Rethinking Life Balance

By Catherine Lang-Cline


You can find countless books and articles about how to achieve life balance. It seems like there are a number of ways people believe that this can be achieved but perhaps we need to rethink the concept. What if it wasn’t just a balance, what if it was just life as we choose it.


Being a person with a career; as well as, having a family does present some challenges in that I want to have time for everything. Ultimately it comes down to choice. Let’s think of life balance more as a juggling act. Everything that you treasure and find important is represented as one of those balls that you are trying to juggle. Some of those balls a fragile and some are a little more durable and can afford to be dropped. Regardless of their makeup, the balls that make up your life need to keep moving. That is unless you choose to put it down.


What I am trying to illustrate here is that all of it, all of it, is your life and you must choose the importance of each. Only you can choose how you will be spending your time. There is no magic formula to put more time into your day. So what gets priority?


You may be rocking that career ball 7 days a week knowing that the balls containing family, friends, wellness, or whatever will always be in slow circulation. That is until you or a family member gets ill. Maybe an accident occurs changing the entire performance you are trying to pull off. Now the game has changed and a different ball has just taken priority. What happened to the career ball? It might have to get put to the side for a while but just like everything else, it can’t get put aside for too long without the chance of losing it entirely. That goes for everything. Some days, your career is going to have to come first and get all of the attention. If that continues for too long, what suffers? Are you neglecting family, friends, or your health? All of these things need to rise up to the same level of importance knowing that some days that balance may be off.


Based on my own experience, I really try to keep the job between the hours of 9-5. Is that realistic? No. Some days I have an early meeting and other days I have an evening event. Those days the balance is off and I know that I have to make up time elsewhere. Which can mean, no work on the weekend as it is now reserved for family and a good run. How do you keep it straight and balanced? Schedule it. Every appointment you have for work you can counter with an appointment for working out or attending a family member’s event or painting or gardening. Maybe it is just a night out. Maybe you break for dinner with friends or family only to get back to work immediately after. Book it, move it around but don’t delete it. Give it the same priority as a work task. In the long run, you will not wish that you spent more time working, but rather spent more time with family or spent more time on yourself. 


In order to achieve any type of life balance, every aspect of your life needs the same weight. Or knowingly give it less? Which would have less importance; your health, your family, your job? It’s your choice. If these are all truly equal, treat them as all truly equal. Don’t work through the workout, don’t miss dinner with friends and family. Yes, on occasion, life may deal that card to you with a project that must be completed. Make that time up during the family vacation. 
 

A Day in the Life, Week of Wellness Edition: Q + A with Dani Shimits

In this special week of wellness edition, we talk with Dani Shimits our wellness coach who enjoys spending time with her husband, their dog Remi, and since this article was written gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Everlee Ray. 

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Hiiya! My name is Dani Shimits and I was born in Tennessee but have lived in Ohio for the majority of my life. I have been a wellness coach for Wellness Coaches for a little over three years. Prior to this, I was a Wellness Coordinator for Verizon for a little over five years.

I currently live in Gahanna with my hubby and our crazy dog Remi! I got into the fitness industry because in all honesty, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life but I enjoyed exercise and movement. I grew up playing sports and enjoyed being around wellness. I love sharing my passion for health and wellness because I want people to have enjoyment in all aspects of their health and wellness, not just exercise and nutrition.

Morning

Mornings are my favorite when I roll out of bed, go for a run with my friend Caroline, and end with a cup of coffee and donut from either Java Central or Schneider's Bakery, in Westerville, or Upper Cup, in Gahanna.

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Afternoon

If I am done with clients or working from home ME TIME is a must! I am a homebody at heart. I watch reruns of Reba and Last Man Standing every afternoon that I am home. I practically quote every one of these episodes because I have seen them like a million times!

Evening

I stalk Pinterest all the time for recipes. I do not eat a lot of meat so most of the recipes I replace the meat with either beans, tofu or tempeh. A few of my favorites are Black Bean Burgers, Baked Chimichangas, and Taco Pasta.

