Category Archives: Advice

25 Tips When Traveling by Train for Business

Smal Biz Trends from California Rail News

Research the Available Routes

Amtrak has more than 30 train routes that go to and from various locations in the U.S. And in some cases, there may be more than one way for you to get to a particular location, though some are more direct than others. So take a look at the schedule and routes well before you need to actually travel so you can make the best decision.

Look for Deals Online

You can also purchase tickets directly online, as well as by phone and at Amtrak stations. But if you buy online, you can sometimes get access to better deals than you would otherwise. So try to plan ahead and compare prices online.

Buy Separate Tickets for Stop-Offs

Depending on your plans, you might want to take a train to one location, stop for a day or so, then take a train to another location from there. This is absolutely possible. But you do need to buy separate tickets so you can be sure your entire trip is covered.

Use Business Class Lounges

Some train stations offer business class lounges where priority customers can relax and access wifi and comfortable working space. So if you arrive for your trip a bit early, take advantage of those spaces to get some work done while you wait.

Anticipate Delays

While traveling by train can be comfortable and cost effective, it’s not the quickest mode of transportation. And even the scheduled arrival times don’t always come to pass. So don’t schedule a trip if it leaves you arriving just an hour before a bit meeting. It’s best to arrive a little earlier just to be safe.

Get a Rail Pass for Frequent Travel

Amtrak offers a rail pass that can help you save money if you travel frequently. So if you plan on taking trains for business trips multiple times per year, it’s worth looking into as a cost saving measure.

Use Points to Purchase Tickets

You can also sign up for Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program that can help you earn points that you can redeem for future travels. So if you travel by train regularly, it can be worth it to sign up for an account and then use your points for future purchases.

Save Time With Mobile Ticketing

Amtrak also offers mobile apps for Apple, Android and Amazon devices. So you can download the app and use it to purchase and show your tickets. This can help you streamline the entire booking and boarding process.

Be Flexible With Seating Assignments

When you book a trip, you can get your confirmation right away. But Amtrak normally assigns seats once each train is booked before assigning seats. So if you plan on traveling by train, it’s best to be a little flexible about where you sit.

Book Together if Traveling With Colleagues

If you are traveling with others, that means you should book your tickets together so you can ensure you actually get seated together.

Reserve Coach for Economical Travel

There are a few different options when traveling by train. Coach is the most popular and economical option. If you’re taking a relatively short trip and want to save money, this is probably the best option.

Upgrade to Business Class for Meetings, Working Space

However, there is also a business class option. If you want a bit more room and want to be sure you get access to a full desktop and outlets, you can opt for a business class seat instead.

Consider Roomettes When Traveling Overnight

If you’re taking a lengthier trip where you’ll be traveling overnight, you can certainly stick with a coach seat. But if you’re looking for something a little more roomy, you can opt for a roomette. However, most roomettes are made for two. So it’s mainly an option for those traveling with their significant others.

Get a Bedroom for More Comfort

Or you could opt for a private bedroom for even more space and privacy. This option is best if you’re looking for a really comfortable experience when traveling across the country.

Take Advantage of Onboard Wifi

Most trains to offer complimentary wifi on board. So if you’re just looking to browse the internet or send emails when you travel, you can take advantage of that feature.

Use a Hotspot for High Bandwidth Functions

However, the onboard wifi doesn’t include high bandwidth functions like music streaming. So if you need to do anything that requires a stronger connection, it could be worth investing in a personal hotspot.

Remember Your Chargers

Most seats, especially those in business class, also have access to electrical outlets. And there are some in common areas as well. So remember to bring chargers for all your devices so you can stay powered up while you travel.

Check Large Bags

If you’re taking a long trip, you’ll probably bring a decent sized bag, which you can check so that it won’t take up all the space in your seating area.

Keep Essentials With You

However, you can bring a small bag with your most important items like your laptop and any important documents you might need to reference if you’re working while you travel.

Book a Table for Meals

In the food car, you can book a table to ensure that you have seating reserved for all meals. If you’re traveling with others, you can sit at a private table. Or you can allow the staff to sit you with others on board so you can socialize.

Hang Out in the Bar Car

There’s also a bar car on most trains that offers comfortable seating and refreshments to help make your trip more enjoyable.

Head to the Quiet Car to Work

Or if you’re looking to really focus and get some work done in transit, check to see if your train has a quiet car where you can go to work without having to worry about loud distractions around you.

Prepare for Varied Temperatures

No matter where you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to pack some layers in your carry-on bag so you can be prepared for any temperature, since train cars don’t necessarily go along with the outside temperatures.

