Summertime Fitness Made Breezy

beachbody-on-demandWe all know, the summer is a crazy go-go-go time. Finding time to workout is my biggest challenge. Between work, freelancing, 1:1 coaching sessions for basketball, the days can seem to slip away from us.

As someone who has 3 jobs, balancing it all can be difficult. Not to mentioned finding time to workout. For me getting to my gym takes 15 minutes give or take each way. That is half an hour of time lost in the car. Now, instead of taking those precious minutes in the car, I can get my run in around my neighborhood loop (now that it is bright out longer) and just turn on my Beachbody On Demand account for a workout that fits into my schedule.

Now, instead of taking those precious minutes in the car, I can get my run in around my neighborhood loop. When I get back, I just turn on my Beachbody On Demand account for a workout that fits into my schedule.

summer-workout

The best part is, Brian and I can do this together or separate. I am notorious for hitting snooze. But Brian is really good at getting me out of bed in the morning. He does this by reminding me how much I hate working out later in the day. And he is definitely right. However, whenever I do, I always try to find time to fit in a quick 30-minute workout at home. This can be on my lunch break (if it is a WFH day) or after I am out of work around 5.

Going on vacation?

No problem, Beachbody is totally portable. Just choose a workout that requires no equipment. All you need is an internet signal. With the latest release, you can download your schedule of workouts. That is, as long as you have a Beachbody On Demand account. As long as you have an iPad, laptop, or even a Kindle Firestick to plug into the TV, wherever you are going and you will always have a great workout just moments away. Don’t let your vacation become another excuse to skip your workout.

Why Beachbody On Demand Works

beachbody-on-the-go

If you are worried that the summer craziness will convince you that it is okay to skip your workout and want someone to help hold you accountable, let me be that person for you! I want to be able to be that person for you. The journey to a healthier lifestyle does not have to be a solo one! Email me, message me on Instagram, let’s be Facebook friends, to see how we can work together to achieve your summer goals!

And if you already know you are ready to pull the trigger, you don’t want to miss some of the great deals going on. I got started with a Challenge Pack because I wanted to be able to try the product but also gain access to Beachbody On Demand.

Why I am Choosing Beachbody On Demand

You may be wondering, why I am choosing to buy into Beachbody, now? At the end of the day, I love fitness and health but lately the health part of that has been slacking. I am looking for a program that will hold me accountable to my diet and fitness goals. I am not looking to try and lose weight, I just want to tone up so that as I enter half marathon season this fall, I am in the best shape possible to achieve my sub-2 half.

Insanity

For 4 years now, Brian and I have had access to the Insanity fitness program by Beachbody. But never explored their further offerings. To be honest, I fast forwarded through their ads whenever I did one of the workouts. I assumed Shaun T was his own brand. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, he is part of a whole family of trainers.

When we got Insanity, Brian was looking for a way to stay active without having to go to a gym. It was the summer of 2013 and he had just finished his final year of college baseball. Now officially NARP (non-athletic regular person) status he wasn’t looking to get a gym membership in Buffalo, yet. This is where Insanity comes into play. Now, I have never actually been through the full schedule, when Brian did it I was still playing basketball. But his results were great.

Throughout that summer, Brian completed the whole system on his apartment building’s rooftop. Since then, we have incorporated it into our fitness routines regularly. Probably once a week (sometimes more, sometimes less). We have even done it at the beach on vacation!

Beachbody On Demand

As I started researching the full offerings of Beachbody everything from the fitness DVDs to the shakes, I knew what I really wanted to try was the On Demand service. At the end of the day, I do not need any more DVDs laying around and the On Demand platform can be taken with you on the go. You can play it anywhere there is a wi-fi connection.

Signing up for BOD (Beachbody On Demand is just as easy). I signed up originally with the All-Access Kickstart Challenge Pack because it gave me a year subscription to BOD (what I really wanted) and allowed me to try the greatest amount of the product including a month of Shakeology; as well as, the 3-Day Refresh.

Beachbody Coaching

Then I started researching the Beachbody coaching model. I thought, what a great way for me to help share my passion for fitness and health while getting healthy myself. I know one of the biggest things for me is staying accountable and sticking with a program. If I can build a team where doing my workouts others don’t want to miss theirs, together we can achieve our goals.

If you are interested in joining my team, having me as a coach (or if you would prefer Brian as your coach), or you have questions about Beachbody, send me at email at fitnessmadebreeze.courtney@gmail.com. Let’s achieve our goals together.

