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Author Archives: Trevor

man checking phone

How after work emails are ruining your health

Trevor 3 comments

Although emails have facilitated communications by not requiring all parties to be present in the same office or time zone, they do have a flip side: you are always reachable whether or not you’re at work.

52% of Americans check their email before and after work, even when they take a sick day.

Nearly 50% of Australians check their email when not at work, and for those that turn on their phone in the morning, 70% of them check their emails first.

Northern Illinois University (NIU) school of psychology study coined this concept as ‘telepressure’ and the research explores the results of ‘never switching off’. What they found was that people who engaged in telepressure were at greater risk of burnout, absenteeism and poor sleep quality.

“It’s like your to-do list is piling up, so you’re cognitively ruminating over these things in the evening and re-exposing yourself to workplace stressors,” lead author Larissa Barber explained. “When people don’t have this recovery time, it switches them into an exhaustion state, so they go to work the next day not being engaged,”

What’s interesting about Barber’s results is that telepressure is a workplace problem, not a worker problem. There seems to be weak correlations between the type of worker and the effects of telepressure. It doesn’t matter if you’re a type-A overachievers or a laid back type, telepressure still affects them.

Do you telepressure?

“We all get kind of used to that immediate gratification of getting fast responses and having those communications that are complete,” Barber says. “We all like it when other people are telepressured, because it helps us complete our tasks faster.”

person writing emails

Managing telepressure

Barber suggests thinking about where the telepressure is coming from and strongly considering having a conversation with your supervisor about email expectations; and if you’re the boss, be a good role model.

Another suggestion is laying out clear messages and expectations in your emails. If you are emailing back and forth about a casual get together, the pressure to quickly answer is present because it would be rude, not to. But, if you are explicit in your email by including things like “No need to respond to this message” or “I look forward to hearing from you between 8:30-11:30am tomorrow” you take the pressure off email.

An earlier version of this article credited the research to the University of Illinois instead of Northern Illinois University. 

Sources: Time, The Sydney Morning Herald, APA Center for Organizational Excellence,


Chronic stress can cause brain damage

Trevor 3 comments

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has long been recognized as a stress related illness that is usually associated with soldiers in warfare; however, new studies suggests that long-term work related stress can also have a similar impact on our brain structure, similar to PTSD. Structural changes include a difference in volume of gray matter versus white matter, and a change in size and connectivity of the amygdala.

Effects on Uncontrolled Stress

“In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.” –American Psychological Association

person losing idea

Types of Work Related Stress

These are only some examples of stressors, and they will be different for each person. Do you recognize any of the following as a work –related stress for yourself?

1. Low salaries

2. Excessive workloads

3. Few opportunities for growth or advancement

4. Work that isn’t engaging or challenging

5. Lack of social support

6. Not having enough control over job-related decisions

7. Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations

person with wires coming out of head


Managing Stress

Track your stressors: keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts, feelings, and your surroundings. How did you react: did you raise your voice, go for a walk, or go for the vending machine?

Develop healthy responses: Instead of engaging in unhealthy reactions such as overeating or drug abuse, you should seriously consider ‘exercise’ as a healthy alternative. Doing things we enjoy also reduces stress levels, so make time for hobbies and favorite activities.

Establish boundaries: With the pressures of staying connected at all times of the day through emails and social media, make sure you draw some lines separating your personal life and work life. Choose something that you’re comfortable with, such as not checking your email after a certain hour.

Take time to recharge: Vacation time exists for a reason; it is designed to allow you to unwind and recover. So don’t overlook your vacation time because you think that you need to keep working, this down-time will allow you to recover and come back as a productive member of the team. The more stress you have, the more mistakes you’ll make and the less productive you’ll be at work.

Learn how to relax: If you’re taking time off work but still thinking about work, you’re not really taking time to relax and recharge. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness (a state in which you actively observe present experience and thoughts without judging them) are all good options that you could start doing today.

