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Inspire Ideas

Dudley Makes Me Happy

By | Be Genuine, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others

Why is everyone seemingly so damn miserable all the time? I am starting to lose my patience with those who “suffer” from what seems to be eternal misery. It’s like some crazy martyr way of life people choose to lead. Did you notice the word “choose”? That’s right – I am calling all you serially unhappy folks out. You do have a choice you know. I promise.

As humans, shitty things happen to us, around us, to ones we love, in the world we occupy. No doubt. I am not trying to say that there aren’t 10 million things to be miserable about. I have a solid personal list of my own situations I could choose to focus on and bring me down. Trust me. I am going through some real hell right now in my life. Sometimes I get angry, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated and impatient. But I have learned that it takes a ton (like a shit ton) more energy to be miserable than it does to be happy.

Being miserable is sooooooooo exhausting. It makes everything more difficult than it needs to be, sucks all your energy, kills your immune system, interrupts your sleep and becomes a vicious cycle. I can also pretty much guarantee that unhappiness in the form of self-pity is probably THE MOST DEBILATATING. The good news is 1) you don’t have to live like this and 2) you can decide to get far, far, far away from people who are like this, as they will bring you down with them.

I choose to find joy within some of the most difficult times. Do I have bad days? – hell yeah. Do I wish things were different right now? Yes. Do I wish I lived in good health and pain free? Yes. Do I wish that my loved ones had not moved on to heaven so soon? Yes. Do I wish I had more hours in the day? Yes. Do I wish I didn’t have another surgery coming up? Yes. Do I wish….well, you get the point.

I have learned I have to protect myself from extended misery. How?

  1. Practicing Self-care
  2. Sleeping
  3. Cutting negative people out of my life
  4. Doing more of what makes me happy
  5. Talking to trusted friends/family to help me through difficult times
  6. Telling the truth all the time
  7. Forgiving myself for not being perfect
  8. Doing the things I enjoy as much as possible
  9. Being intentionally present
  10. Laughing – mainly at myself, but my home and office are full of laughter

And let’s not forget, surrounding myself with things I love. Like Dudley! He is my new friend. A reindeer made of logs made by a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old. I named him and talk to him. I paid too much for Dudley, but I like him and he makes me smile. He makes my family smile too, not because they like Dudley, but because they think I am insane and they laugh at me and my relationship with an inanimate wooden reindeer that I paid too much for. Occasionally my husband reads my BLOG so I won’t tell you how much Dudley cost, but seriously, isn’t he cute?

Confused Robots, Puppy Love, and Super Judgy Mirrors

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks

I’m so not the cool kid anymore…

OK. So some may argue I was never the cool kid. But whatever, coolness is in the eye of the beholder (yes, I know that is not the right saying). Anyway, I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t totally jealous that two SoapBoxers attended CES this year and I didn’t get to go.

I read articles from afar, watched some live videos and was totally intrigued with what they would come back with. I was especially interested in how they would come back and convince me that all the coolness and crazy gadget viewing was 1) related to their job and 2) had some sort of value for us and 3) could help SoapBox support client needs, and that it was not just a trip to Vegas on the company dime. I needed to be sure what happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas. You know what I mean?

Well, this article by our Director of Marketing, Adriana Hemans, pretty much sums it up. She managed to tie all coolness and relatability together. Not only that, but I got super excited thinking about our current and future clients we can help. Hey, I get this is a long article. I also know you have time to read it. Just substitute reading this article for one of you time wasting activities. Don’t EVEN try to tell me you don’t have any. Blog to follow on that topic.

There may, or may not, be a few shameless SoapBox plugs sprinkled in. I have taught her well. : ) Enjoy.

