Author: Stacey Sultar

It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

Never underestimate the effect networking can have on your career. It isn’t about schmoozing your way into promotions; it’s about learning from others and sharing your value in return. This can improve your leadership abilities and a variety of other skills that can be invaluable to your professional growth and development.

The benefits of networking include:

  • New opportunities. By broadening your professional circle, you’ll find more opportunities come your way– from new positions to client referrals to unique experiences that can inspire and motivate you.
  • Shared knowledge and skills. Exposure to new ideas and new knowledge can be one of the most beneficial effects of networking. You’ll be better at what you do and more able to contribute to your company and industry in a meaningful way.
  • Long-lasting connections. As you continue to grow your network, you’ll find yourself forming lasting relationships with your peers and mentors that can transform the future of your career. As these connections develop, you’ll have a long list of friends to call on if you ever need anything.

Let the Networking Begin

With launchbox’s EXCELERATOR peer groups, you can give your millennial employees what they want and need… NETWORKING and business skills, PEER support and personalized COACHING.

The pay back? You get employees with expanded professional networks that can deliver more opportunities and revenue for your business.

Send your employees as our guests to our upcoming EXCELERATOR meeting on the 2nd Thursday of the month from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. They can check it out and report back on the value EXCELERATOR can deliver to them and to your organization.

Email to register your guests today.


15 Ways to Know if You’re on the Right Career Path

Whether you’ve been in your position for years or you’re just starting out, you may find yourself questioning whether you’ve made the right decision. It often goes much deeper than whether or not your company is right for you—you may wonder if your career path is the right choice for your personality, background, and skillset. Here’s how to know if you’re on the right path.

1. You look forward to going to work. The “Sunday blues” don’t apply to you, and you never dread heading into the office. This is a surefire sign that you love your job.

2. You enjoy what you do. When you finally do get into the office, you enjoy your day to day tasks and missions. Your work is meaningful to you and doesn’t create unnecessary stress in your life.

3. You have the opportunity for creativity. Even if you get to challenge yourself in small ways, the ideal career path will test your skill and your creativity with each passing day.

4. You don’t mind putting in more time or effort. The boss asks you to stay late? Not a problem. Do you have to work hard to meet your goals? All in a day’s work.

5. You recommend your company to others. If a friend is looking for work and you’re quick to recommend your company, you can rest assured that you’re in the right place.

6. You identify with your company and/or its mission. It’s important that your goals, morals, and ambitions align with your company. This will keep you loving what you do, and help you stick with it long term.

7. Work isn’t keeping you up at night. If work concerns have you lying awake and worrying, it might be time for a change. At the end of the night, you should feel rested and accomplished.

8. The money is right. Money should never be your main priority, but with the right career path, the salary meets your financial needs.

9. You have fun at work. Whether it’s what you do or who you do it with, work should be fun. After all, you spend a good chunk of your time there.

10. You talk about your job at home. And we don’t mean you rant to your friends or family. If you can’t wait to tell your pals or your significant other about your day at work, that’s a good sign.

11. You like the people you work with. Who you work with is just as important as the work itself. Do you enjoy being around them? Do you have similar goals? Do you want to spend time with them outside of work?

12. You feel accomplished at work. No one likes to feel as if their skills are being wasted. If you feel that your talents are being put to good use, you’re in the right place.

13. You’re excited about your future. Whether you’d like to stay with the same company or branch out in your field, you’re excited to see where your career path will take you.

14. You’re proud to tell people what you do. Introducing yourself with your job title just feels right. You’re proud of what you do and the company you work for.

15. You can’t imagine following another career path. If there’s nothing you’d rather be doing, that’s the clearest sign of all. You’ve found the right career, so stick with it.

So what do you think? Are you on the right career path?

Replace a Sitting Meeting With a Walking Meeting

When we are in the office, we often spend our entire day sitting. This is not only harmful on the body, but it can also dull your concentration and creativity. When you go from your computer to the conference room to your couch at home, this leaves little room for exercise in your daily routine. Luckily, there’s a rising trend in business meetings that may address these problems: walking meetings.

