Sunday, December 4, 2011

Erasing Boredom for Teens This Christmas

Many times during my years as a family coach, I’ve been asked about how parents can make sure teens aren’t falling into a ‘bored rut’ during the school holidays when one or both parents are still hard at work, and it’s especially important to ask this question at a time and age like this when buying them the latest Xbox game and plonking them down in front of the TV for the holidays seems like the easiest option.

The key aspect of boredom is being unproductive, and many young people get very impatient when there’s ‘nothing to do’ – after all, they’re in their element when there’s something going on all the time – think the instant gratification of a world they’ve grown up in.

So here are a few tips I’ve picked up on, and have found actually work as win-win solutions for pre-teens & teens and their parents

Tip 1: Give Them Their Own Time
With the end of the school year, teens feel like they’ve finally got some sense of freedom, and with the exams having just passed, they need to relax. Give them the time to sleep in, or even laze around the TV sometimes.

Tip 2: Decide on the Rules of Having Friends Over
Do you have to know their friends who are coming over? Are you even happy for them to have their friends over? Whatever decision you make around this, make the rules clear – rules are easier to bypass for teens when they haven’t been verbally communicated by you, the parent.

Tip 3: Get Them To Plan Out Their Week
I thought this was the most lame thing I had ever heard when a colleague told me about this, but it works. When you pose the challenge to your teens to plan out their week, it gives them time to search online to see what’s going on in the local area, and actually realize there is a world outside of their house!

Tip 4: Give Them the Task of Making Dinner
With all the cooking shows going around, many younger people are getting into cooking (think Junior MasterChef). When you’re leaving for work, leave them a budget and the challenge to surprise you with dinner.

Tip 5: Busy Business
Plant an idea in their head about starting up a business. Or perhaps start with getting them to list some of your household’s unwanted items on eBay – it could be their pocket money! With the internet, anything is possible

Tip 6: Hand them a Camera or Art Supplies, and watch…
Young people have a wild imagination, so help harness and unleash this through art – this will give them hours of time to spend on something that will help them express their creativity.

Tip 7: Endorse Sport
Suggest some sports they can go play with their friends – if you have the equipment for it, just hand it to them – they may have forgotten you still have that set of tennis racquets in the garage!

Tip 8: Writing Christmas Cards
If they are totally bored, give them the Christmas Cards you need to write to family and friends, and get them to write messages in each card, and sign for the whole family. Not only is it a lovely gesture to get a Christmas Card from a family friend that was written by one of their kids, but it’ll tick one more thing off your list AND give your teen something useful to spend their time on.

Tip 9: Decorate the Christmas Tree
Same as above – great fun for teens, and a task that ‘just needs to be done’ for you, that actually gets done!

What are some of the ways you get your teenagers out of the ‘boredom rut’?


Monday, November 7, 2011

I Think Religion is Great, but....

...is it possible that it's good nature is being taken advantage of? Not the believers...no, they're fine - I mean the people out there with no faith that go out, screw up lives for themselves and their kids, and then turn to Religion for answers, in turn giving God, or whoever else half of the responsibility they should really be carrying 100% of.

I've noticed a trend lately...out of the goodwill of their hearts, people go out, and with a 'no returns expected' attitude set up programmes, camps, and even boarding houses for youth, who for family reasons end up homeless, helpless, or alone. Right, OK, for the extreme cases, it's lucky that these outfits exist, because sometimes government funded services aren't the easiest to find, but especially having the boarding homes put up, does this not give terrible parents a 'get out of jail free' card? Why would parents need to try to support their kids, when there's people out there who have goodwill with nothing expected in return, ready to take your child into their own care, while you continue living in a wine cask?

I'm really angry. Angry because as these boarding homes become more mainstream, parents can hand off their responsibility (i.e. child) onto someone else. I know this is not the majority of parents, and reading this you might think 'what kind of parent would ever want to voluntarily hand off their kids into someone else's care' but trust me, it happens. It happens WAY too much. It may not have been the parents' intention, but as kids grow up, economy goes up and down, people find it hard to fend for themselves, let alone care for their kids. But if you don't feel like trying to build a better life for yourself, surely you'd want to do it for the sake of your kids? And if you 'can't be bothered', why have kids in the first place??

