OUR MUSINGS

How my childhood experiences became valuable life lessons

By Alkis Marangos

People who are close to me know that I am not one to philosophize about life or try to find answers to life’s most complicated questions. I consider myself rather a ‘shallow’ guy who enjoys living in the moment and making the most of every day in this journey. I do, however, believe that what has defined my character and personality over the years are certain experiences and memories of my childhood years.  Every now and then I like to reflect back and recollect some of those childhood memories and try to understand how they have influenced me in creating some of my life’s most important values and rules.

 

Beach

 

Set goals to fulfill your dreams

Harvey Specter from the popular TV Series “Suits” said in an episode: “I don’t have dreams, I have goals.” Unlike Harvey, I like to have both.

There is a fine line between dreams and goals. When I was 10, I would dream of being a soccer player who is idolized by fans around Europe. That dream was rapidly shattered because of my lack of direction combined with a tad of laziness and my illusion that talent can make up for any hard work required.  It was a good lesson however that taught me much later in life that if I want to fulfill my dreams, I have to set goals, accompanied by objectives that would help me achieve my goals. When I set my objectives, I follow a few simple rules that have been so much discussed in many business textbooks, but often overlooked.

First and foremost, I write them down so I don’t forget them or lose direction. Secondly, I make them specific so that I always know what I am trying to achieve, and finally I make them measurable so that I can make myself accountable. Whether it’s a new client project, a work task, a New Year’s Resolution or a dream, I follow these little rules with my objectives. If nothing else, it helps me stay focused, be more productive and work efficiently.

 

You will be rewarded when you work hard

The 4am summer wake up calls as a young kid to go to the farm with my dad, and the natural progression as I grew older to spend summer days at my mother’s office to help with data entry are now just a distant memory. It was later in life that I realized that my parents’ persistence to do something productive with my summer vacations was not just about learning a few new skills. It was their way of instilling a culture and work ethic, and making me understand that good things in life will come when you put in the time and effort.

I always set the bar high and I like to push myself to the limits to reach the bar. Unfairly sometimes, I expect people around me to do the same. I think that this little push over the boundaries is what contributes to personal and professional development.

 

Do the little things that will give you peace of mind

It is true that life obligations increase at an exponential rate as you get older. The little carefree kid who dreamed to be a soccer player has grown to be an adult striving to lead a balanced life. To achieve that, there are a number of things that I do on a regular basis to keep me grounded. Every morning after breakfast I spend 10 minutes on the floor giving love to my two Chihuahuas. At lunch time, I Facetime with my parents to hear about their day and tell them about mine. At nights, I enjoy a glass of wine with my wife over a good TV show. After work, I spend time with my daughter trying to get some smiles out of her. During the day I check in over text messages with some of my best friends who are now a few thousand miles away. On the weekends, I religiously sit in front of my computer to watch my soccer team play. These are just a few of my personal moments that make my life so much less complicated, keep me happy and give me the necessary peace of mind to keep the balance that I need.

 

You have the strength to get up when you fall down,

All of us have fallen down at some point in our life; it’s inevitable. It could be a stressful day at work, a bad meeting, an argument or some sad news. What distinguishes success from failure is our ability to stand back up and chase our dreams.

In the summer of 1974, my parents with my then 3-year-old brother were forced to evacuate their home because of a Turkish invasion in the north of Cyprus. Within one night they became refugees in their own country, losing their house and belongings, and were stripped of their right to peacefully raise their family in the place where they grew up. What was not taken from them was their desire, passion and ability to make things work for their family. They moved countries to get jobs, they worked hard to climb up the career ladder, they sacrificed family and personal time to make sure that their family was not short of anything. They rebuilt their life and two houses; one that is only a few miles away from the ghost town of Famagusta and their still occupied house. 4 decades, 3 sons, 3 daughters-in-law and 4 grandkids later, they are a living proof that nothing is too major to get you down.

I only lived this experience through the vivid stories of my parents and grandparents but it was certainly one of life’s most valuable lessons; a lesson that taught me to remain calm during unfortunate circumstances and to always have the courage to stand up to my feet when I fall down. To use every bad experience to my advantage by asking myself what went wrong, how can I prevent it from happening again and how I can improve. But most importantly, it taught me to stay positive for the good things that will come in my life.

 

Become the change you want to see

Last but not least, I consider myself lucky enough to have been raised and influenced by two of the most important women in my life. My grandmother was one of the leaders for women rights in Cyprus, fighting for their right to a decent job and salary. My mother went from the struggle of landing her first job (because she was a married woman with children) to climbing the corporate ladder and becoming one of the first and most successful businesswomen in Cyprus; at a time where there were huge gaps of gender inequality.

