Posts tagged with "tips"

NB Pure illustration by Heather Skovlund (Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels) for 360 Magazine

Summer Tips for Melanoma Prevention

Protect yourself from melanoma without becoming deficient in vitamin D

By Leah Johnston, RDN

Don’t be so quick to overlook concerns around melanoma just because it’s often viewed as preventable. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers and the deadliest form of skin cancer. However, there is a conflict between how we prevent melanoma and how we ensure we are getting enough vitamin D. Sun exposure is the main source of this essential vitamin, but it’s also the primary culprit in the formation of melanoma. With May being Melanoma Awareness Month, it’s time to take notice and learn how we can protect our skin while still absorbing enough vitamin D.

The Stats

Cases of melanoma have been rising over the last few decades, especially among young adults, as it’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer among people aged 25 to 29. According to the Melanoma Research Alliance, one person dies from melanoma every hour of every day. The American Cancer Society reports that the risk for getting melanoma is approximately 2.6% (1 in 38) for whites, 0.1% (1 in 1,000) for Blacks, and 0.6% (1 in 167) for Hispanics. While fair skin poses a higher risk, darker complexions are also at risk.

How Melanoma forms

Melanocytes are cells that produce melanin and give skin its brown or tan color. It’s when melanocytes start to grow out of control on the skin’s top layer that cancer can develop and then spread to other parts of the body. Usually appearing as a brown or black spot or mole, melanoma is most commonly found on the chest and back for men and legs for women. It’s best not to ignore any irregular spots you may find on your skin because this cancer can also appear in other colors or patterns. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or tanning beds can damage DNA in cells and significantly increase the risk of melanoma. Early detection is important for effective treatment.

Tips for melanoma prevention:

  • Use a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen all year when outdoors. This will help protect against sun damage, which can occur even when the sun might be hiding behind a cloud.
  • Limit sun exposure during the middle of the day when the UV rays are at their peak. Instead, plan outdoor time for the morning or later afternoon to lessen the risk. 
  • Opt for a spray tan over laying out by the pool. If you love to have a tan, spray tans are a safer option and will help protect the longevity of your skin.
  • Schedule annual skin exams with a dermatologist. This is especially important if you have fair skin or immediate family members who have had melanoma, such as a parent or sibling.

The importance of Vitamin D

What doesn’t vitamin D do? Known as the sunshine vitamin, the human body absorbs an inactive form of vitamin D from the sun, food, or supplements and converts it into an active form of vitamin that it can use. In its active form, vitamin D plays many roles in the body.

Bone Health: Vitamin D and calcium work together to maintain bone health and density. Calcium cannot be absorbed into bones without the help of vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency can result in bone softening, known as osteomalacia, and muscle weakness. Osteoporosis can also be associated with vitamin D deficiency due to the lack of calcium absorption. Both osteoporosis and melanoma affect older adults making it essential to couple melanoma prevention strategies with vitamin D supplementation.

Immunity: Recently, researchers have been investigating a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. While this research is still in its infancy, scientists have been finding that low vitamin D status may result in the increased severity of symptoms and higher mortality rate. More research is needed in this area.

Inflammation: Research has shown an association between vitamin D status and inflammation-related autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes. Vitamin D also helps to regulate insulin levels for diabetes management.

Depression: People with depression are more likely to have low vitamin D levels. A 2011 study found that women who ate more foods rich in vitamin D had a lower risk of depression than women who got less vitamin D in their diets. Vitamin D has also demonstrated the ability to improve the symptoms of depression.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 15 mcg (600 IU) for most children and adults up to the age of 70, according to the National Institutes of Health. Adults who over 70 need 20 mcg (800 IU) daily.

Tips for getting enough Vitamin D:

  • Get outside but be strategic. As previously discussed, the best time to be in the sun is in the morning or later afternoon. Plan your days to limit your exposure to the midday sun.
  • Add at least one vitamin D rich food into your daily diet. These may include fortified dairy and non-dairy beverages such as milk or orange juice, fortified cereals, salmon (wild caught contains more than farmed), sardines, and egg yolks. Wild mushrooms or those that have been treated with UV light are a good plant source of the vitamin. 
  • Take a daily Vitamin D supplement. This may be particularly important if you live in regions of the world that are further from the equator, such as the Midwest. If you struggle to remember or don’t enjoy taking pills, NB Pure has a Vitamin D3 supplement in the form of a spray for the utmost convenience.
  • Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels at least once a year. Getting an annual physical is important for your long-term health. Ask your doctor to make sure they check your vitamin D levels at that visit.

The sun may be the main reason for the increasing rates of melanoma, but it’s also our number one source of vitamin D. It is possible to protect yourself from developing melanoma and ensure that you are obtaining ample amounts of vitamin D to prevent the consequences of a deficiency.

Heather Skovlund's artowkr for 360 Magazine by use of 360 Magazine

Tips for Remote-Work Balance

5 Best Practices When Working From Home for Better Work-Life Balance 

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that millions of people around the world are working from home. Telecommuting has become the norm, and it is here to stay. Some report higher productivity when working from home. There is a flip side, too, though, to working remotely. Remote workers are more likely to experience burnout, with more than 50% likely to work longer hours. Burnout happens when the work-life balance goes awry, which can lead to physical and mental health issues. How do you strike a healthy work-life balance when working remotely? 

When working remotely, switching off your laptop after your official workday is easier said than done. This research says just as much. Here are 5 actionable tips that will help you separate your work life from your personal life for better physical and mental health. 

1. Create a separate work area

Creating separate areas for work and play helps you draw the line between when you are working and when you are taking time off. When you are working from home, it can go either way – you might find it difficult to find the motivation to work. After all, there is nobody watching you and holding you accountable, as long as you are meeting your deadlines. Or, you could constantly bring your work to the dinner table or even to your bed. 