Maybe people are having kids because there was no other option for them - I understand that. But do these parents really have to not care, 'give' their kids away, and just go back to whatever they'd rather be doing in the bar?

At least they're doing one good thing - fueling the economy, because the last time I checked, prices of the bad vices of the world have enough mark up to keep the economy going.

Oh Lord, what a world we live in.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Taking a Holiday with your Teens

Christmas can become one of the most stressful times of year very quickly – with work commitments, as well as the worry of where to go on holiday, can all become too much very quickly. So if you’re thinking of taking a holiday this festive season with the family, here are a few quick tips about how you can make the holiday time as stress-free as possible.

In sync with my newly released second book ‘Shush, You!’ I stand by the belief that you can improve relationships with your kids through small actions in 5 minutes a day or less, so this article is in hope that you can achieve that on holiday!

1. If you don’t know where to go, ask your kids!

2. Give your teen a time frame and budget, and let them come up with a travel itinerary.

3. Don’t ban iPods or cell phones – simply dedicate some time to when you can discuss something as a family during the trip.

4. If you’re taking your work on holiday, make sure you dedicate your time to it for an X amount of time every day.

5. Make a rule that if it’s a family trip, the whole family goes. No exceptions. That also narrows your chances of coming back to an un-supervised party house.

6. When conflicts arise, cut them on the spot. Take them for a walk and have a good chat to them.

7. Most of all, remember to have fun! Without banning anything, or starting up arguments, remember why you went on holiday, and that was to bond, and have fun!

What other tips would you recommend when going away on holiday?

Happy Holidaying!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gen Y: Handling Recession

I hadn’t really dedicated much time to stop and think about how youth were affected by the recession, until I got an e-mail from a magazine in Sydney, asking what I thought on the matter.

I did the research to see what others have been saying on the topic, called around some friends, and even got together with some to interview them. It turns out, most of us didn’t notice it. I reflected this feedback to my own experiences. To be perfectly honest, while speakers around the world are complaining that organisations are having to deal with budget cuts, and all the rest, they as speakers are getting a smaller fee than what they have been getting during previous years. As I’ve only started in business on my own during the recession years, they have been the best years in business of my whole life…because they were my first! Those youth who entered the workforce during the recession, entered at a time when resources were rare, and their perceived value of the work they do may be lower than it actually is…it will be interesting to see whether our Baby Boomer and Gen X employers will take advantage of this once the economy picks up in future years. Why does this sound like a contradiction to the lazy and demanding Gen Y everyone describes? Because I only described the part of Gen Y that are in their late-teens, early-twenties who entered the workforce during the recession, not before. The part of Gen Y who entered the workforce before recession struck were those demanding, ill-mannered youth giving us all a bad name.

Gen Y are the bubble wrapped generation. I hope you enjoyed playing bullrush, rugby, or pretending to be superman running around the playground in a cape, because our generation missed out on all these things while growing up. Thank you Political Correctness. What’s more, is that we’re the generation that were babied from Day One. Society set many restrictions to what we are allowed to do, so as a generation, we’ve grown up a little less witty, or able to in some ways think for ourselves. What dumb kids, huh? Not quite…if you put yourself in our position, our whole lives, we’ve been told what we are allowed and not allowed to do, so we’ve learned to act, or rather not act at all within restrictions, because if we put a foot wrong, maybe we’ll get told off! We are not the most daring of generations, as we’ve been raised to be cautious at all times to not put a foot wrong. When entering the workforce, it’s important to set out the exact rules for youth when giving them responsibility so that they are clear around the exact guidelines of what they can and can’t do. Otherwise you will find them in your office every day, asking yet another small question, wanting your guidance, practicing their rehearsed cautiousness yet again.

Although Gen Y can be viewed as a whole bunch of bad news, there is one major advantage of this generation in the world. They are technology-savvy. Although the knowledge around technology has been viewed as a downfall, where youth are dedicating their time to ‘useless’ technology activities, imagine the power youth can have when gearing all that tech-knowledge into positive actions! Do you think you could gear their knowledge into perhaps executing your Social Media Strategy? Or perhaps having them as the ‘voice of tech’ in board meetings? Although this may sound like too much responsibility, or that you’re putting in too much trust into someone who’s not ‘that experienced’, why not give it a try…firstly, you have nothing to lose, and secondly, you don’t know what you don’t know…and youth may just know it!