8 Quotes from Diverse Millionaires to Help You Think About Success

This post is in response to a CNBC article that features 9 quotes from 9 self-made millionaires and billionaires who are predominately white males; I use the word predominately because I hate making assumptions about diversity and people’s backgrounds. So I will let others be the judge. After reading the comments on the previous posts, I wanted to create a similar post using diverse millionaires. However, this post will stay away from using the word self-made. This is because, at the end of the day, no one is going to get to that level of success without the assistance of others. My very successful and humble Granddad taught me that from a young age.
Prepare yourself to be inspired today by these 8 quotes from highly successful millionaires from all walks of life.

Tim Cook

Although on the surface, Tim Cook may be seemingly another white male, he is openly a member of the LGBTQ community running one of the most profitable companies in the world. In an essay published in Bloomberg, Cook stated, “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Sara Blakely

Known for being the youngest woman in the world to make $1 billion “on her own”, Sara Blakely is the founder of the shapewear brand that has changed countless woman’s looks, Spanx. Her advice on finding success, “It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.”

Sundar Pichai

As an Indian-born American, Sundar Pichai has become well-known for his struggle and rise to the top of one of the world’s most well-known companies. Although known for his many successes at Google including the toolbar and Google Chrome, it is his failures that he is most proud of. His advice, “Wear your failure as a badge of honour.”

Dawn Staley

As one of the highest paid women’s basketball college coaches in the history of the women’s game, Dawn Staley has not disappointed South Carolina fans. Staley’s team brought home the school’s first National Championship in the sport in 2017, a title which was held by the UConn Huskies for 4 consecutive years. Her mission is to remind all her players and fans, “A lot of people notice when you succeed, but they don’t see what it takes to get there.”

Katia Beauchamp

As one of the co-founders of Birchbox, Katia Beauchamp is known for starting a subscription box revolution and for being one of the most influential people in the beauty world today. Raised in El Paso, Texas (yes the El Paso Texas from Glory Road) by a Greek father and Mexican mother, she is known for cold-emailing some of the most famous CEOs in the world including Steve Jobs to which she received a response the same day. Her advice, “Whatever it is that you think you want to do – whatever it is that you think stands between you and that – stop making excuses. You can do anything.”

Daymond John

Raised by a single mother after the age of 10 years old, Daymond John is best known for his role as an investor on the popular NBC show, Shark Tank. But that is not John’s only job, no, actually far from it. As a best-selling author, business owner, speaker, investor, and philanthropist, his life is far from dull. But success didn’t come without hardships. One of his many keys to success is, “Learn from as many mistakes and what not to do while your business or product is small. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow your brand. Make sure that you and the market can sustain any bumps that may occur down the road.” 

Kim Pegula

Not only is Kim Pegula, shaking up the business world, she is also shaking up the professional sports world as well. As co-owner of both the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres (with her husband, Terry Pegula), she is helping revitalize the once forgotten city. As President and CEO of Pegula Sports & Entertainment, she is passionate about the “One Buffalo” message but will never forget her roots. Pegula was born in Korea and abandoned by her family, left to be raised in an orphanage until the age of 5 when she was adopted by a family in Fairport, NY. “Everything you do in life gets you to where you are now,” she said to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “I would definitely say my beginnings and my in-betweens and everything else are how I am.”

Marlee Matlin

As American actress, Marlee Matlin proves everyday looks can be deceiving but being different doesn’t stop you from achieving your dreams. At just 18 months old, Matlin had lost all her hearing in her right ear and was 80% deaf in her left. But being deaf did not stop her. In fact, she has received several major award nominations for her work in TV and Film including a Golden Globe for Best Actress and an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Children of the Lesser God. On being different, “Everyone of us is different in some way, but for those of us who are more different, we have to put more effort into convincing the less different that we can do the same thing they can, just differently.”

Diversity in Our Workforce

Diversity is a key part of what makes our country and our world great. When we fail to learn from the successes and failures of people who look differently from us, we often fail to change. For the purposes of this article, I wanted to highlight a sample of people from very different backgrounds, diversity groups, and professions who have found success through various channels. This is not by any means saying these are the only successful people, not at all but a sample and example of how there are so many amazing people who have become successful millionaires.

I am fortunate to work for an organization that strives to continue the conversation around Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and hope that more companies continue to value this as a key priority so that one day, we reach the point that diversity is a non-issue, we are all just people. That is a future I hope that someday we can reach in the professional world and the general community as well (ironic as currently, I had to write an article searching for diversity).

Who else would you add to this list and what are your favorite quotes from them?

Community Focus Matters to the Millennials

The millennial generation gets a lot of flack for being lazy, overconfident, arrogant, self-centered, and much more. But if you look deeper, we may be seeing a generation that is more community focused than any before it.

