August 13, 2019

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Are You Truly Challenging Yourself?

Professional athletes aren’t afraid of feedback. In fact, they seek it out. Their daily routine involves setting up various feedback loops, in which their efforts are constantly put under scrutiny. Their work is assessed, measured, analyzed, and scored. They’re expected to take that feedback and do one thing with it: get better. It’s a part of the job. We can learn a lot from athletes and their dedication to increasing performance and results. In short, we need criticism in order to excel.

Are you making yourself vulnerable enough for feedback? It’s an uncomfortable situation to put yourself into, no doubt. But if you really want to improve in your current position and continue to find success in life, you need to seek out feedback. Then you need to take that feedback and grow. How can you get reliable measurements on your skills? Here are just some ideas:

  • Just ask–even on the small tasks: For example, after you run an important meeting, send out a quick email to the group or to a trusted colleague and say, “I’m looking to improve my public speaking skills. Is there anything you think I could have done better today?”
  • Get it on the calendar: If you’re only required to have an annual and semi-annual review with your manager, consider putting a quarterly meeting between the two of you on your calendar. While it may not be an “official” performance review, use it as a chance to assess your progress on your goals and responsibilities. Where are you lacking? Where are you excelling?
  • Be real with yourself: We’re not advocating to be super hard on yourself, but let’s be honest–we know when we’ve messed up. We know when we’ve been slacking, and making excuses, and self sabotaging. Unleash your inner critic but focus on giving yourself actionable advice.
  • Write it down: Keep track of your goals, your progress, and the feedback you’re getting and check in on it at least once per month. We can’t improve if we don’t have a starting point and an end goal. Set yourself up for success and then track that success each step of the way.
  • Celebrate the good with the bad: Don’t lose sight of your strengths as you get feedback on your weaknesses. Remember that weaknesses are simply chances to improve and we should always be seeking to improve throughout our life.

Image via Toby Bradbury/Flickr.

 

August 8, 2019

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Pick Yourself Up and Move Forward With These Motivational Quotes

“One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities.” – Abraham Maslow

“I honestly can’t think of any career ‘mistakes.’ Everything happens for a reason.” – Katherine Power

“Failure is nothing more than a chance to become better.” – Unknown

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

“Just start. Don’t worry that you don’t have all the answers yet.” – Alli Webb

“Fall in love with the process and the results will come.” – Eric Thomas

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estée Lauder

“If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission.” – Unknown

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” – Dolly Parton

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Image via Alan Lam/Flickr.

August 6, 2019

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The Results Are In! Spectrum Brands 2019 Day of Service

We’re happy to say that we’ve had another fantastic outcome during our nationwide annual volunteer day. More than 250 employees donated over 1,000+ hours of service to their local communities during our 2019 Day of Service. We supported various organizations across the country that are near and dear to our heart including the Clean Lakes Alliance, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Gateway Greening. Between our six locations, employees were able to:

  • Clear over one mile of invasive species and brush from Pheasant Branch Creek Corridor and half an acre at Stricker’s Pond to protect Dane County’s Yahara watershed.
  • Sort and pack more than 22,000 pounds of food for local Lake Forest and Miami families.
  • Revitalize Grayson County Shelter through painting, tree trimming, mowing and trash removal.
  • Weed 650 feet of plant beds, add 500 feet of mulch and plant 350 feet of new plants to revitalize St. Louis downtown area.

To our employees: a HUGE thank you for your continued support of our community engagement efforts. This is another shining example of servant leadership in action! We’re so proud of the hard work, dedication, and time that our employees are so willing to give. 

August 1, 2019

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How to Network Your Way Into Your Dream Company

You’re one of the lucky ones — you know exactly what you want to do and who you want to do it for. In the perfect scenario, your dream job and dream company are within reach. But how do you make that dream a reality? There are many simple steps you can take to get even closer to your goals.

  1. Reach out to your network. 
    You don’t know who your network knows unless you ask! See if anyone has a connection to this company or this industry. If you’re still in college, that network includes your campus career resource center as well as your professors.
  2. Peruse LinkedIn. 
    Can you image a time before LinkedIn? You essentially have an employment directory at your fingertips. At the very least, you can get a better idea of who’s working in your industry or your dream role (or even in the exact department in your dream company) and what their background is like.
  3. Talk to people in the industry. 
    Even if you can’t connect with someone at your dream company, connecting with people in your industry is just as helpful. Professional organization and meet-up events are a great place to start. People in the industry can give you insight into the job market and inside details on what it’s really like to work in your dream position. Ask these people if they know anyone else who’d be interested in talking to you, or if there are any other industry resources you should turn to.
  4. Set up an informational interview.
    If you’re lucky enough to find a connection at your dream company who’s willing to connect, ask if you can have an informational interview on site. Treat them to coffee and have intelligent questions prepared. You could even ask if you could shadow them for a day or for a few hours.
  5. Sign up for a job alert.
    Be the first one to know when a position at your dream company opens up. Also be open to internships, temporary work, or similar positions within the department of your dreams. Right now, your goal is to get your foot in the door and get face to face in front of a recruiter.
  6. Stay in touch. 
    Check in every month or two with your network and with recruiters that you’ve connected with. You can’t expect to be on the top of everyone’s mind all the time, but a friendly check-in brings you to the forefront.

Image via @@@/Flickr.

