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Create Value

Why Tony the Tiger is My Idol

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Take Risks

Recently I was asked if I wanted to achieve greatness. At first, I was pretty offended. What a stupid question. Who wouldn’t want to be great? What does that even mean? Do they really think I’d say “no, I want to be average?”

Oh, and by the way, when I think about great, I just picture a Tony the Tiger. You know Tony right? The Frosted Flakes dude? One could argue whether Frosted Flakes are great, but the marketing was certainly pretty great. Are you saying “They’re Greeeat” in your head now? Point made. By the way, Tony the Tiger has been around since 1952. I’d classify him as a great mascot.

Once I got over being offended (I was asked by a person whom I really trust and respect otherwise. I may have just lived the rest of my life being annoyed about the question, aka – never thinking about it again), I realized that is wasn’t so obvious. I found myself reconsidering my resounding “duh, obviously I want to be great”, to “what does that even mean?”

I was taken over by a genuine curiosity to explore what that meant to me. It went from being totally obvious to totally illusive. Oh, aaannnnnd, the question was not just asked as a standalone. There was a series of follow ups after the initial question – I was cautiously hesitant in how I wanted to answer the first part. After all, I wasn’t going to fall into some trap. I have no idea what the trap would be, but that is the natural skeptic in me.

So the questions went like this:

Do you want to achieve greatness?
In what areas do you want to achieve greatness?
Do you know what it takes to achieve greatness?
Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve greatness?
What obstacles are there to achieve greatness?
How to do you overcome these obstacles?

I felt like I was suddenly faced with the fucking prelude to my eventual obituary. Like what the hell?

I am in the middle of trying to manage a P&L, hire people, fire people, run operations, feed my child, make sure homework is done, hire a new Nanny, go to 10,000 doctor appointments, attend physical therapy, make it to a zillion meetings (most of which suck), chill with my husband on occasion, return my friend’s calls/emails, shower periodically and now I have to figure out this greatness thing? I am literally just trying to stay alive.

I spent some time with my google machine typing things like “what is definition of greatness” , “greatness quotes”, “inspiration quotes” and other nonsense before setting out to define my own version of greatness – by the way, the initial question actually said to create your own definition. I just naturally like to go in circles before getting back to the starting point.

I am still very much in the process of this greatness journey and intend to continue to be genuinely curious and humbly open minded along the way. My starting part has been a vision-board-style word dump. Here’s what I came up with:

Greatness
Satisfied
Content
Genuine
Authentic
Kind
Focused
Ambitious
Overcome adversity
Impactful
Nimble
Passion
Simplicity
Elegance
Humble
Teachable
Relentless
Curious
Grateful
Acceptance
Inspire

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. Sometimes the best questions have no tangible answers – they take you on an unexpected journey. So here I am, unexpectedly journeying. If you are up to it, ask yourself the same. I dare you…

 

Hack Attack!

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks

Seven Amazing Hacks from One Unexpected Household Item

I’m a big fan of anything that makes life easier, more convenient, or less annoying. Any #lifehack posts that I stumble across on social media will immediately grab my attention. It’s possible that I spend more time reading about life hacks, than I actually save by doing the life hacks, but that’s a topic for another blog.

This blog is about one insignificant household item that can do about a million other things that it wasn’t even designed to do. (Reminds me of some people I know.) Here are seven of my favorite life hacks, all involving the humble dryer sheet. The best part is, for most of these hacks any brand will work, and they don’t even have to be new dryer sheets. Used ones work just as well.