I could not have been raised to act any differently; it is an unconditional rule in my life that every individual should be treated equally and with respect, regardless of gender, nationality or race. Regulations and policies that are in place only slightly contribute to the equality that each one of use deserves. The change that I want to see in this world comes from the little actions of each individual; the way we treat and talk to other people, the equal opportunities that we give them, the respect that we pay to them, the lessons we learn from their culture and background, the acceptance of their struggles.  Like Mahatma Gandhi said “We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

 

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4 reasons no one likes your Facebook posts

For the B2B sector, social media marketing has been a game changer and a key differentiator between competition. Forward thinking organizations recognize the importance social media plays in their overall marketing strategies.

In fact, based on a recent study by CMI/MarketingProfs, 81% of B2B organizations are utilizing Facebook – which is by far one of the largest networking tools today –  to promote their brand. One area B2B marketers struggle with is how to get the biggest bang for their buck when it comes to Facebook’s ROI.

Organization’s Facebook posts that tend to be lacking in engagement should focus on these four key areas in order to generate more engagement:

  1. Use analytics to get to know your audience

Facebook Insights should be your right hand man/woman. It gives you better insight into important data such as the kinds of posts that receive highest reach/engagement, what time of the day users are most active, where your fans are coming from, and much more. User metrics allow you to measure, analyze and learn so that you can adjust your page accordingly for optimum performance.

  1. Post engaging content

The Facebook algorithm running in the background populates your news feed with posts that you want and filters out posts you don’t want – based on several factors. This same algorithm rewards users who posts receive high engagement by sharing with your users on their newsfeed that others have engaged with your content. So post content that encourages interaction – ask for feedback, take a poll, do a live question and answer session. Also, overly promotional content that pushes products, encourages users to enter promotions and sweepstakes and ads are discouraged as disguised organic content. Content that is useful to your followers will always perform better than content that is useful to your company.

  1. Use visual storytelling

Visual storytelling is becoming the way of telling stories on Facebook today. On Facebook, a picture is worth more than a thousand words, and posting visual content such as videos and images can help increase engagement and likes on your posts. In fact, Facebook’s algorithm places a much higher priority on visual content, particularly video content, than it does text posts. If you’re wanting to expand your organic reach and engagement, visuals are becoming a necessity.

  1. Give your content a boost

Even if it’s already interesting, your content could still benefit from promotion. By using promotional tools such as Facebook ads and boosted posts, you can reach new users through targeting location, demographics, connections and more. And in today’s world, you need to pay to play in order to be seen in the world of Facebook. In fact, according to a recent study by AdRoll, ads have click-through rates 8.1 times higher than normal web ads. Facebook ads are fairly inexpensive and prove to be one of the most effective ways to get your content in front of the right people and audiences.

In today’s world, being absent on social media can have as much of a negative effect as having a bad social reputation. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage, connect and add value on one of the fastest growing social media networks today. Oh, and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook as well.

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Taking Some Time to Recharge During the Holidays

By Rebecca Boyle

It’s the new year and we are back to work after the holidays. (I hope yours were good. Mine were.) The best part of my holiday break was spending some downtime with my family. After traveling to Cleveland for Christmas, we enjoyed a few days at home in our jammies and comfy clothes and we really didn’t do much. It was perfect! Taking that little bit of time to slow down and recharge made me feel happier and more relaxed—and ready to tackle the new year!

A photo of my little family taken during the big Boyle family photo shoot in Cleveland at Christmas.

Here are three things I did during the holidays that made me feel happy.

Hanging out with my kids
Whether we were watching kid’s shows and cuddling on the couch, reading books together, playing Uno, having a coloring contest, taking a family walk, or they were showing me all the cool things on the tablets Santa got them, I enjoyed hanging out with Paddy (age 8), Marcy (7), and Tommy (2) without having to rush out the door to be somewhere by a certain time.

Going on two dates with my husband
My husband Tim and I went on two dates over the holidays—one for our 11th wedding anniversary and one for my birthday. With our jobs, the kids, and his busy basketball coaching schedule, two dates in two weeks is not normal for us. It was fun to eat warm food that we didn’t have to prepare, enjoy a few adult beverages, and have conversations that weren’t constantly interrupted.

Reading books by myself
I have always loved to read. When I was younger, I would curl up with a good book and read it all in one sitting. I’d feel like I was part of the story and stay up way too late to find out what happened. These days, I’m usually reading an ebook from the library on my phone at short random times, like while I’m blow drying my hair, during my lunch break, and when the kids are in bed and I’ve decided to ignore the dishes and laundry. While I did not read a whole book in one sitting over the holidays, I was able to stay up way too late and read for a few hours straight.

