Your ‘High-Earning Years’: Salary Secrets For Your 20s, 30s and 40s

When we’re younger, we probably think that we’ll make more money when we’re older. Job seniority comes with promotions—and raises—right?

As it turns out, your money arc is shorter than you think. According to an analysis from PayScale.com, women’s pay peaks at age 39, and, according to their median data, at about $60,000. After that, there may be small bumps in salary, but they rarely outpace inflation—so in real terms, you’ll make that $60,000 for the rest of your career.

Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad, except that, based on the same data, men’s salaries continue to grow until age 48, and top out at a median of $95,000.

And, regardless of your gender: “We’re trained to believe that our income is going to go up in a straight line, in a constantly growing trajectory,” says Lauren Lyons Cole, a Certified Financial Planner™ in Manhattan. “Unfortunately, that’s not the way it happens.”

What a Salary Arc Looks Like

So what’s actually happening? In your 20s, fresh out of school, everything is looking up—you’re probably doing some job hopping, getting promoted, climbing the corporate ladder with gusto, and your paycheck looks better and better. According to the same PayScale study, both men and women see salary growth of about 60% by age 30.

After that, however, the rate of growth slows for women. By age 39, the typical woman’s income has grown by less than 20 percent, compared to her 30-year-old self. And after that? Stagnationville. Sure, you’ll probably get cost-of-living raises along the way, but the days of the double-digit raise are over.

The picture is rosier for men, whose salary growth continues to be healthy after age 30. But by age 48 in this study, the typical man’s income has grown by about 45%, compared to age 30. That’s not too shabby, but it’s not on the cusp of retirement, either.

Of course, much of this depends on your career choices. Pharmacists, for instance, usually make top-dollar salaries straight out of school, but the potential to significantly boost their paychecks later is nearly nil. Lawyers, on the other hand, are typically well into their 50s before their salaries peak. “Any job where you get the majority of your training in school and the first few years of your career is not going to see much pay growth after that,” says Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale. “If you’re a lawyer, you’re constantly learning on the job.”

But that’s not to say that you will necessarily peak at 39 (or 48). Here, some strategies for salary success:

When You’re in Your 20s

Have a plan. Out of college, it’s tempting to take the first job that comes your way. But one of the keys to work achievement is finding a career that makes you want to show up on Mondays. “From the first job you take, have a career strategy,” says Kathy Caprino, president of Ellia Communications, a career and leadership coaching company. “That can morph, that can be very malleable, but understand what your passions and talents are, and try to craft a career that’s aligned with that.”

Consider your industry carefully. The differences in men’s and women’s numbers in PayScale’s analyses was largely driven by job choice. According to PayScale’s results at least, “Men tend to go into engineering, computer science, management roles and director roles more so than women, and those jobs see fairly consistent pay increases year in and year out,” Bardaro says. Maybe there isn’t a higher-paying career choice that lights your soul on fire, but if there is, you’d be foolish not to pursue it over another option.Take charge. If a higher-up spot opens up at your company, are you in the running for it? If not, why not? “You should be meeting with your supervisor regularly, and you should have a development plan in place,” Caprino says. “There should never be a blindside.” In other words, if there are issues that would prevent you from getting that next promotion, you should be aware of them and working on solving them.

Save like crazy. In the early years, life is relatively uncomplicated, financially at least. You may not have kids or a mortgage or aging parents to divert your attention—but that doesn’t mean you’re diligently saving for retirement. “For a lot of people, this stage means spending,” says Stephany Kirkpatrick, CFP®, and director of financial planning for LearnVest Planning Services. “We buy cars, take trips, we get a housekeeper for the first time. But that shouldn’t come ahead of saving enough to get your 401(k) company match.”

Key goals right now should include putting enough aside in your employer-sponsored retirement plan to get any company match, and socking three to six months of living expenses in a savings account for emergencies. Your future self will thank you.

When You’re in Your 30s

Watch for opportunities. Don’t sit at one company for five years without checking in with the outside world. “No matter how much you love your current job, you should be interviewing,” Caprino says. “Literally, you should be interviewing two or three times a year.” That ensures that you’ll be aware of both your worth in the marketplace and of great job openings—which could come with a corresponding title and pay bump.

Volunteer. Want higher pay and more responsibility? Show your company that you’re ready for it. Look at where the gaps are in the company and offer to spearhead a new project, or volunteer in another division. Do something to demonstrate your capability and your readiness to take on more. “For a lot of us, we get comfortable and we wait for a boss to tap us and say, ‘You’re being promoted,’” says Kirkpatrick. “It takes a lot of energy to get out in front of it, to be proactive about asking for that next piece of responsibility.”