  1. Remove nail polish. Glittery nail polish is a pain to get off. When you’re sick of looking like a Las Vegas showgirl, cut dryer sheets into small squares, soak them in acetone, and lay them on top of your nails. After a few minutes, the nail polish will rub off easily.
  2. Use instead of paint thinner to clean brushes. It’s not magic, it’s science. Science I won’t attempt to explain. Just try it. Lay a paintbrush over a dryer sheet, and pour water on top. The paint will slide right off.
  3. Clean your hairbrush. Instead of ripping out clumps of hair a few pieces at a time, soak the brush in warm water with a dryer sheet plopped in there. After a few minutes take it out and the hair just slides off.
  4. Sharpen scissors. When your scissors get dull from cutting up magazines, making DIY home décor, or cutting unidentifiable goo out of the dog’s hair, you can use a dryer sheet to sharpen up the blades again. Just rub the dryer sheet on each edge.
  5. Remove stains from the toilet bowl. Re-purpose a used dryer sheet as a toilet bowl scrubber. You don’t even have to scrub that hard. Gloves recommended.
  6. Scrub glass shower doors. A dryer sheet can remove water stains and calcium deposits. Add a couple drops of water, and wipe the doors down. You’ll want to share this one with everyone. Just don’t forget you heard it here first.
  7. Clean grease from pans. You can eliminate the crusty, burnt grease from your pans by soaking them in water, dish soap and a dryer sheet. Let it sit for one hour. Use that hour to catch up on Telltale Ten blog posts you may have missed.

Want more hacks? Check out Accessories to Make Your Traveling Life Easier — All From the Dollar Store.

Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I can be competitive. Like, super competitive. I recently made it a competition with our VP of Operations to see who could get to my boss’s office the fastest. Not kidding. Competitive people tend to gravitate toward other competitive people.

My friend Ashley Seeger (who was featured in one of the first Telltale Ten BLOGs, My Friends Are Cooler Than Yours) embodies that trait like no other. After a crazy ACL injury and a few other life events, Ashley made the decision to focus on her business full-time. She leveraged her growing boot camp and class groupies, and recently opened up her own gym and training facility called Becoming Badass. As a startup leader, I can tell you that being competitive can help you succeed. (Being a little bit crazy is helpful too.) Ashley is learning to take her race mentality, and apply it to growing her business. Oh, and she decided to take on a bikini competition, a 24-hour endurance race in Australia, and compete in World’s Toughest Mudder (among some Spartan and Ragnar races) all during her first year of business. Ashley shares a few key tips on competition in this week’s Telltale Ten.

Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)

By Ashley Seeger

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that there is competition on every corner. The stressors that come with opening a new business can be intense. Keeping up with your competition can be one that eats at you. For me, competition comes in a lot of different forms — competition with myself, competition with things in my life that are vying for my attention and competition from other businesses. Competition motivates us to do more, do better and grow as a business. If we were the only one doing the “thing” why would we need to improve? Instead, competition forces us to do our best. It can also derail us and cause us to lose focus if we don’t channel it correctly. Here is how I use competition to motivate me instead of distract me.

1. Master your trade. What are you good at? What is your passion?

Keep your focus on what YOU are good at. What do you love the most? What is your unique value proposition? What is special about you or your business that others cannot easily replicate? When looking at your competition you may be tempted to veer from your lane into what they are doing. But ask yourself – what are you a master at? Do you find your passion or expansion opportunities in competitive offerings? If not, then stay in your lane. Instead of trying to be a jack-of-ALL-trades, how can you improve what YOU do?

2. Don’t waste time or energy worrying about the others.

In other words, mind your own business. Literally and figuratively. Instead of worrying that others are going to do more, be better etc., use that energy for your own business. Once you have identified what is working for you, set a plan to improve what you already do. How can you be the BEST at what YOU do? Figure it out and then DO IT! Have integrity and take pride in what you do. You cannot control what your competition is doing. You also can’t be blind to it. This is a balancing act. Be mindful of the landscape, industry, trends, direct and indirect competition. But don’t be obsessed with it – and definitely don’t try to just copy it. Be aware of your surroundings and competition, continuously try to improve what you do and don’t let the competition be a threat, let the competition motivate you to be the best.