Hope you were able to find some time to do what you love during the holidays as well!

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World’s Okayest Mom

By Lisa Cloud

I wear so many hats in my life – I’m a daughter, sister, caregiver, friend, employee, legginWorld's Okayest Momgs lover – but the one I take the greatest pride in, well most days, is being a mom. Wanna know a little secret about me? Here’s some real talk for you – motherhood has knocked me down a few times. Okay, fine. A lot of times.  It’s bruised my ego, heart, confidence, will, drive, spunk and so much more. I’m so Type A. Like really, really Type A. Did I mention that I’m Type A? I could sit here and list all of the Type A traits I possess, but will spare you the gritty details.

What isn’t a secret is that motherhood has changed me. I know you’re thinking well DUH – of course it’s changed you, lady – that’s part of motherhood. It’s less about you and more about the kids. Uh, yeah. I get it. I get it every single day. Especially when they insist on eating dinner every single night and doing their homework. Why are they so needy!?!? (That’s a joke by the way. My kids eat usually a homemade dinner every night AND do their homework. I said usually though sometimes it’s frozen pizza or delivery Chinese food. Time is of the essence, people).

While being a mother is hard at times, it’s easily one of most rewarding roles I’ve ever had. That’s so confusing, right? It’s actually made me learn a lot about myself and forced me to learn some very tough, yet valuable lessons that are applicable in every part of my life – especially in my career.

Allow me to present ‘5 Reasons Motherhood Has Helped Me Let It Go’. I’m sorry, not sorry if you have the Frozen song stuck in your head right now.

1. Ditch the idea of perfection. Everyone’s idea of perfection is different, right? One of my heaviest struggles with motherhood is that I’m a perfectionist. I have an idea of what most every situation should look like and if/when it doesn’t fit into that pretty little box then I can go into meltdown mode. Life isn’t perfect – you do your best and honestly, sometimes the best memories, laughs,work, projects and/or solutions come from imperfections. Be open to that. In the words of Vanilla Ice – ‘stop, collaborate and listen.’ Your best successes could come from those.

2. Ask for and accept help. Everyone wants to be supermom. It’s exhausting. Come talk to me around Valentine’s Day when it’s time for the class parties and I’m stalking Pinterest to find THE best homemade card. It happens, don’t judge me. I’m learning that it’s okay to send pre-made, store bought cards or letting Grandma help out because other things are more important and I can’t do not have enough hours in the day. There’s no harm in trusting your team/village/posse/people to lend a hand in whatever capacity possible. They wouldn’t be in your life if you couldn’t trust them or they didn’t add some type of value, right? As hard as it is, delegating is key these days. Asking someone on the team to use their solid skill set only makes life better. I promise.

3. Appreciate and grow from the struggles. We all struggle in some form or fashion. It’s just human nature. I’m learning to not beat myself up about what I can/can’t do and to celebrate what I can. I’m learning to use my struggles to change perspective and see a different side of the situation. This allows me to be more flexible and agile, thus not wasting the struggle but growing from it. That struggle might be a game-changer, hail-Mary or a key puzzle piece at some point down the road.

4. Pick your battles. This is a practiced art every single day in my house and life. Sometimes I want to go out guns blazing but honestly, as a mother and person – I AM WRONG. My way isn’t the only way. Being able to admit that is difficult too but I have to be strategic with my words and choices. I can’t argue with my almost 7 year-old when he can’t find his shoe but I know it’s right where he left it. I know this because as soon as I walk over to the hall closet, he’ll magically proclaim that he found. I’ll try not to be super annoyed that those three seconds could have been spent elsewhere but, I digress. If a client tells you they want XYZ on their project and won’t budge, then be creative giving them XYZ. It’s not always about what we want. There are other people to consider

5. Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up. I have to remind my kids to put their shoes on every morning. It’s true. One would think that they’d automatically put them on before walking out the door so they wouldn’t have to hear me ask the same questions over and over again. Nope. Motherhood has taught me not to assume something is getting done because 9 times out 10 —it’s not. It’s not a blatant sign of them not wanting to do it, it’s because something else is more appealing and shinier, grabbing their attention span from the task at hand. We’re human. It happens. Taking a few seconds out the day to follow-up can save one’s sanity. Trust me.

Motherhood is different for every woman and there’s no one-size-fits-all model. There’s no manual. It’s about the individual, what’s important and works for them. For me, it’s about small details, realness, transparency, openness and humor while learning to let go of things I can’t control. It’s trial and error. Lots of tears, laughter and side-eyes – from both mom and kids. I mean, if I can’t laugh at myself then who can I laugh at? It’s not like anyone is keeping score but just in case – Motherhood 948, Lisa 10.

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