in Washington, DC.

*Brown’s Hardware is in Falls Church, VA, but as one online reviewer wrote, it is just like Mayberry.  “Quality – Very good.  Appeal – Very good.  Service – Excellent!   Please don’t ever close Brown’s Hardware. These courtly gentlemen who work here will help you and advise you on how to solve your problem.  It’s like stepping back in time to Mayberry 1950″.

The World Didn’t End, But Please Don’t Push

 

Woosh…is that what the sound of relief sounds like?  Well, we all survived.  The world didn’t end on 12/21/12, as the Mayans supposedly predicted (although the day is not over yet).  But wait…the other shoe hasn’t fallen yet.  We are standing on the edge of a fiscal cliff.  If Congress doesn’t act by Dec. 31, taxes will rise and government spending will be slashed dramatically.  Economists say the full force of those changes in 2013 could send our nation back into recession (as if we are really 100% out of the recession anyway).

Today could be particularly volatile because it’s a quadruple witching day: the expiration date for stock market index futures, stock market index options, stock options, and individual stock futures.  What’s going on here?!?!  We have doomsday and 4x witching day all in one day!  There’s a fiscal cliff looming.  All these mentions of gloom and doom fail to even account for the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy,  the only “natural” disaster to make this list.  And, while most of us probably never heard of Newtown, Connecticut before this week,  we will all remember Sandy Hook for the rest of our lives.

But, before I start sounding like a Negative Nellie, I would like to point out that we survived WW I & II.  150 years ago, we survived a civil war on our own land.  We survived the civil rights riots of the 60’s and the oil crisis of the 70’s.  We survived the Great Depression and 9/11.  We are Americans, and we are survivors!  All I’m asking for here is for a little help and cooperation from our federal government.  We may be great at surviving, but that doesn’t mean that we need to be thrown off a cliff.

Happy Holidays and best wishes to everyone in 2013.  May it be a year where we not only survive, but a year where we all thrive!

 

Meet-up, Greet-up, Get up and Go!

So far I have written two blogs about “things to do” in Washington, DC, – one for Spring and the other for Summer.  I’m pretty sure you can count on me to add another in the Fall.  Until then, I’d like to add helpful hints for people looking for something to do any time of year. 

Meetup.com is a place where you can find things to do all year long.  “Meetup” is an online social  portal that facilitates offline gatherings, by allowing members to join groups of common interest.

A few interesting statistics:  Nearly 9,000 people have signed up for the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group (don’t worry, I promise they won’t all be there on the hike you join) and the DC Tech Meetup Group consists of over 5,000 members. The 20’s and 30’s Going Out Group has a whopping total of almost 15,000 members!

In the DC metro area, there are thousands of local Meetup groups to satisfy a wide array of interests.  They are available for bikers (bicycles and motorcycles) and hikers, runners and photographers, just to name a few.

If you think that Meetup is only for single people, you’d be wrong.  There are mom groups, dad groups and single parent groups.   There are groups for the the gen-x and gen-y’s and baby-boomers too.  There is a Meetup group for whatever appeals to you. 

If you would like to take a look at meetups in the Washington, DC area follow the link – http://www.meetup.com/cities/us/dc/washington/.

Below are photos that I took while attending two recent photography meetup events.  With the help from some friendly meetup photogrpahers (thanks Vincent, Chris and Subra!) I was able to get a great night-time photo of the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis (night photos are very difficult to capture if you do not use the proper settings) .  The second photo is of two friendly and diverse “characters” that I met while doing a meetup photo shoot in Dupont Circle.  They were not part of the group, but seemingly, they enjoyed posing for me.

As always, your comments are welcome. 

Until my next Blog…enjoy the rest of your summer!  Steve, aka theguyfrom4Staff  http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevestrauss4staff

 

Small Business is Good Business

May 20-26 is National Small Business Week.  That got me thinking.  After all, as a small business owner, I have to think a lot differently from when I was an employee.  I’m quite certain that pertains to all small business owners.

According to 2011 statistics* –

  • There are 28 million small businesses in the U.S. — which outnumber corporations 1162 to one.  
  • Small businesses employ 57% of the country’s private workforce and pay 44% of  U.S. payroll.
  •  Only 50% of businesses survive five years. 
  • A small business went bankrupt every 8 minutes in 2009.

As you can see, the first two statistics demonstrate how vital small businesses are to the American economy, while the latter two indicate how scary it is to take the leap and become a small business owner. 

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed working for smaller companies.  During my professional business career, I’ve been through two mergers.  In each case, I felt more “at home” with the smaller, local company.  I also prefer local restaurants to any large chain.  On principle, as well as on taste, I almost always choose a unique boutique restaurant over a chain that is designed for the masses.

As individuals, we always make personal choices, and whenever possible, I choose to patronize small businesses.  I believe that I get better service from the local place, and I know who to complain to if I’m ever dissatisfied.  The owner is often on the premises, so if you have an issue, you can go straight to the top!  Mostly, I prefer to support the small business owner, because without trying to sound self-righteous or pompous, I just believe it is the patriotic thing to do.  When you buy from a small business owner you are supporting the economy.  You are supporting America!

I truly hope that you will support small businesses, not just during National Small Business Week, but each and every week.  For the economy to grow, we need small businesses to succeed, and, like many small business owners, I’m counting on you for your support!

 * Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/facts-about-small-businesses-in-america-2011-8