Milan’s Blog

how to improve time management

October 6, 2022

Tips For Time Management When You Are Overloaded

If you're like me, you never seem to have enough time in the day. Despite scheduling everything down to my morning meditation on my calendar, some days I still feel like I can't get it all done. 

Whether you’re a self-motivated entrepreneur or a high school student, it can be tough to find an effective time management practice.  In fact, research shows that 82% of people don’t have any time management system at all.  One of the most important lessons I've learned while building companies is that practicing time management can save you a tremendous amount of stress. Time is a precious commodity. Entrepreneurs who are busy growing their businesses need to maximize every moment of their day. 

Read on to find out more about the importance of time management and how to improve your skills.

What Is Time Management?

How can some people get so much done during the day? The answer isn’t that time works differently for them—it’s that they have mastered time management. Time management is the process of planning and delegating a specific amount of time to spend on certain activities.  Rather than spending "as long as it takes" on each individual task, you create a schedule in which you decide ahead of time how long to spend on each area.

The Importance Of Time Management

It takes practice to improve your time management skills.  In order to stay motivated in your time-management efforts, you should learn about the benefits that successful time managers gain by consistently practicing their techniques. 

Here are a few benefits for practicing effective time management:

  1. Increased opportunities

People who don't manage their time well miss out on opportunities that are available to those who plan effectively.  Proper time management means less time wasted on non-essential activities, which can open you up to opportunities to engage in meaningful experiences that help advance your career.

  1. Less stress

Whenever we find ourselves running up against the clock, stress ensues.  When you can manage your time properly, you’ll find you meet deadlines with plenty of time to spare. This will help you avoid the stress of letting your responsibilities slide, which can lead to tense situations with coworkers.

  1. More goals accomplished

The better you manage your time, the more you can accomplish.  During the time you would otherwise waste, you could do any number of things–take an online course to learn a new skill, spend time with family, or even take on additional projects at work.

  1. Improved reputation

People know who they can rely on, and who they can't.  You want to be the person that others turn to for help, advice, and assistance.  With the right time management strategies, you can establish a reputation as someone dependable and trustworthy.

  1. Reduced burnout

Burnout can come from taking on too much work and not enough rest, but it often finds its roots in poor time management.  While time management can help you become more efficient, it also requires that you schedule in the necessary amount of downtime to ensure you’ll be mentally and physically healthy enough to carry the burden.

Consequences Of Poor Time Management

You can be busy without being productive. When you lack time management skills, you may find that the busier you are, the less you actually achieve. Struggling with time management is associated with higher levels of stress, insomnia, depression, and other mental health issues.  You’ll need to learn how to improve time management if you want to avoid burnout and inefficiency.

General Tips For Better Time Management

Here are some of the best tips I’ve learned for mastering time management, building a more organized schedule, and achieving your goals:

  1. Set regular goals

Setting regular goals for yourself will provide you with direction and motivation throughout the day.  It’s easy to languish when you don’t know what you’re doing, but if you set specific and achievable daily goals, each new accomplishment will serve as a reinforcement.

  1. Choose your priorities carefully

Time management isn't about doing everything at once. It's about prioritizing your activities and making choices that will help you achieve the outcome you want. Prioritize your activities from highest to lowest priority, then divide out the amount of time spent on each accordingly.

  1. Take plenty of breaks

I always schedule breaks into my day, a practice that prevents me from burning out. If you schedule a short break between each activity—even if it’s just a 10-minute walk—you won’t get overwhelmed and decide to break from your schedule.

  1. Stay organized

Scheduling out your day can keep you focused on what's important. I use Google Calendar, but there are lots of ways to manage your time and tasks. Experiment with different systems and find one that works for you. The act of crossing things off the list can be a powerful motivator to keep going when you want to quit.

  1. Limit your time

Decide how much time you'll spend on a project—and then do your best to stick to that amount of time.  If you're ahead or behind schedule, adjust accordingly.  Once you get used to estimating how long something will take, you'll be less likely to take on tasks that are too much for you.

  1. Get rid of non-essential tasks

Time is a precious commodity you don’t want to waste.  If you find that you’re spending a large chunk of each time on something unnecessary, it’s in your best interest to cut it from the schedule.  The more of these tasks you rid yourself of, the more time you’ll have to achieve your goals.

  1. Plan, plan, plan

If you leave time management until the last minute, it becomes that much more difficult to stick to a schedule.  Plan ahead by writing out a loose schedule for yourself at the beginning of the week and refining the next day’s events the night before.

Time management can be hard to master.  You need to practice daily if you want it to become second nature.  Just as you must practice civil discourse and other social skills, you’ll need to practice time management on a regular basis if you want to enjoy its numerous benefits.

Civil Discourse

understanding people

October 4, 2022

8 Crucial Rules To Understanding People

Conflict comes from many sources, but nothing fuels conflict like a misunderstanding.  When you fail to understand people, you experience conflicts, embarrassing social gaffes, and frustrating emotional upheavals. The skill of understanding others is an important part of being an empathetic person, and it will take you far in every area of life.  In order to help you develop this skill, I’ll explain what it really means to understand another person and what tips will help you become more understanding of people.

What Does It Mean To Understand People?

It can be incredibly difficult to appreciate and accept those who are different from us, but our relationships with others will always be more authentic and fulfilling when we understand them.  But what does this mean, exactly?  

Truly understanding people requires more than just listening politely.  It requires you to give your full attention; to listen not just to what they say, but to watch their body language; to shelve your own assumptions and maintain an open mind.  We as a society have recognized the need to understand the people we disagree with, but few people are skilled at putting this into practice.

Why Do People Struggle To Understand Others?

If you struggle to make sense of your surroundings, it doesn’t mean that you are a highly flawed person. Everyone experiences mental hurdles that make it difficult to understand people, which is why practice is necessary in order to develop social skills. Our brains have a tendency to dismiss anything they don’t understand and change others' words into our pre-existing worldview. In order to change, we must practice and dedicate ourselves.

I've learned many valuable and interesting things that help me make sense of the world around me. But with this knowledge always comes the temptation to make assumptions, and you know what they say about assumptions. I work regularly at being present, mindful, and attentive in order to keep my skill of understanding others sharp.

8 Tips To Being More Understanding Of People

To understand people, you need to master certain skills. Here are eight tips to help you develop those skills:

  1. Put in the effort

Understanding people can be difficult. Like any skill, it takes time and effort to achieve. Before every interaction, take a moment to ground yourself and remember your desire to understand the other person rather than simply to be understood.

  1. Never assume anything

The assumptions we make can seem like harmless fillers for the blanks in our knowledge, but they can also obscure our view of reality.  Ask questions to seek more information; it's better to clarify something the other person has said than to wrongly assume a different meaning.

  1. Keep an eye on body language

Remember to focus closely on whomever you’re talking to and pay attention to their body language. Watch for clues about their stress level and posture, which can reveal important information about what they are saying. If someone seems nervous or stressed, ask follow-up questions to get more information.

  1. Stay present

Our minds wander all the time, but when you’re talking to someone, try to stay present.  If you don’t pay attention, you could miss words or gestures that lead to confusion later on.  Focus on what the other person is saying instead of rehearsing what you’re going to say next.

  1. Employ mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness is a practice that can help you be more present. Try incorporating meditation into your daily routine to give yourself time each day to slow down and be aware of your body. You can practice these techniques before important interviews or meetings to ground yourself and make it easier to pay attention.

  1. Practice civil discourse

The key to understanding is to listen carefully and with an open mind.  Civil discourse allows you to have conversations about sensitive topics without losing your cool or shutting down.  When you’re engaged in a conversation about a heated topic, try to set aside your judgment and listen with an open mind.  Refrain from interrupting the other person and try to listen for the content of what they’re saying.

  1. Understand personality types

People perceive the world in different ways, and the way that you operate may not be the same way that your colleagues operate.  When interacting with someone who is behaving in a way you don’t understand, try to evaluate their personality type.  Are they introverted or extroverted?  Type A or type B?  If you see their way of doing things as different rather than wrong, this can help you to set aside assumptions of malice or incompetence.

  1. Cut others some slack

We all make mistakes from time to time. When we’re the ones making the mistake, we know that we didn’t mean any harm. But when others make mistakes, it’s easy to rush to judgment. We need to forgive others and slow down before rushing to judgment ourselves.

Understanding other people is not just a gift for them; it also benefits you. The better you understand other people and their motivations, the more genuine your relationships with them will be and the less likely you are to feel resentment or discord. If you make an effort to improve your skills at understanding others, then you’ll give yourself the opportunity to grow on a personal level, build more fulfilling relationships with others, and boost your self-esteem.

Civil Discourse

body language

October 3, 2022

Body Language - Read The Unspoken

We often underestimate the impact of body language. The things we convey through our nonverbal communication can be more influential than the words we speak. Sure, we can tell our boss we’re more than happy to work late on a Friday, but our frown and slumped shoulders reveal that we’d rather be at home. Our body language reveals what we’re really thinking, whether it’s intentional or not.

When polled, most experts agree that 70-90% of communication is nonverbal.  How we use our bodies when we talk can have a big impact on how others perceive us, how receptive they are to our thoughts and ideas, and how willing they are to converse with us.

Read on to find out more about how the way you move helps or hinders communication, and what you can do to improve your body language.

What Is Body Language?

Body language encompasses any of the nonverbal signals that we use to communicate.  This can be a physical behavior such as crossed arms as well as a facial expression such as a grimace.  It can even be certain mannerisms that we don’t even know we’re making, like a twitching eyelid or shaking hands.  We all know the importance of body language in something as important as a job interview, but what about conversations with our friends?  Parties?  Networking events?  Do we pay enough attention to other people’s body language, or even our own?

Think about the last time you were on a first date.  Did your hands shake?  Did you find yourself reaching for your glass over and over, taking sips of water to quell your nerves?  Were your arms crossed in a defensive posture to help you subconsciously feel safe?  All of these body language examples express what our words may not.  Anyone who is well-versed in body language will be able to read between the lines.

Why Is Body Language Important?

As human beings, we’re naturally curious.  We want to know what other people have to say, especially if they don’t want us to know what they’re thinking.  To that end, the ability to read body language is a powerful asset in achieving your goals.  People who are good at reading body language can foster better relationships, collaborate well with others, and shine in their careers.

When you can read other people’s body language, you might be able to:

  • Deduce what someone else is thinking
  • Negotiate a better raise
  • Leave a lasting impression on a date
  • Create trust in relationships
  • Offer better guidance and support to those in need
  • Become a better leader

If you struggle with body language, there’s no need to worry.  There are many ways to learn how to improve body language through practice and a bit of effort.

How To Keep Your Body Language On Point

It is important to learn how to read other people's body language, and it is equally important to understand your own. If your body language does not match what you are saying, you run the risk of creating distrust.  Some people are innately able to read body language, but others have to learn it as they would any other language.  Body language is one of the keys to effective communication, so becoming an expert in it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Tips To Excel In Body Language

Here are a few steps you can take to improve your body language:

  1. Practice self-awareness

One of the first tips for body language is to practice being more self-aware.  We all have subconscious habits that we don’t even realize we’re doing: nail biting, finger tapping, teeth grinding.  But in order to improve your body language, you need to be aware of what your body is signaling to other people.  The next time you’re in a conversation with someone, keep an eye on what your body language is doing.  You’ll learn what your habits are and which ones you may need to curb.

  1. Straighten your back and relax your shoulders

A straight back and relaxed shoulders signal that you’re open, calm, and interested.  If your shoulders are slumped and your back curved, people may think you’re tired or worn down.  If your shoulders are raised, then this sends signals that you’re nervous and stressed.  If you find yourself doing any of the above, focus on straightening your back and relaxing your shoulders to put forth an air of calm control.

  1. Take deep breaths when feeling nervous

We can’t control when we feel nervous, but we can control how we react to it.  When we’re nervous, our breathing often becomes shallow.  This can cause us to feel even more nervous and enter fight-or-flight mode.  If you find yourself feeling nervous, take deep breaths to calm yourself down and bring yourself back to center.  A good guide for deep breathing is to breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and hold it for another four.  Then repeat this as many times as needed until you feel calmer.

  1. Practice mindful listening

Mindful listening will help you train yourself to practice more open body language.  If you’re focused on being a mindful listener, then you’re engaging in eye contact with the other person and using body language to show that you’re listening.  This means nodding, smiling, and doing other things that encourage the other person to keep speaking.  When you’re focused on these behaviors, there’s no room for negative body language to get in the way.

  1. Be engaged with civil discourse

Oftentimes our body language becomes negative when we experience unwanted emotions.  Engaging in civil discourse allows you to tackle tough conversations without letting your emotions get the better of you.  This means listening without judgment, allowing the other person to finish speaking before responding, and speaking honestly in a neutral tone.  When you make civil discourse a way of life, you become fluent in controlling your body language.  This is true no matter how emotionally charged the topic of conversation.

  1. Study other people’s body language

We often learn best by mimicking other people.  Whenever you meet someone who you think exudes confidence, take a look at their body language.  What nonverbal communication is giving off a sense of confidence and calm?  Is it their posture?  Their facial expression?  Unwavering eye contact?  Try and practice those same nonverbal gestures to improve your own body language.

  1. Don’t forget to smile

This body language tip is one of the more nuanced tips on the list.  Smiling too much can appear inauthentic, but not smiling at all is a surefire way to turn off the other speaker.  Smile whenever you’re introduced to someone for the first time, and continue to smile at regular intervals during the conversation.  In addition to nodding and small verbal encouragements, a smile is the perfect way to show that you’re engaged in the conversation.

Body language is as complex and nuanced as any other language. It can be used to communicate, to express our thoughts, feelings and emotions.  But we often don’t recognize the messages our bodies are sending out. By following these body language tips, you’ll improve your own body language and become better at reading everybody else’s.  Once you’ve mastered your body language skills, you’ll be surprised what a difference it will make in your life.

Civil Discourse

social leadership

October 2, 2022

What is Social Leadership?

Leadership used to mean a powerful presence and the ability to inspire others. But today, in the age of collaboration and transparency, leadership is also about building trust among your team members. It means sharing your own vulnerabilities as well as demonstrating vulnerability by listening closely to others' ideas. And it’s not only about achieving results—it's about helping others achieve theirs.

My journey as a founder has led to me being in leadership positions for a variety of teams, and I’ve had to learn hard and fast just how much of an impact a leadership style can have on employees. The emotional and empathetic leadership style of a social leader focuses on building strong relationships within the team, which has a direct impact on their collaboration and communication skills. 

With a focus on social leadership, I’ve learned that we can create a positive work environment by utilizing emotional intelligence to create trust and respect among employees.

What is Social Leadership?

Today's workforce is changing, and the traditional leader is being replaced by a new type – the social leader. The type of leadership we're talking about here doesn't rely on position or title; instead it's about emotional intelligence, relationship skills, and service-oriented behaviors. Leaders who lack these qualities will struggle to motivate their employees in today's workplace, where people are looking for meaning and purpose from their job.

Social leaders have a vision for where their company will go. They don't force their team members to follow orders, but instead listen and question people's methods to help them perfect their approach. As a social leader, you focus on the bigger picture and track all departments to know where you're heading as a company. You create a better tomorrow for yourself, your employees and customers.

What are the Characteristics of a Social Leader?

Dedication to the cause: All social leaders have a genuine desire to help others. They are willing to invest in their community and give everything they have in order to make a difference. They also tend to be motivators, who inspire others with their passion for their work.

Successful social leaders exhibit some common characteristics. 

They care. Social leaders are focused on the people around them. They create an environment where employees feel valued and supported. A great social leader has a strong desire to help others succeed, while also helping their business achieve its goals.

They communicate. Social leaders know that great communication is vital to driving engagement, and therefore, the success of their team. They are excellent communicators and are able to build rapport with their team members. They know how to separate important topics from non-essential ones and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

They collaborate. While your team may come from different backgrounds and cultures, we all share the goal of doing great work. Without teamwork, our efforts would not be possible. Social leaders know the importance of teamwork and are always looking for ways to improve team dynamics. They understand that no one is an island and know how to get the best out of their team by working together.

They’re self-aware. As a social leader, you know that what you do determines the people you lead and the culture of your team. In order to understand and develop yourself in an ongoing way, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Managers who are serious about growing their leadership skills set aside time to ask themselves questions like, ‘What do I need to work on?’, ‘Is there someone else who can help me with this?’ and ‘Do I really want this job?’ It can be hard at first, but asking yourself these tough questions often leads to positive change!

They’re people-oriented. Social leaders see their business as a family, not merely a corporation. Because they focus on the people, not just tasks or goals, social leaders understand that strong relationships are the key to a successful team. They work hard to build trust and rapport with their employees so they can get great results from people who actually enjoy working together.

They’re vulnerable. Vulnerability is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. While this might seem risky, it's actually a great way to build trust with your team. By being open and honest, you'll create a more open, honest working environment that allows for all ideas to be heard and understood.

Civil Discourse to Promote Social Leadership

Leading with civil discourse is a way to create open and informed dialogue. It allows for candid discussions, which support innovative thinking and acceptance. It ensures that everyone can be heard.

Social leaders can leverage the tenets of civil discourse to promote their leadership style by:

  1. Actively listening to all opinions before concluding.
  1. Acknowledging any resistance to ideas and understanding counterarguments.
  1. Respecting diverse opinions to achieve a common understanding.
  1. Trusting individuals with their unique creative processes.
  1. Approaching all matters with a positive mindset by fixating on the ultimate goal.
  1. Communicating emotions in a safe space without prejudices.
  1. Accepting criticism to expand their scope for improvement.

If you want to keep your team motivated and engaged, you need to help solve its conflicts in a civil manner. By practicing civil discourse, you can resolve just about anything and everything related to workflow and productivity.

The traditional workplace is on its way out. In today's market, social corporations are paving a new way forward with people-first leadership practices. These companies are built on the social skills that make their employees happy, productive, and innovative. Social leadership is the difference between an average workforce and a high-performance team.

Civil Discourse

social skills

September 30, 2022

Social Skills In Social And Work Life

Your skills are what set you apart from the competition. Depending on your industry, you might need hard skills like social media management or user experience design skills. Or, you might find that soft skills like negotiating and a high work ethic will get you far. No matter what industry you're in, social skills are always going to be important.

People who are good at social skills, such as communication and emotional intelligence, tend to have more successful careers. In 2018, 42% of all workers held jobs in which social skills are the most important.  What follows is a guide to developing the most important social skills for developing your career. 

Everyone could benefit from improving their social skills no matter who you are or how confident you feel. While I have learned many skills during my time as an entrepreneur and founder, I believe that nothing would have been possible had I not worked on cultivating my social skills. Improve your skills and change your life by following these tips.

What Are Social Skills?

Social skills are the abilities we use to communicate with other people. Our tone, body language, and written communication (including emails) all fall under this umbrella. When we communicate with others—whether at work or with family and friends—we’re developing our social skills.

Your social skillset encompasses countless different skills. These are just a few examples:

Effective communication

Effective communication involves the ability to get your point across clearly and concisely. It also means being able to receive information in a way that ensures you understand exactly what’s being said to you.

Conflict resolution

Being able to handle conflict is an important skill for anyone to possess.  We all have disagreements at times, but being able to resolve them peacefully will keep both parties satisfied. 

Active listening

Active listening is the ability to listen to another person in a way that allows them to know they’re being heard. This can include open body language, nodding, and verbal acknowledgments.

Empathy

If you genuinely understand the feelings of others, it makes it easier to connect with them and build a relationship. Empathy means taking into account other people’s sensitivities and avoiding stepping on toes.

Cooperation

Not everyone is good at working with others.  It’s important to learn how to work as part of a team, sharing equal responsibility of the work and uniting towards a common goal.

Why Are Social Skills Important?