Don’t check out. “A lot of women off-ramp and stop working for five to seven years,” Caprino says. “That’s incredibly challenging. You’ve just gotten off a competitive track.” If you can, don’t fall out of the workplace entirely when you have children. Find a way to keep your hand in the pot—working part time, freelancing, consulting, job sharing—so you keep your skills fresh and maintain your contacts.

Tackle debt. You may have the income now to really attack any student loans or credit card debt that may be lurking. Don’t just pay the minimums and keep those balances for decades. Get aggressive and knock out high-interest debt now, since later you’ll probably be balancing saving for your own retirement and for college if you have kids.

Keep socking it away. You’re probably making exponentially more now than you were 10 years ago, but that means you should be saving more—for retirement!—not treating yourself to all the luxuries in life. “We get to our 30s and suddenly we’re making money, and we’re like, ‘I deserve a nice car,’” Lyons Cole says. “Be conscious of that psychological effect. Sure, you deserve a nice car, but that car doesn’t have to be a BMW.” If possible, use this decade to bump your retirement savings up to at least 15% of your income.

When You’re in Your 40s and 50s

Curb overspending. “One of the temptations is to keep up with the Joneses and to outsize our lifestyle and go incrementally higher and higher on what we buy,” Kirkpatrick says. “That’s human nature, but this is an opportunity for you to lock away a significant amount of wealth, which puts you in a better position to leave the workforce earlier.”

Prioritize retirement. Funding your living expenses in retirement should be your most important goal right now, but a lot of people get distracted by college bills—and the feeling that you’re doing well, so you don’t have to save so much toward retirement. “People are not realistic,” Lyons Cole says. “They don’t understand that you can’t write a check to your kid’s college unless your retirement is really, truly on track.” You should be saving at least 15% of your income toward retirement—and more if you can swing it, she says. Ideally, Lyons Cole would like people to be putting 25% away overall, including retirement, emergency, and general savings.

Pay off the house. The last thing you want to do is enter retirement with a mortgage payment. Make it a goal to be done with house payments before you retire. One option: Make half a mortgage payment every two weeks—you’ll end up making one full extra payment every year, which will slightly accelerate your payoff schedule. “It puts you in a position to have very little or no housing costs outside of your property taxes,” Kirkpatrick says.

Kate Ashford/Forbes

35 Nourishing Foods That Give You Energy

As I continue my successful run with Weigh Watchers, I am learning so much about different foods (the good, the bad, and the nasty) and which foods are best and most delicious for my person taste. I eat Kale now! A month ago, all I knew was that it was all the rage and the “cool kids” said it was healthy. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend I have also experimented with green beans (I know, I know) and  squash (not completely sold yet). I came across this article that I found very interesting and also pretty exciting, considering I have already incorporated most of these into my new diet. The best part of this journey is learning to eat healthy to FEEL good, not just to LOOK good.

Working long hours and continuous on-the-go weekends I am always on the look out for a snack to eat at the ballpark or at my desk that wont cost me too many “points” and will hold me over until my next large meal. This was such a big help! I love hummus!

Enjoy!

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Navigating the waters of high energy options can be tough, because so many companies will try to get you to take their “energy products” and supplements. But when you’re trying to eat foods that give you real energy and avoid all of the man-made junk out there it can be confusing. Which foods act as actual energy boosters, and which ones will slog you down? We’ve broken it down for you so you can choose foods that will give you energy all day long, as well as those that will give you a sudden burst to propel you right away.

35 Foods That Give You Energy- for energy that lasts all day & instant energy bursts.

Long Lasting Energy – To Fuel You Through Your Day

Think of each meal you have as a way to keep you feeling good and energized until your next refueling. Here are some foods you can use in conjunction with each other or added to a meal to meet your energy needs.

apples for long lasting energy

1. Apples
Apples are a great food to have in your daily diet, as they provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals that your body needs, including a good amount of fiber. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it also keeps you fueled through the day. They are super handy and easy to take with you while you’re out and about. They make a great workplace snack, or a nice side item at lunchtime, and it should be counted as a carb if you’re balancing it with a protein. Apples live up to the hype and you really can’t go wrong opting for this as an energy booster.

2. Peppers
One great vegetable to add to your energy-producing line-up is peppers. They can be eaten in a recipe, or simply washed and cut up into sticks for dipping into things like hummus for added energy. They not only work as an energy food, but also help you to curb your appetite, making them great for times when there’s a few hours until your next meal and you’re feeling like you’ll eat just about anything. Reach for the peppers instead and you’ll be able to squash those cravings while getting the energy you need to keep charged and active.

3. Hummus
Hummus is made from chickpeas and provides a nice source of energy that will keep you going for a few hours. It makes a great snack, especially when you use other energy-giving foods as a dipping utensil. Some favorite hummus dippers: baby carrot sticks, celery sticks, bagel chips made from whole wheat, cucumber slices, and more. There are many version of hummus, so be sure to pick ones that don’t have a lot of added ingredients because some of them try to sneak in unhealthy oils and other additives. Keep it simple and enjoy the taste and energy.