Talk to your supervisor: A healthy team member is a productive team member. Have a conversation with your supervisor on how you can improve your time management skills and also, create a plan to address your stressors. This is not about complaining, but rather, working together and developing a plan to reduce your stress. This might be a good opportunity to clarify work expectations, getting necessary resources or support from colleagues, enriching your job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks, or making changes to your physical workspace.

Get some support: Accepting help from friends and family can also improve your ability to manage stress. If your stress levels do not improve over time, consider talking to a professional psychologists who can help manage your stress.

brain made up of clogs

Sources: Psychology Today, APA




uber logo

Why everyone is talking about Uber

Trevor 4 comments

It seems like this is a hot, trending topic that everyone is talking about, but what exactly is Uber?

At first sight, Uber might seem like a regular taxi service, but the reality of the matter is that it is so much more. Uber is an app that connect drivers and users. Need to get a ride from point A to point B? Instead of vigorously trying to get a cab, you can now access the app and and request a driver. Once your request is accepted, someone will pick you up and deliver you to your destination.

So, how is this different from a taxi service?

You could be a driver, making money on the side. You can log into Uber and register as a ‘Driver’, and once your requests goes through, you are given a phone with the ‘Driver App’ and you can choose which hours you want to work, and get paid for driving people around. You can use your own car, and set your own hours.

How much money can I make?

The average hourly rate is $13.36 an hour; and some Uber drivers make up to $3,258 a month.

Person in taxi

How safe is it?

The drivers are put through a three-step criminal background screening for the US- with county, federal and multi-state checks that go back as far as the law allows.

There is no hailing, which means that it is a true door-to-door service.

Anonymous feedback and full accountability: you give feedback anonymously to help drivers improve the Uber experience they deliver. Drivers work hard to keep their ratings high.

Driver profiles for peace of mind. To Ensure that the user is always safe and relaxed by sending the driver’s profile information ahead of time (name, photo, license plate number, and rating).

Insurance: “From the moment you get into any Uber product (e.g. uberX, UberBLACK) to the moment you’re dropped off, your ride is covered by commercial liability insurance. That goes for every trip in every city around the world. In the U.S. specifically, ridesharing has become a popular choice — and Uber is the first company to ensure true end-to-end insurance coverage for ridesharing, with drivers on uberX protected by liability coverage even between trips.”

Vehicle standards: Not any car can be an Uber. It’s a title reserved for the safe, high-quality vehicles that are in exceptional condition.

Other safety standards: Cashless transactions, Drivers rate riders, No Random Pickups

It is currently available in 45 countries.


On November 14, 2014 a class action lawsuit was submitted.  The case is Caren Ehret vs. Uber Technologies Inc in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-0113. 

Related article: Uber lawsuit over gratuities 


Sources: Uber, Glassdoor

hotel concierge team baggage cart

How the hotel industry will never be the same again

Trevor No Comments

Online Travel Agencies (OTA) are changing significantly how hotels do business. You, more than likely, have booked a hotel using online travel agents such as Expedia, booking.com or Hipmunk; considered to stay in other people’s home through Airbnb, Housetrip or Homeaway; and probably checked out the hotel reviews in Trip Advisor or Yelp.

What is a pressing concern for hotels is that OTAs are exercising more and more power over them. Any booking conducted over an OTA means a commission received; these commissions are negotiated behind closed doors and can range up to 25%. Furthermore, Intercontinental Hotels group, the biggest operator worldwide has about 4,500 hotels; in contrast, Booking.com has a listing of half a million hotels worldwide.

Online Travel Agencies: Benefit or Not?

Considering the large chunk of commissions that these online travel agencies charge, should they be considered detrimental to the industry?

According to Tony Pollard, President of the Hotel Association of Canada states that it really depends on how you use OTAs.

“This is inventory that a hotel offers up on the internet through a third party that derives a commission. So if you have a few rooms left at the end of the day, and you know that you’re not going to sell them and want to put them in an OTA, then it’s a great move to make. But if you’re selling all your rooms through an online travel agency, then you’re only leaving money on the table”.