Take Breaks at Rest Stops

As your train makes its way to your destination, it’s going to make several stops. But not all of them are actually rest stops. Some are just stops where the train is picking up more passengers and then immediately departing. So check the schedule so you can know where it’s safe to get off and stretch your legs a bit.

Map the Trip from Station to Hotel

Many train stations are located in downtown areas. So you can potentially make it to your hotel or meeting spot quickly. But it’s still a good idea to map it out before you get there so you know if it’s possible to walk or if you need a taxi or public transportation.

What Does It Take To Have A Good WebSite?

Creating a website with good design for your business is not enough. Your website must have at least  few of the features which are very essential for your website, which will make the user experience easy. This will make the user stay on your website, which in turn will reduce “bounce rate” of your website.

Following features a website must have:

1. A Logical Road-map
2. Crucial Business Information
3. Contact Information
4. Clear Navigation
5. Security
6. Social Media Integration
7. A Mobile-Ready Version
8. FAQ
9. Good Hosting

 

Avoid use of music and flash in your website.

There many more important features. So keep in mind while developing your website, developers must have knowledge about these things. Else you can outsource website development project to some good company.

The way you think about adversity affects your ability to persevere.

While it’s often easy to be mentally strong when life is going well, your true strength becomes apparent through adversity. The loss of a loved one, a health problem, relationship issues, and financial troubles are just a few of the hardships most people face at one time or another.

The way you think about life’s inevitable obstacles affects your ability to cope with tough times. Developing a productive inner dialogue is one of the most productive ways mentally strong people keep building their mental muscle. Repeating positive, yet realistic affirmations can drown out the negative thoughts that can hold you back.

Here are nine things to remember when you’re going through tough times.

1. I have what I need to get through this.

Thinking things like “I can’t do this” or “This isn’t fair” will cause you to feel defeated. Rather than insist you need more, remember what you already have. If you’ve made it this far in life, you clearly have some skills, tools, and resources already in place.

2. Living according to my values is what really matters.

There are going to be people who won’t like you and times when people will disagree with the decisions you make. But your job isn’t to please everyone. Be brave enough to live according to your values, even when that means making unpopular decisions.

3. Failure is part of the road to success.

Failure isn’t fun, but beating yourself up over it won’t help. Each time you fall down, it serves as proof you’re pushing yourself to new limits. Remember that each failure is an opportunity to grow stronger and become better.

4. All I can do is my best.

Demanding perfection from yourself will do more harm than good. Whether you’re interviewing for a job that you really need, or you’ve got one last shot to try for that promotion, insisting there’s no room for error will skyrocket your anxiety. A little self-compassion will help you perform at your peak.

5. Five years from now this won’t matter as much as I think it will.

Keep temporary problems in perspective by reminding yourself that the emotional pain, anxiety, or turmoil won’t last forever. Many of today’s crucial decisions and major worries won’t actually matter that much a few years down the road.

6. I’m stronger than I think.

A serious health problem or the loss of a loved one can be very difficult to handle. But catastrophic predictions like “I’ll never recover from this” or “I won’t ever be happy again” will only drag you down. Adversity often reveals hidden inner strength you never knew you had.

7. I can handle feeling uncomfortable.

It can be tempting to stay inside your comfort zone, but getting through tough times often requires you to do something different. Although emotions like fear, embarrassment, and disappointment are uncomfortable, they won’t kill you. Be willing to face those emotions head on and you’ll gain confidence in your ability to cope with discomfort.

8. I am in control of how I think, feel, and behave.

Blaming other people for what’s going on in your life won’t help your situation. Acknowledging that you’re in control of how you think, feel, and behave can empower you to either make the best of your circumstances, or create positive changes in your life.

9. I’ve been knocked down before and I can get back up again.

Look back at the times you’ve persevered before. Recalling your fortitude in dealing with past struggles can help you summon the strength to deal with current problems.

Giving yourself positive affirmations alone won’t necessarily change your life–the way you think is only one of the three core factors of mental strength. But healthy self-talk will help you feel better and inspire you to behave more productively, which is key to getting through tough times.

By Amy Morin

Author, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”

75 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb

How many of these do you get wrong?

Using the right word can matter. Using the wrong word can matter even more. I once lost a potential writing gig because I used “who” instead of “whom” in a proposal letter.

(And I still have trouble getting “who” and “whom” right.)

Even just one incorrectly used word–especially when you’re trying to make a great impression–can ruin everything. Is that unfair? Yes… but it does happen.

To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, I’ve collected some of the most common incorrectly used words from other posts into one epic post. (Thanks to all the readers along the way who offered their own examples, many of which are included here.)

Here we go.