After dinner, my evenings consist of chalking on the driveways or chasing frisbees with the neighbor kids Carson (4 yrs old) and Molly (2 yrs old.) If I was not doing health and wellness, I would be a preschool or kindergarten teacher. I absolutely love little kids and I would love to impact them on a daily basis. I also have a far-fetched dream of being an elite runner one day.  

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I enjoy letting others know I am not perfect when it comes to health and wellness. I am also a human just like everyone else. Health and wellness have affected my life in many ways but the most important aspect to me was my journey through recovery from an eating disorder. I started eating disorder behaviors in college. Looking back after being through recovery, has made me realize how much of my college and post-college life was taken away by my eating disorder. This truly opened my eyes to the importance of overall health and wellness. I also feel like this experience has made me the wellness coach I am today.

Top Five Wellness Tips:

1. BE YOU, enjoy exercise and movement and appreciate what your body can do on a daily basis.

2. Respect and take care of your mental health.

3. Enjoy and appreciate what you put into your body and how that food makes you feel.

4. You are the most important aspect of your life. Do not be afraid to be "selfish" when it comes to your own needs and taking care of yourself.

5. Coffee makes life better….in my opinion! Of course in moderation!

Why You Should Tell Your Team to Take a Break and Go Outside

By Emma Seppala and Johann Berlin for the Harvard Business Review

Wellness programs are becoming an integral priority for most human resource managers. After all, research shows that a happier workplace is more productive. To this end, workplaces are adding health-related perks from exercise rooms to yoga classes. Leaders participate in mindfulness and compassion trainings and are coached to learn emotional intelligence. However, there is one important wellness factor that many are forgetting even though it may be the most potent of all: access to green spaces.

Greenery isn’t just an air-freshener that’s pleasant to look at, it can actually significantly boost employee well-being, reduce stress, enhance innovative potential, and boost a sense of connection. Yet most of us don’t spend much time in nature. Richard Louv, author of the Nature Principal, argues that we’re collectively suffering from “nature-deficit disorder,” which hurts us mentally, physically, and even spiritually. Adding a little wilderness to your corporate officesmay just be the smartest move you can do this year.

For one, exposure to green spaces profoundly enhances physical and mental well-being which is why corporations like Google prioritize biophilia as a core design principle. Studies are showing these interventions can reduce not just everyday stress but also boost general health. Taking walks in nature lowers anxiety and depression while boosting mood and well-being, a large-scale studyshowed. Exposure to more light can boost Vitamin D levels that are known to increase mood, especially in colder months.

Scientists are also exploring how exposure to nature might result in lower risk of depression, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. The immune system certainly receives a boost from stress-reduction, and even just the sounds of nature trigger a relaxation response in the brain. Exposure to natural environments lowers stress,including its physiological correlates the “stress hormone” cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure. By boosting mood, natural environments may also decrease inflammation at the cellular level.

In short, even a small green intervention like having more plants in the office could significantly boost employee happiness, and we know that happiness is a powerful predictor of an organization’s success. Corporations can significantly reduce organizational health costs by introducing more green spaces and plants into an office space. As Florence Williams has exhaustively reviewed in her recent book The Nature Fix, “forest bathing” have become popular practices in many East Asian countries because the impact of even a few minutes of immersion in nature has measurable benefits not just for our psychological well-being but also our physical health.

Greener office environments can boost employee performance and decision-making. One study found that exposure to greenery through office plants boosted not just employee well-being but also productivity  - by 15%! Lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis concludes: “Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.” For one, plants, natural environments and greener offices offer superior air quality which in turn strengthens employee cognitive function – allowing them to perform at their best.

Here’s why this may be the case: Neurosciencist and founder of My Brain Solutions Dr Evian Gordon proposes that “the brain’s attunement to nature has a seminal evolutionary origin, beginning with the earliest species sensing and responding to their environment. Our ancestral hominids (australopithecus, homo habilis, and homo erectus) evolved in response to short-term survival pressures within the rhythms of nature.” Dr Gordon who has published more then 300 scientific papers draws upon insights from the world’s largest standardized brain function database, that shows the immediate and significant extent to which any sensory input creates changes in the brain and body. Stress impacts the heart’s rhythms, for example. Unnatural environments are a subtle form of distraction and stress to optimal brain processing. Natural environments have the opposite effect.

