Month: April 2016

Top Celebrity Eyewear Trends

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Eyewear remains one of the most practical and versatile accessories fashion-savvy folks can use to complement an outfit, or to show off a super sense of style. The world of eyewear is constantly expanding and becoming infinitely imaginative—creating more interesting options than ever before.

As more eyewear designs become available, people can make whatever statement they’d like with their choice of glasses, and as usual, the celebrities are leading the way with the latest fashions.

Below are some eyewear styles currently being spotted on fashion’s favorite celebrity trendsetters:

 

1. Aviator Frames—

Long considered a classic by eyewear aficionados, aviator frames never really went out of style, but they are back in a big way this year.

Recently seen on popular celebrities like David Beckham, Mila Kunis, Kate Hudson, and Halle Berry, aviators have been culturally popular for decades, and give the wearer an authoritative, strong look that appeals to anyone’s inner tough guy or gal.

 

2. Round Frames—

First made popular in the 1960s, the retro goodness of round eyeglasses and sunglasses wandered back onto the runways this year when featured during the shows of Jil Sander, Holly Fulton and more.

While not flattering for all face shapes, round frames come in many different styles, sizes and colors, such as the round, oversized sunglasses sometimes worn by Miley Cyrus, so be sure try on a variety before selecting the perfect pair.

 

3. Oddly-Shaped Frames—

They might look like they were designed by a visitor from the future, but the geometrically groovy, funky frames you’re seeing on stars like Justin Bieber are absolutely in style right now.

Fendi and Versace brought out two-toned, angled frames in unique colors to complement their clothing lines this year, while artistic designers like Kristen Ferrell took the eclectic look a step further with apple-shaped frames and round daisy sunglasses.

 

4. Cat Eye Frames—

Ever since the 1950s, nothing screams “sexy librarian” like a pair of cat eye glasses—just add up-do hairstyle and elegant, form-fitting skirt suit.

Celebs like Nicole Ritchie, Diane Kruger, and Scarlett Johansson have all been spotted sporting this intriguing blend of smart and suggestive, in both the sharply elegant original design and a softer 1980s version of this kittenish style.

 

5. Wayfarer-Style Frames—

In keeping with the retro trend in eyewear, Wayfarer-style frames are being offered by many designers of eyewear, bringing back this design first manufactured by the Ray Ban Company in 1956.

After declining in the 1990s, this style has drifted back into popularity, with stars like Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry and Jessica Biel all aboard the newly-launched Wayfarer ship, sailing onto the pages of fashion magazines in this classic eyewear.

 

6. Brightly-Colored or Interesting Frames—

Whether neon and loud, like the hot pink sunglasses recently worn by Gwen Stefani, or pretty and pastel, like Anne Hathaway’s quietly feminine frames, eyewear is currently available in a large variety of hues.

In addition to embracing color, some designers are offering embellished frames, or patterns in wild prints like lace, swirls and plaid.

 

7. Safety Frames—

The wrap-around design of protective glasses generally created to shield eyes from harm has worked its way to the runways, featured in the collections of designers like Michael Kors and Tracy Reese.

Lady Gaga has popularized the look, along with Paris Hilton and Denise Richards, all spotted in versions of the latest sporty, safety-inspired eyewear.

 

If you’re seeking daily vision correction, sun protection, or simply a bit of style, eyewear design can add a touch of originality, or completely change the vibe of an outfit.

Use the celebrity eyewear trends above as a guide to find your favorite latest looks, choose the one that suits you best, and wear your fabulous new frames with pride.

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7 Surprising Reasons to Stop Smoking Cigarettes

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Thanks to research, education and advertising, most people are aware that smoking cigarettes can lead to heart disease and lung cancer.

But did you know there are many other less-publicized benefits to kicking the addiction to cigarettes, besides the obvious improvement in lung quality and heart health?

Below are 7 reasons to quit smoking that might surprise you:

 

1. Vanity—

We can’t see the damage being done by cigarettes inside of our bodies, but perhaps the realization that smoking causes wrinkles and dark under-eye circles will give smokers the motivation to quit. The premature aging and skin damage caused by smoking can be easily viewed by looking into a mirror.