How much trust are you willing to put into younger generations during these post-recession times?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Keeping Safe on the Roads

Over the past few weeks with the Rugby World Cup, I must say it’s been quite a record for how many times I’ve been breath tested! I think it’s awesome that the Police are so onto-it at this time. I guess many would say it’s nothing special – they better be onto-it during such an international event. But having said this, when the World Cup is over, the dangers on the roads won’t stop, and it’s likely that although there will be less Police officers breath-testing and patrolling our roads, there a number of ways you can help minimize the risks of a young person in your home ending up in a deadly situation.

If you think the teen in your home isn’t behind the wheel right now, it’s possible they will be very soon. There’s been an increase in younger drivers on the roads over the last years, so here is a short three-point checklist of what you can do to help the youth in your home be as safe as possible on the roads – now, and in future:

Set the Rules
First thing many caregivers forget to do. Whether your teen is preparing to get their learner’s license, or are already on their restricted or full, you must set some rules in place so you’re both on the same page.
The obvious rules are that the legal rules must be followed. “No Johnny, you can’t take the car out now – it’s past 10pm, and that’s your curfew for your restricted licence”

The second set of rules are those that you are comfortable with, for example, if you have a car you’re sharing with your teen, a great idea is to come up with a schedule of when the car is free for them to use, or rostering on who has possession of the car on what days or times of the week. Another rule for them to follow is their existing curfew – is this in line with when they are legally allowed to be behind the wheel?

Be firm, allow for one-off cases, but don’t let one-off cases of a missed curfew, for example, to become the norm.

Help and Trust
Obviously they will need your help to actually learn to drive! My parents hired a driving instructor to help me smooth out the ‘kinks’ I had after learning to drive with Dad. You don’t need to hire an instructor, but they are very useful in the sense that they know what assessors will be looking out for when your teen goes to get their next level of license, and will be able to alert them to these ‘small things’.

The most you can do is pass on your knowledge of the roads if you drive, and the hardest part at the end…will be to just trust them to go out there…but not before you take note of the third, and last point…

Educate
Please, please, please tell us what to watch out for on the roads! If you don’t tell us, who will? Yes – that’s right, we’ll have to learn from mistakes…by which time, it might be about $5000 too late! Just like there are legal rules set in place such as driving sober and not being out past a certain time with some stages of licenses, we’re looking for your wisdom to educate us how to do things ‘right’, or properly. One of the first things my Dad told me when I got behind the wheel with him in the front seat was to watch out for driving too close to the parked cars. For two reasons:
1. I might hit one
2. Someone might be opening their door without looking, or estimating the distance between my car and their door
Not so much the first one, but the second one has saved me a number of times, and gosh am I glad Daddy was there to tell me to watch out for this, because I can almost guarantee I wouldn’t have even thought of people flinging their car doors into my car, but I assure you it happens.

So now it’s your turn…what piece of wisdom can you pass onto your teen about driving safer on the roads?
Oh, one more thing – do tell them to drive sober (we need to actually hear it from you in a stern voice).

Drive Safely!



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Epic Change, and Engaging People Online as a Charity

Recently while browsing online, I came across a fantastic charity called Epic Change that I felt needs to have its word spread to those who haven’t yet come across it. It is a charity that is behind many successful American Social Media Campaigns such as Tweetsgiving and others. They use a very similar engagement process for all their projects, which is way too cool to be kept a secret, thus I wanted to spread the word for what they’re doing.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Epic Change’s Mission in their word: Epic Change amplifies the voices and impact of grassroots changemakers and social entrepreneurs.
Epic Change collects donations from people like you and I, and put this into communities with lack of resources to give people the opportunity to utilize their skills to come up with an entrepreneurial idea in their area, using the micro loan given to them by Epic Change.
As an online-operating project, you can bet that the majority of your donation will actually be going toward those loans!

An inspiring story of Epic Change’s $35,000 impact on a School in Tanzania can be found here - I was totally sold on the idea after reading this – what an amazing opportunity to help a community, as well as give them the opportunity to have a ‘story’ to share for the rest of their lives.