Segregating areas can help you move in and out of work mode and chill mode easily. Even if you live in a studio apartment by yourself, create a dedicated work corner. Put a desk with a comfy chair and your basic office stationery. Home of Cozy has exhaustive guides to home and office furniture, so it becomes easy for you to choose the best value buy. 

When you routinely sit down to work in that corner, your brain automatically knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to switch off. 

2. Set a routine

Before working remotely became the norm, most of you commuted to an office space. Whether it was via public transport or driving your own car, there was a gap between when you left home and when you sat down for work. It holds true even for people who live a block away from their company office. 

When you are working from home, it’s easy to rush from bed straight to your work corner. Doing so takes away from personal time. When it becomes an everyday occurrence, it hampers your work-life balance. Create an everyday routine to replicate that buffer you got when you were commuting to your office. 

Taking a walk outside when you first wake up, listening to your favorite podcast, or even keeping an hour away only for breakfast are all ways to gradually move into your workday.  

3. Set boundaries

When you are living with someone and working from home, it is important to set boundaries. Very often, you can get sucked into a household chore, which eats into your work time. You compensate for that loss by working a little later than usual. Before you know it, you are answering emails from your bed late at night and having marathon work calls at the dinner table. Your work-life balance goes for a toss. 

Set boundaries with both factions – your boss or clients and your family and friends. For instance, make a rule that you will not attend any work calls after 8 pm. Communicate it clearly to your manager and stick to it. Similarly, if you are living with your parents, tell them you are off-limits during certain hours of the day. For some people, a flexible schedule might be more conducive. People with kids might prefer to keep a loose routine and an overall commitment to work a set number of hours every day. Whatever rules you make for yourself, make sure you communicate those to the people around you. And learn to say no. 

4. Schedule times to check emails

Almost all of us have a smartphone today. We can check emails on the go. It is very easy to get sucked into responding to emails after your workday. Restrict refreshing your inbox to twice a day at specific times. The beginning of your workday and somewhere in the latter half of the day are good slots to reserve for checking and responding to emails. 

Disable email push notifications on your phone. Configure your Do Not Disturb settings such that you only get notifications for incoming calls and texts.  

5. Take frequent breaks

When you are working from an office, you probably get off your chair to go to the water cooler once every couple of hours. You gossip with your colleagues a little, go for a smoke, and take a break from screen time. At home, be mindful about punctuating your day with small breaks. Get up from your work desk every hour just to stretch. Take a 30-minute break and get a sandwich for lunch from your neighborhood Deli. 

Create a water-cooler corner at your home and use this space to interact with others around you. Maybe you can use this time to have a quick chat with your kid before you get back to work. Taking small breaks helps you retain focus, which translates to better productivity. The Pomodoro technique works on the same principle. 

Besides all of that, use technology for better time management. Google Calendar for blocking meeting times and Trello for tracking ongoing projects are two very effective time management tools.

 

Child illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Child Friendly Faith Project

Child Advocacy Group Highlights Abuse in Religious Institutions for Child Abuse Prevention Month

With National Child Abuse Prevention Month underway, the Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP), a national nonprofit that educates the public about religiously enabled child maltreatment, is raising awareness of crimes against children perpetrated in religious institutions.

The CFFP is also drawing attention to a dangerous court decision that could prevent abusive institutions from being held accountable and offering a valuable resource to parents and guardians to help them determine whether they should enroll or continue to enroll their children in certain religious institutions.

The little-known ecclesiastical abstention doctrine (EAD) guides courts in deciding First Amendment, religious matters. While historically the EAD has been raised in cases relating to claims of wrongful termination, in recent years religious schools facing lawsuits involving allegations of child harm have pushed courts to interpret the EAD very broadly to get cases dismissed. In one recent case, the Episcopal School of Dallas was permitted to ignore its own legal contracts with parents and the emotional harm suffered by a child never came to light.

Given this alarming legal precedent, parents and guardians of children who have been harmed by private institutions could lose their right to seek relief in court, while the institutions might never be held accountable.

Parents who have children enrolled in private, faith-based schools (or are considering enrolling them) should be aware of the potential harm posed by the EAD. With this in mind, CFFP’s campaign is offering parents valuable tips on how to determine whether they should enroll (or continue to enroll) their children in private, faith-based schools:

  • Determine whether the institution your child is enrolled in (or might be enrolled in) could claim to be faith-based. Some private schools have stretched the meaning of “faith-based” as a way to be shielded by the EAD in court. Even if an institution seems to operate in a way that appears secular, as long as a facility, school, program, or daycare operation can claim that it has some sort of faith-based or spiritual component, it could convince a court that it should be protected by the EAD and cannot be sued for child abuse or neglect.
  • Read the school’s contract carefully. Many schools specify in their contracts how legal issues must be resolved. For example, some require parents to agree to mediation. It’s important to know what legal recourses you’re agreeing to. However, be aware that if a case goes to court, the EAD does have the potential to make contracts of religious school’s moot.
  • Ask to see a school’s child-abuse prevention policies & procedures. Those that take abuse seriously and proactively develop and enforce comprehensive abuse-prevention policies are usually open to making these policies available and may even post them on their websites.
  • Research whether the school has a history of abuse allegations. Conduct an online search using the name of the institution and words such as “lawsuit,” “sued,” and “abuse” to determine if it has been accused of abuse or of covering up cases in the past. Be extremely wary if you find a pattern of abuse allegations, even if you do not find information about final court decisions.
  • Explore the educational programs of secular private or public schools. Children can receive a high-quality education and experience at many different types of schools. Consider the offerings of private secular schools or public schools, which would be unable to raise the EAD in court.