4. Carrots
The great thing about carrots is the different forms they come in that make them easy to have around as a go-to option. You can get baby carrots which are the perfect size for snacking and require zero prep. You can quickly make your own “carrot chips” by slicing them into circles and you can use them to dip into hummus for added energy. You can also simply cut regular carrots into sticks and enjoy a crunchy snack that will give you guilt-free energy with no crash at a bare minimum of expense.

5. Celery
Celery might not be the most appetizing veggie on the block, but it will keep you going because it’s light, full of water to keep you hydrated, and fiber to keep you regulated. It also goes well in a salad or added to most soups. You can also add it to a green smoothie to help water it down and add extra fiber and nutrients to it. Dipping celery in peanut butter is a great way to make it taste good, while adding healthy fats and protein to give you energy that lasts and lasts.

pineapple

6. Pineapple
Pineapple may not be suitable for diabetics and those on carb-conscious diets because of its sugar content, but it’s a good fruit to add if you’re able. The manganese it contains is what helps with energy output and pineapple is a very healthy fruit in many other ways. It has plenty of Vitamin C so you’re getting antioxidants, and the familiar flavor can wake up your taste buds if you’ve been eating otherwise bland foods. You can enjoy it in a fruit salad along with other energizing foods, which makes for a great breakfast option, or you can use it as a snacking solution that will keep you feeling good until lunch or dinner.

7. Oatmeal
Oatmeal is often given credit as a very energizing breakfast and a great way to start off your day. Avoid the instant oatmeal packs that contain a lot of sugar and artificial flavors. These might help the oatmeal go down, but could negate the energetic value of oatmeal and give you a sugar crash instead. There are some organic varieties of instant oatmeal that have natural flavorings and use cane sugar instead of refined sugar. You could try these out to see if you feel energized or not, as this is a more natural source and made from ingredients that are more pure and less processed.

8. Granola
Granola is a nice energy-producing food and it pairs nicely with Greek yogurt and fruit for a smart breakfast. You can also just eat a handful of it to sustain yourself between meals, so it’s very versatile. When choosing which granola to go with you’ll want to find a kind that contains all natural ingredients and not a lot of added sugar. Since granola can be rather bland by itself, many brands end up adding to it in order to make it more palatable. You can also make your own granola at home so that you can act as the quality control manager

9. Herbal Teas
You can sip on your favorite herbal tea throughout the day for added energy, since many herbal teas are really nothing more than a spice or an herb mixed with hot water. You’ll be getting the essence of those ingredients and they’re easily absorbed by the body thanks to the liquid form you’re taking them in by. Green tea is a good choice, but if you’re looking for energy without the caffeine you can make a ginger tea, or a ginseng tea. You can try several different ones and see what your body responds most to. Taken between meals, teas can fill that void and give you what amounts to long-lasting energy.

10. Quinoa
Quinoa is a very special food for many reasons, including its protein and giver content, but it also acts to help sustain you by being a complex carbohydrate. It’s also a great energy source if you’re working out, thanks to the essential amino acids it contains. It can be used as a side dish, or used as the main attraction to a meal, thanks to it’s nutritional breakdown. There are plenty of Quinoa recipes that can give you ideas on how to fit this into your menu planning, as well as a tutorial on how to cook Quinoa so you should be all set.

strawberries

11. Strawberries
Here’s a yummy power-up that you’ll be happy to include in your regular menu. Since these taste so good many don’t realize just how much energy you can get from a serving of strawberries. It’s important not to sugar them up to the point of suffering from a sugar crash, and simply eat them all natural with no doctoring. They go well with other fruits like pineapples, or you can enjoy them solo. If you want to sustain long-term energy from them you can use them as part of a light and healthy lunch by pairing them with a protein as well as a healthy fat source.

12. Cucumber
Cucumbers are a very hydrating vegetable and are made up of mostly water. They contain decent amounts of Vitamin C, are great when you’re on the go because they travel easily when cut into slices or sticks, and are perfect salad toppers. Go with organic cucumbers whenever possible because the thick skin means they’ll absorb a fair amount of pesticides if grown conventionally. Cucumbers contain an eclectic mix of some of the best vitamins you can put in your body, including Vitamin B5 which specifically helps to boost your energy levels. Start eating more cucumbers and you’ll notice the difference right away.

13. Salmon
The right mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats is what provides you with long-term energy, and you simply can’t pick a better protein option than salmon. Salmon has the added benefit of not only being rich in protein, but omega-3s which can help with inflammation and make you feel more like yourself. Salmon can be cooked many different ways, and is great when paired with a veggie and a complex carbohydrate. You’ll feel full and energized for several hours if you get the combination correct. Try a salmon ceasar salad for lunch on a bed of spinach and with cucumbers in place of croutons.