Highlights from CES 2018 and Why Researchers Should Care

Where can you play ping-pong with a robot, fall into love with a mechanical puppy and see inside a refrigerator without opening the door? At CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. Every January tech companies from around the globe convene on Las Vegas to showcase their products — gadgets and gizmos that consumers can look forward to one day owning — sort of.  They won’t be coming to a store near you anytime soon, and a lot of them leave you wondering – who would actually want that? In the aftermath of CES 2018, many critics pointed out that most of the products on display would only appeal to two types of people – people with money to burn and lazy people with money to burn. But we don’t have to rely on guessing who would buy these things, because we can actually ask people and find out. (Yay research!) SoapBoxSample conducted a mini poll* to gauge people’s awareness of CES and to find out if consumers would actually buy any of these high-tech gadgets. (You’ll find the results sprinkled throughout this article. I had to find some way to get you to read the whole thing.)

The research industry has been accused of being slow to adapt. While analysts are locked in rooms figuring out how to produce non-biased sampling frames, people are out making robots with Artificial Intelligence. The very same robots you can see at CES. The tech industry could benefit from paying attention to what consumers actually want (something research can supply), but researchers should be paying attention to the tech industry because big changes in the way people use tech in their everyday lives provides new opportunities for gathering data.

“Alexa, let’s do a survey”

At CES this year, Google came out looking like they were trying too hard. They built a three-story installation in the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot. They also clearly shelled out big bucks for an advertising presence that plastered the entire town with the phrase Google wants you to remember – Hey Google. Amazon didn’t exhibit at all. They didn’t need to, because every other device at CES boasted about being “Alexa compatible.” All the free marketing garnered by Amazon, in contrast with Google’s flashy displays made Amazon look like the cool kid who doesn’t have to try to be cool.

People love the Amazon Echo. They consider Alexa to be a trusted part of their family. This is good news for researchers. When people are taking voice-activated surveys through Alexa (coming soon), the higher levels of trust will evoke more accurate, detailed, and honest responses from respondents.

Car tech – knowledge drives enthusiasm

You can’t talk about CES without bringing up the cars. They’re sleek, they’re stylish, they glistening under the showroom lights. I’m not a car person at all (my car has roll-up windows), but these vehicles were really beautiful. As a non-car-person, what I appreciated about the new smart dashboards and infotainment systems is that they were built to provide the driver with more insight into the inner workings of the car, something that I wouldn’t be able to assess by opening the hood.

As car manufacturers are scrambling to bring the first self-driving cars to market, they also have to convince people that self-driving cars are safe. Last quarter SoapBoxSample published the results of an internal study on the public’s perception of self-driving cars. Almost half of those surveyed believe that self-driving cars are dangerous and would not feel comfortable sharing the road with them. Only 28% said they looked forward to owning one. Developing smart dashboards that give drivers detailed information about how the car is operating is one way that car manufacturers can combat negative views of their product’s safety.

Related: Who’s in the Driver’s Seat? An Infographic About Self-driving Cars

Beauty tech – look better, feel worse

I tried out the HiMirror, one of CES’s #beautytech products. The HiMirror measures your pores, dark spots, wrinkles and dark circles. Just what women need, right? A super judgy mirror. Their marketing promised that the in-depth analysis would result in better “skin care goal-setting”. But what is the goal, to stop aging, or to sell products? The next generation of the HiMirror will probably show targeted ads for skin care products. I think I would rather skip the recommended products, and not know that my dark circles had increased by 3%. Turns out most people agree with me. Our poll showed that 68% of respondents would not want to use a high-tech mirror that measures skin imperfections.

It’s not so much consumer electronics, as it is competitive electronics

Is there really a consumer demand for a laundry-folding robot the size of a washing machine that requires you to manually tag each item of clothing you own, and can only fold adult-sized clothing? (And by the way, it takes longer than folding by hand.) Of the nearly 1,000 people who answered our poll, 79% said no thank you to the $980 laundry-folding robot.

Are the companies that produce these robots more focused on giving consumers what they want, or trying to out-do their competitors? What you might notice about this year’s line of robots is that their designs are very similar. White casing, black trim — almost without exception. Did the robot manufacturers forget to do their competitive analysis? (Shameless plug – did you know that SoapBoxSample’s passive metering application is great for understanding how people interact with your brand’s competition online?)