When you have social skills, you develop the ability to connect with others, interact and build relationships. This is an essential component for success in all areas of life, not just your career. 

Many doors will open and more opportunities will present themselves when you can effectively communicate with others by understanding their needs, desires and concerns. Being social is important, and it can open a whole world of possibility. Here's why you should work on your social skills:

Improved communication

When you have good social skills, you become a better communicator.  You learn how to communicate your wants and needs to those around you rather than waiting for them to read your mind and give you what I want.  I know how to make requests in a way that acknowledges the other person’s time and expertise, rather than demanding or hinting at what I want.

Better relationships

Not only will your relationships improve when you have good social skills, but they may even grow. The better we are at working with others, the more that people are drawn to us.  I've been able to open countless doors because I took the time to establish good relationships with the right people.

Access to a wealth of information

Through close relationships, you can also learn valuable information. I've learned how to ask and how to listen from people with different areas of expertise. When you have good social skills, you gain new ideas, techniques, and perspectives that can enhance your own.

The ability to help others

It’s not always about what we can do for ourselves—sometimes the path to success lies in what we can do for others. I share my perspective and help others succeed; this helps me succeed too.  A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s been my experience that if you help other people, they will help you when you need it.

Less conflict

Conflict hurts everyone involved, which is why the ability to resolve it is such a crucial part of being a leader. By developing my social skills and minimizing conflict in my relationships, I have been able to become a more effective leader. This allows my teams and I  to remain united in achieving a common goal instead of getting sidetracked with minor disagreements.

How To Improve Social Skills

There are a few ways you can learn how to develop your social skills.  This includes:

  1. Look for areas of growth

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Start by determining where there’s room for improvement in your professional life and practice those skills. For example, if networking isn’t your strong suit, attend events and give yourself the goal of talking to at least 10 people. The more you practice, the better you’ll become.

  1. Solicit feedback

Asking for feedback is a great way to find out if you are improving in areas you’re interested in. You can ask your colleagues to give you regular feedback on how you’re doing and what they think your priorities should be.

  1. Seek out mentors

Seek out people who have the qualities you want to possess and learn from them. Anyone in your life can be a mentor if they possess the social skills you’d like to have for yourself. Ask them questions about how they nurture these skills and find ways to practice them yourself.

  1. Practice civil discourse

Civil discourse is a powerful social skill.  Practice it by engaging in difficult conversations with honesty, respect, and structure.  Listen to others with an open mind, and try not to interrupt while they're speaking.

  1. Keep on track

Improving your social skills requires continuous effort. Evaluate your skills and look for ways to enhance them by observing others who are great communicators and by learning from them.

  1. Play to your strengths

Don’t ignore the social skills you already have.  Find ways to use them on a regular basis to strengthen them even further.  People will respect you for your strengths and become more willing to forgive your weaknesses.

  1. Target your weaknesses

Don't give up on a skill you want to attain simply because you are unfamiliar with it. Make a list of the skills you want but don't have and make a goal for yourself of improving each of them, however slowly.

Civil Discourse

team collaboration

September 29, 2022

What is Team Collaboration?

As a founder, one of the most important things you can do is to build a strong team behind your vision. Without the right people and a solid team in place, your startup will struggle to grow or realize its goals. Fostering collaboration is the key to building a stellar team. When your team members work together towards a common goal, they achieve remarkable results.. Focus on fostering collaboration among your team by:

  • Encouraging transparent communication
  • Holding employees accountable
  • Inspiring active team participation
  • Building trust among team members

Focusing on these things builds a problem-solving team committed to overcoming obstacles. Teamwork can mean the difference between success and failure. Here's a guide on what team collaboration means and how it can benefit your company.

Collaboration is a great driving force that can help your business develop and proliferate. It's based on establishing healthy communication among employees and results in increased productivity, better problem-solving, improved morale, and a positive effect on overall performance. It helps employees learn from each other, problem solve more efficiently, break down communication barriers and see the larger company picture.

What are the Components of Collaboration in the Team?

Keeping collaboration alive in a team with diverse viewpoints can be difficult. It’s especially hard in remote teams, where people often don’t meet in person or bond over things outside of work. Emotional connection is critical in building collaboration; when lacking, there’s less motivation to collaborate. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for people to judge others’ beliefs and kills the collaborative spirit. That’s why you need to create a civil environment where everyone can be themselves without fear of ridicule. 

 Here are some components that can help you achieve team collaboration:

  1. Communicate to build trust

Trust is essential to team-building. It helps people understand each other and get insight into their mindsets. Managing a team becomes effortless when everyone trusts each other. A united team can bring unique projects to life.

  1. Conduct civil discourse to accept varying viewpoints

Everyone has unique experiences and interprets things differently. This can lead to internal conflict if your team lacks tolerance for diversity of thought.

As a leader, you need to foster an environment that allows people to discuss their ideas and respectfully disagree with each other. This will enable them to share their ideas and find common ground freely.

  1. Empathize to bring the team together

Empathy is a vital factor in keeping a team intact. It helps people understand the rationale behind others' actions. In addition, empathy is a human emotion that helps people form bonds with one another. This bonding leads employees to respect each other more and work together as a team toward the company's shared goals.

  1. Practice transparency while making decisions

As a leader, you should not keep your team in the dark about company policies, business framework, revenue, and other pertinent information. Keeping them informed will help them stay focused on their job and less likely to worry about hidden agendas their superiors might have.

Transparency is a powerful tool for collaboration. It allows teams to identify obstacles to collaboration and work together to eliminate them. It also makes it easier to consider coworkers’ needs and interests when making decisions.

Benefits of a Team Collaboration

It’s no secret that collaborative teams are more successful than others. You must make collaboration central to your company’s culture to experience growth. These are just a few of the many benefits of collaboration in a team:

  • Enhances productivity among members

Collaborative teams work together for the success of the project. By doing this, they save time, energy, and other resources. In addition, each employee plays their part in accomplishing the goal as a team. This reduces the workload on individual shoulders and enhances the team's productivity.

  • Uplifts employee engagement and satisfaction rate

Workplace collaboration improves employee satisfaction rates, making employees feel supported, empowered, and comfortable doing their bit to reach the goal. In addition, this creates room for healthy discussions where everyone can engage, brainstorm ideas, and learn from each other.

  • Boosts employee’s confidence to innovate

In a cooperative workplace, people feel free to experiment with creative ideas. This nurtures their risk-taking abilities. In addition, every challenge presents an opportunity for them to learn, implement, and think out of the box.

  • Nurtures the well-being of employees

At its core, team cooperation is about building an emotional connection between employees, which makes them feel relaxed and comfortable. This enhances workplace morale and contributes to the company's success.

Collaboration drives businesses. It's based on establishing healthy communication among employees, resulting in increased productivity, better problem-solving, and overall performance. All these have a positive effect on your company's growth in the long run.

Civil Discourse

letting go of ego

September 28, 2022

Letting Go of Your Ego: 6 Steps

Today, the word ego is thrown around casually. Many people use it to mean "self-interest," but ego means something entirely different in psychoanalytic terms. Ego refers to one's sense of identity. It is also referred to as the self-concept, a collection of beliefs that come up when one asks the question, "Who am I?"

The ego is difficult to define because it is made up of many different beliefs that a person acquires over their life, and those beliefs can be contradictory. Essentially, your ego is a self-constructed identity that often includes a name, personality, and story. It's based on memories, beliefs, ideas, and sensations about "who you are," "where you came from," "what you're good and bad at," and "what you've experienced."

What Truly is Ego?

Ego is the Latin word for I. In philosophy, it refers to your' self.' It's your belief about who you are. You slowly build this self-image with time, and as you grow, it grows with you too.  

It starts with thoughts like, "I am great at coding," and includes inhibitions like, "My colleagues don't like me." You build your self-image by having both negative and positive perceptions. The problem begins when your mind gets overly negative or positive in constructing that image. 

In the professional world, this becomes, "I have performed well this year, and I deserve a promotion." Your ego takes a hard blow if you don't get that promotion. 

When you practice reflective activities like meditation, you get closer to the spiritual idea of ego. It manifests into a small voice in your head that tells you what you're worth. 

Jim Carrey eloquently summed it up in his commencement address at the 2014 M.U.M. graduation, “If you listen to the ego, there will always be someone who’s doing better than you. No matter what you gain, ego will not let you rest. It will tell you that you cannot stop until you've left an indelible mark on the earth until you've achieved immortality. How tricky is this ego that it would tempt us with a promise of something we already possess?” 

Letting go of your ego can be a difficult task, but if you’re feeling tired or worn out by ego-driven decisions or thinking, it may be time to start letting go.

How Can You Tell Whether Your Ego is in Charge?

Your ego is sly. At first, you may not notice that your ego has taken over.

If you've noticed that friends and colleagues are taking steps to avoid your energy, it may be time to take a hard look at yourself. Are you exhibiting any of these behaviors?

  • You always pitch your ideas but discredit other people's contributions.
  • You take on tasks as a challenge to be won.  If you’re not winning, you lose interest. 
  • You don't attach much value to experimenting, learning, and growing.
  • Your feelings get hurt at the slightest pretext.
  • You're not open to criticism.
  • You feel the need to be right in all arguments.
  • You find reasons to feel superior to others on every occasion.
  • You're jealous of other people's success.

How to Let Go of Your Ego

The ego-self wants attention, acceptance, validation, approval, and love from others. As a result, you get attached to your version of the truth. You must take conscious action to let go of your ego in order to make room for other realities.

Here's a practical and actionable approach to follow:

Learn to forgive and forget.

  • The most effective way of eliminating ego is by forgiving, forgetting, and moving on. Forgive everyone's mistakes, and most importantly, forgive yourself. Don't beat yourself up for not excelling in a few things; at least you're trying your best.
  • Don't let your ego get a boost when you prove people wrong. Break this cycle by not fighting with people just to win, and start by not participating in arguments that are useless.
  • Exercise empathy and make purpose-driven decisions.
  • Accept responsibility for your actions. When you’re not looking to blame someone else, you’ll feel happier and more content.

Break out of your echo chamber with civil discourse.

  • Participate in discussions without dominating the conversation. 
  • Practice civil discourse to respectfully listen to and understand diverse opinions. 
  • Ask for permission before interjecting into any conversation.
  • Politely present your opinion without disregarding anyone's experiences. 

Introspect to see when your ego takes dominance.

  • Ego is destructive only when you don't know it's in action. 
  • Take responsibility. Understand which circumstances trigger your ego-driven reactions.
  • Maintain composure when you feel hurt or things don't go according to plan. 
  • Stop trying to control people. Offer suggestions adhering to civil discourse.

Practice mindfulness.

  • Take a deep breath and pause. Ground yourself by paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Meditate to still the mind and free yourself from mental chatter.
  • Live in the moment. You can choose to bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
  • Be thankful for everything you have. Start maintaining a gratitude journal. Write three things that you're grateful for every day.

Beat your inner voice.

  • Don't give in to your ego even when it plagues you with negative thoughts.
  • Build courage. Don't be afraid of taking a leap of faith.
  • Focus on character development. Attach more value to the core intent rather than superficial emotions. 
  • Always strive to learn more from every experience.

Accept the pros of having an ego.

  • Your ego is a part of who you are. It doesn't have to be entirely negative. Manage your ego such that it never gets dominant over your other rational emotions.
  • Through introspection, you can even leverage your ego to stay away from pain and negative feelings.
  • Be true to yourself and don't suppress your emotions. Have honest conversations with those around you.
  • Let go of the absolute need for perfection. Keep your ego under control and exercise it to deliver the best you can. 

Embrace Your Independence From Ego

It's as important to exercise your mind as it is to exercise your body. Once you get out of your head and start accepting a broader perspective, you break free from ego. The journey of letting go of your ego is not easy, but it's a fulfilling one.

Remember: you are not fighting against your ego. If you try too hard, your ego will only become more assertive. So instead, add more gratitude, compassion, humility, and politeness to your demeanor. Keep at it, and soon you can break free of your ego as subtly as it had crept into your life.

Civil Discourse

September 27, 2022

How to Show Respect to Others

We all have different views, but respecting each other's opinions is essential to maintaining positive relationships. Don't be disrespectful when you encounter someone with a different idea than yours; engage in dialogue. 

Life is full of abstraction, and people have many different ways of interpreting what's happening around them. Why not use this to your advantage and learn and understand new perspectives? Respect pays off. You're likely to get the same in return if you respect others.

A Note on Self-Respect

As the saying goes, “Love begins at home.” Respect is no different. A healthy level of self-respect enables you to set firm boundaries. It means knowing what you stand for and what your values are and being accepting of both your strengths and weaknesses. 

When you respect yourself, you dare to say “no” to people and situations that are hurtful or detrimental to your well-being. It’s a prerequisite for making mature decisions that impact your life and the lives of others connected to you. Respect begins with you but has the potential to spread outwards into better interpersonal relationships.

Examples of Respect to Others

Imagine you’re talking to someone, and they keep interrupting you, cutting you off in the middle of your sentences, imposing their thoughts on you, and trying to convince you that they’re right. You won’t enjoy the conversation and will likely avoid interacting with this person again.

A lack of respect alienates people. Respect in your social interactions will keep bridges from burning with essential connections.

Here are some examples of how to show consideration and respect towards others:

Mindful listening

Mindful listening requires you to be completely engaged in a conversation. Listen carefully, process what you hear, and respond appropriately. You can reflect mindful listening through your body language by:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Asking questions
  • Expressing assent or disagreement through civil discourse
  • Offering a conclusion to the conversation

Respect starts with careful listening. 

Affirmations

By affirming others' viewpoints, you let them know their voice matters. In addition, you show your appreciation for their effort by saying something positive. This helps start a healthy conversation.

Try saying things like:

  • "You're very hardworking, and it reflects in your work."
  • "It must have been hard to deal with, but it's great to see your progress."
  • "I've been through a similar situation, and you're dealing with it better than I did."

It is possible to respect someone even if you don't agree with all of their ideas. Validating the positive encourages better discourse in the future.

Compassionate Behavior

Compassion is an expression of respect for others. It helps you understand other people’s situations and needs, even if you haven’t been through similar problems yourself. With kindness, you evolve into a generous, well-respected person.

People remember the small acts of kindness you extend to them. They are more likely to respect you if you show compassion even when they least expect it.

Polite Conduct

Politeness costs you nothing and yet is so rare in today’s society. Yet, a few polite words can uplift the spirit of a fellow human being. Nothing communicates respect more eloquently than politeness.

Gratitude

When people support you, express your thanks. Take the time to show appreciation for all that is going well in your life and the lives of others. When we express our gratitude, it not only changes us psychologically but it also changes the world around us.

Empathy and Respect

Respect leads to empathy. It shows you’re willing to forgive people’s mistakes and respect who they are. The same is valid for self-respect.

You accept your flaws and work towards getting better, but never thrash yourself for any mistake. We all are at fault sometimes. Be empathic towards yourself and the people around you. 

How to Be Respectful in the Workplace

A respectful workplace is necessary for a solid team to perform at its peak. The morale and productivity of employees rise when they feel valued and heard.

Here are some ways to show respect for your colleagues in the workplace:

  • Smile and communicate with kindness.
  • Encourage your coworkers to express their opinions.
  • Don’t exhibit negative body language like dismissive facial expressions, eye-rolling, or shrugging.
  • Accept your mistakes and apologize heartily.
  • Participate in constructive conversation.
  • Exercise your emotional intelligence before responding to any situation.
  • Include everyone in discussions and let them speak.
  • Praise others’ efforts without restraint.

How to be Respectful During an Argument

It’s not easy to be kind and considerate during conflicts. But you can learn to stay respectful with continuous practice. 

  • Talk in a way you’d want others to speak with you. 
  • Adopt a solution-oriented approach. Don’t seek fights.
  • Understand where the opposition is coming from and succinctly explain your reasons. 
  • Don’t focus on winning. Focus on understanding a new perspective and resolving the issue. 
  • Speak calmly without raising your voice.

You can use civil discourse to listen to differing opinions and respond empathically. Civil discourse is a strong proponent of coexisting thoughts despite disagreements. It's my go-to tool for resolving conflicts in my professional and personal life.

Respect can have a significant impact on people's lives. It can bring people together or tear them apart. We all want respect but often struggle to give it, especially in the online world. Because of the lack of real-life interactions with social media, it's easy to feel disconnected. Disrespect can happen easily with online communication. But giving respect is a powerful tool for improving relationships around you on and offline.

Civil Discourse

how to improve communication skills

September 12, 2022

4 Ways To Improve Your Communication Skills

When a leader thinks about effective communication skills, they’re focusing on the different ways in which we give and receive information. The ability to communicate is essential in all fields, but nowhere is it more vital than in the workplace. If you can't communicate effectively with other people, you will create unnecessary problems and be much less effective at what you do.

Have you ever had a boss you knew would give you their undivided attention and honest feedback? Conversely, have you ever had a boss whose feedback was vague and unclear? I've encountered a wide range of communicators during my journey as an entrepreneur, and I've tried to learn lessons from all of them. 

Communication with others can take many forms. Whether you're in an in-person meeting or sending a quick email to your boss, it's essential to communicate effectively and respectfully. Here are four ways you can be a better communicator.

  1. Be clear, brief, and specific

Communication is all about getting your point across. You risk being misunderstood if what you’re saying or writing is unclear, vague, or overly wordy. Be as clear and as concise as possible to get your point across. You should also be as specific as possible; avoid unnecessary words or overly descriptive language that can muddle or weaken your message.

  1. Always be prepared

Before you make a phone call, begin a presentation, or send an email, you should have a plan. No one appreciates having their time wasted, so go in with all of the information you need close at hand. If you’re dealing with a client, try and anticipate their questions so you can be ready to answer them. If you’re in a meeting or on a phone call, write down notes to refer to during the conversation to help guide you.

  1. Give your undivided attention

We all live busy lives, full of people who demand our attention at any moment. I’ve learned the importance of giving each task my full and undivided attention while building three companies. If you try to send an email to your boss while on the phone with a client, you may find yourself inattentive to both conversations. Always give your full attention to the other person, listening closely, and responding only when you feel you have heard everything they say.

  1. Don't be afraid to ask questions

Communication is a two-way process. If you’re unsure about something someone has said, never presume their meaning. It’s always better to clarify with a question than to misunderstand. Follow up with an email after a meeting to confirm that you have all the necessary information.

Tips To Improve Face-to-Face Communication Skills

While we've all been in meetings that could have been handled better via email, face-to-face communication is still the best way to hold meaningful discussions with others. Here are several tips for improving your communication skills during face-to-face conversations.

Although we may wish otherwise, not all conversations will be pleasant or lighthearted. You may have to fire an employee, have a difficult discussion with your boss, or disagree with your colleagues during a meeting. Practice civil discourse by speaking truthfully and respectfully while allowing others to disagree.  Avoid the temptation to lose your temper or interrupt the other person.  As long as you speak truthfully and listen to the other person’s point of view, it is possible to have difficult conversations civilly.

  • Practice active listening

When it comes to improving communication skills, listening is equally as important as speaking.  Practice active listening by giving the person speaking your complete attention.  Don't interrupt them, and make eye contact if possible.  While the other person is speaking, don't spend time formulating your own response; instead, take a moment once they’ve finished considering what you’d like to say next.  When you reply, paraphrase what they said to ensure you understand it.  Ask questions if you need more information before responding.

  • Focus on nonverbal communication

Language is just one of the ways in which human beings communicate.  Our body language can share many things that our words do not, from our facial expressions to the gestures we make.  If you’re a manager leading a meeting, be mindful of your employees’ body language.  While they may not say anything to raise a concern, they may be communicating discomfort or disagreement through crossed arms.  Be mindful of your nonverbal communication, as you want your body language to match your message.

