THE POSITIVES OF THE CORONAVIRUS

In recent weeks these pictures, which I took at my local grocery store, have become an all to familiar sight. In addition to products being hoarded, unnecessarily I might add, there has been panic in the faces of shoppers. There have been stories of not business closing…but cities, states and entire countries closing up shop in hopes of containing this virus. There are scary numbers of infections and death numbers on our tv screens and the screens of our computers and phones everywhere. It is certainly a much different world than we are used to living in.

Myself, I am home with some sort of respiratory infection and unable to see a doctor because I am considered a ‘high risk’ person due to my asthma and heart issues. Rather frustrating and a tad scary I must admit. All of this news seems dire. Economic circles are forecasting doom and gloom. People are losing their jobs or at the very least having to make some severe adjustments. Even places where we go to escape from all of this madness such as taverns for some and houses of worship for others have closed.

All of this may have us thinking how terrible the world is at this moment. In some ways things have certainly taken a turn for the worse, but there are wonderful signs of hope and humanity everywhere you look. I would like to share a few items here that this crazy virus and the steps we have had to take to control it have brought to light. These stories I believe are proof that when the chips are down, humanity and goodness prevail.

One of the first major disruptions that occurred in this country was professional sports leagues calling it quits or suspending seasons. This, of course, was the smart and prudent decision to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. When this happened a lot of people were quick to lament their loss of entertainment. A few even pondered the loss of income for television stations and their advertising. Some wondered how it would affect the salary of professional athletes. Very few may have initially considered how it affected the workers at the arenas. The single parent who works the consession stand. The janitor who makes a living cleaning the arena after rowdy fans leave the building. Not only are they filled with fear over the disease, but many are left without a source of income.

Here in the city I live in we have a professional basketball team called The Milwaukee Bucks. On that team we have a star player Giannis Antetokounmpo. That is him pictured above. Yes, he is out of work it would seem for the moment as well. Let us say I do not he has to worry about how to pay bills or day care for his new child. What he did realize is that the workers of the arena still did. He personally donated $100,000 to help pay their salaries during the work shortage. The team as a whole said they would match players donations to do the same. I think this serves as a great example of people paying back a community that allows them to earn a living.

Add to this things local businesses are doing. I have heard of distilleries making hand sanitizer and giving it away. I have heard of extra donations to local food pantries and people waiting in line at the local humane society to foster animals during this time. Two stories I think that really stand out to me are stores, such as Sendik’s Food Market here locally, as well as others, setting aside certain hours for seniors and those who may be high risk to do their shopping. I have also received many emails from businesses from restaurants to movie theaters keeping me posted on everything that is going on in their business. One that stood out is Meijer. They mentioned doing their best to stay open 24 hours to make sure those who need supplies can get them. They also mentioned the steps they are going to take to make sure their stores are safe and clean. Then they mentioned things, we as customers can do to help, such as avoiding panic buying and hoarding. Do you really need 50 rolls of toilet paper? I sure hope not. One thing they mentioned that many businesses did not is acknowledging the role their employees play and the risk they put themselves in just to make sure the rest of us can buy what we need. I thought that was really cool. They also encouraged people to compliment and be patient with their workers. From everything I saw grocery shopping this past weekend, I would have to agree. As a bonus, they pledged to donate $2.2 million to more than 400 food banks. That makes me want to shop there more! (Margie is actually there as I write this)

I am sure there are many more examples of people helping people. I have heard in Italy, neighbors began singing together from their porches. Being that we are the only house on the block and that my singing would probably not lift anyone’s spirits, I may pass on that one. I would love to hear what positive things you have heard of or are doing in what has become a dark time for a lot of us. Do not only share them in the comments here, but please share your ideas on social media and with family and friends. If ever inspiration and positivity were needed it is at a time like this!

FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR LIFE IN 30 DAYS (IDEA #1)

We begin this series with an idea that came to me as we were doing our 30-day Gratitude challenge. This idea will take a small amount of work, but the return on your effort will bring you closer relationships, happiness and a surprising amount of good fortune. I promised these ideas will be quick and simple but will have a big impact in your life and this first one is a great example.

