Holiday newsletters have become annual traditions for many households. Here’s how to ensure your friends and family look forward to receiving your holiday newsletter every year.
Keep it appropriate. The contents of your letter should be suitable for a wide and varied audience. Leave out anything you wouldn’t want shared with everyone. Consider what subjects others are interested in hearing and keep it upbeat. People usually don’t want to hear all about your aches, pains and surgeries.
Be concise. Your newsletter should be no longer than one page. Pick and choose the most pertinent news from the last year.
Mix up the format. You aren’t confined to a strict letter-based layout. To keep your newsletter fresh and fun, add lots of photos and consider instituting a yearly feature such as your top ten favorite moments of the year.
Find a shtick. Funny, unique newsletters are a highlight amongst generic holiday cards. Add a few funny stories and a little self-deprecating humor to enrich your message.
Involve your family. Allow each member of your family to review the letter and add their stories. Consider giving each child a section to share the highlights of the past year in their own words.
Show humility. No one likes a braggart. Modestly list you and your family’s achievements. Show appreciation for those who helped or supported you throughout the year. If four friends helped you paint your living room, mention it and thank them by name.
Personalize each letter. Skip “Dear friends,” and address each letter by name. Sign your newsletters by hand and add a quick personalized note when it’s appropriate.
What do you think about holiday newsletters? Do you like to send or receive them? Share your comments with me!
If you’ve seen an inordinate amount of men donning a mustache this month, it’s because of Movember, a unique movement to support programs that combat prostate and testicular cancer. Throughout November, men from all around the world (who refer to themselves as “Mo Bros”) grow a mustache and raise awareness for men’s health.
A well-kept beard or mustache can be an asset to a well-dressed man. Here are some tips to avoid facial (and body) hair faux pas.
Tame your whiskers. Unless you wear flannel and carry an ax to work, you should probably avoid looking like the men of Duck Dynasty. On the other end of the spectrum, five o’clock shadow only works for men in fashion magazines. Neatly groom and trim your facial hair regularly. Shave and trim your beard right after you shower, when the hair is softest, for a close shave.
Get a pair of mustache scissors. These small, sharp, straight scissors are designed specifically for trimming facial hair. Use with a small comb to trim along the top of your lip and to keep your mustache short and tidy.
Visit your local barber. A hot-lather face shave by a master barber is the ultimate experience in masculine pampering. Barbers offer consistent haircuts and close shaves. My hubby loves his barber. It’s a no-nonsense investment.
Tame your body mane. “Manscaping” should extend beyond your face. If you have nose, eyebrow or ear hairs that push their natural boundaries, use clippers to keep them at bay. For work, if you wear open-collared shirts, be sure to trim, shave or wax any chest hair that might show.
If you plan to sport a mustache for Movember, follow the step-by-step instructions on how to trim a mustache by the Art of Manliness.
I love to travel but I oftentimes dislike the behavior I see on airplanes and in airports. Why can’t people just be a little more courteous to each other? Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you fly.
Dress well. You never know whom you will run into while standing in line at the airport. You represent your business and your wardrobe should be as put together as your business plan. While traveling, don’t sacrifice comfort for style. Look your best, even if you opt to dress casual.
Be aware of your surroundings. Wear headphones while listening to music or watching a movie. Don’t crowd your seatmates. Keep your belongings neatly stowed away in your immediate vicinity. Be careful not to kick or tug on the seat in front of you.
Demonstrate courteous behavior. Travel can be stressful. Be as well mannered as you can and if you see someone struggling with luggage, help him or her out. When speaking to others, keep your voice low (especially when speaking on your cell phone). Be gracious to flight attendants and airport personnel and they will be kind to you. It’s amazing how nice others will be to you if you give them a compliment or a smile.