3. Leverage what you know, but don’t rely on today’s skills to get you through tomorrow.

Entrepreneurs need to always be learning, seeking more info, and getting out of their comfort zone. Just like on the race course, you have to know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. You also have to train and be coachable. If you are not willing to learn new things, or accept advice from others who know things you don’t, you will likely fail. I am an athlete. I have always been an athlete. I am a coach. I am a good coach. Running a business is TOTALLY new to me. If I don’t embrace what I don’t know, and seek it, my competition may prevail regardless of how good of an athlete or coach I am. I have to find and recognize my weakness and then go after it!

If you want to check out all the badass things Ashley does, check out her website at www.becomingbadass.me. For someone new to business, she sure has mastered marketing and branding. It rocks. Truthfully I am jealous. You can follow her Badass adventures on social media at [Insta: @_ashleyseeger, YouTube: Ashley Seeger, Facebook: Ashley Seeger]. Oh, and to the tune of getting out of her comfort zone and delving more into the “business side” of running a business, she just joined LinkedIn! You can connect with her here where she will be posting her BLOG, news, making connections and learning new stuff.

There is a sign hanging in her facility that reads “Do Only Difficult Things” – that pretty much sums up entrepreneurship.

Telltale Ten Guide to Cleaning Up Dog Sh*t

Just When You Think You’re Ready for the Week…

By | Be Genuine, Create Value

Dog Sh*t Everywhere…

Last week was a rough week. Without going into a million details it was just hit after hit after hit across all areas of my life. By the end of the week, the stress had manufactured in exhaustion – I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually tired and ended up sick.

I went into this week determined to turn things around. Not only in how I react to things (like When Life Kicks You in the ___), but also in trying to eliminate some of the stressors all together. You know, organizing myself and setting myself up for the best chance of success knowing that sh*t will inevitably go wrong. Little did I know, that literally, sh*t would go bonkers.

By Sunday night I was still unable to sleep and transported myself to the guest room. For some reason it is an ice box in there and helps me sleep. I drifted off the sleep with thoughts of a “good week to come” in my head. I had prepared all the meals for the week, updated the calendar, worked out schedules, organized what needed organizing and was ready to conquer the week. And then…

I was abruptly awoken by my daughter saying in a quiet but panicked voice, “Sheebee had diarrhea everywhere and I don’t know what to do. Dad is really mad.” I can assure you this was not how I planned to start my “good week to come”. So in case you are wondering, Sheebee is our Husky and she is big. We had spent hours and hours of the weekend rearranging and redecorating my room and my daughter’s room. I laid there thinking “is this really happening?” and then when I realized I really had just been woken up by the diarrhea dog I thought to myself “how bad can it be?”.

Uhm, let me tell you, it was REALLY bad. OMG bad. Like my initial thought was the only possible solution here is going to be to tear up the carpet AND throw away the super cute (and expensive) new Pottery Barn rug. I didn’t have time for all that, so instead started shouting orders as if I was the Chief of Dog Sh*t Cleanup. I was determined to not start my week badly. This was nothing compared to what went on the week before, but it certainly wasn’t breakfast in bed either.

So the moral of the story is simple. Don’t have pets or kids.

Just kidding. Too late for that (for me anyway). But here’s the deal. I had a plan of how I wanted my week to start off. This was not my plan. So I could have let it be the defining conjunction between last week’s bad week carrying over into this week, or, just dealt with it and then decided I would start my week over. I have moved on in my quest to have a good week. There was nothing I could do to change it, so no point in dwelling on it. It’s not what happens, it how we react to it. In the grand scheme of life, this is certainly not a big deal. So often, we get caught up in the small stuff, and let it impact our happiness and usefulness for the day. I have totally let it go…

That is until the next thing happens and I start yelling “First the dog sh*t everywhere and now this?”