The Research

Studies have shown that taking walks increases blood flow to your brain, resulting in sharper concentration and higher cognitive function. It’s also a stress reliever that can allow you to think more clearly and focus on the tasks at hand. And the benefits don’t stop there. Our bodies are not meant to spend long periods of time sitting, and this has a myriad of negative health effects. For instance, our spines curve after several hours in our office chairs, limiting our lung capacity and placing undue strain on our spinal cord.

The Benefits of Walking Meetings

Walking not only corrects these physical and mental side effects, but can actually make your meetings more productive. Walking with someone, for instance, reduces the amount of eye contact, which allows us to let our guard down and significantly increases our comfort level. Studies have actually shown that brainstorming sessions conducted while walking result in more unique, creative solutions.

In addition to producing better results, walking meetings can also promote wellness and a healthy, engaged company culture. It gives you the opportunity to get to know your colleagues better, as people are more likely to open up while walking.

When to Sit Down

Of course, it can be difficult to conduct a walking meeting if there are papers or files you need to look at. Similarly, the aforementioned study found that in situations where there is only one solution to a problem, it’s actually more productive to sit down and focus on the problem. So walking meetings should maybe be reserved for brainstorming, interpersonal conversations or planning meetings.

However you choose to implement walking meetings in your company, you’ll likely find that your staff (and yourself) are more productive both during and after the walk. The physical and mental benefits of walking, in addition to the more casual feel of standing shoulder to shoulder with a colleague, can encourage creativity, increase camaraderie, and promote productivity in the workplace.

Don’t wait – schedule your walking meeting now, and let us know how it goes.

Eat to Nourish Your Brain (at Work)

No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise, eating a bag of chips at our desk does not count as lunch. Unfortunately, professionals often find themselves struggling with a heavy workload, and lunchtime can be the first thing to go. As a culture, we need to stop seeing a solid, well-balanced lunch as a luxury, and see it as more of a necessity. After all, food has a direct impact on our cognitive function, and eating the wrong meal—or failing to eat at all—can derail our work performance. So what can we do?

Plan Your Lunches

Plan for a lunch that will actually recharge you during your workday. Salads, wraps, and sandwiches are simple main courses, and you can supplement with small, nourishing snacks such as fruit, nuts and vegetables. Try planning out your lunches for the week (and doing the shopping) on Sunday, so you’re not scrambling the morning-of for something to bring to work.

Eat the Right Foods

Research has shown that certain foods can actually improve your cognitive function, so if you find that you feel a little foggy as the day goes on or even want a nap, try to work a few of these food items into your daily lunch. Brain-friendly foods include:

• Wild Salmon
• Blueberries
• Nuts and Seeds
• Avocadoes
• Whole Grains
• Beans
• Pomegranate Juice
• Freshly Brewed Tea
• Dark Chocolate

Salmon and nuts can easily be added to a salad for a delicious, healthy lunch, while blueberries, dark chocolate (in small amounts), and guacamole can be enjoyed as a light snack at your desk.

Eat the Right Portions

It can be difficult to strike a balance when it comes to your lunch portions. It’s important not to overeat, but it’s just as important that you get the right number of calories to fuel you throughout the day. Read a nutrition guide, and instead of guessing, be sure to measure each portion of your lunch. This will not only help you avoid overeating, but it will ensure that you’re eating the correct amount of protein, vegetables, and other foods on a daily basis.

If you aren’t getting enough calories—or you’re eating the wrong calories—your work performance can suffer. Help your brain keep up with your busy schedule by eating healthy, nourishing foods, and you’ll see your productivity and overall health improve.

What foods fuel your brain at lunch? We want to know.