If you ask a millennial what they value in companies that they choose to work for often times community involvement will be listed at the top. When it comes to companies they buy from, the answer is the same. Millennials want to work for an organization that is invested in bettering the world. That can mean donating employees time to causes in the towns they have offices in. Or it could mean donating a portion of their revenue to charities around the world or within their individual communities. That is why products like Toms and WeWood have seen success with a young market. Or campaigns like Apples (PRODUCT)RED or Amazon Smile increase sales for the big tech companies.

This is a generation that believes in giving back and doing good. They may not always have the money to donate to organizations…yet, but someday they will. For now, they would rather work and support businesses that can donate resources that they can’t. And when they have spare time, they want to give back in whatever form they can.

If you are a millennial looking to get involved in your community consider some of these ideas:

    • Organize a charity race in your community for a cause
    • Become a local zoo member and make it a family activity
    • Donate to your local parks society
    • Join a nonprofit board, this could be for a beautification committee, a school board, or art group. There are many nonprofits that you may not even know about in your community
    • Reach out to the local food back during a non-holiday time and see what they need
    • Become a hospital or nursing home volunteer

There are so many different things you can do to get involved in your community and give back that don’t cost anything but your time. When you are young and have fewer commitments, this is the perfect time to find your passion and how you like to give back. As you get older, you may find you have less time to donate and are more willing to give in financial ways. The choice is yours but when everyone comes together in a community, a lot of amazing things can happen.

So the next time you look at a millennial and think they are self-centered, ask them what they are doing on their weekends. They may be giving back to their alma mater, coaching a youth sports team, running a local 5k for a cause or spending time at the local food bank. This may be the best time to stop stereotyping a generation and start seeing how you can get involved.

5 Tips for the Young Professional to Set Themselves Up for a Successful Holiday Season (Next Year)

Christmas may be over for this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start looking ahead to next year. Don’t worry, I hear the groans. But trust me, I have been following these five things the last couple of years and it has paid off. I started developing my strategy during grad school and it helped as I entered the workforce. Each year I seem to fine tune it and add to things that help me out the next year.

Tidy Before Heading Home for the Holidays

If you are like me and many other young professionals, you probably don’t spend the actual holiday at the home where you spend most of your time. Chances are you are headed back to your childhood home, wherever one of your parents live, or to other family and friends.

But what makes coming back home even easier is when your house is tidy and clean. Now, this may not seem like a tip to make your next Christmas even easier but it is something that can make putting away Christmas decorations when you return easier. This means you have a little bit of extra time to put in the extra care of packing up efficiently.

For me, I like to make sure my bathrooms are cleaned and I have vacuumed the whole house and scrubbed the floors (WNY winters does a number on my floors with salt and wetness). I also like to make sure I have fresh bed sheets to jump into when I return and have done all the laundry. These small tasks may seem like they won’t mean much but trust me, there is nothing better than coming home to a clean house.

DeClutter

Every year as we start to pack up the Christmas decorations, we throw away the broken lights and ornaments. It is also important to go through any of your baking supplies that may have gone bad. Look at those cookie cutters, are they rusty? Toss them out and buy new at the after-Christmas sales. How about looking at your fabrics? Is it time to get a new Christmas rug or hand towels? Toss out the old ones and hit the sales now so you are prepared for next year and can start fresh. If you don’t like tossing out a towel, use them as rags for odd jobs around the house or outside.

Shop the Clearance

Every store that sells Christmas decorations and items put their stuff on clearance as of December 26th. That means today is the day to go out and replace what you used up this year or broke. Maybe you have always wanted a holiday wreath for your door but didn’t want to pay $30+ dollars for it. Looking at the prices the day after Christmas, you could get one for $15 or less. But don’t wait because the good stuff goes fast.

I always buy extra wrapping paper, bags, boxes (the ones you don’t have to wrap), bows, gift tags and tissue paper at least 50% off. That way, I know that is one less thing I have to buy next year as I start buying gifts.

Last year, I found this “Santa Sack” that was meant to put gifts in but instead I repurposed it to organize Brian and my Christmas clothes like socks, PJ pants, sweaters, etc. I bought two and used the second for my holiday table clothes, pot holders, and placemats. This has really helped because I can put them in my Christmas decoration bin and know exactly where everything is. Remember, you decide how you utilize things, not the store.

If you are in the market for a new Christmas tree, after Christmas is the best time to buy your dream tree. Maybe you aren’t willing to pay upwards of $200 for the tree but the day after Christmas stores are begging to get rid of them and you can find on up to 75% off. This year I bought two mini trees for just $5!

