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The Story of U. Chapter One: Patience

The struggle of U, the twenty-first letter of the alphabet

U didn’t get a place in the alphabet right from the start. U had to fight hard to become a letter of equal rights. It was the fault of the Romans who included in their alphabet only 23 letters when they first created it, in the 7th century BC. In that alphabet, J, U, and W were ignored.

To make it even more embarrassing, U was written, for a long time, using the letter V. When V was at the beginning of a word, it was read like the V of today. When, however, it was written in the middle of a word, people read it like U. How not to feel depressed? Who wouldn’t scream when looking at the smashing V who was managing two letters at once?

But U focused more, endured and continued to hope. Redemption came somewhere in the 18th century when U acquired its true position in the alphabet. At that time, the French Academy acknowledged his right to be a letter like all the others. The story of U is, therefore, the story of a daring letter, a letter we ignore daily, hidden in the multitude of other letters that pass before our eyes: U, the letter that fought 2,500 years to succeed.

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Building a business takes time

It takes time to build a business. And yet, we often forget that. It is as if we asked a newborn to walk, talk or solve second-degree equations well ahead of their time. We, modern people, are used to it. To be ambitious, to move fast and to accept that sometimes, in this whole process, someone would suffer. Move fast and break things is the motto which best reflects the expectations of our time, although everyone rejects it emphatically.

In recent years, I have conducted an informal survey of people I’ve met with. Most of them were either trying to open their first business or were already in a major business line. Because this is what usually happens, the meeting took place when they were feeling they needed extra fuel, mentally, to develop their businesses. The most important thing I noticed about these people was their lack of patience. No one imagined the business he or she was planning or working for at the time could bring satisfaction in 5 or 10 years. No. They were expecting instant success.

It felt weird when I realized this. It felt weird when I realized that the most important thing I could do for these people was to teach them to be patient. To plan everything out as thoroughly as possible, to take time for analysis and always to offer the market the products and services the market needs. Many studies say that this is the most important reason companies fail: lack of customers for their offer. Lack of a realistic plan developed by the entrepreneur.

Then I realized business is not the only slice of life where we do that. No. We raise our children trying to take them to dozens of activities at once, in a sort of fast-forward childhood, worshiping the idea that they will become overnight the people we expect them to become. We are quick to exit our marriages at the first signs of crisis, convinced that somewhere, sometime, we will find our perfect match. We would rather binge-watch entire TV series, one season after the other because we have no patience to wait, week after week, for a new episode. We want our cars to accelerate as quickly as possible and we expect the other drivers to step away at once.

This kind of life leaves a heavy mark on our minds and bodies. We always blame external factors (pollution, politicians, ultraviolet rays and others), although much of our unhappiness is due to the chaotic nature of our quest for happiness. Our feelings, our experiences need the speed of a fast-food restaurant. We are living in an age when modern man is no longer patient with time.

In business, this attitude is why most start-up companies fail during their first years. The reality is that they fail at the first signs of crisis or at the first obstacle, not even a major one, which appears further down the road. Because they, businesses, are like little kids. You have to give them the chance to learn what life is all about. And learn from that experience along with them. A business that grows by 10% – 20% in the first years of existence is viewed as an abominable creature which must be killed at once. Although, if one were to give it a little time to understand what is going on, it is possible that, in the future, 20 % could become 50% or higher.

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Conclusion

When building a business, remember the story of U.

Good ideas generally need time to prove their value. Of course, there is the exception of ideas that bear fruit immediately, but that is just an exception because they are as rare as winning the lottery. And, in keeping with this comparison, it may be cheaper to play the lottery than to invest in a business where you rely on serendipity to guide you.

When you start a business, don’t hurry. Allow your business to grow and develop. Give it time and patience.

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How To Avoid The Professional Burnout

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When one is passionate about their job, when one is a high-achiever, one tends to ignore the fact that they’re working exceptionally long hours, taking on exceedingly heavy workloads and putting enormous pressure on themselves to excel—all of which make them ripe for burnout.

According to psychologytoday.com, burnout is a state of chronic  stress that leads to: physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. In the state of full-fledged burnout, one is no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level. However, burnout doesn’t happen overnight, our bodies and minds do give us warnings, and if you know what to look for, you can recognize it before it’s too late. More about the stages of a burnout and its signs one can read here.

But what can we do to avoid reaching this state? According to Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter in their book “The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It”, when burnout occurs, three things happen: you become chronically exhausted, cynical and detached from your work and you feel increasingly ineffective on the job.