Can Americans fall in love with a robot dog?

I’m not a dog person, or even a pet person, so I didn’t expect to catch feelings for SONY’s robot dog Aibo. But it won me over instantly. Aibo is life-like, expressive, and responds to voice and touch. Knowing that his OLED eyes were mechanical did not make them any less puppy-like. Aibo is currently only available in Japan and costs $1700. SONY has said that they expect to sell at least 150,000 units. Could Aibo gain the same type of popularity in the United States?

Americans are waaaaaay into their pets. Here are some highlights from SoapBoxSample’s 2016 survey of U.S. pet owners to prove it – more than 60% of pet owners sleep with their animals, 40% of dog owners dress their pets up in costumes, and 73% of pet owners believe their pets are “smarter than average”. Could a robot dog one day occupy the same space in our hearts (and in our beds)? According to the results of our poll – heck no. When asked if they could see robot pets becoming more popular than live pets, 89% said no.

Related: Valentine’s Day Pet-fographic – We Know Americans Have a Close Relationship with Their Cats and Dogs But Just How Close Are They?

The future is full of glitches

If robots had emotions, the Aeolus would have experienced total confusion during its live demonstration. The booth presenter repeatedly ordered the bewildered bot to pick up a remote control off the floor, which it finally did after about a minute or so. (This scenario would be nothing new for the 8.4% of U.S. households with teenagers.) But the limitations of the robot’s responsiveness are no hurdle when compared to its price tag. The company wouldn’t name the actual cost, other than to say it was “less than a vacation for a family of four.” For the purposes of our poll, we guessed the price to be $10,000. Turns out most people don’t really see the value in it.  Over 83% said they would not be picking one up anytime soon.

I need a fridge with a camera in it

The ThinQ smart fridge unveiled by LG has a 29-inch touchscreen on the door. If you knock on the screen twice it becomes transparent so you can see the contents inside. But my favorite part was the wide-angle camera inside the fridge. How many times have you thought to yourself, “I wish I could look inside my fridge while I’m at the store so I can see what I need to buy”? Maybe never, but you know who else wants a look inside your fridge? Researchers. The smart kitchen of the future is a paradise for people who hate making lists, and for research ethnographers. With cameras inside every appliance, researchers can see inside the homes of their subjects without setting foot in the door, and more importantly, without disrupting the routines they are attempting to study.

Within the 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space occupied by CES, there were devices that could change our everyday lives, and some other ones that were pretty dumb. There were also plenty of opportunities for researchers. Tech companies seem to have bought into idea that they should be creating things that the public doesn’t know they want yet. Based on the public reaction to some of the products at the show, this might not be the best plan. Tech companies need consumer research more than ever to tell them if there’s a market for what they are attempting to create. Researchers should keep a close eye on developments in tech — there are lots of opportunities coming along for research to become less invasive, cheaper, more efficient and more accurate. The two industries should work together as we move into the next phase of consumer technology.

*P.S. By the way, this poll was a lot like the exhibits at CES, fun to look at, but lacking scientific validity (probably biased and non-representative).

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others
So many topics capture my attention, from Hot Cheetos to cleaning up dog poop (yes, really). Anything could end up on Telltale Ten. I just write random stuff. Sometimes people read it, and sometimes they don’t.
 
On a rare occasion (like a handful of times in a few years), probably much to the dismay of the higher ups,  I like to get all businessy, and write about things related to my industry – market research specifically. Oh, you didn’t know I was in Market Research?  That’s ok. My family knows that, but have no idea what that means even after twenty years.
 
A recent piece I put together about passive metering was published in the Quirks January edition. If you’re in Market Research, you may have seen it already. If you’re not, you probably have no idea what passive metering is. Basically, it’s a way for researchers to get an in-depth look into what people are doing online. If anyone were to track my online behavior, they would probably be deeply confused by my recent searches. I’d love to see a researcher try to put me into a segment based on my online behavior. I’d more likely end up in an institution instead of a segment.
 
Good thing I’m the researcher, and not the researchee.