Recent abuse cases

The CFFP has previously exposed issues of religious institutional child abuse and offered support to survivors and affected families. An example is its efforts to make public the decades-long, egregious abuses perpetrated at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. Recently, other cases have also made the news:

  • Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) — Last February, the SBC’s executive committee voted to expel two member churches for employing pastors who were convicted sex offenders. One pastor, who had been with his church since 2014, had pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape of a minor in the 1990s. The other pastor led his church since 2018, despite having been on Florida’s sex offender registry since 1993. In 2019, the SBC published a report on preventing and responding to cases of sexual abuse and later launched its “Caring Well Challenge” that calls on all SBC churches to adopt the report’s recommendations. Unfortunately, the program is voluntary.
  • Circle of Hope Girls Ranch — The owners and operators of this faith-based boarding school in Missouri face more than 100 criminal charges of sexual, physical and mental abuse of girls in their care. Their arrests came after their estranged daughter, Amanda Householder, posted social media videos of former residents talking about the abuse they endured. In an interview with a Missouri TV station, Householder said that victims had been speaking out since 2007. “Why did it take ten years for anyone to do anything?” she asked.

A dangerous court decision

While it’s heartening that these cases are receiving public attention, it is possible that they, and many more like them, could be dismissed thanks to a legal precedent set by a Texas appellate court in 2018. The case involved the Episcopal School of Dallas which invoked a common-law doctrine known as the “ecclesiastical abstention doctrine” (EAD). The EAD provides guidance to courts when weighing in on First-Amendment, religious matters. However, in the Dallas case, in which a father alleged that his son had been wrongfully expelled and in violation of school policy, it was applied very broadly and used to shield the school from being sued.

In another case involving Trinity Episcopal School in Galveston, Texas, a district court, in recognizing the EAD, threw out a lawsuit filed by a mother whose son had endured repeated racist bullying by other students. The mother wanted the school to hold the perpetrators accountable after the school had only demanded a written apology and suspended them for one day. Despite emotional trauma suffered by the victim, the judge agreed with the school’s claim that a court should not “intrude upon a religious institution’s management of its internal affairs and governance.”

“The EAD allows courts to prioritize a religious institution’s desire for secrecy and avoidance of accountability over the wellbeing of children,” said CFFP founder Janet Heimlich. “In cases in which organizations invoke the EAD, the public may never learn what abusive or neglectful actions took place, and parents may unwittingly enroll their children in those schools.”

To schedule an interview with a representative of the CFFP, an affected parent or a survivor of religious institutional child abuse, contact Jeff Salzgeber  through email or (512) 743-2659 cell.

The Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP) is a national, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to end religious child maltreatment by raising awareness of this issue through educational programs that benefit the general public, survivors, professionals, and faith communities.

Katie Sandler illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Motivation with Katie Sandler

How to Get Off Autopilot to Move Your Career (and Life) Forward

Katie Sandler, career development and impact coach, offers tips on how people can get things moving again

Millions of people feel like they are living their life on autopilot. This is the word to describe when day in and day out, it’s the same thing, to the point that many feel they are sleepwalking through life. Polling by Strada Education Network finds that many people feel stuck in their career and don’t know what will help them improve their circumstances. In fact, 32% of those people say they don’t even know where to begin in order to make things better and become unstuck. The good news is there are things that can be done to get off of autopilot and move your career and life along in a better direction.

“Oftentimes, people simply suggest training or educational programs in order to move your career along, but there are plenty of other things you can do,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “We need to get off autopilot in life as a whole, not just in our careers. Once you do this, you will become more successful and ultimately enjoy life a lot more.”

Those who feel stuck, both in their careers and in life in general, can take action to change those feelings. It all comes down to knowing what to do and how to get started. Sandler has helped many people to move past such a place and says some of the things that people can do include:

  • Get help. First and foremost, people need to start recognizing that you cannot do it alone and you need to hire someone to be a coach, a sounding board, and a catalyst.
  • Set the intention. You must set the intention and energy around creating new shifts in order to move in a different direction or at a different pace. AKA you have to decide to get off of autopilot in the first place.
  • Discover yourself. Recognize that you need to become familiar with yourself and your patterns of being – again, something you cannot do alone – in order to be able to make adjustments. This takes time, and it takes working with someone to help you see your patterns, to draw connections, to build understanding, and then to support you in reprogramming for desired outcomes.
  • Answer to yourself.  You also have to stop meeting society’s ideals, your family’s ideals, etc. and be open-minded and willing to do you, to be your authentic self and to honor what that means so that your career and life is filled with purpose and impact.
  • Making a decision. Oftentimes, people feel stuck because they are not sure what to choose. They consider various options and can’t decide what to do, so they don’t make any decision at all. That will keep you stuck, so make a decision so you can move forward with something.
  • Try new things. One of the most common reasons that people get stuck in life is that they don’t try anything new. They do the same things over and over, which ends up being autopilot. Make a point to try something new every month, whether it be for fun or for your career. This will help get you energized and so you can engage in life in a different way.
  • Start small. If you don’t like being stuck but fear making big changes, start small. Making small changes in various areas can add up to big results. Commit to the first small change, and then go from there as you get more empowered along the way.

“Nobody enjoys feeling like their life or career is stuck in one place,” added Sandler. “If that’s where you are, then it’s time to do yourself a favor and make shake things up. Working on honoring yourself will bring joy and peace to your life. Think of it as a gift to yourself, which ripples and benefits those around you as well.”

Sandler has provided professional support to many people to help them achieve their personal and professional goals. She routinely works with people to help them identify areas to focus on, paths for personal achievement, how to reach their life goals, and more. She also works with companies, providing impact trainings and workshops and developing and promoting purposeful and inclusive organizational cultures.

