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…

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!