  • Ask for honest feedback

Giving and receiving criticism can be awkward for both parties, but feedback is critical to personal growth.  To encourage others to communicate freely, ask for honest feedback when needed.  Most people will say what’s on their minds when given an invitation to do so.  The more you ask for honest feedback from your colleagues, the more you’ll learn how to improve your communication skills.

Civil Discourse

how to improve time management

October 6, 2022

Tips For Time Management When You Are Overloaded

If you're like me, you never seem to have enough time in the day. Despite scheduling everything down to my morning meditation on my calendar, some days I still feel like I can't get it all done. 

Whether you’re a self-motivated entrepreneur or a high school student, it can be tough to find an effective time management practice.  In fact, research shows that 82% of people don’t have any time management system at all.  One of the most important lessons I've learned while building companies is that practicing time management can save you a tremendous amount of stress. Time is a precious commodity. Entrepreneurs who are busy growing their businesses need to maximize every moment of their day. 

Read on to find out more about the importance of time management and how to improve your skills.

What Is Time Management?

How can some people get so much done during the day? The answer isn’t that time works differently for them—it’s that they have mastered time management. Time management is the process of planning and delegating a specific amount of time to spend on certain activities.  Rather than spending "as long as it takes" on each individual task, you create a schedule in which you decide ahead of time how long to spend on each area.

The Importance Of Time Management

It takes practice to improve your time management skills.  In order to stay motivated in your time-management efforts, you should learn about the benefits that successful time managers gain by consistently practicing their techniques. 

Here are a few benefits for practicing effective time management:

  1. Increased opportunities

People who don't manage their time well miss out on opportunities that are available to those who plan effectively.  Proper time management means less time wasted on non-essential activities, which can open you up to opportunities to engage in meaningful experiences that help advance your career.

  1. Less stress

Whenever we find ourselves running up against the clock, stress ensues.  When you can manage your time properly, you’ll find you meet deadlines with plenty of time to spare. This will help you avoid the stress of letting your responsibilities slide, which can lead to tense situations with coworkers.

  1. More goals accomplished

The better you manage your time, the more you can accomplish.  During the time you would otherwise waste, you could do any number of things–take an online course to learn a new skill, spend time with family, or even take on additional projects at work.

  1. Improved reputation

People know who they can rely on, and who they can't.  You want to be the person that others turn to for help, advice, and assistance.  With the right time management strategies, you can establish a reputation as someone dependable and trustworthy.

  1. Reduced burnout

Burnout can come from taking on too much work and not enough rest, but it often finds its roots in poor time management.  While time management can help you become more efficient, it also requires that you schedule in the necessary amount of downtime to ensure you’ll be mentally and physically healthy enough to carry the burden.

Consequences Of Poor Time Management

You can be busy without being productive. When you lack time management skills, you may find that the busier you are, the less you actually achieve. Struggling with time management is associated with higher levels of stress, insomnia, depression, and other mental health issues.  You’ll need to learn how to improve time management if you want to avoid burnout and inefficiency.

General Tips For Better Time Management

Here are some of the best tips I’ve learned for mastering time management, building a more organized schedule, and achieving your goals:

  1. Set regular goals

Setting regular goals for yourself will provide you with direction and motivation throughout the day.  It’s easy to languish when you don’t know what you’re doing, but if you set specific and achievable daily goals, each new accomplishment will serve as a reinforcement.

  1. Choose your priorities carefully

Time management isn't about doing everything at once. It's about prioritizing your activities and making choices that will help you achieve the outcome you want. Prioritize your activities from highest to lowest priority, then divide out the amount of time spent on each accordingly.

  1. Take plenty of breaks

I always schedule breaks into my day, a practice that prevents me from burning out. If you schedule a short break between each activity—even if it’s just a 10-minute walk—you won’t get overwhelmed and decide to break from your schedule.

  1. Stay organized

Scheduling out your day can keep you focused on what's important. I use Google Calendar, but there are lots of ways to manage your time and tasks. Experiment with different systems and find one that works for you. The act of crossing things off the list can be a powerful motivator to keep going when you want to quit.

  1. Limit your time

Decide how much time you'll spend on a project—and then do your best to stick to that amount of time.  If you're ahead or behind schedule, adjust accordingly.  Once you get used to estimating how long something will take, you'll be less likely to take on tasks that are too much for you.

  1. Get rid of non-essential tasks

Time is a precious commodity you don’t want to waste.  If you find that you’re spending a large chunk of each time on something unnecessary, it’s in your best interest to cut it from the schedule.  The more of these tasks you rid yourself of, the more time you’ll have to achieve your goals.

  1. Plan, plan, plan

If you leave time management until the last minute, it becomes that much more difficult to stick to a schedule.  Plan ahead by writing out a loose schedule for yourself at the beginning of the week and refining the next day’s events the night before.

Time management can be hard to master.  You need to practice daily if you want it to become second nature.  Just as you must practice civil discourse and other social skills, you’ll need to practice time management on a regular basis if you want to enjoy its numerous benefits.

Civil Discourse

understanding people

October 4, 2022

8 Crucial Rules To Understanding People

Conflict comes from many sources, but nothing fuels conflict like a misunderstanding.  When you fail to understand people, you experience conflicts, embarrassing social gaffes, and frustrating emotional upheavals. The skill of understanding others is an important part of being an empathetic person, and it will take you far in every area of life.  In order to help you develop this skill, I’ll explain what it really means to understand another person and what tips will help you become more understanding of people.

What Does It Mean To Understand People?

It can be incredibly difficult to appreciate and accept those who are different from us, but our relationships with others will always be more authentic and fulfilling when we understand them.  But what does this mean, exactly?  

Truly understanding people requires more than just listening politely.  It requires you to give your full attention; to listen not just to what they say, but to watch their body language; to shelve your own assumptions and maintain an open mind.  We as a society have recognized the need to understand the people we disagree with, but few people are skilled at putting this into practice.

Why Do People Struggle To Understand Others?

If you struggle to make sense of your surroundings, it doesn’t mean that you are a highly flawed person. Everyone experiences mental hurdles that make it difficult to understand people, which is why practice is necessary in order to develop social skills. Our brains have a tendency to dismiss anything they don’t understand and change others' words into our pre-existing worldview. In order to change, we must practice and dedicate ourselves.

I've learned many valuable and interesting things that help me make sense of the world around me. But with this knowledge always comes the temptation to make assumptions, and you know what they say about assumptions. I work regularly at being present, mindful, and attentive in order to keep my skill of understanding others sharp.

8 Tips To Being More Understanding Of People

To understand people, you need to master certain skills. Here are eight tips to help you develop those skills:

  1. Put in the effort

Understanding people can be difficult. Like any skill, it takes time and effort to achieve. Before every interaction, take a moment to ground yourself and remember your desire to understand the other person rather than simply to be understood.

  1. Never assume anything

The assumptions we make can seem like harmless fillers for the blanks in our knowledge, but they can also obscure our view of reality.  Ask questions to seek more information; it's better to clarify something the other person has said than to wrongly assume a different meaning.

  1. Keep an eye on body language

Remember to focus closely on whomever you’re talking to and pay attention to their body language. Watch for clues about their stress level and posture, which can reveal important information about what they are saying. If someone seems nervous or stressed, ask follow-up questions to get more information.

  1. Stay present

Our minds wander all the time, but when you’re talking to someone, try to stay present.  If you don’t pay attention, you could miss words or gestures that lead to confusion later on.  Focus on what the other person is saying instead of rehearsing what you’re going to say next.

  1. Employ mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness is a practice that can help you be more present. Try incorporating meditation into your daily routine to give yourself time each day to slow down and be aware of your body. You can practice these techniques before important interviews or meetings to ground yourself and make it easier to pay attention.

  1. Practice civil discourse

The key to understanding is to listen carefully and with an open mind.  Civil discourse allows you to have conversations about sensitive topics without losing your cool or shutting down.  When you’re engaged in a conversation about a heated topic, try to set aside your judgment and listen with an open mind.  Refrain from interrupting the other person and try to listen for the content of what they’re saying.

  1. Understand personality types

People perceive the world in different ways, and the way that you operate may not be the same way that your colleagues operate.  When interacting with someone who is behaving in a way you don’t understand, try to evaluate their personality type.  Are they introverted or extroverted?  Type A or type B?  If you see their way of doing things as different rather than wrong, this can help you to set aside assumptions of malice or incompetence.

  1. Cut others some slack

We all make mistakes from time to time. When we’re the ones making the mistake, we know that we didn’t mean any harm. But when others make mistakes, it’s easy to rush to judgment. We need to forgive others and slow down before rushing to judgment ourselves.

Understanding other people is not just a gift for them; it also benefits you. The better you understand other people and their motivations, the more genuine your relationships with them will be and the less likely you are to feel resentment or discord. If you make an effort to improve your skills at understanding others, then you’ll give yourself the opportunity to grow on a personal level, build more fulfilling relationships with others, and boost your self-esteem.

Civil Discourse

body language

October 3, 2022

Body Language - Read The Unspoken

We often underestimate the impact of body language. The things we convey through our nonverbal communication can be more influential than the words we speak. Sure, we can tell our boss we’re more than happy to work late on a Friday, but our frown and slumped shoulders reveal that we’d rather be at home. Our body language reveals what we’re really thinking, whether it’s intentional or not.

When polled, most experts agree that 70-90% of communication is nonverbal.  How we use our bodies when we talk can have a big impact on how others perceive us, how receptive they are to our thoughts and ideas, and how willing they are to converse with us.

Read on to find out more about how the way you move helps or hinders communication, and what you can do to improve your body language.

What Is Body Language?

Body language encompasses any of the nonverbal signals that we use to communicate.  This can be a physical behavior such as crossed arms as well as a facial expression such as a grimace.  It can even be certain mannerisms that we don’t even know we’re making, like a twitching eyelid or shaking hands.  We all know the importance of body language in something as important as a job interview, but what about conversations with our friends?  Parties?  Networking events?  Do we pay enough attention to other people’s body language, or even our own?

Think about the last time you were on a first date.  Did your hands shake?  Did you find yourself reaching for your glass over and over, taking sips of water to quell your nerves?  Were your arms crossed in a defensive posture to help you subconsciously feel safe?  All of these body language examples express what our words may not.  Anyone who is well-versed in body language will be able to read between the lines.

Why Is Body Language Important?

As human beings, we’re naturally curious.  We want to know what other people have to say, especially if they don’t want us to know what they’re thinking.  To that end, the ability to read body language is a powerful asset in achieving your goals.  People who are good at reading body language can foster better relationships, collaborate well with others, and shine in their careers.

When you can read other people’s body language, you might be able to:

  • Deduce what someone else is thinking
  • Negotiate a better raise
  • Leave a lasting impression on a date
  • Create trust in relationships
  • Offer better guidance and support to those in need
  • Become a better leader

If you struggle with body language, there’s no need to worry.  There are many ways to learn how to improve body language through practice and a bit of effort.

How To Keep Your Body Language On Point

It is important to learn how to read other people's body language, and it is equally important to understand your own. If your body language does not match what you are saying, you run the risk of creating distrust.  Some people are innately able to read body language, but others have to learn it as they would any other language.  Body language is one of the keys to effective communication, so becoming an expert in it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Tips To Excel In Body Language

Here are a few steps you can take to improve your body language:

  1. Practice self-awareness

One of the first tips for body language is to practice being more self-aware.  We all have subconscious habits that we don’t even realize we’re doing: nail biting, finger tapping, teeth grinding.  But in order to improve your body language, you need to be aware of what your body is signaling to other people.  The next time you’re in a conversation with someone, keep an eye on what your body language is doing.  You’ll learn what your habits are and which ones you may need to curb.

  1. Straighten your back and relax your shoulders

A straight back and relaxed shoulders signal that you’re open, calm, and interested.  If your shoulders are slumped and your back curved, people may think you’re tired or worn down.  If your shoulders are raised, then this sends signals that you’re nervous and stressed.  If you find yourself doing any of the above, focus on straightening your back and relaxing your shoulders to put forth an air of calm control.

  1. Take deep breaths when feeling nervous

We can’t control when we feel nervous, but we can control how we react to it.  When we’re nervous, our breathing often becomes shallow.  This can cause us to feel even more nervous and enter fight-or-flight mode.  If you find yourself feeling nervous, take deep breaths to calm yourself down and bring yourself back to center.  A good guide for deep breathing is to breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and hold it for another four.  Then repeat this as many times as needed until you feel calmer.

  1. Practice mindful listening

Mindful listening will help you train yourself to practice more open body language.  If you’re focused on being a mindful listener, then you’re engaging in eye contact with the other person and using body language to show that you’re listening.  This means nodding, smiling, and doing other things that encourage the other person to keep speaking.  When you’re focused on these behaviors, there’s no room for negative body language to get in the way.

  1. Be engaged with civil discourse

Oftentimes our body language becomes negative when we experience unwanted emotions.  Engaging in civil discourse allows you to tackle tough conversations without letting your emotions get the better of you.  This means listening without judgment, allowing the other person to finish speaking before responding, and speaking honestly in a neutral tone.  When you make civil discourse a way of life, you become fluent in controlling your body language.  This is true no matter how emotionally charged the topic of conversation.

  1. Study other people’s body language

We often learn best by mimicking other people.  Whenever you meet someone who you think exudes confidence, take a look at their body language.  What nonverbal communication is giving off a sense of confidence and calm?  Is it their posture?  Their facial expression?  Unwavering eye contact?  Try and practice those same nonverbal gestures to improve your own body language.

  1. Don’t forget to smile

This body language tip is one of the more nuanced tips on the list.  Smiling too much can appear inauthentic, but not smiling at all is a surefire way to turn off the other speaker.  Smile whenever you’re introduced to someone for the first time, and continue to smile at regular intervals during the conversation.  In addition to nodding and small verbal encouragements, a smile is the perfect way to show that you’re engaged in the conversation.

Body language is as complex and nuanced as any other language. It can be used to communicate, to express our thoughts, feelings and emotions.  But we often don’t recognize the messages our bodies are sending out. By following these body language tips, you’ll improve your own body language and become better at reading everybody else’s.  Once you’ve mastered your body language skills, you’ll be surprised what a difference it will make in your life.

Civil Discourse

social leadership

October 2, 2022

What is Social Leadership?

Leadership used to mean a powerful presence and the ability to inspire others. But today, in the age of collaboration and transparency, leadership is also about building trust among your team members. It means sharing your own vulnerabilities as well as demonstrating vulnerability by listening closely to others' ideas. And it’s not only about achieving results—it's about helping others achieve theirs.

My journey as a founder has led to me being in leadership positions for a variety of teams, and I’ve had to learn hard and fast just how much of an impact a leadership style can have on employees. The emotional and empathetic leadership style of a social leader focuses on building strong relationships within the team, which has a direct impact on their collaboration and communication skills. 

With a focus on social leadership, I’ve learned that we can create a positive work environment by utilizing emotional intelligence to create trust and respect among employees.

What is Social Leadership?

Today's workforce is changing, and the traditional leader is being replaced by a new type – the social leader. The type of leadership we're talking about here doesn't rely on position or title; instead it's about emotional intelligence, relationship skills, and service-oriented behaviors. Leaders who lack these qualities will struggle to motivate their employees in today's workplace, where people are looking for meaning and purpose from their job.

Social leaders have a vision for where their company will go. They don't force their team members to follow orders, but instead listen and question people's methods to help them perfect their approach. As a social leader, you focus on the bigger picture and track all departments to know where you're heading as a company. You create a better tomorrow for yourself, your employees and customers.

What are the Characteristics of a Social Leader?

Dedication to the cause: All social leaders have a genuine desire to help others. They are willing to invest in their community and give everything they have in order to make a difference. They also tend to be motivators, who inspire others with their passion for their work.

Successful social leaders exhibit some common characteristics. 

They care. Social leaders are focused on the people around them. They create an environment where employees feel valued and supported. A great social leader has a strong desire to help others succeed, while also helping their business achieve its goals.

They communicate. Social leaders know that great communication is vital to driving engagement, and therefore, the success of their team. They are excellent communicators and are able to build rapport with their team members. They know how to separate important topics from non-essential ones and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

They collaborate. While your team may come from different backgrounds and cultures, we all share the goal of doing great work. Without teamwork, our efforts would not be possible. Social leaders know the importance of teamwork and are always looking for ways to improve team dynamics. They understand that no one is an island and know how to get the best out of their team by working together.

They’re self-aware. As a social leader, you know that what you do determines the people you lead and the culture of your team. In order to understand and develop yourself in an ongoing way, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. Managers who are serious about growing their leadership skills set aside time to ask themselves questions like, ‘What do I need to work on?’, ‘Is there someone else who can help me with this?’ and ‘Do I really want this job?’ It can be hard at first, but asking yourself these tough questions often leads to positive change!

They’re people-oriented. Social leaders see their business as a family, not merely a corporation. Because they focus on the people, not just tasks or goals, social leaders understand that strong relationships are the key to a successful team. They work hard to build trust and rapport with their employees so they can get great results from people who actually enjoy working together.

They’re vulnerable. Vulnerability is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. While this might seem risky, it's actually a great way to build trust with your team. By being open and honest, you'll create a more open, honest working environment that allows for all ideas to be heard and understood.

Civil Discourse to Promote Social Leadership

Leading with civil discourse is a way to create open and informed dialogue. It allows for candid discussions, which support innovative thinking and acceptance. It ensures that everyone can be heard.

Social leaders can leverage the tenets of civil discourse to promote their leadership style by:

  1. Actively listening to all opinions before concluding.
  1. Acknowledging any resistance to ideas and understanding counterarguments.
  1. Respecting diverse opinions to achieve a common understanding.
  1. Trusting individuals with their unique creative processes.
  1. Approaching all matters with a positive mindset by fixating on the ultimate goal.
  1. Communicating emotions in a safe space without prejudices.
  1. Accepting criticism to expand their scope for improvement.

If you want to keep your team motivated and engaged, you need to help solve its conflicts in a civil manner. By practicing civil discourse, you can resolve just about anything and everything related to workflow and productivity.

The traditional workplace is on its way out. In today's market, social corporations are paving a new way forward with people-first leadership practices. These companies are built on the social skills that make their employees happy, productive, and innovative. Social leadership is the difference between an average workforce and a high-performance team.

Civil Discourse

social skills

September 30, 2022

Social Skills In Social And Work Life

Your skills are what set you apart from the competition. Depending on your industry, you might need hard skills like social media management or user experience design skills. Or, you might find that soft skills like negotiating and a high work ethic will get you far. No matter what industry you're in, social skills are always going to be important.

People who are good at social skills, such as communication and emotional intelligence, tend to have more successful careers. In 2018, 42% of all workers held jobs in which social skills are the most important.  What follows is a guide to developing the most important social skills for developing your career. 

Everyone could benefit from improving their social skills no matter who you are or how confident you feel. While I have learned many skills during my time as an entrepreneur and founder, I believe that nothing would have been possible had I not worked on cultivating my social skills. Improve your skills and change your life by following these tips.

What Are Social Skills?

Social skills are the abilities we use to communicate with other people. Our tone, body language, and written communication (including emails) all fall under this umbrella. When we communicate with others—whether at work or with family and friends—we’re developing our social skills.

Your social skillset encompasses countless different skills. These are just a few examples:

Effective communication

Effective communication involves the ability to get your point across clearly and concisely. It also means being able to receive information in a way that ensures you understand exactly what’s being said to you.

Conflict resolution

Being able to handle conflict is an important skill for anyone to possess.  We all have disagreements at times, but being able to resolve them peacefully will keep both parties satisfied. 

Active listening

Active listening is the ability to listen to another person in a way that allows them to know they’re being heard. This can include open body language, nodding, and verbal acknowledgments.