In addition to one-on-one coaching and corporate services, Sandler also offers low-key luxury impact retreats. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practice. She previously spent time as a research assistant while at Johns Hopkins focusing on purpose in life. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit Katie Sandler’s website.

About Katie Sandler

Katie Sandler is the popular Impact Coach and provides health & wealth coaching and personal and professional development. She offers retreats around the world, as well as private coaching and corporate impact coaching opportunities. She focuses on helping people become more successful so they can live with purpose and make an impact in our world. To learn more about Katie or her services, visit the site: her website.

Boutique illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Boutique Customer Service Tips

Customer Service Tips Every Boutique Retailer Should Try

By: Joseph Heller, small businesses expert and CEO of Supplied!

Supplied makes it easier for small boutique owners around the world to access high-quality, affordable wholesale boutique items, whether to stock their physical store or IG shop.

Do you remember the last time you had a truly fantastic customer service experience?

Maybe a cashier complimented your earrings, or maybe the person at the drive-thru unexpectedly threw an extra taco in for free. Or maybe you were just really vibin’ with the enthusiasm you could hear at the other end of the customer support line. Whatever it was, chances are it made you more excited to return and support that company with your business in the future.

Now… think back to the last time you had an awful customer service experience.

Was someone being unnecessarily difficult while you were trying to return a sweater, you’d bought a week ago? Or did someone leave you on hold for hours and hours? Or maybe someone just would NOT honor your coupon, even though you received it in an email yesterday?

Whatever that bad experience was… I’d be willing to bet it made you a whole lot less likely to go back anytime soon.

As Vince Lombardi famously said, “It takes months to find a customer and seconds to lose one.” One poor customer service experience could cause you to lose all of a valuable customer’s future business.

Offering better customer service skills often doesn’t cost a dime, but it can make a world of a difference for your profits. Studies show that acquiring a new customer can cost five times as much as retaining an existing customer. Plus, the success rate of marketing to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while it’s only 5-20% when marketing to a new customer. 

If you haven’t been making great customer service a major priority in your boutique lately, now is the time to change that. 

Read on to learn 25 powerful (but easy!) customer service tips every retailer should try implementing in their business.

(If you’ve hired someone else as the main customer service rep for your boutique business, send this article along to them as a reminder!)

Top 25 Customer Service Tips

Focus on the customer in front of you

As a boutique owner, you’ve constantly got about a zillion and one thing that need your time and attention. But when it’s a customer you’re dealing with, zero in on them and their needs. Nobody likes feeling unimportant – make sure you give them your undivided attention while they’re talking to you, whether it’s over the phone, in person, or in your site’s live chat.

Be empathetic

Chances are, you’ve been in the exact same situation your customer’s in right now – whether they’re trying to figure out what size shoe to purchase or they’re trying to initiate a return for something that didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped. Do your best to see the situation from their perspective. You’ll be able to provide a better customer experience if you’re in touch with their needs and emotions.

Make an extra effort

Work tirelessly to solve your customer’s problems. If a customer wants a certain size that’s out of stock, double-check your inventory, let them know when they can expect that item to come back, offer them alternatives, or give them a discount code for their trouble. Your customers will appreciate you going the extra mile for them.

Improve systems

Customer service isn’t just about making your customer feel valued while you’re speaking to them – it’s also about providing a great all-around customer experience. Do a quick audit of your website and make sure it’s user-friendly. Is it easy to check out? Browse new arrivals? Search for specific items? Purchase using the payment method they prefer? If not, set aside some time to make some adjustments.

Identify their needs

There might be all sorts of things you could be doing to provide a better customer experience that you don’t even realize yet. Put together a short survey to send out to your customers about the checkout process and their past customer service experiences. It’ll show you what’s going well and what you could improve.

Use their name

Simple, but effective. Whenever a customer reaches out to you, take note of their name and use it. It’ll give your communications a more personal touch. (Don’t forget to introduce yourself by name, too!) Bonus points if you remember other personal details about them for next time.

Smile

Yes, even if you’re not talking to the customer in person! Make an effort to be friendly and positive, even if you’re just sitting at your desk at home – you can totally hear a smile through the phone, and it makes a difference.

Be generous

If you could spend $5 to secure a customer who’s loyal to you for life… would you do it? Sometimes, that’s all it takes. When a customer reaches out to you, your priority is to make them happy – offering free shipping or accepting a late return can do just the trick. And that’s not just common sense – research shows that accepting someone’s generosity makes you feel indebted to them, which can translate to return business.

Don’t say “I don’t know”

Sure, you’re not gonna immediately have the answers to every single one of your customers’ questions… but it’s kinda your job to know. So, when you tell a customer “I don’t know,” what they hear is “I don’t care.” Not exactly the message you’d like to get across when you’re on the phone with a customer! Practice saying “Let me check on that for you” instead.

Celebrate birthdays

Acknowledging your customer’s birthdays is a surefire way to make them feel valued and appreciated. Ask your customers for your birthday as they sign up for your mailing list, then send them an email with a promo code for a free gift or a discount right before their special day.

Be clear about your policies

Your customers aren’t mind-readers – if you don’t let them know, they have no idea about how long shipping should take, where you ship to, or under what circumstances you accept returns. Be sure your shipping and returns policies are clearly stated on your website to avoid confusion. It’ll answer some questions before they’re ever even asked!

Honor your promises

Your customers need to know that they can trust your boutique to deliver the value it promises. Stick to the shipping and return policies you have listed on your website (unless you choose to go above and beyond them, of course!) Honor coupons and discount codes for as long as you said you would. Post any giveaway winners publicly in your stories. Trust is key!