Google now processes, on average, over 40,000 search queries every second; this translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. The way people engage with brands and online content is constantly evolving. No single day of digital behavior is the same as another. If I want to learn about the newest fitness gadget, I search it online. By the next day, I may be over fitness and want to know how to convert my home to a “smart” home, so I search it up. Later that same afternoon, I may want a new refrigerator that can build me a shopping list. Or, I may just want to buy something mundane like shampoo (you know the kind that makes my hair that cool silver-purple color) , so I simply look it up on Amazon and click “buy now.” If brands want to stay competitive, they need to able to keep up with radical, fast-paced changes in consumer online behavior.

Brands have a great appetite for understanding how people behave and make decisions online. They need to understand their customer’s purchase influencers beyond demographic and attitudinal data; passive tracking data captures how consumers move across the digital world, allowing brands to keep up by tracking their customer’s digital journeys – in real-time.

Adopting a passive metering strategy is not without challenges. The challenges range from technology implementation and respondent adoption to understanding of the data. There are oceans of it, and it is totally unstructured. Despite these challenges, more and more clients are diving in and having success finding those nuggets of “data gold” they would never have uncovered with surveys alone. Brands need to start somewhere, and rather than trying to uncover the holy grail of all that Passive Metering can do, simply looking for trends in the data at a high level can deliver those unexpected “aha moments” brands want.

Keep in mind, consumers are complex. Passive Metering is a super effective starting point to understand what people are doing without disrupting or influencing their behavior. However, there is no one simple research formula or methodology that is all-knowing. Blending methodologies has been — and will continue to be– crucial for brands to really understand their customers. The opportunities for connecting digital behavioral data with traditional survey data, 3rd party data or even longitudinal data available through other innovative research approaches such as Insight Communities, translates to in-depth, actionable insights brands need.

We keep hearing Passive Metering is coming as the next “big” thing in research. Truth is, it is already here. It has been here for years. I encourage researchers to stop overcomplicating it. Take the risk of not knowing everything in advance, find great clients to experiment with and dive in. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.

Jax’s Favorite Things

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas

I know what you’re thinking – “Who does this chick think she is, Oprah?”

Well no, but I do know a thing or two about gift-giving, gift-receiving, and how to avoid giving someone something that they want to re-gift, throw in the trash or “accidentally” feed to their dogs. Need some last-minute gift ideas that don’t suck? Read on.

 

  1. Kmashi ChargerFor the person who’s off the grid (or maybe off their rocker)

This is not the type of charger that you can haul around in your purse all day, although I’ve been known to haul much stranger and heavier things. It’s for when you need to disappear into the wilderness for multiple days and you need to charge multiple devices multiple times — seriously. Juice up.

  1. Seat HoodieFor the sweaty person

It’s a seat cover for your car so that when you are sweaty and sticky and gross, your car seat doesn’t have to be. For me, this is for after workouts. But for others, there may be other reasons they are sticky and gross but let’s not get into that. Cover it up.

 

  1. Eight Greens Youth SerumFor the skin sensitive (AKA vain) person

The best part about this stuff is that it’s called a youth serum, instead of an anti-wrinkle serum. That means you can give it someone without offending them. Not to mention, serum seems fancy. Slather it on.

  1. Packing CubesFor the frequent (or frequently disorganized) traveler

I know what you’re thinking, why do I need what is essentially a bunch of smaller cases to put inside my large suitcase? Two reasons; it helps you keep your stuff organized and it helps you squeeze more stuff in. (I’ll still be packing chocolate bars in my shoes to smuggle them back from Germany though.) Stuff it in.

  1. Bone BrothFor the trendy foodie

I’m no food scientist, but I do know that bone broth is good for you. I know this because I believe everything I read on the internet. The internet says that bone broth is a good source of protein and minerals. Making it yourself is really time consuming. So I buy mine from a place. Slurp it up.