Empathy

If you genuinely understand the feelings of others, it makes it easier to connect with them and build a relationship. Empathy means taking into account other people’s sensitivities and avoiding stepping on toes.

Cooperation

Not everyone is good at working with others.  It’s important to learn how to work as part of a team, sharing equal responsibility of the work and uniting towards a common goal.

Why Are Social Skills Important?

When you have social skills, you develop the ability to connect with others, interact and build relationships. This is an essential component for success in all areas of life, not just your career. 

Many doors will open and more opportunities will present themselves when you can effectively communicate with others by understanding their needs, desires and concerns. Being social is important, and it can open a whole world of possibility. Here's why you should work on your social skills:

Improved communication

When you have good social skills, you become a better communicator.  You learn how to communicate your wants and needs to those around you rather than waiting for them to read your mind and give you what I want.  I know how to make requests in a way that acknowledges the other person’s time and expertise, rather than demanding or hinting at what I want.

Better relationships

Not only will your relationships improve when you have good social skills, but they may even grow. The better we are at working with others, the more that people are drawn to us.  I've been able to open countless doors because I took the time to establish good relationships with the right people.

Access to a wealth of information

Through close relationships, you can also learn valuable information. I've learned how to ask and how to listen from people with different areas of expertise. When you have good social skills, you gain new ideas, techniques, and perspectives that can enhance your own.

The ability to help others

It’s not always about what we can do for ourselves—sometimes the path to success lies in what we can do for others. I share my perspective and help others succeed; this helps me succeed too.  A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s been my experience that if you help other people, they will help you when you need it.

Less conflict

Conflict hurts everyone involved, which is why the ability to resolve it is such a crucial part of being a leader. By developing my social skills and minimizing conflict in my relationships, I have been able to become a more effective leader. This allows my teams and I  to remain united in achieving a common goal instead of getting sidetracked with minor disagreements.

How To Improve Social Skills

There are a few ways you can learn how to develop your social skills.  This includes:

  1. Look for areas of growth

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Start by determining where there’s room for improvement in your professional life and practice those skills. For example, if networking isn’t your strong suit, attend events and give yourself the goal of talking to at least 10 people. The more you practice, the better you’ll become.

  1. Solicit feedback

Asking for feedback is a great way to find out if you are improving in areas you’re interested in. You can ask your colleagues to give you regular feedback on how you’re doing and what they think your priorities should be.

  1. Seek out mentors

Seek out people who have the qualities you want to possess and learn from them. Anyone in your life can be a mentor if they possess the social skills you’d like to have for yourself. Ask them questions about how they nurture these skills and find ways to practice them yourself.

  1. Practice civil discourse

Civil discourse is a powerful social skill.  Practice it by engaging in difficult conversations with honesty, respect, and structure.  Listen to others with an open mind, and try not to interrupt while they're speaking.

  1. Keep on track

Improving your social skills requires continuous effort. Evaluate your skills and look for ways to enhance them by observing others who are great communicators and by learning from them.

  1. Play to your strengths

Don’t ignore the social skills you already have.  Find ways to use them on a regular basis to strengthen them even further.  People will respect you for your strengths and become more willing to forgive your weaknesses.

  1. Target your weaknesses

Don't give up on a skill you want to attain simply because you are unfamiliar with it. Make a list of the skills you want but don't have and make a goal for yourself of improving each of them, however slowly.

Civil Discourse

team collaboration

September 29, 2022

What is Team Collaboration?

As a founder, one of the most important things you can do is to build a strong team behind your vision. Without the right people and a solid team in place, your startup will struggle to grow or realize its goals. Fostering collaboration is the key to building a stellar team. When your team members work together towards a common goal, they achieve remarkable results.. Focus on fostering collaboration among your team by:

  • Encouraging transparent communication
  • Holding employees accountable
  • Inspiring active team participation
  • Building trust among team members

Focusing on these things builds a problem-solving team committed to overcoming obstacles. Teamwork can mean the difference between success and failure. Here's a guide on what team collaboration means and how it can benefit your company.

Collaboration is a great driving force that can help your business develop and proliferate. It's based on establishing healthy communication among employees and results in increased productivity, better problem-solving, improved morale, and a positive effect on overall performance. It helps employees learn from each other, problem solve more efficiently, break down communication barriers and see the larger company picture.

What are the Components of Collaboration in the Team?

Keeping collaboration alive in a team with diverse viewpoints can be difficult. It’s especially hard in remote teams, where people often don’t meet in person or bond over things outside of work. Emotional connection is critical in building collaboration; when lacking, there’s less motivation to collaborate. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for people to judge others’ beliefs and kills the collaborative spirit. That’s why you need to create a civil environment where everyone can be themselves without fear of ridicule. 

 Here are some components that can help you achieve team collaboration:

  1. Communicate to build trust

Trust is essential to team-building. It helps people understand each other and get insight into their mindsets. Managing a team becomes effortless when everyone trusts each other. A united team can bring unique projects to life.

  1. Conduct civil discourse to accept varying viewpoints

Everyone has unique experiences and interprets things differently. This can lead to internal conflict if your team lacks tolerance for diversity of thought.

As a leader, you need to foster an environment that allows people to discuss their ideas and respectfully disagree with each other. This will enable them to share their ideas and find common ground freely.

  1. Empathize to bring the team together

Empathy is a vital factor in keeping a team intact. It helps people understand the rationale behind others' actions. In addition, empathy is a human emotion that helps people form bonds with one another. This bonding leads employees to respect each other more and work together as a team toward the company's shared goals.

  1. Practice transparency while making decisions

As a leader, you should not keep your team in the dark about company policies, business framework, revenue, and other pertinent information. Keeping them informed will help them stay focused on their job and less likely to worry about hidden agendas their superiors might have.

Transparency is a powerful tool for collaboration. It allows teams to identify obstacles to collaboration and work together to eliminate them. It also makes it easier to consider coworkers’ needs and interests when making decisions.

Benefits of a Team Collaboration

It’s no secret that collaborative teams are more successful than others. You must make collaboration central to your company’s culture to experience growth. These are just a few of the many benefits of collaboration in a team:

  • Enhances productivity among members

Collaborative teams work together for the success of the project. By doing this, they save time, energy, and other resources. In addition, each employee plays their part in accomplishing the goal as a team. This reduces the workload on individual shoulders and enhances the team's productivity.

  • Uplifts employee engagement and satisfaction rate

Workplace collaboration improves employee satisfaction rates, making employees feel supported, empowered, and comfortable doing their bit to reach the goal. In addition, this creates room for healthy discussions where everyone can engage, brainstorm ideas, and learn from each other.

  • Boosts employee’s confidence to innovate

In a cooperative workplace, people feel free to experiment with creative ideas. This nurtures their risk-taking abilities. In addition, every challenge presents an opportunity for them to learn, implement, and think out of the box.

  • Nurtures the well-being of employees

At its core, team cooperation is about building an emotional connection between employees, which makes them feel relaxed and comfortable. This enhances workplace morale and contributes to the company's success.

Collaboration drives businesses. It's based on establishing healthy communication among employees, resulting in increased productivity, better problem-solving, and overall performance. All these have a positive effect on your company's growth in the long run.

Civil Discourse

letting go of ego

September 28, 2022

Letting Go of Your Ego: 6 Steps

Today, the word ego is thrown around casually. Many people use it to mean "self-interest," but ego means something entirely different in psychoanalytic terms. Ego refers to one's sense of identity. It is also referred to as the self-concept, a collection of beliefs that come up when one asks the question, "Who am I?"

The ego is difficult to define because it is made up of many different beliefs that a person acquires over their life, and those beliefs can be contradictory. Essentially, your ego is a self-constructed identity that often includes a name, personality, and story. It's based on memories, beliefs, ideas, and sensations about "who you are," "where you came from," "what you're good and bad at," and "what you've experienced."

What Truly is Ego?

Ego is the Latin word for I. In philosophy, it refers to your' self.' It's your belief about who you are. You slowly build this self-image with time, and as you grow, it grows with you too.  

It starts with thoughts like, "I am great at coding," and includes inhibitions like, "My colleagues don't like me." You build your self-image by having both negative and positive perceptions. The problem begins when your mind gets overly negative or positive in constructing that image. 

In the professional world, this becomes, "I have performed well this year, and I deserve a promotion." Your ego takes a hard blow if you don't get that promotion. 

When you practice reflective activities like meditation, you get closer to the spiritual idea of ego. It manifests into a small voice in your head that tells you what you're worth. 

Jim Carrey eloquently summed it up in his commencement address at the 2014 M.U.M. graduation, “If you listen to the ego, there will always be someone who’s doing better than you. No matter what you gain, ego will not let you rest. It will tell you that you cannot stop until you've left an indelible mark on the earth until you've achieved immortality. How tricky is this ego that it would tempt us with a promise of something we already possess?” 

Letting go of your ego can be a difficult task, but if you’re feeling tired or worn out by ego-driven decisions or thinking, it may be time to start letting go.

How Can You Tell Whether Your Ego is in Charge?

Your ego is sly. At first, you may not notice that your ego has taken over.

If you've noticed that friends and colleagues are taking steps to avoid your energy, it may be time to take a hard look at yourself. Are you exhibiting any of these behaviors?

  • You always pitch your ideas but discredit other people's contributions.
  • You take on tasks as a challenge to be won.  If you’re not winning, you lose interest. 
  • You don't attach much value to experimenting, learning, and growing.
  • Your feelings get hurt at the slightest pretext.
  • You're not open to criticism.
  • You feel the need to be right in all arguments.
  • You find reasons to feel superior to others on every occasion.
  • You're jealous of other people's success.

How to Let Go of Your Ego

The ego-self wants attention, acceptance, validation, approval, and love from others. As a result, you get attached to your version of the truth. You must take conscious action to let go of your ego in order to make room for other realities.

Here's a practical and actionable approach to follow:

Learn to forgive and forget.

  • The most effective way of eliminating ego is by forgiving, forgetting, and moving on. Forgive everyone's mistakes, and most importantly, forgive yourself. Don't beat yourself up for not excelling in a few things; at least you're trying your best.
  • Don't let your ego get a boost when you prove people wrong. Break this cycle by not fighting with people just to win, and start by not participating in arguments that are useless.
  • Exercise empathy and make purpose-driven decisions.
  • Accept responsibility for your actions. When you’re not looking to blame someone else, you’ll feel happier and more content.

Break out of your echo chamber with civil discourse.

  • Participate in discussions without dominating the conversation. 
  • Practice civil discourse to respectfully listen to and understand diverse opinions. 
  • Ask for permission before interjecting into any conversation.
  • Politely present your opinion without disregarding anyone's experiences. 

Introspect to see when your ego takes dominance.

  • Ego is destructive only when you don't know it's in action. 
  • Take responsibility. Understand which circumstances trigger your ego-driven reactions.
  • Maintain composure when you feel hurt or things don't go according to plan. 
  • Stop trying to control people. Offer suggestions adhering to civil discourse.

Practice mindfulness.

  • Take a deep breath and pause. Ground yourself by paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Meditate to still the mind and free yourself from mental chatter.
  • Live in the moment. You can choose to bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
  • Be thankful for everything you have. Start maintaining a gratitude journal. Write three things that you're grateful for every day.

Beat your inner voice.

  • Don't give in to your ego even when it plagues you with negative thoughts.
  • Build courage. Don't be afraid of taking a leap of faith.
  • Focus on character development. Attach more value to the core intent rather than superficial emotions. 
  • Always strive to learn more from every experience.

Accept the pros of having an ego.

  • Your ego is a part of who you are. It doesn't have to be entirely negative. Manage your ego such that it never gets dominant over your other rational emotions.
  • Through introspection, you can even leverage your ego to stay away from pain and negative feelings.
  • Be true to yourself and don't suppress your emotions. Have honest conversations with those around you.
  • Let go of the absolute need for perfection. Keep your ego under control and exercise it to deliver the best you can. 

Embrace Your Independence From Ego

It's as important to exercise your mind as it is to exercise your body. Once you get out of your head and start accepting a broader perspective, you break free from ego. The journey of letting go of your ego is not easy, but it's a fulfilling one.

Remember: you are not fighting against your ego. If you try too hard, your ego will only become more assertive. So instead, add more gratitude, compassion, humility, and politeness to your demeanor. Keep at it, and soon you can break free of your ego as subtly as it had crept into your life.

Civil Discourse

September 27, 2022

How to Show Respect to Others

We all have different views, but respecting each other's opinions is essential to maintaining positive relationships. Don't be disrespectful when you encounter someone with a different idea than yours; engage in dialogue. 

Life is full of abstraction, and people have many different ways of interpreting what's happening around them. Why not use this to your advantage and learn and understand new perspectives? Respect pays off. You're likely to get the same in return if you respect others.

A Note on Self-Respect

As the saying goes, “Love begins at home.” Respect is no different. A healthy level of self-respect enables you to set firm boundaries. It means knowing what you stand for and what your values are and being accepting of both your strengths and weaknesses. 

When you respect yourself, you dare to say “no” to people and situations that are hurtful or detrimental to your well-being. It’s a prerequisite for making mature decisions that impact your life and the lives of others connected to you. Respect begins with you but has the potential to spread outwards into better interpersonal relationships.

Examples of Respect to Others

Imagine you’re talking to someone, and they keep interrupting you, cutting you off in the middle of your sentences, imposing their thoughts on you, and trying to convince you that they’re right. You won’t enjoy the conversation and will likely avoid interacting with this person again.

A lack of respect alienates people. Respect in your social interactions will keep bridges from burning with essential connections.

Here are some examples of how to show consideration and respect towards others:

Mindful listening

Mindful listening requires you to be completely engaged in a conversation. Listen carefully, process what you hear, and respond appropriately. You can reflect mindful listening through your body language by:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Asking questions
  • Expressing assent or disagreement through civil discourse
  • Offering a conclusion to the conversation

Respect starts with careful listening. 

Affirmations

By affirming others' viewpoints, you let them know their voice matters. In addition, you show your appreciation for their effort by saying something positive. This helps start a healthy conversation.

Try saying things like:

  • "You're very hardworking, and it reflects in your work."
  • "It must have been hard to deal with, but it's great to see your progress."
  • "I've been through a similar situation, and you're dealing with it better than I did."

It is possible to respect someone even if you don't agree with all of their ideas. Validating the positive encourages better discourse in the future.

Compassionate Behavior

Compassion is an expression of respect for others. It helps you understand other people’s situations and needs, even if you haven’t been through similar problems yourself. With kindness, you evolve into a generous, well-respected person.

People remember the small acts of kindness you extend to them. They are more likely to respect you if you show compassion even when they least expect it.

Polite Conduct

Politeness costs you nothing and yet is so rare in today’s society. Yet, a few polite words can uplift the spirit of a fellow human being. Nothing communicates respect more eloquently than politeness.

Gratitude

When people support you, express your thanks. Take the time to show appreciation for all that is going well in your life and the lives of others. When we express our gratitude, it not only changes us psychologically but it also changes the world around us.

Empathy and Respect

Respect leads to empathy. It shows you’re willing to forgive people’s mistakes and respect who they are. The same is valid for self-respect.

You accept your flaws and work towards getting better, but never thrash yourself for any mistake. We all are at fault sometimes. Be empathic towards yourself and the people around you. 

How to Be Respectful in the Workplace

A respectful workplace is necessary for a solid team to perform at its peak. The morale and productivity of employees rise when they feel valued and heard.

Here are some ways to show respect for your colleagues in the workplace:

  • Smile and communicate with kindness.
  • Encourage your coworkers to express their opinions.
  • Don’t exhibit negative body language like dismissive facial expressions, eye-rolling, or shrugging.
  • Accept your mistakes and apologize heartily.
  • Participate in constructive conversation.
  • Exercise your emotional intelligence before responding to any situation.
  • Include everyone in discussions and let them speak.
  • Praise others’ efforts without restraint.

How to be Respectful During an Argument

It’s not easy to be kind and considerate during conflicts. But you can learn to stay respectful with continuous practice. 

  • Talk in a way you’d want others to speak with you. 
  • Adopt a solution-oriented approach. Don’t seek fights.
  • Understand where the opposition is coming from and succinctly explain your reasons. 
  • Don’t focus on winning. Focus on understanding a new perspective and resolving the issue. 
  • Speak calmly without raising your voice.

You can use civil discourse to listen to differing opinions and respond empathically. Civil discourse is a strong proponent of coexisting thoughts despite disagreements. It's my go-to tool for resolving conflicts in my professional and personal life.

Respect can have a significant impact on people's lives. It can bring people together or tear them apart. We all want respect but often struggle to give it, especially in the online world. Because of the lack of real-life interactions with social media, it's easy to feel disconnected. Disrespect can happen easily with online communication. But giving respect is a powerful tool for improving relationships around you on and offline.

Civil Discourse

how to improve communication skills

September 12, 2022

4 Ways To Improve Your Communication Skills

When a leader thinks about effective communication skills, they’re focusing on the different ways in which we give and receive information. The ability to communicate is essential in all fields, but nowhere is it more vital than in the workplace. If you can't communicate effectively with other people, you will create unnecessary problems and be much less effective at what you do.

Have you ever had a boss you knew would give you their undivided attention and honest feedback? Conversely, have you ever had a boss whose feedback was vague and unclear? I've encountered a wide range of communicators during my journey as an entrepreneur, and I've tried to learn lessons from all of them. 

Communication with others can take many forms. Whether you're in an in-person meeting or sending a quick email to your boss, it's essential to communicate effectively and respectfully. Here are four ways you can be a better communicator.

  1. Be clear, brief, and specific

Communication is all about getting your point across. You risk being misunderstood if what you’re saying or writing is unclear, vague, or overly wordy. Be as clear and as concise as possible to get your point across. You should also be as specific as possible; avoid unnecessary words or overly descriptive language that can muddle or weaken your message.

  1. Always be prepared

Before you make a phone call, begin a presentation, or send an email, you should have a plan. No one appreciates having their time wasted, so go in with all of the information you need close at hand. If you’re dealing with a client, try and anticipate their questions so you can be ready to answer them. If you’re in a meeting or on a phone call, write down notes to refer to during the conversation to help guide you.

  1. Give your undivided attention

We all live busy lives, full of people who demand our attention at any moment. I’ve learned the importance of giving each task my full and undivided attention while building three companies. If you try to send an email to your boss while on the phone with a client, you may find yourself inattentive to both conversations. Always give your full attention to the other person, listening closely, and responding only when you feel you have heard everything they say.

  1. Don't be afraid to ask questions

Communication is a two-way process. If you’re unsure about something someone has said, never presume their meaning. It’s always better to clarify with a question than to misunderstand. Follow up with an email after a meeting to confirm that you have all the necessary information.

Tips To Improve Face-to-Face Communication Skills

While we've all been in meetings that could have been handled better via email, face-to-face communication is still the best way to hold meaningful discussions with others. Here are several tips for improving your communication skills during face-to-face conversations.

Although we may wish otherwise, not all conversations will be pleasant or lighthearted. You may have to fire an employee, have a difficult discussion with your boss, or disagree with your colleagues during a meeting. Practice civil discourse by speaking truthfully and respectfully while allowing others to disagree.  Avoid the temptation to lose your temper or interrupt the other person.  As long as you speak truthfully and listen to the other person’s point of view, it is possible to have difficult conversations civilly.

  • Practice active listening

When it comes to improving communication skills, listening is equally as important as speaking.  Practice active listening by giving the person speaking your complete attention.  Don't interrupt them, and make eye contact if possible.  While the other person is speaking, don't spend time formulating your own response; instead, take a moment once they’ve finished considering what you’d like to say next.  When you reply, paraphrase what they said to ensure you understand it.  Ask questions if you need more information before responding.

