What is the Pay It Forward movement all about?

Pay It Forward

How are you celebrating Pay It Forward Day 2014?
Pic credit: PIF Experience

Happy International Pay It Forward Day 2014! While we’re all better off paying it forward regularly, having an official day helps bring attention to this worthy movement.

So what is the Pay It Forward movement all about? Watch this TEDTalk by Charley Johnson, founder of the official group behind the global Pay It Forward movement and head of the Pay It Forward Foundation.

Are you inspired?

Here’s some of the ways that CCC pays it forward. How are you paying it forward in your community (or around the world)?

For more information on the global Pay It Forward movement, please visit the Pay It Forward Experience website.

A PIF believer,

Pay It Forward — connect with CCC:
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Yes Virginia, It Really Is All About The Little Things

The Lego Store Display

It’s amazing what thousands of little Lego pieces can create!

I’m onsite with a client this week and have been reminded of an important adage as I delve into the company’s processes and systems.

It’s all about the little things.

It really is. The smallest pieces of data, minor decisions and ‘mundane’ moments make up most of our lives. If we learn to appreciate these seemingly irrelevant aspects of our being, we’ll be a lot better off. Processes will go smoother, relationships will work better and we’ll get more enjoyment out of life.

For example, I headed to the Mall of America while I’m in town and had to visit the Lego Store. Its impressive display on top of the store (pictured above) is amazing! Think about the thousands upon thousands of little Lego pieces it took to make this eye-catching display. If one piece was missing or the wrong color, it would stick out. Every single piece contributes to the finished product — a work of art.

This thought process applies to your business life too. Emails, reports and other communications help ensure everyone is on the same page when working on projects. The smallest pieces of data add up to provide crucial demographic information and reports showing return on investment. Branding, events, marketing, promotions, social media and sponsorship can all go right or wrong based on the most minute of details. Every part of the process, no matter how small, is necessary to achieve the desired end result.

So pat yourself on the back for a job well done the next time you take care of the little things.

Sound Off

What little things do you take care of?

How has handling a little thing led to a big moment in your life?

p.s. Have you been to the Mall of America? What’s your favorite part?

A devil for the details,

Let’s get to know each other! Connect with CCC:
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Life On The Road: Conducting Business On the Go

As I sat on a plane last week thinking about blog topics, I realized that the CCC blog has never delved into business travel. Despite the Great Recession, business travel remains a popular way to close deals, educate people and cement/maintain crucial relationships. I used to travel for business more than I currently do, but I have spent the better part of the past two weeks on the go.


My view — from 35,000 feet.

Here are some tips I’ve picked up from my travels over the years:

  • Know where you’re going. Does your hotel have a pool or workout facility? Continental breakfast? Free WiFi? A Keurig in the room? With a little forethought, you can be prepared to take advantage of these amenities and save yourself time and money. Are you familiar with the area? Will you need to entertain clients? What restaurants or entertainment is available? When/where is your meeting? Are you attending or presenting at an event? What’s the time difference? Have all of the details on you, so you can alert necessary parties if travel disruptions cause a rift in your schedule.
  •  Know how you’re getting there. Have ALL of your travel info (airline info, itineraries, special policies, hotel confirmation, rental car confirmation, driving destinations, routes, airline, hotel & rental car contact info, etc.) in one place and easily accessible. Electronic copies are great, but it helps to have printed copies too. If any problems arise, you’ll have confirmation of your reservations and can easily contact the appropriate parties.
  • Know who you’re meeting with. Whether you’re attending or presenting at an event or meeting with clients, do some research. What’s the dress code at your event or client’s office? It’s helpful to understand a client’s corporate culture if possible for meeting purposes and to ensure a successful, long-term relationship. What’s your client’s gift policy? You may think you’re being nice by bringing a special something to leave behind, but it may make for an awkward situation if your contact can’t accept it. If you’re at an event, are there other opportunities to do business or is it not appreciated (or flat out prohibited) by management? Don’t start off on the wrong foot by making an innocent mistake that could lead to major consequences.
  •  Plan for the worst; hope for the best. Sh%@ happens. We all know that but expect everything to run smoothly all of the time. If at all possible, don’t take a last minute flight to your conference. If it’s delayed or even canceled, you’ll have time to reroute to the conference before it begins. If you’re driving, allow for extra time in case you hit traffic or encounter construction. You may get lost, not be able to catch a cab or find out your hotel room reservation was lost. Obviously it’s not always possible to allow extra time, but oftentimes we (as human beings) put everything off to the last minute and cause a lot of our own stress.
  • Track your expenses. Whether you’ll need to fill out an expense report or are a small business owner, it helps to track your expenses. You can see where unexpected expenses pop up and may be able to plan to eliminate or reduce these on future trips. For example, if you find yourself consistently buying bottled water, try to pack a refillable (and even folding/collapsible) water bottle.
  • Conduct a post-trip analysis. Take a few minutes to analyze your trip when you return home. It’s really helpful to keep a small notebook to jot down ideas and feedback in real time during the trip. Were you surprised by an airline policy? Did you find a hotel that’s in a better location? Did an audience member suggest a presentation change? Did you notice something during your event that you could do differently next time? Write it down so you can look into it further or implement changes for future travel.
Keep the essentials in your carry-on!

