Archive of ‘General’ category

How to Ask for a Raise

There are certain aspects of having a job that are very straightforward: you need to show up at a certain time, you have certain deadlines to meet, you must be respectful to your colleagues, etc.

Then there are other aspects that are not so cut and dried. One of these is how to ask for a raise. It can be a nerve-wracking decision because you don’t always know what is going on with the company’s finances or just how favorable your supervisors view you.

If you think the time has come to ask for a raise, here are some tips on how to go about it:

Is It Time to Ask for a Raise?

In general, you really only expect to get a raise once per year. If you just had one six months ago, you really should wait awhile before seeking another.

What Kind of Person is Your Boss?

Is your supervisor the type of person who always believes in getting to the point? Or is he or she someone that you need to approach in a gradual, thoughtful way that allows you to reinforce your value to the company in their mind? Knowing how to initiate the topic increases both your confidence and chances for success.

Have a Figure in Mind

You probably have an idea regarding how much more you would like to be making, but is it realistic? Your company may be doing well enough, but is it doing so well that you think it’s reasonable to ask for another $5 an hour? Choose a figure that is between the top end of what you would like to make and the minimum you would need to continue working there.

These are the basic steps. Try to ask for a raise before your next review as it will likely be too late for that calendar year if you wait until after. Good luck!

Four Things You Should Do First Thing in the Morning

Getting out of bed in the morning can be a real chore for some people…and I’m really not in a position to criticize anyone in that camp. As I get up in years, and a night’s sleep becomes less and less satisfying, mornings are more likely to elicit a groan than a smile.

It’s always good to have a steady routine as they helps to keep you on track. That routine needs to consist of positive and productive things, of course. Have trouble getting motivated in the morning? Here are some things you should start doing:

Get Up Early and Always at the Same Time

I can feel some of you wanting to check out already, but there is really some good thinking in this approach. It’s simple: the more time you have in the morning, the more productive you can be. Getting up at the same time everyday helps your body adjust to that inevitability and can improve the quality of your sleep.

Leave the Coffee and Go for Water

Yes, caffeine gives you that boost, but we all know it’s addictive. Try to ween yourself off of coffee and other caffeinated beverages in exchange for good old fashioned water. H2O re-hydrates you and that helps your body function at its peak; coffee actually does the opposite.

Exercise Before Work

This is another great way to clear your head and energize your body before the rigors of the day. And doing it before work ensures that it gets done.

Make Your Bed

As a child, this always seemed especially pointless to me: who other than me will see my messy bed? The point is that it actually helps to make you more organized. Also, at the end of a long and busy day, it’s more appealing to climb into a fresh and tidy bed than some sloppy mess.


How Malls are Trying to Remain Relevant

It doesn’t seem that long ago when shopping malls were the hub of consumer activity. As time went on, they got bigger and bigger, offering all manner of stores and allowing people to get a great deal of their shopping done in one place. You could shop, get something to eat, see a movie, and then do some more shopping on your way out.

Every city and many small towns added shopping malls, but their dominance has slipped in recent years. Online shopping has created major changes in the way that people buy their goods. It’s hard to argue with the thought of being able to sit at home in front of your computer ordering things that you would previously have driven across town (or further) to get. Amazon is the online shopping giant and if one had to put a name to the enemy of shopping mall prosperity, it’s as good as any.

So, is the demise of the mall inevitable? Not as far as mall owners are concerned. They are trying to come up with reasons and experiences that will justify getting people off their couches. These include entertainment options that allow parents and children to spend time together, as well as ways for mom and dad to have someone watch the kids so they can do some quiet, relaxed shopping together.

Instead of just a collection of fast food options at the food court, some malls are courting high end restaurants as a way of restoring the mall’s image as a respected place in the community, rather than a spot for teens to hang out.

While anchor stores are still seen as a key way of luring people in, the plan is also to provide a more diverse selection of tenants not typically found in shopping malls. These include specialized businesses that one often has to journey downtown to patronize.

Malls are also making greater use of social media as a way of engaging with customers and creating loyalty. This inspires people to make the mall the first place that comes to mind when they need something.

Online shopping may be an unstoppable juggernaut at this point, but these tactics do seem to be having an effect at slowing things down a little. Time will tell, but I can’t see malls ever dying off completely.

What Do You Do When You Win the Lottery?

Sure, we have all fantasized about it: the impulse purchase of a $5 lottery ticket at the grocery store turns out to be an action that changes your life forever. You now have all the money you need to fulfill those long-held fantasies and help out all of your friends and family.

But have you ever sat down and thought what it would be like to win…and then take the next steps? Here are some of the things that previous big winners have done:

  • Money management. Yes, you will now have a lot of money, but you have to think long and hard about what to do with it. You can’t just shove millions of dollars into a basic savings account. Should you invest? If so, how? How will you save the money? How much money can your local financial institution even hold for you and insure? Make an appointment with a financial planner…before you cash the ticket in.
  • Unwanted attention. It’s a shame that big winners are announced in the press because that guarantees they will be besieged by people, some legit and some not, asking them for a piece of that jackpot. If you are a very private person, this can be quite disturbing and stressful. Even if you aren’t, it’s still a major pain. Fortunately, some areas allow winners to remain anonymous.
  • Don’t go on a spending spree, but do pay off your debts. It can be tempting to go nuts with your newfound wealth, but you should instead set limits on how much you can spend in a day, a week, a month, and a year. One thing you should definitely put cash towards are your debts: wipe them out for good.
  • Investigate inheritance tax. Look into what the laws are in your area. Everyone wants to leave money to their friends and family, but how much will the government take? Are there ways to minimize that?
  • Continuing doing some kind of work. You may be overjoyed to quit your job, but do try to keep busy in some way once all of the dust has settled. If you don’t need income anymore, volunteering is an excellent way to give back.