In addition to wrinkling the face by reducing the skin’s elasticity, smoking has also been shown to contribute to the sagging of breast tissue. On the positive side, once you quit smoking, this process stops, with skin quality improving soon thereafter.

 

2. Breast Cancer—

Speaking of breast tissue, researchers are now finding that smoking plays a bigger role in the development of breast cancer than previously realized.

The National Cancer Institute has announced that women who’ve smoked have a 30% greater risk of breast cancer than those who have never smoked.

 

3. Blindness—

Age-related macular degeneration is a genetic and progressive condition that leads to the loss of central vision. It has recently been determined that smoking increases the chances of age-related macular degeneration, making smokers four times more likely to eventually become blind than non-smokers.

On the positive side, quitting immediately lowers this risk, making dropping the cigarette habit a great idea, especially if macular degeneration runs in the family.

 

4. Impotence—

Yes, smoking can affect sexual desire and performance, lowering the sex drives of both women and men, and leading to impotence in males.

Men who smoke have been shown in studies to have a 60% higher erectile dysfunction rate than non-smoking men. This is because nicotine constricts blood vessels and impairs blood flow, which directly affects the ability to achieve and maintain an erection.

While this can cause permanent damage, the vascular system may heal over time, and many patients find that after cessation of smoking, blood flow increases immediately.

 

5. Depression—

Smoking can make you sad. This goes against what is commonly believed because nicotine is a stimulant, which we generally associate with mood and energy elevation. But despite their stimulant status, smoking can lead to depression and anxiety disorders.

A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that smokers were twice as likely to suffer from depression as non-smokers. So if you’re hanging onto this unhealthy habit because you think it makes you happy, give life without cigarettes a try—it may boost your spirits.

 

6. Lupus—

A painful autoimmune disease that can cause tissue damage via inflammation, lupus is exacerbated by the negative health effects of smoking.

Smokers have been also been shown in studies to have a slightly increased risk of developing lupus, but fortunately, this risk disappears once they stop smoking.

 

7. Heartburn—

Often, food and drink are blamed for acid reflux disease, but research has proven that smoking drastically increases the occurrence and severity of heartburn.

Those with acid reflux issues often also have esophagitis, which can be irritated by cigarette smoke, making heartburn more painful.

 

If you’re seeking the motivation to quit, maybe one of the lesser known ways that giving up cigarettes can improve your health, body and life you’ve learned about above will give you the push you need to stop smoking.

There are many tools available today to help people quit smoking, such as nicotine gum, nicotine patches, medications and eCigs that wean you off traditional cigarettes by replacing smoke with vapor. Talk to your doctor today about the best plan for you, and good luck on your journey to better health!

Top DIY Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing Tips

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Refinishing kitchen cabinets can be a great way to lower your remodeling costs, with the added bonus of being able to make them look exactly the way you want. There is also great peace of mind that comes with refinishing kitchen cabinets yourself, because you will always know the job was done well.

Below are 5 top DIY kitchen cabinet refinishing tips to help you stay organized, save money and do a professional-grade job:

 

1. Secure the Area—

Before you start refinishing, you’ll want to make sure you have a clean workspace, and spread a tarp beneath the area. This will prevent contamination of newly-finished surfaces, and protect the floors from paints and stains.

If you’re working outdoors or in a garage, you may want to tape down the tarp to prevent wind from lifting and spilling chemicals. If working indoors, open as many windows and consider setting up fans to promote ventilation.

 

2. Remove the Doors—

Your biceps will thank you if you take the doors off your kitchen cabinets before you work, as holding arms up in the air for extended periods of time can strain muscles, drastically reducing productivity.

Be sure to remove any hardware, handles and knobs from each cabinet before you start taking off the doors, and label the hardware in plastic bags with masking tape.

Also label each door and where it previously hung with corresponding numbers, because older cabinets can settle over time, making it important to put the puzzle pieces of your kitchen back together in order.

 

3. Perfectly Prepare Surfaces—

Whether you are painting or staining your kitchen cabinets, they will need to be stripped completely, with holes patched and surfaces sanded to the desired texture.