Holiday Scents

Bath and Body Works often holds their semi-annual sale at the end of December and January. This is a great time to stock up on the seasonal scents you love at a steep discount. They usually send out coupons before the sale as well so you can save even more. Who knows, you may even start your Christmas shopping in January!

Other stores put their holiday scents on sale as well. Things like Glade products are great to stock up on and keep for next year. Last year, I bought Glade spray that smelled like Christmas trees. It is perfect for the bathrooms around the holidays because it matches my candles and the smell of the tree (or scents sticks in the tree).

Organize Your Decorations

It can be easy to just ball up all your lights and throw them in a box but what good will that bring you next year? You will spend hours and be more stressed out during December than ever before. This year there are so many things out there that can help you. There are light organizing boxes that have separate compartments for different sets of lights; as well as, things to wrap your lights around.

When you are taking down your tree, if you have an artificial tree, leave the lights on it. Better yet, buy a tree with lights already on it. That way you don’t even have to deal with the lights at all. You should also have ornament organizers. I remember growing up, we had cardboard boxes with all the ornaments in them. If they were flat they were laid out in several layers with tissue paper in between. If they were glass, they were in a separate box in their original box to protect them. Now, they have ornament boxes that can make the organization of your ornaments much simpler. Not to mention make sure that they are all cared for and make it safely through the off-season.

For my tree, I have a tree storage bag that I not only keep the tree in but all my lights as well. I also keep my garland that goes on my stair railing and mantle in the bag. That way, next year all of that is together when I bring out the tree as it is usually the first thing that gets put up.

Wrap Up Your Wrapping Paper

After I restock all my wrapping products, I get them all organized. I have a wrapping paper storage bin that houses all my Christmas wrapping paper. I keep this separate from my other wrapping paper and bags. That way, I only need to pull this bin out of the basement once a year.

The holidays don’t have to be stressful. Setting yourself up for a successful holiday season starts at the end of the previous one. You can make your life easier once December rolls around by following these tips and making them your own.

In Today’s World Your Website Can’t Fail Due to Demand

We live in a world that requires real-time feedback, response, and 100% up-time in nearly everything we do. Or at least that is what our customers expect. But when things fail you stand to lose a customer for life and this has happened to me twice this holiday season. Both for different reasons but both were failures on the part of technology followed by failure when it came to customer service. I wanted to make sure I shared with you what happened to me, so hopefully it doesn’t happen to you.bad customer service

New York & Company’s Website Ate My Gift Cards

Now this may sound kind of strange but wouldn’t my luck have it that I was trying to place an order with New York and Company on Cyber Monday and got all the way to the submit your order page just to have my order taken back to the shopping cart. Sounds strange, right?

With no errors in my cart, I proceed to type my two $50 gift card codes into the website again but this time, the website said there was no balance on the gift cards. I tried both with the same result. That was funny to me because they had just said they had deducted the gift card amount from my order during the previous checkout attempt. Now, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I thought there was a glitch and my order had been processed. So, I checked my email and purchase history on the website and of course, nothing. Then I checked my credit card for the new charge to appear, nothing. All the while, I am watching as things being moved out of my cart as they were selling out.

new york and company customer serviceSo I tried one more time, maybe I had typed in my cards wrong. Nope, that wasn’t the case. New York and Company had just stolen $100 dollars from me in gift cards. I immediately opened up a chat with a specialist who was not helpful at all. She said she would open up a support ticket and that someone would reach out to me in 3-5 business days. Well, that wasn’t helpful as Cyber Monday lasts just one day and the deals I wanted were going fast. The chat representative did nothing to reimbursement my funds and the only explanation she gave was that this was not something she could escalate.

Customer Forced to Follow-Up

At the end of the 5th business day, I called New York and Company. They proceeded to open a ticket regarding my issue. I asked them what happened to the chat representative’s support ticket and they said they had no record of one ever being logged. Well, that was just great, no record of something I had been waiting for. I was still out $100 in gift cards and New York and Company was still considered thieves in my book.

I called back two days later, there was no update on the ticket; however, I did receive an email that it was being looked into. Finally, after about 10 days, I received an email stating my gift cards had been refunded and I was free to continue to shop at New York and Company online or at a nearby store. I was shocked because I had had to do all the follow-up to get an answer. I had to log 2 tickets to get MY MONEY back. And yet, all they did was refund me the money that was already mine. They didn’t offer to get me the deals that were in my cart although I had saved a screenshot. They didn’t even offer me a free shipping promo code.