Moreover, research shows that exposure to a natural environment helps people be less impulsive (while urban settings do the opposite). In this particular study, participants were asked if they’d prefer to make $100 immediately or $150 in 90 days. Those who had either been in a natural environment (or simply looked at photos of a natural environment) were more likely to make the more rational and beneficial decision: wait for the $150. Such was not the case for those exposed to cityscapes. Exposure to nature may therefore foster boost superior decision-making which includes better foresight. Exposure to natural environments also strengthens attention and may even help strengthen memory.

Finally, we know that the #1 trait leaders look for in incoming employees is creativity, and exposure to natural environments dramatically improves our ability to think expansively and make superior decisions. Being in nature is a core element of New York designer Joanne DePalma’s work, inspiring her most iconic designs, including the flagship store for Tiffany in Paris, and leading her to creative breakthroughs, including creating one of the world’s most sustainable carpets with Bently Prince Street. “Nature inspires my design and restores me,” she shares. “Whether I’m feeling stuck or exhausted during a long and grueling project, or just need some new ideas, a visit to the waterfront or Central Park gets me back to the source of my creativity. I find so many complex design solutions are hidden in nature.”

Nature can have a positive influence on workplace culture by strengthening employees’ values and leading to greater harmony and connection. Exposure to nature doesn’t just make you feel and think better, it also makes you behave better. People who’ve just walked out of a park or other natural environment are more likely to notice when others need help – and to provide that help. In line with these findings, researchers at the University of Rochester found that exposure to nature resulted in participants valuing community and connectedness over more superficial concerns like personal gain and fame. Participants also became more generous and willing to share with others.

As the lead author Netta Weinstein observes, “we are influenced by our environment in ways we are not aware of….to the extent that our links with nature are disrupted, we may also lose some connection with each other.” Given that there are fewer and fewer “human moments” in the workplace yet that employee well-being is in large part due to positive social connections with other people, embracing greener environments could be tremendously beneficial for a workplace. Other studies have confirmed that exposure to nature leads to less antisocial behavior and more social connection and harmony.

Even a very small exposure to nature – as little as five minutes – can produce dramatic benefits, especially when coupled with exercise like walking or running. In many of the studies mentioned above, the effect was observed after participants simply looked at pictures of nature (vs urban environments) for a few minutes or worked in an office with (or without) plants — easy touches to add to a work setting.

While creating a “green office” may seem daunting, it really isn’t. Here are some easy ways you can make your officer greener

  • Encourage your staff to have “walking meetings” outside.
  • Encourage your staff to sit outside or in naturally lit areas on breaks or during lunch.
  • Provide outdoor walking, meeting, and sitting spaces.
  • If outdoor spaces are not available or you are in an urban environment, create an indoor garden in an atrium or, if space is at a premium, a vertical “green wall.”
  • Light rooms with natural sunlight as much as possible. Open blinds and, if possible, windows to let in outside air and natural sounds.
  • Display nature photography or artwork.
  • Play nature videos or nature slides on your television or display screens.
  • Place as many plants as you can prominently around the office (making sure a designated person takes good care of them).
  • Move your office closer to a park or natural environment.

An increasing interest at Google and similar companies is to make green spaces that are also respectful of the natural environment as a habitat for local animals and plants. Not only are these companies promoting employee well-being, but also reducing their ecological footprint.

Even if your company’s management is unwilling or unable to do these things, you can try a few out yourself: a walking meeting with a colleague, taping a photo of your favorite nature scene to your cubicle, or listening to ambient nature sounds on your headphones. Remember the words of German poet Rainer Marie Rilke: “If we surrendered / to earth’s intelligence / we could rise up rooted, like trees.”