Before any sort of sanding or stripping, however, clean the cabinets thoroughly with a degreaser product to prevent sandpaper from pushing dirt into the grain of the wood, and make sure they’re completely dry before moving forward.

A chemical paint remover may be required to prepare the surface of the cabinets, so be sure to wear gloves, and don’t be afraid to use a putty knife to gently remove paint from the surfaces. You can sand down any small imperfections you create in the wood later.

 

4. Handling the Hardware—

If you are keeping the current hardware—the hinges, knobs, handles and pulls—now, while they’re disassembled and loose is a great time to give them a thorough cleaning because you can reach every crack and corner.

Soaking hardware in soapy water before you clean and polish it will help loosen grease and grime, making it easier to remove.

Buying new hardware, however, can add a brand new style to your kitchen—just take the old hardware along when you go shopping to make sure it’s compatible and will fit cabinet doors.

 

5. Take Your Time—

When a project is rushed—either DIY or professional—it is nearly always apparent when looking at the finished product whether it was done with care, or in a messy rush.

Take every stage slowly, and whether you’re cleaning, stripping, sanding, staining, sealing, lacquering or painting your kitchen cabinets, follow the instructions, give each process time to dry.

In short: However you decide to refinish your kitchen cabinets, be precise and do it right the first time so you’re not trying to fix ugly mistakes later.

 

Especially if you have an older house, and even if the style is out-of-date, the quality of your cabinets may be better than what you can afford new, as cabinets were built from sturdy wood back in the day. This means that if you can refinish your older cabinets to reflect your currently desired kitchen style, they should last a very long time.

Use the tips above to make the refinishing process go as smoothly and quickly as possible, and make your remodeling investment look amazing.

When Gain Makes Pain: 6 Ways Remove Lactic Acid Build-Up

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When we work out strenuously, our muscles compensate for lack of oxygen by producing lactate, a.k.a. lactic acid, which allows the muscles to utilize glucose for energy.

Once lactic acid is produced, it can remain in the muscles, causing pain and soreness that usually peaks between 24-72 hours after the vigorous workout. Unfortunately, anyone who has started working out again after a lapse in activity knows this feeling all too well.

But there are ways to clear lactic acid from the muscles faster, and below are 6 top recommended tips:

 

1. Wonderful Water—

Water is first on the list because it’s every athlete’s number one workout assistant. Not only will staying hydrated help anyone have a more energetic and productive workout, it will help all of the systems in the body designed to remove toxins work efficiently.

If you work out more than 60 minutes, consider adding electrolytes to your hydration regimen, because you’ll need to replace the sodium and potassium you’re losing as well.

Be sure to drink extra water the day after a rough workout to clear lactic acid from the system faster, and to help your body heal.

 

2. Top Temperature—

If you have the opportunity to warm up before you start exercising, this will help the muscles clear waste better during exertion.

Many people get on the treadmill, elliptical machine or stationary bike to heat up their body before moving onto more forceful or weight-bearing exercises.

In addition to preventing lactic acid build up, this can also reduce the chance of injury by preparing the muscles for pressure.

 

3. Nurturing Nutrition—

You made those muscles work hard and had a great training session, now pay them back for their performance with some healthy foods and nutrition.

You’ve got to give a powerful engine the fuel it needs to run strong, so eat vitamin-dense foods, amino acids and protein after you exercise, and go heavy on the Omega-3s, as this fatty acid has been found to help reduce inflammation.

 

4. Crucial Cooling—

Prevention is one of the best ways to avoid the next-day post-workout pain, and cooling down gently after a workout has been shown to help remove lactic acid from the muscles, allowing the exerciser to avoid this problem.

Cooling down can mean a casual stroll on the treadmill immediately after strength training, riding the stationary bike, or a mellow swimming session if your gym has a pool. Remember to take it slow, and allow your heart to gradually reach a resting rate.

 

5. Super Stretches—

After the post-workout cooling down exercise, it’s also a good idea to stretch to increase blood flow.

Stretching will help your body heal faster by increasing circulation, averting the pooling of blood and lactic acid in the muscles, and prevent the stiffening that can contribute to pain in the days to follow.