Cho Wong, managing director of Supranational Hotels, say that 30% of the bookings in his chain of 800 hotels come from Booking.com; and that he focuses on the repeat customer.

“We need to learn from other retailers. If you have a voucher so that next time you get 20% off or free drinks at the bar, you will come back”.

OTAs won’t let a hotel lower prices to customers who book directly; but if you start creating a loyal customer base through promotional offers, and also giving sweeteners for people who book direct at full price, it may seem like the perks compensate for the standard price.

hotel amenities kit


Peer-to-peer travel: A threat to the Hotel Industry?

According to a survey carried out by World Trade Market 2014 Industry Report, 9% have booked a holiday through a site like airbnb, Housetrip or HomeAway. What’s interesting is that out of that percentage, 86% say that they would do it again.

Dorian Harris, founder of Skoosh, sees Airbnb (and similar) as “the biggest threat or challenge to the hotel industry of all”.

Tony Pollard, offers his thoughts on these type of service:

“[peer-to-peer is an ] uncontrolled and unregulated industry that goes out and functions providing rooms, but without having to have all the regulatory conditions, including everything from: health, safety, comfort, bookings, third party liabilities. All of these things are completely unregulated…”

Dual-Service through Reviews

With sites like Trip Advisor, no bad customer service goes unnoticed pressuring hotels to improve and maintain their customer service standards. If someone feels like they got terrible service in a hotel or restaurant, they will undoubtedly write a review worthy of their experience.

On the flip side, Airbnb offers a dual review service where both the renter and rentee can review each other. This seems like the new trend, where customer reviews are leveraged by venue reviews of the customer.



Sources: BBC News & Business News Network



5 websites to learn to code- for free!

Trevor 3 comments

Nowadays we all know that technology helps us to be more productive in almost all aspects of our lives. You can create automated reports for your boss in minutes instead of wasting the whole weekend gathering together all the information you need- which involves calling back and forth your team trying to understand where the numbers come from. You can also use as many apps as you wish on your phone to help you organize your best friend’s wedding *the wedding of the year!*.  Or at college you can simply take a shot of the whiteboard to have all the info you’ll need for the exam, instead of wasting all your energy writing it down in paper- like if you were in the 20th century…

We love technology and some of us can’t even fathom spending a single day without it. But when it comes to the core of the matter- coding, which is the wizard that creates all the magic that we see on our screens- most people get uneasy. We prefer our IT-team- or our teenagers- to handle it. After watching a TED talk from Mitch Resnick, a computer scientist that directs the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab and helps kids of all ages experiment with design and coding, I got really inspired to learn more about coding.

If you want/need to get inspired, watch the video here.

He said: “Coding isn’t just for computer whizzes- it’s for everyone… If you learn to code, then you code to learn. These ideas are useful to everybody.”, and I definitely believe it. A lot of problems that I’ve had can be easily solved by customizing or developing a program, but I don’t know how to code.  So, since talk is cheap, I googled it and found some awesome websites to learn how to code for free! I hope you find them useful and join me in this journey of zeros, ones, strings and variables.

  1. At Codecademy, you can learn how to write simple commands in JavaScript, HTML and CSS, Python and Ruby. Great to warm up engines by getting to know four of the most commonly used programing languages.
  2. Stanford University’s Udacity is one of many sites that make college courses—including Introduction to Computer Science—available online for free.
  3. Coursera is another great site that offers college courses for free. The course The Data Scientist’s Toolbox from Johns Hopkins University will give you an overview of the data and tools that data analysts scientists work with, including R programming.
  4. Code School offers online courses in a wide range of programming languages, design and web tools.
  5. Treehouse provides online video courses and exercises to help you learn technology skills.