Acknowledge frequent customers…

Let your return customers know how much you appreciate them! Whether you throw a quick handwritten thank-you note into their next order or you offer a discount code that’s good for their next purchase, it’ll definitely make them want to keep coming back.

But make sure new customers feel the love, too!

It’s a big leap to order from a company you’ve never purchased anything from before – make sure new customers feel super welcome. Acknowledge new customers by offering free shipping on their first order, sending a promo code when they sign up for your mailing list, or even sending a quick thank-you email for taking a chance on your shop.

Be transparent

Running a business is tough, and sometimes extenuating circumstances make it even tougher. Be open with your customers about the hurdles you’re currently going through, especially if it will affect shipping times or restock dates.

Sincerely apologize

We all make mistakes – especially when we’re doing huge, crazy difficult things like running a business. If you’ve made a mistake on a customer’s order, own your error, sincerely apologize, and do whatever it takes to make things right. It’s much more professional than shrugging off responsibility or blaming someone else. (Bonus points if you reach out and own up to it before the customer even notices!)

Make it easy to get in touch

Have you ever sent an email to a company’s customer service team… and then never heard anything back? Yeah, that’s the worst. Don’t be that company. Let your customers know the best way to reach you, whether it’s through Instagram DMs, email, or over the phone. If you want to go the extra mile, include a live chat feature on your website that’s available 24/7. (Also, word of advice: if you have a contact form on your website, make sure to check it every so often!)

Offer self-help customer service

If your customers can find their own answers to their questions, it makes their lives easier AND your life easier. Include a comprehensive FAQ page on your website that answers common questions about shipping, sales, returns, and more. For more complicated questions, you might want to write up an entire blog post to give your customers more information. Just be sure your customers still know that they can reach out to you with any questions they can’t find the answers to.

Plan for the holidays

Here’s a hot tip: over the holidays, things get BUSY. Even if you usually don’t have very many people blowing up your inbox about shipping questions, there’s a very good chance you will during the holidays. Make sure you’re prepared with multiple customer service reps helping respond to questions (if need be) and detailed holiday shipping info displayed on your website and social media pages.

Respond quickly

Make it a goal to respond to all customer emails within 48 hours whenever possible. No matter how busy you are, customers want to feel like their concerns and questions are a top priority. As for Instagram DMs, Facebook messages, and comments, try and get in a habit of responding to those right when you see them. (Your customers will like that and so will the algorithm!)

Hire the right people

If you’ve only recently opened your boutique business, you might be the only person your customers ever interact with. But as you grow and add more people to your team, make sure they’re people who are kind, friendly, and pleasant to interact with. Nobody’s perfect, but a positive attitude can make all the difference.

Be polite

Pretend you’re at the dinner table with your strict aunt – say lots of pleases and thank yous. Not only is it common courtesy, but it’s also good business. It’ll also help you still sound friendly and polite even when you’re communicating via messenger or text.

Set clear expectations

Sorry, but you’re not superwoman. When your customers approach you asking when they can buy an item you aren’t planning on restocking, or when they ask if you can make sure the package, they just ordered gets to them by tomorrow, sometimes you just can’t give them the answer they were hoping for. Be realistic in your responses and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Setting clear expectations is also helpful in responding to emails – sending an automated email letting a customer know when they can expect a response is also helpful, even if they were initially hoping for a reply right away.

Be human

There isn’t a robot at the other end of all of those incoming customer emails – it’s bright, bubbly, sparkly you! Don’t be afraid to infuse your communications with your genuine personality. Strike up a conversation with a customer on the phone, ask about their day, say “top of the morning to ya” instead of “hello” when you feel like it. It’ll help forge a relationship with your customers!

Offer suggestions

Have you ever asked a waiter what you should order, only for them to respond, “I love everything on the menu equally!” Yeah, that’s not helpful – don’t be like that guy. When your customers ask for your opinion, politely give it. You’re the real expert on the products you carry – use your insider knowledge to guide your customers to the right decision for them.

Create Your Free Wholesale Account Today

Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller, small businesses expert and CEO of Supplied!
Money & Relationship illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Money Issues × Relationships

Are Money Issues Ruining Your Relationship?

Read on for 5 tips to resolve them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with families’ finances through lost jobs, squeezed budgets, increased debt, and missed payments.

Money and the decisions spouses make with it are one of the main sources of stress among couples, and sometimes money issues end relationships or cause divorce. But differences can be solved or managed if couples learn to listen to each other and work as a team to formulate a sensible plan, says financial planner Aaron Leak, the founder of ECL Private Wealth Management. 

“No matter how long you have been together, financial issues can wreak havoc on a committed relationship,” Leak says. “When couples don’t agree about spending and saving habits, it causes arguments and resentment.

“But understanding what you’re fighting about and why helps you and your partner come up with solutions. By being transparent and honest with each other about your finances, you can not only prevent arguments that strain your relationship, but you will strengthen it.”

Leak offers these tips for couples to address and resolve financial issues:

