All posts by Caitlin Delohery

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

Customers Are People, Too: How Being Human Will Help You Sell More

We may be more connected than ever as a society but that doesn’t mean that strong relationships are a given. In fact, plenty of people report feeling increasingly disconnected— so while we’re friending and liking and commenting like crazy, that often doesn’t translate to an enduring sense of community outside of the internet.

And in this increasingly distracted and busy world, it’s easy to focus on to-do lists and bottom lines instead of relationships and connections. When you’re moving a mile a minute, it’s easy to forget that your customers are people, not obstacles or stepping stones to reaching your sales goals.

Businesses run on relationships first, not ROI. And the companies that work on creating connections — not just making deals — are the businesses that will thrive.

Here’s how focusing on being human first will help you sell more.

You’ll build a positive brand image.

Cynthia Lacy was trying to cancel her father’s cell phone service because he had recently passed away. But because the grieving daughter didn’t have her father’s PIN number, a customer service representative at the cell phone company laughed at her and told her nothing could be done. She continued to be charged for her father’s phone service. It was only when Lacy contacted the media that the company backed down and let the family out of the contract. “This is just wrong,” said Lacy.

An 89-year-old retired navy vet in Wayne, PA, was snowed in on Christmas without much to eat. Though he told his daughter he’d be fine for one day, she couldn’t take the thought of him alone on the holidays without a good meal. She called around, searching for a company that would deliver food to him. Finally, though they didn’t deliver normally, one grocery store went out of their way — delivering food to the man — and even thinking of his sodium-restricted diet — all without any charge. “I’m glad to see people out in the world care about strangers and help out,” the man’s grandchild said.

Given stories like these — heartwarming and the opposite of heartwarming — it’s no wonder consumers value brands that have a human touch. According to a consumer poll by Young and Rubicom, kindness and empathy are among the most important attributes that consumers look for in a brand.

Just like individuals, companies get to choose who they are, what set of values they ascribe to, and what matters most to them. Be the company that would always go the extra mile to help.

You’ll have honest conversations — and strengthen your business.

Treating your customers like people means building trust. When you have open and honest conversations, you naturally learn the kind of information that makes you a better business partner.

With open doors of communication, your customers are more likely to tell you when they’ve had an off interaction with one of your teammates, what features they would love to see in your next product update, or a unique way they’re using your services. Listening and being responsive to this kind of constant, organic feedback is what makes a good company great.

You’ll get more than customers — you’ll create fans.

Fans don’t just stick with you by default. They already know how great you are — and it totally geeks them out.


The thing about fans is that they want to spread the word. If you have a superfan in your life — of the Denver Broncos, say, or stuffed-crust pizza, or the band Phish — chances are you know all about the object of their affection.

When you are good to people, they’ll become your fans. And when they’re your fans, they’ll go out of their way to spread the word of your good work, your relationship building, and your great company.

What does that mean for your bottom line? According to Nielsen, recommendations from family and friends are the most trusted form of marketing. What’s more, customers are four times more likely to buy if they’ve been recommended to a business by someone they trust.

You and your team will be happier and healthier.

Treating others well, being kind, and prioritizing relationships aren’t just directly good for your bottom line. They’ll also help make your team happier and healthier — which in turn will make them more productive, more efficient, and better at building relationships. It’s a win-win cycle.


An endorphin boost, success, and longevity — what more could you ask for? Get out there and start building authentic relationships with your customers.

Looking for more on the power of kindness? Check out our article on 5 things you need to give in sales.


Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

Does Your Business Have Good Karma? 5 Ways to Make It Better

We, of course, think a lot about karma. We notice that the word gets thrown around a lot. When thieves drive a stolen car into a sinkhole or when a deserving couple wins millions in the lottery, karma even makes it into headlines. But what does it really mean?

From the Sanskrit karman, karma means “work.” It encapsulates the idea that what you do matters — that the good (or not-so-good) you put out there comes right back at you in the future.

So, what better place to make sure you’re building up good karma than your workplace? Here are 5 ways to make sure your business has good karma.

