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Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Last Time (grab a box of Kleenex)

 

 

by Devon Corneal

Tonight, Little Dude asked for a snuggle before bed. It was well past his bedtime and I was tired, cranky and had a stack of laundry to fold, a memo to write and a blog post to finish. I told him I’d snuggle for two minutes.

He crawled under his blanket, squirmed until he was comfortable and pushed me to the edge of the mattress. He offered me his favorite blankie to keep me warm. I put my arm around him and he was sound asleep before I had finished cataloguing the list of things I had to do before I could crawl into my own bed. I considered making a stealthy escape but stopped when he threw his arm around my neck while mumbling unintelligibly. A sleeping 4-year old’s arm has as much strength as a soggy piece of toast, but I didn’t move. Despite my earlier desire to leave, I stayed and pulled him toward me.

I had one of those rare blissful parenting moments when everything else fades away and you appreciate the simple physical presence of your child. I marveled at the amount of heat a small boy produces when he sleeps and the ease with which he leaves the world behind. I smelled his hair. The laundry could wait.

It hit me in the darkness of his cluttered room that these days are numbered. Some night in the future, Little Dude will ask me to snuggle with him before he falls asleep, and I will have no idea that it will be the last time. I won’t know to pay attention or to try to commit every minute to memory. Days or weeks or months later, I will try to recall when that last snuggle happened. I won’t be able to. I know I will ache to slide next to him on his narrow bed, listen to him breathe and wait for the moment when he surrenders to his dreams. All of the irritations, the inconveniences and the wishing for time alone will seem insignificant in comparison to the warmth and peace of his nighttime routine. I will regret the times I hurried through bedtime and left his room even though he asked me to stay “Just one more minute, Mommy.”

It will be too late.

I just now understand that in anticipating my son’s “firsts,” I’ve forgotten to appreciate what he’s left behind. The firsts are monumental, celebrated and captured on film. I reveled in Little Dude’s first steps, jotted down his first words and am prepared to save lost teeth. There isn’t a first I haven’t recorded in some way. I’ve paid less attention to his “lasts.” I’ve ignored the finality that comes with moving from one stage to another.

I don’t remember the last day that Little Dude’s eyes were blue before they turned green. I can’t recall the last time his hair was baby soft and curly, or the last time he crawled or took a real nap. I can’t pinpoint the last time we shared the peaceful quiet of a 3 a.m. feeding, or he squealed with joy to be riding his wooden rocking horse. There will be a hundred last times to come. And I won’t know they’ve passed until there is no hope of recapturing them. I know this because I don’t remember the last day he used a pacifier or waited for us to get him from his bed rather than clomping into our bedroom at some ungodly pre-dawn hour exuberant and ready to face the day as we struggle to open our eyes. I’ve forgotten when he stopped liking sweet potatoes or saying “Pick mine up!”

Not that there aren’t stages I’m happy are gone. I don’t miss teething, two-hour feedings, biting or needing to be carried everywhere. I’m neither Pollyanna nor a masochist. Babies are darling; I’m also glad I don’t have one anymore. Raising children isn’t all warm snuggles and charming memories. Parenting can be a long, hard slog.

But for today I’m focusing on the last times still to come, even though I won’t know that they’re the last chapters until long after they’ve gone. The last snuggle. The last time Little Dude asks me to bring him chocolate milk. The last time we play fire trucks. The last time he falls down and comes crying to me with his entire body shaking, tears streaming down his face, believing with childish certainty that a kiss from me will make his skinned knee better. The last time he asks to marry me. The last time he believes in my omniscience. The last time we color together at the kitchen table. I’m not naïve enough to believe that this moment of reflection will stop me from becoming irritated, impatient, frustrated, bored or upset tomorrow when my son whines, spills spaghetti sauce on the rug or throws a fit because I won’t let him stay up late. Maybe, though, I’ll temper my response if I can remember how fleeting this all is. That for every moment I’ve prayed would end, there is something I miss.