PS – We only have carpet in two rooms in our house. Of course this happened in one of those rooms. If this happens to you, here are some helpful tips:

  • Open all the windows
  • Febreeze the room prior to entering
  • Get lots of plastic bags
  • Do your best to scoop up the goop with plastic gloves
  • Use disinfectant sanitizer wipes to wipe the spots
  • Mix baking soda and water and put on the spots
  • Let that sit forever until it dries
  • Vacuum it up
  • Run a purification essential oil overnight

It totally worked. The carpet stains are gone (from both the Berber carpet and the wool carpet), there was not carpet discoloration and the room doesn’t smell like a kennel.

SoapBoxSample Telltale Ten

Who’s in Your Front Row?

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

As we move through the different chapters of our lives, we inevitably change. The people, places and things around us impact our mindset, mood, behavior and happiness. While it can be painful at times to leave some things behind, it can be equally exciting to experience the new things. When I find myself in a period of discontent, I know I have work to do. It is not anyone else’s fault. I choose to take responsibility over my happiness.

You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around. You may not be able to control certain things that happen to you, but you can control how you react. You may not be able to change other people, but you can change yourself.

A special woman gave me this many years ago. I searched the internet to find the author and found varying versions of it, but not this exact one. I attributed it to a “wise, beautiful lady”.  This was the perfect thing for me to find today. I needed this reminder…

Life is a Theater

Life is a theater. Invite your audience carefully. Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.

There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go, or at least minimize, your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not going-anywhere relationships or friendships.

Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill? When you leave certain people, do you feel better or do you feel worse? Which ones always have drama, or don’t really understand, know, or appreciate you? The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you, the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life. You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around.

In short, you don’t have to tolerate shitty people.

How to Stay Human While Working From Home

By | Be Clear, Create Value, Motivate Others, Take Risks

Not all employees work from an office. Apparently, starting this week’s BLOG intro with the obvious just feels right for some reason.

Telecommuting, working from home, remote employee, flexible working environment, or whatever you call it, there is a lot of it. Some deem it to be the perk of all perks. Others deem it to be a dreadful prison within your home of social isolation and a perpetuation of not showering.

You can find endless articles about the pros and cons. My personal opinion is that it can be a super good fit from some, and not so much for others. It is NOT for everyone. This week’s Telltale Ten post is from Jennifer Holland, a successful salesperson who works for SoapBoxSample’s parent company, Interviewing Service of America, ISA. She works remotely from her home in New York. She offers some great tips for those who work from home, or those who are considering it.

“You. Are. So. Lucky.”

I hear it at least once a week.  And yes, I am.  I’m one of the over 3 million Americans working from home.  While I must admit, it’s a good gig if you can get it, it does come with its own set of drawbacks.

When I started working remotely over ten years ago, I looked to my friends who’d been working from home for advice.  How did they manage their time, what did their typical day look like, how did they not go insane with all of the alone time?  The answers were varied but there was always a common thread in their responses.

Have an Office with a Door

Working from home can go one of two ways.  If you’re not disciplined, this situation isn’t for you.  People who are easily distracted, need someone checking over their shoulder and don’t like their job in general aren’t a great fit for remote employment.  The other side of that coin is you work All. Of. The. Time.  You’re working from your home, a place where you spend the bulk of your time.  So in essence, you’re always at the office.  I often find myself at my desk at 11 pm, checking email, working on bids, etc.  I start by walking through the house, picking up the backpacks, turning off the lights, checking the kids in their beds.  I end up walking into my office and working for two hours.

You need to work on maintaining an actual life outside of your home office.  I needed to make sure I had an office in my home with a door.  Somewhere I can walk into in the morning, and walk out of at night.  And close the door.  It’s not foolproof, and I’ve been known to bust out a proposal from my laptop in bed, but it helps to have an actual space in your home dedicated to your work.

Leave Your House

I have this trick that I do every morning.  I wake up, take a shower, get dressed and leave my house.  I know that sounds like I’m negating one of the main benefits of working from home.  You don’t HAVE to leave!  But I NEED to leave.  I get coffee, and come back to my office. It’s as if I’m arriving to work every day and not just Groundhog Day’ing my life away.  I also work from a coffee shop a few times a week, for a couple of hours a day.  A change of scenery is key for me.  It keeps me focused and sane.

