|Earliest: March 17, 2003||Latest: July 14, 2019||Total: 145|
Hot Toys of 2017
Last Month Toy R Us come out with the Hottest Toys of the Christmas season.
So far here's what I see as the hottest toys of the year:
- LOL Surprise Big Surprise
- LOL Surprise Glitter Ball
- Hatchimals Surprise Twin
- Pikmu Pops Surprise
- Enchanted Unicorn
- Fingerlings Exclusive Mia baby monkey
Note: It appears that any toy with a "surprise" is going to be a hit. That is you don't know exactly what your getting until you open it.
If any of these are on your children's shopping list, you should start going shopping now! Otherwise, you'll be spending much of December looking for stores that are getting stock.
On eBay you can find sellers that will have all the popular toys starting at $1,200.
I'll update this post as other products become "hot" due to supply and demand.
Tips For Evaluating Your Business Strategy
Any type and size of business should evaluate its business strategy with regularity. Some businesses benefit from a weekly evaluation while others stay on track with monthly check-ins. Regardless of how often you evaluate your business strategy, do it consistently and don?t get behind.
Investing a little extra time every week or month can help you thrive rather than barely stay afloat. Failing to evaluate with regularity can make it harder to catch and fix an issue before it becomes a big problem for your business.
Consider the following tips for evaluating your business strategy:
Deciding What To Evaluate
Businesses, big and small, always want to (and should) evaluate the financial elements of their strategy. This means you should focus on the sales, profits, cash flows, and the return on investment.
Utilizing online tools such as an ROI Calculator (Return on Investment) can make it easier to see if your marketing plan is a good financial investment for your business. If not, you can reevaluate your current marketing plan and see if you need to consider something else.
Keep in mind that you might not evaluate certain aspects of your business strategy each time, but you should always be evaluating the financial elements of your business.
When You Should Evaluate
Setting up a schedule for evaluating your business strategy is an excellent way to stay on track and often times ahead. As mentioned earlier, you may feel that it?s necessary to take a look at your strategy on a weekly basis (especially when starting out) or once a month is more than enough.
How often you choose, be consistent. It?s important to think about evaluating your strategy when things within the business have changed. For example, once you?ve reached a business goal, it?s time to look at your strategy and work on creating another goal; this is essential to growth.
You may also want to consider more frequent evaluations when your customers change (or need to change) or when competitors force you to change your business plan.
Can You Cut Costs?
Every size of a business should look at ways to make their operation more fiscally responsible. Does this mean you should cut employee hours and positions within the company? No (unless they don?t have a purpose in the company).
When you evaluate your business plan, you will be looking at your daily, weekly, and monthly costs. Maybe you?ve been paying for a marketing service for months but have failed to see any improvement. Maybe a promising advertisement campaign fell short and actually lost you some value customer. Those are costs you can cut or at least should reconsider.
Streamline your costs to reflect your business goals and anything that fosters the growth, not things that keep it stagnant or even lose business. This can be a long and arduous step but if you stick with a regular schedule of evaluating, it shouldn?t be that difficult, and you?re less likely to experience a major financial loss.
If you've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a self-driving car or have been dreading seeing more on the roads, other than test cars, you will see them sooner than later. There's no specific date for a mass release, but many automakers are confident that we'll see an autonomous car on the road by 2020; you may not be able to own one, though.
Unlike the standard vehicles we know so well, self-driving cars are far more complicated and must be completely road ready before the everyday driver can buy one. Here are some of the reasons that self-driving cars are the car of the future, but why it may take awhile:
Self-Driving Cars Need to Learn How to Be Better Drivers
In order for an autonomous vehicle to be deemed completely road worthy and safe, it should have enough knowledge to handle any kind of situation on the road. Self-driving cars "learn" how to drive by constantly collecting data while on the road.
Remember, self-driving cars are replacing human drivers, so the objective to build a car that is safer than the average driver. Why must a self-driving car be better than the average driver? One of the main reasons behind building a self-driving car is to help eliminate accidents, and most of the accidents are a result of human error.
Gathering data and learning how to be a better and safer driver takes time. You wouldn't want to share the road with a bunch of drivers who haven't had training, would you?
Operating in All Types of Conditions
In addition to learning how to be the safest driver, self-driving cars need to learn how to operate in all kinds of weather and road conditions. Ideally, we would all live in a part of the country where road infrastructure was flawless, lanes were clearly marked, and wintry conditions didn't happen, but we don't; therefore, self-driving cars need to learn how to read the road, regardless.
Don't expect to see a wide release of autonomous cars until they can prove they've passed every safety check.
Even if the self-driving car was perfected and ready to be manufactured by every major automaker, depending on the cost, you might never get to own one. Depending on the source, the estimated cost of an autonomous car may be between $75,000 to 250,000; that's pretty prohibitive for the average consumer.
If you consider all of the features that go into making a self-driving car, such as the software and safety technology, the price seems reasonable, relatively speaking.
The bottom line is that we won't see mass amounts of autonomous cars on the market until they are completely safe and have the ability to operate as if a driver was operating the car. If you think about the rigorous testing that today's standard vehicles must go through, wouldn't you want to know that your self-driving car would be just as safe if not safer?