4 Warning Signs that Your Company Has Lost Its Mojo

Our business world is changing faster than ever, and the ability to grow and innovate is what drives successful companies. However, many businesses find that their growth slows or stalls after a period of great success. There are many warning signs that foreshadow one of these slow downs, and if you pay attention to the signs, you may be able to keep your company’s mojo going.

Ignored Feedback


One of the most immediate signs of lost mojo is a lack of meaningful criticism. Whether the feedback comes from customers or the lowest rung of the employee ladder, no business can survive if it doesn’t actively listen and respond to feedback. Every company will receive criticism, but when the critiques are powerful and consistent, pay attention. Failing to do so can so serious harm to your business.

On one hand, you’ll be unable to address critical shortcomings that can eventually lead to stagnation. You may lack strong customer service or consistency in product quality. Whatever your weakness, if you’re resistant to change, you’ll inevitably run into a major roadblock. On the other hand, if you ignore the feedback and suggestions of your employees, you run the risk of discouraging innovation. Your staff will no longer feel motivated to improve the company, and without someone championing your cause at every level of the organization, you won’t be able to maintain your desired level of growth.

Loss of Innovators


With that in mind, innovative thinkers are often drawn to businesses that are open to change and creativity. If your company is losing its mojo, you’ll begin to see these key innovators leave in droves. If they aren’t challenged in their work and their creative talents aren’t put to use, they will move onto greener pastures, leaving your organization with a limited talent pool. This is a major indicator that you aren’t pushing boundaries or exploring innovations in your industry.

Quantity Over Quality


Pay attention to the mindsets of upper management. If they become solely committed to the numbers, your company may be in trouble. Focusing on the bottom line rather than the future vision for the company can be a death sentence. Innovation and transformation are what drive success, and if you’re only concerned with numbers, you’re failing to leverage valuable opportunities to advance your brand. Whether it’s investing in more feature-rich software or seeking out creative talent, you should be open to new opportunities for growth. Don’t get mired in tradition or by-the-books business practices. Embrace new technologies or methods to encourage growth for your business.

Unsustainable Growth


On the flip side, it can be dangerous to focus solely on growth. It’s better to achieve vibrancy through gradual, well-planned growth than to aim for a meteoric rise to success. Growing too quickly can burn through your resources or result in a workload that overwhelms your staff. In turn, you may find yourself hiring second-rate employees to keep up with this growth, which can often be counterproductive. Instead, to synchronize growth in every aspect of your business, focus on building your infrastructure gradually.

Pay attention to the warning signs, and you’ll ensure that your business maintains its mojo and its competitive foothold in the marketplace for years to come.

How does your company keep its mojo going?

3 Ways to Use Collaboration to Accelerate Ideas

3 ways to use collaboraboratin to accelerate ideas

For generations, American culture has prioritized the individual. Employees were encouraged to look out for their own interests and find the best possible way of getting ahead in their industry. However, this “it’s all about me” focus has negative impact on the company, co-workers and particularly innovation.

Teamwork and collaboration has been proven to be the key to generating new ideas and sparking innovation. Here are three ways companies can use collaboration to accelerate ideas within their industry.

Encourage an Open Dialogue

A culture of collaboration creates an environment that nurtures ideas and innovation and improves employee satisfaction. There are many ways to promote collaboration, from encouraging employees to share their opinions with upper management to company town hall meetings to organizing regular brainstorming sessions. This opens avenues of communication between team leaders and various departments of the organization, allowing for a more effective implementation of ideas across the company.

Throw Out the Book

Following the rules can get in the way of innovation. In many companies, there’s a lot of unnecessary red tape, so collaborative “rule-breaking” with other departments may be necessary to simplify business practices. During your next staff meeting, ask your employees:
• Which policies are getting in the way of their creativity?
• What is hindering their ability to perform their tasks effectively?
• Do you hold too many meetings?

It may be as simple as a more relaxed dress code or as complex as whittling down the layers of communication required to implement a new idea. Collaborate with your staff to simplify your rulebook and keep only the essentials in place.