Out of all the areas of our life, our relationships with others have the biggest impact on our life. It can be our greatest source of joy if we take care of our relationships. It can also be the biggest area of stress and sadness if we do not take care of them. Today’s idea will make sure in about 5 minutes a day we will breathe new life into every relationship we have. We will do so by increasing the closeness in that relationship and make the other party feel great about themselves. By the end of 30 days we will have a group of friends that are closer than ever and it will only take 5 minutes of effort a day on our part.

Does this sound like an impossible task? It is easier than you think and the results will surprise you. Let me off a word of encouragement and instruction as we begin. If you forget to do the exercise on a particular day, fear not. You can either do two the next day or extend the 30 days an extra day. We all forget or have tough days. If you do have a tough day, spending 5 minutes doing this exercise may help turn that day around. Now that we have covered the paramters, let us get into what we will be doing in these 30 days.

Before your 30 days are set to begin, there are a few things you will need to get ready. Go to your local store (Walmart, Meijer, Kroger or any other store will do) and pick up a box or two of thank you cards. These cards do not need to be fancy. Then compile a list of those people in your life who mean a lot to you. You will not need all 30 in order to start. Just a few will do. In this world of Facebook and email, it may surprise you how few addresses of your friends you know. If you do not have their address, just ask. Tell them you are going to send them a little something. Some people may need reassurance you are not going to sell them anything or put their name on a mailing list. This has nothing to do with either of those things.

Perhaps you have put together what we are about to do. Every evening you are going to write out one card thanking a person for what they bring into your life. You will address it and drop it in the mail the following morning. It is true we can do this via messanger, text or email, but in a world where those are all too common, an actual letter will help you stand out.

Instead of the usual bills and advertisement that we recieve in the mail, imagine opening a simple thank you card letting you know you are appreciated and why. How would that affect your day? How would it change your feelings towards the person who sent it to you? Now multiply that times 30 people, imagine the impact that would have on your life. This does not have to be limited to friends and family. You could send a thank you card to the staff at the local coffee shop you write at. You could send one to the teller at the bank that always provides service with a smile. You could pass a card to a coworker that makes your days on the job a little more bearable. The possibilities are endless.

At the end of 30 days you will have warmed the hearts of 30 people that share life with you. This will lead to 30 more smiles. It will help bring joy to 30 people when they think of you. It will help 30 different people understand they make a positive difference in the lives of others.

How do you think this will change your life? Your relaltionships will improve. Strangers will become friends. Friends will become like brothers. By taking merely 3 to 5 minutes to write a simple thank you card and listing some of the reasons you appreciate them, it will affect their lives and yours positively. I look forward to hearing who you send cards to and how it impacts their life and yours.

Tomorrow we will look at a way to magically transform your most important relationship in a mere 30 days.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING 🙂

EARNING MY BUSINESS


In several industries with the blur of different options it can be hard to see a difference. That holds quite true in the grocery industry. In my city alone there are giants such as Walmart, Meijer and a version of Kroger. In bigger box stores such as these, speed and cost cutting seem to be the focus. Customer service tends to be an afterthought, if even a thought at all. The Walmart in my neighborhood has me thinking they are doing their best to push people out of their stores with their service. There was one moment I recall where items in a locked cabinet were all facing backwards making it impossible to see what they were. When I brought this to a managers attention her answer was, “It makes it easier for us to do inventory.” In other words, they knew the customers were not able to see the products and that was ok.

Purchasing items such as books, media and other such items has largely switched to an online affair. I must confess to ordering a good deal of stuff off Amazon myself. The advantage here is there is little or no option for bad customer service, the prices are more reasonable and you don’t even have to leave the house. During a Wisconsin winter this can be worth its weight in gold. There is this great book on happiness you can order to make your winter a little brighter as well.

That is why the 2 experiences I am about to share with you stand out so much. The first is one I had at a local grocery store. I had looked for a seasonal surprise at some of the larger grocery stores in town, but they did not have what I was looking for. It was suggested that I try Rupena’s. A small, independent grocery store located not far from my house in West Allis. When I entered the store I was greeted right away and asked how I was doing. After replying that I was living the dream, the conversation continued with some discussion of gratitude and an inquiry as to what I was looking for. I was directed to the section of the store where the product could be found. Sadly, they were sold out by this time of the evening. The lady in that department offered me samples of other products that might interest me. Then, finding some other items in passing I returned to check out with the lady who greeted me. She asked if I found what I was looking for and apologized I had not. She also gave me other suggestions and shared some humor with me.