  • Focus on nonverbal communication

Language is just one of the ways in which human beings communicate.  Our body language can share many things that our words do not, from our facial expressions to the gestures we make.  If you’re a manager leading a meeting, be mindful of your employees’ body language.  While they may not say anything to raise a concern, they may be communicating discomfort or disagreement through crossed arms.  Be mindful of your nonverbal communication, as you want your body language to match your message.

  • Ask for honest feedback

Giving and receiving criticism can be awkward for both parties, but feedback is critical to personal growth.  To encourage others to communicate freely, ask for honest feedback when needed.  Most people will say what’s on their minds when given an invitation to do so.  The more you ask for honest feedback from your colleagues, the more you’ll learn how to improve your communication skills.

Civil Discourse

conflict management styles

July 27, 2022

A Guide to Conflict Management for Leaders

The best leaders neutralize workplace conflicts, making sure their team doesn’t lose sight of the company’s long-term goals.  Leaders often deal with conflicts with clients, employees, and other stakeholders. A strong ability to manage such conflicts can help a leader succeed. I used to fear that conflicts would grow in my team if I didn't address them immediately. Now, I've learned two things:

  • Focusing on preventing workplace conflicts can be a waste of time. Human beings are social creatures, and as such, we're bound to clash over differences.
  • Conflicts aren’t necessarily as bad as we fear them to be.  Conflicts can be growth opportunities, provided they are handled well.

After I learned how to manage conflict, my approach toward it completely changed.

What is Conflict Management?

Conflict management is the process of tackling disputes and the lack of consensus between individuals or groups.  The purpose of conflict management in a workplace is to learn to deal with disagreements effectively before they escalate into large disputes.  When conflict management styles bring team members together, they can find common ground and work towards a solution.Consider your conflict management style successful once you reach a mutually acceptable decision, whether through compromise, mediation, or collaboration. Remember that solving all fights and issues with the same conflict management style is impossible. You should be equipped with diverse conflict management tricks to judge and resolve each situation accordingly.To become an expert at conflict management, instill the following values in your team:

  • A growth mindset to encourage deriving a lesson out of every situation
  • A non-defensive attitude during arguments
  • Mindful listening to hear and process all perspectives
  • Emotional intelligence to empathize with everyone
  • Civil discourse to understand the disagreements

You must also find a balance between your assertive and collaborative reactions. Your initial response to disputes at the workplace should be determined by how assertive vs. collaborative you need to be in each case. This process will ensure smooth reactions in all situations.

5 Styles of Conflict Management

Leaders need to have some basic conflict management skills to tackle all kinds of conflicts.  Different styles of conflict management are employed depending on the gravity of the situation and nature of disputes. Some conflict-management strategies prioritize interpersonal relationships over any other factor involved. Let's familiarize ourselves with my top five go-to conflict management styles:

  1. Accommodating style
  2. Avoiding style
  3. Compromising style
  4. Competing style
  5. Collaborating style

These are the components of the  Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. It's one of the most effective teamwork-improving tools available that help you establish conflict grounds and guides to conflict resolution through negotiation techniques.

  • Accommodating Style

The Accommodating Style is best for conflicts that aren’t too big and when time is of the essence. If you don't think a dispute is worthy of your time, energy, and efforts, then you can resolve it by readjusting your side. It might seem like you're losing your ground by simply letting things be, but it’s quite effective for smaller conflicts. You accommodate the other person's perspective and compromise your personal interests. This reduces the risk of straining your relationship with a team member. For all the times when you don't want to be assertive and just need to resolve an issue immediately, go for the accommodating style. Pros: This conflict management approach allows you to solve problems immediately and project yourself as a decisive and empathetic leader.Cons:  You should not try this technique to solve bigger problems without first considering all sides of the issue.

  • Avoiding Style

The Avoiding Style of conflict management involves putting off dispute resolution until it's absolutely necessary. It can be smart to put off resolution for small conflicts until you've run out of other options.This style of conflict management works great when the involved parties need some distance from the subject. You let them cool off and then start a discussion to resolve issues. This will give them the time to gain perspective and headspace to have an open dialogue.Pros:  When the boss adopts an avoiding style, employees start to respect their manager more. Time and distance can work as great healers.Cons: If you avoid problems and their consequences, they won't go away. Some employees may also see you as weak or ineffective if you delay dealing with situations instead of facing them head-on.

  • Compromising Style

The Compromising Style is a win-win situation. Both parties aren’t adamant about their perspective, and they are capable of reaching a mutually-agreed decision. This is a simple conflict management style when both sides are willing to put in the effort and find a solution before proceeding with further work.The compromising style is commonly used when both sides have valid arguments. The project can be benefitted from both ideas if only they compromise a little on their ends.  This conflict management style involves putting relationships above all else, and disagreements take a back seat. However, this technique is not ideal for legal situations or industry compliance. If compromising can stir widespread discontent, there will be no point in using this method.Pros:  Compromise creates a strong foundation for relationships. The decisions are made quickly, and both sides have a part of their demands met in the process.Cons: Even though both parties make sacrifices, one party may feel exploited during the negotiating process. This can create resentment and anger in some employees.

  • Competing Style

When it's time to put your foot down and make a decision, the Competing Style offers a straightforward approach. It doesn't give too much weight to other people's opinions and values and makes self-interest a priority. This conflict management style is ideal in situations where you've already made up your mind and don't want to waste time debating.Competing Style is a conflict management tool that involves holding your stance against all odds and refusing to budge, even when others disagree. It is best used when you need to take a firm decision beyond popular consensus.Pros: When you make a firm decision, it reflects your competence and courage. You can use this move to create a good first impression, but only after considering all other factors.Cons: The biggest drawback of this method is you risk a bad reputation if your decision is wrong. You will also seem like a tyrant who doesn't listen to the people around him or her, but despite this drawback, your decision yields excellent results.

  • Collaborating Style

The Collaborating Style of conflict resolution relies on factoring in the concerns and requirements of all parties involved. It also involves clear communication and mindful listening so that managers can figure out a win-win situation and resolve workplace conflicts.This style demands more time and energy investment but the results are worth it. It requires hours of dialogue and meetings to reach a solution, but that conclusion is most effective. This should be the ideal conflict resolution tool for new managers who want to foster a collaborative environment.Pros: Everyone is happy and this lays the foundation for a strong and collaborative relationship. Cons: It is a long process and requires great commitment. It can be difficult to take time and energy out for collaborative conflict resolution from our busy schedules.

Test Your Knowledge of Conflict Management

What's your go-to conflict management style? Take a simple quiz to find out.In this quiz, the rate on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how strongly you resonate with the following actions. 1 is least likely and 5 indicates you're most likely to follow suit.

  1. I can analyze all aspects of a conflict and understand all points of view.
  2. I believe in myself and enjoy presenting my case until I win.
  3. I don't feel good during conflicts. I actively ignore them.
  4. I prefer discussions during a conflict to reach a solution.
  5. I always look for a middle ground in conflicts.
  6. I won't disrupt peace just to argue and get my way.
  7. I don't waste time in conflicts. I fix a problem and move on.
  8. I keep my disagreements to myself instead of sharing.
  9. I take great satisfaction in winning a conflict.
  10. I don't want to waste my energy in arguments when I can agree with everyone and relax.
  11. I don't like to stay near conflicts.
  12. I’m happy to negotiate with people so everyone wins.
  13. I want to stand true to everyone's expectations.
  14. I believe it's best to keep talking until we resolve a conflict.
  15. I know I'm right and I'll stand by it until everyone realizes the same.

Tally your scores with to see the conflict management style you tend to rely on:1, 4, and 14 are collaborative styles3, 8, and 11 are avoiding styles6, 10, and 13 are accommodating styles2, 9, and 15 are competing styles5, 7, and 12 are compromising styles

Civil Discourse as a Method to Manage Conflicts

Besides conflict management styles and techniques, I actively practice civil discourse in my personal and professional life. I define civil discourse as a productive dialogue exchange where people mindfully entertain diverse opinions and stay respectful. The real essence of civil discourse is in understanding everyone's perspective without any preconceived notions coloring our judgment. By mastering this clever art of agreeing to disagree, you stand by your perspectives while paying due respect to everyone else's opinions. This approach has helped me create a dynamic team, launch successful start-ups, and steer clear of grave internal conflicts. Here are some of my tried and tested civil discourse principles:

  • Listen actively

Civil discourse is not a veiled attempt to change people’s minds. Passive listening and nodding are not conducive to healthy communication, as they encourage more of the same from others; it’s all about expressing your opinion and listening to other perspectives. Practice patiently listening to someone else’s point of view and ask them to repeat if you miss anything. By mindfully listening to someone else, you make them feel heard and accepted.

  • Be receptive to diverse opinions

It is human nature to be biased. I understand that when I am communicating with others, my own biases play a role in how I react to their comments and ideas. In order to keep an open mind and listen more intently, I remind myself that my cognitive bias is always at play.

  • Convey value-adding opinions

Dialogue and debate are essential to civil discourse. However, it is important to understand that there is a difference between simply listening to others and having an open mind and going back to square one.

  • Be critical and accept criticism

Engaging in civil discourse doesn't mean you must accept others' opinions without criticism. You can be critical of others' ideas without using negative language. At the same time, prepare yourself to offer criticism even if you don't receive it.

  • Use assertive language with a regulated tone

I try to always be assertive in my language and moderate in my tone. All the participants listened attentively, responded to me, and considered my points. It can be tricky to make sure that you come across as confident and not utterly rude; so use polite gestures and body language to complement your confidence.

  • Present facts and figures

Practice civil discourse and back up your arguments with facts and statistics to become more persuasive. Focus on explaining yourself instead of getting drawn into arguments and personal attacks.

  • Demarcate your boundaries

While there are no hard and fast rules in civil discourse, you should define your boundaries at the start of any interaction. If certain topics are off-limits to you, disclose that early on. Remember that everyone has different limits and that everyone deserves respect.

Conclusion

A conflict is only negative when you don't know how to make the best out of it. Conflicts and disputes present an opportunity to learn and open up lines of communication. Use this chance to recognize your team members' motivations, understand their strengths, and develop a practice of civil discourse in your workplace.If some raging topics persist, follow the five effective conflict management styles:

  • Accommodating style
  • Avoiding style
  • Compromising style
  • Competing style
  • Collaborating style

These techniques will help you move past conflicts and create your ideal workspace brimming with productivity, but keep in mind that conflict management is only a temporary fix.  When all the team members value mutual respect, awareness, transparency in communication, and mindful listening, every business conflict can be resolved permanently. Start today and strive to build a thriving community with values of civil discourse.

Business and Leadership

Mindful Leadership

July 20, 2022

What Does It Take to be a Mindful Leader?

Mindfulness is the quality of being conscious of everything that’s happening inside and around you - maintaining a present awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and environment.People assume it comes with age, but in truth, mindfulness can be built with practice and instilled into your mindset at any age. I consider it to be an invaluable trait, irrespective of where you are in your career trajectory. But if you’re an entrepreneur, manager, or team leader, mindfulness can work wonders to translate your business targets into reality. Mindful leaders are not easily triggered by external events or swayed by emotion. They’re fully present in the moment and process their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and opinions with clarity. As a leader, being mindful is a powerful asset that allows you to have a clear vision and set well-defined expectations from your team. This inspires your team to be more solution-oriented and aligned with the company’s goals. Let's shed some light on mindful leadership and why you should consider putting it into practice.

What is Mindful Leadership?

Leaders today often tackle simultaneous challenges on a daily basis, and when you wear many hats, it’s inevitable that you’ll face overwhelm, stress, and burnout. That’s where mindfulness comes into play. Approaching chaos with a mindful mentality can be a liberating experience.A mindful leader’s presence, awareness and empathy can help them inspire and motivate their teams in an entirely new way. So how can you develop the qualities of a mindful leader for yourself?Let’s dive into some actionable steps.

Characteristics Of a Mindful Leader

Mindful leaders exhibit some unique traits that set them apart from others. To establish a mindful leadership culture in your organization, here are three characteristics you must pursue:

  • Presence

Bonding with your employees is pivotal to achieving a common goal and inspiring action. Being mindful will allow you to be more present while interacting with your team, and it opens the door to showing true compassion. When you’re able to fully direct your attention and focus on someone who’s speaking to you instead of letting your mind wander to emails, your to-do list, or an upcoming presentation, people will take notice. Being present in conversation goes a long way, and you might be surprised at how much more easily you bond with your team when you’re mindful during your interactions.

  • Flexibility

Having a flexible mindset is essential to being a mindful leader. When you embrace contradicting opinions that challenge your beliefs, it creates a collaborative ground for everyone to contribute their ideas. Conducting civil discourse is an amazing way to foster exchange of opinions to approach a common ground, and can help you be more open to others’ views and perceptions.

  • Authenticity

Authentic leaders show up as their true selves and are able to participate fully and honestly with their teams. Making an effort to show up as your authentic self is about accepting that you are an imperfect human who is simply trying to do their best. In the hustle culture we live in today, this can be a refreshing change that creates the space for you and your team to do your best work.

Why is Mindful Leadership Essential for Success?

Mindful leadership is imperative for productive teamwork. When leaders are in tune with their team and actively guide them to find effective solutions, the company grows exponentially. Here are a few reasons why mindful leadership is beneficial

  • High level of emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence stands tall on the two pillars of empathy and self-awareness. Self-awareness helps  you remain conscious of your feelings and allows you to respond presently to a challenging situation. Empathy allows you to acknowledge your team’s efforts genuinely and encourages them to give their best shot. 
  • Improved decision-making: Emotions tend to cloud our decision-making abilities, but mindfulness is a great way to keep your head clear. Smart decision-making results in better business acumen. Using a solution-oriented approach drives your business to higher pedestals of success. 
  • Enhanced innovative thinking: Creative thinking is a skill that’s often overlooked in the workplace. As a mindful leader, you’re able to create an innovative environment by encouraging people to think out of the box. Being mindful also helps you accept failure and move past it without dwelling on it for long.

Civil Discourse And Mindful Leadership

Civil discourse in the workplace is pivotal for executing collaborative ideas and solving complicated issues. When employees get the green light to express their perspectives freely, it paves the way to productive discussions. Here are some ways you can use mindfulness to incorporate civil discourse in your team:

  • Actively listen to each team member’s opinions.
  • Ask questions to understand their stance before expressing disagreement.
  • Disagree respectfully with counter points, without demeaning anyone.

As a mindful leader, you need to take the first step towards implementing these civil practices in your meetings. Lead by example and provide support for your team members if they’re struggling to take a mindful approach.

Final Words

As a purpose-driven founder, I strive to be mindful as often as I can. I've found that it teaches me to pay attention to the present moment, recognize emotions and keep them under control, especially when faced with highly stressful situations. I'm more aware of my own presence and the ways I impact other people, which goes a long way. When you’re able to both observe and participate in each moment, while recognizing the implications of your actions for the longer term, it prevents you from slipping into a life that pulls you away from your purpose.

Business and Leadership

Conflict Avoidance

July 18, 2022

How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict Avoidance

Imagine a situation where one of your team members frequently interrupts you in meetings. They build upon your premise, take credit for your ideas, and steal your thunder. What would you do?You have two choices:

  1. Confront the person and share your concerns with them. This approach may lead to a conflict.
  2. Avoid the conflict, let them have their way, and silently withdraw

If you choose the first option, you can use strategic conflict management styles for a productive confrontation. Humans, however, often tend to avoid conflict at a biological level, especially if there are any substantial repercussions. Most people who gravitate towards polite conversations will go for the second choice and dodge a dispute. But leaving anger unaddressed can be more dangerous than you think.

What is Conflict Avoidance?

Conflict avoidance is the quality of avoiding confrontations with other people by hook or crook to maintain a false sense of peace. People often sweep issues under the rug with the good intentions of not disrupting harmony. Common ways to avoid a conflict include 1) changing the subject; or 2) simply agreeing to a contrary opinion without putting forth your genuine concerns. The problem with this approach is that the issue doesn’t go away if you don't talk about it. While avoidance sometimes seems like the easiest way to deal with conflict, in the long run, you'll still suffer. The issue will likely continue and lead to recurring frustration and stress which can seep into your personal life.  When you run from conflict instead of addressing it directly, you're compromising your true feelings and storing up frustration that can negatively affect your health.

What Causes Conflict Avoidance?

Understanding the underlying causes of conflict avoidance requires a bit of psychology and introspection. While the root cause of avoiding conflict will differ for everyone, if you've been told in the past that your opinions are not valuable, you’ll probably be reserved about sharing them in the future. If you’re not sure whether you fall into the category of being “Conflict Avoidant” this short quiz can help you determine where you stand:

  1. Do you compromise your opinions just to avoid a fight?
  2. Are you afraid of disappointing others?
  3. Do you change the direction of conversations to get away from disagreements?
  4. Are you often the “calm one,” but you have a tendency to accumulate grievances and then let them out all at once?
  5. Do you frequently think about unresolved issues and yet don't take any action towards their resolution?
  6. Are you afraid of facing backlash over your thoughts?

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you have definitely dodged conflicts in your life. Asserting your opinion can seem scary or unnerving, but it's worth it to build the confidence to face conflicts effectively.

Why is it Unhealthy to Avoid Conflicts?

No matter how much you enjoy being the “nice person” at work who never rocks the boat, conflict avoidance isn’t going to help you progress. Being calm and patient is a virtue, but compromising your true feelings and holding on to resentful emotions isn’t a healthy approach. Continuous conflict avoidance can lead to depression and loneliness. Bottling up your emotions can feel isolating and lead to a loss of trust with your team, hindering your professional growth. Is avoiding a conflict really worth losing so much? It might seem like the right way to go about things, but in the long run, conflict avoidance comes at a significant cost.

Being Open to Conflict through Civil Discourse

Most people find it easier to put off a difficult discussion until it's absolutely necessary to deal with, but great leaders can't effectively lead a workforce by consistently dodging conflicts. Be prepared to face severe consequences if you routinely practice conflict avoidance, like:

  • Strained communication between your team
  • Diminishing team spirit and trust
  • Low productivity
  • High employee turnover

Getting over conflict avoidant behavior starts with internalizing the belief that conflict is an unavoidable aspect of life and that the right approach can help you make conflict a productive event.When there are no disagreements, people become mere followers of commands and lose their innovative and creative zest. This doesn't mean everyone should yell, blame, demand change, and refuse to negotiate. There’s a middle ground, and I believe the key to reaching it is by practicing civil discourse. Civil discourse encourages respectful expression and fosters a better understanding of situations from all sides. When you face a conflict, instead of avoiding it, you strive to find a solution. Leverage civil discourse to unlearn conflict avoidance in relationships and the workspace by:

  • Concentrating on the issues in real-time

There's no need to beat around the bush. You can take endless time to ruminate over conflicts, but it requires courage to address them immediately. Start by stating facts about issues as they occur.For example: “I was also an active participant in this project, but it was disheartening to find my name missing from the first draft of the report. I'd appreciate it if my name is also mentioned in the next revision.”

  • Creating opportunities for open dialogue

Be open to unambiguous and respectful dialogue with everyone. Address all emotions in the workplace first-hand instead of avoiding conflicts. It's the leader's job to foster a healthy environment where all teammates are comfortable voicing their opinions. Share your experiences with conflict and create opportunities for open dialogue.For example: “If you're facing any difficulties, my doors are always open. Let's talk it out before it reflects on our working styles.”

  • Changing your stance on confrontation

Disagreements don't automatically translate to fights. It's not always about being right and proving someone wrong. Confrontation and conflict resolution also reflect taking a stand for yourself and demanding accountability for everyone's actions. There's nothing wrong with confronting someone and calling for respectful discussions. Keep in mind that a confrontation now can save you from bigger problems later.For example: “Whenever you're free, can we finish our discussion on the new lunchtime policies? I have a few points to add that may bring a fresh perspective to the matter.”