 

Ergonomic + Fitness at Work Tips

Most of us are sitting at our desks, working on a computer, the majority of the day. Here are some tips to help improve your ergonomics and sprinkle in a little fitness during the workday. 

Compiled by Eileen Jenkins

If you want to try some workouts at your desk Fitbliss recommends the following: 

  1. Take a 20 to 30 mins walk to boost your brain if you need to focus on a task and solve problems more efficiently. 
  2. Instead of sitting in a chair, sit on the air. Sink your hips low, with your arms alongside your ears. Squeeze your legs together and pull your belly button towards your spine. Relax your shoulders and sit lower. Hold for 10 breaths. 
  3. Step away from your desk and computer for 1 minute and stretch arms straight up pointing to the sky, then out to the sides pointing out. Feel like you're really stretching your arms out. This relieves neck pain, increases blood to flow throughout your body, and will make you feel re-energized!
  4. While sitting at your desk or at your workstation, stand and sit 10 times only using your legs (try not to use your hands to bring yourself to a standing position). Keeping the body moving throughout the day allows the blood to flow through the body releasing serotonin and mitigating any hypertension built up. This will improve your mood and improve your overall health!  
  5. While sitting at your desk, put your arms straight up in the air, hands facing each other parallel to each other, then left your shoulders up, and then let them drop. Repeat this exercise between 5-10 times, and 3 times today. 
  6. When walking to the restroom, take a new path that extends the walk to be able to have a longer time to decompress from sitting and/or being next to the computer screen or job role. 

Looking for some general ergonomic tips? The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation recommends:

  • Every 20 minutes take a break from looking at the computer to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds
  • Take a short break from typing each hour
  • If you have a standing desk, they recommend equal amounts of standing and sitting during the day
  • No more than 2 hours of standing at a time
  • Max of 2-4 hours of standing per day

 

 

 

Health Matters: Why We Focus on Wellness in the Workplace

By Kristen Harris

When Catherine and I started Portfolio Creative we set out to create the kind of company we'd want to work for. Because, well, we do work here, and so do other people. We both came from demanding environments and knew how important it would be to take care of ourselves in order to do our best work for clients and talent. 

In the beginning, this just meant taking time to exercise and eat a healthy lunch. Over the years tactics have changed but the goal remains the same. Today we offer a wellness-based healthcare plan to all qualified employees, providing access to a health coach, gym memberships, and incentives for completing health-oriented tasks. We've always offered the same health plan to both our internal team and the talent we place because we want all of our to people feel healthy and cared for, regardless of whether they're in our office or working at a client's location. This was (and still is) highly unusual in our industry, and we're proud of that.

We also bring in speakers on health-related topics, encourage people to take time to rest or workout, keep a stocked fruit bowl in the kitchen, and more. We believe wellness isn't one big action, it's a series of small activities that add up. People spend a large portion of their time at work. As business owners, we realized the positive impact decisions we make can have on the lives of our people and their families. One of the decisions we've made is to focus on wellness at work. 

So, is this all worth it? It takes time, money, and effort to have a wellness-focused workplace. We have to organize the speakers and health coach, buy fruit, and give people time to go to the gym. Is it just a nice thing to do, or is there a business case for focusing on wellness in the workplace?

There is plenty of research that makes the business case for workplace wellness, and we agree. Participating in a wellness-based healthcare plan helps keep premiums as low as possible both for employees and the company. This has a direct financial impact on the business, each individual, and their family, and is something every employee can contribute to and benefit from. This wellness-based plan sets us apart as an employer and is a benefit that is highly valued by our team members.

We believe there are other reasons that wellness belongs in the workplace, beyond potential financial savings. We truly like the people we work with and want them to feel valued and cared for, to be their best physically and mentally at work and at home. When people feel good they're more connected, engaged and do better work. Think about the last time you went to work with a cold...it's hard to do great work when you don't feel good. People who feel well need fewer unplanned days off, get more done and are more engaged in their work. When our people feel good they can take better care of our customers. At home, they take better care of themselves and the people that matter to them.