A few days later, I decided to use a gift card I had received for Barnes and Noble. While there a friendly young lady in a giraffe shirt saw I was looking lost and asked if she could help. I told her the book I was looking for and she looked it up and then lead me to it. On a side note, it happened to be right next to my book on the shelf which felt kind of cool. Then when I went to pay for my books, the lady at the cash register joked with me and her coworkers as the transaction continued. I left happy with my purchased as well as entertained.

In both of these examples I left with something more – a desire to return. Great customer service is something that will never go out of style. From the small grocery store a mere 10 blocks from my house, to the brick and mortar book store, there is opportunity to retain and gain customers. The price point might be a little higher, and it does require leaving the house, but the opportunity to be treated to a little extra humor and good service is priceless.

WHEN LIFE IS A PILE OF…

This is an emoji of… well… a pile of poo. This is insanely popular for some reason. Margie has even received several orders for cupcakes in this design. I am using it for when our life feels just like a pile of poo. Your car breaks down, a relationship ends, you lose your job or even worse, you lose someone you love. Sometimes the poo really adds up in a hurry. At this point, life really starts to stink, both literally and figuratively.

We all have these periods. Even though it may not seem like anybody is having a worse time than we are, there are people out there who have it worse. Certainly not what we want to hear when the poo hits the fan in our life, or even worse, when we feel like the fan. However, a change in perspective can give us pause to think. So, your car broke down? There are people who cannot even afford a car, much less repairs. There are people, lots of them in fact, who have to walk miles every day for clean drinking water. It was Gandhi who said, “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” No matter how dire our situation, there is always something to be grateful for. Your relationship ended or someone you loved passed away? Remember they say It is better to have lost in love, than never to have loved at all. There are people who never find that special someone to love. There are people who never have their parents in their lives. Be grateful for every day you experience love. Even if that love changes it does not mean it has to stop. Try finding just one thing to be grateful for. It will lead you to find another and then another.

Even if you are having trouble finding something to be grateful for, you can still use the poo in your life. How on earth do you use poo in life? Here we are obviously speaking in metaphors, but using a literal comparison can help. We are talking about poo situations in our life as we discussed above, but we can use the same logic as we do for the organic matter itself. I do not recall if it was Meijer, Walmart or somewhere completely different, but I found myself strolling through the garden center fantasizing that I had the ability to grow things when what did I see? Poo! bags and bags of the stuff. Ok, here it was called manure and did not have an emoji on it, but the contents was the same.

That is when the light bulb went on. If we literally use poo to grow stuff in our gardens, why do we not use it for growth in our lives as well? Just like our last post when we discussed failure, if we just dwell on the poo in our lives it would be like sitting in that manure. Just try and picture sitting in a pile of manure and complaining how awful it is. If you were to plant a few seeds in that manure instead of just complaining about it what may happen? You would grow new and wonderful things! Things that would smell far better than the poo itself.

What does that all have to do with our lives when they seem…well..in the toilet? Plenty! If a relationship fails, you can use what went wrong to improve your future relationships. If you did something that brought about the end of the relationship, do not do that thing again. Maybe you were just connected to the wrong person. Going forward be aware that you may wish to start a relationship with someone more aligned with your goals and values.

Did you lose your job? Use that to brush up on your interviewing skills. Perhaps you should consider going back to school? Maybe taking that time to finish the book you have always wanted to write? When you start looking for a new job, apply in a field you enjoy and not the one that just pays the most. In that way the loss of a job can serve as the growth of a new and more rewarding career!

Did you lose someone you love? That is always hard and very painful. If you find yourself sad a great deal of the time, remember that is ok. If your heart feels broken, that just meant it has loved. Be grateful for all of the moments you shared with that person. I have an article coming out next month on this very subject. I can tell you one of the best ways to ease burden of loss is to try and replace some of the light that person brought to the world. Did your grandmother always make people feel welcome? Then you should do that. Did your brother have a great sense of humor? Then focus on bringing laughter into the lives of others. Another emotion that comes up when we lose someone we care deeply for, and I speak from experience, is regret. We find ourselves uttering the all too common phrases “I would’ve/I should’ve/I could’ve” Use this to motivate yourself to live in the moment and put all your love and effort into the relationships you have now. That person may be gone, but they can certainly help you make the most of those you love that are still with you.

