Responsible Business

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Neutrogena Photo

I have had the privilege of working with companies that offer environmentally friendly products and services. I say privileged because these companies are changing the way we live and it is for the better. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

This past year, I have been writing a lot of corporate documents and blogs about various types of environmental technologies. I have also been writing about the slow, but steady changes happening in the fashion industry to address waste and the unbelievable amount of energy use in the textile sector. It might sound cliché but there is something noble about fashion houses that are lowering their carbon footprint and producing clothes made of recycled materials. I am happy to say that recycled fashion is something more and more people are becoming aware of. However, there are forward-thinkers who want to do even more to protect future generations.

While I am not one to promote large brands, I want to use Neutrogena as an example. The average age of a melanoma sufferer is around 63. For years we have been told that skin cancer risk increases with age, but there are a lot of young people who are now getting this type of cancer. Neutrogena now has a UV-activated clothing prototype that changes colors when you are exposed to skin-damaging rays. The prototype is a dress that you might see on a twenty-something. At first glance, the dress is white, but when it is exposed to UV rays, even on cloudy days, it changes colors. The idea is to demonstrate to people that you can still get skin damage even when the sun is not out in full-force. Neutrogena officials say their research tells them that a lot of people still think that UV damage can only happen when they are outside in the direct sun.

While fashion experts aren’t suggesting we ditch the sunscreen, they do like the idea of our clothing becoming a constant reminder to be careful; not forget to apply sunscreen every single day, no matter what the weather conditions are.

I am not saying that this sundress should become all the rage, but the prototype could be on to something. What it really comes down to is that we need more of this – more creative, sustainable thinking businesses, willing to try something new and responsible.

 

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Storytelling in Business

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

 

 

Storytelling is a very important part of running a business today. Whether you are standing on a stage, writing a blog, or putting together a case study, you need to get your point across with good storytelling. So what is good storytelling in business?

There are really three elements you have to keep in mind when you are trying to get attention for your brand through storytelling. First you have to be clear in illustrating your point. State up front what your message or idea is. Most people feel like the world needs a lot of background information in order to understand yet in business the truth is that we need to get to the point right away. If we don’t get to the point quickly, we lose the audience.

Another important element is proof.  The best way to help a consumer, investor, or potential business partner understand your vision, concept, product, or service is to provide proof of its value. One way to do this is through case studies. Case studies are really just examples. Yes, they can be boring so some people present examples in the form of video or testimonials – and these can be effective too.

Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to give people simple, easy to follow instructions. This can demonstrate how easy it is for the audience to implement or use whatever it is you are selling.

Standing in front of an audience singing your company’s praises or writing a blog that touts how unique your product is will do little to impress people, but telling a story about how your product or service worked for someone else carries a lot more weight. Storytelling can be creative, entertaining, and even humorous depending on the product or service you provide and the audience you are catering to so before you formulate your story, make sure you know your audience well.

 

 

 

 

Finding Your Customers

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Most company executives understand that the better they understand their customers, the more likely their business will grow. The problem often becomes defining customer base. For instance, I often have clients who want me to “spread the word” about their products and services through both traditional and social media channels, yet I quickly discover they don’t have a good handle on who their customers really are.

You can have the best products and services. You can have the best messaging to explain those products and services, but if the right audience does not receive those messages then you haven’t accomplished anything.

Lets take an affordable cell-phone provider as an example – if someone asked executives at the phone company, ‘Who is your typical customer?’ they might say something like, ‘Well, our typical customer is Millennials and teenagers hooked on technology.’ I realize this is really general, but you get the point. Most people can define their target audience with some careful research. Knowing the age, gender, income, personality, likes, dislikes, and behaviours of the people who would most likely be interested in your product or service is crucial to your communication efforts. Of course, the wider your customer base, the better chance your message will do what is it supposed to do – encourage people to act.

Some companies are lucky in that they deal with a specific sector, but have a wide customer base. I will take up and coming energy company, Sparta as an example. Sparta focuses on advancing the capture, conversion and optimization of energy. If you asked their executive team, ‘Who is your typical customer?” They would likely say, ‘Almost anybody’. This is because Sparta is about more than one product or service; it is about using various tools and technologies to address the needs of customers in many different industries when it comes to reducing their energy consumption. This is the great advantage Sparta has – there is no limit to the Corporations potential market as the vision has been to constantly adapt and add products and services that clients need in order to help them remain competitive – be sustainable. When Sparta spreads their message they have a massive customer base to target.

No matter what sector you are in or how broad your customer base may be, giving careful thought to exactly who your customers are is more important now than ever before. We are living in an increasingly competitive world so it makes no sense to spend time, energy and money on crafting a message that doesn’t get seen or read by the right audience.