An idea would be to try and be more optimistic and make sure you don’t fall on a pessimistic slide, or, if you have the necessary means, just try a vacation. Realistically speaking though, things are not as easy as they seem, hence the problem creeping out on you and making it quite a big issue.

Pay attention to the voice in your head. When it starts describing negative events as permanent, pervasive or personal, correct yourself. By remembering the 3 P’s (permanence, pervasiveness and personal) and flipping the script, Martin Seligman, author of “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” says you can make yourself more optimistic over time.

Increase your social activity. Spend time with friends, they will bring a balance into your life. As shown by bakadesuyo.com, when the American Medical Association surveyed top doctors to find out how they avoided burnout, one of the key things mentioned was “sharing issues with family and friends.”

Increase your self-efficiency. Paula Davis-Laack, JD, MAPP, an internationally-published writer who travels the globe as a stress and resilience expert, wrote for Psychology Today that self-efficacy is having the belief in your own ability to accomplish (and exercise control over) personally meaningful  goals and tasks. People who have a stronger level of perceived self-efficacy experience less  stress in challenging situations, and situations in turn become less stressful when people believe they can cope (Albert Bandura, 1989).

Have creative outlets. Burnout interferes with your ability to perform well, increases rigid thinking, and decreases your ability to think accurately, flexibly, and creatively. Even if you aren’t able to flex your creative muscles at work, having some type of creative outlet will keep you engaged and motivated.

Take care of yourself. Make sure you always put yourself first and don’t forget what is important to you and your life. Moreover, pay attention to your health and the outside-work life. Our bodies aren’t machines and one has to remember that things will still be here to be done after taking a much-needed break.

Start saying “no” from time to time. Don’t be afraid to say no. Every “yes” you say adds another thing on your plate and takes more energy away from you.

Get support where you can find it. The number of people who say they have no one with whom they can discuss important matters has nearly tripled in the past two and a half decades. The more depressed or into-work people get, the more they tend not to speak with other people or spend time with others, considering they are always under-time pressure or with a deadline hanging over their head. It’s a state one must make sure he / she doesn’t get stuck into.

According to http://99u.com, to help relieve pressure, schedule daily blocks of downtime to refuel your brain and well-being. It can be anything from meditation to a nap, a walk, or simply turning off the wifi for a while.

Concentrate on positive emotions. Studies show that increasing your diet of positive emotion builds your resiliencecreativity  and ability to be solution-focused, things that are in short supply if you feel like you’re burning out. I made it a point to start noticing when people did things well (and told them so), and I tried to stop being so hard on myself. Aim for a ratio of positive emotions to negative emotions of at least 3:1, which is the tipping point to start experiencing increased resilience and happiness (Fredrickson, 2009).

Limit your contact with negative people. Hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook. If you have to work with a negative person, try to limit the amount of time you have to spend together.

Make friends at work. Having strong ties in the workplace can help reduce monotony and counter the effects of burnout. Having friends to chat and joke with during the day can help relieve stress from an unfulfilling or demanding job, improve your job performance, or simply get you through a rough day.

Take time off. If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence—anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue other burnout recovery steps. Entrepreneurs or freelancers can be especially prone to burnout. Joel Runyon plays “workstation popcorn,” in which he groups tasks by location and then switches, in order to keep work manageable, provide himself frequent breaks, and spend his time efficiently.

Set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.

Nourish your creative side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work.

Set aside relaxation time. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response.

Get plenty of sleep. Feeling tired can exacerbate burnout by causing you to think irrationally.

Avoid nicotine. Smoking when you’re feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant, leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.

20 Things you might not know about Karim Rashid

Karim Rashid is one of the most prolific designers of his generation. Over 3000 designs in production, over 300 awards and working in over 40 countries attest to Karim’s legend of design.

Here are some things you might not know about him:

1.He received a bachelor of Industrial Design in Ottawa, Canada and Postgraduate studies in Italy in 1984. He worked at Rodolfo Bonetto’s studio in Milan for one year then for 7 years at KAN Design in Toronto.

2. His award winning designs include luxury goods for Christofle, Veuve Clicquot, and Alessi, democratic products for Umbra, Bobble, and 3M, furniture for Bonaldo and Vondom, lighting for Artemide and Fontana Arte, high tech products for Asus and Samsung, surface design for Marburg and Abet Laminati, brand identity for Citibank and Sony Ericsson and packaging for Method, Paris Baguette, Kenzo and Hugo Boss.