July 30, 2019

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Motivational Quotes That Will Keep Your Goals On Track

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

“Pay attention to the itch. That feeling, that there’s something else bigger out there for you, that you should be doing something else better for you–that is a feeling that you have to pay attention to you can’t ignore it.” – Ann Shoket

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

“If you’re too comfortable, it’s time to move on. Terrified of what’s next? You’re on the right track.”  – Susan Fales-Hill

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Karim Seddiki

“Don’t get good at what you don’t want to be doing.” – Anonymous

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through these moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” – Marissa Mayer

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

“Always go with the choice that scares you most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.” – Caroline Myss

July 25, 2019

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Middleton’s Volunteer Day 2019

Our 2019 Volunteer Day was a huge success! Get a peek into our Middleton, Wisconsin office’s day of service, which included working with the Clean Lakes Alliance, a long-time partner of ours and a cause we are very passionate about. The Clean Lakes Alliance is a non profit organization that works to raise community awareness of the issues facing the Yahara River Watershed, as well advocate for the welfare of our lakes and help procure the necessary funding to clean and protect these waterways. Our employees worked hard to assist in their mission to improve our lakes and our landscapes. Thanks to everyone who participated this year! Here are just some of the photos of Spectrum Brands volunteers at work:

July 23, 2019

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Like Father, Like Son

We couldn’t resist sharing this amazing post from long-time employee Ron Poff:

“In November 1996, I walked through these doors to start my career at Tetra Fish, which provided me with incredible opportunities and growth. Today, my oldest, Any Poff begins his career walking through the exact same doors for Spectrum Brands in Blacksburg. Congrats, Andy! #ProudDad #Love”

A 20+ year veteran welcoming his son into the same Spectrum Brands family? What an awesome story. Welcome to the team, Andy. We hope you’re loving your new adventure!

July 18, 2019

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5 Ways to Disconnect From Work

One of the top ways to beat burnout–and some would argue the only way–is to disconnect from work. This could be on a nightly or weekly basis (or in extreme cases, it may call for a week-long vacation or a months long sabbatical.) Here are five ways to incorporate moments of disconnection into your week. It will help your work-life balance, your overall energy levels, and your productivity.

  1. Have a podcast, e-book, or audiobook on hand. And make sure it’s not a business book or podcast! Use your commute, lunchtime, or afternoon walk to decompress with something that’s totally not work-related. Mindlessly watching TV or scrolling through social media does not count! Fiction is a great way to escape from the reality of life, work, and the news.
  2. Incorporate silence into your day for at least 15 minutes. Consider a car ride with no radio–just your thoughts. Or a morning meditation session. Or an afternoon walk sans headphones. Just be with your thoughts for 15 minutes each day and take time to breathe in and breathe out.
  3. Set rules–and stick to them. A line needs to be drawn in the sand. What is work time and what is personal time? For example, “I don’t check my email until 8 AM.” Or “I don’t check my email after work until my kids are in bed.” Or “I only work on the weekends on Sunday nights.”
  4. Shut off your notifications. You don’t have to be the first person to respond every time. And you don’t have to be available at all times. You can temporarily shut off notifications at certain times during the day (for example, just by logging out of your email for 30 minutes while you need to get something done) or by permanently disabling certain notifications from your phone. (You’re bound to check it eventually anyway.)
  5. Don’t keep your phone in your hand. Invest in a docking station and drop your phone and laptop in that area when you return from work. Feel free to check in occasionally–but don’t always have it within arm’s reach. Out of sight, out of mind.

Image via Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr.

July 16, 2019

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Getting Crafty with Coffee in Middleton

When the Middleton office had a plethora of replacement coffee pots on hand, our employee Laura Voss sprang into action. She packed up 25 of the remaining pots and donated them to a friend. This friend just happens to be a teacher who used the coffee pots for a creative project for her class. The students were studying environmental factors. This was a perfect opportunity for them to learn how plants grow and to then have a beautiful flower to bring home to their families. Great idea, Laura!

July 11, 2019

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How to Get Better at Saying No

One huge part of beating burnout at work is being okay with one word: “No.” But I have to be a “yes person” to succeed in the workplace, right? Not necessarily. Those who guard their time and energy and consistently produce their best work will not only earn the respect of their coworkers but will also succeed greatly throughout their life. So how do you make saying no a little bit easier?

  1. Pause, and take time to think. Don’t automatically jump to a “yes.” Literally ask for time to think about it overnight or for a few hours, or even just take a few breaths before replying. Here are some exact lines you can replicate:
    • “Let me think about that for a moment.”
    • “I have a few more questions I’d need to ask you before I say yes.”
    • “I’ll need to get back to you on whether or not I can commit.”
    • “Let me consult my calendar and my workload first.”
  2. Get face-to-face for the final “no.” People might be more willing to accept a no in person or over the phone than via email. When they hear the sincerity in your voice they may be more understanding. But make sure that you are also willing to stick to your guns during that conversation. If they try to downplay your “no” try saying something like this:
    • “I understand, but it’s a hard no for me at this time.”
    • “I wish I could, but I can’t.”
    • “I’ve already run through all the scenarios in my head and I am confident that I won’t be able to commit.”
  3. Don’t apologize or give too many details. A firm no should be enough. Don’t give people opportunities to find a workaround or judge you for the priorities you are making. Here are some ways to be firm but polite:
    • “Unfortunately, I don’t have the capacity to take that on right now.”
    • “Thank you for thinking of me but it’s just not going to work out this time.”
    • “This sounds like a great opportunity but I have to pass based on my current workload.”
  4. Offer to help but in a different way. If you don’t want to commit but still want to be a part of the project in some way, try one of these responses:
    • “I can’t commit now, but my schedule opens up next month.”
    • “I’m sorry I can’t be a part of that project, but I’m happy to offer feedback at the end if you’re looking for an extra set of eyes.”
    • “I’d love to be considered for something like this in the future but I just don’t have the bandwidth at this time.”

Image via marc falardeau/Flickr.