Good Customer Service is Not Hard

Truly how hard would it have been to do that? Or how hard would it have been to refund me my money from the get-go? Instead, they dragged it out and wasted my time. So at the end of the day due to this experience, they have lost a customer for life. It was that plain and simple. I will use my $100 in gift cards and that will be it. I have asked my friends and family to no longer gift me New York & Company gift cards at the holidays or my birthday and I will no longer be shopping at the store.

Customer Service is that simple. You need to have a functioning website especially on days you are promising the best deals of the day. If you can’t handle the extra shoppers on your server, don’t have deals.

No Shipping Home When it comes to Walmart Photo

For the last several years, I have always ordered photo calendars at the holidays for my family through Walmart Photo. And I have always had them shipped to my house. But this year, this was not the case.

After spending about 2 hours designing 4 calendars, I was going through the checkout process, received the confirmation dates, typed in my credit card and checked out. Or so I thought. About a week later, I was wondering why I hadn’t received any notifications regarding my photos. I looked in my email and recent orders but there was nothing there. This was so strange! But I called it user error.

Round Two

walmart photo error

So that evening I logged onto Walmart Photo and went through the same checkout process. Only, when I got to the submit step an error popped up saying my order could not be processed. This same error came up the next 5 times I tried. I sent a screen shot to their Twitter account and they told me it was user error. However, I searched around and found that I was not alone in this and the problem was not user error but a system error when selecting home shipping. Even after trying another browser and another computer, the error persisted, yet Walmart’s social media team claimed they could not reproduce the error.walmart photo twitter customer service

Due to the time sensitivity, I had the photos shipped to the store. Sadly, the problems did not stop there. On Monday evening (12/19) when 2 out 3 of the calendar items were to have arrived at the store I hadn’t heard anything about my order. I found this really odd because Walmart is usually really good. I called the online team to try and get more information on my order. The short version of the conversation was that they didn’t know where the package was and didn’t have any additional findings for me. Not helpful but I was busy so I accepted it, for now.

WHERE IS MY ORDER

The next day at lunch, I logged in to check my order status. The website said: Should have been delivered Monday 12/19. The other was to be delivered by the end of the business day. Now I am sorry Walmart but that is not status a customer wants to see because that means nothing to them. I called the store I ordered the photos to and asked to be directed to the Photo Center. The woman on the other end’s response was, sorry they are busy. I asked could I be put on hold as I was trying to find out if my photos were there or not. She said no, they were busy and that she couldn’t help me.

Now I was very frustrated. I didn’t want to make an extra trip to the madhouse that is Walmart around the holidays. So I opened up a chat function with a representative. His response was I would have to wait until the end of the day to find out if my package had been lost or not. If it had they could cancel it and try again. I said I didn’t want to cancel I wanted the package as it contained gifts. He said I am sorry there is nothing I can do, with the busy season a lot of packages are delayed. Hello…Walmart! You don’t see Amazon Prime packages delayed due to the season and they are way busier than you. No wonder you are losing business to Amazon.

We Live in the 21st Century..Why Can’t You Get Customer Service Right?

So the day after everything was supposed to be delivered all of my packages said: Should Have Arrived on….Tell me Walmart what does that mean to you? I called the store again. They tried to direct me to photo and they were busy. Apparently, everyone was having problems with your website and photo because this was the second time it had happen. I was redirected back to the person who redirected my call the first time. Her instructions, “you have to come into the store.” I am sorry, we live in a 24/7 connected world that is technology savvy and you have no way of looking up if my photo order is actually there or not? What kind of digital customer service is that?

Much to my dismay, I made the trek to the store on my lunch break.

When I got there, I was not surprised to find a very long line at pick-up (apparently that line is the same as the photo pick-up). It took about 20 minutes to get up to the register and a young girl greeted me and began looking for my order. Sadly, I was not surprised that should couldn’t find the order. By this point, another woman who worked in the photo department stepped in. Her name was June. And let me tell you Walmart, give this woman a raise because she is the only thing that was positive about the entire experience.

She got on the phone with some mystery number and was on hold for another 20 minutes before someone was magically able to tell her that the packages had been delivered to the store that morning. Tell me, why was someone able to tell her this information but not me?

Anyway, after hanging up she began searching through the unsorted mail (why was it 12:30 pm and the morning mail hadn’t been sorted at Christmas)? In another 20 minutes, she was able to locate one of the three packages. Instead of having me wait any longer, she took down my name and number and told me she would personally call me letting me know by the end of the day they had located the additional items. Now that is customer service even though I was not happy to have to return to the store.