One of the main struggles of working from a home office is the lack of social interaction.  I basically accost my FedEx guy with conversation when he shows up.  All he wants me to do is sign for a package.  All I want to do is talk to a human in person.  It’s become weird.  To ease the strain I’ve created in the relationships with my delivery people, I keep CNN on in the background all day.  I know he’s not really there, but in my mind Wolf Blitzer is in the office next door.  It’s nice.

Get Dressed

No.  I do not work in my pajamas.  I may work in leggings and a hoodie, but I do get dressed.  Every Day.  I throw my hair in a bun and rarely wear make up on work days (keeping it real here), but I wear actual clothes.  I think waking up and walking into a home office is a slippery slope.  One day you’re working from home, the next thing you know you’re that person on your street that no one has ever seen leave the house.  Clothes make you feel human.  Even if your kid tells you that you dress like a gym teacher.

I had a friend who worked from home and would put on a suit when she had an important conference call.  It made her feel more prepared and professional.  I do not do that.  All I can say is thank God most of my meetings are not video calls.

All in all, not too bad.  Right?  And trust me, I am NOT complaining.  I mean, my morning commute is about 10 seconds.  I only have to wear heels when I’m visiting a client or prospect out of the office (after 14 years of working in an actual office wearing very high heels, my feet are grateful for this benefit).  I’m not dealing with the office drama that exists in every office in every company.  My break room is my kitchen or Starbucks, so no drama there.

But I do have one complaint.  The ‘cookies in the break room’ email.  For some reason cookies don’t magically appear in my kitchen when there are cookies, cannolis, bagels, etc. in the break room.  I’m looking at you, Francine.

Minus May Recap

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others

Trying to accomplish a goal? Your failure or success could come down to one important factor — accountability.

At SoapBox, goal setting is not just a part of individual performance reviews, but also a part of SoapBox team building.  And when you can pitch to the group with a cool name like Minus May, it seems fun. Setting personal goals within a team environment helps to:

  • Create a supportive work environment
  • Build a culture that values self-improvement
  • Provide accountability
  • Encourage non-work related conversation and check-ins
  • Increase the likelihood of achieving the goal (although based on the results we failed at this miserably)

It also puts people on blast knowing they have to publicly admit if they break their pledge (on this very public forum followed by dozens of readers called Telltale Ten) – it can make the difference between saying f**k it, or following through.

At the beginning of last month, we challenged the staff to come up with one thing that they would like to eliminate in order to improve their lives. We proposed the opposite of a “to do“ list that people generally default to when they want to accomplish something.

Spoiler: no one had a perfect Minus May. Some came close, a few made some slight progress. One forgot what was happening and one doesn’t understand A,B,C grading systems. You can read everyone’s recap below.

Nicole, Sales and Marketing Administrative Assistant
Goal: To save money
Minus: Her daily trips to Starbucks

Grade: A- 

While I have eliminated Starbucks before, the difference this time was the temptation factor that would still linger when I would make a Starbucks run for someone else. You either love Starbucks or you hate it…at least for most people I know. I breathe Starbucks, have more cups than needed, and always seem to make friends with a barista in various locations. The challenge itself wasn’t hard, I saved about $3.95 a day. Sometimes I would have more than one Starbucks a day, so I saved between $150 and $200 bucks for the entire month. I had moments of withdrawal, one moment where I went and did a Starbucks run for a few others, ordered one for myself and drank it there before coming back to the office. That was about it. I did notice cutting all the sugar from my coffee has slimmed me down, so I can’t complain at all. Now that I am able to have it again, I will slowly start to indulge in it. I don’t see myself going overboard because I like the idea of having a flatter stomach. Supplementing Starbucks for other brands or energy drinks will never become a full-time habit, I am committed to Starbucks forever!!