  • Understand your money styles. Think of some extreme examples of money styles in your circle. Like your friend, the foodie, who won’t touch a bottle of wine that costs less than $75. Or your sister who constantly surfs Amazon. Or your mom who washes aluminum foil, then folds and reuses it. Everyone has a money style, and it’s helpful to talk about it without any name-calling or labeling involved. Understanding your partner’s spending habits often involves a deep dive into money fears, scarcity memories and childhood traumas. Come up with a spending plan that works for both of you.
  • Decide how to divvy up the bills and save for future goals. You can both put all your earnings in a joint account and pay everything out of that. Or you can split bills down the middle and keep the rest of your own earnings for yourselves. Once you have decided how the bills get paid, you need to devise a plan for saving for your long-term goals. Remember that you need to work closely together as life changes arise – such as one of you losing a job or cutting back on hours to care for a parent. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that contingency plans are always advisable.
  • Create personal spending allowances that stay personal. Having some personal money that’s designated just for you each month can really help how you feel about your relationship. It can also help avoid relationship-ruining behavior like “financial infidelity,” when one spouse hides money or purchases from the other. The personal spending allowance gives each partner the chance to spend their money however they wish, no questions asked.
  • Face and eliminate undesirable debt. Couples should employ a strategy to pay off debt, such as paying off the higher-interest debt first or paying off the smallest loans first (the snowball method). Payments on credit cards, car loans, and student loans can devour monthly budgets, so the sooner they are paid off, the better.
  • Set a budget you can live with. One of the best ways to keep in sync with your partner financially is to have a budget as part of your overall plan. The budget includes your household bills, your personal spending allowance, your debt-paying strategy, and your monthly budget for long-term goals like retirement.

“Relationships take consistent work in order to be happy and successful, and money management is a big part of it,” Leak says. “The best way to be sure you and your spouse are staying on the same page financially is to talk honestly and without judgment.”

About Aaron Leak

Aaron Leak has 16 years of experience in the financial industry and is the founder of ECL Private Wealth Management. He holds Series 7, 6, 63 and 66 licenses as well as life, health, and property and casualty insurance licenses.

Book illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Education Tips For Children

7 Ways to Ensure Your Child Gets a Good Education

The Oxford Method, a tutoring community, offers tips to help your child be successful in school

Over the last year, during the pandemic, there have been many kids who have struggled academically. This is in part due to the millions who have had to do online learning and find the setup difficult. Whether children are learning online, in person, via classroom, or through a combination of the three, there are things that parents can do to help them be more successful. Knowing what to do can help make a world a difference and reduce the struggling.

“Many parents are aware of the way their kids are struggling with school over this school year,” explains David Florence, professor and founder of The Oxford Method, a community that offers tutoring services around the country. “Rather than let them fall behind, it’s a good idea to take action and do what you can to help them keep up and even pull ahead.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 93% of households with school-age children report that their kids have engaged in some sort of distance learning during the pandemic. They also report that the vast shift in the way kids are learning has also caused digital inequality because some kids don’t have access to computers and/or the Internet. Whether students are learning online or in class, there are things parents can do to help them get a good education.

Here 7 ways to help ensure your child gets a good education:

  1. Sleep. It’s crucial for a child to get enough sleep each night, which will help them to be more focused, as well as improve their behavior, quality of life, and mental and physical health. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children ages 6-12 should get 9-12 hours of sleep per night, and teens ages 13-18 should get 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Teach value. It usually starts at home whether or not a child values an education. Parents who want their kids to get a good education should instill a love of learning in their children and teach them to value the education they are getting.
  3. Get them help. If your child is struggling, you may be able to help them, but there also comes a time when kids need a tutor to step in. A good tutor can make a world of difference in ensuring that a child gets a good education. They can help ensure that students will not fall behind and that they will get the foundation they need to move on in a subject.
  4. Show them how. Oftentimes, kids don’t know how to effectively study for a test or to take notes when they are in class. Take the time to show them how to do it effectively, as well as how to stay organized with their schooling. When students are organized, they are more likely to succeed.
  5. Ask them questions. Be sure to ask your kids how it is going, if they got their homework done, if they need any help, or if there’s anything they need to be more successful. They like to know that you are interested in how they are doing, so it’s good to show an active interest.
  6. Get involved. It’s always a good idea if you can get involved with the school and have good communication with the teacher. That way you will be aware of what is going on and know how to help your child more. Teachers love it when parents take an active interest in their child’s education.
  7. Praise your kids. Help kids to know what they are doing is right or what they are doing is wrong. Praising and encouraging the kids builds their confidence and helps them to succeed as they grow.

“Just about every parent has the ability to help kids succeed with their academics, even if it’s ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed,” added Florence. “We help parents be successful, even those who don’t have the funds to pay for a tutor. Our mission is to help as many students to achieve as we can.”

The Oxford Method has over 100 tutors around the country, covering all subject areas. They offer online tutoring, as well as in-person and in-classroom options. Their tutoring services are available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Instructors have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, with many of them having a master’s degree, Ph.D., and at least four years of teaching experience. The Oxford Method works with their nonprofit, Social Actualization, Inc., by giving them 10% of all profits. The funds are used to provide free computers, high-speed internet, and instruction to underprivileged families in urban and rural America. Plus, 40% of their instructors are PhDs, 40% have a master’s degree, and 20% have only a bachelor’s degree.

The Oxford Method believes that education is the great equalizer and the best gift you can give the next generation. Subject areas include science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as business, social studies, psychology, English, history, public speaking, study methods, test-taking, and more. To get more information about The Oxford Method, visit the website.

DIY Guide for Garage Door Installation

A new garage door can modernize the exterior of your home and improve your home safety as well. Some retailers offer complete garage door installation services. However, sometimes, you will be required to repair the garage door in case of breakdown. Doing it yourself may save some extra cash. If you have in-depth skills, you can install your new garage door in a matter of days. 

To successfully install the garage door safely and effectively, ensure all the necessary tools are available. Once this is done, follow all guidance and installation tips provided by the manufacturers. 

You will need to have several mandatory tools and equipment as you prepare to install the garage door. Once you have all the necessary tools, it’s time to dive into the real task. Here are few steps to follow for a successful garage door installation.

Ease the Tension of Your Garage Door

The first step during garage door repair Sugar Land TX is to remove the springs. During this step, you need to exercise extreme caution to avoid unprecedented injuries. You don’t want that heavyweight to end up on your toes. Therefore, make it a habit to release the torsion spring’s tension before commencing your garage door repair.