Do what you love

Simon Sinek tells us to start with “why” — to ground everything we do in business first and foremost in why we are doing it. Not the to-make-a-profit or to-retire-at-40 kind of whys, but the why that will get you out of bed when profits slump, the why that could keep you in the game until you’re 80. Here are some examples of solid whys:

  • Because I want to help people be happier at work through thoughtful workshops and hands-on consulting
  • Because I want to create a tool that connects small business owners with their community
  • Because I want to help food deserts by providing inexpensive alternative proteins

To build a business that runs on good karma, start with what you love. That will get you high reserves of karma right out of the gate — the passion you feel for your work will help fuel your coworkers’ and customers’ passions, too.

Stay positive

Now, even when you love what you do, no one can be Pollyanna all of the time. But to generate good with your business, you want to start with a firm foundation of positivity. This doesn’t mean denying that tough situations and relationships exist. Instead, it means looking at challenges as opportunities to grow and evolve.

Practicing positivity ups your team’s productivity levels and your karma quotient. Here are some examples of positivity in action from researchers at the University of Michigan:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust & integrity.    

And that pretty much reads like a blueprint for good karma in the workplace.

Nurture your relationships

While random acts of kindness are cool, to build a business on good karma, you want your good actions to be anything but random. You want them to be rooted in what is most important to your team, clients, and colleagues.

There’s nothing wrong with giving all your customers freebies or handing out consultations to every passerby at a trade show. But what’s even more meaningful – and karma-ful – is building the kind of strong relationships that allow you to deeply understand what your colleagues and clients need.

Devote yourself to growing contact lists built on real connections. Then, you can make sure all your actions — from marketing to mentorship, from customer service to consulting — are devoted to providing value to each individual. And that’s pretty much karma on steroids.

Looking for more on nurturing your relationships? Check out our articles on relationship building.

Practice mindfulness

As our workdays are increasingly full of distraction, and as stress skyrockets, it can be difficult to focus on the basics, like eating and sleeping, much less doing good for others.

Mindfulness is a good anecdote. It not only reduces stress, boosts creativity, and improves your overall health, but it also increases your empathy and compassion for others. And it helps you create the mental space you need to focus on what’s really important — instead of just putting out fires.

Searching for more on mindfulness in business? Check out our blog on how top brands integrate mindfulness into the everyday.

Dedicate yourself to others’ success

Instead of running your business by the me-first playbook, cultivate a culture of success for everyone you do business with. You don’t need to get your piece of the pie first. Believe in abundance — that there is a never-ending supply of pie to go around. (Mmm, pie!)

The success of your clients, colleagues, and coworkers will encourage your success, too. Go out of your way to help others:

  • Provide free eBooks, webinars, and other valuable guidance that helps your customers meet their challenges.
  • Offer free demos or training related to your services.
  • Volunteer to provide consultation for businesses that are just starting out.
  • Help foster connections amongst people that you know.
  • Volunteer your time, money, space, and other resources to endeavors you believe in.

I bet what you’ll find, more often than not, is that these good deeds result in some good rewards. That’s karma for you :).

Want more on how karma is good for business? Check out our blog post on how giving helps you sell more.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

Tracking Sales from Lead to Close: CRM Metrics That Matter

Did you know that, without landmarks or visual cues, humans tend to walk in circles. That’s right, people need reference points to walk in a straight line from point A to point B.

CRM Metrics

Without defining and measuring customer relationship management (CRM) metrics — your business reference points — you might find yourself walking in circles or lost deep in the data woods without a clear path out.

Whether you’re just getting started with CRM or you’ve tracked every lead since day one, it’s always beneficial to pause and look around to assess your location. Then, you can adjust and forge ahead with confidence.

Here’s a look at five CRM metrics that matter.

Outreach activities

Two simple metrics to track are sales calls and emails. How many outreach calls is your sales team making on a daily, monthly, and quarterly basis? How many emails are they sending?

Are leads moving down the sales funnel with more frequency after a call or after an email? Maybe there’s an optimal combination of the two? By tracking your sales activities, you can uncover trends that allow you to tweak your outreach approach to best nurture your leads.

Lead source

While traditional outreach activities like those above are effective reference points to start with, it’s also important to track where else your leads find your company. For example, one lead may discover your blog through an online search or hear about your services through a family member. Another may follow your business on Facebook or LinkedIn.

By tracking lead sources on a monthly basis, you’ll know where to invest your resources to have the biggest impact.

