It’s the Thought that Counts

As Black Friday approaches, millions of shoppers prepare for long lines, angry shoppers, and supposedly good deals on hot retail items. Some shoppers will be buying for themselves, but most put themselves through this retail war zone in hopes of snagging the perfect gift for friends and loved ones for the upcoming holidays. Many of us stare at these shoppers in awe, wondering if it is truly worth the craziness. But have you ever looked at gift giving in the same way?

Gift giving has always been a problem for economists. Why you might ask, would the beautiful act of giving a gift be problematic for anyone besides Ebenezer Scrooge himself? Well plain and simple, it’s not efficient.

 I think it is fair to assume we all know our own tastes best. That being so, the most efficient thing to give someone would be money, then that individual could pick out whatever gift they believed would bring them the most happiness (utility). But, it’s not that simple. Alex Tabarrok, an esteemed blogger and economist, likes to put it in the scope of a relationship. Say you want new tires, and getting them would bring you what you believe would be the most utility. Therefore, your significant other goes out and surprises you with a new set of tires for your 10th anniversary present. How romantic, right?

As you can see, it’s not as simple as basic economics says it should be. This is why economist Gregory Mankiw explains gift giving as a mode of “signaling.” Giving a gift is a way of signaling our love, friendship or comradery, things which money can’t buy, as talked about in one of my favorite recent reads, What Money Can’t Buy by Michael Sandel. The way I view it; Gift giving is a way to show our love and affection towards the recipient. Maybe the best way to sum up the rationale behind gift giving isn’t through fancy graphs and utility curves, but through the old saying, “It’s the thought that counts.”

You won’t find me personally waiting in line for a new high definition television come this Friday, but for those that do decide to tough it out in hope of getting the perfect symbol to give, I commend you. But also, consider wearing a helmet, shoulders pads, and a mouth guard. It can be brutal out there!

Staying Health Conscious at the Office

Those of us who are lucky enough to sit behind a desk do not have the luxury of getting our workout in through our work. Often times, long hours and approaching deadlines do not allot us time for exercising outside of work, but believe it or not, the office still provides opportunities to improve our health. I am by no means perfect, but I wanted to share a few tricks that I have found helpful:

  • Snack often. Yes, that may sound crazy, but eating small healthful snacks several times a day, actually speeds up your metabolism. Try to come prepared, with small portions of almonds, fruits and vegetables to help you avoid all of those tempting, sugary indulgences.
  • Take time to exercise throughout the day. You don’t have to go on a full marathon during your lunch break, but by using the stairs, doing some morning lunges, or taking ten minutes out of your day to go on a walk, you can significantly increase your metabolism. Even purposely walking to the printer or copy machine in another area of the office instead of printing something right at your desk is a great way to knock out a few extra walking steps during your day! If you need help coming up with exercise ideas, webmd.com offers simple exercises that can be done right at your desk. In addition to your physical health, these activities will help clear your mind and mentally help you get through your day more efficiently.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your colleagues about your health and fitness. They can provide you with support, keep you accountable, and give you new ideas. Just as in a Vistage group, by having others give you new ideas and hold you accountable, you are more likely to obtain your goals.

As the holiday season approaches, staying healthy becomes more challenging. Now that you’ve read all about being healthy at the office, best of luck with the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie! Happy Turkey Day!

Efficiently Planning

Time management is arguably one of the most important aspects of a professional’s success. The ability to efficiently handle a busy schedule is essential for CEOs and has been a topic of discussion among Vistage group members. A planner, whether paper or electronic, is a tool many experienced business professionals use as a way of mastering time management. Here are a few ideas that may help to improve your own daily planner:

  1. Place your long-term goals in the beginning or your planner. These will serve as guidance for your weekly short-term goals and motivation for completing them.
  2. Jot down ideas! Almost everyone has had a great idea and a week later forgotten all about it. By writing down your ideas, you will be able to go back to them on the exact day you had the idea.
  3. Write down the non-scheduled events from your day. Your planner should be just as much a reference tool for the past as it is an organizer for the future.
  4. Remind yourself a day in advance of important events by putting them down in your planner the day before. This will allow you to mentally prepare for the upcoming event and not be caught off guard the day of the event.
  5. Set aside a time slot in the morning to organize your planner. Investing time into your planner is the only way to make it efficient.  

There are hundreds of ways of setting up and using a daily planner, and different methods work better for different people. Although one thing is certain for everyone, the most important thing to do with your planner is use it! Invest the initial time and stick with it and your life will become easier, more organized and more efficient.

Finding the Right Speaker

Would you like to motivate your management team? Give them new ideas and help them set higher goals for themselves? One of the best ways to do so is to bring in an outside expert resource speaker. One of the trickiest parts of bringing in a speaker is selecting the right speaker for your organization. By going to a local expert, Mrs. Angie Neal, the speaker coordinator for Vistage Florida, we gathered some helpful tips on selecting your company’s next speaker:

  1. Find a speaker who is an expert in their field. Without experience or expertise, the speaker will not be able to offer any take away value for their audience.
  2. Be certain to bring in a speaker that will give their listeners tools to work with. In other words, make sure the speaker is giving take home value to their audience. You want the speaker to equip your newly motivated team to take action after they leave the room.
  3. Look for a speaker that offers a workshop style presentation. Interactive speakers are more likely to keep your audience engaged and attentive.
  4. Keep in mind, a good speaker is adaptable to their environment. In addition to adjusting to their physical setting, they need to have the flexibility to relate and challenge any audience, no matter how big or small. Consult with your speaker before the presentation and let them know what type of audience they will be working with and your expectations.
  5. Humor is always a plus! Not every speaker needs to be funny, but it is quite refreshing to find a speaker with applicable humor, who still projects a great message. After all, laughter is the best medicine. The speaker should be dynamic, lively and an engaging communicator. These traits will hold the audience captive.

The right speaker may be costly, but employers should not shy away from making the selection if they are confident in the speaker’s abilities. A speaker should be viewed as an investment. Look for the speaker that you believe will give you the best return on investment with your team and use that speaker to get them motivated!