14. Eggs
Eggs are a protein-packed way to start your morning, which makes them an especially good choice for those that are lifting weights as part of their fitness agenda. Almost every diet out there puts eggs on the approved food list, and whether you’re using the whites or the entire egg it will still work to give you energy, as long as you balance it out with a carb. Eggs are often used as part of a fitness routine that involves lifting weights to help build muscle. More lean muscle will give your body more energy on a day to day basis.

15. Beans
Beans are a fantastic choice if you need energy not just now but over the next few hours. They’re digested slowly by the body so the feeling of being full, satisfied, and having adequate energy lasts and lasts. Beans are the perfect side dish to a protein because they help round out that protein with some of their own, and provide fiber to help the meal get processed through the body. Sub out black beans for a coma-inducing starch like french fries the next time you’re out to eat and observe the difference in how you feel.

curry powder

16. Curry
Curry spice provides a nice boost in your energy, and as long as you’re eating a meal with curry that covers all of your other nutritional needs it should make you feel more alert and active after you eat it. If you’re unfamiliar with how to cook curry, there are several recipes to try that include this spice, and will walk you through the steps. Become adept at just a few curry recipes and they can become regular additions to your regular menu, adding nutrition and wholesome energy to your day.

17. Water
Not getting enough water is the number one reason why many of us feel run down and sluggish through the day. It can be hard to remember to drink water, especially in this hectic society we live in, but it’s crucial to stay hydrated. You’re also getting water from some of the foods you eat, but it’s important for your energy levels to make sure that you’re well-hydrated. If you notice that your urine is dark and not very plentiful you’re in serious need of a glass of water. It’s possible to drink too much water, so gradually increase how much you drink each day until you reach the right zone.

18. Spinach
Is there anything spinach isn’t good for? It’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat, plus it’s going to provide you with energy that will get you through the day, or at least until your next well-balanced meal. It forms the foundation to just about every green smoothie recipe we could find, and for good reason. Once for once this is a nutritional heavyweight, and can’t be ignored. Sub out nutritionally inferior iceberg lettuce with baby spinach leaves for your salads and notice your increased energy levels. Fresh or frozen you’ll be doing your body a favor, giving it more energy and helping it battle diseases of all kinds.

19. Lentils
Lentils are another food that is digested slowly by the body and has a nutritional makeup that helps add to a balanced diet. They are very easy to cook, and you can boil up a batch of them and store the leftovers for a few days. They’re also an inexpensive food, with a generous-sized bag costing only a few dollars. They go well with just about any meal, and they’ll help you feel full without bogging you down like some foods. They’ve been voted one of the healthiest foods you’re not eating, so try adding them more to your weekly shopping list.

20. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt came onto the scene quickly and is fast becoming the more popular yogurt when compared to ordinary yogurt. It can serve as a sour cream replacement and is a better all around food than regular yogurt because of its increased amount of protein. This means that by itself it is a more well-rounded food, providing both carbs and protein as well as digestive enzymes. This is one food that can serve as a snack all by itself and get you through a spot of low energy. You can also use is a side for a protein at lunch, like grilled chicken breast so that you feel great all afternoon.

edamame

21. Edamame
It’s the B Vitamins in edamame that work the energy magic. While you may not be used to eating this soybean you should seriously consider keeping it around as a handy snack. It’s great for times when you need to get some quick energy but want it to last for a few hours or so. They’re also fun to eat since you break open the pod to eat the soybeans inside. In Japan they are often served as a snack food and are becoming more popular on American menus as an appetizer.

22. Melons
Choose between watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe, or have them all together. You really can’t go wrong with this as a high-energy food choice. All three of these melons contain antioxidants, taste great, and will give you real energy, not the kind of that comes out of a shiny can, but the kind that comes from nature. Melons. along with other fruits and vegetables, absorb the energy from the sun while they’re growing and transfer this to you when you eat it. That’s why artificial ingredients and synthetic energy drinks don’t provide real energy, just a scientific parlor trick that eventually brings you down.

23. Polenta
Here’s an easy-to-make food item that can give you energy for the long term. It’s made out of cornmeal and it’s possible to make a batch of it and eat on it for a few days, making it very convenient. It’s another complex carb and you may notice a many others on our list because they’re so good at providing long waves of energy and making you feel great, even if you’re on a diet and getting fewer calories throughout the day. This is one food that you can turn to even if you’re on a gluten-free diet as it is a grain that contains no gluten.