Melissa, Recruitment Specialist
Goal: To have a more positive outlook
Minus: Complaining

Grade: B-

For Minus May my goal was to stop complaining. I realized recently that I have a habit of holding on to negative thoughts, which sometimes can cloud my outlook on life. While I did not have a perfect Minus May, overall I am proud of myself for the progress that I made. Several times I was able to catch myself before I started to complain, and I was able to refocus my thoughts to look at the bright side of a situation. Even though Minus May is now over, I plan to continue to stop negative thoughts in their tracks and turn them around before they take over my mood.

Kevin, Online Panel Support
Goal: To reduce his cholesterol
Minus: Eating fast food

Grade: B

I avoided fast food, but then bought more processed food from the store. I learned that restaurant vegetarian options can’t compete with their steaks. If I was going to try it again I would limit myself to fewer cheat days.

Cynthia, Manager of Community Experience
Goal: To live a longer, healthier life
Minus: Smoking cigarettes

Grade: F

I would give myself an F, since I did take a puff from a cigarette twice during the last week of the month. The challenge was to give it up, and I did not give it up completely. During the month of May, I had several stressful personal issues come up, as well as additional work stress which made me crave cigarettes. Typically, I smoke more when I am stressed. Before Minus May I was smoking about half a pack a day and to go from that to two puffs in the last 31 days is pretty good in my book. I think I did better than expected. I did snack more, but I was prepared for that. Overall, I am extremely happy with the results and will continue my Minus May pledge into June.

Note from Jax to Cynthia (let’s see if she reads the BLOG): I am proud of you and the standards you have set. I am also proud you took way less puffs of cancer. If you keep it up for June, I will match the money you saved. Extra incentive when those two puffs seem so tempting.

Adolfo, Senior Project Manager
Goal: To save money
Minus: Drinking alcohol

Grade: C

To be honest, I forgot and didn’t really try. I did, however, limit my alcohol consumption, which helped with the goal of saving money. If I were to try it again, I would actually try next time. But I would hope there would be some sort of support system/reminders. I truly forgot we were doing this for May.

Kalean, Bids and Feasibility Associate
Goal: To be more productive at work
Minus: Hitting the snooze button

Grade: F

LOL, I did so horribly. My plan was to ease myself into this challenge. Normally I hit snooze around four times in the morning and my plan was lower that amount by one each day until my body was conditioned to waking up after the first alarm. I was able to take a longer a shower and didn’t feel rushed the first day, but the next morning I went right back to my habits and snoozed until I absolutely HAD to get up. I kind of found a new way to circumvent not being so rushed in the morning though. Now that I have colored hair I need to take more care of it than I used to so I started to shower at night so I’d have more time to focus on it being maintained properly. As a result, my mornings became less hectic and I came to work five to ten minutes earlier than normal each day this week. In essence, my laziness and apathy towards waking in up the morning couldn’t be fixed, but my vanity is what really helped my production at work.

Michaela, Bids and Feasibility Associate
Goal: Saving time and money
Minus: Shopping and buying unnecessary things

Grade: B

I was really determined to stick with my Minus May resolution – and it worked! I was able to hold on to more of my paycheck by not spending money and appreciating the things I already own. I had a couple of “splurges” here and there due to my vacation at the end of May, but all in all I give myself a solid B. I’d like to make this a long-term habit for the future and I think Minus May was a good practice run to test my determination!

Adriana, Director of Marketing
Goal: To lose weight
Minus: Snacking at night

Grade: C

I went into the month of May with the best intentions, to stop snacking at night for SoapBox’s Minus May challenge. I thought it would be easy. I pictured a thinner, happier me going into June and a bed with no crumbs in it. Turns out it was harder than I thought. Old habits are hard to break, especially habits involving delicious, salty snacks. (That’s my weakness.) I broke down more than once. Ok, like six times. But on the plus side, I ended up snacking less than I would have if I hadn’t made my Minus May pledge. Next time I set a similar goal for myself I will do a little more prep work, by planning out what I’m going to eat for the whole day, so I’m not starving at ten p.m. Pursuing a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong journey, and even though I didn’t have a perfect month, I may be a step or two closer to meeting my long term goal.