While there are many ways to examine your typical customer, one of the best ways to start is by looking at your current customers and asking yourself, what do they like, dislike or what works for them and what doesn’t. From there check out the competition, who is buying from them? Soon you will start to build what is referred to as an Avatar; a representation of what your client looks like.

Grounding – The impact on the human body

 

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

 

A few years ago I wrote an article for a health industry client on the subject of “Grounding.” The research I conduced at that time was really my first foray into examining the process of removing excessive charge from an object by releasing it into the ground. Walking barefoot is an example of grounding. Since that article I have learned a lot more about electrons playing a significant role in the cellular process that takes place in our bodies.

As reported in the U.S National Library of Medicine, multi-disciplinary research has indicated that electricity contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth produces interesting effects on our health. Studies show the effects relate to inflammation, immune responses and wound healing. Some research even suggests that grounding can prevent and treat chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. While this is still a relatively new area of research, what experts at the University of California and the University of Oregon have discovered is that grounding an organism can produce noticeable differences in concentrations of white blood cells and other molecules involved in inflammatory response. Physiology professors say grounding reduces pain and alters the number of circulating neutrophils and lymphocytes. Neutrophils are white blood cells important in the defense against infections. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are part of the immune system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. The B cells produce antibodies that are used to attack invading viruses, bacteria, and toxins. Lymphocytes are high if you have an infection.

Grounding is really any system that allows for frequent contact with the Earth. This includes while sleeping, sitting at a desk, or walking outside. There are conductive systems such as sheets, mats, wristbands, ankle bands, and even adhesive patches. These applications are connected to the Earth through a cord inserted into a grounded wall outlet or attached to a ground rod placed in the soil outside.

A couple years ago a group of researchers, including some from the University of California and University of Oregon, looked at the physiological impacts of grounding from various perspectives. Their work has led to over a dozen studies being published in peer-reviewed journals. A peer review is a process that subjects an author’s work or research to examination and scrutiny of other top experts in the same field, before a description of the work can be published in a journal. The fact that the grounding research has been peer-reviewed and the actual studies show grounding could be an effective healing method has opened up new and promising avenues for research, particularly in the area of inflammation. Some suggest that it could have broad implications for health prevention and public health.

Despite the current research, all of this may still sound odd to some people, but think about it this way: We are all living on an electrical planet and our bodies transmit many frequencies that help run our muscles, our heart, our nervous system and our immune system. Many years ago it was perfectly natural to sleep right on the ground, and it was common to walk the Earth in bare feet. In our industrialized world, we rarely walk around without leather shoes and we do not sleep on the ground unless we are camping. In reality we are all disconnected or ungrounded. Considering that this disconnection may contribute in some way to illness may not be as far-fetched as many of us think.

What not to do at work

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Work can be incredibly satisfying. It can help us learn and grow in ways we never imagined possible. It can open our eyes to new ideas and opportunities, as well as lead us to financial rewards that help secure a good life outside of work. Let’s be honest though, not every day or every work experience is fantastic. Even those people who appear to have it all (at the office) are sometimes dying inside.

Whether you are one of those people who are silent and dying inside or someone who wears stress and frustration on the outside for everyone to see, there are certain things you must keep in mind when you are at work.

Both psychologists and employment experts agree that while you can’t keep everything bottled up inside all the time, you also have to be diplomatic in your approach to all that is office related.

Here are five things the experts say we should never do:

  • Speak or quit out of anger – it is not unusual to feel a wide range of emotions on the job, especially it you feel strongly about your work. Showing you care is a good characteristic, but losing it and acting out from rage always ends up being regretful. This behaviour is often grounds for firing and it simply makes you look unprofessional. I have to confess, when I was still a television reporter, I once screamed at a producer in front of everyone and while I did not get fired, I am certain I lost the respect of some people in the newsroom.
  • Lie – people tell lies when they think that somehow the truth will do them terrible harm. The truth about a lie at work is that you will likely have to do a lot of scurrying  to cover up your lie and in the end you will get figured out anyway. I remember the first time I caught a co-worker in a lie and I felt not only betrayed, but I no longer felt comfortable working with the individual. I just did not trust him.
  • Tell people you are unhappy – when you admit that you are miserable in your job, it doesn’t benefit anybody. It tells your co-workers and possibly your boss, if it gets back to him or her, that you don’t fit in. Additionally, it drags others in the office down.
  • Burn bridges – no one survives at work without other people. It’s all about relationship building and working together to make the project or company successful. We need each other so don’t burn bridges. Protecting work relationships can be a real asset.
  • Retreat within – while spewing your anger, frustration and negativity throughout the office is not the right move, keeping everything bottled up inside is not healthy. If you have a legitimate concern, discuss it in a professional way with a superior and be ready to offer up a possible solution. Also, think about talking to someone outside the office, such as a career counsellor or psychologist who specializes in work-related stress. Mounting stress can have both a physical and mental impact when it is not dealt with. Some people who are stressed-out due to work find that they become forgetful, which can hurt their work performance.