Conversion rate

Do you know how many of your leads became customers last year? What about last quarter? Or last month? Your conversion rate are crucial to keep on top of. When you know your team’s typical conversion rate per sales cycle, you can determine a predictable sales model and grow your team according to your sales projections.

Average sales cycle length

Now that you know your conversion rate, it’s time to look at how long your typical conversion takes. This is a big one! The best CRM tracks not only your first interaction with a lead, but their entire history with your company including emails, sales calls, meetings, and more.   

Once you know the length of your average customer journey, you can make smarter sales predictions and implement methods to shorten the time to close a new deal. If you want to shorten your sales cycle, a CRM helps you do that with email templates, reminders, and automated workflows.

Customer retention rate

Are you keeping an eye on how many customers stick around — and how many never return after that first sale? Once a lead becomes a customer, it’s your job to keep them happy so they continue working with you.

The happier your customers, the more profits you’ll enjoy, too, according to research by Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company. In fact, all it takes is a 5% increase in customer retention to see a 25% boost in profit.

CRM Metrics

Take a look at your CRM reports over any given time period to see how many customers you’ve gained and how many you’ve lost. Any change to your retention rate is an indicator of how well your business is providing value to your customers.


These five metrics provide reference points that keep your sales activities moving in the right direction. What other CRM metrics do you track? Leave us a comment below.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

5 Reasons Your Salespeople Hate Your CRM

You’re spending money on CRM software that your sales team won’t use. While you were bright-eyed and optimistic about the possibility to grow your business with it, they resist.

So what gives?

We’ve got a few ideas.

You didn’t ask for their input.

No matter what tool you use for CRM, success depends on your sales team actually using it. And since 60% of CRM implementations fail because businesses choose the wrong software for their needs, it makes sense to involve your sales team at every step of the way.

Your sales team will use your CRM daily, so find out what features they need to do their job effectively. Then, bring the team together to demo a few options that meet those needs.

Cat Team Meeting GIF

When you involve your sales team from the beginning, they’ll be more invested in making the project a success.

They don’t see the value.

You know the benefits of CRM for you: it lowers your costs while increasing revenue and helps you identify top-notch leads. Both worthwhile and valuable things!

But does your sales team understand how it will help them in their day-to-day?

"What's in it for me," says Baby Dinosaur Sinclair

Your team will be much more interested in using new software when they know how it benefits them. For instance, it optimizes their workflow and keeps customer info in one place.

If you show your salespeople how CRM makes their job easier, you’ll see more sales action and you’ll hear fewer complaints.

It’s too complicated.

Adding a CRM to your sales team’s workflow can seriously throw them off — especially when it’s full of bells and whistles that they don’t necessarily need. When that’s the case, it can be a major roadblock.

Your salespeople need software that makes it easier to reach their goals — not something that trips them up every time they open it.

Woman trips while kicking soccer ball GIF

Use a simple and intuitive CRM that doesn’t scare your sales team away. It makes a big difference between a team that wants to use their CRM and one that doesn’t.

They never received training.

You’d never expect your kid to learn how to ride a bike on the first try. You’d give him time to practice with training wheels. Then, eventually, you’d take them off.

Your sales team is the same. Don’t expect them to hop into CRM and know how to navigate the software immediately. Instead, prep them so they’re warmed up and ready to go.

Two costumed characters race on an outdoor track GIF

Even if you adopt an intuitive CRM, it’s always helpful to go over the basics.

Here’s a solid training plan:

  • A high-level intro to the program. This is where you show how it’ll make their lives easier and more productive!
  • Beginner’s training sessions to introduce your team to basic features
  • Team-wide trainings on advanced features
  • Periodic training on new features

Ask your CRM provider for documentation, help articles, and video trainings to support your sales team’s new endeavor.

You aren’t committed.

If you don’t do any of the above, it shows your sales team that you aren’t committed. Even if your CRM is super simple, your sales team won’t benefit from it if they don’t use it. That would be a shame!

Sad baby GIF

Asking for input, defining your CRM’s value, finding a tool that fits your team well, and implementing proper training makes the difference between a sales team that hates your CRM — and one that embraces it.


There you have it — some insight into why your sales team isn’t using your CRM and how to fix it. Have more ideas? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

Have a Small Business? Here’s Why You Need CRM

Right now, you may be thinking, “CRM is only for big businesses, not the little ones like me!” But CRM doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. In fact, the best CRMs for small businesses are easy to use and customizable to your needs, not clunky software that takes days to set up.