No Short Cut Sign
At the Copley Mall construction site is this sign:
I don't know who at the construction company thought of it, but it's certainly a different type of motivation sign: "No Shortcuts Keep Your Family in Mind"
Actual sign seen in early 2016.
On June 7th, the Copley Mall entrance is scheduled to reopen. Some interesting information:
- Closed for Construction on March 6, 2016
- Total Construction Days: 458 days ( or 316 calendar days excluding Weekends and Holidays)
- Inial Cost of the Project: $9.2 million
- Number of opening delays: 4 ( Dec 2016, January 2017, March 2017, June 2017)
- Average number of commuters that pass through the doors:
I am glad to see the entrance reopening. Hopefully, the escalator doesn't break down as much as it did before.
Mystery Text Messages
Recently I have been getting lots of mystery text messages like these:
- Ron is asking for above ground pool in Hopkinton. You have 1st priority. Reply 1 if interested, 3 if not
- Hi, a homeowner in Brockton is looking for an estimate for the inground pool. You have 1st priority. Reply 1 if interested, 3 if not
- Hi, a homeowner in Tyngsboro wants to get a quote for pool contractor. You have 1st priority. Reply 1 if interested, 3 if not
According to a post in RemoteCentral.com, it turns out the text messages is from gosmith.com.
gosmith.com is a service that matches homeowners with projects with professionals that can handle the project. I am not sure how my phone number go into their database. I think they purchased a cellphone contractor list and just sending out text messages. I certainly wouldn't have signed up for their service, and I never received emails confirming that I am listed as a contractor.
Tips for having a Take Your Son/Daughter to Work day.
This was the third year that I help organize the "Take your Son/Daughter to work day." It a great program that helps your children understand what their parents do at work all day. This is sponsored in part by the Take you Son and Daughter to Work foundation.
About a month before the day, we sent out invitations to parents to let them know of the event. We asked their age and if they had any special allergies. We followed up with an additional email a week before the event.
The most common feed back that I got was "why was this during a school time?" Wouldn't it make more sense to do it during school vacation week?
From the foundation:
Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work(R) Day is organized during the school year so girls and boys can take what they learn in workplaces on Thursday and apply it to the classroom on Friday. By involving whole communities--schools, girls and boys, parents, workplaces, and mentors--the program helps young people make connections between what they learn in school and their future goals.
Here are some of the activities that we had planned:
- Color in the Company Logo
- Where are we on the city map? What are we near?
- Word Matching (Name to Logo) - How well do you know your logos?
- Create your Dream Job - What do you want to be when you grow up and why?
- What would your Work Desk look like?
- iPiggiBank - "Allowance is serious kid business"
- A-Z Office Wordlist - A scavenger hunt to find things that matches a letter of the alphabet.
- What do you think our logo should look like?
- How do you think we do to help other companies?
- Brainstorming Activity: What is your Dream Job?
- What skills will you need to do your dream job?
- Job Matching Quiz - Match the job title with the picture.
- "The Future is Me" - Write the headline of something you wish to accomplish someday
- iPiggiBank - "Allowance is serious kid business"
- A-Z Office Wordlist - A scavenger hunt to find things that matches a letter of the alphabet.
Some Lessons Learned
- Anything younger than 7 is non-productivity. Kids are just running around. Keep activities short and interesting.
- Have lots of snacks for the kids and their parents. There are plenty of healthy allergy free snacks
- I saw some business having matching color shirts for the kids. This was a great idea.
- Enlist people that were teachers as volunteers.
- We had a Parents Panel that was useful for the kids to learn what their parents do to help the business.
- We asked kids to bring in their favorite toy for a show and tell.
- When kids arrived we made them make there own name tags
- Some companies split up the age groups. We didn't have enough kids to do that, so we tried activities that everyone would enjoy
- If your building has security in the lobby, check with them on the procedure for bringing kids to the office.
- Part of the building was having a fire drill. We made sure that the kids were always in an area where a drill wasn't going to happen.
- If you have water cups in the kitchen, make sure that things are reachable.
- Paper Airplane activity was a big hit as kids worked hard to build a paper airplane that would fly the furthest.
- The final activity of the day was to have the kids plan for next year event. It was a fun way for the volunteers to see what the kids liked the most.
One of my favorite motivational speakers is Zig Ziglar. He had a way to deliver a message in a very positive way.
One of the things that he frequently talks about is "Automobile University." Where you use the downtime in your commute to listen to inspirational podcast or CDs.
Remembering Zig Ziglar
If you haven't heard of any of Zig Ziglar speeches, check out his podcast on iTunes.
Zig Ziglar died on November 28, 2012. His Tom Ziglar is keeping his message alive. Visit Ziglar.com to learn more about him and events that are coming to your area.
- "Set a goal that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning." - Zig Ziglar
- "If Plan A doesn't work, there are 25 more letters." - Zig Ziglar
- "You need a plan to build a house. To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal." - Zig Ziglar
- "Happy people don't have the best of everything. They make the best of everything." - Zig Ziglar
- "Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember- the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you." - Zig Ziglar
- "Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give him yours." - Zig Ziglar
- "Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days." -Zig Ziglar
Zig Ziglar was all about personal productivity. He's "Day before Vacation" speech is correct. As we tend to get a lot of things done when there is a goal with a deadline.
