On February 9, 2018 over 60 people – friends, family, coworkers – came to celebrate the launch of Culture Infusion at the Reston Community Center Lake Anne. The event was half book launch, half charity event, and everyone gathered to not only celebrate Culture Infusion, but give back to the community as well. We teamed up at different stations to pack over 180 bagged lunches and bedtime snacks for children at the shelter through Cornerstones while we enjoyed light appetizers, wraps, and salads. What made this event really special was that kids began leading the packing of the lunches. The celebration was the perfect way to tie together giving back to the community and launching Culture Infusion in the spirit of the 9 Principles, particularly Principle 9: Encourage Team Connection. At the end of the event I received so much positive feedback saying it was the perfect way to celebrate and give back. The next day, the celebration lived on while my kids and I made sandwiches to donate along with the lunches, and we had such a fun time dancing to our favorite music. This is what Culture Infusion is all about: coming together to share joy and positivity.
In today’s society, much of what we do is online and electronic: paying bills, depositing checks, checking in with friends and family – and giving back is no exception. There are many ways to give back online, and here are just a few options available if you’re interested in ways to give back online.
Social media can help foster spreading positive vibes, especially when you’re on the right platforms. Once you sign up, you can pick a non-profit that aligns with your goals and beliefs and choose an organization to sponsor you. You can then add widgets to add it to your existing social media accounts, and connect with new friends with similar passions and interests on Social Vibe.
2. Free Rice
This website is a way to practice your knowledge of different subjects and learn something new while giving back. It hosts quiz-like questions in a variety of different areas and skill levels, such as humanities, math, English, foreign languages, sciences, chemistry, geography, and even offers questions for SAT preparation. For every correct answer you provide, the website will donate 10 grains of rice through the World Hunger Programme. This is a great way to give back while brushing up on your skills, and is perfect for kids if they are searching for a new computer game. You can use this website as a tool for teaching them about how they can give back.
3. Donate Credit Card Rewards
If you have any unused rewards from your credit cards, you can donate them to multiple charities. For example, your frequent flier miles can help fund the Make-a-Wish Foundation and, in the process of donating, keep your miles from going to waste. If you have a charity close to your heart, see how your rewards can help.
Sparked is a board game designed to bring women together and foster uplifting conversation. The next time you have a game night, consider playing a game like sparked to encourage meaningful fellowship. As a bonus, 10% of each purchase from their website goes to a charity partner that aligns with their mission. This partner changes every 4 months, and is currently Girl Talk, a non-profit peer-to-peer mentoring program. (Currently on back order it is so popular!)
The principle of Give Work is based off of Leila Janah’s book, Give Work: Reversing Poverty One Job at a Time. The idea is this: every time you decide to make a purchase, consider buying from companies and organizations that hires those who are marginalized, including veterans, former prison inmates, low-income workers, or people who have been rescued from sex-trafficking.
6. Give Back Box
If you have any clothing items you no longer need, whether you or your kids have grown out of them or no longer like them, you can give them a new home through this organization. You simply pack up your clothing and shoes in any box and print out a prepaid shipping label from givebackbox.com. Bring it to the post office, and voila! Your items will be donated to a charity. When you sign up for a shipping label, you will receive a tax receipt via email.
7. The Hunger Site
This works in one of two ways: you can buy from the website’s store and a percentage of your purchase will support organizations with a goal of fighting hunger, or you could click the banner on their homepage once a day to donate one cup of food to those in need. This button is backed by the website sponsors, and 100% of their sponsor advertising fees go to charity. Organizations they partner with include Food Recovery Network, Mercy Corps, and Partners in Health, among others.
8. Amazon Smile
This one is incredibly simple: you can link your amazon account to a charity of your choice (even if it’s local!) and they will receive .5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The same amazon you use with an added bonus of helping fund charity!
9. Donate your Birthday on Facebook
There’s a new feature on Facebook allowing you to “Donate your Birthday” – you click on the fundraising tab, select a charity of your choice, set your fundraising goal, and share your birthday message encouraging others to donate. Instead of receiving money and gifts on your birthday, you can ask others to donate on your behalf.
My birthday was this week, so giving back was focused on myself. And I wanted to share with you as well a special 43% off on any product or service. Another birthday surprise was being quoted in The New York Post.
Kerry Alison Wekelo, managing director of human resources and operations for Actualize Consulting and author of “Culture Infusion” (Zendoway), recommends rolling with the punches during capricious commutes.