Love Coding


If you are more of a practical person, who wants to implement something innovative in your business ASAP, you might want to take a look at  Dash. Here you will learn how to make an awesome website by using HTML, CSS and Javascript through fun projects on a simple interface.




person signing

Meeting Minutes

Trevor one comments

No, I’m not talking about the duration of a meeting. Meeting minutes are post-meeting briefs that bring everyone to the same page. These are not verbatim transcripts of the entire meeting, but rather highlight the relevant information. Here’s how it works:

1. Write down the basic information

– Date, time, place of meeting and the names of the people participating in the meeting. This is particularly important if you’re having a meeting with a second party such as a client or a service provider.

2. Record the ‘important’ points during the meeting

– This is why the meeting was held. Are you there to discuss future plans, current issues, or past performance? Use this space to write down questions or discussion topics.

3. Assign follow-up dates and responsibilities

– By talking about the ‘important’ points mentioned above, it will only be natural that more issues branch off from each point. In this portion, make sure that a follow-up plan is put in place that will allow for each issue to be addressed. Each follow-up should have a person assigned to the role; or, if the person is absent, assign a ‘supervisor’ to ensure that the issue is followed-up accordingly. Use this space to record the decisions that have been made.

4. Share the ‘Meeting Minutes’ with all the relevant parties

– Keep in mind that this document is also a task list, so make sure you share it with the relevant people! Email it or share it on a cloud platform like Dropbox or Google Drive.


The most important part in meeting minutes is point #3. This will avoid misunderstandings, clear up questions, and most importantly, record the decisions that were made jointly.

Here’s a sample template of a meeting minute:

Meeting Minutes template

Meeting Minutes template

job application

Google HR: 5 Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Trevor 7 comments

Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, recently published an article in linkedin.

He mentions that Google sometimes gets more than 50,000 resumes in a single week. That’s a lot of resumes.

“Some are brilliant, most are just ok, many are disasters. The toughest part is that for 15 years, I’ve continued to see the same mistakes made again and again by candidates, any one of which can eliminate them from consideration for a job. What’s most depressing is that I can tell from the resumes that many of these are good, even great, people. But in a fiercely competitive labor market, hiring managers don’t need to compromise on quality. All it takes is one small mistake and a manager will reject an otherwise interesting candidate.”

Don’t have your resume fall under the ‘ok’ or ‘disaster’ piles, strive to turn it into a brilliant resume by avoiding these five mistakes.

Mistake One: Typos As obvious as it seems, a CarerrBuilder survey from 2013 found that 58% of resumes have typos.

“Typos are deadly because employers interpret them as a lack of detail-orientation, as a failure to care about quality. “

Bock suggests reading the resume from the bottom up in order to read each line in isolation. Another option is to have someone else proofread your resume closely to ensure zero mistakes.

Mistake Two: Length. A good rule of thumb is one page of resume for every 10 years of work experience. Focus on getting an interview first through an impressive resume. You can focus on convincing the hiring manager when you actually get the interview.

“A crisp, focused resume demonstrates an ability to synthesize, prioritize, and convey the most important information about you. Think about it this way: the *sole* purpose of a resume is to get you an interview.”

Mistake Three: Formatting. Ensure that your resume can be opened across platforms satisfactorily, as the formatting usually shifts a bit. To prevent any issues, saving your file in a PDF will guarantee that the recipient will see the document as you intended.

“Unless you’re applying for a job such as a designer or artist, your focus should be on making your resume clean and legible. At least ten point font. At least half-inch margins. White paper, black ink. Consistent spacing between lines, columns aligned, your name and contact information on every page.”

Mistake Four: Confidential information. When you reveal confidential information, you are telling your potential employer that you might also reveal their trade secrets to competitors. Make sure you are ethical about honoring your confidentiality agreement.

I once received a resume from an applicant working at a top-three consulting firm. This firm had a strict confidentiality policy: client names were never to be shared. On the resume, the candidate wrote: “Consulted to a major software company in Redmond, Washington.” Rejected!

