Category Archives: sustainability

8 Ways Minimalism Can Increase Your Productivity

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

I’ve moved a handful of times in the past few years. In order to make each transition go smoother than silk all efforts were made to donate or sell as much as humanly possible. (The word I used on repeat was “…catharsis!”)

In the end, it felt great to donate all those clothes I’d never wear again. I was initially sad to part with all the books I secretly knew I’d never read, knowing they’d find a better use in the end. The cooking supplies I’d barely use and stacks of house records I was holding onto for reasons only the vinyl gods know why — all of those things I simply didn’t need any more. They were a nice to have, but didn’t define or help me grow in any significant way within the present tense.

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Life Essentials: Core Values + Relationships

If you’re like me you’ve probably had many jobs over the course of your career. And as the first generation to grow up truly digital, we live in a hyper-connected world that allows — and even encourages — the ability to try many kinds of roles in a relatively short amount of time.

Even within specific types of work, titles and set responsibilities are changing. They’re becoming loosely defined — either due to the adaptation of technology, or the evolution of industries acclimating to change.

We’ve gained the freedom to break from the mindset of keeping a job for two years or longer, an informal rule created to establish credibility in the working world. We also have the ability to take on our own clients, work with friends, and start companies with little overhead — provided we’re willing to break from our personal comfort zones and venture into the unknown to do so.

The great news? The unknown is where incredible things happen! And now is a great time to go for it.

Ultimately, it’s up to us to create this change. And if creating change were easy, everyone would go about it. Yet whether we invoke it or not, change is inevitable.

During shifting times it’s important to stay steady and focused, whether you’re going out on your own for the first time or seeking direction in your present position. After all, someone wise once said that everything comes from within.

I’ve found that in my own journey so far, these two little things help.

1.) Have a set of core values.

Core values are, simply put, the words you live by.

Pick 3-5 words that you sincerely believe are key to who you are and what you stand for. You’ll notice that these words inform your interactions with others and your day-to-day working process.

They can be anything. Love, perseverance, influence, peace…you get the idea. If you’re someone whose core value is money, then you’re willing to do anything for money. Live by a set of beliefs, or values, and it becomes easier to prioritize everything in your life. You’re also setting a moral compass to help navigate through tough decisions.

For what it’s worth, mine are Respect, Honor, Passion, and Integrity. I’ve left jobs because actions made on behalf of the leadership team were not something I agreed with based on these values. If your heart isn’t in the game, the resulting output won’t be great. And who wants to do anything less than great? Life’s too short for that!

For me, having respect for others – and respect for myself – helps to build better relationships. I often feel that it’s my duty to honor the passion in others. I also try to work with integrity, which in turn makes the quality of my work better.

2.) Build and maintain core relationships.

Core relationships are the relationships we have with others. They are personal, professional, and sometimes a combo of both.

Grow these relationships and nurture them without any expectation of return. When you hit a roadblock, your network will be there. These people are a deep well of knowledge, support, and connections to help navigate through tough times.

When I lost my previous job, I was overwhelmed with gratitude at how quickly folks in my network came calling. I was amazed at the incredible support I received — simply from putting forth some effort into building relationships over the years.

Here’s the most important part: Put the needs of your network first. It’s never about you. Help them. Find out what they need and what you can do to help. Check in regularly. It may sound too much like The Secret, but it really is true — after you put it out there, you’ll be helped in more ways you can ever imagine.

I’ve always experienced overlap in my personal and professional life simply by finding ways to network and being curious about the individuals I met along the way. These relationships come in different shapes and sizes and often don’t reveal its true meaning until later on.

For example, a casual Friday afternoon meeting once yielded a good relationship with a client. Over time, we began to meet regularly for happy hour and began including others, too. This created a little network that eventually expanded and gave everyone involved a sense of community and professional connectivity. And as it turns out, one of these connections led me to my next full-time job!

The point of telling you this is to underline how individual philosophies are helpful in bridging the gap — not only across personal and professional environments, but in reinforcing our personal goals and objectives in a changing working landscape.

We must know ourselves well enough to know what drives us.

It can sound tempting to take a job with a company with a cutting edge product and forward-thinking staff, but if you don’t agree with their underlying philosophies it may be better to wait and research other options — then, consider a position with a company that does.

If you adhere to these two principles, you’ll find your way regardless of path or circumstance. Having them will give you solid ground to stand on and support your underlying goals. It’s critical that we connect with the passions that drive who we are as individuals — and as workers in today’s changing economic world.

5 Things I Learned From Working at Startups

So far in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work at various startups ranging from a music production house to a buzzy mobile product to an executive staffing firm. At each of these organizations I was fortunate enough to learn a lot – and find myself in various scenarios with equally interesting people.

I didn’t just perfect my description of wearing the proverbial amount of hats and/or make endless jokes about the definition of adequate health insurance (it should be preventative, not circumstantial!). In hindsight, I took away more positive concepts and ideas that affect how I think about doing business as a whole.

For example, many opportunities arise in startup situations as opposed to companies where roles and assorted responsibilities are noted and documented in a more comprehensive way.  Startups offer opportunity – for everyone – if they’re chosen to be found. Below, the top five takeaways I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Nurture your talent.

Once you get them in the door it’s not enough. Look in unexpected places for underlying skill sets and strengths. Encourage each hire to grow on a professional and individual level – these criteria go hand-in-hand. Your talent is the only thing that matters. Value their opinions, pay close attention to direct feedback not only related to their contributions but to the company as a whole. In day-to-day tasks allow them flourish at what they do – then get out of the way.

2. Don’t do it just for the money.

Build something that matters. Ask yourself – at the end of the day, will this product or service help people? How can we maximize what we’re doing to make a contribution in the world? Which leads to…

3. Invoke personal investment through Passion.

It’s simple: when people are passionate about what they do on a daily basis, they place greater value and a subsequent higher level of tending to their work. Demonstrate interest, acknowledge value, encourage communication, and ignite passion.

4. Create structure.

Don’t do things like allow programmers to work for 24 hours straight. Totally #uncool. To be fair, it’s easy to let that happen when everyone is under the gun to get something out the door. But people are not machines, and even the most promising of products is not assembled via assembly line. Humans need rest and sunlight too. Create infrastructure through clear job descriptions and duties, regular interdepartmental meetings and 1:1’s between supervisors and direct reports.  Keep everything organized, stick to timelines – and demonstrate accountability, respect and value for your team members.

5. Be wild.

Be creative, have fun! Allow pets (within reason), offer classes, go on bowling outings, trips to the zoo, paint, draw, create, collaborate. Allow the magic to happen!