  1. GuessturesFor anyone

You could play this game at a college keg party, a four-year-old’s birthday party or at the old folk’s home. It’s a seriously fun game that you can play at any occasion, with any group of people — young or old, drunk or sober, sane or insane. Get your game on.

  1. Butcher BoxFor the anti-vegan person

Before meat gets a sin tax like tobacco, you can stock up on your delicious cow flesh with this monthly beef subscription. It’s all organic, grass-fed, and tasty. Get fed.

  1. Pink Himalayan SaltFor the salty person

Yes, it’s another food one. I like to eat, ok? (I may have been hungry when I wrote this.) But this salt is fancy because it’s pink. And also it has minerals. Shake it out.

 

  1. I Donut Care hatFor the person with a sense of humor (or a cold head)

This is a terrible picture of me, but guess what? I donut care. I got this hat at H&M. I don’t think they sell it there anymore, but they have other, equally bizarre things you can put on your head. Bust a cap.

 

  1. Creative Cursing Profanity GeneratorFor the person who likes to swear (and then laugh at their swearing)

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I really need to step up my insult game”? Do you think find obscene and obnoxious things funny? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you might need this book. If you’re not into the whole “socially acceptable” thing, give it as a gift. Get creative.

P.S. None of these companies paid me any money to endorse their products. These are things I actually like and use. (But if someone reading this works for one of the companies mentioned above, feel free to send me some free sh*t.) Happy holidays!

Comparison – The Thief of Joy

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion

Comparison /kəmˈperəsən/ noun

:the act of looking at things to see how they are similar or different

When I read my friend Francesca’s BLOG post recently, I found her message so relevant and poignant, and I wanted to share it on Telltale Ten. Too often we are judging ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. As I get older, I care less and less about what people think. I was also hit by a car (for real) which may have accelerated the awakening of my “I don’t really give a shit” nerve.

I constantly see people in both my personal and professional lives suffering from unnecessary misery (not to mention driving me a little cuckoo) by constantly comparing themselves to others. If we would all just mind our own business and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or not doing, everyone would be a lot happier. At the very least, I would be less annoyed dealing with folks who plant themselves on the pity pot regularly.

If your life goals are to be as insecure, annoying, unhappy and as full of self-doubt as possible, I highly encourage you to constantly compare yourself to others. Better yet, compare your life to other’s social media lives. That will get you to your goal even faster. It’s pretty much a surefire rocket ride to low self-esteem.

I love the idea of writing letters to ourselves. Letters to our past selves and future selves. I really loved Cheka’s message – and she is pretty damn funny too. Hope you all enjoy this week’s Telltale Ten.

An Open Letter to My Former Self

Guest Post by Francesca Campisi

Have you ever wanted to write and postmark a letter to your younger self?

What would you say?

Would it change anything?

Lately, LIFE has been teaching me some very important lessons. We reap what we sow (obviously not something new I learned, but ya get my drift). From the time I was 21 – I sowed emotions of hurt, anger, negativity, bitterness and just so much yuckkkkkk. It took me many years, tears, and breakdowns to change my views and to start sowing joy, love, gratitude, confidence, and happiness. I reflect back on my younger days and wonder if I could have prevented the pain. But, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t have had to fight for that person. My story may be rough with weeds and thorns but it’s starting to blossom up roses (“WHOA!” As JOEY from BLOSSOM would say. I’m reaching huh?) My story may be long, emotional and a roller coaster ride, but let’s be honest, who likes an easy cookie cutter read?!?!

Dear Younger Self,

Where do I start? Do I start singing, ‘A Whole New World’ to you, just as Aladdin did to Jasmine while on a magic carpet ride?

|Sidenote: I have SUCCESSFULLY applied a Disney movie to my life. I can die happy now.|

Probably not. Because younger self you are cynical at times and emo.

I wish I could save you from all the pain and heartache you will experience over the next 10 years. But if I could save you, then you wouldn’t be the (WONDER) Woman of God you are today. You wouldn’t be able to experience all the happiness, joy, love, gratitude, and beauty that came from the times that were just yuckyyyyy.