Now to go a step further, I want to dissect Epic Change’s process as an organisation, because it really is a fantastic one that utilizes four basic principles that are valuable for any non-profit, or even business organisation who want to achieve success online.

Epic Change’s 4 Step Process

Step 1: Raise Money
First of all, after reading all about the amazing work Epic Change or their project is doing, they ask for a donation. They make it easy by allowing you a number of online and offline ways to donate, and in some cases will actually spell out what influence exactly your amount will have on those they are helping.

Step 2: Make a Change
This goes on from Step 1 – they actually tell you how your donation will influence others. In the example of Epic Change’s actual website, they are very transparent that your funds will go towards giving out loans to help those wanting to create positive change within communities. How cool is that! You’re contributing to business growth just by doing a good deed. It’s based on the ‘teach them how to fish’ principle, and boy, is that powerful when you know your funds are going towards something.

Step 3: Share the Story
By donating, you are becoming part of the story that you can pass on. It’s a feel-good factor that your donations are contributing to the success of others.

Step 4: Pay it Forward
Become a part of history! Some of Epic Change’s projects offer you the option to spread the word through your networks online by a one-click action that will send out a message to say you’re supporting the cause. What more would you want – a whole army of people that are your personal supporters out there to their networks. How cool!

So are you using the four step process in your Social Media? Give it a try…you never know what might come out of it!


Friday, September 30, 2011

Conflict with Teens…Averted

Many people have a child in their lives. Whether they are a toddler, a child, pre-teen, or are on their way to adulthood, youth are everywhere! And as scary as it may sound to some, the existence of people is inevitable in this world, as is the existence of young people.

Have you ever sparked conflict with a young person? They’re quite easy to start – it can start off with a miscommunication, a bad word, a mean look. But what many people don’t realize, is the small things you can do to help build a better relationship with a young person. My second book ‘Shush, You!’ focuses on this fact in greater depth – the array of stories from people who have contact with youth in today’s world through different environments – whether it’s family at home, family living outside of home, in the workplace, at school…and all these stories are bound by the quick 5 minute tips I’ve observed that can help make a great relationship.

I won’t go into detail of these 5 minute tips – there are so many of them, but I’d like to share three specifics that can be applied to a number of small things you can do to get a young person on side right now, today, tomorrow, and in future.

When a conflict arises, and dare I say that whether it’s with your own kids or not, there is a sure three step process of how you can work towards resolving it, with the end product being a healthy relationship based on common understanding and communication.

1. Listen
My first book is called ‘You Shut Up!’. Without having to remind you that this is a common term many families hear in their household when kids are starting to turn into teenagers, there is, yet another side to reason behind the title. And that is that everyone wants to be heard. As a teenagers, we want to be heard, and whatever you say before we have a chance to speak out will be lost. So ask them for their side of the story first – over time, this will help them realize that sometimes it’s important to hear the other person out.

2. Show Your Side
While they’re speaking, pick up on some of their points so that like in a good debate, you will be able to answer their issues. Start with telling your side, and then ease into some of the issues they’ve raised. You will be showing them that you’re giving your side of the story, but also acknowledging what they have raised. Also remember to use the same language – if they say ‘Well you never talk to me’, don’t say ‘I always communicate with you’ – the meaning is the same, but it will have more effect if you use the same language and come back with ‘I always talk to you’, or similar. Plus, if they hear you using ‘big’ words that weren’t part of their issue, they will discard the entire sentence all together.

3. Compromise
A good conflict resolution technique is to end in compromise. Although this may not always 100% benefit everyone, it doesn’t un-benefit either side. After hearing both sides to the conflict, and deciding that you both want to resolve it, without any ego getting in the way, compromise! Let’s say it’s a matter of curfew – you have set a rule of 10pm and your teen wants it to change until 2am. Try to find a middle ground and then set some extra rules in place as your previous rule of 10pm is being compromised. How about you compromise and set the new curfew at midnight, but the extra rules will be that they have to TXT or call you at 10pm to let you know they’re OK. If this doesn’t happen, take it back to the drawing board, and address their lack of communication at 10pm. The moral is that there is always a way to compromise – you just need to find it amongst the issues from both sides.