 

 

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How Global Supply Chains Bring Products to You

 

 

Carlsberg factory

The process of delivering goods and services has become more complex over the last century. Very few products are actually produced in the country where they are sold, and the supply chain is comprised of so many interlocking mechanisms that it’s difficult to say where something actually comes from. This enables companies to deliver products at lower prices because they’re able to hire laborers and buy materials from the regions where the things they need are cheap and plentiful. The modern world exists because of globalization, and it’s a process that everyone should be somewhat familiar with.

Where it Starts

Most supply chains begin with the regulation of various resources. While each element is at least somewhat important, the key thing is the political aspect. Local politicians need to be on board with what companies want to do before anything else is possible. Once that hurdle has been overcome, laborers can extract and refine the raw materials that will eventually become consumer products. This stage can have dozens of different parts to it depending on the materials in question, and sometimes companies will trade with each other in order to simplify certain parts of the process. The materials are then shipped to various storage units across the globe, and then they are finally transformed into products and delivered to stores.

The Different Kinds of Supply Chains

Different methods work better for different processes and products. Sometimes cost efficiency isn’t the only goal; economic growth in a particular area can serve as motivation for companies to utilize a supply chain that’s either less efficient or less lucrative. When profit is the sole concern, a globalized supply chain is usually the most favorable option, and even supply chains that focus on manufacturing items in specific locations may still involve imported materials.

The aim of all supply chains is to accomplish the stated goals in the most efficient way possible with the least amount of inventory. The incentives for choosing particular models are almost always wholly economic, but certain companies opt for more roundabout methods if they can gain something else of value for doing so. Since the push for globalization has destroyed a lot of manufacturing jobs in America, items that are produced within the US are very popular within the country, and the goodwill that’s earned by moving jobs into US communities can help ensure a business’ long-term viability. Sometimes the loss of efficiency can also be offset by raising prices, and that makes it so there’s no downside to establishing factories in areas with a higher standard of living.

Supply Chain Obstacles

As with any long and complex process, there are a lot of things that can go wrong between gathering materials and getting them to the final recipients. The fact that such errors are routine and yet no one ever notices is a testament to how stable the system is. Of course, sustainability is a big question going forward; there are plenty of issues with the current methods of production that could be problematic as resources dwindle, but the beauty of the supply chain model is that it’s extremely adaptable. It takes a lot of careful management to keep things moving as smoothly as they should, but at least the process keeps going even in sub-optimal conditions.

Dana Monty writes for several higher ed blogs. Interest in manufacturing and supply chains? Several universities offer MBA degrees including onlinemba.ohio.edu and www.unc.edu.

 

 

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Going ‘Green’ is Good for Business, Exec Says