3. His work is featured in 20 permanent collections and he exhibits art in galleries worldwide. Karim is a perennial winner of the Red Dot award, Chicago Athenaeum Good Design award, I. D. Magazine Annual Design Review, IDSA Industrial Design Excellence award.

4. Karim is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and conferences globally disseminating the importance of design in everyday life. He holds Honorary Doctorates from the OCAD, Toronto and Corcoran College of Art & Design, Washington. Karim has been featured in magazines and books including Time, Vogue, Esquire, GQ, Wallpaper, and countless more.

5. Karim’s latest monograph, XX (Design Media Publishing, 2015), features 400 pages of work selected from the last 20 years. Other books include From The Beginning, an oral history of Karim’s life and inspiration (Forma, 2014); Sketch, featuring 300 hand drawings (Frame Publishing, 2011); KarimSpace, featuring 36 of Karim’s interior designs (Rizzoli, 2009); Design Your Self, Karim’s guide to living (Harper Collins, 2006); Digipop, a digital exploration of computer graphics (Taschen, 2005); Compact Design Portfolio (Chronicle Books 2004); as well as two monographs, titled Evolution (Universe, 2004) and I Want to Change the World (Rizzoli, 2001).

6. In 1992, Rashid started designing for US tableware company  Nambé, producing a range of products – clocks, vases and candlesticks – that would help establish his signature look. Alloy and glass are perfect materials to convey Rashid’s organic “blobular” forms, and his work for American lighting brand George Kovacs and German glassware manufacturer Leonardo in the late 1990s again produced modern yet beautiful forms.

7. Rashid’s designs often incorporate a folded-ribbon look (using materials such as fabric, laminate, acrylic and steel) and his computer-generated asterisk, cross and figure-eight motifs, which can be seen on his stools, rugs, kitchen utensils and even Rashid’s own body tattoos.

8. His 1996 ‘Garbino’ rubbish bin for Canadian plastics company Umbra is Rashid’s most well-known design (along with its larger equivalent, the ‘Garbo’). This simple, softly rounded bucket in recycled polypropylene is still one of Umbra’s biggest sellers and is also placed in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

9. Once labelled the Poet of Plastic, New York-based interior designer Karim Rashid is known for his curvaceous designs and outspoken persona.

10. The same concept was applied to the affordable and award-winning ‘Oh’ chair, from 1999, which fulfils Rashid’s belief in ‘democratic design’. His skill with polypropylene has also been evident in the highly acclaimed packaging he has designed for global brands like Issey Miyake and Kenzo. More recently, Rashid has also undertaken a number of architecture projects, including the Semiramis Hotel in Athens and the newly opened Switch restaurant in Dubai.

11. In his spare time, Karim’s pluralism flirts with art, fashion, and music and is determined to creatively touch every aspect of our physical and virtual landscape.

12. Him and his team specialize in pattern, print, branding and creative direction. They produce designs that help create or revitalize brands that get noticed through a variety of print and other media. Depending on the nature of the project, graphics is intertwined in product and interior design. They have the ability design a project under one roof which allows for a more seamless process and holistic design.

13. Karim believes that we live in a very special time for humanity, where technology, through the digital revolution, has afforded us new tools to design better space in ways never before conceived.

14. He has an international staff that speaks 12 languages. Presently he is working in 23 countries.

15. To Karim, functionality and minimalism are essential, but, at the same time, he wants to move people and create furniture that make people feel at ease. He calls this approach to design ‘sensual minimalism’.

16. The notion of design being a “high art” has always felt ridiculous to him. “I’ve spent my career trying not to fall into that trap. Early on, companies interested in me were small. They charged more so that they could afford the tooling and the crafting by hand. That’s just what it took to make it. I started to think, Why aren’t bigger companies more interested in design? The designer humanizes our physical and virtual world. Fortunately, things have changed a lot since then. Companies now recognize that design is what differentiates. It’s critical, and demanded,” Karim said for interiordesign.net.

17. He loves doing packaging design, technology, synthetic processes and materials.

18. He used to be obsessed with drawing eyeglasses, shoes, radios and luggage throughout his childhood. 

19.  He loved Andy Warhol, Rodchenko, Picasso, Calder, Corbusier, Dec Chirac, YSL, Halston, and so many other artists that were pluralists.

20. Karim was also very inspired by his father who was a creative renaissance man, and he saw him create every day. He would design furniture, make dresses for my mother, paint canvases, design sets for television and film, and constantly take us to museums.