Trust Your Future!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Social Media: Online vs. Offline

Time and time again, business owners enquire about why Social Media is right for their business.
Let’s get this straight: you went into business because you have a product, service, or even a gift to help others. Am I right? I hope so. The business aspect of running this wholesome goal I to make money, right?

The logic continues…in order to make money, you need to have customers. And how will customers find out about you? Some businesses invest in advertising through magazines, newspapers, newsletters – a small ad on page 3, in home that the phone will start ringing off the hook, right? Well what if I told you that for the very same price, you could be on the front page of every top newspaper or magazine with an instant engagement tool? Social Media makes this possible. The only difference is that the money you’d be investing will be translated into time. I know – not everyone has time – as business people, as a good friend and colleague speaker Tony Ryan once said, we only have 28 hours in a day. So how can you make this happen?

I won’t go all evangelistic on you about the benefits of Social Media, or how much success it can bring you. But the point I really want to bring across is that you can engage people more when you’re talking one-on-one. The most powerful marketing tactic they say is word of mouth, and there is some great truth in this – people want to buy from people they trust – you must have heard this a million times. So as a person in business, how could you start a conversation with someone, to build the trust you need for them to take that step and buy from you? We don’t have time to become best friends with all our potential clients, but think of the online world as a place where people like you and I are on every single day and they might actually be in need of something that you’re offering. All you need to do is tap into a conversation with them – just start talking to them. The easiest way to do this is to talk about something relevant to them. Perhaps you’re a café owner, and you go onto Twitter and see a whole string of updates of people that have gone on and said something like ‘Gosh I just had the worst coffee at *insert your competitor’s name here*’. This is your perfect cue! ‘Hey, have you tried our coffee? Might be a way better experience!’ is all you need to reply to them, and from there…who knows, maybe they might visit your café and you get another customer, maybe they will start up a conversation with you, but at the very least, they will see you’re making an effort to improve their coffee experience. This might be all you need to do to build that trust.

At the risk of sounding like the used car sales-man, people want to know what else is out there; we all love our options, so look at it as your way of helping people find other options.

Let’s look at some of the traditional methods of marketing, and how this could be replicated online with less time, and more importantly, less investment on your behalf.

Putting up a big sign outside your business

This might be a good idea for Google Maps the next time they come around the street your business is on, but the only way people are going to see it is if they’re in the area. The way you can replicate this online is to associate your business with where you are geographically. Instead of naming your Facebook Business Page as ‘Brad’s Restaurant’, why not go a little further and enter your address details into the ‘Info’ section on the page, or perhaps even re-name your Facebook Page name to: ‘Brad’s Restaurant: home of the best pizza on Brazil Street’. Now we’re talking.

Advertise on a billboard or in a local newspaper

If you’re advertising in a publication that specializes in a local area, why not go online and find forums, or networks of people in that area? Perhaps your target market are people in the Wellington area; go onto Facebook, or find Twitter lists that are for people in the Wellington region; voila! You have people in that particular area, and you can single them out, direct market, and advertise to them through the channels they are used to online.

Putting out flyers
Flyers take quite a bit to print. Bring those costs down by going out there and do a direct marketing campaign! Going back to Facebook, go online and search for networks of people in a particular area, or with particular interests – Facebook is so huge, that it’s likely you will come across a group of people that, for example, have created a group along the lines of ‘What is the best rest-home in the X region?’…or ‘Soccer Moms Unite’…it’s all possible!

Most importantly, these online vs. offline marketing is all going in the direction of direct marketing: the way marketing should be. If you don’t know who your target market is, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, because just by putting up a large billboard in your town, won’t be bringing in thousands of customers overnight – because you’re trying to market to a mass amount of people, without any personalization to them. Go online; go straight to the source – the right people who actually need your product or service. You definitely can’t go wrong there.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Benefits of Using Facebook & Twitter

Time and time again, business courses, workshops, general media and people are going on about using Social Media for business.
People are pretty much sold on the benefits of it, but are still unsure – what is my ROI? What will I get out of it? How do I know this is beneficial for my business?

Simply speaking, Social Media is merely another platform for your brand to be seen by the public. Just like newspaper and TV advertising, Social Media is a medium for promoting what you do, and letting people know of the benefits you can bring their current situation.