Hold Intensive Training Sessions

Innovation is a skill that takes practice to be mastered, and one of the best ways to do that as a team is through group training sessions. These can be in-house events or company retreats designed to facilitate creativity and forward thinking. You can focus on themes such as idea generation and implementation, effective teamwork, and individual creativity. Effective trainings can not only help with critical skill-building, but they can also help reinforce the idea that each employee has the opportunity to affect the direction of the company. Your team will be more cohesive and better able to tackle unique challenges as a result.

Without collaboration, innovation is impossible. But collaboration isn’t simply a machine that creates new concepts—it also improves communication and the overall efficiency of your team. By implementing these three collaboration tips, you’ll help your staff become more cohesive, productive, creative and innovative.

What are you doing to drive collaboration at your company? We’d love to hear what’s worked for you.

5 Tips for Giving and Receiving Feedback

For most professionals, the idea of giving or receiving feedback is uncomfortable at best, and may even be downright cringe-worthy. There’s also a prominent line of thought that all “feedback” is negative—especially among those who work for or with people who only communicate when there’s a problem, and never provide positive feedback.

However, feedback is critical to a high-performing organization. Studies have shown that a lack of communication contributes to 80 percent of issues in the workplace.

If you’re one of the many who struggle with feedback, here are five tips to help you give and receive feedback that’s positive and worthwhile for yourself, your team, and your organization.

Make feedback a daily habit

Feedback is often associated with annual reviews or performance reports, but it doesn’t have to be formal—and it shouldn’t require a stack of forms or a permanent file. Offering casual feedback on a regular basis is a great way to improve your ability to give and receive it, as well as an excellent opportunity to make positive changes in your company.

The best time to give casual feedback is immediately after the action that prompted the feedback. This includes both positive and negative actions, whether it’s interrupting a meeting inappropriately or a particularly great customer service activity.

Don’t classify feedback as “positive” and “negative”

While the actions of employees or co-workers may be helpful or poor, you can provide better and more balanced feedback by viewing it as simply feedback—neither positive, nor negative. If you see feedback as a neutral, almost journalistic action, you’ll be able to get your point across clearly without offending the receiver of the feedback.

You can apply this same idea to receiving feedback yourself. Even if the person offering feedback frames the message in positive or negative terms, remind yourself that it’s simply information that could be useful. This helps you avoid responding emotionally, and ensures you get the most value from the feedback being given.

Consider your feedback goals

Before you decide what to say when giving feedback, you should understand why you want to say it. Having a goal helps you deliver feedback that is relevant, useful, and helpful to the person receiving it.
Ask yourself questions like, “What kind of information do my employees need? What would help them succeed in their jobs?” The broad goals of any feedback should be to let employees know how they’re doing and to encourage positive, productive behavior in the future.

Assume the best intentions

If you’re offering critical feedback to an employee, approach with the assumption that their actions had a positive intent. Assume that your employees want to perform positively and effectively—and you’re simply offering feedback that will help them accomplish those positive goals. In truth, most people are looking to do better, and will appreciate suggestions that will help them succeed.

Get specific

Particularly when it comes to critical feedback, it’s important to talk about specific examples of actions and behaviors that should be improved, rather than making general, broad statements. For example, if you notice an employee walking past a customer who’s clearly in need of help, state that in your feedback—rather than accusing the employee of being insensitive to customers’ needs.

And if you’re receiving feedback, seek out specific details when they’re not given. Remain non-defensive in your tone and body language, and ask for details about the situation, such as a specific example that the person giving the feedback might have observed.

Giving and receiving feedback doesn’t have to be painful or uncomfortable. When you make feedback a habit and approach with the viewpoint of using it as a helpful, effective communication tool, great feedback can benefit your entire organization.

How Feedback Can Accelerate Your Career

For many people, feedback has a negative connotation—namely, that it consists of sitting in an office and listening to your boss telling you everything you’re doing wrong. But for millennials who are just starting out, or only a few years into a career, feedback can be an invaluable tool for accelerating your professional development and getting you into a leadership position.