Tips for Companies Trying to Clean Up Their Act
Despite pressing economic worries, the environment remains a top concern for consumers the world over. And that means environmentally-friendly business practices are as necessary for the bottom line as they are for the planet, says Joe Veilleux, president of Euromed USA (euromedusa.com).
“Being a producer of natural ingredients for pharmaceuticals and health supplements, we’ve always held environmentalism as a major company value,” says Veilleux, a registered pharmacist.“We’re glad to see that, even when people face unemployment and other economic hardships, they’re still committed to green practices.”
Recent polls, including BCG’s annual International Global Green Consumer Surveys taken throughout the recession, reveal an unwavering commitment to environmentalism, he says.
“Even at the height of the recession in 2008 and 2009, more than a third of consumers said they were willing to pay a little more for products that are better for the environment,” Veilleux says. “A majority said they consider a company’s environmental credentials when making purchasing decisions.”
Euromed recently earned “green” ISO 14001 certification for its Barcelona factory by meeting stringent criteria established by the world International Standardization Organization, which sets standards for sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
“In the five-year process of re-engineering our factory to meet the ISO 14001 criteria, we learned a lot that can benefit other companies,” Veilleux says. “Some of the steps we took cost little to nothing; others were, frankly, expensive. But all companies today need to be aware that consumers are looking at what they’re doing to – and for – the planet, and they’re making buying decisions based on that.”
These are some of the initiatives undertaken at Euromed Barcelona, which manufactures herbal extracts and natural active substances for customers in the United States and Europe.
Recycling biomass – the company’s manufacturing waste product. We’ve found different ways to recycle the post-extraction biomass, depending on the product involved, Veilleux says. “Much of the residue is sent to companies that specialize in creating bio-gas – specifically, methane, which is used to generate power,” he says. “However, the residue left from milk thistle has such a high nutritional value, it’s actually used to feed farm animals. We ship the waste product to a company that dries it out and cleans it before it’s added to feed for pigs, chickens, cows, and the like. The biomass is given away for free, he adds.
• Wood pallets become compost. At Euromed, wooden pallets are reused until they can’t be used any longer. “At that point, they’re sent to recycling facilities, which use them in composting products,” Veilleux says. This step was easily accomplished by working through waste management companies.
• Printer toners get refilled. Empty toner cartridges are shipped to the company’s supplier, where they’re recharged and returned for use. If not for recycling, the toner cartridges would be deposited in landfills.
• Cleaner air and water. The company purchased new equipment to accomplish these goals, including on-site wastewater treatment and water purification plants, and equipment to decrease atmospheric emissions.
All totaled, Euromed spent $1 million to $2 million to upgrade its factory. It was money well spent, Veilleux says.
“We’re excited about the certification because it verifies that we’re one of the world’s leaders in environmentally friendly production,” he says. “That’s very important to us — we rely on plants, the Earth’s natural, renewable resources,not only for our business but for our personal health.
“We have a special interest in making everyone aware of how vital it is that we all take steps to prevent environmental damage.
About Euromed USA
Euromed USA supplies standardized botanical and herbal extracts and natural active substances for use in the pharmaceutical, health food and cosmetics industries. By extracting the necessary chemicals, the company can guarantee its products meet the precise chemical specifications necessary. Euromed was founded 40 years ago. Its parent company is the 100-year-old Rottapharm-Madaus corporation based in Italy.

 

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Fall Building Maintenance Tips – Prepare for the Cold Weather to Come

It’s been a long, hot summer for most of the country, but as the calendar gradually turns to September, fall is almost here and before you know it, the cold winter weather will be here, too.  Here are a few things you can do as a building Owner or Director of Facilities to ensure you and your buildings are ready for the change in seasons:

  • Perform Roof Inspections – Get your ladder and check out the roofs around your campus – or hire a qualified roofing contractor to inspect your low-sloped built-up and membrane roofs as well as the higher sloped shingled roofs.  Look for areas of loose shingles, especially around the building eaves where ice dams can form during winter, which allow moisture to enter under the shingles.  In addition, check flashings at vertical wall intersections, chimneys, and plumbing vent boots to confirm there are no holes or other damage that can allow water to enter the building during heavy rain or snow.  Adequate roof maintenance not only reduces leaks, but extends the life of your roofing systems.  It is important to check low-sloped roofs weekly during the leaf falling season to ensure that roof drains are not clogged with leaves and debris.  Higher sloped shingled roofs should be checked at the end of the season to ensure that gutters, valleys, and other areas are not clogged with leaves and debris as well.
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts – Ensure all gutters and downspouts are clear from debris so that they adequately drain water away.  This continues to be important as the season progresses and leaves begin to fall.  Consider pruning overhanging trees at this time to keep the leaves and debris off the roof.  Clogged gutters can cause water to back up, which will damage the roof and the trim around the roof and soffits, as well as siding.  During cold winter weather, standing and backed-up water in gutters can freeze and cause ice dams that will damage your roof and sheathing, and lead to leaks.  Downspouts should discharge into underground storm drain leaders or empty onto splash blocks that adequately divert the water away from the exterior of the building.
  • Inspect All Exterior Doors and Windows – Check to make sure that caulking is still flexible and is sealing any gaps between window/door frames and exterior walls.  This ensures the warm air stays inside the building during the winter and seals the exterior building envelope from water penetration and leaks.  For added energy savings, check the weather stripping at all exterior door frames to make sure it’s still in place and serving its intended purpose.
  • Check Exterior Faucets and Service Irrigation System – Install frost-proof exterior hose bib faucets or drain older non-frost-proof faucets to keep them from freezing and breaking during the winter.  This is also a good time to have the underground irrigation system serviced and prepared for winter by a qualified irrigation contractor.
  • Exterior Site Concrete  and Asphalt Pavement – Perform regular sealing of exterior cracks in sidewalks and paved areas during the fall.  Water that freezes inside these cracks can cause the concrete to spall and deteriorate, leading to more costly repairs later.  The water penetration can also cause the subgrade to soften, leading to settlement and potholes.  It is critical to ensure that all expansion joints are adequately sealed with a high-quality joint sealer to prevent water from getting below the pavement surface and softening the structural base course materials.  Routine and periodic sealing of the asphalt pavement with a liquid asphalt sealer will help seal small hairline cracks in the asphalt pavement, which also protects the structural base course from softening and degradation due to water intrusion.
  • Tune Up Your Heating System – Inspect all the furnaces and heat pumps to ensure they are clean and operating properly with clean filters.  Clogged and dirty filters cause the heating system to waste energy while heating the building to your desired set point temperatures.  Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are operational.  Clean chimneys to ensure they are clear and not clogged with soot and other debris, which can cause gases to build up inside your buildings.  A qualified HVAC contractor will not only perform a visual inspection of your heating system, but will also remove covers and check filters, check blowers, ensure flues are clear and operating properly, and perform other safety checks that will assure a safe and warm environment for your residents this winter.
  • Check Attics – Check the insulation in your attics to confirm it’s the proper thickness and is distributed evenly.  Lack of proper attic insulation is a major cause of heat loss in a building, which will increase your heating costs.  You should also check to see that all vents are operating properly and there is no insulation blocking the continuous soffit vents around the attic perimeter.  This is also a good time to ensure that fire sprinkler lines located in unheated attics are adequately insulated to prevent freezing and breaking of these lines.
 

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How to Get Started Marketing a Book

By: Marsha Friedman

It’s understandable, really. People who have the passion necessary to write a book usually have just one thing on their minds: writing a book. Not marketing a book. Some may think ahead to getting it published, but, tragically, that’s where the planning often ends.

I’m not exaggerating when I say “tragically”! I talk to many people who’ve poured years of effort, money and sacrifice into their books, which wind up sitting in boxes in their garage. They never thought about how they might market their books themselves or budgeted for book promotion services.

When’s the best time to start thinking about marketing a book? Ideally, before you even sit down to begin writing. Because — and I speak from experience here — the first step will help in your writing.

Step 1: Ask yourself, “Who is my audience?”

The answer is the first piece of any marketing plan and it can also help you define what you’ll write. When I decided to write a book about public relations, I had planned to write it for businesses in general. Then I thought, “That’s too broad. Who will my audience really be?”

I decided to write for individual professionals such as doctors, lawyers and financial planners. Not only would that put a face to the people I was writing for, it would also give me the first piece of my marketing plan.

If you want to write a book and you’re a financial planner working for baby boomers chugging toward 65, you might write about planning for retirement after age 50. Another audience might be the boomers’ kids – adults who may be helping their parents. Depending on the expertise you put in the book, you might find other audiences you can target as well.

Here are the next steps to consider in planning your promotional campaign:

• What’s the best way to reach that audience? Where will you find the people you expect will be interested in your book? Will you buy advertising, look for speaking engagements, try to whip up interest from the media? You might hire a publicist or contract with your publisher to handle PR, or put together a promotional tour. You’ll definitely need a website. Will you build one yourself or hire a pro? Research the options that appeal to you and find out how effective they are in terms of meeting your goals. If you’re considering contracting with professionals to help you, get references from people who’ve had successful marketing experiences.