“Simply laugh out loud, or strike up a conversation with a stranger and say something like, ‘You could not make this up if you tried.’ ” In addition, breathe deeply to relieve anxiety and stress (five mindful breaths with slow inhales and exhales).
Regarding incredulous treks home, refrain from dishing to your boss the next day, since it’s irrelevant to your workday. However, when running late in the morning, that’s another story.
Says Wekelo: “Always tell the truth even if it sounds like ‘My dog ate my homework.’ You can send a text or an e-mail to let them know the exact reason [as soon as you are above ground]. Many times, your excuse will be confirmed on social media.”
January is often thought of as a clean slate; it’s when most of us think of ways we can improve or update the most recent version of ourselves, and that can often stem from a place of negativity. How many times have you heard someone say, “I am fat” followed by a new year’s resolution of losing weight? I would suggest, instead of insulting ourselves as a means to meet our goals, why not start from a place of love? Yes, even to yourself.
This year, let’s make our goals happiness, love, and light. Health and wellness. Let’s align our new year resolutions with a theme of giving back: both to yourself and others. Giving back to yourself starts with using positive self-talk, trying your best instead of striving for perfection, and loving yourself as you are right now. It takes effort, but it’s worth it – YOU are worth it. And giving back to others? That doesn’t have to be difficult or cost you anything. Each week I’ll go over a few ways to give back, including hands-on giving, giving back at work, no cost giving, and giving back to yourself.
We created a good experiences and memory jar at the beginning of 2017 and just read all our memories. What an awesome tradition we will continue into 2018 and years to come!
Good leaders are effective communicators. And effective communicating begins with active listening. Practicing the following five guidelines will help you become an active listener: (1) being empathetic, (2) giving your full attention, (3) refraining from judgment, (4) responding positively, and (5) being aware of your own inner response.
1. Be Empathetic
Active listening begins with empathy. A person who is empathetic can see things from another person’s point of view; they are not limited to their own viewpoint. Empathetic listening helps improve understanding, respect, and trust. Being empathetic can require a great deal of patience and practice and can be especially difficult when personal issues, struggles, and problems cloud your listening. With practice, however, you will be (correctly) perceived as being more caring and understanding, and because of this, you will be able to help deescalate tense discussions.
2. Give Your Full Attention
Focusing on what a speaker is communicating through both words and body language is a central part of active listening. It may seem like a simple skill, but uninterrupted focus on another person requires discipline. Technology and other distractions can easily shift our focus off the speaker, and he or she will usually sense our wanderings. This usually interrupts the flow of communication. Listeners must put away their devices and refrain from watching the clock or moving around. Active listening is about being fully present—giving the speaker undivided attention and being mindful to what is being said.
3. Refrain from Making Judgments
Another essential part of active listening is suspending judgment. Speakers who feel judged by a listener’s counterpoints and disagreements may be reluctant to finish their points and might feel that such an environment is not a safe place in which to share. When leaders judge, they expose their lack of maturity and their difficulty in welcoming differences of opinions. Great leaders listen to understand and welcome different opinions and ideas. They listen without assumptions about why a speaker is saying certain things or using a certain tone, and they treat other people’s opinions with compassion and respect.
4. Respond to Show Understanding
Active listeners show that they understand what a speaker is communicating. This can take a more subtle form such as smiling and making eye contact, or a more direct form such as asking questions and verifying understanding. Relevant questions show the speaker that the listener has been paying attention, and in turn, the speaker’s responses can help the listener learn more about the topic at hand and develop more interest in what is being said. Questions also help build rapport between the speaker and listener. Shared understanding is essential to a conversation and can grow when active listeners clarify points. Paraphrasing and summarizing what a speaker says can help halt miscommunication and conflict.
5. Be Aware of Your Own Inner Response
Active listening at its best involves listening not only to the person speaking but also to one’s own inner response. Your inner response shapes how you listen, so the greater your internal awareness, the more control you will have over your responses. For instance, a listener who is not aware that they are internally judging a speaker will not work to suspend their judgement. Or, a listener who is not aware that a speaker’s story has touched a chord in their own life may respond shortsightedly out of their own experiences rather than listening for the story’s unique impact on the speaker’s life.
The case for active listening is clear. Leaders who practice active listening will be able to enjoy the benefits of improved relationships, less stress and frustration, more compassion, and a broader understanding of others. Being empathetic, paying attention, avoiding judgment, being responsive, and being aware of their own inner responses will all help make leaders active and effective listeners.
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