Here’s how feedback can help you, along with tips on how you can harness feedback to improve your professional standing and advance in your career.

Feedback helps you focus your goals

It’s easy to view feedback as a laundry list of things you’re doing wrong—but don’t fall for this discouraging perception. For the recipient, as well as the person giving the feedback, it’s simply a tool to point out how you can improve your opportunities for advancement.

Feedback is more than mistakes you can avoid (although those are worth noting). When receiving feedback, you should also hear about skills you can develop and qualities you can enhance—the things you’re doing right, that your supervisor would like to see more often. One of the most important values of feedback is the ability to help you stop wasting time, and start focusing on those areas that will get you noticed.

Rather than waiting for feedback to happen to you, the best strategy is to proactively seek feedback. When you ask to meet with your boss or supervisor to review your performance on a regular basis, you’re showing initiative to improve—an important and sought-after leadership quality.

The following tips will help you make the most of your feedback sessions and gain positive value from constructive criticism.

Lay the ground rules

Since you’re the one asking for feedback, you have the opportunity to ask for exactly the kind of feedback you want. Make it clear that you’re asking for constructive feedback in order to improve your performance, and state your goals. Whether you’re looking for a raise, a promotion, or general advice on getting ahead, providing specific goals can help your supervisor tailor the feedback accordingly.

Listen and take notes

Many people listen to feedback with an ear for the defensive—spending the whole time preparing a rebuttal to explain why the criticism is wrong. This type of defensive listening makes feedback worthless, because you’re not really hearing what is said. Instead, train yourself to contain those knee-jerk reactions and listen proactively to the advice being given. Identify opportunities for improvement, rather than the chance to defend your performance.

You should also take notes during feedback sessions. This not only helps you remember important advice, but also allows you to minimize the feeling of being judged by not looking directly at the person giving feedback all the time. Then you can review your notes later with an objective eye, while you’re not under the direct pressure of receiving feedback, and decide which parts are valid and useful.

Ask for clarification

If you find yourself getting defensive about certain feedback, resist the temptation to pounce. Instead, ask for specifics about the issue—you may be interpreting the feedback in the wrong way. This also turns your feedback session into a meaningful dialogue, instead of a one-way lecture.

And if you still feel the person offering feedback is wrong after the points are clarified, explain your own perspective on why you handled the issue the way you did—and ask for suggestions about how you could have done it differently.

End on a positive note

Toward the end of the feedback session, be sure to ask directly how you can improve your performance and achieve your career goals. This places the focus on future actions you can take, instead of mistakes you may have made in the past—which is beneficial for both you and your boss.

Finally, thank your boss or supervisor for taking the time to give you feedback. Chances are, they don’t enjoy giving performance reviews any more than you enjoy receiving them—so they’ll appreciate knowing that you’ll benefit from the information, and that you plan to implement their advice in your performance.

Getting Rid of Negative Self-Talk: Words Become Your Experience

Tell the negative commitee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up

While it can sometimes be helpful to criticize yourself, so you can aspire to do better, it can be hard not to cross the self-criticism line into damaging, negative self-talk. There is a huge difference between telling yourself that you need to work on your organization skills, and berating yourself for being the world’s biggest failure because you lost a file at work.

Negative self-talk is not only counterproductive, it also increases your stress levels and can lead to depression over time. Here’s how you can silence the negativity committee in your head, and turn self-directed trash talk into positive motivation.

Use a “box” to put negativity in perspective

If you make a mistake, negative self-talk can inflate that small blunder to world-destroying proportions. Instead of stewing over what happened, take a deep breath and create a mental “box” to put the problem in. Make it as small as possible—in the example above, “I lost a file” should not equate to “I’m an idiot and my career is ruined.” Simply tell yourself you need a better system for organization, so the mistake won’t happen again.