To successfully remove the springs, you need to use the adjustable locking pliers to clamp the spring shaft and wedge the pliers against the door’s wall. When you do that, you will notice holes in the spring cone. The holes are used to loosen and tighten the spring. Use the string rod to loosen the screw that holds the winding cone.

Disconnect the Garage Door

At this point, you have released the tension of the garage door. What follows is to disconnect the door from the opener. It would be best if you also were vigilant when disconnecting your door. After all, your safety is paramount during any DIY activity. 

How do you disconnect your door safely? Pull that red-colored handle. It is an emergency release handle. You will notice you’re moving in a vertical position to allow you lower and raise your garage door with ease. Start at the top and remove the hinges. After that, loosen the boots to separate the track and the panels. 

Assemble the Sectional Door Panels

At step three, the real installation begins. You can now replace a few things here and there to reinforce the panels against blowing in the center, make holes, and use the screw to secure the bar to the panels. Attaché the hinges on each panel and attach axial support to the top and bottom panels. After that, you will now start to replace each new panel with the previous one and repeat the process to the end. 

Install the Hinges and the Tracks

At this point, you are halfway through with your garage door installation. Attach the top hinge to the panel and place the axle into the hinges. Next, install the track and ensure wheels lie perfectly in the track. Lastly, secure the door cable to the hook on the panel axle support, then attach the bottom bracket to the wall. 

After that, put together every single material that supports the spring. Attach them to the track, then use the door ceiling support, place the curved section of the track on the vertical piece pre-crafted. After doing that, you then attach the other side of the ceiling bracket. Line your horizontal and vertical tracks up, and then bold them together.

Finish Up Everything 

You are almost done. The next step would be to connect the spring anchors to the springs. Attach the spring locking cone, bolt the two springs tightly to the header bracket.

Slide the torsion rod into the holes located in the side header brackets, and fix the pulleys to each end of this rod to install it. 

Attach the cable from beneath to the pulley wheel to turn the wheel. Doing this will help you pull any taut over the pulley. Slide the wheel to the header bracket to tighten all parts. After that, you then fix a pair of locking pliers to the rod outside the bracket.

Lastly, follow your manufacturer’s manual on carrying out garage door repair Sugar Land TX to help determine how many turns are required to tighten the spring properly. Once the spring is tightened correctly, replace all bolts to lock the spring in place before removing the torsion rod’s pliers.

Beignet illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Air Fryer Hacks × Grilling Tips

Air fryer hacks and grilling tips
for tastier, healthier and greener meals

The Sustainable Chef Gerard Viverito has tips
and recipes to improve your spring and summer cooking

You may have heard that fat equals flavor. It’s why we love a beautifully marbled steak, butter-rich shortbread, or premium ice cream. Fat is also what makes fried foods such as potato chips and chicken nuggets so deliciously crispy and addictive. Today, many people are swapping their deep fryers for air fryers.

This trendy appliance uses swirling super-heated air, instead of hot oil, to cook. But air fried food can also be dry. The Sustainable Chef and culinary instructor Gerard Viverito says the results can be as impressive as oil-fried dishes – and full of crave-worthy crunch – if you follow his tips. Bonus: some of these hacks can also be used on your outdoor grill.

Brush on oil for crave-worthy crunch

“The right air frying techniques will help protect your health and produce more flavorful meals,” says Chef G. For restaurant-quality results, he suggests brushing oil onto your food both before you cook and again half-way through the cooking process. You can also apply it using a spray bottle. “Canned cooking spray will damage the non-stick coating of your air fryer; it may include questionable additives.”  

Use the right fats and cooking oils on your grill

Chef G. suggests you first get to know your cooking fats. “Using the wrong oil is why grilled foods sometimes taste so bad. The oil burns which make the food taste rancid,” he explains. “Some cooking oils are also not as healthful as others.” 

  • Choose vegetable oils carefully. Most canola, corn, soybean oils in the U.S. are made with genetically engineered crops. Many oils, such as corn, sunflower, soybean oil is pro-inflammatory.
  • Be aware of which oil to use for high-heat cooking. “Olive oil is ideal for drizzling over veggies but begins to degrade at 380 degrees. I like to use Malaysian palm oil for high-temperature cooking because its smoke point, the temperature at which it starts to burn and smoke, is in excess of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also nutrient-dense and sustainably produced.”  
  • Use butter for rich flavor. Chef G. is a fan of grass-fed butter because it has more flavor and a stronger nutritional profile. The downside of butter is that it burns easily at high temperatures. “My trick is to put a little red palm oil in the pan with the butter to protect the flavor. Palm oil and butter go together. Palm oil is a nutritious fat for people and even animals. When cows eat palmitic acid, a component in palm oil, they produce more milk with higher fat content.”  

Use sauces and marinades for big flavor

Chef G.’s chicken wing sauce uses bold ingredients such as gochujang Korean chili paste, ginger, and garlic. It also includes a sweetener that comes with a warning: “Sugar burns very quickly at high heat, so it’s important to add sugar-based sauces to your meat just in the last few minutes.” 

He suggests including an oil in your marinade. “Oils are an essential part of a marinade. I like to use garlic, black pepper, and spices. These seasonings are fat-soluble, so you need an oil to carry their flavor into the meat.”

Visit this website for more palm oil recipes. 

Malaysian Inspired Marinade

Recipes by Chef Gerard Viverito

Marinade for two pounds of meat

  • 3 Tbsp Malaysian Red Palm Oil
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 shallots, peeled
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt 
  • 2 Tbsp Palm Sugar

Instructions

Blend all the marinade ingredients in a food processor. Add a little water to thin if needed.

Use this marinade for chicken or shrimp. It can be kept for 6 hours in the fridge or is best overnight.