• How much will it cost? Some options are less expensive, others more. Look into the ones that interest you and get an idea of their price. Decide how much you can afford to spend and budget for it. Is there an organization or business that would benefit from sponsoring you? A landscape designer, for instance, might get financial help from a plant nursery or a tools manufacturer in exchange for standing behind a business or product. A chef might find an ally in a food manufacturer.

• Develop a following online. Do you have a database of people already interested in what you have to say? If not, turn to social media and start building it now. The more of a following you have, the more potential audience you’ve created for your marketing message. Big numbers will also turn heads when you try to get speaking engagements or guest spots on radio and TV talk shows. Having a following is everything. The organizations and media that book you for an interview are also hoping all those followers will either buy tickets or stop by their website.

Marketing is too important to be an afterthought, so think about it long before it’s time to get started. Yes, I understand the effort that goes into writing a book. I know it’s hard to think about anything else! But if you have invested your dreams in that baby, you probably want to share it with the world. And that takes planning.

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself: The 3-Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3:00 PM EST.

 

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How to Create Impressive Business Cards

 

Business cards are one of the easiest ways to connect to another person or business. It’s a very convenient way to exchange information. It is also a way to impress customers, strangers and even competitors. Here are some ways to make your business cards more powerful.

Make it simple

The standard information that we see on business cards include name, title, company, company address, contact numbers. Now that there are so many ways to connect, we can see the website address, Facebook fan page, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., etc. Make your card visually appealing by simplifying the information printed on it. Don’t include your full address. Just the city will do. It’s very easy to find your complete address on the web. Don’t put all your social media accounts. Just put the ones that you are most active in.

Social Media

While we’re discussing social media, instead of putting the word ‘Facebook’, why not just put the icon similar to what you put on your websites if you want your readers to connect to you. This is easier on the eyes and very easy to understand. Only print what’s important. The big three are usually enough – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

Your website is not the best choice

Many people are no longer comfortable visiting a new site for fear of being bombarded by advertisements and offers. Some fear that their devices might be invaded by malware. To avoid this, you can either focus just on your social media or your company blog. Social media sites are trusted sites. These are familiar ground so your customers will be more relaxed and willing to visit them. Your blog on the other hand is an informative site. Useful, relevant information is always welcome from a customer’s point of view.

Use graphics

Because we can easily put images and videos in our blog posts, Twitter and Facebook updates, everyone is suddenly expecting something visual with everything they encounter. So, if you put the right images on your card, chances are, it will get noticed.

Linking

Do you exist in the real world as much as you do on the Internet? Then you should link these worlds together. A good way to do this is to add a QR code in your business card. Make sure that it works though and it’s interesting or impressive enough, otherwise, just don’t do it.

Tickle their curiosity

Create intrigue and tickle your customer’s curiosity through word play or images. You can create a sense of mystery to encourage your customer to check out your Facebook page.

Be flexible

Print different cards for various groups of customers and various occasions. Include information that is catered to a specific group. For example, if you join a conference, your business card tone should be more formal and the information therein should be focused on the topic of the conference because these people will likely be interested in that information only. If you are going to a fun event, make your business card fun.

The way we live is changing rapidly. Your business must be able to keep up. Your offline tools must be as powerful as your online tools to be able to survive.

 

This article was written by comparefrankingmachine.co.uk. Compare franking machines and get a free quote.

 

 

The Discoveries I Made On What It Takes To Have Top Managerial Skills

 

What distinguishes you as a great manager from the good ones is possession of a wide set of skills which range from communication and motivation to planning and delegation. Often times, the top management skills are so many, and some managers think they should concentrate on the management areas they understand most.  However, to be considered as having top management skills, I needed to analyze my expertise in all areas and then set out to improve on areas where I was most wanting. You will only be complete when you have the most diverse of skills, which sharpen your problem solving skills.