The 5 Reasons I get Happier as I get Older…

JamesRadcliffe.com

Long past the grim-dark of midnight, in a loud and crowded bar somewhere in the red-brick old town of Edinburgh, I found myself talking with a friend who was well and truly down in her cups due to a recently ‘celebrated’ birthday.

As the conversation unfolded, she repeatedly invited me to commiserate with her on the general unfairness of aging and the perceived dearth of her bright glow youth; to which I replied that, in all honestly, as I have gotten older I have noticed myself becoming markedly happier.

Sitting up suddenly, alert, incredulous, (and swaying not a little) she blurted: ‘How is that even possible?’.

This post is my answer to that question.

View original post 991 more words

Time Management Magic

Time management matters today more than ever. Gaining greater control over your career, as well as your life, comes down to how you use your time. Simply learning how to be better organized will allow you to get more done. A good time management system is, therefore, a genuine must-have.

Lee Cockerell is the founder of his own management and customer service consulting company, as well as the former executive vice president of operations for Walt Disney world. During his time with Disney, he led a team of 40,000 employees and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, four theme parks, two water parks and a shopping and entertainment village. In his book Time Management Magic – How to Get More Done Every Day, Move From Surviving to Thriving, Cockerell shares the time management secrets that have become one of his most requested corporate training lectures.

“Most people are not overworked…they are under-organized,” writes Cockerell. “I believe the average person can do 50 percent more than they are doing now, including all the right things, if they have an effective system for keeping their lives under control.”

While there is an abundance of technology available to help with time management, the best systems still tend to be the simplest and easiest to use. Pairing a classic day-timer with a smartphone can create a robust working system for planning your goals and achieving them. When it comes to time management, the magic lies in what you do, not merely in what you know.

Let’s take a look at the six components of Lee Cockerell’s Time Management System.

Think About How You Use Time

There isn’t a single person on the planet able to fit more than 24 hours into a day. Successful people manage to achieve more by being better organized than the average person. The goal of your time management system should be to make you simultaneously more efficient and more effective.

Time management is the act of controlling the events in your life. You become the director of your life by proactively filling it with good events and avoiding those events which have little or no value. To gain a high level of control in your life, there are several practical actions you must get in the habit of doing.

Find ways to surround yourself with great people, get into the habit of training and educating, and always be crystal clear about your expectations. When you make sure your team knows your values, philosophies, priorities and values, you remove any doubt or ambiguity that might lead to poor decisions. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have skilled people on your team with a can-do attitude.

Get in the habit of doing things now. Write everything you have to do in your planner, repeat the phrase “DO IT NOW!”, and go out and make positive things happen. Try your best to anticipate what may arise, but unanticipated events are inevitable. Therefore, it is best to not overcrowd your schedule. Making the best use of the time in your day will ensure your to-do list gets completed.

Have a System

In order to organize your life, you must have a system in place that is constantly working for you day-in and day-out. You must take time for planning every single day of your life. Having a written system for managing your time is vital for a multitude of reasons. It will help you to balance various demands on your time, to develop a systematic way of working productively and to feel confident about taking on more work assignments.

Trying to place artificial barriers between your work and home life by using separate planners simply won’t work. A much better approach is to think about your life in its entirety every day and put everything into a single daily planner. Plan your holidays just as carefully as you plan your work days. Your daily mantra related to using your daily planner should be: “If you fail to plan, you’re really just planning to fail.”

When it comes to planning your time, the more you have to do, the more time you should spend on planning. This will pay dividends in the long run. If you fail to plan, you will end up spending more time spinning your wheels than moving forward. Bottom line, you should spend between five and thirty minutes every day planning what you need to get done in a day to be effective and efficient.

Work Your System

To have a world-class time management system, three essential components are needed: an advance planner, a monthly planner and a telephone directory. To begin with, having an advance planner in place where you schedule events coming up in the next 18 months will allow you to record everything in writing. Your mind will then be able to relax, rather than worrying you might be forgetting something.

You will also need a monthly planner, where you can plan your day-to-day activities for the next month. Here, you can write down your daily appointments, run a to-do checklist, and keep track of your phone calls and expenses. To use this effectively, you should fill up your daily task list at your planning meeting every morning. Also, take full advantage of the notes section to commit to paper anything and everything you will need later on. Your monthly planner should act as a diary, and should run the full spectrum from business to personal.

The third part of our time management system is a telephone directory. Instead of differentiating between business and personal, have one place where you keep track of all your various phone numbers. You may choose to use your smart phone to keep track of phone numbers, events and your daily schedule, but keeping a written copy as backup is always a good idea. Getting into the habit of putting everything into your system will free your mind to focus on more productive ideas and projects.