  • Setting safe boundaries

Boundaries play a crucial role in maintaining civil discourse. No one should resort to personal attacks or destroy the office decorum. If you disagree with someone, you can explain your side and help everyone see your perspective without being disrespectful. For example: “I won't raise my voice throughout the discussion and will mindfully listen to you. Can you please do the same for me?”

  • Keeping communication channels accessible

Many people stay silent if they’re hurt and avoid conflict. Don't shut everyone out when you're going through something and keep the communication channels accessible. Recognize your emotions and express them openly. Let others come to you for resolution even if it leads to disagreements. With civil discourse, you can solve your conflicts, but the first step is to move past conflict avoidance.For example: “I have some ideas that contradict your views. Should we have a 1:1 meeting the discuss them?”

  • Safeguarding your mental and emotional well being

Accepting your emotions also makes you aware of their intensity. Instead of giving in to anger, look at the situation through a lens of compassion. This way, you can safeguard your mental and emotional well-being without getting reeled into impulsive fights. Gain your composure and ask for a conversation to resolve a conflict.For example: “I'm feeling understandably frustrated about this right now. I’ll set up a time to discuss it after I’ve cooled down.”

Conclusion

Conflict is a sign of growth, and some form of it is a normal part of our personal and professional lives. It’s okay if you never learn to be completely comfortable with confrontation and difficult discussions, but learning to communicate through them to resolve issues is imperative for your personal growth. Look beyond the little roadblocks and keep making progress. Remember, smaller disagreements prevent bigger ones and are far better than avoiding conflicts completely. Own your fears and take a stand for yourself – that's the beginning of every leader's journey.

Business and Leadership

supporting team|resolving conflict at workplace

July 13, 2022

How to Support Your Team as a Leader

Leadership takes many forms and can be described by a multitude of definitions, but one thing remains true for great leaders across the board: Leaders translate visions into reality. Strong leaders are essential to success in any industry. As long as you have people who are inspired to do their best work, you can accomplish just about anything. The single most important factor in our knowledge-based economy is human capital, and if you want to be successful, you need people to stay inspired.Leaders play a vital role in providing the motivation, inspiration and direction that teams need in order to progress toward a common goal.  Leadership matters now more than ever, but in order to be an effective leader today, we need to shift from the old power-driven leadership model to a new way forward.  Supporting your team now requires a focus on purpose, inspiration, and a desire to care for your people. While building three companies (The Doe, Audo, and Guin Records) with diverse teams, I’ve learned that if you want to inspire and support your teams to work together for the greater good, you have to lead by example.

Why A Supportive Atmosphere at the Workplace Important

Supporting employees helps leaders build a more positive work culture and brings great results for your company. If you provide ample guidance, acknowledge talents, and trust your team members, the results will be reflected in your company’s overall growth.  A supportive atmosphere in the workplace can lead to several benefits, including:

  • Enhanced confidence and collaboration

When people of different skill sets and experiences come together as a team, they learn from and motivate each other. Such an environment makes everyone feel heard and respected. It develops fruitful collaboration.

  • Improved creativity and productivity

In a supportive work culture, people conduct civil discourse to share their ideas, brainstorm, and appreciate each other's uniqueness. This makes every team member feel valued and instills in them a sense of responsibility to do meaningful work. This further cultivates every member’s creativity and productivity which brings great results for the company in the long run.

  • Fewer stressful conflicts

People who encourage each other at work form a positive team. The employees don't hesitate to put their best foot forward and discuss their strengths and weaknesses openly. This enhances the team’s overall performance and decreases workplace conflicts.

How to Support your Team as a Leader?

Creating a supportive atmosphere for the team should be among your biggest priorities as a leader. Your attitude toward projects and routine tasks builds your reputation in the team and motivates them to give their best. Here’s how to offer the best support to your employees:

  • Engage in frequent and empathic communication

Empathic communication brings your employees together and cultivates productive teamwork. It’s important to conduct frequent team meet-ups to keep everyone informed about their roles and expectations. The process of sharing ideas, feedback, progress reports, etc. must be included in the meetings. The key to conduct insightful team collaboration involves practicing  civil discourse . This allows people to constructively state their varying viewpoints without resorting to personal attacks.

  • Be available to resolve employee challenges

Be accessible to your employees whenever they need to discuss, seek advice, or clear doubts related to fulfilling their responsibilities. A healthy work environment requires leaders to make time for their employees. Your presence to support the team irrespective of a busy schedule showcases your ability as a capable leader. The team members feel valued and supported at every step. This ensures a positive work culture and better growth of the company.

  • Conduct mentoring sessions to help employees up-skill

Helping your employees learn and grow is one of the prime qualities of a leader. You must provide learning opportunities within the workplace to target professional development. Conducting 1-on-1 sessions with teammates helps you understand their expertise and shortcomings. You can also guide your team by encouraging them to exchange insights. This will increase team collaboration and push everyone to work to the best of their capabilities.

  • Encourage employees to express their unique perspectives

Inclusivity is one of the most effective ways to support your employees in the workplace. As a leader, you must create a civil environment for everyone to share their ideas freely. When everyone feels accepted as a part of the system, they cheerfully participate in brainstorming sessions and push themselves to come up with innovative ideas. This approach also helps overcome challenges faster and brings the company one step closer to success.

  • Help team members in prioritizing tasks

As a team leader, you must be clear on which tasks to delegate to whom in order to fulfill the vision.  Effective planning and time management will help you prioritize team tasks. If everyone follows a proper sequence, helps each other out and hustles, they'll meet every deadline. The role of a leader plays a crucial part here in developing a culture of harmony within a team.

  • Provide valuable feedback

Check in periodically with your team to review their progress. When employees receive consistent feedback from their leader, they feel supported. Praising members for their efforts  and acknowledging their strengths motivates employees to push their limits.

  • Use break-time to build a personal bond

Building relationships with co-workers is essential to developing understanding. Leaders can utilize their break time to bond with employees. When you spend quality time with your team apart from work, they feel valued and supported. This ultimately facilitates a trusting and open work culture while boosting the team’s productivity and confidence.

  • Set realistic goals

Thriving in this competitive world is possible when you push your team’s limits with every new project. By the same token, understanding your team's bandwidth before assigning tasks is crucial to reaching goals. You can introduce a few challenges which help your employees learn and grow. But the team must not feel overburdened with too many tasks simultaneously. Support your team members by setting realistic targets and encouraging everyone to collaborate and assist each other.

  • Build emotional intelligence

Developing emotional intelligence is imperative to fostering a cooperative work environment. The ability to control your emotions and to understand, interpret, and respond to the emotions of others is a soft skill that allows you to actively manage your team’s emotional triggers and needs.

  • Focus on empowering others

Empowering every team member is one of your key responsibilities as a leader. Trust your employees’ potential and encourage them to ideate, process, and execute a task on their own. To convey your trust on the team, delegate responsibilities without micromanaging every aspect.  When you’re ready to help employees grow, they will be ready to give their best.

What to Avoid While Being the Supportive Team Leader?

The best leaders know how to follow certain practices that discourage negativity and keep the team moving in the right direction. Here are a few practices every leader needs to avoid:

  • Avoid playing favorites within a team

Being supportive doesn’t mean being biased towards members you get along with. Such behavior degrades the company’s work culture. To genuinely support your team members, establish cohesion among them.

  • Be transparent in your demeanor.
  • Provide equal opportunities to everyone.
  • Take feedback on your leadership role from someone with more experience than you.
  • Don’t rely on false assumptions while making decisions

As a leader, you must be able to make decisions for your team. You need to understand each person's opinion and then consider them before coming to a conclusion. If you make decisions based on assumptions while neglecting members’ perspectives, they will likely feel demotivated and unappreciated. Here’s how you can make better decisions as a team leader:

  • Focus on promoting a collaborative work culture.
  • Listen to employees' concerns to provide solutions.
  • Conduct timely reviews and provide genuine feedback.
  • Be mindful and self-aware to promote the well-being of the team.
  • Avoid taking all the responsibilities by yourself

Leaders often make the mistake of doing all the work by themselves. This shows a lack of faith towards your employees and leads to burnout. Not only does it leave you overburdened, but it closes the door to creativity and innovation in your team. To consolidate your role as a leader, here are some helpful tips to follow:

  • Conduct meetings to discuss projects constructively.
  • Ask questions and seek mutual solutions.
  • Consider other member’s suggestions, ideas, and opinions.
  • Encourage members to take responsibilities that push them to their full potential.
  • Never respond with anger or frustration

It’s natural to get upset when your team isn’t performing as expected. But responding in such a state of mind will only make things worse. As a leader, you have to be aware of your emotions while fulfilling your responsibilities. Reacting to an employee's mistake without understanding the ground issue isn’t the best way to support your team. Here’s what to do instead:

  • Take time to process the situation and get a hold of your emotions.
  • Don’t criticize the employees by attacking them personally.
  • Think objectively to reach a better conclusion while reducing stress and friction.

Final Words

Being a leader is not just about being in charge, it’s about being an example for your team to follow. If you want your employees to follow you with blind trust, then you need to support them in the workplace and help them foster a positive, healthy work culture where they can thrive.A great leader focuses on finding opportunities, solving problems and keeping everyone feeling motivated and inspired. Implementing the above-mentioned tips will help you support your team, build a successful company, and make a lasting impact.

Business and Leadership

resolving conflict at workplace|supporting team

July 12, 2022

How Great Leaders Deal With Arguments

Conflict is inevitable when you're a leader. It's how you handle conflict that will determine whether you grow and propel your people forward, or disrupt momentum and divide the team. When it comes to team conflict, the faster and more effectively you deal with it, the better your chances will be for a positive outcome. I see team-building as a process of conflict and collaboration. It's the combination of these two things that leads to strong relationships and creative solutions in the workplace.  If you want to get the most out of your employees, you should know that conflict can be a great motivator. Here's how:

  • Constructive conflict encourages civil discourse and open communication.
  • It instills a problem-solving approach, thus fostering collaboration among teammates.
  • Constructive conflict ensures transparent communication between all stakeholders throughout the corporate ladder.
  • It welcomes out-of-the-box ideas to keep the organization growing.
  • Constructive conflict helps in avoiding frustration and suppressing resentment due to pent-up issues.

Companies can empower teams through conflict. In order to resolve workplace issues and leverage them for boosting employee productivity, you need smart decisions and swift action.

Causes of Workplace Conflict

The first step to resolving conflict in the workplace is understanding the underlying causes of the dispute. Some common reasons behind workplace conflict include:

  1. Poor leadership skills in the senior management and team leads.
  2. Bad communication patterns within the team.
  3. Inadequate training at the beginning of the job, leading to unequal contribution and unfair expectations from team members.
  4. Unclear job roles and designations.
  5. Lack of resources like tools, software, and machines required to complete a job.
  6. An unsupportive work environment where the employees see no growth.
  7. Employees’ resistance  to change due to fear or uncertainty.
  8. Unequal opportunities for all employees.
  9. Workplace politics or favoritism from leaders.
  10. Unfair competition between employees to achieve a higher position.
  11. Workplace bullying, harassment, and personal threats to safety and health.
  12. Work-induced stress that generates negative emotions like anxiety and lack of concentration.

What are the Consequences of Workplace Conflict?

As an entrepreneur, I am always striving to build teams that stay motivated and share my passion for achieving purpose-driven and impactful goals. I often ask my teams to speak up and challenge a point of view if they don’t agree (yes, even mine!) but this can sometimes lead to conflict. As I’ve mentioned, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: it’s all in how you manage it. Poorly managed conflict can lead to some undesirable consequences, such as:

  1. Unmotivated staff - It’s natural for employees to feel stressed and have low morale because of unresolved conflicts in the workplace. When a disagreement goes on for too long, employees feel concerned about their role and future in the company and may lose motivation.
  2. Poor internal communication - Conflicts create distrust and group politics within an organization, further weakening internal communication.
  3. Low productivity - When employees put most of their energy into engaging in conflict, it leaves them with zero to no time or energy to get work done.
  4. Degraded KPIs - As the productivity rate goes down due to disputes, companies fail to achieve their key business objectives, ultimately hurting their growth and revenue.
  5. Mental health issues - Continuous arguments trigger mental health issues like anxiety, depression, loneliness, and poor self esteem
  6. Absenteeism - Employees who can’t afford to leave their jobs tend to take frequent leaves if conflicts become a norm. They feel the need to take some time off and recover from burnout.
  7. Employee resignations - A toxic work culture accelerates employee resignations due to mental stress and frustration.
  8. Bad public perception - If the workplace conflict goes public, it creates a bad image of the company. It can put off prospective clients, future employees, and impact the judgment of loyal customers.
  9. Wasted resources - Time is the most valuable resource for any growing company. When ugly conflicts arise, companies stand to incur a lot of wasted time in the form of conflict resolution sessions, therapy, settlements, lawsuits, etc.
  10. Brunt on revenue - Conflicts have financial repercussions too. The negativity impacts the customer experience, and a hostile work environment leads to massive staff turnover, leading to additional costs to hire and train new employees.

Keeping these concerns at bay, when a strong leader utilizes civil discourse to resolve conflict, they can turn workplace disputes into a positive experience. Some ways this could transpire are:

  • Empathic communication - If employees acknowledge a problem and sit together to discuss it, they can understand each other's perspectives. This makes conflict resolution in the workplace easier.
  • Emotional sharing -  Civil discourse  gives employees the opportunity to express their negative feelings respectfully by avoiding any pileups.
  • Creative problem-solving - When employees are motivated to resolve workplace conflicts, they come up with unique solutions and creative ideas to tackle the problem.
  • Civil approach - Constructive conflicts can bring teammates together, allowing them to understand all kinds of opinions. They can trace it back to the root of miscommunication and resolve their conflict through civil discourse.
  • Identifying the leadership spirit - At times of crisis, new leaders are born. Team members can exhibit leadership skills during conflict and emerge as strong leaders in the future.

How to Prevent Disagreements in the Work Environment

Some conflicts are inevitable. But with the right measures in place, many can be prevented before they start. Leaders should be proactive whenever possible, and strive to put out the spark before it turns into a full-blown fire.Here are 5 steps to effectively prevent conflict among your team:

  • Have an open-door policy

When you create an environment of open communication, team members feel comfortable sharing their concerns with you. Let everyone know any team member can approach management without the fear of repercussions. Practice active listening, ask constructive questions, and foster the spirit of teamwork in them.

  • Focus on building relationships

If you focus on creating strong and transparent relationships among your employees, they’ll be able to tackle conflicts without an issue. Due to their positive relationship, they’re also more likely to be empathetic and civil throughout conversations.

  • Lead by example

Invest in leadership training programs for your senior staff who can take on more responsibility in the future to teach them how to handle difficult conversations. With a few tools at their disposal to conduct civil discourse and avoid animosity between team members, they can steer conflict management in the workplace effectively.

  • Encourage employee interactions

Senior management should take steps to encourage employee interactions irrespective of conflicts. There will be fewer disagreements and more informative discussions if employees have the habit of interacting with each other.

  • Offer incentives and training

A great way to encourage teamwork is by assigning incentives to achievable group targets. Once a team reaches the target, the collaborative teamwork gets rewarded. If the team struggles in working together, hold training sessions for them.If you implement such activities in your workplace, they’ll evolve as a part of the employees’ daily life. They’ll learn to interact civilly and find common ground in the face of conflicts to foster the company’s growth.

How Great Leaders Solve Conflict in the Workplace

To resolve conflicts in the workplace, great leaders take a wide-angle view of the situation. They establish the environment for civil discussions to carve a way through disagreements. Good leaders align the team to achieve a common goal.  Here are the 5 things great leaders do to resolve workplace conflicts:

  • Identify the source of conflict

The first step separates great leaders from average ones. While most employees focus on the problem at hand, good leaders know the reasons behind disputes are often deep-rooted. They acknowledge the concern honestly, considering the needs of all involved parties.

  • Create a safe space to communicate

Instead of playing blame games and wasting time on allegations, leaders need to create a safe space for communication. Gather all parties in conflict and allow them to present their perspective without angering anyone.

  • Listen to all sides of the story

When resolving a conflict in the workplace, good leaders keep their biases aside. All the employees who want to voice their concerns get a platform to speak upon. The leader doesn't interrupt or threaten the employees, but seeks active resolution based on their feelings.

  • Practice civil discourse

Foster the environment of civil discourse and encourage conversation in your team. In most cases, resolving conflict in the workplace is all about understanding everyone's situation and analyzing the driving force behind any conflict. With civil discourse, it's easier to conclude conflicts in the agreement or respectful disagreement.

  • Implement a plan to tackle conflicts in the future

The final step to conflict resolution is implementing a model to deal with similar issues in the future. This includes a healthy exchange of ideas, building trust between team members, and following civil etiquette. Through sustained effort, workplace conflicts can be reduced significantly.Conflict resolution in the workplace is one of the most challenging tasks for a leader. By taking the right measures to tackle disputes and conducting civil discourse, you can easily resolve conflict at work and collectively guide your team towards success.

Business and Leadership

how to be a good leader

July 11, 2022

10 Strategies to Become a Better Leader

Do you know the true purpose of leadership? A "leader" can be defined many ways, but the real meaning is often lost in translation. The majority of those in leadership roles falsely believe that their primary purpose is to be “in charge”. Being a good leader, however, is about much more. It’s not just about being in charge, it’s about taking care of the people in our charge. A good leader is the motivational force that navigates a team towards their common goal. Earlier, leaders were philosophers who offered pearls of wisdom and truth. Or they were military leaders who served, organized, and inspired. Leadership styles have significantly evolved over the years with the influence of the political, economic, and social landscape. Modern leaders are strong communicators, decision-makers, and risk-takers. But most importantly, they are empathetic and understanding human beings.

What is Leadership?

Leadership is a socially influential act of gathering and aligning teams to work towards the desired outcome. It’s not about hierarchy, job title, or pay grade, but about your potential to mobilize a team to translate a vision into reality. Before beginning my own entrepreneurial journey in college, I looked up to great business leaders and entrepreneurs for inspiration. Now that I have three growing companies, I know it was never about clout or notoriety for those leaders I admired, but about how they could bring people to work towards a common goal, and genuinely caring about those people along the way. Many people believe that leadership in a workplace involves efficiently delegating tasks to subordinates. But impactful leaders go beyond that. They create a positive impact on their team that flows through the organization with a ripple effect. Team members working under good leaders are happy and draw greater work satisfaction.In my experience, great leadership involves:

  • Identifying your motivation, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Aligning teams to achieve your goal
  • Connecting and inspiring a sense of ownership in every team member
  • Offering growth and development opportunities

Maintaining a give-and-take feedback loop while following  civil discourse

How to Become a Better Leader?

Most of us are hard pressed to come across quality leaders, but despite the lack of great leadership, it is a skill like any other that can be learned or taught. Good leadership is practicable and learnable, but you have to want it because being a good leader is not easy. When things go right, you have to give away the credit. When things go wrong, you have to take all the responsibility. If you want to be a good leader and have the drive to inspire a team to greatness, keep reading to learn the core traits of strong leadership.

  • Self-awareness

Self-awareness and introspection skills are vital to the role of leadership. The better you know yourself, the stronger decisions you can make as a leader. Self-awareness also makes it easier for you to accept your flaws and leave behind all baggage that stops your team from achieving success.

  • Accountability

Leaders need to take accountability for their actions. Your people are obliged to follow what you say when you're the leader. It falls upon you to guide your team members by taking responsibility. Leverage this power by encouraging people in a positive direction and making them enthusiastic about every project and deadline.

  • Courage

Leaders exhibit courage daily by accepting responsibility, voicing their expectations, taking chances on new ideas, and having the team's back in front of superiors. They engage in civil discourse and critical thinking rather than allowing conflicts to grow. When you’re courageous, your employees can count on you to address their concerns.

