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Archive for January, 2011

I Can’t Believe It My Son Is Actually Wearing MY Clothes?

Monday, January 31st, 2011

A few weeks ago I must admit I got a big chuckle. As I came around the corner and said hi to my oldest son I took a double take. I almost said wow – I have a shirt like that and then REALIZED that was my shirt! For the first time he was wearing my clothes and funny the shirt almost fit perfect. My son isn’t a big guy but he certainly is growing up fast and I wonder if this is a trend that will continue.

  • Do your kids wear your clothes?
     
  • Do you actually buy clothes for yourself with them in mind?
     
  • Does it bother you when they wear your clothes?
     
  • Do you share jewelry with your daughter?

I actually felt good that he was wearing my clothes. Of course he can’t fit into my shoes or suits (thankfully) but I have a feeling that shirts will be common property and I am ok with that!

I look forward to reading your comments.

Time To Wake Up – What Do You Think About These Crazy Alarm Clocks?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Everyday millions of people rely on their alarm clock to wake them up. I know I hit my snooze button a few times and perhaps you do as well? I got an email last week (thanks R.W.) that had a number of funny, effective and irritating alarm clocks that I thought I would share:

Bouncing Soccer Alarm Clock

This alarm clock won’t turn off until you throw it against the wall. Cute idea sort of but I would be VERY afraid that I would break a window! If you like this one it can be purchased for $19.79, amazon.com

Clocky

I love the concept of Clocky. Once you hit the snooze button Clocky jumps down and rolls around on the floor forcing up to get up until you turn it off. Clocky sells for $39-45, nandahome.com

Flying Alarm Clock

Once this device launches its flying propeller, you have to catch and click it back into place to stop the beeping. Are you kidding! No chance I would ever buy this one. If you want it $19.99, thinkgeek.com

Coin Bank Alarm Clock

You have to pop a coin into this cube-shaped clock before it turns off. Like most of us have coins on the night stand just hanging around to feed the alarm clock! This is available for $69.99, gizmine.com

Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock

How about waking up to this LOUD noise! The Sonic Bomb blasts up to 113 decibels. Trust me this is loud – feel free to purchase this clock for $42.95, sonicalert.com

Peaceful Progression Wake Up Clock

Hammacher-Schlemmer’s Peaceful Progression clock eases into the wake-up with a mix of lights, aromatherapy scents, and gentle nature sounds that intensifies over time. $69.95, hammacher.com – ok kind of an easy way to wake up!

Clearly there were some crazy and who knows effective alarm clocks.

  • What was your favorite?
     
  • Do you own any of these?
     
  • If you had to buy one which one would it be?
     
  • How many times do you hit the snooze button before you get up?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Time For Some Funny Or Memorable Camp Stories!

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Many, many years ago when I was a kid I was always excited about the end of the school year. For me it just wasn’t about getting out of school and not having to do homework for a few months for me it meant I was going to overnight camp. And not just an overnight camp but in Maine. Actually the middle of nowhere in Maine. The location was East Parsonsfield, Maine and the camp was the West End House. I had so many great times – the camp was an all boy sports camp so basically you ate, cleaned up the bunk and played sports all day.

I had so many fond memories it is tough to narrow it down to a few but I will try:

  • Once in a while it would rain and I remember going to the rec center (beautiful indoor basketball facility) during a rainy day and playing dodge ball with the entire camp! So literally 300 people playing at once and balls flying everywhere!
     
  • During the summer we would have a few trips and we would always go to Ogunquit Beach where they had a great penny candy store (yes it was over 30 years ago) and the water was absolutely freezing in the middle of the summer!
     
  • I also remember being on the baseball team and representing the camp. We played a road game one day and I recall hitting a long double which was so exciting for me since I wasn’t a good ballplayer back in the day!

Great memories for sure!

  • Did you go to camp?
     
  • What camp was it?
     
  • What are some of your favorite camp memories?
     
  • Are you still in touch with some of your friends from camp?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Looking For A Job – Here Are Some Words You Might Want To Stay Away From…..