Show respect to your fellow passengers. If you would like to eat a snack, it is best to simply ask your neighbor if it would be all right. When you must scoot around someone to get to the bathroom, excuse yourself and say thank you. If you’re in the window seat, be sure the sun’s reflection isn’t blinding your seatmate as you enjoy the view. The last thing you want on a long flight is a passive-aggressive feud with a fellow passenger.
Don’t miss opportunities to meet new clients. The person in the seat next to you could be your next investor or client. If it’s appropriate, take the time to introduce yourself. On the other hand, if you really must work and you are seated next to a Chatty Cathy, don’t be rude or blatantly ignore your neighbor. Instead thank them for their friendliness and explain that you’re on a deadline and must work during the remainder of the flight. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry a pair of headphones!
For better or worse, social media has forever altered the way we communicate with friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. There have been some growing pains like whether to friend your boss and the temptation to rant about the job you dislike. But the ability to reach out to old acquaintances and keep up with friends is an unprecedented benefit.
On the other hand, there can be too much of a good thing. If you want social media to help and not hinder your personal and professional relationships, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind.
Keep your status updates appropriate. If it’s a serious announcement, call your friends and family instead of posting it to Facebook or Twitter. As with e-mail, some information isn’t appropriate to share on social media. News of deaths, pregnancies or major life changes should be delivered over the phone or in-person before making a public announcement on your social networks.
Respect your friends’ privacy. Not everyone is comfortable sharing personal information on social media. Be careful to not announce news your friends are not comfortable disclosing. This includes tagging your friends in pictures. Ideally, you should ask your acquaintances and make sure it’s OK for you to tag them in status updates or photos.
Don’t expect everyone to accept your friend request. Some people like to keep their personal and professional lives separate. Don’t be surprised if a co-worker, client, or boss doesn’t accept your friend request on Facebook. Many people prefer LinkedIn to keep in touch with their professional contacts.
Remember Facebook is not an alternative for in-person meetings. Nothing will ever replace the connection of seeing your friends one-on-one. Social media is certainly a supplement to your relationships, but it shouldn’t be your only form of communication. Next time you’re tempted to send a message over Facebook, opt to call or send a handwritten note instead.
Do you think social media has affected your relationships positively or negatively? Please share in the comment section below.
Most of us think that we use good cell phone etiquette but this video might make you think twice. Do you have phone fixation? The best advice: PUT PEOPLE FIRST!
Next up in my travel series on business etiquette is France, a beautiful country with a fascinating history.
I first fell in love with Paris, France when I worked as a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines in 1992. My fondest memory is eating the delicious chocolate crepes on the lawn next to the beautiful Eiffel Tower!
A lot has changed since then, but the customs still remain the same. If you find yourself traveling to Paris on business, keep these tips in mind.
As you probably know, the French take fashion very seriously. Plan to dress conservatively and travel with well-tailored clothing. Bright colors are discouraged as well as flashy jewelry. It’s best to choose dark colors or classic patterns.
If you have a limited wardrobe, invest in a few classic pieces. You may be tempted to pick up the cheapest suit option, but, if cared for, high-quality clothing can last for years and be less expensive in the long run. The “cost-per-wearing” amortizing method will help you calculate the true long-term cost of a piece of clothing.
An example I give in Poised for Success is a $1,000 classic coat. If you wear it for 90 days, it will cost you approximately $11.11 per wearing. However, the cost drops to approximately $2.22 if you enjoy your coat for 450 days, which is a reasonable expectation.
Lunch is the preferred meal to conduct business and can last up to two hours. Don’t expect to eat dinner before 8:00pm or 9:00pm. The person who initiates the meal or drink is expected to pay.
You will most likely discuss business after dessert is served. When in doubt, look to your host for cues. Remember to keep your conversation professional. The French are known for their formal and reserved nature and may take their time opening up about their family.
France is famous for its wine and for good reason. Your glass will be topped off as you drink, so if you’ve had enough, leave some wine in your glass. Before you embark on your journey to France, take a few minutes to brush up on French wines. Your effort will be appreciated.