Stretching before a workout is also recommended to keep the body limber and prevent injuries caused by suddenly moving tight, cold muscles, and to prevent muscle waste build up.

 

6. Shocking Showers—

Although alternating between hot and cold showers seems like a system-shocking situation, many proponents of this approach swear it reduces the levels of lactic acid and prevents day-after muscle soreness.

To take a contrast shower, switch back and forth between cold for as long you can handle and then hot a few times.

 

Some fitness fans also swear by post-workout ice baths and massages, and some use the tips discussed above to avoid muscle pain and weakness. If lactic acid buildup is causing you discomfort, you might want to give these removal methods a try. You’ve got nothing to lose but muscle pain, and a faster recovery to potentially gain.

Living with ADHD: Tips to Help Your Child Succeed at School

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If you are parenting a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), then you know how exhausting it can be to stay on top of their performance in school, and to help their neurologically atypical brains retain information.

The educators at your child’s school can be your best supporters, and under Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, they are required to work with parents to meet the needs of children significantly affected by ADHD. This means you will need to set up a meeting about your child’s ADHD to find ways to help them learn.

Below are some accommodations and teaching tips used to help kids with ADHD achieve success in school:

 

1. Paint It Positive—

For the psychological well-being of your child, it’s extremely important that you don’t describe their condition in a negative manner, and instead present it to them in a positive way. (Example: “You have a really fast brain… like a race car!”) Remind them that everyone learns differently… and that’s okay.

Be sure teachers are also treating kids with ADHD as “quick-brained” kids who learn differently, and not isolating them from the other kids, so they don’t feel ostracized or flawed.

 

2. Praise is Powerful—

Kids with ADHD often suffer from low self-esteem because they feel like they’re constantly failing at the things all of the neurologically typical children around them can do.

This makes it crucial to give them positive reinforcement for appropriate classroom behavior whenever possible.

 

3. Accountability for Actions—

It is important that kids are not allowed to use ADHD as an excuse for bad classroom behavior.

Even if the impulse control commonly exhibited by kids with this condition caused them to do something without thinking, there still need to be clearly defined and consistent consequences.

 

4. Selective Seating—

With the high distractibility factor of ADHD-brained children comes the need for a learning environment with the least amount of external stimulation possible.

Seating by windows, doors, pencil sharpeners and other concentration-breakers is not recommended.

Placement as close to the teacher as possible, facing forward is best, but if the classroom is organized in groups or tables, be sure to seat them near a well-organized, obedient child to provide a positive behavioral role model.

 

5. Simplify Steps—

One of the hardest things for an ADHD-brained person to do is remember more than a few steps at once. Be sure to deliver instructions one at a time, and repeat if necessary.

Because they are so easily distracted (when not hyper-focused and ignoring all around them), those with ADHD neurology can have very limited short term memory, so adjust classroom lessons and homework accordingly.

 

6. Orderly Organization—

Kids with ADHD are known for being disorganized and forgetful due to their distractibility and impulsive nature, making it hard for them to think beyond the moment.

These qualities are caused by a developmental delay in the prefrontal cortex of the brain: the part that controls executive functions, such as impulse control and focus.

This means they will need help remembering what to take home and bring back to school, with plenty of parent-teacher communication. A written system to remember important work or due dates can help, as can a list posted in their locker to be checked before leaving school every day.

For older children, an extra set of all textbooks to be kept at home can help eliminate the issue of forgetting to bring books home for homework.

 

7. Remembering Routines—

Getting into a routine can be helpful for any child, but for the ADHD mind, routine is necessary for remembering important daily tasks. Forming regular habits can eventually train the brain to better recall what needs to be done every day.

In the classroom, giving the ADHD child a set schedule and sticking to it will help them feel less anxious about what is expected from them.

If this weekly routine can be written down for them to reference, it will help eliminate worries about forgetting something important.

 

Kids with ADHD have trouble sitting still, exhibit impulsive, distracting behavior, and have trouble focusing or paying attention; all of which can make them very difficult to teach.

But with up to 12% of the school-age population diagnosed with this condition, it’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there are many ways for you and their teachers to help your child thrive. With your help, and the support of professional educators, your ADHD-brained child will be able to find success at school.