A study conducted in Canada a few years ago indicated that 51 percent of respondents felt work was a moderate to major stressor in their lives. In the United States the number of people calling in sick due to work-related stress has tripled in the last couple of decades. This is something that not only workers but also employers have to take a serious look at. Studies show that unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive.

Women Shopping in Men’s Stores

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

UnknownSo how many times have you seen a man in a women’s store fumbling through racks and looking uncomfortable? He’s probably looking for a gift for someone but for some reason he feels and looks uncomfortable. It is interesting that when a woman goes into a men’s store she is usually calm, cool and relaxed as she walks about, touching and rifling through various items. Often she will engage store employees in conversation as she tries to find the perfect tie for Dad or a great shirt for her boyfriend or husband.

Since we are so comfortable in these stores ladies, why are we not taking it a step further and trying some of the men’s clothing on? Yes, I am suggesting that as you thumb through those racks you just might find something that looks great on you. Here is why men’s clothing might be a good option:

  • You will stand out – if you don’t want to look like every other girl on the block, you can stand out by wearing a cool shirt or perhaps a hat from a men’s shop.
  • You will be comfortable – not everyone likes clothing to be skin-tight and this is your opportunity to find something loose fitting. Sometimes you can find funky men’s shirts that serve as dresses.
  • You can find lots of basics and neutrals – generally speaking men don’t go for a lot of flash; they prefer to keep their wardrobes pretty simple. Men’s shops are full of basics, such as plain colored t-shirts and socks. Every girl needs basics in her wardrobe.
  • You can stretch your budget – a lot of pieces that you buy in men’s stores remain in style for a long time, thus saving you money in the long run.
  • You can meet guys – for those ladies who are single, shopping in a men’s store is a good place to meet a new friend – wink, wink.

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Studies show that a lot of men shop as if it is a task that has to be completed in a certain amount of time. They find the products they want; sometimes check competitors or alternatives, make a purchase and they are done.

Meanwhile research shows the majority of women, treat the task of shopping as an important mission. They look at a lot of options, try many items on, compare with alternatives, ask about new stock coming into stores, discuss choices with girlfriends, hunt for discounts, put items on lay-a-way, sign-up for store newsletters/e-mails…the steps go on. I doubt adding stop by a men’s shop would bother many of the women who can identify with this way of shopping.

If you love to shop until you drop or if you are just looking to add something different to your wardrobe, consider going to a men’s store.

 

 

Fat Busting Foods

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Madaleno Magazine Contributing Writer, Marie Russell

Those who know me well understand that I have a keen interest in anything to do with food. This doesn’t mean I know everything about nourishment, but I do like to keep up on the latest research in nutrition. A few years ago zero calorie foods were a big topic of discussion, but now the focus has turned to fat busting foods.

Zero calorie foods are great since they contain fewer calories than the body needs to break them down. Nutritionists account for the energy it takes to chew and digest a food when they calculate calories. Foods like celery and cucumbers are zero calories and can be yummy. You can eat them in large amounts without feeling guilty and without feeling like you are busting a gut. Let’s be honest though, after a while zero calorie foods can be downright boring. For this reason, I like fat busting foods.

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Here is a list of some of my favourite fat burning foods:

  • Lentils – one cup includes 35 percent of your daily iron needs. Close to 20 percent of us are iron-deficient. I learned years ago from a nutritionist that our metabolism slows down when you lack a nutrient.
  • Green tea – there is a compound in green tea that can speed up metabolism. I like to keep a jug of green iced tea in the fridge to increase my intake.
  • Low fat dairy – rich in calcium and vitamin D, low fat dairy can help to preserve muscle mass and help you maintain a strong metabolism.
  • Hot peppers – chilli peppers have a compound in them that heats up our body and makes calories melt. You can consume raw, cooked, dried or powdered peppers to burn fat.
  • Grapefruit – this fruit can lower insulin, and regulate metabolism.
  • Spinach and green vegetables – many green veggies fight free radicals and can also help muscle building.
  • Whole grains – in small amounts, quinoa and brown rice prevent the body from storing fat.

There are other examples of fat burning foods, but these are the ones I like and find easy to incorporate into my daily diet. Give some of these a shot instead of limiting yourself to zero calorie foods and see if you shed those few extra pounds you have been wanting to say goodbye to.

Contributing Writer, Marie Russell is a pop-culture expert and self-professed foodie who has been freelance writing for over a decade.