24. Brown Rice
You’ll see brown rice being offered more and more as a substitute for white rice. That’s because it is digested by the body differently, and won’t lead you to be hungry just an hour later. It’s broken down more slowly by the body and it has additional nutrients that make it a strong choice for those that are looking to get the most energy through the foods they eat. Served as a side next to a high quality protein like salmon or chicken breast, you’ll be concocting a well-balanced meal that will have you cruising through your day.

25. Broccoli
No list of energy foods would be complete without broccoli. This is one vegetable that you should be eating more of anyway, even if it didn’t provide you with energy. But it does, so try to get more of it if you’re loath to eat it. It has protein, fiber, a host of different vitamins and minerals, makes an instant side dish, or can be added to a recipe for an instant nutritional boost. The Vitamin C content alone is going to help your body battle free radicals which will make you feel better, and less lethargic.

Instant Energy Bursts – When You Need a Pick-Me-Up
Here are foods that you can use in place of false energy products like energy drinks, caffeinated sodas, or coffee. They’ll provide real energy that your body can use, without the subsequent crash that comes with other methods.

blueberries

26. Blueberries
The nice thing about blueberries is that they’re delicious, they travel well, and you can pop them like candies so they’re fun to eat. They also have a boatload of antioxidants in them so they’ll help your body battle back the free radicals which will lead to increased feelings of energy, and overall well-being. Keep in mind that when using all-natural foods like these in lieu of potent energy drinks and other chemical-laden products the results may not be as in-your-face, so you’ll have to be a bit more patient with them, but it’s worth it.

27. Bananas
Bananas are renowned for their potassium levels, and low potassium can lead to feelings of weakness and lethargy. One fantastic thing about bananas is how conveniently portable they are. They’re nature’s fast food while on the go, and you can literally peel one open whenever you need a quick boost of energy. They also help hold you over until your next meal, and are approved on many diet programs. They’re also more than just a one-trick pony, they have respectable amounts of Vitamin B-6, a water soluble vitamin which provides you with energy and needs to be met on a daily basis as your body can’t store it.

28. Almonds
Almonds are hands down one of the best ways to give you instant energy. Grab a handful and in the palm of your hand you have enough crunchy goodness to help retain your mental focus, curb your appetite, and just plain make you feel good. They go with you anywhere, require no refrigeration, and are ready to eat whenever you are. We haven’t seen a diet plan or program yet that doesn’t advocate the eating of almonds, from low-carb diets all the way to caveman diets like the Paleo diet, almonds are always brought in as a way to give you healthy fats, build muscle, and sustain your energy levels.

29. Popcorn
You might not think of eating popcorn as an energy inducer if you only have it during movie time. But if you’re going to enjoy popcorn as an energy burst make sure you do it right. Pop your own organic popcorn and use a dash of sea salt for flavor. Avoid microwaved popcorn or move popcorn and all of the extra chemicals and calories they contain. You can air pop your popcorn, or use an oil like coconut oil that is going to aid your cause, not detract from it. And be sure to keep portion sizes reasonable, when you feel satiated, back away from the bowl!

30. Dark Chocolate
You can use dark chocolate as a nice pick-me-up midday or as an aperitif before dinner. It contains antioxidants that will give you energy, but you’ll still want to keep portions in check and use it as a treat if you’re dieting as well. You have to make sure that it’s dark chocolate, as milk chocolate contains added sugars which may give you an initial feeling of more energy, but will result in a crash in all likelihood, with a net result of feeling more depleted than before you ate it.

trail mix

31. Trail Mix
While not a single food, a handful of trail mix can keep you going for several hours. The good thing is you don’t have to be on the trail to enjoy it, it can quite easily be called Cubicle Mix, or Running Errands Mix depending on where and when you need it. The combination of nuts with dried fruits gets you healthy fats, carbs, and antioxidants just be sure not to overdo it. Pop half a handful at a time and then wait five or ten minutes to see how you feel and if you still need a bit more.

32. Pumpkin Seeds
These little guys are getting more and more attention as a seed that provides fantastic health benefits, including sustained energy. You can make your own, or you can go the easy route and buy them ready-made at the store. Whichever route you go they’re easy enough to keep around and snack on throughout the day. They not only provide quick nourishment, they’ll keep you sustained for a few hours so that you can make it to your next top-up. They also make a great salad topper or sprinkled as a garnish on top of most any main dish.

33. Coconut
Coconut comes in many forms and you can use any of them as a way to increase your energy levels. One quick way is to drink coconut water instead of drinking a caffeinated soda or coffee. This will provide you with an energy burst but without the resultant sugar crash that comes with those other beverages. There are ready-made coconut waters available so it’s just as easy as reaching for a soda or energy drink, but without the unwanted side effects, and with added nutrients and benefits. It may not have the same snazzy packaging or million dollar ad budget, but it still gets the job done.