At the same time, Social Media also doubles as a networking tool. Think about how much time you currently spend talking on the phone, replying to e-mails, networking at events, and any other ways you use to socialize and network for your personal and business use. To really make Social Media work for you, you’d need to invest the same amount of time you currently spend networking, and do it through social networks.

Social Media gives people the opportunity to combine marketing strategies with networking into one. The nature of Social Networking helps you network, and when coupled with basic marketing principals, it can fully succeed no matter what way you need it to. The way to market on Social Media is to spend time on there. Unlike setting up a billboard and have it bring value to each person who sees it, you need to bring that value with individual comments, joining in with discussions, being forward enough to introduce yourself to potential clients, and bringing value by sharing links to articles, products and services you recommend.

So what ARE the benefits of using Social Networking Sites like Twitter and Facebook?

Engage with your target market. Through the power of Social Media, it’s all about the amount and quality of content you produce and share with your target audience. The relevance to your audience and value you produce makes sure you are positioned to be as much of an expert in your field as your words portray. The amount of content you produce gives you the advantage to make sure your audience never forget about you, but also as we all know, we all have our own lives and people just aren’t sitting at their computer waiting for your next update, so you need to make sure you catch them when they finally do get round to logging onto their social networks. So that’s where the repetition and amount of time you keep putting yourself out there will amount to valuable engagement with your target market.

Getting straight feedback. Sure it may sometimes be from the general public, but it’s very valuable information for you to obtain about how others perceive your services and benefits of doing business with you through the internet.

Instantly reaching out to your potential clients. The beauty of the internet is that the entire world, news, advice and events can be uploaded and circulated instantly. As soon as you have any new press releases, or content to share, upload it! The benefit of the internet is that it has the power to update the world about events as they happen. Once something happens and you wait until tomorrow morning to report on it, chances are it won’t be as current or someone else would have taken the space of being ‘the first reporter’ of the happenings.

Get the inside scoop about your industry. Social Media is public. And that can be a good thing. This means you can find out valuable information about your competitors, and any current events or news happening within your industry. This can also be a great opportunity to tie in popular current events with the relevance of your work. A friend of mine races Suzuki Swifts, and he loves the singer Taylor Swift, so he called his car ‘Taylor The Swift’ and made a Facebook Fan Page for it. So when the big mishap happened at the Music Awards when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, everyone around the world of all ages were talking about how unfair this was on Taylor, people were searching the internet for the video clips, opinions, forums and pages about this event. Coincidentally, although for most people a race car driver wasn’t going to be of interest, because of the amounts of people searching the name ‘Taylor Swift’ guided their Google searches to my friend’s ‘Taylor the Swift’ Facebook Page. Almost overnight, his Fan page grew from about 100 of his friends and fans to about 700 fans. That’s a 600% increase! How would you like to increase your target, pin-pointed audience online by 600%?

Raise awareness of your brand. Through your involvement in Social Media, you have the power to not only connect and engage your target audience, but by doing so, you will also be raising the awareness of your brand. Of course we can’t all be McDonald’s with the yellow arches, but we can certainly try become the expert in our industry through the value of our content we produce and share with our online audience. Just make sure you’re including your website, logo, and anything else that will give your brand association with your name online, so when people say ‘Eva-Maria’ online now, if they are within my target audience and don’t necessarily know my name, they will at least be able to identify with my bestselling book’s title ‘You Shut Up!’ because I always make sure I’m consistent with my subject, brand and content.

Promote your Content. Once you write anything – a press release, article, blog post or update on your life, use your social networks to update the rest of the world. By keeping in constant touch with people online, you’re ultimately building awareness of your being, expertise and important-ness online.

What would it take to convince you to get onto those Social Networks?



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Teen Suicide

It’s not news that New Zealand has one of the highest rates for teen suicide in the world. It’s a sad thought that our dear country has this kind of history that keeps repeating itself, but there are definitely some sound ways parents and relatives can make the growing up years a little easier.

Here’s my stance on it: depression is real, no doubt about it. However, at some point of our lives, we have those days when we don’t feel like getting out of bed, when we feel lonely and when we just don’t want to talk to anyone. Those feeling are normal. Like I say, if you were to quickly diagnose people generally feeling ‘sad’, should we have a tax on emotions like ‘love’ aswell?