Put a spin on it

In public relations, there are people whose job it is to turn negatives into positives—or neutrals, if positive isn’t possible. You can use something like this to change your thinking with a simple change in semantics. For example, instead of thinking, “I’m so disorganized that I’m never going to get anything done,” learn to say to yourself, “I’m having a thought that I won’t be able to get this done.”

This allows you to focus on the problem at hand, instead of going off on a self-berating tangent and stressing over your organization issues until it’s impossible to move ahead.

Think possible, instead of positive

Everyone knows that positive thinking is supposed to be powerful—but if you’ve ever tried to “think positive,” you may have discovered that you’re one of many people this strategy simply doesn’t work on. In fact, research shows that when you’re discouraged and trying to think positive, you actually feel worse—because your inner lie detector tells you there’s nothing positive going on.

So instead of positive, think “possible.” Focus on what you can actually do to move in a positive direction, even if it doesn’t completely solve the problem. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, tell yourself “I know how to lose 10 pounds, and I’m going to do it” to banish the “I’m a hideous, jiggly blob” line of thinking.

Be your own best friend

If you told your best friend that you’re disorganized, would he or she gasp in horror and tell you that if you don’t fix that problem right now, you’re going to get fired and end up living in your car?

If you find yourself piling on the negative self-talk, stop and ask yourself what your best friend would say when you mentioned the problem. This also works in reverse: never tell yourself anything you wouldn’t say to your best friend. Treating yourself like a friend helps to cut down negativity and generate more self-confidence.

Embrace your flaws

Flawless people are boring—and they don’t exist. Nobody is perfect. Look to any hugely successful person in any profession, and you won’t find a perfectionist. You’ll find someone who recognizes that they’re a flawed human being, but focuses on their strengths.

Trying to achieve perfection in everything will only lead to frustration, and an inability to finish anything because it’s not “perfect.” So understand your flaws, accept them, and spend way more time understanding your strengths and looking for ways to capitalize on your uniqueness. You’ll soon find that negative voice in your head doesn’t have much to say.


What Michael Jordan Can Teach You About Failure

As painful and discouraging as failure can be, it is an important part of the growth and learning process. Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball legends, offers some of his wisdom about falling short, and how to use it to move forward.

Learn from your own failures as well as those of others.

Everybody fails. Rather than cower from this fact and avoid even trying, face it and learn from it. See your failures – and other peoples’ – as opportunities for growth.

If somebody failed trying to accomplish what you are doing, find out why. There’s no need to make the same mistakes if you can learn by asking questions.

Mindset will make you win or lose before you even start.

“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”

Get closer to success by reaching higher. Having high standards for yourself, keeping a positive mindset, and working hard to achieve your goals are all essential to accomplishing anything.

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

Be the type of person who makes things happen. Always work hard for what you want and keep your goal in mind. If you think derogatorily, with entitlement, or negatively, you’ll accomplish nothing and will only discourage others, including your own team, in their quest for success.

“I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot… when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.”

It’s important to remember the goal of winning or achieving something. Focusing on the potential loss only pulls your attention away from the positivity required to move forward.

Selfishness in success equals loneliness in failure.

“If you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

Even if your slam dunk is the winning shot, the whole team wins, not just you. If you gloat, become arrogant, and don’t give credit to the people who taught you and achieved alongside you, they will not be supportive of you during your losses.

Failure is fuel for hard work.

“Failure makes me work even harder.”

Think of yourself as your greatest competition. Each day, you want to be better than the person you were yesterday. Sink more baskets, make more sales, and just improve. When you experience a failure, you’ve given yourself an opportunity to rise above it. If you only ever succeed, you have nothing to improve upon.

Fear of failure is only a distraction from success.

“I know fear is an obstacle for some people, but it’s an illusion to me.”

Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. Fear of failure makes many people afraid to even try, but the potential success they throw away is worth so much more than the failure could ever take away.
Learn from your failures and be better each day. Gain and grow from each failure, and watch yourself reach new heights. Be like Mike.