So why do you need CRM? For starters, CRM helps you foster strong relationships with new and existing customers. When you focus on people, not just profits, your business grows organically. At the end of the day, relationships make or break your business — and you know that there’s nothing more valuable than a referral.

man throwing money on unicorn gif

But maintaining customer relationships, your team, and a steady income can feel overwhelming. That’s why CRM is the best tool to streamline your efforts and cultivate the relationships that will feed your business for years to come.

It prioritizes your to-do list.

With a mile long to-do list, do you know the most important thing to work on every day? Should you focus on following up with three new connections — something you meant to do last week? Or maybe you should send a marketing email to your beta list? Or maybe you need to schedule some sales calls…

"Hang on, I'm doing something really important!" -- guy hoola hooping on his bed gif

While CRM might not cut your list in half, it helps you prioritize your tasks so that you spend time in the most meaningful way every single day.

But keep in mind, CRM is like any business tool: it doesn’t automatically grow sales. Just like fertilizing tomatoes, if your garden’s full of rocks or sits in the shade, no fertilizer will encourage the plants to grow. To really nail CRM, it takes the right strategy.  

No more sticky notes: it organizes customer data for you.

Strategy breeds success, so think about how you organize and use customer info today. Even if you know your customer’s role and company, do you know their kid’s name? What about their side business importing coffee? Or their favorite topics to tweet about?

It’s hard to remember all the details, so why not let CRM do it for you? It can aggregate online info from LinkedIn profiles and Twitter feeds — plus you can add the relationship history all in one place that you can access from anywhere.

Staying on top of what your customers are up to isn’t weird and doesn’t need to be time-consuming. Instead, it helps you meaningfully connect with them so when it’s time to close the sale, they’re ready to say yes.

Your sales team will never send a duplicate email to the same lead again.

If your team uses a regular email platform rather than a CRM, two salespeople might send two emails to the same lead. Awkward, right?

News reporter attempts to high five her colleague and it's not reciprocated.

A lead is likely as busy as you, so when they receive two emails from your sales team, it makes your company look disorganized.

Mistakes like this occur when a team doesn’t have the same level of customer data and communication transparency that a CRM provides. It’s exactly what you don’t want to happen.

How — and when — you connect with a lead is very different from how you connect with a veteran customer. For example, with CRM, your new sales team member will know that David became a customer in 2011 after he was referred by his dad, Robert. They also know that Kathy is a lead and appropriately send her a follow-up email to schedule a call.

To effectively communicate with customers, your entire team needs to understand the history with the client to make deeper connections — and close the sale.

It helps you master customer experience.

Each of the three points above help you do the most important thing: build customer relationships. Your customers are the bread and butter of your business and taking care of them is your top priority. The best CRM for your small business frees up your time so you can do just that.

With more time to focus on customer relationships, you improve their experience, close more sales, and grow your business. Boom.


Brand new to CRM? Check out our article on everything you need to know.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

Why Customer Relationship Management is Your Most Important Sales Tool

Relationships are the wheels to your success. Without good tires, a car is just a hunk of metal — and without relationships, businesses won’t move. That’s why centering your efforts on customer relationship management (CRM) paves the way for a smooth ride.

It strengthens your relationship with customers.

If you were given the option to work with someone you know and like or a complete stranger, chances are, you’re going to go with the person you know. Your customers are the same. It’s all about trust.

That’s why good customer relationship management revolves around conversation. When you focus on communicating intentionally with your contacts, it makes it easier for you to get to know them — and for them to get to know you and your business.

Take it from Bob Thompson, CEO of CustomerThink Corp., who says “successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price, but as a differentiator.”

And you need a differentiator. Our world is a mile-a-minute and the thing that’s going to make your contacts slow down and pay attention to you is your talent at relationship building. What do you remember more? The slick ad or the salesperson who remembered your kiddo was a bunch of grapes for Halloween last year? That’s what I thought. Go for the meaningful connection – every time.

Tip: Put people first. Focus on building a rapport instead of making a deal. Learn about your contacts and connect with them. When the sales pitch comes, it won’t be transactional — instead, you’ll talk more honestly about how you can help each other. As writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie wrote in his best-selling book, How to Win Friends & Influence People,

“If you want others to like you, if you want to develop real friendships, if you want to help others at the same time as you help yourself, keep this principle in mind: Become genuinely interested in other people.”