Get Your Priorities Right

Once you get your basic system working, the key to achieving more is to become better at setting priorities. Your daily task list is where the rubber meets the road for your time management system. The real key to getting more done is to get better at assigning the right priorities to tasks. Assigning priorities transforms your to-do list into a genuine action plan.

“Doing things in the right order is very important,” writes Cockerell. “Having the ability to focus on and accomplish your priorities in the right order is the name of the game for effectiveness.”

In order to do this, you must go through your task list and put an asterisk next to any items which are absolutely URGENT. From there you can put an “A” next to all VITAL items, a “B” next to IMPORTANT items and a “C” next to items which have limited value. If you have multiple items in each category, you can also rank each item from most important to least important to keep your priorities clear as you work through your list.

With this kind of system, it is important that you mark items off in your planner as they are accomplished. This not only makes it official, but also generates a sense of momentum. You can also use your planning system as an incubator of sorts. Every year, identify a few VITAL items you would love to accomplish and schedule them. If you do this year after year, you’ll have a solid track record of wins to be proud of.

Eliminate All Time Wasters

Procrastination is the ultimate career killer and ambition destroyer. You want to be obsessive about building a reputation as the opposite of a procrastinator. If you become known as someone who is proactive and who seizes-the-day, time wasters will become irrelevant. Once you start planning your days more systematically, you will quickly notice how much of your days have been used up by time wasters.

Self-imposed time wasters include sleeping in, taking on too much, not delegating effectively, underestimating the time needed to complete a task, failing to anticipate potential complications and living too far from where you work. Spending large amounts of time commuting or getting a late start to the day will eat away at your productivity and won’t give you sufficient time to plan your day. Also, learning to say “no” and scheduling enough time to complete quality work will help you streamline productivity.

Additional time wasters may be imposed on you by others. Poorly run meetings, lack of decision making, ambiguous job descriptions, minimal feedback and shifting priorities in the middle of a project can all lead to a lack of productivity. Once you are aware of these time wasters, you can figure out what to do about eliminating them. In every planning session, you should devote some of your time to identifying those time wasters and addressing them.

Get Started Today

Nowadays, it’s easy to tune out and become preoccupied with other things when you’re talking with people. In a world of smartphones, web streaming, background television, tablets and other devices, it’s easy to get distracted. This can impact your productivity whether you are talking with your boss or the people you delegate to.

Preoccupation has the potential to be a huge time waster. To avoid the potential for distractions when you’re talking with someone, you should always take notes, never look at texts or emails and get out from behind your desk to remove potential barriers. Getting into the habit of focusing on one thing at a time, working on your communication skills and tracking delegated tasks in your daily planner will keep you focused and save you time in the long run.

In addition to preoccupation, another area with the potential to save you significant time is meetings. Both the meetings you run and the meetings you are required to attend have the potential to boost personal productivity if they are run well. Before you schedule a meeting, seriously consider whether or not you can achieve everything you need by phone or email instead. If a meeting is necessary, prepare before hand, get right to the point and write every future activity discussed in your day planner to ensure you follow up.

Your time is your life. When it comes to time management, what you do far outweighs what you know. Spend at least five to thirty minutes every day to plan how best to use your time, and focus your attention on the vital tasks which will give you the best return on your time and effort.

Take the time every so often to reassess how you’re spending your time and remind yourself of what you should be doing. By remaining diligent with your time management, you can yield great results and achieve the success you desire. So, get a planner today and start managing your time.

Lee Cockerell leaves us with this final message: “Think about what you must do now to ensure that you will not just prevail but thrive. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. Get started today. Yes, today! Good luck managing your time and your life! I hope all your dreams come true!”

9 French Words We Should Be Using in English

French has many “why don’t we have a word for that?” words and even more that are just plain beautiful. Here’s a short list of my 9 favorite French words.

dépayser (verb) To leave your comfort zone

This seems like an appropriate place to begin because this word describes something that is fundamental to learning any foreign language: exiting your zone of comfort. The verb dépayser contains the word pays, which means “country”, and the prefix de-, which, like in English, can suggest removal or negation. So a literal one-word translation might be something like “decountrify.” To be dépaysé (adj) – “decountrified” – is to be out of your element, to break or change your habits, to be disoriented. The noun dépaysement – “decountrification” – can be translated as “culture shock” or “disorientation” or “change of scene.” Dépayser can also be used reflexively – se dépayser – so you can even “decountrify” yourself or break your habits. So, while you don’t literally have to leave your country to leave your comfort zone, this word suggests a fundamental relationship between your habits and your culture. It may be the very antidote to this next word…