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Over the past few years I have looked at a lot of resumes and cover letters. I have noticed a number of words like innovative, team-player seem to be on everyone’s resume. Because of that I found a recent article very interesting that I thought I would share. The article focuses on a piece of research that LinkedIn had done with 85 million users to come up with a list of the most overused words and expressions with regard to resumes.

Based on that research here is the list of Top 10 overused buzzwords in LinkedIn Profiles in the USA for 2010:

  1. Extensive experience
     
  2. Innovative
     
  3. Motivated
     
  4. Results-oriented
     
  5. Dynamic
     
  6. Proven track record
     
  7. Team player
     
  8. Fast-paced
     
  9. Problem solver
     
  10. Entrepreneurial

I thought the list was very interesting. Most of these words are used over and over and frankly some of them I really like. Words like results-oriented, team player, motivated are words that I look for to get passed the screening process and those are also qualities I try to focus on while I am interviewing a candidate.

  • If you are hiring staff what words/phrases do you like on the list?
     
  • What words/phrases turn you off?
     
  • If you are looking for a job what words/phrases do you use?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Ok Time To Impress The Boss – What Do You Do?

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Most of us (including myself) report to someone. The question is how do you impress them? How do you get their attention? Clearly every boss is different. Every boss looks for different things and has different hot buttons. I thought it would be helpful and fun to build a list of ways to impress the boss – so here are a few that I thought I would share:

  • Make your words count! If you say you are going to do something do it! If you are going to deliver something do it! There is nothing worse than having your word mean nothing.
     
  • Be realistic! Not every account will grow next year! Not every new business development meeting is great! Not every interaction with your company is perfect! Be realistic of all of these things and more. This will help you build credibility with your boss and co-workers!
     
  • Be a team player! Be there for a colleague when they need help! Be there when they are working long hours or on a task that is boring or perhaps they are struggling with! Be there for them even when they DON’T or WON’T ask – this will go along way with a boss and building relationships!
     
  • Go beyond what your job really is! By going the extra mile it will give you a MUCH better chance of being noticed by your boss and will increase the chances of good things happening to you.

Ok your turn:

  • How do you impress your boss?
     
  • Since a lot of you are bosses how are you impressed?
     
  • What is the best thing you have ever done to impress your boss?

I look forward to hearing from you and reading your comments.

Where Are We Going To Eat? Sushi…… Oh No…. Is It Time To Change???

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

For those of you who know me well understand how much I love to eat. I truly enjoy a good meal and most days are filled with a big lunch. Lots of days I will walk out of my office with some team members and the conversation will go something like this:

Merrill – where would you like to go to eat?

Others – not sure what are you in the mood for?

Merrill – anything but I would rather not eat sushi!

Ok I will stop there and NOT bore you with anymore details. I am not a fish eater but do love all shellfish. So I say bring on lobster, crab and shrimp all day long! Over the years I have tried sushi and I must admit it is ok! Yes I said it! And yes I actually believe it! Maybe 2011 is the year I make a change with regard to sushi and really try it.

So I need your help…….

  • For a person who doesn’t really like fishy smells or tastes what should I try?
     
  • What restaurants would you recommend?
     
  • What is your favorite roll?
     
  • What sauces (sorry if that isn’t the right term) do you put on the rolls?
     
  • How long have you enjoyed sushi?

Thanks in advance for your help – I look forward to reading your comments.

Time For A Fun Friday Quiz – Beautiful House – Whose Is It?

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Good morning. I am sure at times we have all thought wow there is a big house I wonder who lives there! And who knows from time to time maybe we have all wondered what type of house and how big is it of our favorite movie stars or athletes.

This blog addresses that. Click on the quiz link below and what will happen is 8 homes will come up one at a time with 4 answers as to who lives there. After you answer the question a brief description and the owner will appear.

Good luck and have fun!

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE QUIZ

Hey Looking For A Bank – Is This One For You?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

A few weeks ago Citibank launched what they are calling the “Bank of the Future” in New York. In reading the story this bank is different than all other banks.

  • Instead of picking up a paper brochure, patrons can use one of the six interactive sales walls with touch screen capabilities to learn more about bank services.
     
  • Instead of using deposit envelopes, they can use enhanced-image ATMs to deposit checks without them.
     
  • Instead of waiting for business hours to speak with a customer service representative, customers can use a 24/7 video chat station in the ATM lobby.