Having a wellness-focused workplace isn't a single financial line item, it's a series of small actions and items that add up to greater business success. It's one of the things that continues to make Portfolio Creative the kind of company we'd want to work for, and we think it's worth it.

New Year, New Job

By Brad Middleton

Since we have moved on from the holiday season and are back to work, I am guessing there are a number of you out there that are looking for a change. Just walking back into that office for the first time in 2018 could have been enough to push you over the edge. No matter what the cause, jumping into a full-blown job search early in the year can seem daunting. Here are some tips that can hopefully lessen the pain and get you on the right track to a new job in the new year.

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This first step may be easy to overlook, but it's critical that you take this seriously.  Brainstorming. Yes, brainstorming (or sometimes just listening to your instincts/guts/heart.) Whatever you want to call it it's important to come up with the why, what, and how after you've decided it's time to make a change. It could be as easy as taking some time to review all of the reasons why you want to find a new gig. Make sure after you capture this list to let it set in for a bit. Then look at the list the next day and verify that these "why’s" are honest and accurate.

Next, start compiling a list of what your ideal job and company would look like. It seems that a lot of job seekers feel like they know this information, but when asked it's difficult to explain. Zero-in on your preferred industries, size of company, commute, and even their reputation in the community. We live in an age where practically anything can be reviewed online - especially companies.  

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Once you nail down the why and the what, it is time to move into action. Take some time to spruce up your social media presence. When producing new content for your profiles keep in mind the audience you want to attract. Think of hiring managers, recruiters, human resources, and even people in your network that are going to view this material and ask themselves if your profile is a match for their company. There are a ton of articles and "how-to's" online that cover updating your social media profiles. There are also a boat-load of resources online to help with resume writing. If you are starting from scratch consider a professional to help you do a complete overhaul.  

Some people start their search by hitting the networking angle hard. While this is not a bad idea, I do question people on what their message is when they are networking without a plan. Would you walk into a potential interview without a plan? Probably not. Then why walk into initial stages of trying to market yourself to get that interview without a plan? If you have outlined the why and what you have almost everything you need to sell yourself when the time comes. Reach out to the people you've worked with in the past, people you've reported to, people you have admired, as well as friends and family, to let them know you are looking and what you are looking for. Ideally, you would want to start with contacts who work or have a history with companies you identified during brainstorming.  

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Two must do's when powering up your existing network. First, make sure you are catering your message to its intended audience. Don't get too casual with people you would count as an acquaintance - and don't get too stuffy with people you know well. It's just weird. Second, and this is extremely important, figure out how to be there for your network and provide them something in return. No one likes the people who only reach out when they need something!

As a follow up you will also want to expand and grow your existing network. You can approach this through your social media connections, but I like going straight to the source. Sign up and attend at least one networking or social group focused on your specific industry or line of work. This can be intimidating - do it anyway. Get out of your comfort zone and set a goal to meet a certain number of people at each event. You will be pleasantly surprised with how kind and supportive most people are within these groups. They get it and more than likely can provide you with something that you wouldn't uncover yourself.  

Double down on all of this legwork by getting someone to work for you as well. This is when a relationship with a good recruiter, or two, can be extremely helpful. Ask around to see who in your network has had dynamite experiences with recruiters and connect with them. Remember, working with a recruiter is not a replacement for your own efforts. It's, in addition, to hopefully uncover some opportunities that you don't have normal access to.  With this in mind, a good recruiter will set expectations with you about how to best work with them. Check in at the agreed upon frequency and keep an eye out for their company's job site postings as well as the recruiter's social media pages.   

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With all of this activity, and one or two professionals working behind the scenes, the opportunities that match up with your new job preferences should start to reveal themselves.  Obviously, making the connections and getting traction with the roles is only half the battle. You have to sell yourself appropriately during the interview process to land that offer. Lean on your trusted recruiter to help you with the do's and don'ts of interviewing when the time comes.  Remember, during an interview you are gauging if the company, team, and manager are a fit for your preferences just as much as they are interviewing you. You have done all of the prep work and identified exactly what you are looking for.