There are many ways to get productive at the office and selfdevelopmentsecrets.com has some great tips. There's a great article called "How To Be More Productive In Your Workplace (And Everywhere Else)."
Community Events Calendars
The Benefits of Seeking Out Local Events in Your Area
If you've ever browsed through your local newspaper, checked out your city's website, or even watched the local television channel, you may see a community events calendar. A community events calendar is a great way to find out what's going on your area, but many people don't take up the opportunities or don't even know the events exist.
Here are some benefits to seeking out local events and why you should pay closer attention to a community events calendars:
Promoting Family Togetherness
If you have children, you may be running low on ideas on how to spend time together as a family. One child wants to play with a friend, and another wants to spend a Saturday playing video games. It's tempting to give in, but you may be missing out on a lot of fun activities.
Depending on where you live, a majority of community events are most likely family friendly. Whether it's an outdoor festival or a kids-centered event at your local museum, community events can help you spend more time together as a family.
Meeting New People
Even if you live in a smaller town, there's a good chance that you don't know most of the people in town. Unlike 30 or 40 years ago, not have close connections with your community, let alone your neighbors is a common occurrence. Why? We're all busy, and many of us spend the day talking to people; the last thing that some people want to do is talk to more people.
If you're hesitant to reach out to perfect strangers, think again. Making the effort to attend a community event and make connections with new people can strengthen your trust in others and build lasting relationships.
Helps You to Think Beyond Yourself
While there's a variety of fun things to do, when you look at a community events calendar, don't forget to check out an opportunity to help others, such as volunteering in your community or fundraising for a family in need.
Living in a "me" society, it's easy to forget about helping others. So whether you offer a helping hand at your local animal shelter or make a meal at the local food kitchen, you're thinking about others and enriching your life with one-of-a-kind experiences.
Spend Less Money, Have More Fun
Another plus to attending a community event is that many are free to the public. Rather than dropping more than $20 at a movie theater, why not check out a movie night at the park? If donations are "appreciated," spend that $20 on giving back to the community.
Invite your friends, introduce yourself to a neighbor that you've been meaning to welcome to the neighborhood. Spend less money and have more fun in your community.
Become an Active Member of Your Community
The more time you spend out in your community, the more likely that you'll want to get involved and stay involved. Maybe you'll even run for office or join the school board. Find things in the community that make you happy and proud. Try to make things better and continue to help make your town or city a better place.
How Safe Are Kids on Buses?
Our children are the most precious thing we have. Children are the future, of course, but they're also the present. Children bring joy, love, and countless other varieties of goodness to lives of everyone they meet, every day.
And yet, each day we as a society agree to ship our children to and from school in lunky, rusting buses with no seat belts. Buses are efficient, sure, and most of us can remember a time when we ourselves went to school via bus. But how safe are school buses, really? Let's take a look at a few of the dangers posed each day to our kids on their rides to school.
When a child is in a bus, that child is on the road. Even if buses were the safest form of transport around, they would still be only as safe as the roads on which they ride. Poorly cared for roads are dangerous.
If your child rides the bus to school, you might want to check out the roads that he or she is taking. If you see something that looks unsafe, report it to your local government. And if things look good, you'll be able to relax with the knowledge that your kids are free of danger.
Every bus needs a driver. And when it comes to picking that driver, a bus company can't always afford to be particular. Laws regarding who can and can't drive a bus vary from place to place, but many places have shockingly low standards. You wouldn't let some college student you don't know drive your car, so why would you be okay letting a young stranger drive an entire bus full of children twice a day?
If you're a parent, there are a few things you can do to ensure your children's drivers are good. For starters, you could walk to your kids to their stop and introduce yourself to the driver. If you're concerned with what you see, you could get involved with local groups to advocate for an increased required age for bus drivers.
Danger from Strangers
The good thing about a bus is that it's public and full of people. The bad thing is that your child needs to stand outside and wait for it. In order to keep your children safe while waiting for the school bus, you can try a few things. First, you can make sure they get there soon before the bus arrives, making sure there's not much waiting time. Second, you can educate your kids on stranger safety and appropriate behavior. Third, you can make sure the bus stop is within eyeshot of your house, allowing you to keep an eye on your loved one for the entirety of the wait.
Bus Safety is for Everyone
Luckily, serious bus crashes are relatively rare. In all likelihood, your children will arrive to school and to your house without an incident. Nonetheless, accidents do occur, and as a parent, you need to keep your eye on potential dangers. Make sure your roads are up to code, the drivers are competent, and your children are not left at their stops for long periods of time. You'll be glad you did.
Best Open Office Design
The "Open Office" concept seems to be very popular office layout. No more large cubical walls, or executive offices.
I am not a big fan since I don't like being distracted by seeing people moving around the office.
However, this type of open office concept is something that I would certainly consider:
This is from Freshwater Software company office in Boulder, Colorado. Great use of open office space!