How to find inspiration

When being on your own passion is what drives you the most and keeps you going even when dealing with harder choices or long hours. Knowing that you are working towards a goal and making a dream come true is essential. But what does one do when is faced with a moment of lack of inspiration, where does one find it, especially when faced with a deadline? Even the more creative and inspiration people have found out that is not that easy to answer the question and even they have been faced with this problem.

Here are some of the ideas we have for you and that we know work.

Change the place that you are working from

Being “stuck” at a desk or the same environment may prove out to be a good reason for loosing inspiration or seeing things from the same angel. Going out, even for only an hour, taking out the laptop and working from the park or a nearby coffee shop with a great view may change your opinion about how you see things and help you discover a fresh view. The outdoors can do magic for new ideas.

Do sports

Breaking the work pattern with an hour of swimming or running can clear up your mind of problems and stress. The endorphins being released can help you revitalize your mind and body and also focus better in the future.

Leave your phone behind

By totally disconnecting from your daily work, you get to be again in touch with yourself and your passions and remind you what truly brought you into this path. Meeting new people, talking with friends about other subjects will open yourself to new perspectives and ideas, which will ultimately translate into inspiration.

Listen to and / or play music

Music is an eternal source of imagination and inspiration and helps you reach into your emotion and feelings. But at the same time it can help you clear up your mind and put ideas in order.

Find a quiet place

Peace can also help if you have a very stressful period of time, with many projects. Time to listen to the ideas in your “head” may be always a good thing.

source: glassdoor.co.uk

Spend time online

Reading and looking through different news and pieces of information helps your brain remain active and ready to spark an idea that can be unique and original. Knowledge is also key to inspiration, as it creates a fertile soil for innovative ideas to emerge.

Brainstorm

Surrounded yourself by people who think differently than you and that live different lifestyles and challenge them to a brainstorming. This process will definitely offer you new perspectives and ideas that you would have never come up with on your own.

Broaden Your Horizons

Traveling is a great way to see how the rest of the world lives. You can get inspiration from seeing new ways of doing things or discovering needs you didn’t know existed.

Study History

History is full of great ideas. What’s more, it often contains the processes and the influences behind those great ideas. Tracing the creativity of great minds in the past can help you find new solutions in the present.

Simplify:

Sometimes a lack of inspiration can come from working on too many projects. Just try and focus on solving one problem at a time.

Keep Pushing:

Anyone can have one good idea. Unfortunately, you need a lot of good ideas to make a business work. The best entrepreneurs relentlessly follow up on their first idea and keep picking away at new problems for as long as it takes.

 

 

Best Apps for Productivity in 2017

Every day we are bombarded by tons of emails, information and social media that is really hard to keep track of what is truly essential or not. Moreover, they are eating up a lot of precious work time, preventing one from being as productive as it could be and leaving the office at the right hour. Therefore, taking all this context in consideration, all the major app and technology providers are constantly looking for ways of improving the productivity and helping you have a proper balance work-life. We selected some of the most interesting and useful apps and extensions out there on the market, that are ready to help you achieve the productivity goal.

This browser extension measures your time. Being successful means being brutally honest with how you spend your time. You can set a timer for each activity you do and label what you are doing. At the end of the day, you can check how long you spend on each activity and adjust from there. It also syncs in with other productivity apps like Asana. Harvest’s powerful reporting gives you real-time access to keep your projects on time and on budget. Get the insight you need to estimate future projects, and ensure your business’s profitability.

Workflow lets you customize your phone so that you can skip time-wasting tasks. By telling your phone what to do when it notices a certain action, you can instruct your phone to call a taxi before your next calendar appointment, upload your latest photo to Instagram, and any other string of actions you can think of.  You can build your own workflows with a simple drag-and-drop interface. Mix & match hundreds of actions to create quick shortcuts, manage your media, share content, and much more.

Under the headline, “Remember everything”, Evernote is an online collection of everything you want to remember. It’s like a digital notebook that stores photos, web pages, notes, PDF files, audio clips, and to-do lists. Once you add things to your notebook they’re completely searchable and can be accessed on your desktop, the Web, or your mobile device.

It allows you write and store documents, sketches, memos, pictures, and more online through the cloud. You can access it on your phone or on a computer. It proves to be very useful, especially when you have long materials or analysis to write, as you can start on your phone and continue the work at your laptop or desktop and vice-versa.

Moreover, Evernote makes sure the notes you’ve saved are easy to find. You can even search for handwritten words buried deep within your notes.