No Drama, Mama: 5 Tips for Traveling with Kids

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Nobody wants to be the humiliated parent of the kid behaving badly on the plane, bus or train. But children can be dramatic and overly-emotional, quickly escalating minor issues into major meltdowns.

Even car trips contained to family-only can be a nightmare for all if one child is feeling surly, irritable or bored, turning what should be a fun car trip into a long and tedious “Are we there yet?” journey.

To help avoid this unpleasant situation, we’ve compiled 5 useful tips below to keep your kids engaged and happy during travel.

 

1. Entertainment is King—

When it comes to activities to keep children engaged and mentally stimulated, there is no such thing as over-packing. Bring books, games, cards, puzzles, art supplies, handheld video game devices with multiple sets of extra batteries, laptops, portable DVD players and anything else that might help.

If you can buy new items purchased specifically for the trip that kids haven’t yet seen, this is obviously a great way to add some extra amusement.

Not only will keeping kids entertained prevent them from growing bored and cranky, if they have moved into tantrum-mode for any reason, one of the things you’ve brought to entertain might be a great way to redirect them out of a fit.

 

2. Hungry Kids are Grumpy Kids—

Sometimes in the fast-paced schedule of travel, we don’t have time or forget to eat, but kids can’t wait for the final destination for food like adults sometimes have to: they need steady blood sugar levels.

To keep them from getting grouchy, pack plenty of snacks, including protein like nuts for long-term energy. Novel snacks they don’t normally have at home can help entertain as well as feed them.

If you’re road-tripping, keeping a cooler with healthy fruits, sandwiches and drinks in the trunk will also save you money on restaurant food.

 

3. Carry-Ons Count—

If traveling via plane, pack as light as you can to give yourself a break (you’re already dealing with children… you don’t need excessive luggage), and be sure to put a change of clothes for each child in your carry-on luggage, including toothbrushes and toothpaste for all.

Most importantly, include loveys, pacifiers, blankets, stuffed toys or irreplaceable items kids won’t be able to sleep without, just in case your checked baggage is lost.

In short: If you can’t buy it in a store upon reaching your destination, keep it in the carry-on. If a child won’t sleep without their teddy bear, nobody will be getting any sleep.

 

4. Hotel Wisely—

When making reservations, do your research and try to find kid-friendly hotels with free breakfasts, or those with restaurants nearby offering discounted or free meals for children.

Also, triple-check sleeping situations before you leave to ensure the hotel rooms you’ve booked have adequate arrangements waiting for your family, such as enough beds, or cots available if needed.

You’re going to be tired when you get where you’re going—and nobody wants to have to sleep on the floor because the hotel doesn’t have a suitable room available.

 

5. Be the Duck—

Unfortunately, other traveling passengers sometimes seem to have forgotten that they, too, were once emotionally immature kids, and unrealistically expect children to behave like tiny adults in public. This only places more pressure on parents, stressing them out until children feed off of this anxiety, making everything worse.

Like water off a duck’s back, let the judgmental stares roll off your psyche, and don’t let snide comments, heavy sighs or rolling-eyes from other people make you feel bad. The opinions of strangers lacking empathy shouldn’t matter to you.

Remember that most of the people around you who’ve parented a young child during a rough moment feel nothing but sympathy for you, and only wish they had a snack or a toy to offer.

 

We can’t take emotionally immature children and magically expect them to grow up during inconvenient moments, because we all had to learn to be the (usually) well-behaved adults we are while traveling. But we can find ways to distract, redirect and entertain our kids so they can be at their personal best… at least until we get to the privacy of our homes or hotel rooms.

Use the helpful tips above to make your time spent traveling with kids as drama-free and pleasant as possible.

A Musician’s Guide: Top Ways to Promote Your Original Music

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The music industry has been drastically transformed over the last decade, with the days of musicians struggling to get signed to music labels for promotion long gone, thanks to the Internet.

Self-promotion has never been easier, but with so many others also utilizing the marketing tools available, it’s still important to do everything possible to get noticed.

Below are 6 top ways to promote your original music and develop a large fan base.