Francesca, you will never be perfect. And that is okay. You will fail, fall, and plunder down some ugly stairs. But you will get back up. Do not be afraid for what’s to come. For what is ahead is a life filled with purpose and promise. From the failures, heartache, and pain – you will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

You will meet many people, who will be in your life for one minute and gone the next. These are not your people. You will be lied too and taken advantage of. You will lose yourself in people and forsake all that you believe in. This is the ugly truth of life – that along the way sometimes we lose ourselves. However, you are not innocent in this. You also have cast stones and hurt others that have come along your path. But we can find our way back. Your tribe, your people, will love you even when you are at your lowest of lows. When you find your tribe, LOVE them hard. And in the end, your FAMILY will always be there to love and support you.

Don’t let the world views of beauty change what God has created in you. You are more than a number on the scale or the size of your Lululemons. You must learn to love yourself before you can love another. Don’t hold back from letting your light shine. The social media platforms, Facebook or Instagram, the double-tap likes, or the amount of friends do not define your worth in this world. Popularity is fleeting. Love is everlasting.

Never compare where you are in life to someone else’s highlight reel. Comparison is the thief of joy. Learn to choose faith over fear. You are a sinner by nature but by the grace of God you have been saved and you are made whole by his perfect love.

Charles Spurgeon says, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget me nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts not on marble.” The educator Edgar Dale, who developed the ‘Cone of Learning’ concept, claims that after 2 weeks we tend to only remember 10% of what we read but we remember 90% of what we say and do. What YOU say and do, how YOU treat others, when YOU choose to love or be kind, and express gratitude – these are the things will be left of you after you are gone.

This letter may be filled with many ‘DON’Ts’ but I hope you DO know how ah-mazing you are and how much you have to offer this world. You may not make everyone happy and at times may not be enough for others, but you can’t please everyone – you aren’t a jar of PEANUT BUTTAAAA.

But know YOU ARE ENOUGH for YO’SELF.

Love,

Francesca

Happy Blog-iversary

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion

Dear Diary Blog –

According to research, the average lifespan of a blog is only 100 days. I didn’t make this up. Holy cow. So how did we make it to two years? Let’s be clear, that is 730 days – sounds more impressive right? Or in research speak, more than seven times the average. In blog life  you could say Telltale Ten is geriatric. She can’t hear very well, forgets things and has to pee a lot. Like blog, like author.

To celebrate the 2-year anniversary of Telltale Ten I thought it would be fun to go back and re-read the blogs. It was part fun and part torture Anyway, I also thought I’d share some of my favorite and most popular blog posts. Too bad these things don’t earn residuals. In all fairness, there were some I wanted to delete from the Blogosphere altogether, but since I am not technically savvy enough to do so, the suckiest of sucky entries are still there. The following you might find worth actually reading:

1. Just When You Think You’re Ready for the Week (August 1, 2017) Be Genuine, Create Value
2. When Life Kicks You in the A** (January 25, 2017) Be Genuine, Be Honest, Be Reasonable
3. Lazy and Genius Had a Baby (November 22, 2016) Be Genuine, Have Fun, Inspire Ideas
4. Indecision – The Evil Accomplice of Procrastination (October 18, 2016) Be Clear, Be Reasonable, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks
5. HALT — Stop, In the Name of Love (September 20, 2016) Be Clear, Be Genuine, Be Honest, Be Reasonable
6. Let It Go – Helpful Advice, Not Just an Annoying Song (August 30, 2016) Be Reasonable, Take Risks
7. Save Your Apple – No Teacher’s Pets Here (June 28, 2016) Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Take Risks
8. So You Wanna Be the Boss? (August 2, 2016) Be Honest, Be Reasonable, Take Risks
9. What Do Waffles, Luna Bars and Diet Coke Have in Common? (June 21, 2016) Be Genuine, Have Fun, Invoke Passion
10. I Ran Out of Gas (May 17, 2016) Be Genuine, Be Reasonable, Take Risks

I’ve learned a ton of lessons during my last two years as a blogger, and two worth noting from a business perspective.  One, free marketing is awesome. Two, blogging can be a great way to help make key decisions about those who be might be a ‘fit”. When clients or prospects or employees identify with the blog content, it’s a good sign they may be a good fit to work with; they are probably just the right amount of crazy.