It provides personalized attention.

Once you get to know your customers, personalization will be organic. After all, you probably don’t struggle to “personalize” emails to your friends. Nurturing professional relationships you’ve already built is the same. Collecting information about your contact — from emails, conversations, and social media tracking — makes customization a no-brainer.

If you know your contact’s birth date, send over a ‘Happy Birthday’ email.

If you know they love Italian food (and wine), schedule your next meeting at a great Italian place in town. If they are Seahawks fans, gently tease them for their poor taste — and then give them hot seats to the next game. Pay attention to all that makes them unique and use that info to build the relationship.

Now, when you’re dealing with a few customers, keeping all that info, from personal details to social media preferences, is pretty easy. But, as your fan base grows, it’s crucial to stay organized so you never forget an important anniversary or accidentally send those Seahawks tickets to a diehard 49ers fan. Use a CRM to track conversations, then use that info to tweak communication.

Tip: Use a CRM to track your contact’s birthday, their current position, work anniversary, and more. Add your own observations, and giving personalized attention to your leads will be a breeze.

It makes follow up natural.

All this personalization will be a lot more impressive if you use it to make your follow up as human as possible.

The next time you talk with or email a contact, weave what you learned through past interactions into your conversation. You’ll find your deep knowledge will help the conversation flow naturally.

Another benefit of centering your business on your contacts? It makes communication proactive instead of reactive. For example, if you know when a customer last purchased from you, you can use that info to reach out at the perfect time.

Tip: The next time you call a contact, focus on your relationship with them. What do you have in common? What’s your history? And have you heard from them lately? Use this information to inform how you communicate with them.


Strengthening the relationship between you and your contacts will help your small business really fly. What do you do to manage customer relationships and build your business? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

75 Quick and Dirty Mindfulness Techniques for Your Workday

Think you don’t have time for mindfulness? Think again. Here are 75 easy techniques that you can do before, during, and after your busy work day.

Before work

    1. When you first wake up, notice now your body feels.
    2. Stretch and pay attention to how your body feels first thing in the morning.
    3. Journal for five minutes, making a list of three things you are grateful for from yesterday and three intentions you have for the coming day.
    4. As you brush your teeth, try and think of more things you’re grateful for.
    5. As you get ready for work, notice the sights, sounds, and smells of your morning.
    6. Notice how the shower temperature feels.
    7. Before you start eating breakfast, take a moment to consider the origins of the food you will eat. Pause in gratitude for the work that went into bringing the food to your table. For example, imagine the farmer who grew the wheat in your bread, the baker who baked it, and the delivery person who brought it to your grocer. Sit in gratitude for their service.
    8. While eating breakfast, notice the textures of your food and chew intentionally.
    9. When getting dressed, pay attention to how your fresh clothes feel against your skin.
    10. After you’ve gotten dressed, look in the mirror and set an intention for the day.
    11. Notice how you’re feeling as you prepare to get out the door. Rushed? Calm? Hesitant?
    12. On your commute, pay attention to your surroundings and see if you notice something new on this route.  
    13. As you arrive at work, notice if how you feel changes. Pause before you enter your office or workspace. Notice and release any tension or anxiety.

Throughout your workday

Breath awareness

    1. Breathe in for four counts, breathe out for four counts. Repeat.
    2. Feel your diaphragm expand as you breathe.
    3. Breathe in and out, repeating to yourself, “I am relaxed.”
    4. Breathe in through your nose. Notice the sensation in your nostrils.
    5. Try the 7/11 technique: breathe in for 7 counts and out for 11.