 

1. Find Your Folks—

Before you start targeting your demographic, you need to figure out to whom your music appeals, and advertise accordingly. Pay attention to the types of people who appreciate your songs and come to your shows.

Don’t waste money and time promoting yourself in the wrong places, or playing shows in venues that don’t generally feature your genre. Instead, figure out your target audience and aim directly at them.

 

2. A Wonderful Website Works—

An interesting, catchy name will help people you meet remember your band—especially those with a few adult beverages in them—so don’t forget to apply the same principle to your band’s website.

Be sure to update your website frequently, with upcoming show/tour dates, music samples and a well-written blog with the latest news.

Fans also love to connect with their favorite musicians, so if you can offer a section below blogs in which you reply to comments, you will win major loyalty points.

 

3. Utilize Social Media—

Oh, what the bands of yore would have done for the golden opportunity to market music that social media now provides, so don’t waste the chance to reach thousands of people via the Internet.

A Facebook musician page is necessary, with frequent enough updates to keep fans interested, but not so many they become annoyed and hide or “unlike” your page.

A Twitter account can allow bands to remind fans of shows and recent news, and a music-sharing site (example: ReverbNation) can offer a place to showcase music and connect with other bands.

 

4. Be People Pleasers—

Music fans can be some of the most loyal and dedicated supporters on the planet, but you need to give them the chance to know you before they can love you.

Be sure to have a compelling bio written for the band (or solo musician) with plenty of detail, personality and charm, but keep it concise enough that it reads smoothly.

Musician photos—be they live, studio, or candid shots—will also help fans feel connected to their favorite musicians, so include plenty of pics on all websites and social media.

 

5. Manage Your Marketing—

If you’re playing a tour, or even a single show, don’t count on the promoter or the venue to advertise for your band. Surprisingly, even though they profit from a larger crowd, many bars and clubs don’t have the manpower, knowledge, or desire to make sure your upcoming gig is successful.

Make flyers to be put up around every area you’re going to be playing, and get them into the hands of someone who will make sure they’re distributed before your show.

Sometimes you can call the club and mail show flyers ahead to be posted, and some musicians have “street teams” of dedicated fans who get word out for them, which really helps.

 

6. Give a Little Bit—

While it’s important to make sure fans can buy your music online through your website, and other places like CD Baby and iTunes, be sure to allow them to hear or even download a few songs for free. If you’ve got the goods, your talent will sell itself.

Giveaways that include free music, T-shirts, stickers, water bottles, lighters and anything else you think fans might use are smart ways to get your name out there, and will brand you to potential new fans.

 

A little promotion can go a long way, so use the tips above to market your music to be seen, heard and appreciated by everyone who will like your songs. Your fans are out there; you just have to find them!

Employee Empowerment: How to Create Majorly Motivated Managers

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If you want to have a prosperous company, you’re going to need to assemble a group of self-motivated and talented managers to make your business a success. If your current team has potential it isn’t yet living up to, never fear; there are many ways you can train them to be the enthusiastic, ambitious and goal-driven leaders you seek.

Below are 6 tried and proven tips for creating majorly motivated managers who will represent your best interests and keep your business performing perfectly, even when you’re not there.

 

1. Have Clear Expectations—

Nobody can feel like they’re doing a good job at something if they don’t know what doing a good job means. Evaluations that involve job coaching rather than criticism are highly recommended to help employees achieve objectives.

Establishing clear performance expectations and allowing your managers to have input during the goal-setting process will empower them by making them feel like a part of the team.

 

2. Let Them Be a Fearless Leader—

Once clear goals and expectations for job performance have been established, let the people you’re training to be leaders do just that, and without anxiety.

The only way a bird learns to fly is by flapping its wings, so don’t make your employees fear failure with harsh consequences if goals aren’t met during the learning process. Push them out of the nest and into the big blue sky of management knowing it’s okay to fall down a few times.

 

3. Micromanagement is Demotivating—

Nothing says “I don’t think you can handle this job” like a boss who follows everyone around, constantly checking their work.

In addition to creating nervous employees who’re being judged for every step they take, micromanagement lowers morale by making adults feel like they’re being treated like children.