My biggest aha from my two-year lookback, is that I really suck at writing things I am not passionate about or that are not current issues/challenges/adventures/happenings in my life. Here’s the truth. I don’t totally LOVE most of what I wrote in 2017. Some of it I don’t like at all. Reflecting on the topics I first tackled in the beginning has been a good reminder of why I wanted to start a blog in the first place. Looking ahead, my goal for Telltale Ten is to expand my audience to reach more people who are searching for that extra push to get them to the next level, whether it be in their personal lives, starting a business, growing a business, being a better parent, or a healthier person. So stay tuned for more whacky top ten lists, life hacks, and real talk. Let’s have a little fun and laugh as much as possible – at my expense of course.

 

Thanks for reading!

A Micro Dose of Motivation

By | Be Honest, Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others

What Motivates You?

As a startup leader, a HUGE part of my job centers around motivation. Convincing a group of super smart (and highly likeable) individuals to come join a startup, isn’t always easy. And once I convince them to join, I have to make sure they want to stay.

Motivate Others is one our Telltale Ten and SoapBox was founded on those ten principles. Motivation is key. But what does that mean? Where does motivation come from? What gets people motivated, what keeps people motivated, and how can we use motivation to accomplish our goals?

I have learned over the years, that motivation is not a one-size-fits-all. It is different for everyone. I feel like I get to know people pretty well, but you don’t know what you don’t know. After a recent TedTalk Tuesday lead by our Director of Systems and Programming, Aaron Cole, I got super excited to learn more about what motivates the staff. He talked about his motivation to complete his goal of running a marathon on all seven continents and shared his experience about running his most recent marathon in the Outback. I was inspired to learn more about what motivates others on my team. Instead of relying on my perceptions, instead I went with the direct approach and I asked my staff to tell me what motivates them. Sometimes the simplest (and most obvious) approach is the best.

What surprised me was that it wasn’t only big things (like feeling accomplished or helping the community) that motivated people, but small things like walking a dog, or hazelnut coffee. For me, I get really excited by an accomplishment as small as using up the last bit of a tube of chap stick (like seriously, do you ever get to the end of a chap stick before you lose it or it melts or your kid or your dog eats it – no right?).

The point I’m trying to make is that motivation can come in big and small packages. Maybe one of the items on this list will be a micro dose of motivation for you this week. Now the next challenge begins for me as a leader. How do I help make sure the staff is experiencing those things that make them happy and motivated?

Aaron Cole
Director of Systems

Food
Run clubs
Competition
Destination Runs

Adriana Hemans
Director of Marketing

Personal growth
Creative expression
Financial independence
Travel

Allison Flowers
Research Director

Making my kids proud
Making others feel good about themselves
Having a can-do mentality 

Andrea Sipos
Project Manager

My family
Animals
Nature

Angela Pack
Senior Account Executive

My child’s happiness
A clean & organized house
Helping in my community

Dan Parcon
VP, Operations

My faith
My child
Making a difference in the world

Elinor Gaida
VP, Research & Analytics

Coffee
Music
Walking a dog
Meeting with friends and family

Jacqueline Rosales
Chief of Operations

Connecting with close friends
Doing something nice for others
Organizing/Cleaning
Laughing

Kevin Moran
Support Specialist

Humor
Keeping promises
Food
Exercise (occasionally)

Michaela Petersen
Project Manager

Bettering myself
Broadening my intelligence
Contributing to the team

Paul Janowitz
CEO, icanmakeitbetter

Family & Travel
Improving the community
Hard work

Sam Ashburner
Project Manager

My new house
Exceeding my own expectations
Hazelnut Coffee

Sandeep Babu
Operations Manager

Travel
Culture
The little things
Finding fullfillment from helping others

Savanna Ayala
Bids & Feasibility Associate

Wine
Laughing
Food
Books
Alone time

Trina Martell
Project Manager

Expanding my knowledge base
Creativity of any kind
Music
Sharing knowledge
Kindness

Take a step back and ask yourself what motivates you. Write it down. Post it where you can see it and when you are feeling a little unmotivated, try one of things on your list to get you out of your funk.