How to Get Over Your Fear of Flying

“If man was meant to fly, he would have wings!” You may have heard that before. Or, if you are afraid to fly, you might even have used it as an excuse. Actually, if flying is not your thing, do not feel bad. Aviophobia is quite common, so much so that there are a number of solutions available that will help you to overcome this.

If you would like to go on a trip, but are fearful of getting on that plane, here are some suggestions:

  • Educate yourself. Yes, plane crashes are terrible things and when they happen, they receive a great deal of media coverage. However, the simple fact is they don’t happen very often. An article in The Guardian listed the stats and it works out to one accident per 2.4 million flights.
  • Talk to a therapist. Your fear of flying may be part of a general anxiety issue that will fade if you can get that under control. Therapists will talk with you about the problem and offer methods that will help reduce your anxiety. This should also lead to you being more open to trying things that have intimidated you in the past. The therapist may also such widely effective techniques as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Hypnotherapy.
  • Try breathing exercises. Taking deep breaths can be very effective at lowering your blood pressure and inducing a sense of calm. Try combining this with a manta you can recite to yourself, such as “everything is fine.”
  • Sedatives. Ask your doctor if you are a good candidate for sedatives. Depending on how many times you will be flying, this may be a good temporary solution, but not one if you will be flying often. Also, do not rely on alcohol to calm you down and never mix sedatives with booze.

Have faith! As we mentioned above, this is a common phobia that many people conquer, so be sure to give one or more of these methods a try.

Did you have a fear of flying? What worked for you? What advice do you have for someone trying to overcome this? Let us know in the comments section!

The Twin Cities In Minnesota

If you take a look at Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, you will find that they’re located very close together. In fact, there are only really separated by the Mississippi River and there’s a bridge in between them. However, even though they’re close geographically, and referred to as the’ Twin Cities’ they’re actually worlds apart. It is very curious that two cities that are located next to each other are so entirely different. However, there are some reasons behind this phenomenon. Here is a closer look at the Minneapolis St. Paul rivalry, where it started, and the things that appear to keep it going on today.

If you take a look at the Twin Cities early on, you will find that there beginnings were entirely different. Minneapolis and St. Paul are set astride the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers and the downtown areas are actually only about 13 km from each other and they’re on the shores of the Mississippi. When the Louisiana Purchase was made, the area was then occupied by the U. S. Army and Fort Snelling was built in 1819.

In the early 1840s, there were already two different villages that were in the area. One was referred to as the village of Minneapolis on the West Bank of Mississippi River, and then the village of St. Anthony was located on the East Bank of the Mississippi. These two villages later came together and a suspension bridge connected them.

Are There Any Minnesota Twin Cities Secrets?

Bottineau spent his later years in the west of Minnesota known as the Red River Valley, an area that drains to the north, though it was related to the Mississippi through the famous Pembina Ox-cart Trail. That trail also passed through Elk River, adding to its importance as a commercial hub during its early history.

St. Paul had a little bit of a different start. Pierre Parrant, a trapper who was retired, decided to open up a tavern and was not allowed to set it up on the earth owned by the Fort. So, he set up his tavern, known as the ‘Pig’s Eye’ on the Northern Side of the river. It seemed for some time that this new town may end in place with the name ‘Pig’s Eye,’ but Father Lucien Galtier came to the area as a missionary and saved the city from that name. His favorite patron saint was St. Paul, and he promoted the name and the name of the city was changed to St. Paul in 1841.

The fact that St. Paul was the furthest point to the north that the large cargo boats could go on the Mississippi, also kept the cities apart from each other. Even though the cities are only separated by a little river, this made a huge difference. There are some locks available today that make it possible for ships to travel to Minneapolis, but because the trip is so time consuming, many don’t make the trip.

Over the years, there’s been a whole lot of competence and rivalry between the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. In fact, since the beginning, they have competed against each other, with each city trying to build bigger buildings and even more extravagant buildings. Each of the cities have a University of Minnesota campus in the city. Later, in 1915 St. Paul would build and complete a beautiful Cathedral, and Minneapolis had to keep up and they built their Basilica of St. Mary just a number of years later. Interestingly enough, during the United States Census of 1890, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul kept kidnapping and arresting the census takers from the other city, trying to hold the other city from growing bigger.

In some things in the past, the rivalry of Minneapolis St. Paul, MN actually ended up leading to violence. When the baseball teams from the two cities, the St. Paul Saints and the Minneapolis Millers, played against each other in 1923, violence broke out. The two cities would build rival stadiums in the 1950’s as well, as they competed to get a franchise for major league baseball.

The development of Minneapolis and St. Paul is also very distinct. Minneapolis is, known for using new architecture with an avant garde touch, on the one hand. However, on the other hand, St. Paul brings in new buildings as well, but places them as part of the Victorian and classical styles of buildings that are already found in the old city.

To some extent, between the two cities there is a certain social segregation as well. Usually you will find that those who live in one city usually stay in that city and socialize with individuals in their city as well. Sure, only a bridge and, naturally, the Mississippi River separates the two rivers, but when it is a question of socialization, both cities seem to stay far apart as a general rule.

While one would think that two cities that are so close together would eventually merge together, this isn’t true when it is a matter to Minneapolis St. Paul. The two cities have been different and worlds apart from their beginnings, and yet today they remain that way, with no evidence of change in sight.