If you want to create a relationship based on trust and respect you have to let go of your controlling impulses and show your managers that you trust and respect them enough to perform well—even when you’re not watching.

 

4. Open Your Door and Mind—

Sometimes business owners can get so caught up in the responsibilities that come with being the boss, they can’t see the smaller things happening during day-to-day operations. But a well-trained and trusted manager can be the eyes and ears you don’t have the time to be if you let them.

Be open to managers, their concerns, and especially to any new ideas they might have about more efficient ways to run your operation. Companies evolve, making changes necessary along the way that can often boost profits.

An open mind and consideration for suggestions your employees bring to the table will empower them by making it clear you value their opinions.

 

5. Encouragement is Excellent—

Everyone likes to receive feedback and praise for a job well done, no matter how confident they may be.

Be sure to let employees and management know how much you appreciate their hard work, and give specific examples of positive performances. It may seem like a small thing to do, but a little bit of encouragement from the boss can greatly raise overall morale.

Bonuses and other financial incentive programs with clearly defined goals to be met can be huge motivators. Nothing motivates like money, so if you’re making extra because your managers are amazing, share the wealth.

 

6. Power to the People—

Once they’re trained and you’ve established trust in their abilities to lead, step back and allow managers to make important decisions on their own.

By giving them the freedom to exercise their management muscle without approval required for every little thing from the boss, you will not only empower them, you will create less work for yourself.

If there is an area in which you’d like to retain all control, simply set boundaries before granting permission to make decisions without clearance in other areas.

 

When you create an environment that allows employees to feel like they’re a valued part of something bigger than themselves, they feel empowered, work harder, and everybody wins. Use the employee empowerment tips above to create committed, progressive managers who will help make your business a thriving success.

Practical and Promotional: 7 Best Business Branding Products

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Everybody likes to get something for nothing, which makes using promotional items to publicize and brand your business a brilliant marketing move. Whether you have a trade show coming up, or just want to reward loyal customers while potentially finding new ones, giving away free gifts with your company’s logo can really pay off.

When selecting products to use for advertising, it’s important to think about your target demographic to determine which types of promotional items they will use, and how often. But there are also many products universally used by people that are a safe and smart choice for those seeking promotion.

Below are the 7 best business branding products to consider that are practical as well as promotional:  

 

1. Water Bottles—

Considering that humans need it to live, anything that carries water around for us is a useful and popular promotional item that can get your company’s name into offices, out on errands and into gyms.

Be sure to take advantage of the large advertising area allowed by a sports bottle or tumbler cup by including your business logo, physical address and website, if possible.

 

2. Computer Dusters—

Specially made to be fuzzy and computer screen-safe on one side, computer dusters with your company’s information printed on the top are a great way to make sure your product receives real-world use.

Especially if your target demographic involves personal computer users, or those who work in an office setting where they stare at a screen all day, a computer duster will be appreciated on a regular basis.

 

3. Docking Stations—

Everyone has cellphones and other small electronics that need charging, making a docking station a highly helpful promotional item.

The fact that people tend to keep chargers in the same spot might give your company’s logo a permanent prime real estate spot on the desk in an office full of people, potentially exposing your business brand to many.

 

4. Lunch Coolers—

A large number of people save money by bringing their lunch to work from home, and if you give them a great cooler with which to do this, you’ll be getting your name out there on a daily basis.

If your target demographic involves sports fans, consider giving away larger sport coolers that hold multiple cans and bottles, with your company’s logo proudly adorning the outside for all to see.

 

5. Business Cases—

Especially if your company serves those who work in the world of business where laptops and travel are essential, giving away computer cases and messenger bags might really get your name out into the world.

In addition to using business cases, computer and messenger bags as free giveaways for clients, these types of items can make excellent employee morale-boosters while branding your business everywhere your people take them.

 

6. T-Shirts—

A promotional item classic, there is no denying the practicality or advertising power of a T-shirt. A T-shirt with your business logo, information, and a clever slogan can spark conversations amongst friends and strangers that may lead to new business.

Be sure to order high-quality T-shirts that are mostly cotton so they will actually be worn, and if you’re located in a colder climate, consider jackets with your logo for higher public visibility.