Nombrilisme

noun: self-centeredness, egoism, self-absorption

Nombril is navel or belly button, so this word is literally “bellybuttonism” and roughly translates as self-centeredness, egoism, self-absorption, etc. It is petty and detail-oriented, concentrating on a single issue to the exclusion of all else, a certain kind of childishness. English also has “navel-gazing” by the way, but nombrilisme seems to capture so much more by elevating it to the status of a doctrine – its an -ism after all! And it doesn’t stop at the individual bellybutton; it can refer to a collective, national navel-gazing, a tendency to relate everything back to one’s own country, e.g. nombrilisme américain, nombrilisme français, etc. If you want to learn a foreign language you’re going to have to stop gazing at your navel – get out there and decountrify yourself!

Vachement

adverb: very, truly

When we examine those symbols that lie at the very heart of French culture and identity, there is one that we cannot ignore: the cow – la vache – an animal so important to this country of cheese and cream that it has transcended description and association to become an adverb, which can be applied to just about any verb or adjective for emphasis. The word is vachement, which literally translates to “cowly” and just means very, extremely, truly – a more colorful and emphatic très. Listen for it and you will hear it constantly – but no one seems to realize they are saying “cowly”! Vachement is part of the fabric of everyday expression, its connection to la vache seemingly obscured, a testament to the supreme ubiquity achieved by the cow in France. It is all things and no things.

Chauve-souris

noun: bat

Chauve means bald and souris means mouse, so a chauve-souris – a bat – is literally a “bald mouse.” And while I can somewhat understand the association, it seems like its lack of hair is one of the more mundane traits that distinguish the bat from the mouse. What about FLIGHT, for example?! Shouldn’t it be a souris volante (“flying mouse”)? Maybe the person who gave the bat its French name encountered it for the first time while it was sleeping. But even then, you’d think “upside-down mouse” would come to mind before “bald mouse.” This is, at any rate, a very strange mouse – vachement bizarre.

Avoir le cafard

idiom: to be depressed

Are you feeling blue? Down in the dumps? Well my friend, it sounds like you’ve got the cockroach. Avoir le cafard literally means “to have the cockroach.” And really, who wouldn’t be feeling a little down if they were stuck with one of those things.

 

Chou

noun: cabbage; adj: cute

The noun chou means cabbage, as well as a host of other vegetables when combined with certain other words: chou de Bruxelles is Brussels sprout, chou chinois is bok choy, chou-fleur is cauliflower, chou-rave is kohlrabi and the list goes on. But cabbage in the French language transcends the mere culinary: it can be a term of endearment for a child (mon petit chou = “my little cabbage”), a baby (bout de chou = “piece of cabbage”) or for a significant other (je t’aime, mon chou ! = “I love you, my cabbage!”); as an adjective it can mean adorable, lovely, cute sweet etc. Tu m’as apporté des fleurs ?! Comme tu es chou ! – “You brought me flowers?! How cabbage of you!” Regarde ce bébé-là, comme il est (vachement) chou – “look at that baby, isn’t he just (cowly) cabbage!”

Ronronner

verb: to purr

The verb ronronner is not only excellent practice for your French r-gargling, but by pronouncing it correctly you will already be doing the thing it describes: purring (like a cat) or humming (like an engine).

Coccinelle

noun: ladybug/ladybird

This word is just plain fun to say. It springs forth from the soft palate and bounces back before slithering out through the teeth, only to liquefy back across the entire palate. It takes your mouth on a one-word journey across five consonants and three vowels that are alternatingly sharp, bright, bouncy, and fluid. And to what creature is bestowed the honor of this ecstatic word? Why it’s none other than the humble ladybug to the Americans, ladybird to the British. And whether you know it as ladybug or ladybird, I think we can all agree that this is a pretty unimaginative way to refer to a polka-dotted flying thing. Francophones: 1, Anglophones: 0

Dépanneur

noun: repair person (European French); corner store (Québécois French)

And finally, a shoutout to my friends in Québec – I haven’t forgotten you! A list of all the amazing words and expressions to be found in Québécois French will have to wait for the next article. In the meantime, I leave you with dépanneur, by far not the most interesting or entertaining French-Canadian word, but a favorite for personal reasons. In standard French, a panne is a breakdown or failure of a machine. The verb dépanner means to fix, repair, mend, but takes on the broader meaning of to help out or to come to the rescue. A dépanneur (in standard French) is by extension a repair person or a mechanic. The Québécois take this idea to its logical conclusion: a dépanneur is the corner store where you buy your booze and chips. A frequent panne that I encounter is lack of beer and chips. In Montréal, the dépanneur was always there to help.

With help from Penney Vanderbilt