The “holiday season” is almost upon us and while many are looking at it with enthusiasm, many are also wondering how they’re going to spend this time.

There is also often an overwhelming desire to give at this period of the year, but there is only so much that can be done in the way of purchasing goats for relatives, or donating dollars to the deserving.

Thank You on Dry Erase BoardWhatever your reason for doing so, there are plenty of ways to give back to the community, without emptying your bank account.

Many not for profits and charitable organisations close over the holiday period, and others remain open, but are short staffed as employees and volunteers are taking some time to spend with their families.

Depending on what it is you want to do, or whom you want to support, there is likely to be a lot of opportunity for you.

Rather than wait until you’re bored (or broke!) to decide to do something, get in early. Starting now will give you the opportunity to visit the organisation, receive an orientation, and learn a bit more about what they’re doing.

Call the places you know of to see what they have available. Places like The Salvation Army are likely to need support during the festive season and will have something for you to do. Other locations like hospitals, Meals on Wheels, or nursing homes will likely appreciate some additional hands. Whether it is to help with services or chat with clients and patients, your presence will be appreciated.

Small NFPs may also be looking for some assistance. They are also likely to appreciate someone with skills in a certain area. It may be helping them to get their administration sorted, or their office organised for the new year.

Do a Google search and start looking for places, or connect with those you know. Ask them what it is they need and work out what it is that you can offer them that will be in both your best interests.

Confidence is one of those things you either have or you don’t. Those of us who don’t have it would do anything to possess it – to feel as confident as the Incredible Hulk.

In this video from Tim Ferris, you’ll listen to his story about how he learnt to swim. You might not think that has a lot to do with the Incredible Hulk, but trust me, it does.

Think about it. The Hulk has an attitude you don’t see anywhere else, doesn’t he? Where did that come from?

This is a TED Talk, which covers swimming lessons, Japanese language and the Tango, and somehow, out of all of that, there are some important messages.

Here are just two.

“So fear is your friend. Fear is an indicator. Sometimes it shows you what you shouldn’t do. More often than not it shows you exactly what you should do. And the best results that I’ve had in life, the most enjoyable times, have all been from asking a simple question: what’s the worst that can happen?”

“This brings us to the point, which is, it’s oftentimes what you do, not how you do it, that is the determining factor.

This is the difference between being effective — doing the right things — and being efficient — doing things well whether or not they’re important.”

You can hear the wisdom in those last two points already, can’t you? But watch the video and you’ll learn a whole lot more. It’s only 16 minutes of viewing, but I guarantee you’ll come out with an entirely different perspective on life.

Go on. Be the Hulk.

Portrait Of Kitchen Staff In Homeless ShelterAustralians as a whole, are known for their giving natures, with many Australians reporting that they give both money and time each year to their favourite causes. According to a 2014 report by The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS), nearly one-third of all adult Australians volunteer hours each year to a non-profit organisation. A 2014 report from Charity Navigator also states that individual donations to non-profits by Australian adults totalled $258.5 billion AUD last year.

With so many individuals giving to charity, you may wonder why your business should donate resources to their community. But, just as many individuals derive several benefits when they give, businesses also reap several rewards when they make the effort to give back. The next time that you are on the fence as to whether or not your business should donate or volunteer for a cause, consider the following three ways that giving back boosts your business.

Giving Builds Stronger Teams and Increases Morale

All of us benefit when we feel that our work is meaningful and makes a difference. When businesses give back to the community, it helps associates to feel as though they are part of something that is bigger.

You can encourage your workforce to increase their giving, and build a stronger team in the process, by offering to match the funds that they give as individuals. Increase morale and introduce a fun competitive element by placing workers on teams that compete to raise or donate the most to the cause.

Don’t forget to offer special recognition or a reward for the team that volunteer the most time or raises the most funds. By working together to help others, your associates forge bonds of trust and mutual respect with one another that they will carry back to the workplace. Greater harmony, cooperating and job satisfaction is often the result.

Volunteering Provides Opportunities to Learn New Things

When you and your associates assist your community through volunteer work, you gain an opportunity to discover different perspectives as well as to learn new skills. This is especially true when the volunteer work that you and your workforce perform is significantly different from the regular duties that you perform in the workplace.

Volunteer work often places you and your associates in a different environment, so it is a great way to shake up routines and help everyone to start to think in new and creative ways. Learning new skills and boosting creativity can all lead to innovation in processes when you and your team return to your business.