Use the poo in your life my friends. Just like the manure in the garden center, use the poo situations in your life as fertilizer to grow new and wonderful things. Pain and challenge can be one of the best catalysts for growth.

THE EASIEST WAY TO DECREASE NEGATIVITY IS INCREASE POSITIVITY

THE ESSENTIAL KEYS TO SUCCESS KEY #2

One of the things I am asked the most is “How can I quickly change my life?” Such a tricky question because your life up to this point has taken years to develop. Still, I understand we live in that nanosecond world where we expect change instantly. It is with this understanding that I have distilled my essential keys to success. These represent the pillars that most of my teachings are based on. Each one is a powerful belief that you can adapt into your life that will have a profound effect.

Trying to eliminate negative things from our life can be so difficult. Getting rid of that extra weight, getting rid of that addiction, and of course removing negative people from our lives. The problem is with the act of getting rid of something. Our brains are hard-wired against depriving ourselves. It is actually a survival mechanism. Consider it like an anti-starvation method.

This information makes for good trivia, but amounts to little unless we can find a way to use it. That brings us to the second key to success, the easiest way to decrease the negativity in our lives is to increase the positivity. In short, add something positive. One of the areas this is most useful, but certainly not the only one, is our social media. We all have that one person who sent us a friend request and we accepted with complete ignorance to the amount of drama or negativity that they bring with them. Sure, we could eliminate them, but that may only bring more drama especially if it is someone we see on a regular basis. I am specifically thinking of family and coworkers. There is usually an option to ‘hide’ the information we are exposed to from them. If we do this you know aunt Betty will ask if we have seen pictures of her latest medical procedure. It would seem this is a lose/lose situation, but there is a solution!

Increase your positivity. While you are on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site you use, search words like motivation, inspiration, happiness or even any subject you are interested in from fly fishing to makeup. Then, in addition to the usual political bickering and personal drama your page will be filled with inspiring quotes, subjects (or people) you are interested in and a host of other fabulous things. It will not only make dealing with the negative a lot easier, but also bring some joy to your day as well.

This works in many other fields as well. Trying to eat healthier? Try adding one healthy meal or snack a day. Notice the difference in how you feel. It will also fill you up so you may be less likely to have another tasty doughnut from Meijer. It works fairly well for that last one, trust me. Trying to get more physically fit? Try going for a walk after dinner. Maybe add a weekly bike ride. This will not only get the muscles stimulated you may find you enjoy it so much you will want to build upon it.

The takeaway is to add instead of fight against. It makes it easier to succeed and requires a lot less will.

WHY I SHOP AT MEIJER MORE AND WALMART LESS

Here is a picture of the new Meijer store that opened not far from my house. For years my lady and I shopped at Walmart. Mostly because we are DJs and it is open 24 hours a day, has very reasonable prices and a pretty good selection. 

So then Meijer opens up. They are closer to home, also have a wide selection and are open 24 hours for our convenience. Although their prices are slightly higher, I prefer to shop there. Why? Is it because it is closer to my house? That’s convenient, but not the reason. Is it because it has a Starbucks inside? Fun, but again not the reason. 

These stores, although seem similar, have one major difference. This point was driven home to me today in my recent shipping trip when I returned to Walmart for something. 

When you enter the Meijer store, like Walmart there is a greeter. At Meijer they greet you and ask if you would enjoy a copy of the latest sales flyer. Every employee you run into says “hello” and a few even ask if you need help finding something. 

When we used to shop at Walmart the customer service there was so poor that is became the subject of many jokes. Cashiers not only skip any greeting or conversation, but quite often any eye contact as well. Employees can be found huddled around the front door smoking and using language that would make a sailor blush. On my most recent trip I saw roughly 20 employees. Cashiers, people stocking and even a ‘greeter’ at least in title, not actual action. None of the employees spoke a word to me and only one out of the entire group managed a smile. 

Now I am not putting down employees of Walmart in general, or even the ones at this store. What I am questioning is what certain corporations make a priority. Perhaps the powers that be at Walmart assume people will go there whether their people are friendly or not as long as the prices are low. Which could probably be true in several cases. Maybe they don’t focus enough on the well-being of their employees to keep them smiling? Whatever the answer may be, today was a stark reminder as to why I  will continue to spend my hard earned dollars (even if it happens to end up to be a few more) at Meijer. Dignity, happiness and respect are free, but to me they are more valuable than any roll back at the store founded by  Sam Walton.