  • Integrity

With integrity and an ethical value system, you prove to be trustworthy for your organization. Your honesty and consistency become a testament to your credibility, and you will find that authentic relationships with your teams form more seamlessly.

  • Trust

You must create trust with both your superiors and your team members as a leader. When higher-ups can trust you, they will give you the space to do your best work. Similarly, your employees perform better when they trust you. Learn to trust people with their jobs and delegate tasks to boost the team spirit. With more trust, you can also exercise better decision-making.

  • Empathy

If you work in a position that challenges you, you'll likely face stress, burnout, and periods of low performance. When we experience tough times, empathy can be a powerful antidote and contribute to positive experiences for individuals and teams. Empathy also fosters more empathy. The more you care, the more your team will care; Both about their work and each other.

  • Gratitude and Respect

A  Glassdoor survey  found that 80% of employees say they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss. We all want to know that our hard work is appreciated, and recognition is often the greatest motivator. Leaders who express gratitude in the workplace are likely to see happier and more productive employees. Take the extra two minutes to say thanks, it goes a long way.

  • Learning Agility

I’ve never met a great leader who thinks of themselves as an expert, they think of themselves as lifelong  students. Leaders who succeed tend to be curious, proactively seek out new knowledge, and take on challenges willingly. They are flexible enough to apply what they learn to unfamiliar situations so they can learn from their mistakes.

  • Skillful Communication

Effective leadership is closely tied to transparent communication. Being a leader is all about communicating through various channels and ensuring that everyone in the team has the same interpretation of a message. A leader's communication skills go beyond demographics, social identities, and company hierarchies. Skillful communication is an integral part of building trust between leadership and team members.

  • Influence

Don't confuse influence with manipulation. Some managers try to exploit their employees by making them work extra hours and subjecting them to high stress.  True leaders don’t conduct such practices in their workplace. Being a leader means exercising emotional intelligence and building trust with your team. When your influence on your employees is transparent, they’ll be naturally motivated to follow your direction.

Final Thoughts

While we’re all on our own paths and journeys in life, we look to leaders for guidance and advice.  Honing your leadership skills will allow you to make a positive impression on the lives of those around you.  Whether you're a CEO, department manager, or a small team leader, we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others.  This gives everyone a chance to demonstrate leadership qualities and inspire action. Motivation and inspiration can help you to be a strong people manager, but it’s your actions that will ultimately drive the respect and trust needed to be effective

Business and Leadership

December 15, 2021

Reconciling The Entrepreneurial Hustle With Your Need For Self-Care

[caption id="attachment_10215" align="aligncenter" width="800"]

Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash[/caption]

I will be the first to admit that I don’t always practice enough self-care. The drive to be successful and make a positive impact is strong, and it’s something that is pervasive among entrepreneurs. It’s gotten to the point of being a kind of toxic gospel, in which business gurus encourage young or up-and-coming entrepreneurs to abandon everything else in their lives in order to grow their business. Not only is this demonstrably bad advice from a business perspective, but it’s also extremely bad for your overall health and well-being.

On the other hand, building your own business from scratch requires hard work, long days and plenty of sacrifices. You can’t always “have it all” with the perfect amount of sleep, family time, social life and business success. In short, the entrepreneurial hustle is very real. So, how can you work hard while also taking care of yourself?

I cannot speak for every entrepreneur out there, but in my case, hyper-defining my goals has been the greatest way to keep my businesses running without neglecting my basic needs. Many entrepreneurs assume that they should keep their personal and professional lives completely separate. In doing so, they should be able to find ways to schedule both “work time” and “self-care time.” I’m not saying that this is a bad approach, but it does not fix the central problem in many cases. Why? Because it can open the door for personal goals (and schedules) that conflict with your professional ones, and vice versa.

Instead, I try to look at the really big picture and figure out my life goals. What do I want to do with my life? What legacy do I want to leave behind for the world and those closest to me? What kinds of activities leave me fulfilled? How can I balance my personal priorities while also pursuing my passions and interests at the same time?

As you might have noticed, none of these questions relate to one single aspect of my life. They all factor in my needs, desires, aspirations and motivations in both the personal and professional realms. I’ve found that by zooming out and looking at the really big picture, I can develop a daily routine that moves me just a little bit closer to meeting my most important life goals. In my experience, when you find yourself making this kind of broad-ranged progress, inching toward the things that will bring you the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in life, you are far less likely to suffer from burnout, self-doubt, frustration and all the other things that require extensive self-care.

However, this does not mean that setting goals (and working toward them) will free you of the need for self-care entirely. While some may see the term “self-care” as a recent addition to our collective vernacular that helps narcissists and self-obsessed people justify bad behavior, it’s a very real way to cope with the ever-increasing demands that our work and personal lives put on us. Besides, people have been practicing different forms of self-care since time immemorial; they just called it something else.

Semantics aside, self-care is something that can (and should) be practiced for the sake of bettering oneself and ensuring that one aspect of your life does not take away from another. For example, I always need a lot of mental energy to run my businesses. Whether I’m meeting with stakeholders, ideating with the team, writing briefs or simply emailing, I need to have the stamina to think critically and the patience to keep going when frustrated. There are all sorts of methods to keep up my energy levels, some more effective than others.

This is where I return to the importance of setting and working toward goals. For me, goals are what keep me driven, motivated and energized each and every day. Even during my “off days,” I find my mind wandering to ways in which I can get just a little bit closer to achieving what I want. Since my personal goals are interwoven with my professional goals (and given equal importance), this means that self-care becomes a natural part of both my work and personal time. I want to live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life — and I can’t do that without taking care of myself on a regular basis.

Even if you give self-care just as much importance as your work life and obligations, you may still find yourself with little time in the day to truly unwind and disconnect from “work mode.” Thankfully, one of the best parts about being an entrepreneur is that you have much more control over how and when you work. Sure, there will always be obligations, deadlines and the needs of others to account for, but generally, you can manage your schedule in a way that offers much more liberties than a traditional 9-to-5 job. This is why I design my work schedule and environment to incorporate self-care into the daily routine.

Whether it’s a morning exercise routine before work starts or a 15-minute meditation session in the middle of the afternoon, planting designated self-care time into your schedule is a matter of intention. If you’re an entrepreneur working yourself to the bone without any time or energy to take care of your own well-being, you’re doing something wrong. In many cases, it can be as simple as learning how to say “no” or delegating tasks so you can focus on yourself as needed.

When it comes down to it, being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean dedicating 100% of your life to your business. It’s true that businesses can take away a lot of your time and energy, but you should always look at them as parts of a larger whole. At the end of the day, if you’re not happy or unable to take care of your mental and physical well-being while building your business, you have to reevaluate your goals and recalibrate your routine accordingly.

Originally Posted on Forbes.

Business and Leadership

December 2, 2021

How to Deal With Teammates Who Don't Share Your Values

It’s no secret that we live in an era of divisiveness and polarization. I founded The Doe to introduce anonymity to publishing so that we could have a safe space to elevate marginalized voices, while also giving readers the chance to respond and debate different viewpoints we rarely hear from. Though it may be somewhat plausible to manage polarized views in a comment section, it’s not nearly as simple when the same polarization takes place behind the closed doors of a business.

As an entrepreneur, you will generally try to surround yourself with people who share your vision. However, this is a double-edged sword. You want teammates who understand what you’re trying to do and can help you achieve it, but you don’t want a room full of “yes” men and women. Moreover, I genuinely believe that it’s better to expose yourself to opposing views, otherwise you risk getting stuck in an echo chamber of your own making.

Naturally, this approach comes with its own drawbacks. If you choose to hire people who have opposing views, it may result in more debates in the meeting room. However, it should ultimately bring about better results. This is where it’s important to mark the distinction between opposing “views” and opposing “values.” What do you do if and when you have a co-worker whose values are drastically different from your own?

Being an entrepreneur requires conviction, but it also requires a lot of sacrifices. If you are never willing to cede ground to others, you will likely find yourself on a more lonely — and less successful — path. For this reason, you have to be willing to have difficult conversations with your teammates, even when it feels like you’re speaking about totally different issues.

You might be able to avoid talking about polarizing topics around the dinner table, but at the workplace, you have to talk about the issues that matter the most for your business. When the person sitting across the table from you has different fundamental values, it can feel like a never-ending battle. You are partners in the same endeavor, so you both share a stake in the company’s future, but you probably have very different visions of what that future should look like.

The Doe is all about questioning our preconceived notions of the world and being willing to listen to views that do not align with our own. I would be a fraud if I didn’t incorporate the same open mindedness in my own business dealings. Fortunately, this obligation has also allowed me to cultivate a few “tricks” to keep things civil, productive, and forward-thinking among all key stakeholders, even when our values fall on opposite ends of the spectrum.

The first “trick” is to truly keep an open mind. This means that, even if you think you already know what a teammate is going to say, you need to avoid negative expectations. Simply go into a conversation or meeting with an agenda of what to discuss and a willingness to listen. In fact, this is one of the best ways to “deal” with anyone who does not share your values. Simply listen. You don’t have to agree; you just have to listen with the aim of learning about their position, regardless of the topic at hand or how you think you should respond.

Trying to understand someone is not the same as conceding or reaching an agreement — far from it. You just want to understand a point of view that is foreign to your own; nothing more and nothing less. However, when you’re dealing with a teammate, you have to grant them the respect they deserve as a professional equal. You can’t just listen without at least opening yourself to the possibility of implementing strategies, changes, or processes that align more with their values than your own.

During this process of listening and expressing your views, it’s extremely important to keep your emotions in check. If you’re passionate about something, you can express that passion without losing control of your emotions or showing frustration. Instead, simply show that it is a very important issue for you; perhaps even something that is not up for debate or discussion (though this is usually not a good strategy to take). In any case, ensure that you check your emotions at the door and let your head do the talking.

Finally, it’s important to stay active as a teammate, both in the moment and over the long-term. In a conversation or meeting, allowing someone with different values than your own to hijack the entire conversation could ultimately take power away from anything you have to say. The same applies during day to day operations. Actively participate in your company and let your own values shine through. This way, you don’t have to consistently oppose your co-worker at every turn, but can instead find ways to collaborate with them in a more natural way. Oftentimes, when you just try to argue with each other directly, it can turn an otherwise small issue into a much larger one. Instead, allow your peers to actively participate in the same way that you do.

Working with someone who doesn’t share your values is never easy, whether you’re aligned on what the goal you’re trying to accomplish is, or not. However, the keys to ensuring a successful outcome are honest, calm communication and a willingness to learn. If direct argumentation has failed or reached a standstill, just allow yourself to take an active role in the growth of your business, and don’t take away your partner’s right to do the same.

Originally Published on Medium.

Business and Leadership

June 23, 2021

What Our World Would Look Like With an “Admire and Inspire” Mindset

It’s easy to talk about big ideas that could transform the world, but how would society actually change if we all lived to admire and inspire one another?

When I founded The Doe, I started with the idea that civil discourse had hit a barrier. From my perspective, people were no longer communicating with one another with positive intentions; they just talked at each other and debated for a right vs. wrong resolution. Anger and emotion trumped reason, making true discourse impossible. By letting people tell their stories anonymously and establishing a space for marginalized voices, I hoped to bring about a change in the way we, as a species, exchange and develop ideas.

Unfortunately, people tend to get cynical when you talk about “big” ideas. Perhaps they think that being a dreamer is naive, or that thinking outside the box isn’t practical. However, many of humanity’s greatest achievements came from the seeds of impractical ideas. There was a time when democracy was just a pipe dream — now it serves as the foundation for nearly every major government on the planet.

What does “admire and inspire” really mean?

inspiring mindset
Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/0G2ZxV31kk4

“Admire and inspire” is more than just a catchy phrase. When you really delve into the meanings of these terms, it’s easy to see why they reflect the best parts of human nature. When you admire another person, you recognize traits in them that you feel are positive, enviable, and altogether good for mankind. It is a way to use your own sense of what is right to heap praise onto others. This, in turn, helps others see the best in themselves and, ideally, work to become even better.

While admiration helps us identify positive qualities and ideas, inspiring others transforms these same ideas into action. When you believe something to be right and admirable, you’re more inclined to incorporate that action into your daily life. In this way, you project your best possible self onto the world, inspiring others to take action in the process. This creates a perpetual cycle of people inspiring and admiring one another.

While it might seem impractical to live in a world driven by the “admire and inspire” mentality, it’s not all that foreign. When we act in a certain way, self-interested or otherwise, we are projecting what we see as the “correct” way of being. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre believed that “man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world-and defines himself afterward.” In other words, we create our own image of the ideal person simply by acting. When viewing the human experience in this way, one can see that we are largely the sum of our own actions.

Therefore, we have an innate need to inspire with our actions. We live to act, and we act for the sake of ourselves and others. Our actions, from an ethical standpoint, reflect what we want to see in others. We are inspiration personified.

However, the act of admiring is far more complex, as it requires us to view the actions of others as worthy of praise and emulation. To truly admire someone else, you have to let go of your ego and recognize the qualities in others that are — or at least could be — superior to your own. Thus, the combination of admiration and inspiration has the potential to bring about the best possible results for humanity.

What would it actually look like in practice?

mindset
Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/jpHw8ndwJ_Q

With an “admire and inspire” mentality, individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments would flourish by simply lifting up those around them. Rather than looking at those different than ourselves as “others” or adversaries, we could look past these differences to appreciate the best qualities they have to offer. In short, a world built on inspiration and admiration would be a utopia of collective progress.

While it may not be realistic to think that everyone on the planet would adopt this mindset, it isn’t so far-fetched to envision a world in which entrepreneurs and business owners might lead by example. Businesses, by nature, are designed to provide something to the world. They innovate and bring about new ideas to meet the needs of others. If more entrepreneurs could realize this and focus their energy on helping others, the world of “admire and inspire” would not be so far off.

My Challenge to Entrepreneurs

I challenge my fellow entrepreneurs to adopt the “admire and inspire” mentality in their daily lives. Though I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes, I’ve always aimed to create businesses that help people. However, I don’t look at myself as a source of admiration. Instead, I look to those around me for the inspiration I need to wake up every morning and try to be better than I was the day before. I believe that if we can separate ourselves from our own egos and work to admire and inspire, we can build a society that is worthy of praise.

Originally published on Medium.

Business and Leadership

Woman using an iPhone and a laptop

March 22, 2021

Tips for Utilizing Boredom While Working from Home

One of the greatest challenges you’re going to face as an inquisitive, thoughtful person is boredom. Part of the reason so many of us are glued to social media is our fear of boredom, and the anxiety we face when we simply aren’t interested in what we’re doing, or worse — we don’t seem to have anything to do.2020 only served to increase this challenge. Afterall, one of the primary ways we stave off boredom is by going to new places, interacting with others, and engaging in valuable activities. Exacerbating the reality of social distancing and stay-at-home behavior is the fact that, for so many of us, work has now come home as well, meaning we can be bored at home, and at work… at the same time.But boredom can be dangerous for businesses, especially leadership and entrepreneurs: boredom in the short term can decrease productivity, while boredom in the longer term can lead to business decisions made out of impatience and desire for change. As a young entrepreneur, I’ve worked hard to train myself to turn moments that could be boring into opportunities for growth. With a little bit of effort, we can choose to turn boredom into a tool for improvement.

Attain Mastery and Follow Trends

One way to deal with occasional or longer term boredom at work is to choose to become a master of some subfield or topic in your job that is interesting to you. Working from home makes it easier to engage in side research or study in a topic of interest, and anytime you learn something in your field that makes you an expert, you have improved your marketability and value as an employee or leader. If you can obtain certification in some interesting subfield or related subject, push yourself to avoid periods of boredom by directing them toward that mastery.Once you’ve mastered a subfield, use off time and periods of boredom to read up on the latest trends in that topic or subfield of mastery. This will allow you to stay current and curious while learning new things all the time. By having a specific theme to search for or read about during periods of boredom, we can use that time constructively rather than doom scrolling on social media or waiting mindlessly for that next zoom meeting to start.

Schedule Well and Brainstorm Wisely

As theFounder of The Doe, one strategy that I like to apply when working at home is to determine which ‘boring’ activities I have to do that day, and then scheduling a specific period of time for completing these tasks. It’s easy to procrastinate for work tasks we know we will find boring, but by setting a clear time to start and a deadline, we give ourselves motivation and the promise that the boredom will have a clear endpoint. By making boredom a part of your work routine and controlling it, you’ll find it less frustrating.Boredom can also be controlled by giving the mind something productive to meditate about while engaged in boring activities. We all have ideas that cause us to say, “I wish I had some time to just think about that.” By keeping a list of those, and setting it aside as a “boredom brainstorming list”, you can focus your boredom mind into an uninhibited period of thought. These boredom brainstorming sessions can be full of innovation and creativity, turning an annoyance into an opportunity.Anyone can suffer from boredom now and again, but if we can package it into tolerable chunks, harness it to gain mastery over skills, or reorient it toward thoughtful meditation, we can make boredom a tool for improving our home work flow.Originally published on Thrive.

Published

Paul and David Merage, founders of Chef America

March 17, 2021

5 Iranian-American Siblings Who Harnesses the Power of Family to Find Success

As an Iranian-American and entrepreneur, I have a special place in my heart for young Iranian-Americans who find success. I believe in supporting Iranian-Americans who can start their own businesses, create art, or just try to make the world a better place. It’s even more exciting when Iranian-American siblings come together to do something really special.

I co-founded Guin Records with my sister, Misha Kordestani, back in 2018. Since then, we’ve signed a couple artists and grown our startup together. It’s difficult to explain, but the power of two siblings working together builds on the foundational understanding we have of one another. After all, wouldn’t you rather start a business with someone you’ve known your entire life, as opposed to a brand new investor or business partner?

Culture also plays a huge role in the operation of our label. Iranian culture is very family-centric, so it’s no surprise that there are dozens of Iranian-American siblings who also happen to be successful entrepreneurs.

In this article, I’d like to take a closer look at Iranian-American sibling entrepreneurs who are making waves in their respective industries.

Celine and Joline Nehoray

According to their website, Beverly Hills Lingerie is a company “created for women, by women.” Iranian-American sisters Celine and Joline Nehoray founded Beverly Hills Lingerie in 2018, with a vision to build on the lingerie-as-streetwear trend that began in the 1980s and has resurfaced in recent years. In addition to their appreciation for past trends, the Nehoray sisters also believe in high-quality products. They design all of their lingerie in the French tradition of expert craftsmanship and style.

As Celine and Joline Nehoray continue to build their brand, they also strive to focus on sustainable business practices. Their lingerie pieces are produced in limited quantities to reduce waste and ensure that every customer gets limited-edition clothing. Most importantly, every piece is created by hand in Los Angeles.

Paul and David Merage

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Hot Pocket, you have Paul and David Merage to thank for it. These Iranian-American brothers were born in Tehran, but migrated to California to attend college. While at school, the brothers came up with the idea for a food company based around American-style snack food. Soon after, the duo founded Chef America.

The flagship product of Chef America was the Hot Pocket, which turned out to be hugely popular. Like an American version of an empanada, the Hot Pocket combines various fillers with a crunchy, crust exterior. Not only did Americans love the taste, but they also loved the convenience, as hot pockets can be heated in the microwave and eaten on the go. Due to the company’s success throughout the 1990s, the Merage brothers sold their business to Nestle in 2002 for roughly $2.6 billion.

Ali and Hadi Partovi

Though not the youngest duo on this list, Iranian-American siblings Ali & Hadi Partovi might be the most well-known, especially in the tech world. As the identical twin sons of a renowned Iranian physics professor, Ali and Hadi Partovi grew up with a thirst for education and a strong, entrepreneurial spirit. The two gained prominence as angel investors for a variety of tech startups in Silicon Valley.