Once you are done wowing your perfect fit and you've accepted that offer make sure you thank each and every person you enlisted to help. They want to know that you landed exactly what you were looking for and they will also know that you are more than happy to help them when it's their turn to find their perfect new job!

 

To Be More Creative, Schedule Your Breaks

By: Jackson G. Lu, Modupe Akinola, and Malia Mason for the Harvard Business Review

Imagine that on a Friday afternoon, before leaving work to start your weekend, you are asked to solve two problems that require creative thinking. Do you:

  • Spend the first half of your time attempting the first problem and the second half of your time attempting the second
  • Alternate between the two problems at a regular, predetermined interval (e.g., switching every five minutes)
  • Switch between the problems at your own discretion

If you are like the hundreds of people to whom we posed this question, you would choose to switch between the two problems at your own discretion. After all, this approach offers maximum autonomy and flexibility, enabling you to change tracks from one problem to the other when you feel stuck.

But if coming up with creative answers is your goal, this approach may not be optimal. Instead, switching between the problems at a regular, predetermined interval will likely yield the best results, according to research, we published in the March issue of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Why is it the case that switching at your own volition, the approach most participants in our study took, may not generate the most creative outcomes? Because when attempting problems that require creativity, we often reach a dead end without realizing it. We find ourselves circling around the same ineffective ideas and don’t recognize when it’s time to move on. In contrast, regularly switching back and forth between two tasks at a set interval can reset your thinking, enabling you to approach each task from fresh angles.

In an experiment, we randomly assigned participants to one of the three approaches. Participants who were instructed to continually switch back and forth between two problems at a fixed interval were significantly more likely to find the correct answer to both problems than participants who switched at their own discretion or halfway through the allotted time.

A second study focused on creative ideation. In this experiment, the problems we posed had no right answers. We wanted to find out whether the benefits of stepping away from a problem at regular intervals transferred to other types of problems warranting creativity, such as brainstorming.

We once again randomly assigned participants to one of our three task-switching approaches and asked them to generate creative ideas for two different idea generation tasks. As in the first study, most people believed that they would perform best if they switched between the two idea generation tasks at their own discretion. We again found that participants who were instructed to switch back and forth between the two idea generation tasks at a fixed interval generated the most novel ideas.

The issue with both other approaches seemed to be that people failed to recognize when rigid thinking crept in. Participants who didn’t step away from a task at regular intervals were more likely to write “new” ideas that were very similar to the last one they had written. While they might have felt that they were on a roll, the reality was that, without the breaks afforded by continual task switching, their actual progress was limited.

The creative benefits of switching tasks have been supported by other research. For example, Steven Smith and his colleagues found that individuals instructed to list items from different categories while continually switching back and forth between the categories listed more novel ideas than individuals who listed items from one category before switching to listing items from the other. In a similar vein, other studies have found that brief breaks during idea generation can increase the variety of ideas generated. These researchers’ findings, coupled with ours, suggest that the hustle and bustle of your daily work life may facilitate your creativity if it leads you to step away from a task and refresh your thinking.

When you’re working on tasks that would benefit from creative thinking, consciously insert breaks to refresh your approach. Set them at regular intervals — use a timer if you have to. When it goes off, switch tasks: Organize your reimbursement receipts, check your email, or clean your desk, and then return to the original task. If you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression. We tend to generate redundant ideas when we don’t take regular breaks; ask yourself whether your latest ideas are qualitatively different. Finally, don’t skip your lunch breaks, and don’t feel guilty about taking breaks, especially when you are feeling stuck. Doing so may actually be the best use of your time.

How To Plan For A Successful Year

It's January and this is the year! This is the year you are going to keep every resolution! We are going to start by making them very measurable and very possible.

Just as always, January 1st comes every year and it serves as a great opportunity to try something new or get a "re-do" in the coming year. Still working on some resolutions from last year? Well, they were probably not worded in a way that could show how they could be measured. One of the best tools to do this is to incorporate it into your electronic (or paper) calendar. All of my goals, workouts, and breaks are on my calendar; as well as, the check-ins to make sure I am getting closer to my goal.