Mistake Five: Lies. This is quite obvious, especially in the age of the Internet. A quick search will reveal more than you think. You might want to check out “Is your social media killing your job opportunities.”

Putting a lie on your resume is never, ever, ever, worth it. Everyone, up to and including CEOs, gets fired for this. (Google “CEO fired for lying on resume” and see.) People lie about their degrees (three credits shy of a college degree is not a degree), [their GPA’s], and where they went to school (sorry, but employers don’t view a degree granted online for “life experience” as the same as UCLA or Seton Hall).

person signing

5 routines that are ruining your productivity

Trevor 5 comments

We follow a routine everyday. The moment we wake up our routine brain kicks-in and we start tackling our morning tasks flawlessly and without much thought. These easy motion of actions follow into the workspace with just as much ease. This is where you need to be careful and assess your daily routine tasks. Are all the things you do on a daily basis efficient? Are you doing certain things that have become unproductive? It’s time to assess, and here’s 5 things that you should consider:

1. Make a Realistic To-Do List.  Although it’s tempting to add things to a to-do list, sometimes we keep tacking on more and more items that it becomes an impossible to-do list. It’s important to keep your list real and accomplishable because our brains tend to get fixated on incomplete tasks. Why stress yourself out? Make a list that is doable.

“Roy Baumeister and EJ Masicampo at Florida State University were interested in an old phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect, which is what psychologists call our mind’s tendency to get fixated on unfinished tasks and forget those we’ve completed. You can see the effect in action in a restaurant or bar – you can easily remember a drinks order, but then instantly forget it as soon as you’ve put the drinks down.” (killscreendaily)

2. Stop Answering Repetitive Questions. If you find yourself answering the same questions over and over again, regardless if they are from your clients or employees, you are wasting precious time. See this as an opportunity to improve the communications from your printed and digital media. If people have the same question over and over again, you are not efficiently providing your clients and employees with the accurate information. Try adding a FAQ’s section to your website for clients, and consider creating an internal wiki for employees.

“FAQ is the abbreviation for Frequently Asked Questions. FAQs are organized “collections” of valuable information that usually comes from questions (and their corresponding answers) for the most common issues raised by users, on various topics. Companies make up such information compilations in order to fulfill their customers’ need for answers. They are also a means to ease the burden of the customer support group by providing answers in written form to the most commonly asked questions.” (Avangate)

3. Stop eating lunch at your desk. Although you might think that you are being highly productive by eating at the desk, the reality of the matter is that your brain needs downtime too. A break will allow you to think and make clearer decisions.

“Taking a lunch break away from the desk lets people separate themselves from the source of that (energy) drain,” Cunningham says. “And that offers the opportunity to build back some of those resources in the middle of the day–rather than just at the end when work is over.

“Resource replenishment is specific to the person. You might need 10 minutes to recharge, your colleague might need an hour. The task for us, then, is totinker with our lunches in the way we tinker with an idea: If we experiment with the way we lunch, we can arrive at the meal that best feeds us”. (Chris Cunningham is the organizational psychologist for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga)

4. Stop making piles. Much like lists, piles create unnecessary clutter. When you pile things, you are organizing things per your own system, unbeknownst to everyone else. Stick to a systematic filing system that will allow others to help, and eliminate clutter so that you can boost your efficiency.

“Getting organized may have more to do with psychology than piles of possessions, according to professional organizers and the people who hire them. From low self-esteem and an inability to make decisions, psychology shapes a person’s relationship to his or her space and stuff. So the key to more organized lives may lie within the gray matter of the mind.

On a daily basis, organizers like Leeds suggest clients make simple, positive habit changes to establish a foundation for an organized, healthy, effective life.” (Regina Leeds, author of “One Year to an Organized Life”)

5. Stop signing every check. Designate a specific day and time for certain tasks, such as signing checks. Productivity works best when there are no interruptions. Instead of allowing a steady, unpredictable flow of interruptions, schedule these tasks for specific blocks of time to limit interruptions. Also check out why Jason Fried says that “work doesn’t happen at work“.