Air-Fryer Beignets

Mardi Gras may have just come and gone, but there is no reason to deny yourself the taste of New Orleans any time you want it! As much as I try to maintain a low-carb life, these little bits of heaven are always a welcome treat and remind me of being in the French Quarter.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water (90 degrees)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (for yeast proofing)
  • 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of salted butter, brought to room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter and Malaysian Palm Oil, equal parts
  • 1 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar

Combine the lukewarm water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and the yeast in a bowl and let proof for 5 minutes. This mixture should froth a little. If it doesn’t, your yeast is not active, and you should try again with a new yeast. Also mind the temperature. If it is too hot, you will kill the yeast.

Mix the flour, a pinch of salt, the room temperature butter and the sugar in a large bowl. 

Add the egg, evaporated milk and yeast mixture to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until it just comes together in a sticky ball. If your dough isn’t forming, add a little more flour, but in really small quantities to avoid having tough beignets. Move the dough to an oiled bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

The longer you let it rise, the better for flavor development. By allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight, which is completely optional, you will develop a deeper flavor, but it is imperative that you bring it to room temperature before proceeding to the next steps.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ½-inch thickness. Cut the dough into 24 2”x3” rectangular pieces. 

Preheat your air fryer to 350ºF.

Brush or mist the beignets on both sides with some of the melted butter and palm oil mixture and air-fry in batches at 350ºF for 6 minutes, turning them over halfway through if desired. 

Be mindful to leave some space between the beignets for better and more even browning. 

Once the beignets are finished, transfer them to a plate or parchment lined baking sheet and dust with the confectioners’ sugar.

Enjoy with some nice chicory coffee!

Korean Inspired Air-Fried Gluten Free Chicken Wings

Servings: 4 people

Here’s a fun fact about chefs: As much as we love outdoing each other in the kitchen, we always gravitate back to the simple dishes to soothe our souls after a grueling shift. Just Google favorite chef recipes and you will usually find sandwiches or a 3-step meal. Not to say I don’t love oysters, truffles, and foie gras, but sometimes you just want some down-home fried chicken comfort. With the rise in popularity of Korean-style fried chicken, I took it to a new level with the air fryer.

Traditionally, Korean Fried Chicken is double fried in oil for a spectacular crunch and then covered in a delicious spicy, sweet-and-sour type sauce. 

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. chicken wings
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Malaysian Palm Oil and butter to cover wings (approximately 1 Tablespoon each)

Chicken Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp gochujang Korean chili paste
  • 3 tbsp agave syrup or honey depending on the level of sweetness desired
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp tamari gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp shallot, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Chopped green onions for garnish

Instructions

Place the chicken wings in a large non-reactive bowl and season with garlic powder, onion powder and ½ tsp salt.

Cover the chicken with cornstarch, let sit for 5 minutes. With a set of tongs to keep your hands clean, stir, to evenly coat the chicken piece. Lightly shake each piece of chicken to remove the excess corn starch and place it in the air fryer basket.

While the wings are sitting, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and butter, heat gently to melt. 

Place the wings in the air fryer basket and lightly spray or brush the tops with the oil and butter mixture.

Close the basket and cook chicken wings at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, turning and rotating chicken about every 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce.

Korean Air-Fried Chicken Sauce

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat and whisk until combined. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

Once the chicken is done cooking, place the sauce and the wings into a bowl and toss to evenly coat.

*Oil may be used to spray and coat the chicken pieces if cornstarch still appears on the chicken after frying. It can be done without oil as the chicken will produce its own oil during cooking.

Lotus Type 49 illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

What to Look for When Buying a Used Car

Buying a new car is going to cost you a pretty penny. The average cost of a new car currently sits at over $40,000.

It’s why you should consider buying a used car instead. You can get one for just a fraction of the cost of a new car, and in a lot of cases, it won’t be that much older than a new one.

Before you jump into buying a used vehicle, though, you need to know what to check when buying a used car. The last thing you want to do is come home with a used car that isn’t going to last you very long.

Here are some of the top things to look for when buying a used car.

How Many Miles Are On the Car?

One of the first questions to ask when buying a used car is about how many miles are on it. You can tell a lot about a car based solely on the number of miles that have been put onto its odometer.

The more miles that a car has on it, the more wear and tear it has endured. You might want to shy away from investing in a used car that has more than 100,000 miles on it unless you want to plan on having to do a lot of repairs and maintenance to it.

It’s worth noting that you can get 200,000 miles out of most cars these days. But even still, you should be careful about buying a car with too many miles on it.

How Many People Have Previously Owned the Car?

In addition to checking out how many miles are on a car, you should also take the time to see how many people have owned it in the past. It might help to shed some light on how well a car has (or hasn’t!) been maintained.

The fewer previous owners that a used car has, the better it has likely been maintained over time. You may want to shy away from buying a used car if it has had several owners in the past.

Has the Car Been Involved in Any Accidents?

When you’re considering what to look for when buying a used car, you should, of course, check to see whether or not a car has been in an accident or, worse, multiple accidents. You don’t want to buy a car that has been in a handful of crashes over the years.

It’s not the worst idea in the world to buy a used car that was involved in a minor fender-bender in the past. It might be a good way to get a great deal on a used car that is still in great shape.

But you should be wary about buying a used car that has sustained damage during a number of accidents. It might not be safe enough for you and your family.

Ask Yourself These Questions When Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car can be a little bit of a stressful process. But it’ll all be worth it in the end if you’re able to secure a great car for a great price.

Keep all the tips for buying a used car that we’ve talked about here in mind as you try to do it. It’ll make the process go so much smoother than it would otherwise.

Read through the other articles on our blog for more tips on buying a car.