Myself, Lunatic, COO, Mom Blogger
Goal: Sleep a minimum of eight hours per night
Minus: Cell phone after eleven p.m.

Grade: B

I did stay committed to sleeping eight hours a night for the most part. I think all but a few nights, I got that eight hours. Sometimes even more. But, it was not really a result of keeping my minus commitment. Most weekend nights for example, I was up way past eleven. But I also was super aware of the eight-hour goal, so I would make up for it by sleeping in.

If I were going to try this again with the “off the phone by eleven” as the driver for eight hours of sleep, I would not watch any binge-worthy Amazon, Netflix or Showtime shows that lead to “just one more” or “just the first 15 minutes of the next one”. There were a few weeknights where I just couldn’t resist that “next episode” button and couldn’t just sleep in to make up for it seeing as I have a job here at SoapBox. Or maybe I could just start watching earlier…I usually watch only one hour per day starting at ten. Perhaps I should eliminate family dinners and watch more binge-worthy shows instead. That could work…

SoapBoxSample South Park

Gamers Under the Microscope

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

You’ve heard of student exchange programs, but what about a blogger exchange? Turns out the Market Research industry is full of interesting people with interesting things to say…

My friends at Research For Good not only write a bookmark-worthy blog, they also make a donation for every survey completed to end global hunger. So definitely check them out.

This piece by Ashley McAllister looks at the “Gamer” audience and how people who meet the technical definition of a “Gamer” (one who plays video games) are still reluctant to self-identify as a “Gamer.” As researchers, our job is to connect with (and understand) all types of audiences, and this is a great explanation of the cultural reasons why people are hesitant to claim themselves to be part of a group.

Gamers Under the Microscope

By Ashley McAllister

The definition of a gamer is something that has long been under the proverbial microscope. It’s a label that carries a bit of stigma so we asked a few colleagues what sort of persona comes to mind when they hear the word “Gamers”. Most of them said the same thing (nerd). The comments we received were not an anomaly, here are two articles which talk about the gamer stereotype.

Both of the articles above examine the way that the traditional idea of a gamer is one of the past. Case in point, in a recent study completed by Pew Research they found that around half of America play video games, but only 10% identify as a gamer. So why is there still such a big drop off of people who openly identify as gamers?

A study printed in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication suggests that today’s reluctance to identify as a gamer is down to game players feeling they still don’t meet the cultural and social predeterminations that have been sets. These include:

  • Playing certain types of games/owning a certain console
  • Spending certain amount of hours playing a week
  • Socialising about your gaming hobby

As Market Researchers we need to understand who our gamers are to be sure we don’t isolate all those who play games. For us, our definition of a gamer evolves as the industry grows – or as JCMC’s study puts it: “[the] gamer identity is for a significant part dependent on how being a gamer is socially constructed in a cultural context.”

So who is today’s gamer? We’re here to help you find out.

In our ALL NEW Gamers info sheet we’ve highlighted some statistics from our sample looking at who is really playing Console/PC/Handheld games.

This article was originally posted on the Research For Good blog.

DO’s and DON’Ts of Public Speaking

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Have Fun, Inspire Ideas

Let’s talk about “glossophobia”. What’s that? You don’t know what “glossophobia” means? Surprisingly, you could actually be suffering from it, and not even know the “official” name. It’s the medical term for stage fright, and a large percentage of Americans are affected by it — 28.4%.

Here’s the bad news. At some point in most people’s lives, they end up needing to present, speak in public, or otherwise put themselves on display. It can be awkward. I totally get why people hate it.

Here’s the good news. You can get better at it. You may even start to like it. The main thing is to keep it simple. Start practicing one or two things at a time, starting with these basic tips:

 

DO — Make eye contact with your audience.