However, their talents are not just limited to smart investments. The two have worked on several projects over the years, most notably as the co-founders of Code.org. Here’s how Ali and Hadi describe their flagship startup:

“Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups. Our vision is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of their core K-12 education.”

Emad and Adel Tousi

It’s hard to find a family business that dates back as far as Tousi Rugs. The high-end rug retailer has been dealing in Persian rugs since the late 19th century. Over the years, the business has been handed down through the family’s generations. Today, Tousi Rugs is owned and operated by fifth-generation entrepreneurs, Emad and Adel Tousi.

While these rug sellers did not found Tousi Rugs, the brothers are certainly trying to reinvent their family business. Now marketing their products to both designers and consumers, the Tousi brothers have expanded their business to a larger segment of the market. Additionally, the Tousi brothers incorporate modern designs and colors with the more traditional Persian rug patterns of centuries past.

Bahareh and Farzaneh Safarani

While the Safarani sisters may not fit the standard image of entrepreneurs, they’ve definitely made an impact in the artistic world. These Iranian-American siblings currently live in Massachusetts, though their art has been featured in exhibits all over the world. If you take a look at their website, you’ll see that the Safarani sisters are both innovative and extremely talented. Their works include traditional drawings, performance art, and even “video-paintings.”

Despite being successful entrepreneurs, the Safarani sisters primarily identify as artists. Their art has been praised for its focus on their sense of dual identity, the relationship between siblings, as well as their Iranian heritage. Even in the time of Coronavirus, Bahareh and Farzaneh Safarani continue to share their live art performances with the world — albeit from a distance.

The enduring power of family

The bond between siblings is something that lends itself to entrepreneurial success. Additionally, the family-centric nature of Iranian culture has allowed many Iranian-American siblings to flourish in various spheres — from tech to performance art. Needless to say, I count myself lucky to be an Iranian-American and to have a sister with whom I can share my passion for music, business, and giving back to my community. I look forward to even more Iranian-American siblings and entrepreneurs finding success in the future.

Originally published on Entrepreneur.

Published

Woman standing on cliff edge|

March 17, 2021

Are You Dangerously Overconfident?

Whether you are yet familiar with the Dunning-Kruger Effect or not, it is a theory which has a profound impact on our lives and you can avoid the worst of its dangers by being aware. Overconfidence can cost a young entrepreneur money, talent and time — and with the added risks and opportunities of 2021’s unique economic environment, it’s more important than ever for aspiring moguls to step back, self-reflect and think about some weak points where Dunning-Kruger can easily creep in.

Understanding the effect in question

In 1999, psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger published a groundbreaking paper, “Unskilled and Unaware of It,” in which they demonstrated that people assume they are more knowledgeable or talented than they actually are, in a number of domains. In other words, we all overestimate our skills or expertise in some way. But Dunning and Kruger went further to point out that the more unskilled you are, the more likely you are to overestimate your abilities.

There has been a lot of discussion relating to the Dunning-Kruger effect related to politics and COVID-19 science in 2020 and 2021. But the concept is also an important one for those in finance and is especially relevant for young business owners who have not yet made enough mistakes to learn harsh Dunning-Kruger lessons.

Overcommitting and over outsourcing

In my opinion, the biggest Dunning-Kruger threat for small business owners is that we often take on new challenges that we don’t have the skill set for, instead of hiring specialists and outsourcing tasks to experts. As the founder of The Doe, I felt a confidence that I knew how to handle most aspects of the company I had created. But bringing in talent to focus on product creation, UI development and social media has only demonstrated that I was right in realizing that I did not have the specialized knowledge I assumed I had.

For many companies, the restricted economy of 2020 meant layoffs or downsizing. Many pushed forward with their dreams with a skeleton crew. These hardworking and industrious owners kept the economy going and kept their dreams growing by becoming a jack of all trades, taking on extra responsibilities and filling in the gaps. But we can’t let Dunning-Kruger lure us all into assuming that we should maintain that overcommitment and stop gap effort as the economy stabilizes in 2021.

Owners need to remember to not take on fields and tasks outside their competencies. Instead, outsource our weaknesses to dynamic, talented experts and let them work their magic.

Forgotten elders

With so many of us tucked away in quarantine for almost a year, it has been harder to stay connected to co-workers, creative partners and professional mentors. It is easy to forget that young entrepreneurs can learn a lot by picking the brains of older colleagues and friends who can describe lessons learned from previous mistakes. Dunning-Kruger often encourages us to ignore others who remind us that we don’t know as much as we want to believe, and 2020’s social isolation made that even easier.

A smart and self-reflective young owner will recognize the importance of learning from mentors, and will make the effort to create opportunities to still have those interactions. Digital coffees, zoom cocktails and other ways of connecting with advisors will remind us all of our limits and where we can learn more, and avoid the isolation that allows Dunning-Kruger to fester.

Beginner’s luck and Robinhood

So many of us put business plans on hold in 2020, until our industries rebounded; but our boundless energy motivated us to grow our capital while waiting. With the massive growth of commission-free trading, new amateur-trading platforms like the now maligned Robinhood, and a clear market bottom in March 2020, a significant number of young entrepreneurs used 2020 as a chance to invest business funding into the stock market and multiply their seed money. These success stories could could continue to turn tragic, as 2021 continues, if these entrepreneurs get too distracted by the siren’s call of a hot market.

The Robinhood story is a confluence of an unusual 2020 market and a set of untempered new investors. 2020’s wild ride in the stock market meant nearly anyone could make money, it’s just a matter of how much. A perfect scenario for Dunning-Kruger. Billionaire investor Chris Sacca took a swipe as the Robinhood bro culture, arguing that all the brand new investors who made money in the market this year “are not actually that good at it.” Sacca’s point is a tip of the hat to Dunning-Kruger: Many of those Robinhood investors who made, and continue to make, serious gains now see themselves as knowledgeable and skilled. If those investors are banking on those skills to fund their next venture, they may find themselves on the wrong side of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

2021 offers a chance to evaluate your talents… and limits

As a young entrepreneur myself, I have always argued that self-reflection is a necessary step in being a great leader. One of the most important processes for successful self-reflection is honestly evaluating what we are good at and where we do not possess expertise. Being aware of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, especially as it pertains to bad habits we might have picked up in 2020, allows us to avoid its pitfalls and traps.

A new study commissioned by GoDaddy found nearly 86% of respondents looking for a career change wanted a path that was completely different from what they currently do. Comfortingly, in order to get a leg up in their job hunt, 47% of those polled turned to taking online courses while 42% learned a new digital skill and 31% have begun building a professional network.

If there’s a bright side to this otherwise overconfident morass, it’s that actual education and preparation may once again be in vogue.

Originally published on Entrepreneur.

Published

Man with a bucket full of vegetables

March 16, 2021

From Farm To Table: The Lives Of The Immigrants Who Grow Your Food

It’s not my kind of job. It’s just messy. I’m surprised that they don’t get a shitload of Mexicans willing to do that. They ship them all back to Mexico? These were the responses of four unemployed Americans in search of work when asked if they would consider working on a dairy farm. In the same area, when asking a Puerto Rican if he would do the work, he said “Yeah, if there’s work to do, I’ll start right now.” The average pay for one of these immigrant workers is $12 per hour from 2 a.m. to 12 p.m., with additional compensation of a living area on the farm. Simply put, the majority of Americans refuse to work in those conditions, and with 78 percent of farm workers in the United States foreign-born and 60 percent of farm workers in the United States undocumented, it’s no wonder why farm owners across the U.S. are panicking at the thought of immigration reform. Chances are the food you ate today was planted, plucked, and packed by workers who were born in Mexico or central America.

In the United States, facilities known as immigrant detention centers are required to fill their beds with illegal immigrants every night. Even workers who have been employed at these farms for years and whose employers consider family can end up in one of these facilities. As more and more immigrants are deported, we lose labor in a market that Americans won’t fill. “They’re good at their jobs,” said an anonymous farm owner, referring to immigrant workers, and when they get deported farm owners are left without a source of labor. Many of the owners feel as though there is no reason to even grow their business if at any second their workers can be deported by the government. A dairy farmer in New York said that, “day to day, we’re caught in between the crosshairs of the government that makes the laws and the agencies that enforce the laws”. While everyone is just doing their jobs, the disconnect seems to lie between those who are making the decisions in the government.

Our current legal immigration system does not meet the needs of the farm workers in the United States. Currently, workers “have to hide their faces like hardened criminals,” and tax payers have to pay billions of dollars to deport “peaceful people doing a job even unemployed Americans don’t want to do.” The only program in place to help immigrants to stay and work in the United States is the H-2A visa program which allows qualifying agribusinesses to hire foreign workers to fill temporary workloads. Most analysts, however, argue that it’s a broken system, riddled with bureaucratical inefficiencies, especially since this program only applies to seasonal workers. This means that for all other laborers, it’s a matter of when — not if — they’ll be picked up and placed in a bed of a detention center to be deported, all paid for by tax dollars. And once they’ve been deported, the workers come right back because they’ve been away from their original home so long that the United States has become their home. This cycle is not only a waste of taxpayers’ money but is also extremely hard on the agricultural economy.

As the demand for food products grows along with the population, farmers will increasingly struggle to keep up with demand, leading to the United States developing a reliance on foreign countries to produce our food. The Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation said that “If nothing changes, we’re going to continue to see more shortages and more instability in the markets… We can’t sustain in that environment, and we will get to the point where instead of importing our labor, we’re importing our food.” Solutions have been proposed, such as to create a “blue card” program to allow those who have proven their value as workers to stay, or to revise the H-2A program to make it easier for farmers to gain laborers as quickly as they need them. Almost all the ideas lead back to one answer, which is that we need to allow immigrants to come into this country to work the jobs Americans don’t want.

As said by Martin Herron, who worked at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement from 1998–2011, “Immigration is a battle that cannot be won.” Martin suggests that we create an amnesty to allow immigrants into the country because we need them. For the Hispanics who come to the United States, it’s a matter of migration north for them. Herron stated, “If you’re standing on one side of the street and you’ve got nothing, and you look over to the other side of the street and they have everything, to me it’s just common sense, why can’t I cross the street?”

Instead of trying to find a way without immigrants, why don’t we find a way to keep them and continue to allow them to be a part of the American story of agriculture?

Originally published on HuffPost.

Published

January 5, 2021

Putting the United Back in the United States: An Open Letter to My Political Counterpart

Hi Friend,

It’s been awhile since we last spoke, since we went our separate ways. I remember thinking that unfriending you on Facebook was such a great idea; I wouldn’t have to see your posts that I disagreed with, and you wouldn’t see mine. We’d go our separate ways and be much happier, right? But now months have passed, and I feel like I’ve lost a friend. Honestly, I’m sorry, I’m sorry I jumped to just cutting you out instead of thinking about how we could mend this friendship. The last several months have been crazy, but someone just reminded me that we’re actually living in the most peaceful times in human history, so why doesn’t it feel that way? I was looking through old photos and ran into some of you and me — do you remember that time we snuck out late at night to go to the movies and see the new Batman? We thought we were so cool sitting in the very front row, being obnoxiously loud, and laughing at all of our hilarious inside jokes that wouldn’t even spring a chuckle out of a stranger. It was looking through those pictures that I began to think of you. We stopped talking because we thought “we’re just too different to be friends.” But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized, we’re really not that different at all.

The United States has always celebrated the differences in the opinions of its people. The “melting pot” of individuals who reside within our borders serve as a reminder that each one of us is different, and the government reflects those differences. With all of this attention on the United States right now and the tension between Democrats and Republicans, it would be easy to assume that we have nothing in common, but that’s just not true. Both of us consider ourselves patriots, both of us support helping nations in need, and both of us feel that more should be done to help the less fortunate in the United States.

Take the “travel ban” that there has been so much disagreement about recently, while you and I disagree on the implementation of a ban, when we look at the big picture, every member of the government and almost every citizen of the United States of America agrees that something must be done to stop terrorism and supports measures to help prevent attacks. Or what about the idea that taxpayers in the United States should help other countries in need? While initially I thought we disagreed on this, fundamentally, we don’t. Democrats and Republicans “both believe that taxpayers should provide funding to other countries around the world. The bipartisan Commission on Appropriations approved $40.1 billion in foreign aid for the 2013 year.” (Tyler)

Helping those in need is a concern that both of us have. While Democrats generally receive much of the press for attempting to find ways to ease the burden of the poor in the United States, and the Republicans are seen as the party of the wealthy, there are many Republicans who take poverty very seriously. In fact, Speaker Paul Ryan spearheads a Republican task force designed to come up with real and beneficial solutions to the issues facing needy families. The vision statement reads, “Vision: Strengthen America’s social safety net to better help those in need; improve education and training so more can succeed in today’s economy; help welfare recipients enter, re-enter, and remain in the workforce; and empower everyone to live their own American Dream” (Ryan). Obviously, Republicans know that there is a problem and are attempting to come up with workable solutions to solve them just as Democrats are. You see, while we may often disagree on the methods of trying to achieve common goals, we share the same goals, and any strides to do reach them are well warranted.

The United States has long billed itself as a country that accepts all people, regardless of religion, race or nationality. The Statue of Liberty stands as a beacon to the world that all people are welcome. While it is obvious that the United States has been a divided country for sometime now, perhaps it is not as divided as the citizens are led to believe. In a nation that constantly focuses on the differences between the Democrats and Republicans, it is sometimes easy to forget that we also share similarities as well. The love of country, the desire to assist other countries who need help, and the concern for those who do not have as much as others are all common themes which run through the backbone of both parties.

I know I got a little sidetracked there, but the long and the short message is, I miss you, and I think we can reconcile this friendship. I know it’s inevitable that we’ll have differences in opinion and get in some heated debates from time to time, but at the end of the day, we’re both human, we both call this country home, and we both just want the best for ourselves and our country. While we often think we disagree with each other, I think it’s important to zoom out and realize we really have the same concerns, and if we tried to work together more, we’d probably get a lot more done and with a lot less headache. I hope you’ll you re-friend me on Facebook, I really think we can make this work.

Sincerely,

Your long-lost FB friend, Milan Kordestani

Originally published on HuffPost here.

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How to Respect Opinions Even When You Disagree

Civil Discourse

September 20, 2022

The Art of Productive Conflict: Learn How to Turn Disagreements Into Opportunities for Growth

Civil Discourse

September 6, 2022

10 Soft Skills that are Crucial for Leadership

Civil Discourse

September 6, 2022

Finding Common Ground

Civil Discourse

August 29, 2022

How to Handle Criticism Like a Winner

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How to Break Out of the Social Media Echo Chamber?

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

Principles of Communication: The 7 C’s

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How to Give and Take Constructive Criticism: Useful Tips

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

Why Empathetic Communication is Important for Effective Leadership

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important in the Workplace

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How to Be More Authentic at Work

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

5 Steps to Conflict Resolution

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

A Guide to Conflict Management for Leaders

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

Barriers to Effective Communication

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How to Handle a Value Conflict

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

What Does It Take to be a Mindful Leader?

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict Avoidance

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

Effective Ways to Promote Equity in the Workplace

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How to Create Psychological Safety at Work

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How to Support Your Team as a Leader

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

How Great Leaders Deal With Arguments

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

10 Strategies to Become a Better Leader

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

How to Stay Calm During an Argument

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How to Debate Well: Debate Roles, Skills & Rules

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

How to Foster Constructive Conflict

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

Dialogue vs Debate vs Discussion: Key Differences

Civil Discourse

August 17, 2022

The Civil Dialogue Approach to Tough Conversations

August 17, 2022

Reconciling The Entrepreneurial Hustle With Your Need For Self-Care

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

How to Stop Imposter Syndrome From Killing Your Drive

August 17, 2022

How to Deal With Teammates Who Don't Share Your Values

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

The Key to Staying Positive in the High-Pressure World of Entrepreneurship

August 17, 2022

Is the World Becoming Too Cynical for Social Media Influencers?

August 17, 2022

How to Make Charitable Giving a Winning Business Strategy

August 17, 2022

Movie and TV Soundtracks Have Lost Steam, But Not For Indie Artists

August 17, 2022

How to Be a Successful Business Owner Without Taking Agency Away From Your Employees

August 17, 2022

Has Streaming Amplified the Culture of Instant Gratification?

August 17, 2022

Why AI Will Never Fully Replace Human-Made Art

Published

August 17, 2022

Demystifying Quantum Computing For Tech Entrepreneurs

August 17, 2022

Why 5G Could Be a Game Changer For Entrepreneurs — and the World

Published

August 17, 2022

How I Think Modern Music Consumption Promotes Micro-Niches

August 17, 2022

How Streaming Platforms Inadvertently Educate Millions About Online Privacy

August 17, 2022

What Does the Rise of EDM Say About Gen Z?

August 17, 2022

My Thoughts for Young Artists on Marketing Their Music in an Ever-Evolving Industry

Published

August 17, 2022

How To Maintain Company Culture Remotely

Published

August 17, 2022

Why Community Outreach Is More Personal For Many Hip Hop Artists

August 17, 2022

5 Environmental Tech Startups Putting the Planet Before Profits

August 17, 2022

Why the Music Industry Needs More Artist-Friendly Record Labels

August 17, 2022

What Our World Would Look Like With an “Admire and Inspire” Mindset

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

5 Ways to Destress From Your Desk

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

How COVID-19 Inadvertently Improved Online Learning

August 17, 2022

The Problem with SoundCloud for Casual Hip Hop Music Fans

August 17, 2022

Online Learning Has Changed the Future of Higher Education

August 17, 2022

Cancelling Cancel Culture: 3 Ways We Can Be Better Together

August 17, 2022

How Coronavirus Stimulus Could Shape Startup Culture in 2021

Business and Leadership

August 17, 2022

Remembering the Meteoric Rise and Tragic Fall of Lil Peep

August 17, 2022

From Crunk to Snap to Trap: A Brief History of Southern Hip Hop

August 17, 2022

Nobody Wants to Talk about it: The Death of Artists

Published

August 17, 2022

America’s Obesity Epidemic Is Worse Than Ever — Here’s Why

August 17, 2022

Big Businesses That Started as Side Hustles

Published

August 17, 2022

Meditation and Entrepreneurship: How Self-Reflection Drives Innovation

August 17, 2022

A Rock and A Hard Place: The Farmers of America

Published

August 17, 2022

Building in Public: How Tech Companies Master Product-Market Fit

August 17, 2022

Leveraging Media Criticism to Get Your Business Ahead of the Crowd

Published

August 17, 2022

3 Ways Young Entrepreneurs and Freelancers Can Disrupt the Retail Industry

Published

August 17, 2022

How You’ve Been Fed Lies Since Birth

August 17, 2022

Tips for Utilizing Boredom While Working from Home

Published

August 17, 2022

5 Iranian-American Siblings Who Harnesses the Power of Family to Find Success

Published

August 17, 2022

Are You Dangerously Overconfident?

Published

August 17, 2022

From Farm To Table: The Lives Of The Immigrants Who Grow Your Food

Published

August 17, 2022

5 Reasons You Should Not Aspire to Build a Massive, Multibillion-Dollar Empire

August 17, 2022

Putting the United Back in the United States: An Open Letter to My Political Counterpart

Published

August 17, 2022

How Small Record Labels Benefit From Undiscovered Artists

August 17, 2022

What Movies Like JoJo Rabbit Can Teach Us About Propaganda

August 17, 2022

COVID-19 is telling us something. Are we listening?

August 17, 2022

Hydroponic Saffron Cultivation and the Effects of Soil Salinity

August 12, 2022

Why Entrepreneurs Should Embrace Purpose-Driven Capitalism

Civil Discourse

August 11, 2022

Unpacking the Horrific Conditions of the American Poultry Industry

Civil Discourse