Yay! My Kid is Not a Jerk.

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

So back in April, I wrote a BLOG called “Lessons From a Ten Year Old” about my seemingly unreasonable happiness over my daughter Antonella’s journey of turning a No into a Yes. Through hard work, pure determination, and relentless desire she earned a spot on the Hyht Gymnastics Pre-Team. In case you didn’t read it (you should), here’s the recap. Her coach gave her the good news that she finally made pre-team, but in the same breath she also told her, “I only want kids who work hard. If you stop working hard, you will be removed from the pre-team. If you keep working hard, you may actually make it from pre-team to team. Your work is just starting.”

Your work is just starting. Super powerful words. How a ten year old will act on those words is a total crap shoot. Ella had worked her a$$ off to get to her goal and it was just the beginning. Her commitment up until that point simply prepared her for the next phase of hard work. It was just one obstacle of many. In my last BLOG on this topic, I wrote about how happy I was that she didn’t make the pre-team on the first go around. And I meant it. I still mean it. Once she made the pre-team I was CERTAIN she was not going to like it. It meant more practice, which meant more drills, more working out and worst of all (for Ella) running sprints.

Well I was wrong. She embraced the challenge. Not without complaint, but she kept at it. She got her Dad to build her a beam and taught herself the Level 3 Team USA Gymnastics Beam routine from YouTube – she wasn’t even on the team. She had a list of skills she had to learn, and slowly kept knocking them off the list. The worst one was the back handspring. That damn back handspring. She practiced for months and months and just couldn’t get over the fear. She couldn’t, correction, wouldn’t do it. We endured months of “Will you spot me?” day after day. Her Dad and I were sure she would never get it. Some days I wanted to say, “No, I will not spot you again – just give it up. You won’t get it. Let’s just go inside.” You probably think I am a total douche, but seriously, try doing the same thing, day after day, watching a kid just flail around. It is not fun. And God bless her nanny. I bet she spotted that kid 1000 times – at minimum. But she kept at it.

She saved up her money sold stuff on Etsy and Poshmark and finally earned enough money to buy a tumbling trampoline. Yes, she is a working actor earning a nice paycheck. But she doesn’t get to spend that money – sorry kid. You will thank me some day when we didn’t let you blow all the dough. She even talked her Nana into having a yard sale in the dead of the summer in the heat. It was 110 degrees that day. But she had some money to make! She is a very persuasive young lady. And guess what? It took several months, but she finally earned the $500 to buy the trampoline.
She practices on that thing until it gets dark. “Wait, just one more. Can you watch?” Armed with her mat, her homemade beam, and her tumbling trampoline, she has just kept on keeping on. And guess what? She got that back handspring, and a dozen or so other skills. One by one. She would come home after practice each day and tell me if she earned gym bucks for a new skill. Some days she would bust through the door screaming “I got my back hip circle today” or whatever it was and other times she would say she had more work to do.

Yesterday she turned eleven years old. Today she went to practice despite being convinced she has a broken toe (she is the one convinced not us or we would actually take her to a doctor – we aren’t total a$$hole parents). Her coach pulled her aside before class started and told her she made the team. Ella had NO idea she was going to get that news. No idea at all. She was just showing up, with her broken toe, to practice.

As her parent, my belly gets all squirmy with excitement thinking how it must have felt in her little heart when she got that news. How proud she must have felt, and how badly she wanted to run home and tell us. As a business leader, I find this type of unrelenting focus, unceasing drive and bullish tenacity to overcome something outside of your comfort zone, is what it takes to be great. And look at that, I may have just defined greatness (Why Tony the Tiger is My Idol).

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.

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…