When eating, keep both hands on the table at all times.
One of the largest differences in business between France and the US is the handshake. The French handshake is brisk with a light grip. In social settings, with friends, expect to do les bises, or touching cheeks while giving an air kiss.
Eye contact among the French is frequent and intense — so much so that North Americans may be intimidated.
Don’t use first names unless you’re given permission to do so. Find out the titles of older French people you meet. Address others using the title of “Monsieur” or “Madame.”
If you know very little French, or none at all, apologize for your lack of knowledge. The vast majority of French executives speak English and will appreciate your polite acknowledgement. If you’d like to impress, have your business card printed in French on one side and English on the other. On the French side, include any academic credentials.
When you speak, don’t be surprised if you’re interrupted. The French enjoy a good analytical debate. Don’t be afraid to diplomatically voice your opinions and critical perspectives.
Finally, avoid scheduling a business meeting during the months of July and August. It is vacation season and it’s not unusual for people to travel for four or five weeks at a time.
Have you traveled to France on business? Share your experience with me in the comments below.
E-mail has become ubiquitous in business, and for good reason. It’s quick, efficient and easy. However, e-mail is not the best communication channel for every interaction. So when should you pick up the phone and avoid e-mail?
You need to land a sale. If you want to contact a new client, reach out over the phone. A study by the Direct Marketing Association found that a phone call to a prospective customer had a response rate of 8.21 percent while the response to e-mail was .03 percent. When current customers are contacted, phone response rates rise to nearly 13 percent, but e-mail remains low at .12 percent. A phone call could help you form a relationship and ultimately close the deal.
You need an answer right away. I’m sure you’ve had it happen — a colleague sends you an e-mail at 9:38 a.m. and calls at 9:42 a.m. to ask if you received his message. A busy schedule and a full inbox can prevent even the most organized person to respond immediately. Sometimes when I just need a “yes” or “no” response, I pick up the phone and call.
You’re on your fifth e-mail exchange. Anytime you need more information or clarification, call. Avoid the incessant back and forth game. E-mail can take up your precious time when a phone call can solve the problem in less than five minutes.
Your message needs a human touch. Empathy is impossible to express through e-mail, even with emoticons. If you need to convey sad, bad or important information, it’s best to choose the phone. This applies to disagreements as well. Don’t let a potential argument fester. If you need to cool down, take a few minutes and then call. You’re more likely to say something out of spite through an e-mail than you are over the phone.
You need to have a confidential conversation. Be aware that any message you send through company e-mail is never private. Your e-mail could be read, duplicated or forwarded to anyone. Sensitive information is best communicated in person, but if that’s not an option, pick up the phone and call.
What communication method do you prefer in business? The phone or e-mail?
My husband and I recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. But with every year, new challenges arise, so our relationship is a work in progress. No relationship is perfect — especially in the beginning.
Couples often struggle to find balance when they first move in with each other. It can be difficult to strike a balance between blissfully shared space and imminent claustrophobia. Though this blog post is targeted toward couples, many of their challenges extend to people who live with roommates or family. Here are four tips to help you find peace in your home.
Clear communication is key when you share a home with your spouse or partner. Think about what you need and want out of the situation and clearly communicate it. Don’t be embarrassed to share what you want. Perhaps you feel you need to be greeted after work each evening and spend ten minutes together to feel centered in the relationship. Let your partner know. If you hold back, it will only lead to internal frustration. Anger that simmers often boils over and leads to massive blowups.
2. Choose Your Battles
When you’re tempted to snap, ask yourself the following three questions: Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me right now? If the answer is yes to each one then it’s time to sit down and have a reasonable discussion. If it’s no then let it go. Both you and your partner will evolve as time goes on. Give your your partner the room to fully understand your expectations. Petty arguments usually decline as you discover your partner’s needs. Constant pressure and nitpicking will only lead to stress and may cause the two of you to pull away emotionally and close communication channels.