34. Avocado
If you’re feeling run down you can simply have some avocado, straight up and all by itself. You’ll be surprised how filling it is just on its own, and with the potassium shot it provides and the healthy fats it contains you’ll be hitting some very important energy-producing checkpoints to make you feel great right away. The nice thing is that they’re pretty portable, as long as you bring a paring knife with you you can quickly cut them up and eat them just about anywhere.

35. Goji Berries
This is an up-and-coming energetic powerhouse that contains plenty of antioxidants and they pack quite a punch so you’ll feel the effects pretty quickly. You’ll see there are many products that are trying to incorporate them into energy bars and other items, but what you really need is just a small handful of raw goji berries to chew up when you’re feeling run down. Taking a long-term view you’re helping your body prevent things like cancer, heart disease, and other conditions that can result from too much free radical damage. The same can’t be said for other synthetic energy products.

Remember not to rely on one specific food for your energy needs. Give your body an array of foods as each has its own nutritional profile so you need to broaden it by eating a variety of foods. Balancing proteins, carbs, and fats is the key to feeling good all day long, and your job is to eat balanced meals throughout the day, each designed to get you to the next meal, with dinner designed to get you to bedtime. With snacks at strategic points you should have no problem feeling energized as you go about your day.

 

Original Post by Bembu

 

Can You Be Happy For 100 Days In A Row?

100happydays

 

I hear so often how social media has brought on so many negative effects on “the younger generation”. Let’s face it, just like everything in life, it has its positives and negatives. When I came across the #100HappyDays Challenge (thank you, Diane) I knew it was something I really wanted to be a part of (and not just because I am a social media junkie). I was at a point where new year resolutions were not my forte and I wasn’t quite ready to “get back in the gym, finally..”

I needed something much more meaningful and concrete. There was something different and intriguing about the idea that we have something to be thankful for and “happy” about every single day. So often we get caught up in the dramas of work, relationships, parents…life, that we forget the stranger who let us cross the street or the Starbucks barista who thought you needed a little pick me up message, or even the smallest of gestures from a friend. Amongst the tragedies of bad work days, late bills and morning body-shaming rituals I knew that SOMETHING, SOMEONE, was going to make me smile; and it/they always did.

The more people I saw start the challenge, the more people I saw fall off… Day 15.. The end. I thought maybe I was crazy, or people would think I just needed a reason to post something every day (which I do regardless); but no… I concluded I was just more dedicated.

I would have to say one of the most rewarding accepts of the journey was having friends and family actually encourage me, give me suggestions or even ask to be the subject of my post that day! It made the challenge that much more fun.

The idea behind the challenge is not to “fool” anyone into thinking I’m always happy or going out of my way and FINDING things to post about, but to let the day play out and to have God demonstrate that there will always be something to be grateful for in each and every day.

I heard once or twice… “I am grateful and happy every day, I just don’t need to post about it…”

It’s ok, not everyone is as comfortable or forthcoming on social media as I am, but this challenge might render something within you far beyond the ideals of social media and Facebook posts.

You might actually find that people love seeing you happy. You might even find, after the challenge is over, the power of seeing yourself happy.

I am so blessed to be surrounded with such amazing people who make me smile on a regular basis. I am blessed to cross paths with strangers who have taught me a simple smile or gesture can turn someone’s day around and especially for those who understood, encouraged and followed my posts on a daily basis.

I challenge all of you, without fear of judgment or worry, to complete the #100HappyDays Challenge and see what it does for you!

Fun Fact: The idea behind “hashtags” is to connect with others who are talking about/experiencing the same topics or situations as you. Take a moment to look up “#100HappyDays” on Facebook or Instagram and you will so inspired by what people from all over the world are smiling about.

Happy posting my friends, and here’s to hoping you make it all the way through!

– P

 

Your Faith In Customer Service: Restored

I make, on average, about 60-100 calls on any given day at work. This means I deal with an expansive amount of personalities and moods, where I am always expected to keep my cool and professionalism. Although this can be hard at times (very hard), it is extremely important to me to ensure that everyone I speak with and meet feels comfortable, respected and helped. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. I’ve been meaning to post something about customer service since I experienced the terror of getting my credit card stolen. Apparently, there is an unspoken rule of rudeness for anyone that handles your money.

These 11 stories have, no doubt, restored my faith in customer service.

customer service post

1. Morton’s Steakhouse

In August, author and business consultant Peter Shankman was getting ready to board a flight that was the last leg of a long day of traveling. It just happened to occur over dinnertime, and he knew he would be starving when he deplaned and headed home. “Hey, @Mortons – can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)” Imagine his surprise when he got off the plane to find a tuxedoed gentleman holding a bag that contained a 24 oz. Morton’s porterhouse, shrimp, potatoes, bread, napkins and silverware. Shankman noted that the Tweet had to be noticed, someone had to get approval for the idea, a cook had to make his food, the food had to be driven 23.5 miles away from the nearest Morton’s, and someone had to track down his flight information and figure out where he was landing to meet him at the right location. All while his stomach was grumbling on a 2.5-hour flight. Pretty impressive.

2. Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s, a grocery store in the U.K., must have been pretty amused when they received a letter from a three-year-old girl named Lily. “Why is tiger bread called tiger bread?” she asked, referring to one of their bakery items. “It should be called giraffe bread.” Lily was just being observant – the pattern on the bread does resemble a giraffe more than a tiger. To everyone’s surprise, Chris King, a customer service manager at the chain, responded. “I think renaming tiger bread giraffe bread is a brilliant idea – it looks much more like the blotches on a giraffe than the stripes on a tiger, doesn’t it? It is called tiger bread because the first baker who made it a looong time ago thought it looked stripey like a tiger. Maybe they were a bit silly.” He enclosed a gift card, and the bread was renamed earlier this year.

3. Zappos

A customer’s mother had recently had some medical treatment that left her feet numb and sensitive to pressure – and also rendering most of her shoes totally useless. She ordered her mother six pairs of shoes from Zappos, hoping that at least one of them would work. After receiving the shoes, her mother called Zappos to get instructions on how to return the shoes that didn’t work, explaining why she was returning so many shoes. Two days later, she received a large bouquet of flowers from Zappos, wishing her well and hoping that she recovered from her treatments soon. Two days later, the customer, her mother and her sister were all upgraded to “Zappos VIP Members,” which gives them all free expedited shipping on all orders.

4. Trader Joe’s

A Redditor’s 89-year-old grandfather got snowed in a couple years ago and didn’t have much in the house for meals. His daughter called several markets in the area to see if any of them had grocery delivery services, but the only one that said they did was Trader Joe’s. They don’t, actually, but were willing to help out this WWII vet. As the man’s daughter placed an order, the Trader Joe’s representative on the phone recommended other items that would be good for her dad’s low-sodium diet. An up-sell, you may be asking? Nope. They didn’t charge her a dime for the delivery or the groceries.

6. Amazon

If you order a PlayStation online and it gets snatched from your doorstep instead of being delivered safely to your living room, that’s your problem, right? Or maybe it’s the delivery service’s problem. Or it’s the problem of the neighbor who signed for your expensive gaming system but didn’t bother to bring it inside to protect it from sticky fingers. Wherever the blame lands, it’s definitely not the problem of the company who fulfilled their end of the bargain by shipping the system using a secure method. However, when this scenario happened to an Amazon customer a few years ago, he called them to beg – plead – to see if there was anything that could be done because his son was expecting a PlayStation from Santa. Much to the customer’s shock, they not only sent another, but they didn’t even charge him for shipping. It even made it there on time for Christmas.

7. The Ritz-Carlton

Because of their son’s food allergies, a family vacationing at the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, was always careful to bring their own supply of specialized eggs and milk. In this particular instance, however, the food was ruined en route. The Ritz-Carlton manager couldn’t find any of the special items in town, but his executive chef recalled that a store in Singapore sold them. The chef contacted his mother-in-law, who lived there, and had her purchase the items, then fly to Bali (about 2.5 hours) to deliver them.

8. Nordstrom

The tales of Nordie’s customer service are so mind-boggling that some of them are considered urban legend, but I’ll give you one that’s definitely factual. Last year, a member of the security staff noticed a woman crawling around on her hands and knees on the sales floor. When he discovered that she was looking for a diamond that had fallen out of her wedding ring while she was trying on clothes, he got down and searched with her. He also recruited a small team of people to help comb the floors. Eventually, the crew painstakingly picked through the dirt and debris in the store vacuum cleaners before coming up with the woman’s diamond.

9. Apple

This one may be a rumor, but the story was all over the place with the launch of the iPad 2 last year. Apparently a man bought an iPad online, then returned it to the company almost immediately, affixing a Post-It to the front of the device that simply read, “Wife said no.” Returns processors must have gotten a kick out of it, because the story eventually made its way to a couple of Apple VPs, who refunded the customer and returned the iPad with an attached Post-It that said, “Apple said yes.”

10. Lexus

Most of us have experienced it at one time or another – the dreaded vehicle recall. It’s usually some minor part, but replacing it ends up being a huge inconvenience for the car owner, even when replacement parts are free. Lexus certainly knows how to take the sting out of that. Although previous recalls had been addressed by sending technicians to the affected customers’ homes to fix the problem on the spot, when the Lexus ES 350 sedan was recalled in 2006, the company decided to ask owners to come on into the dealership. Instead of sitting in a waiting room waiting for their cars to be worked on, customers were given a brand new Lexus instead, no questions asked.