Just Like Life, Business is About Building Connections and Having Fun

By stepping out of your normal routines and habits through volunteer work, you give yourself and your associates the opportunity to connect with others in the community. You not only improve your company’s reputation within your community, but you also increase the pride and connection that both workers and clients feel for your business.

Donating time, money and other resources to your favourite cause is also the perfect way to show just what you and your business value and will help to draw others to you and your business that share your values.

As you and your associates take the time to give back on the corporate level, don’t be surprised if you find that you are having fun! Embrace the energy and use it to help you and the other members of your organisation stay motivated to keep pushing towards your goals!

With so many benefits to be gained when your business gives back to the community, it’s easy to see why the adage of “it’s better to give than receive” continues to ring true!  If it seems as though your associates are stuck in a rut and your business is struggling to get everyone on the same page, then it’s time to boost your business by giving back!

Lawyer on his workplaceJob interviews! If you have been to at least one, you know that the experience can be quite tense and can bring out exactly those aspects of our personality that we would prefer not to show to our prospective boss. However, bear in mind that job interviews can be stressful, intimidating and awkward not only for the applicant, but also for the interviewer, as this piece helpfully suggests.

What Not to Say

Hundreds of posts around the web will explain in detail what you are expected to say at an interview: when to say it, how to say it, what to say and why to say it. It is also important, however, to know what not to say, because a perfect interview can be spoiled by a single inappropriate utterance. Therefore, always remember how to not lose your cool – be composed, take your time and think before you answer. Nobody will have a bad impression of you if you consider your reply before giving it. On the other hand, if you answer hurriedly with a nonsensical reply, that may well be the end of the interview. As much as you want to be yourself, remember there is a fine line between being yourself as you will behave at your new workplace and being yourself with your closest friends.

So, what not to say? No inappropriate jokes. No embarrassing personal information (think in terms of ‘what would I say on a first date – I don’t want to appear as a loony!’). Not too many personal details – speaking briefly about your hobbies or your life is okay, but giving the exact minute-by-minute details of your day would be a bit too much. And finally, do not mention other companies that have offers for you, other interviews you are going to attend, other opportunities you might take – it is cheap and will always make a bad impression.

What Not to Do

To start with, DO NOT fail the handshake. Many people will form their first impression (even if it is a subconscious one) on your handshake. So grasp firmly and release on time, do not offer a finger, do not slip your hand, do not catch the fingers.

Try not to appear stressed or anxious. Just remember that worrying and being nervous will never help, it will only make it harder for you to focus. Compose yourself and go in; act confident and calmly.

Do not drink alcohol before the interview. As much as you would like some extra help with calming down, they will know, and it will not be of any advantage to you.

Do not do anything strange, weird or awkward during the interview. This includes many of the examples in the piece quoted above – dancing, singing (unless that’s what the interview is for!), applying or taking medicines, eating, leaving and reappearing, leaving without reappearing, performing magic, etc. You are there for an interview and will have to impress the interviewer with your composition, experience, knowledge and manner, not with fooling around.

Finally, do not be aggressive or stubborn. Never threaten the interviewer or anyone in the vicinity. Actually, this is something to keep in mind at all times, not only at job interviews. Take ‘no’ as ‘no’ and leave when you are expected to; do not make it worse by refusing to go or doing something stupid. Remember, it is always better to part with good feelings (you might be the second best candidate and be invited if the first decides not to start), than slamming the door and thus locking it for yourself forever.

To cut a long story short, interviews are not as scary as they appear! The main rule is – “Keep calm and show them they need you.” Remember – the interviewer has probably seen some weird applicants out there, so he or she will be grateful for the lack of embarrassing situations. Good luck!

Oh, the drudgery of the office!

Whether it’s in your own home, a corner at the back of the workshop, or some high-rise corporate affair, there’s really no need to be dragged down by the thought of heading in there on a daily basis. Although there are standards about what an office should look like (many of which are in our own heads), who says you have to stick with the norm?

poor-mans-ipadYou could collect some quirky desk toppers or ornaments that just clutter up the desktop, however, it’s probably better to add a bit of personality with some useful items. Things that put a smile on your face, add a bit of fun, and that you can actually use.

There is, for example, always a need to take and keep notes, and a Poor Man’s iPad will have you looking, well…organised. You also don’t need to worry about dropping and damaging it, or the expense of replacing a cracked screen.

If you need reminder notes, a Post It Notes Roller may be more your thing. You can stick notes to walls, doors, desktops and colleague’s foreheads. Roll your notes out, making it as long as you need, then scribble and leave your notes where you can look at them again and again.