Start by inserting the date that you wish to complete something, then add in check-ins, working backward, from when you want to check your progress. Need to make time to network? In December add to your calendar that your goal was to do 12 networking events for the year, averaging one a month. Add a check-in for March, June, and September to see how you are doing. You might have to double up on events if you are falling behind. Block out those times as soon as you can and then show up for all of these events. The things you want to complete are important. Ask those around you for some flexibility and if you can book meetings around your challenges because you need to give yourself the opportunity to grow professionally and meet people that can make an impact in your career.

Networking events are just a start, here are a few more ideas:
This is the year you will read more articles, write more articles, maybe write a book!
This is the year you will start, stop, or change your behaviors!
This is the year you will ask for help or find a mentor!
This is the year you will spend more time with friends and family!
This is the year you will take care of you!

Want to work out more? Get it on your calendar and keep those appointments with yourself. There is nothing more important than you and you need to treat yourself like you are important. Make appointments in your calendar for family time, sounds weird, but it works. Schedule things to do on the weekend, schedule vacations, schedule dinner, and get it in as soon as you can.

Do you know how I know this is all going to happen? Because you are going to set that time aside on your calendar to make it happen and hold yourself accountable or have someone you know help keep you accountable. Say what your plans are out loud in front to other people. Now you will have to get it done! 

You will get it done this year because this is the year!

- Catherine

 

A Day in the Life: Q +A with Brittnee Miller

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In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Brittnee Miller, a Social Media Community Manager whose side hustle is running a lifestyle blog. She is focused on building a collaborative community with other like-minded creatives. 

Morning

My morning starts off cold – I'm on dog duty so I take my pup, Rocko, out for his walk while I have the kettle turned on so I can warm up with a cup of tea. I get ready and check out Twitter because they always have something newsworthy that I need to check out. From there, it's all about beating traffic to get to the Easton area and get to work. I work during the week as a Social Media Community Manager at Abbott Nutrition, so I am immersed in social media and trends all day. I love the brands that I work on especially when I have the ability to interact and engage with people all day long. Just imagine being on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram throughout the day and just talking to people from all over. Not only do I talk back, as the brand, but I'm following and trying to find advocates that will rep the brand and enter giveaways for samples.

My days vary with meetings on certain days and free time on others. Some days are filled with back to back meetings while other days are pretty chill and I can get tons of things done. Lunch meetings are my favorite when food is supplied (just wanted to add that in because it's an important factor for attending a lunch meeting.)

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Afternoon

By the time the afternoon hits, I'm on a candy kick, trying to see what snacks we have in the kitchen before I make my way downstairs to buy M&M's or White Cheddar Popcorn.My afternoons are mostly spent immersed in social media and usually, sipping on a hot green tea, and munching on a snack to get me through the rest of the afternoon.

Evening

An evening with me is pretty standard. Sometimes, I mix it up with happy hours at Pint House or a volunteer effort like I know I Can, or dropping off clothes for donations when the weather is warm, but this cold weather leads to one of those "once I get home, I'm not leaving" moods.

As soon as I get off of work, I'm in the car and trying to beat traffic by holding a concert for myself, by myself. I'm talking belting out the *NSYNC Christmas album and pretending I am Beyonce when one of her songs come on. It's definitely a concert that more people should catch because I'm pretty sure they would be highly entertained.

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Every single day, I come home to a stretching pup that is ready to drag me outside. This is a daily routine for us – hot, cold, rain, sunshine, snow, etc., he knows the deal. Usually, my boyfriend is preparing taco salad or chicken parmesan for dinner, so yes, #blessed – maybe I'm spoiled but he's a really good cook so it's the perfect set-up where I sit and chat with him while working on my side hustle.