Required Skills For A Manager:

There are skills that a manager need to have, and if I were to talk about all of them, then it would probably take weeks, if not months. One of the most important skills that a manager needs to have is the ability to understand the dynamics of the team and encourage good relationship between the team members. This simply means that you need to understand exactly how teams operate.  Normally, teams will follow a certain definitive pattern of development, and experts have listed them thus: forming, norming, storming and finally performing. When encouraging and supporting those under you, it is important to do it through this process, and this has the effect of helping your team become effective in the shortest possible time.  .

As A Manager:

It is important that, as a manager, I must consider the aspect of balance when creating teams, so that I end up with a team comprising different sets of skills, people and perspectives. It is never easy to manage a group of people who seem to be able to get along, but teams that will be effective in the long run appreciate different points of view, and using their dissimilarities to be not only creative but also highly innovative. As a manager, you will be tasked to have skills needed to direct the said differences in a positive manner.  Thus you will need to introduce a team charter. Your knowledge of team conflict will be particularly important if your team is to be managed effectively.

As A Team Leader:

As a team leader, my ability to choose and nurture the right people is not just necessary, it is mandatory. I always need to find the great team members, and have the skills needed for the success of the team developed. When recruiting new members, I usually focus on the various specific skills that I need for the success of my team, balance different personalities so that I have variety in my team.

Delegation:

You would be mistaken to think that just by having the right people with the right skills does the trick, but this is usually not the case. It is important that as a manager, you know just how to get a task completed effectively. Delegation is the catchphrase here. Some managers, having earned their promotion purely on the grounds of their technical superiority, try to accomplish most tasks all by themselves. They believe that, being the accountable officers, they ought to do the tasks by themselves to be sure that the task is successfully completed.

For teams to accomplish a lot more, great managers will assign the task to the right people, and not necessarily the people with the most time. You will need to clearly outline what you expect to be achieved. However, it is not easy to trust other people to accomplish some tasks. But it still boils down to your team having not only the right people but also those with the right skills, who you can easily rely on to get the job done and dusted.

MotivatingEmployees:

Motivating people under you is yet another great piece of skill that all managers ought to have. Motivating oneself is easier but motivating another person needs careful thought. People are motivated by totally different things, a factor that managers have to keep in mind. You will need to understand your team members at a personal level which helps you to motivate them better. You can stay informed about each of your team member’s information by providing regular feedback.

Inoculate Discipline In Team Members:

Instilling a sense of discipline and dealing with conflict between your team members is something that contributes your management prowess. If, despite your efforts, there are still problems with your employee’s individual performances, you are required to deal with it promptly. Failing to discipline erring employees will impact negatively on the whole team and also on your customers, given that poor performance of employees will impact on customer service. Working alongside team members who regularly fail to meet expectations is very demotivating for other team members, and if tolerated, it leads to suffering of other team members.

Efficient Conflict Resolution:

You should not allow dissimilarities between individual team members to progress to conflict, as this would also influence negatively on performance. You as a team manager ought to facilitate a speedy resolution to c the conflict, by being impartial and objective, so that members do not have the idea you are taking sides. You should also note that some conflicts are positive in that they can help unearth deep-seated underlying structural problems. Efficient conflict resolution means that you recognize conflict and stem it from the roots, rather than giving it a palliative approach where you try to suppress it or avoid it completely.

Effective Communication:

Effective communication is an important managerial skill, which you need to pay close attention to. Keeping your team informed on all that is going on, as well keeping them as informed as possible is something that you should endeavor to do always. Managers should specifically improve on their team briefing skills.

Many managers are quite equipped with planning, decision-making and problem solving skills because they are skilled professionals whose promotions are based on knowledge and analytical efficacy. Therefore, most managers tend to focus too much on these skills, thereby failing to concentrate on their other skills, such as people and management skills. Being narrowly proficient on these skills alone cannot make you to be touted as having top management skills.

I have been a team player in many organizations and I understand the frustration people go through because of inadequate leadership skills. Some of the people claimed to possess reputable leadership skills are lacking them in zeal and I find it worth that they should undertake some leadership quality classes. As an owner and runner of pharmacytechnicianinfo.net, I always meet with so many people and effective use of my managerial skills brings many clients, students and customers my way.

 

 

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