Walmart: This was the Sheridan Dr. in Buffalo location and the woman’s name is June and she worked in the photo department. If you are reading this, she deserves something for going above and beyond because over the past week no one else was doing that.  

At the end of the day, I received my photos (Brian picked them up) because I was really over Walmart at this point. When I looked over everything, the photos were printed much darker tin the calendars than I had ever seen (they are not that dark on the computer. The order was a day late and no one could tell me why their website wasn’t functioning correctly. June even said that she had heard there were issues with shipping to home functionality frequently (WALMART THIS IS A PROBLEM)!

Not only was this a case of poor customer service, it was also a case of a terrible website that is not supported.  Sadly this has cost Walmart my business for life because I know if I ever have a future problem, they won’t be able to resolve it.

Customer Service Matters

The world we live in is a connected one and requires constantly updated technology and technical support standing by. If you are a big brand and expect higher than normal volumes of traffic on your website at any point in the year, make sure you have a contingency plan if something goes down. And also, never tell your customers that it is user error or that you can’t get them any more information, it is a really bad customer experience and your poor customer service can cost you customers.

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4 Holiday Tips for the Early Career Professional

It is no secret to anyone who knows me, I like to be organized and I like everything to go as planned. But we all know that never happens. Which is why around the holidays, I try to get as much done ahead of time as possible. That way if something comes up at work, with my freelance clients or with my team (I am coaching again at Nichols) I am not forced to rush through something.
Happy Holidays

But getting organized at the holidays is no easy feat and takes planning and discipline. It can be hard to manage everything, especially if this is your first holiday season in a new place, with a new job or it is your first time on your own.

I have been there and figured out what works for me so that when my vacation from work starts (December 23rd) I can sit down with some cookies and a holiday cocktail with my family and not be scrambling. In the last couple of weeks, I have had many of my friends and co-workers ask how I get everything done so early. So I thought I would share my secrets to staying sane with so much going on around the holidays.

Don’t Procrastinate

I think this year I bought my first gift in the spring. I don’t like just buying gifts for the sake of buying them. Which is why throughout the year as I see things that I know someone would like I buy them.

Almost all of my Christmas shopping was done by the middle of November; I would say approximately 90%. (I will also say that all the birthday presents for my family through the month of March have also been purchased and wrapped, not to brag). But when you are in the spending mood it makes things easy.

One of the things I don’t like about the holidays is all the wrapping that must be done. I come from a big family which means there are at least 50 gifts under my tree right now. So my secret is to not procrastinate the wrapping. The second I get something, I wrap it. I use a lot of the pre-wrapped boxes (the ones with the designs on the covers; as well as, a lot of bags. This makes it easier.

But you may be asking yourself how do I remember what is what? That is my tip #2.

Keep a List (and Check It Twice)

Every year, I have an entire excel file stored on my computer that outlines who is getting what. Sadly, my computer decided to delete this file in mid-December this year. Thankfully all of my shopping was done at that point and everything already had labels on it. If that had happened any earlier, my system probably would not have worked out so well. My recommendation to myself next year is to keep a backup of this list whether it is on my external hard drive, a USB drive, or a physical paper list. So that I am not stressing if this happens again.

Because I had this list, I knew exactly who I had already bought for and who I still needed to buy for. I don’t get as elaborate as I know some do with prices and things like that because frankly the amount I spend on people doesn’t really have to equal out in my mind because the gifts I buy for people are ones I know they will like and are so specific to them that price doesn’t matter (outside of breaking my bank account of course).

The only time price does matter at this point in my life is for office parties or the Girl’s Annual White Elephant where we set limits. I am sure this may change when I eventually start a family.

Amazon Prime

This year, I bought several misc. gifts from Amazon to have on hand as I was thinking about specific gifts for people. These were gifts that I knew two or more people in my family would like so if I found something for one of them then this gift would go to the other.

At the holidays, I always get my money’s worth for my prime membership because I order so much. And even better was this year, Discover offered 5% cashback on all purchases made on Amazon July-December. So it was like everything was at least on sale a bit. Or all my Christmas purchases were getting me closer to my cruise!

For the first time this year, I used Prime Day and Amazon Deals. They were great to see what was coming up on sale and buy it before the deal opened up to the masses thanks to my Prime Membership.

I highly encourage anyone to get Amazon Prime due to the free 2-day shipping benefits. Not only is it great for the shopper who buys ahead of time but also for the procrastinator who needs a last minute gift for a birthday or holiday! Plus, with all the added benefits of Prime Video and Music, it is like getting Netflix for free. Personally, I find their movie selection way better on Amazon Prime but Netflix still takes the cake when it comes to shows. At just $99 a year that is less than you pay for your Netflix subscription over the course of the year, so why not?