What is my side hustle, you ask? I'm a lifestyle blogger. This has become my hobby as I take what I learned from my day job and apply it to my blog. Working on my blog was an outlet when I started back in 2011/2012 – I didn't take any of it seriously because who knew that it would be such a big thing? Not 19/20-year-old Brittnee, that's for sure.  When it comes to my blog, I have a list of ideas that I want to talk about. I try to implement a mixture of posts since I focus on lifestyle so I am talking about fashion, fitness, career, college, beauty, and life. I'm trying to build a community where I can share something that might help the next person out, and I love the emails that I get from people with collaboration ideas and wanting to work together. 

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My blogging schedule consists of: 

  • Checking emails

  • Planning social posts

  • Scheduling time for pictures

  • Scheduling tweets and blog promotion

  • Writing posts

  • Editing pictures

  • Designing post graphics

  • Working with influencer programs

This is an everyday thing that I do while hanging out with my boyfriend and dog. It's like leaving work to go to work. Now, if my boyfriend isn't preparing dinner then you can find me snuggled up on the couch with my laptop and a Netflix show on. Current guilty pleasure is 90210. By 10:00 pm, you can catch me in my bed and ready for the day to be over. Such a grandma at such a young age, but I love my sleep.


 

Leadership Strengths: Finding Your Highest and Best Use

By Kristen Harris

In real estate, there's a concept called "highest and best use." When appraising a piece of vacant land or property, under this concept the value must be based on the most reasonable, probable, and legal use that is physically possible appropriately supported and financially feasible. For example, if a property is currently an industrial site but would have more value when redeveloped with residential buildings, that higher use is how the property value is determined. (With apologies to real estate experts–I know there are many factors that must be considered, making it more complex than this simple explanation.)

Have you ever thought about your own highest and best use? Are you being appraised and utilized at your top potential value? One way to think about this is to know your strengths and look for opportunities to use them in your work. If you're a leader or manager of others there is also tremendous value in knowing how to leverage the strengths of your team members.

The CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder) philosophy is one of the key tools we use at Portfolio Creative to better understand new team members and each other. If you want to know more about this tool, check out our previous article Be Your Best: Using Your Strengths at Work

Once our new team member has taken the assessment and we know their strengths, what do we do with that information? One thing we look at is how their strengths fall into the Four Domains of Leadership Strength. According to Gallup's research, each strength sorts into one of four domains: Strategic Thinking, Executing, Influencing and Relationship Building. 

These domains equate to how you absorb and analyze information or situations, make things happen, influence others, or build and nurture relationships. Every strength fits into one of these categories, and there is no good or bad category (remember, they are all strengths.) 

Knowing which categories a person's strengths fall into provides a clearer view of their overall balance. For example, three of my five top strengths fall under Relationship Building, one is under Strategic Thinking, and one is Influencing. By contrast, my business partner Catherine Lang-Cline has two strengths under Strategic Thinking, two in Executing, and one in Relationship Building. See how we complement each other? I'm strong where she is not, and vice versa. Together we're better. Now apply that to a whole team of people and you can see the power of this concept. 

Some people are heavily weighted in one or two categories (we have one person with four of their top five strengths in the Strategic Thinking category.) Others are more evenly spread across the categories, with top strengths in three or even all four categories. It doesn't matter how the strengths break down, but it's helpful to know if someone is heavily weighted in one or two categories or more evenly balanced.

Once you understand how individual strengths are categorized, you can also apply the concept to a whole team. We look at strengths categories for the entire Portfolio Creative team, and by each departmental team. Our team leaders can see the strengths of each individual on their team, their team's overall strengths, and gaps, and the strengths found on other teams.

Here a few ways we can utilize this information. If we're working on something that requires a lot of Strategic Thinking, we can reference our chart and pull together the people heavy in those strengths. A team leader can look at how the strengths of their team members are spread across the four categories, see where they are heavy and light, and pair up team members or put people in positions that best use everyone's abilities. Across the company, we can see where strengths fall, and pair up individuals or entire teams to complement each other. 

By understanding and leveraging the individual strengths of yourself and others on your team, everyone has the opportunity to work at their highest and best use.