You may have promised yourself that you’ll take your lunch to work every day (and you may even have a note about it), but it’s too hard. Or it was…before the R2-D2 Bento Lunch Box! It’s far more fun than the ubiquitous humorous coffee mug. It will make you want to take your lunch every day, and brighten your mood for the afternoon.

office-nap-pillowOnce you’re done with your notes, your lunch, those mounds of paperwork, or the myriad items cluttering up your desk, you could trash them. Or you may prefer to send it to another universe entirely. A Tardis Trash Can will dispose of your rubbish in a somewhat satisfying manner. It also looks totally cool beside your desk.

If you’re all worn out from your long days, or simply bored during the a meeting, you may need an Office Nap Pillow to see you through ‘til home time. Cleverly disguised as a ring binder, you may even get away with a little shut-eye in between meetings.

There is always a time and a place for fun at the office, but quirky items that are practical as well, that just takes you into a whole other level of workplace enjoyment.

A change is as good as a holiday, they say, but a holiday is in fact what many people need. Office burnout happens more than you may think, and there are many workers, both professional and volunteer, who would gain a lot from some good old-fashioned time off.

With computers in our homes and networks in our pockets we are increasingly working longer hours. We try to be efficient and are tied to these devices, until we get to the point we need to ask ourselves, “How effective can all 80 hours per week of this “work” actually be?”

Being able to truly ‘get stuff done’ relies on clear, positive, critical thinking. Higher processing skills function better when a person is well rested and relaxed, so it follows that someone who is sleeping well will perform better at work than someone who is anxious and suffering insomnia. Likewise, people returning to work after a holiday are really more productive than those who try to slog it our for months or even years on end.

There are a myriad of benefits to taking a holiday besides the simple rest and relaxation. Getting a change of perspective can make the world of difference to the way someone approaches work problems. Solutions can sometimes be found ‘outside the box’ when an individual takes the time to look at things a different way. A change of perspective and a little space to breath from under a heavy workload can help a person live a little lighter, and encourage them to get more creative with their approach to work.

The big thinking required for growth of a company or other organisation can happen during periods of rest. Taking a breather also creates space in which it is more difficult to grow resentment and can improve morale of workers more than almost any other measure.

If stress is piling up and work is seeming impossible, it might not be that you are falling short or that the work is too difficult. Perhaps it is simply time to take a break.

Portrait Of Happy Woman Who HasLow self-esteem and low confidence go hand in hand. If you are going through a phase of not feeling comfortable in your own skin, see what steps you can take to get your confidence back. It is too valuable a quality to go without for long.

Being too self-conscious or feeling anxious or awkward in social settings can have ongoing consequences, but as you rise out of your self-confidence slump you will feel a greater sense of well being and have energy to face life’s peaks and valleys. Take a look at the following ten steps and see how to develop your self-confidence without any further delay.

1. Good self care is integral to feeling confident. Take time to properly groom. Look after your health and establish a regular exercise routine.

2. Take care of your back and practice good posture. Consciously stretch to realign your spine and learn body work systems like yoga to keep your muscles and organs healthy.

3. Set a small goal, and bask in your own self approval when you reach it. Be proud of your own accomplishments and congratulate others on theirs. Rinse and repeat.

4. Never stop your own self improvement. Study. Learn and upgrade skills. Over time investing in your own self development will pay off.

5. Practice gratitude. Be grateful for the things that go right and the things that are going in your favour. Pack up the pity party and save the small stuff for really rainy days.

6. Let go of worries. Write down things that bother you, tear the page to pieces and dispose of it. Regularly write down things you are grateful for and things you are proud of and leave the lists where you will see them.

7. Reduce clutter in your life. Simplify your wardrobe, desk and diet. Shred old documents and dust living and working quarters. Reducing visual clutter can help clear your thoughts and help you perform better.

8. Meditate. Take time to get some mental space and a clear perspective. Welcome order and rituals into your life.

9. Let troubled thoughts rest, and think positive whenever you can. Small moments, free from negativity add up. Smile as much as you are able. Keeping good posture sets off endorphins to lift your mood.

10. Work with people you trust. “Surround yourself with competent people and remind yourself regularly of the times you’ve succeeded in the past.” professional workforce contractor Matthew Franceschini says.

If you are trying to increase your professional confidence, surround yourself with like minded people who reflect the traits you are seeking to embody. Before you know it you will be feeling confident and flying towards your goals! Confident people are more productive and report more satisfaction in all facets of life.


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