Decorate When You Have Timedecorating for the holidays

I am someone who grew up in a decorated house at the holidays and I just remember the look on everyone’s faces when they walked in. It is hard to not smile when you see the stockings over the fireplace or the Christmas tree in the corner of the room.

But we all know life gets very hectic (and I don’t even have kids yet). So don’t stress about decorating. Do it little by little or all at once, whatever works for you. Since this is the first year for Brian and myself in our new house, I went out and bought more decorations (I usually wait until the day after Christmas to get them all on clearance but I splurged). We had a lot already from our last place and from me in college but I wanted the house to feel like a home at the holidays.

We have an artificial tree because we aren’t home for the actual week of Christmas like many young professionals and know we would just come home to a dead tree and needles all over the ground.

I started decorating the house the weekend after Thanksgiving and it worked out great. Our tree only had lights on it for about a week as we wanted to make sure we decorated it together. But we weren’t worried. We knew we would be able to do it and eventually it got done.

Don’t Stress this Holiday Season

The holidays are stressful enough with trying to get wrapped up before the books close at work and have everything organized for your family time. Don’t sweat the little things this year. Setting yourself up for success early, before the malls get crazy and deals start selling out can pay off. After all, no one wants to be like those who are trying to get an Amazon Alexa just days before Christmas. All those people will be waiting until January 20th for it to be delivered. Being ahead of the game can save you the time of having to panic about what your backup gift will be.

It may be too late to not procrastinate this year but why not set yourself up for success next holiday season with post-holiday tips.

It is Time for the Millennials to Be Part of the Conversation

It is Time for the Millennials to Be Part of the Conversation

There has never been a better time than now to take matters into our own hands when it comes to our careers. As a millennial, I have been stereotyped into many categories including:

  • Lazy
  • Spoiled
  • Entitled
  • Over-educated

We have also been blamed for many things including the state of affairs today. At the end of the day, some of those things are true about some people. But never forget that any generalization about a generation is just that, a generalization.

The Women Millennials

As an educated millennial woman in a profession that has been dominated for hundreds of years by older, white men, it is time for this group of woman to take ownership. We can no longer afford to have others drive our careers for us nor can we afford to sit on the sidelines. Sitting on the sidelines has never been a game I have been good at; however, for many of my peers, they have been able to play it just as they have been instructed.millennials-on-the-rise

I am aware that my mentality can often scare people off and can sometimes be offensive but I am also not okay with standing by when things do not seem right. This can be anything from a poorly managed project to a policy change that was driven top down. I do not believe I would be doing myself, my family, or whoever I am working for at a given time.

Let’s Be Part of the Conversation

Nation-wide decisions and assumptions about the millennial generation are being written and made; however, most often, millennials are not involved in those conversations. One of the biggest things that has to change, in regards to the way we have always done it is that we have to allow the different generations to talk. Failure to understand each other will continue to drive unrest in the people of the workforce.

I am fortunate to have developed relationships with people who I trust and can go to in order to talk through a tough situation. But not everyone has established such relationships nor are they in a position to work for a company that is willing to listen. As a country, we have to work together to set us all up for success.

As a country, we have to work together to set us all up for success.

Find Something You are Passionate About and Run Away With It

Find Something You are Passionate About and Run Away With It

It is funny how life works. One minute you can be doing one thing and the next you are working on something completely different. It is amazing how working on something you are not passionate about can affect the rest of your life.

I had a conversation the other day with a potential client. She shared with me that her health had been completed effected by working in an environment that did not allow her to be creative. Lately, I have been feeling similarly. Now please do not misconstrue my words as a lack of love for my organization because it is actually quite the opposite. If I didn’t love the place I work for then I would be gone. I would easily be the stereotypical millennial if you want to call me that.

But at the end of the day, there is only so long one can work on something without passion. At least for this girl. Everything in my life has always been tied to my happiness quality. When I am not happy, I am less likely to workout, go out, and appreciate the little things. My half marathon training and my blog are the biggest victims to my unhappiness.

Half Marathon Training

Now, I have been running but nowhere near where I should achieve my goals. My goal for the Corning Wineglass Half this weekend was to run under a 2 hour. Unfortunately, I have some serious doubts. I was able to do an 8-mile run (my longest of the training cycle) at a 9:22 pace with negative splits. Basically, I paced myself to finish it – not for a certain time. Unfortunately for me, this run was on the treadmill. Now I do know that if I was able to run under nine-minute miles for the remaining 5.1 I would be right around a 2 hour. But it is always those back miles that are mentally the toughest.