Slack is a great way for keeping in touch with your team at work without sifting through dozens of emails. You can tag users and create multiple channels for smaller team projects. The desktop client sends nonintrusive desktop notifications to the corner of your screen, allowing you to stay on top of what’s happening while keeping your eyes on your work.

When you are loaded with emails and you need order, Slack solves this by being something in between email and instant message. Messages and files sent to a group of people or a single person are neatly organized and clear as day.

On top of that, there are customizations you can add to make it your own. You can have it alert your phone with the app or pull up a GIF if you’re feeling funny.

If you want clear and easy, Clear is one of the simplest ways to keep track of what you need to do. You can easily drag and reorder your to-dos, and adding a new item is as easy as pulling down your list and typing it in. When you’re done with a task, just swipe right.

Quip is a mobile word-processing app created by Facebook’s former chief technology officer, Bret Taylor. Quip infuses a messaging element into the app to make collaboration a breeze. You can use the app to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can also use the app to collaborate on blog posts, manage projects, or even share a grocery list. Photo source: https://www.g2crowd.com/products/quip/details

According to thenextweb.com, if you find yourself bombarded with cute videos all day, Pocket might help you save those for later. If you frequently come across things you’d like to read “at some time” then Pocket can, again, help you out. With the requisite bookmarks, apps and extensions, it’s easy for you to save stuff to check out whenever you like.

The service lets you bookmark anything on the Web; articles are stored in your personal library, where they can be easily located and read when it’s most convenient. It doesn’t matter if you have a connection either, as Pocket can download (almost) everything to your device automatically.

Google Keep is a bit like Google’s version of Evernote, and it’s now available on both iOS and Android. You can use the app to take notes, make to-do lists, set reminders, and record audio. And one of its main qualities is the ability to organize your notes with colored labels.

Moreover, it’s stored online, so if you lose your phone or computer, your information is safe. It’s also accessible anywhere with Internet access. It’s intentionally made to be a very simple platform with few options. Therefore, you cannot format your text in any way.

Wunderlist is an easy-to-use to-do list app. It lets you set due dates and reminders and share lists or have conversations about them. Wunderlist can help you organize your grocery list, remember movies you want to see, or collaborate to help plan a vacation.

Besides keeping you organized, Fantastical 2’s best feature lets you enter simple phrases, which it will then translate into a calendar appointment automatically. Even better, the DayTicker and the event list are connected. Swipe the list and the DayTicker will update automatically. Fantastical lets you see your events and reminders like never before.

Letterspace is a note-taking app that uses hashtags to organize your thoughts. It also has a handy swipe bar that lets you move your on-screen cursor without moving your hands from the keyboard, which makes editing your notes much easier. Letterspace doesn’t distract you. It provides a noise free space to jot things down. To create a To Do List start a new line with a dash and a pair of squared brackets. On iPhone & iPad, Letterspace smart symbol suggestion also presents these characters when you start a new line. To mark it as completed just tap on it like a checkbox. Use #hashtag and @mentions anywhere in your notes. Letterspace automatically indexes and groups them together. In case you forgot to tag, we also have Full-Text search that support Asian languages right from the start.

The Internet is filled with interesting, crazy and new information (and sometimes so much we cannot handle it all). Driven by curiosity and personal development, you can spend a lot of time at work reading trivial articles. If you want to fix this, Instapaper is worth looking at. With one click, you can save it to be read later. It also suggests topics and articles through what you have saved already. Instapaper syncs the articles and videos you save so that they’re waiting for you on all your devices –  iPhoneiPadAndroid, or Kindle. You can read anything you save, anywhere and anytime you want, even offline.

  • Time Tracker

This extension does what it says as well: it tracks your time. What’s great about this one is that it logs every different website you go to. You can check it out in detail to see where you spend your time. You will be surprised sometimes how much a certain website sucks your time and adjust.

One of the most well-known productivity techniques is the Pomodoro Technique. Basically, you focus on just one task for 25 minutes and then take a forced 5-minute break. This extension is just like the Forest App but there is no animated tree involved (just a timer). Photo source: https://zapier.com/blog/best-pomodoro-apps/

Have you ever wondered if you are being less productive than you could be because you don’t know much about the science of sleep or sleep cycles? If not, it’s true. This site solves this problem for you by letting you know when you should sleep and wake up based on your personalized sleep cycles. If you don’t like this one, there are plenty of other tools and apps that do similar tasks. Sleep is a crucial, but often overlooked part of everyone’s life. Having the right amount can literally double your productivity.

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