 

7. Tote Bags—

Everyone goes shopping, and placing your company’s name on the side of an eco-friendly tote bag will get it out into the general population to be seen by lots of people.

The most practical version of this promotional item would be one large enough for grocery shopping.

 

Popular because they’ve been proven to increase name recognition and create new clientele for companies who utilize this powerful marketing tool, promotional items can really help to brand a business. Consider using some of the popular and practical promotional products above, or any others you think might help your company become well-known and successful.

Have a Great Flight: 8 Awesome Aviation Apps

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Datalink enhanced communication and surveillance technology previously available mainly for large aircraft is rapidly growing, opening up a well-connected aviation infrastructure that benefits aircraft of all sizes.

Whether you pilot large jets, helicopters, small airplanes, or work in the aviation industry, there are many apps available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android that can help you figure out the safest and most efficient flight plans possible.

 

Below are 8 aviation apps to assist pilots, instructors and anyone who frequently flies:

 

1. FlightDeck 360 (iPad)—

Created for SatCom Direct datalink customers, the FlightDeck 360 app gives access to Digital ATIS, while offering technical support and the ability to map out all flight plans.

Even smaller aircraft can view real-time flight data and monitor the cabin from the cockpit. This useful app also provides on-ground tracking of aircraft takeoff, air position and landing to help dispatchers keep the airways safe.

 

2. CloudAhoy (iPad, iPhone)—

This app is especially handy for flight schools and private aviators, capturing every flight path to allow for analyzing of flights via cockpit video, satellite images, map, or charts.

All flight data is automatically archived by the CloudAhoy app, but users have the option of sharing flights with friends, and can even post flights on Facebook if they choose.

 

3. Spin-a-Wind (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android)—

Wind plays a large role in the assessment process of every pilot, making this an extremely helpful app for calculating crosswind, tailwind and headwind factors currently affecting the runway.

Spinning wheels are used to make selections, giving Spin-a-Wind its name, but this handy app also offers altitude calculations to keep you flying smoothly, and temperature calculations such as humidity, heat index and wind chill.

 

4. ForeFlight Mobile (iPad, iPhone)—

Offering detailed weather maps and airport information, the ForeFlight Mobile app was created with pilots in mind, and includes approaches, departures and arrivals for all U.S. and Canadian IFR systems.

ForeFlight Mobile app data includes en-route charts and cleared ATC routes. This app also details current weather conditions, and can eliminate the need for paper charts with flight plan filing and storage via iPad.

 

5. FAR/AIM (iPad, iPhone)—

In addition to being aware of flight paths and weather conditions, all aviation professionals need to know FAA rules, making this app detailing Federal Aviation Regulations a useful guide to have around for quick reference.

With regular updates and a user-friendly, searchable index, the FAR/AIM app allows pilots of small or large aircraft, engineers and instructors to quickly access the rules and regulations that apply to their particular operations.

 

6. Intellipilot (Android)—

The Intellipilot app can help serve as a log book for pilots, helping them stay organized and eliminating paper clutter. With the ability to document flight/crew information and aircraft/airport details, this app also includes 10,000+ airport codes.

Users may also connect to the Internet to send files to an email address for safe documentation and recordkeeping.

 

7. WingX (Android)—

The WingX app offers up-to-date weather with moving radar displays, a flight path planner, an AOPA airport directory, FAA documents and an animated flight calculator.

The WingX Pro 7 app is available for iPad and iPhone users, and gives pilots the ability to file flight plans, stay informed of wind conditions, print charts wirelessly, and even features a GPS-enabled moving map with all of the information a pilot needs to ensure a safe flight.

 

8. FltPlan.com Mobile (iPad, iPhone, Android)—

This app allows pilots to track flights, access airport procedures, maintain and edit a log book, download documents directly to a device, review and change flight plans on aviation charts and more.

FltPlan.com Mobile gives users access to information about 6000+ airports in 17 countries, GPS-enabled maps and detailed weather conditions.

 

If you work in the world of aviation, consider using the apps above to organize information, reduce paperwork, avoid flight delays due to weather conditions and manage the many important safety aspects of air travel.