I will be happy if I can break my time from last year and my half marathon best of 2 hours and 10 minutes. Therefore the following are my goals:

  • A: Sub-2 hours
  • B: Course PR, Sub-2:10
  • C: Have fun and finish. The weather right now is calling for rain and a high of 70. Thankfully, unlike the Buffalo Half, that was sunny and 80s by 7 am – this is fall!

I love the half marathon distance because it is a challenge but do-able with limited training. Someday, I will dedicate as much time to my half marathon training as I did the first half of my marathon training a year and a half ago. When I get back to that running shape, a sub-2 hour will be easily within reach.

Blog Suffering

The other piece of my life that has been affected in the last few months has been my blogging and I have been neglecting it because of a few reasons:

  1. The with struggling with passion
  2. Focused on working on my client’s blogs
  3. I think I feel that I have less to contribute to my personal blog when I am less excited about what I am working on. Does this make sense to anyone?

My vow to myself today is this: Find something I am passionate about and run with it. The seasons are changing and so must I. If you want something bad enough and put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. There is no reason to work a job you are not passionate about in this world. There may be times you don’t like your career; however, it should not be your whole career. This world has too many options.

So, my question to anyone reading this is – have you ever experienced something like this and if so how did you get out of it?

It is Time to Start Talking about Millennial Loyalty

buffalo halfFirst off, where did the summer go? It is already Labor Day Weekend and I feel like I was just running the Buffalo Half Marathon over Memorial Day Weekend. It is pretty crazy how time flies.

This summer was filled with amazing memories including Brian and I buying our first house together, a vacation to remember with my family, and weekend trips to visit family and friends. It was everything a summer should be.

And now it is time to look forward and on to what is happening through the end of the year. Can you believe it Christmas is just about 4 months away? I know very scary thought, but I did buy my first Christmas present already. I am not crazy, it’s only one!

As part of my summer reading list, I have been tackling the book: Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart by Haydn Shaw. We are reading the book as part of iGen, the resource group I help lead within the bank. The book is a very fast read with relevant examples that touch all of the generations in the workforce right now. I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with multi-generational relationships whether in work, school, or personal life.sticking points

The author is very quick to point out when the chapters are millennial-focused and that is because they are the newest generation in the workforce that everyone is still trying to understand. But Shaw also points out that every generation once was new and was disrupting the way things had always been done. Millennials are no different but other generations tend to forget.

buffalo half marathonOne of the points that is top of mind for me is Loyalty. As any reader of my blog will know, I am very passionate about my generation not being stereotyped. I hate when people assume all millennials are the same. They also make assumptions that we as a whole group want to job hop and will never be loyal to one company. I don’t think this is the case at all. I think our generation would love to stay loyal to one company; however, we have a lot of factors working against us.

The Reality

Long gone are the days of pensions in most businesses. I work for an organization that has seen incredible returns on its stock in the last 30+ years – but we live in a time when the market is uncertain. My generation has seen the market crash, many of us looking back and wishing we had taken advantage. We have seen incredible progress in our country but we have also seen people squander it away. We have seen the worst in people with the attacks of 9/11, Orlando, Paris, and too many others to count. We are living through a political nightmare during this presidential race where our country has become an ongoing joke for the rest of the world.

But worst of all, we live in a world where our colleges post average graduation salaries and how much their students are making at different intervals throughout their career. We are competitive and overeducated. We have also been told that by staying in one place for too long, you are leaving wealth on the table. It is a scary reality to be told if you are loyal to one company your entire career – you will leave 50% of your lifetime wealth on the table. Unfortunately, nothing is being done to fight that statistic. It is hard for most of my generation to turn down a lifetime having 50% more security especially when housing prices are going up, student loan debt is at record highs, and the cost of living is not going down.

Even in a city like Buffalo where compared to a city like NYC the cost of living is “cheap”. It is not as “cheap” as it once was. I am so glad I bought my house when I did because the housing marketing is extremely competitive and expected to increase 30% more by next year.

So loyalty for the millennials is not about wanting to leave a company but often times need. They may say you should never leave a job for money but with a highly competitive generation on the rise, when one finds out what one person with the same background is making, it can get interesting. And with a generation that shares information all the time, salary has become a non-taboo subject which will be interesting to see how this plays out amongst the other generations in the workforce who do not talk about salary openly.

Needless to say, I am excited to see what comes out of our discussion in the next few weeks. And the progress that my organization can make towards having the 4 generations working together to make an even more incredible organization that I am proud to work for.