Depression is real – I’m not saying it’s not, but we all have those days when we feel a little ‘emo’, or ‘depressed’ if you must. If this goes on for a little longer than a day, a week, month, then yes – professional help is needed. But you can actually stop this unwinding of events! Don’t let that sad stage of a teen’s life turn into ‘depression’. There are three things to remember:

Communicate

Whenever you notice something, talk to them! Even if they don’t want to, keep talking to them – even the small things count “How was your day darling?”, “What do you think about….” Get them involved in conversations, family activities – anything. Just keep that communication going, because when the time comes, they will open up about what’s bothering them. More times than never, parents seem to drift off and stop talking because they don’t want to deal with another snappy answer – this is just them taking some of their issues out little by little. Keep talking, talking, talking.

Support
Did your teen have an interesting idea? Do they need a lift from you somewhere? Do they need to talk to you? Be open to support them in their decisions. At the end of the day, if you tell them not to do something, as much as I hate to say it, psychologically that makes them want to do these things even more; to try these things to find out what all the fuss is about. Don’t let it get that far – if they hear the word ‘no’ from you often enough, that translates into ‘I don’t care about you’ to a teen sometimes, and that’s exactly what you don’t want. If you must say ‘no’ to some things – a tattoo, a party they want to go to, a business venture they might want to start up by dropping out of school, say ‘no’ as much as you want, but don’t forget the reasons behind it and tell them about this. This will automatically put them into the ‘understanding’ mindset, and just like it would be perfect for you to read their mind, give them something to work off by giving them your side of the story – what you’re thinking, and why you’re thinking it.

Love

I cannot stress this point enough. When you don’t say a happy ‘Good Morning’, ask for their opinion, say ‘no’ to anything they want to do, that all translates into ‘I don’t care or love you’. Wrong, wrong, wrong! A great book about the ‘5 Love Languages’ talks about how different people show their love for each other. With a teenager, you don’t necessarily need to study that book, unless you have the time – small things count. My parents always remember to tell me they love me, heck when I was little, after Mum had been away in another city, just her bringing back some cheap lollies from the plane as a ‘gift’ got my brother and I excited – you can express your love through so many different ways – don’t forget that it can stretch out further than a simple ‘I love you’; it can be anything from a small gift, to a gesture of love (“Would you like some tea?”), to just sitting down when they need to talk to you the most and hearing what they have to say.

How do you communicate, support and love the teen in your life? As hard as it may be, they hold so much energy and power to balance out the world; to make something out of themselves, and to make the world a better place – if not now, then definitely in future. Cherish and love them – who would want to end their life when they’re surrounded by love and understanding? No one is my guess!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Social Networking: Our Future?

From the GrownUps Column that can be found here

Social Networking has exponentially grown in popularity since I started this column. Although some of my entries are to do with the young people of today, I think there are many parallels between the online world and the way younger generations are growing up in the 21st century; after all, they, or should I say we, are indeed the product of what technology has created. And what technology has created is a fast-paced, never-still, ever-changing world that surprises us every single day.

I remember when the iPhone first came out, and a speaker from the US was speaking at a workshop I was sitting in on. At the end of the talk, he went on to give a couple of points about why people in business need to get onto the new technologies and embrace them. I was not impressed; “Isn’t that obvious to these people in suits?” I thought. I was even less impressed when he took out his iPhone, and went on to show the audience a new app where you can tilt the phone and it makes it look like the phone is a glass with drink disappearing. A teenager at the time, I was most of all un-impressed by how easily these ‘adults’ were impressed. I had heard of this new drinking app, but there are definitely more impressive things in the world, surely.

What I’m trying to get at is not that young generations are not easily amused; it’s that the world in all its fast speed is constantly coming up with new inventions and discoveries for the potential to do something better; to amuse people more and more. It’s not impressive to have a touch-screen phone anymore. If anything, speaking from my own experience, I’m hating my new touch screen phone. I need a phone to call and TXT; I don’t want all the weird gadgets on there…necessarily, and get very restless when a TXT takes longer than a split second to open up on my screen. That’s the reality.