Prepare to compromise. We all have funny quirks. Have an honest look at your own habits as you begin to criticize those of your partner. Lapses in chores can lead to endless, ongoing fights. If you find yourself frustrated because the dishes haven’t been done again, or the trash has still not been taken out, step away and take a moment. Decide if the issue is important and bring it up. If the other person can never remember to take out the trash, it may be time to renegotiate household duties. Search for a compromise in every argument to mitigate disagreements. In my personal relationship, my husband agrees to take care of the outside chores and I take care of the inside chores.
4. Show Respect
In his book, Communication Miracles for Couples, Jonathan Robinson suggests all of us want three things from those we interact with: acknowledgement, appreciation and acceptance. If you apply that knowledge to all of your relationships on a daily basis, you’ll be amazed at the difference. When you show your loved ones respect instead of blame, an argument can quickly become an opportunity to solve the problem together.
How do you live blissfully with your partner or roommate? Share your story below.
Traveling can be expensive if you don’t plan ahead. Whether you want to save a few dollars on baggage fees or simply avoid the trouble of hauling a lot of luggage, you should consider packing only a carry-on bag for your next trip.
Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on bag and one personal belonging onto the plane. Check your airline for specific size requirements.
Be sure to keep your important documents close. Your boarding pass, passport and other documents should be easily accessible. If you’re extra organized, keep a copy of your passport in your carry-on bag and put your travel details on TripIt.com. You can keep track of your hotel, airfare and ground transportation information with this nifty travel app.
How to Pack
There are many techniques for packing a carry-on bag, but this method is recommended by those who travel most — flight attendants. I should know; I used to work for Northwest Airlines. If packed correctly, one carry-on bag will easily accommodate everything you need for a week-long trip.
First, organize your clothes. Lay out everything you need a few days in advance and review each item. Limit the amount of shoes you carry because they take up the most room.
Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Avoid packing for the worst-case scenario. My motto is: If you forget it, buy it. You can always purchase items you need in a pinch once you get to your destination and you’ll save yourself a backache.
Once you’ve narrowed down what you’d like to bring, lay your good items flat and fold them over once. Put dry cleaning bags in between your good items to keep them from getting wrinkled.
Roll all your other items and set them aside. Rolled clothes take up less room in your bag. Now you can begin packing your bag.
Put your shoes in your suitcase first. Place them so the soles face the sides of your bag. I like to put my shoes in cheap plastic bags first so they don’t get my clothes dirty. If you have any breakable items or jewelry, put them in your socks and place them in your shoes for extra protection. Your small pieces of jewelry will fit nicely in pill boxes.
Pack clothing with the heaviest materials, like jeans, next and layer your rolled clothing from heavy to light material. Wrap any belts around the edge of the bag. Place your toiletries in a plastic bag, just in case they accidentally leak, and place them on top of everything and zip it up. You’re ready to jet set!
If you’re traveling for business, always pack your good clothes, like your business suits, in dry cleaning bags. Place your business clothing in your suitcase first and allow the extra material to rest over the edge of the suitcase. Don’t fold the material. If you have several suits, simply lay them on top of each other and alternate which side of the suitcase you allow the extra material to hang over.
Pack your other clothing and toiletries. At the very end, take the extra material from your suits and bring it over on top of the other items. That will allow your business clothes to remain as wrinkle-free as possible.
What’s your favorite packing technique? Download TravelSmith’s free packing list by clicking here.
Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore introduces CNN anchors, Richard Quest and Felicia Taylor, to the rules of the road
Last month, I got a call from a producer at CNN who asked me if I would be interested in being interviewed for a business travel segment with anchors, Richard Quest and Felicia Taylor.
After giving it some thought (about two minutes), I said, “Yes!” A couple of days later, I flew to New York.
The shoot was a lot of fun and it was a pleasure working with the entire CNN team. This comical video demonstrates what to do and what not to do while traveling with your colleagues. Could there be an acting career in my future? Let me know what you think.