Keep the essentials in your carry-on! Losing your luggage is terrible, but it doesn’t have to sideline your trip. (No, guns aren’t allowed in carry-ons and even gun-shaped hot packs may cause a stir.)

Helpful packing tips:

  • Wear the same clothes on travel days. If you’re going to be working in airports, sitting on planes, setting up your booth, etc., save room in your suitcase.
  • Coordinate clothing so that you can mix and match. You may be able to stretch two pairs of pants over three or four days with different shirts.
  • Pack (mostly)  healthy, on-the-go snacks. Sometimes it’s difficult to find time to eat (especially at events), so try to have almonds & dried cranberries, fruit snacks, granola/protein bars and a refillable water bottle on hand. Grab some apples, bananas and other fresh fruit for your room from the continental breakfast.
  • Stuff shoes full of socks, undergarments and accessories to save space.
  • Roll shirts, workout gear and other items to save space. Pants may fit better folded in a specific location.
  • Put event credentials, medication, chargers and any other crucial items in your carry-on. A change of clothes is helpful too if it fits.
  • Take advantage of outside pockets, interior compartments, specialty niches and any nooks & crannies in your luggage. A little planning while packing goes a long way!
  • Leave room for swag bags, samples and literature you’ll be picking up at a show unless you plan on shipping these items back. (Depending on baggage policies, it may be advantageous to ship these items. Take advantage of any onsite or show specials in this area.)
  • Wear slip-on shoes and simple clothes (free of embellishments, metal, etc.) to the airport. It’ll help you breeze through security and save time and a lot of frustration.
  • Know where your liquids (in zip bags) and electronics are in your carry-on, so you can remove them for security quickly.

Your Turn

What other travel or packing tips have you picked up along the way? Chime in and help everyone do business a little easier on the road.

Enjoying the view,

Wherever you are, connect with us here:
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Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization

The evidence is in, and there can be no doubt. Treating employees well and making them happy affects the bottom line. Let’s explore the dynamics, and see just how to achieve a kinder workplace and happier employees.

This “happiness map” is a generic guide to happiness. Nevertheless, it is as relevant in a workplace setting as anywhere else.

This way to happiness >> By Carol Preibis

This way to happiness >>
Happiness Map by Carol Preibis


Notice that the starting point is “Mindfulness.” Being mindful promotes compassion (kindness). Mindfulness also leads to “Appreciation” — it teaches us gratitude. Conclusion: To achieve happiness in the workplace, we would do well to:

  •   Apply mindfulness to the workplace.
  •   Foster gratitude across the organization.



Do you live in the moment?

“SAKURAKO – Pick up the phone.”
by MIKI Yoshihito via CCBY2.0

“Mindfulness is a way to live your life as if it really mattered. And that involves being in the present moment with open-hearted presence and kindness toward yourself.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

Evidence suggests practicing mindfulness can help organizations by diminishing stress-related health care costs and increasing productivity. Kelley McCabe Ruff runs eMindful, a Vero Beach company that puts on virtual workshops for businesses. She has been able to quantify the effectiveness of eMindful’s programs, showing that they support behavioral change that leads to physical changes, such as reduced cortisol levels and lower blood pressure. “We actually supply employers a return on investment calculation.”

Kelley McCabe Ruff, eMindful CEO and founder, relates eMindful’s focus on reducing employee health care costs and increasing productivity. Live programs are offered via the internet, allowing eMindful to provide the most experienced and expert teachers in Mindfulness as well as other Mind-Body Programs. Presented by eMindful – http://www.eMindful.com

Reflecting before reacting is the first step in practicing mindfulness, and learning it is quite simple. Think of the acronym STOP:

Stop — Stand or Sit
Take a breath
Present – be in the present moment

Rhonda Magee explains the technique in this video.

