Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Celebrating Small Business in Canada

This week we celebrate small businesses in Canada during Small Business Week!

To show our appreciation for entrepreneurship, we’re offering dollar business incorporations on October 22nd and 23rd. Incorporate for only one dollar to save your business time and money by letting us do the paperwork for you!

Small businesses create thousands of jobs every year and employ over 7 million people nationwide, making them essential to a strong economy. Incorporating your small business gives you the peace of mind of limited liability and perpetual existence, and the credibility that comes with the incorporation status.

Take advantage of this incredible deal we’re offering for only two days!

Incorporate your business for only $1 by using the promotional code CC1INC14 in your shopping cart before placing your order.*

*Plus government fees and optional products and services. Non-profit incorporation is not included in this offer.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Restoring your attention span

The rapid march of technology in our times is truly remarkable, and shows no sign of abetting. Smart phones exemplify this trend: over the past decade they have become as ubiquitous as credit cards—even the majority of schoolchildren in our society seem to own one. In fact, the presence of smart phones in our lives has become so prominent, that many of us strain to recall how we managed to function with landlines and dial-up internet just fifteen years ago.

While the advantages of this development are clear—extraordinary connectivity with the people in our lives, and an unprecedented repository of knowledge at our fingertips—the pitfalls are less frequently acknowledged. (Leave aside, for the moment, the capacity for governments to track their citizens’ movements and communications as never before.) A growing body of research suggests that one pernicious effect of the newfangled gadgets has been a diminution of the average person’s attention span. In other words, as the number of visual and auditory stimuli in our environment increases, our ability to concentrate on one single element of our surroundings tends to suffer. This can put a serious damper on both our productivity, and our ability to think deeply about things.

To enhance and regain your concentration, try the following:

Remove clutter and distractions. If you face an important task that you anticipate will require your undivided attention for an extended period of time, remove as many of the unneeded stimuli from your environment as possible—particularly those which tend to distract you. Switch off your phone temporarily, close unnecessary windows on your computer desktop, and remove superfluous items from your workspace. This requires a bit of discipline, but the effort is usually worth it.

 Ambient sound. This is not a recommendation that necessarily applies to everyone. Some people are best able to concentrate in silence, others find that a bit of music or bustle (as in a coffee shop) actually enhances their productivity.

 Go for a walk, jog, or bike ride. A bit of light exercise in advance to tackling a demanding task will facilitate the flow of oxygen to your brain, and induce the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine—both of which will, among other benefits, help you concentrate. A brief stroll has the added advantage of giving you time to collect your thoughts, and temporarily remove yourself from sources of stress in your work environment.

Make time for sleep. It may seem obvious, but too many people with demanding schedules tend to sacrifice sleep on the altar of progress. Now that the aforementioned smart phones have afforded us the ability to communicate with each other anywhere, anytime, and through a variety of channels, the temptation to forgo sleep is particularly acute. However, remember that fatigue will invariably detract from your productivity the following day—while a chronic lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on your health, quality of life, and career longevity. Set firm ground rules for yourself and your co-workers: if they e-mail you at 1:45 a.m., they shouldn’t expect a reply before morning.

Keep healthy snacks on hand. The contribution of proper nourishment to your ability to concentrate is significant. Fruit, granola bars, yogourt, and nuts are preferable to sugary items like doughnuts, candies, and milk chocolate. Eschew sugary drinks like pop and from-concentrate juices, and aim to limit your coffee/caffeine consumption to no more than a cup or two per day. (See Make time for sleep, above.) Less caffeine generally translates into fewer trips to the bathroom and more time for productive effort.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Emotional Intelligence: Another Kind of Smart

In addition to integrity and resoluteness in decision-making, great leaders often possess an intangible knack for mobilizing people of disparate backgrounds, personalities, and values toward common goals—maximizing the potential of the team.

How do they do it?

Over the past three decades, researchers have identified emotional intelligence as a crucial component of professional success, self-actualization, and exemplary leadership.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, sometimes abbreviated as EI or EQ, is a term that first appeared in the 1980s, and came into popular usage after a 1990 essay by social psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. EI encompasses motivation, emotional self-management, and the capacity to ascertain and appropriately respond to the feelings of others.

In business, EI has numerous practical applications: for example, knowing how and when to ask for a raise; expressing one’s own thoughts, feelings, and ambitions in a tactful and effective manner; soliciting and evaluating input from colleagues; managing stress, both personal and environmental; boosting morale; and avoiding procrastination.

People with higher EI scores tend to have a competitive edge

Studies indicate that, on average, individuals with higher EI scores enjoy higher salaries, and in some areas, can even outperform rivals with higher intelligence quotients (IQs) than themselves.

Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman has noted that people with higher EI are also perceived differently by those with whom they interact. Prospective clients and partners prefer to do business with professionals they like and trust, and subjective likability and trustworthiness both correlate to EI.

It’s possible to both measure and modify EI

A quick internet search will yield a series of EI tests, ranging in length and complexity. A simple one can be found here. Your results should give you a rough idea of where your own strengths and weaknesses lie.

Although EI is partly a function of innate features like personality and genetics, many experts agree that EI can be more readily modified than IQ.

How to improve your EI

One key component of EI is emotional self-awareness: the ability to identify one’s own feelings, the physical reaction that attends them, and the precise reason for that sentiment.

You may find that it helps to keep an emotional journal. Write down the thoughts that occur to you and the physical sensations you associate with particular emotions. Note that certain emotional states tend to trigger the same physical response consistently; for example, stress often leads to shallow breathing, tense muscles, and an elevated heart rate.

By recognizing and addressing these physical symptoms (through breathing exercises, for instance), you will increase your chances of managing intense emotions and their impact on you.

A few other tips:

   Daily meditation can help immensely in dealing with anxiety, anger, and negative thoughts, and empower you with mental techniques for dealing with them.

   Listen: Give others your undivided attention, allow them to finish what they’re saying, and leave time for them to think and respond to your statements. Pay particular attention to body language. Ask clarifying questions—your goal should be to attain as complete an understanding of your interlocutor’s ideas and point of view as possible.

   Figure out exactly what you want, then decide how best to articulate it, and why it is important to you. Know how to ask for something: I’d like...please.”

   Empathize: How would you feel if you were in someone else’s position? Reflect on instances in which you felt you behaved empathically, and others in which you believe you could have done better.

   However, don’t ruminate excessively over your past shortcomings—after all, the past is beyond your control. Acknowledge your errors, try to make amends to the people you feel you’ve wronged, and commit to avoiding similar mistakes in the future.

   Respect and openness: Encourage others to share their thoughts and concerns. Emphasize that open, honest, respectful dialogue is an important component of the professional atmosphere you hope to cultivate.

   Stop procrastinating. If you find a task difficult, unpleasant, or time-consuming, break it up into smaller parts. Create a to-do list, and remove unnecessary distractions from your work space. Try the Pomodoro technique: 25 minutes of work, interspersed with short breaks of about five minutes. If you’re the type who thrives on time pressure, but would prefer to finish a project well in advance, impose (in writing) a deadline on yourself, and stick to it.

Nearly everyone would benefit from better EI, especially those with leadership aspirations. Put some effort into improving your EI, and the results may pleasantly surprise you.