“Interruption is incredibly arrogant. When you interrupt somebody, you’re telling them that whatever they are doing is less important than the question you have to ask them.” — Jason Fried

business collegues






spooky halloween facts

15 Halloween Facts

Trevor 5 comments

1. Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas.

2. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween

3. 50% of children prefer to receive chocolate, 24% prefer non-chocolate candy, and 10% prefer gum.

4. According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths

5. Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year

6. “Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.

7. The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie,  Alberta, Canada.

8. Ireland is typically believed to be the birthplace of Halloween

9. Scarecrows, a popular Halloween fixture, symbolize the ancient agricultural roots of the holiday

10. Halloween was influenced by the ancient Roman festival Pomona, which celebrated the harvest goddess of the same name. Many Halloween customs and games that feature apples (such as bobbing for apples) and nuts date from this time. In fact, in the past, Halloween has been called San-Apple Night and Nutcrack Night.


11. Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was one of the most famous and mysterious magicians who ever lived. Strangely enough, he died in 1926 on Halloween night as a result of appendicitis brought on by three stomach punches.

12. According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.

13. In 1974, eight-year-old Timothy O’Bryan died of cyanide poisoning after eating Halloween candy. Investigators later learned that his father had taken out a $20,000 life insurance policy on each of his children and that he had poisoned his own son and also attempted to poison his daughter

14. Halloween is thought to have originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years.

15. Halloween celebrations in Hong Kong are known as Yue Lan or the “Festival of the Hungry Ghosts” during which fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.





Halloween flat costume cartoon characters

How Big is Halloween (Really)?

Trevor 3 comments

Halloween is the second largest holiday in the US, only surpassed by Christmas. Ever wonder how much Halloween is really worth? Well, total spending on Halloween this year will reach $7.4 billion, a substantial increase compared to last year’s $6.9 billion, but still lower than 2012’s whopping $8 billion.

A total of $2.8 billion will be spent on costumes alone this year; $1.4 billion in adult costumes, and $1.1 billion in children’s costume. Pets will not be left out of the party, it is estimated that a total of $350 million will be spent on pet costumes alone; a $20 million increase from last year. Needless to say, the pet costume industry is looking at a growing chunk of the pie.

dog wearing devil costume

More people are expected to celebrate Halloween this year (162 million) compared to last year (158 million). Of course, one must consider that this year’s Hallow’s Eve is on a Friday making more adults available this season. An increase expenditure might indicate economic recovery, but the reality of the matter is that ‘half the shoppers plan to buy their Halloween items at discount stores’ and a quarter of shoppers say they’ll make their Halloween purchases at a grocery store.

Economy counts, and 1 in 5 shoppers say that their spending will be impacted by the economy in such a way that 20% of them will make their own costumes instead of buying them, and 8% will not hand out candy this year. This, of course, doesn’t really impact that candy industry as consumers are expected to spend $2.2 billion on candy alone; and another $2 billion on decorations.

pumpkins halloween candy and decoration statistic

If you haven’t gotten your Halloween costume yet, Pinterest seems to be a growing source of inspiration. NRF’s survey found that 11.4% of people in the US will use Pinterest for costume ideas, compared to 9.3% last year.

Top Children’s Costumes 2013

Princess- 8.2%

Animal – 6.1%

Batman – 5.4%

Action/Super Hero – 5.1%

Spider Man – 3.9%


Top Adult Costumes 2013

Witch – 9.6%

Batman – 5.4%

Vampire – 5.0%

Zombie – 4.4%

Pirate – 3.8%


Top Pet Costumes 2013

Pumpkin – 7.9%

Hot Dog – 6.9%

Cat – 4.8%

Devil – 4.8%

Witch – 4.2%

Superman – 3.4%



NRF ‘The not so spooky stats Halloween 2013’

NRF ‘Record number of Americans buy Halloween Costumes’

CNN ‘Halloween Fast Facts’


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