Rhonda Magee, JD, is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of San Francisco. In this talk from the “Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion” conference on March 8, 2013, Magee explores how to apply contemplative practices to our professional lives–and in doing so create more compassionate workplaces.


Sharon Salzberg, author of the book Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement and Peace, believes mindfulness can be applied in any career.  “It’s a great tool for coming back to the moment and remembering your intention,” she says. For example, practicing mindfulness at work could be pausing and planning before picking up a phone, or taking a deep breath and focusing on the desired outcome during a contentious meeting.

“Teaching and encouraging mindfulness in the workplace has become a part of corporate efforts to reduce the stresses that can lead to burnout. Increasingly, the practice has gone mainstream, buoyed by the recent endorsements of CEOs, educators, actors, and politicians who link mindfulness to improved psychological and even physical health.” ― Cindy Krischer Goodman, Working with ‘mindfulness’ reduces stress in the workplace



Good job!

“Good Job on Sticky Note” by David Castillo Dominici via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“To practice gratitude, we must practice mindfulness. When we are truly present in the moment, we see the beauty all around us. And the more joy we cultivate, the more we can practice our purposeful awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Mindfulness begets gratitude, gratitude begets mindfulness.” — Sarah Rudell Beach, Mindfulness and Gratitude: A Celebration of Thankfulness

Foster an environment of gratitude across your organization. Gratitude in organizations is important—it can boost morale and increase productivity. To learn more about this dynamic, the Greater Good Science Center developed a quiz that measures the level of gratitude in an organization. An analysis of the results concludes: “In order to foster gratitude across an organization, it may help to maximize opportunities for people in low-level positions to make meaningful contributions, and ensure that their contributions are recognized—especially for employees who have been in a low-level position for many years. It may also be wise for organizations with high levels of stress to bring more awareness to how often—and to whom—expressions of gratitude are granted.”

A wonderfully effective way to recognize employee contributions is with an “office gratitude journal.” The Administration and Finance office of the University of California, Berkeley, created an appreciation platform that allows employees to recognize each other’s contributions, which feeds into a “Kudos” webpage that publicly highlights these contributions. A simpler and equally effect implementation of this same idea is a bulletin board known as a “wall of gratitude.” For details on these and other suggestions, see five ways to boost gratitude at work.



Business Team Discussing Ideas

“Business Team Discussing Ideas” by stockimages via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” ― Adam GrantGive and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

There are so many ways to bring kindness into work. Here are a few suggestions:

  •   Never, ever play the “blame game.” Rachel Woods, in her article on Tiny Buddha, explains how to stop playing this destructive game.
  •   Develop the skill of giving and receiving criticism. I highly recommend Zen and the Art of Constructive Criticism by Erin Dorney.
  •   Help one another. Mentor. Collaborate.
  •   Be friendly! Smile, give a compliment, speak a few kind words. Bring in a treat to share.
  •   We all understand the importance of work-life balance. A booklet from Acas Publications offers expert advice on work-life balance and flexible working. It includes some real-world problem scenarios, and provides real-world solutions.


Employee Engagement

employee engagement = success

Photo credit: betterworks.com

“To win in the marketplace…you must first win in the workplace. I’m obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center.” — Doug Conant

Employee engagement is crucial to the success of any organization, and it is management’s responsibility to make it happen! Managers, consider these tips:

  •   Give your employees autonomy. Let them know what’s going on, and elicit their ideas for improvement.
  •   Transparency is important to employees. Share long-term visions. Explain how their work fits into the big picture.
  •   Give employees opportunities for growth. Offer them new responsibilities. Give them time to train and learn.
  •   Employees love feedback, so give it often. If you have recommendations for improvement, offer to help them implement them.
  •   Be nice! Let them know that you care about them as people, not just as employees.


Books to Instruct and Inspire

Join the Kindness Revolution

It’s inspiring to think about individual pay it forward chains. It’s even more amazing to picture pay it forward webs. Each person in a chain has opportunities to fire off new chains. Most people are in multiple chains. Perhaps a web might look like a Tinker Toy project!

Tinker Toys

“Tinker Toys for Adults” by greenmelinda via CCBY2.0

 “The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.” — Maya Angelou

The time is right. These ideas are becoming mainstream, and for good reasons. It’s an exciting time for all of humanity. Be mindful, be grateful, be kind. Watch kindness spread from heart to heart and share the joy, especially in the workplace.

This is part two of a two-part series, Kindness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. If you missed part one last week, please click here. For more on Carol, keep reading. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.

Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. [UPDATE: Their blog, Ahh the Simple Life, is no longer active.]