DON’T — Stare like a serial killer.

 

DO — Show enthusiasm for the topic.

DON’T — Come off as so fanatical that your audience believes they are being recruited to join a cult.

 

DO — Establish your expertise.

DON’T — Announce that you know more about the topic than anyone who ever lived. Ever.

 

DO — Speak slowly so that the audience can understand you.

DON’T — Speak so slowly that your audience can’t follow your sentences because your pauses are so long.

 

DO — Avoid reading word for word from a script.

DON’T — Decide to wing it and forget everything you were going to say.

 

DO — Try to relax before the start of your talk.

DON’T — Knock back a few cocktails and go onstage drunk.

 

DO – Wear something you feel comfortable in.

DON’T – Wear your pajamas or sweats.

 

DO — Speak from the heart.

DON’T — Reveal overly personal information, like the time you peed your pants in 5th grade.

 

Have any public speaking tips of your own to share? Tweet me @jax_rosales

 

Not All People Suck

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Invoke Passion

MySoapBox Members Have Heart

In my first few weeks at ISA (before SoapBoxSample had even launched), I spent a lot of time in this small, somewhat dark office by myself trying to figure out what the heck I had gotten myself into. Launching an Online Research company from the ground up was complex.

The first week or so, I was in a panic. I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do first. There were a million things I needed to do, and had figured one of those out (after figuring out where to park my car and go to the restroom of course). I knew I wanted to create a company that fostered relationships.  One with a great culture that extended out to our clients AND our respondents.

The Telltale Ten and The Five Respondent Promises were pretty much the first thing that was” decided” on. The MySoapBox respondent promises are:

  • Your Choice
  • Your Rewards
  • Your Decisions
  • Your Impact
  • Your SoapBox

We are SUPER serious about fulfilling these promises to our members. We decided it would be super cool to have the MySoapBox panel members, submit the charity of their choice they would like us to donate to. We publish the names of three charities each month to the members, then throughout the month every single member can vote for the charity they want to receive the donation. The charity with the most votes, gets the check.

I love the members’ stories about why they are passionate around their chosen cause when submitting for consideration. I love the excitement when their charity gets picked. I love the letters the charities send us when they receive the donation. I love that people want to give back and this is a way for us to help them do so. I also love that this one small act, actually fulfills all five of our respondent promises.

There is a side benefit too. We find out what our panelists’ interests are and learn about causes we might not otherwise have known about. It helps us build a personal connection with our members. It helps build mutual trust and respect. I love that stuff.

Curious the types of charities our members have voted on? Well here is the list of all the winning charities since the launch of the MySoapBoxPanel. (Click the links to learn more.)

2017

The Humane Farming Association

Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

2016

Children’s Swedish Hospital

Child-Soldiers.org

CARE

Arizona Basset Hound Rescue

DFW Pug Rescue Club

Heading Home

Shaam Relief Foundation

Center for Biological Diversity

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Epilespsy Foundation

Honor Flight Network

Mitzvah Circle Foundation

2015

Disabled American Veterans

First Book

Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation

Smile Train

Feed the Children

Covenant House

Autism Speaks

Islamic Relief Canada

Adopt Together

Operation Family Fund

United Methodist Committee on Relief

National Fibromyalgia Foundation

2014

Humane Farming Association

Ever After Mustang Rescue

Kidd’s Kidds

Children’s Hope Chest

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Doctors Without Borders

Growl Animal Rescue

Samaritan’s Purse

Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America

United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

National Down Syndrome Society

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

2013

Compassion International

The Humane Society

Free the Slaves

Samaritan’s Purse

World Food Program

Global Rescue for One

Keeper of the Wild

Community Tampa Bay

Women Speak for Themselves

Best Friends Animal Society

American Diabetes Association

The Smile Train

2012

Care to Learn

Wounded Warrior Project

Bags4Kids