The bank is huge – enormous in fact with almost 10,000 square feet.

In the article the strategy for the bank is to be more like a café or lounge. Yes there is free wifi and also high end “media walls” that display news, weather, and information of course about Citibank. And yes just to play into the social networking game there is a special chip that accesses a special Foursquare feed. Whenever a certain amount of people check into the branch, an “internal marketing screen” shows which users are inside the branch at that very moment.

Citi plans to open other branches that in other key U.S. markets, including San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago.

Ok now your turn:

  • What do you think of this concept?
     
  • Have you been inside this branch?
     
  • Will you go in and "hang out" to use the free wifi?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Thanks American Airlines For Mentioning My Loyalty!

Monday, January 10th, 2011

All of us get tons of emails and within those emails there are ones that have more importance than others and some that are very simple but because I tend to look at things a little different that can have some big meaning for me.

One of those emails is this one that was from American Airlines and the subject was “Merrill, Thank You For Your Loyalty”. I really like this email and especially the word “loyalty”. Don’t we all want loyal friends, family, colleagues, clients and the same is true about products and services they want OUR loyalty.

I thought about that word in terms of products and services and within 30 seconds came up with 5 that I am loyal too and they are:

  1. Coke – I love soda and specifically coke in a 20 ounce bottle
     
  2. American Airlines – yes it is easy to be loyal to them since I live in a city where they have a hub – regardless I like the airline and feel the customer service and awards programs are very solid. In addition they have helped me out and waived some fees in the past when they really didn’t need too.
     
  3. Cape Cod Potato Chips – maybe I am loyal because I am from Massachusetts and it something that brings me back to a happy place. I really love their chips and given the choice of 1000 different chips I would always choose name regardless of price
     
  4. BMW – I really like the car, the performance and service. I have had 3 different ones and next year it will be a 4th!
     
  5. Lucky Jeans – I really like the brand, how they feel and the look.

Ok your turn:

  • Do you like the word loyalty?
     
  • What brands and services are you loyal too?
     
  • Of those companies do you care about price or not at all?

I look forward to your comments.

Congrats It Is Time To Retire Where Are You Living And Why?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

I was reading an interesting article a few weeks ago entitled “The most (and least) tax-friendly places to retire”. The article ranked the 5 best and worst states to retire in and some tax implications.  I thought I would share the list and add a few comments:

The best 5 states to retire to are:

 

State Income

State Sales Tax

Inheritance Tax

Alaska

0

0

0

Wyoming

0

4%

No

Michigan

4.35%

6%

No

Pennsylvania

3.07%

6%

Yes

Colorado

4.63%

2.90%

No

Reviewing this list I was a little surprised to see Alaska as number 1. Even though it is a tax friendly state and I am sure it is a great and beautiful place to retire, I don’t know of one person who has retired there from another city. Wyoming and Colorado don’t surprise me but I would have thought that Florida and Texas (maybe I am biased) would have been on the list and shocked that Michigan and Pennsylvania are anywhere near the top 5.

Here are the worst states to retire to:

 

State Income

State Sales Tax

Inheritance Tax

California

1.25 %-10.55%

8.25%

No

Rhode Island

3.75%-9.9%

7%

No

New Jersey

1.4%8.97%

7%

Yes

Vermont

3.55%-8.95%

6%

No

Iowa

.36%-8.98%

6%

Yes

I was shocked that California was the worst state to retire too and not surprised that three of the cities are cold weather cities in the northeast and don’t have great tax plans.

I thought the list was very interesting and made me really think about retirement – when and as important where? I wanted to mention that there are 7 states that have NO state income tax.

  1. Alaska
     
  2. Florida
     
  3. Nevada
     
  4. South Dakota
     
  5. Texas
     
  6. Washington
     
  7. Wyoming

I hope you enjoyed some of this information and it got you to think about the future. So I ask you it is time to retire:

  • Where are you living and why?
     
  • Are you targeting warm weather locations like I am?
     
  • Are you planning on living near your kids and grand children?
     
  • Do you envision having multiple homes?
     
  • What did you think of the two lists?

I look forward to hearing from you and reading your comments.