But here comes my biggest point:
Social Media has brought people closer. What we couldn’t do 20, 10 or even 5 years ago is available at our fingertips. I never try to be an evangelist for the online world – there are many things it cannot replace, but for what it’s worth, it has made some things attainable. Think meetings. I’m on the National Executive of the National Speakers Association. We have a meeting every month. It would take a large collective investment to fly everyone to one city, but the Association can use the pool of knowledge from people from all over the country by having a Skype conference. People have meetings from all around the world over the internet, I can coach people about relationships with their teens, or about how to use Social Media for their business over the internet; years ago, we couldn’t even dream of doing business deals without meeting someone in person, but it’s possible.
Social Media isn’t all about how many Skype conversations you can have; it can serve a higher purpose: to connect. Connect with your existing, future and potential clients, family members; anyone. It’s about starting a conversation.

Imagine you’re at one of those networking events, standing in a corner and everyone seems to have some sort of natural link, but you. Enter the online world; you can butt into any conversation, put in your two cents about a topic, or person, and it’s normal. You don’t need to be the awkward freak of nature trying to ease your way into the conversation; online, it’s a GOOD thing to butt into conversations, compliment people, and all the rest.

Of course the how-to of engaging with people online isn’t something you can break down in a few words, but when you start with the ‘why’ when you sit down at a computer, ready to take on the social media world, just keep your goal in mind – is your goal to connect and network with potential client? Is it to keep in touch with existing clients or relatives? Is it to make new friends or find a soulmate?

Just keep the end goal in mind, and everything will come from there.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Recent London Riot & Youth

The recent London riots have caused a lot of controversy and speculation from the world, focusing on a small suburb in the capital. Without having been there at the time, or in my case…ever, but having had close friends from there, it is something that has sparked my own interest. Apart from the over-televised proof of what happens when people go wild, or in New Zealand’s case, papers were focusing mainly on the fact that the riots were caused by youth.

England is no stranger to horrific ‘when youth go wild’ stories, but from some of the (maybe biased) news I’ve seen and heard, here are some of my own speculations of how something as tragic as this has happened.

Tipping Point
There comes a time when people have had enough. Having seen how corporates working in their cubicles can reach a tipping point where they go as far as a bloody fight in a what can be described a very rigid and calm environment, I am not surprised that there came a time and reason for people to rebel. I am not condoning actions of the looters, or the rebels, but come on – people only need to see violence, when some reach their tipping point of having to join in to prove something. What happened in London, I would go as far as say that there were people who had reached a tipping point. Unfortunately, it had been against the Police, but among sufferers were peaceful citizens who owned businesses in the suburb. I think we can all reach a tipping point when we have had enough, and other people starting something can make us join in with the action.

Bad Parenting
Speculation from BBC quickly started focusing on how it was many youth who had joined in to be ‘rebels without a cause’, and their observations came down to bad parenting. I haven’t personally met these so called ‘bad parents’, but perhaps it’s worth exploring: who are the parents of these looters and hooligans? No parent ever wants to raise their kids ‘the wrong way’, yet some get sucked into drugs, crime, hate…so where do the kids of these parents go wrong? I am not religious, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that even books like the Bible teach those who will listen to not steal, kill, or disrespect their elders. So why do some take such extreme actions when they reach their own tipping point?

Rebels without a Cause
There are many who idolize the likes of Che Guevara, Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi. I remember at high school during one assembly, we were challenged with an interesting question: if you wanted to make a big impact in the world we live in, does this mean breaking the law? All three of these (and many more) significant leaders of our past all broke the law in some way to fight whether aggressively or passively for something they believed would produce a better world for all. Che Guevara used to go around with his gang in his school days and break street lamps as a sign of rebellion against the world they were living in. The likes of the Sex Pistols used the music scene to voice all that was wrong with the world. Was Martin Luther King Jr in the wrong to fight for his rights in a world where he was considered an insignificant citizen? Without condoning the actions of what has recently hit London, should we perhaps be taking a step back and recognizing or questioning what all these people are protesting against? And if many of them are youth, is it not a good thing that all have found a way to band together to fight for a cause? I guess in my mind the question still remains: was this a cause? With all my work and research, this to me, is yet another example of how quickly people can pull together for a common message. The challenge though, still remains in my mind: how can we take this energy among people, and more importantly the ‘rebellious youth’ and gear this towards more positive action?

What do you think?