11. Gaylord Opryland

A writer was in Nashville for a blogging conference and adored the clock radio at her hotel, the Gaylord Opryland. It wasn’t just any clock radio, but a clock radio/noise machine with very specific spa-style music that relaxed this writer as if she were actually getting a deep-tissue massage every time it played. Wanting to experience the same serenity at home, the blogger took to Twitter to ask the folks at the hotel where she could purchase one. Their response, essentially, was, “Sorry, it’s made just for us, but here’s a similar one at the Sharper Image.” Unfortunately, the one they recommended lacked the spa music feature that the blogger loved so much. She told them as much and thanked them for the effort anyway. When she returned to her room later, she found a second clock radio sitting next to the permanent one, along with a note saying, “We hope you enjoy these spa sounds at home.”

Share you positive customer service stories with me!

-P

11 Stories adapdted from Mental Floss.

Happy Birthday Facebook! Here Are 8 People Who Doubted You

vint cerf

1. Vint Cerf

The Google vice president and chief evangelist said in 2011 that Facebook would go the way of AOL. Yup, the man nicknamed the “Father of the Internet” said the site was becoming a “closed walled garden” and would fail to keep up with audiences.

2. Warren Buffett

When Facebook held its IPO in 2012, record numbers lined up to buy in to the social media giant – but Warren Buffett wasn’t one of them. The billionaire and his business partner, Charlie Munger, avoided it, and actually advised people against the decision.

Buffett didn’t deny that Facebook could have a brilliant future, but admitted, “I just don’t know.” During an interview with CNBC, he said, “I’m an agnostic on a company like Facebook…it’s obviously an extraordinary business, but they’re the hardest ones to value, because the question is whether five or 10 years from now that they will be as extraordinary as they are now.”

charles munger

3. Charlie Munger

Munger, on the other hand, was a bit more acidic in an interview with CNN.

“I don’t invest in what I don’t understand. And I don’t want to understand Facebook,” Munger said. “I don’t want people putting all this personal stuff into a permanent record when they are 15 years of age. I think it’s counterproductive…I just basically don’t like it.”

evan speigel

4. Evan Spiegel

An air of drama has always surrounded the Snapchat CEO. Zuckerberg sensed Snapchat’s potential, however, and offered to buy the company for $3 billion cash. Spiegel refused the offer.

“I think trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting,” he told Forbes.

sean parker

5. Sean Parker

In a lengthy article for TechCrunch, Sean Parker (former president of Facebook and founder of Napster) communicated his dislike for the social media movement. (According to Parker, the press relentlessly covered his wedding to Alexandra Lens, due to its hefty price tag and lavish decor.)

Though  he mainly directed his article toward journalists, Parker shared personal opinions about the world of oversharing.

While he doesn’t anticipate Facebook will sink as a company, he believes its creation prompted a seismic shift in journalism. He says people “will experience a violation of their privacy, will find their reputation besmirched publicly, and may even find their sanity challenged.”

“By some process of karmic retribution, the mediums I dedicated my life to building have all too often become the very weapon by which my own character and reputation has been mercilessly attacked in public,” he wrote.

Alexis Ohanian

6. Alexis Ohanian

Reddit cofounder Alex Ohanian had some very strong words about Facebook’s IPO: “If Facebook continues to make bad decisions about user experience — about disrespecting privacy — you have the potential for this to become something like the social networking fads of yesteryear,” Ohanian told Shira Lazar. “The value of a site that is community-driven is in the community. … My concern is, if Facebook continues to make bad decisions for the community, those could mean bad things for the business.”

Aaron S

7. Aaron Sorkin

Famed Hollywood writer Aaron Sorkin nabbed his first Academy Award for penning The Social Network script, a dramatization about the founding of Facebook.

While promoting the film on talk show The View, he said, “It’s a device that’s meant to connect us, to bring us closer together. I think, and I know I’m in the minority, at minimum there are 500 million people who disagree with me, I think it’s pushing us further apart…I think socializing on the Internet is to socializing what reality TV is to reality.”

While he admitted it could positively impact people’s lives, he didn’t relent on the wider negative effect.

8. Mark Zuckerberg

Back in the site’s early days, Facebook was a fledgling startup that catered to college kids on a handful of campuses.

In a 2005 interview, then 21-year-old Mark Zuckerberg was asked about the future of Facebook, but struggled to see how it could get any bigger.

“There doesn’t necessarily have to be more,” he said. “There is a level of service that we could provide when we were just at Harvard that we can’t provide for all of the colleges, and there’s a level of service that we can provide when we’re a college network that we wouldn’t be able to provide if we went to other types of things.”

Oh, to be young and unaware that you’re about to be a billionaire.

Article and countdown adapted from Mashable.Com