Body and sensation awareness

    1. Pay attention to the smell of your coffee.
    2. Feel your shoes on your feet on the floor.
    3. Take off your shoes and feel the sensation of your feet on the floor.
    4. Feel your shoulders and ribcage move with your breath.
    5. Close your eyes and feel yourself sitting in your chair.
    6. Do a full body scan, starting with your feet and moving up through your body. Notice any tension or pain. Do nothing but observe the sensations in your body.
    7. Stand up. Feel your body rising out of your seat.
    8. Raise your arms above your head. Feel the stretch in your shoulders.
    9. Sit at your desk and do some shoulder rolls to adjust your posture. Notice how much better your back feels from that adjustment.
    10. Make a fist with your hands for five seconds. Release and make your hands as wide as possible. Relax the hands and keep your attention on the sensation for as long as possible.
    11. Sit in your chair and imagine yourself melting into it. Sit with this sensation for a few moments.
    12. Press your thumbs to your middle fingers and take two breaths.
    13. When writing, notice the look and feel of the pen in your hands.
    14. Stop and listen for the ambient noise around you.
    15. Notice how you’re sitting in your chair. Adjust your posture.
    16. Look out the window. Examine the sights as though you’re seeing them for the first time.
    17. When washing your hands, notice the temperature of the water and the wet sensation on your skin.
    18. When listening to familiar music, listen more carefully to find new notes, lyrics, or instruments.

Present-moment awareness

    1. Sit in your chair and just be for a minute.
    2. Begin counting from 1 to 10. If your mind wanders, begin back at 1 and start over until you make it to 10.
    3. Tend to zone out during certain tasks? Bring more awareness to them.
    4. Slowly and gently roll your neck and feel the stretch and the tension release.
    5. Leave your phone in the drawer and see how few times you can check it throughout the day.
    6. Get a stress ball or a worry stone and use it mindfully throughout your day.
    7. Set an alarm a few times throughout the day to remind you to stop what you’re doing, observe your thoughts, and check in with how your body is feeling.
    8. Select a mindfulness cue, such as the phone ringing, a computer alert, or every time you see yourself in the mirror. When this happens, bring your attention to the present moment and breathe in and out three times.  
    9. Pick an object in the room and focus on it. Notice the shape, color, and all aspects of the item. See if there is anything about it that you haven’t noticed before.
    10. Find a space to sit in child’s pose for a count of 10 breaths.
    11. Place your hand over your heart and smile for a count of three breaths.
    12. Imagine a Stop sign when you become distracted or agitated: Stop what you’re doing. Take a few conscious breaths. Observe your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Proceed once you feel fully aware of your current state.
    13. Notice your energy levels throughout the day. Are they related to the time of day or a task you’re doing?

Gratitude and awareness of emotions

    1. Think of three to five underappreciated things or people you are grateful for. For example, heat and air conditioning, electricity, or the person who delivers your mail. Take a moment to appreciate them.
    2. Close your eyes and think of a loved one. Say in your mind, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you feel safe. May you live your life with ease.”
    3. Do this same exercise, but think of someone you have tension with.
    4. Close your eyes and say to yourself, “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I feel safe. May I live my life with ease.”
    5. Sit and notice any negative emotion you’re feeling. Recognize that negative thoughts are just thoughts and release them with kindness.
    6. While sitting in your chair, close your eyes and smile. Notice if smiling to yourself affects your emotions or your physicality.
    7. If you’re feeling anxious, try this guided meditation.

During lunch and other breaks

    1. If you buy your lunch every day, check in with your body and ask yourself what you’re really hungry for.
    2. Eat lunch in a different spot today and notice the sights, smells, and sounds of this new place.
    3. At lunch, notice the smell, flavor, and texture of the first few bites of your meal.
    4. Slowly chew your food.
    5. Get a piece of chocolate and let it melt in your mouth. No biting or chewing!
    6. Practice one of the many raisin meditations. You may do this with any food.
    7. Take a walk outside. Feel the air on your skin. Notice the sensation in your feet and legs as you walk.
    8. Take an afternoon tea meditation break.
    9. Go outside to a peaceful spot and take three deep and mindful breaths.

During meetings

    1. Listen carefully to others in meetings and in conversations.
    2. Consciously speak with kindness whenever giving feedback or responding to the ideas of others.
    3. Notice when you speak how many fillers (um, like, er, ya know, etc.) you use. Slow down and practice mindful speaking by avoiding these fillers when you can.

After work

    1. As your day draws to a close, bring intention and mindfulness to your regular end-of-day wrap-up and closing time rituals. Are you usually tense? Calm? Stressed? Rushed?
    2. Take out your keys. Notice the teeth and shape of each key.
    3. Notice your keychains. Are they souvenirs from a vacation or related to a similar memory? Do they bring up any emotions?
    4. Take a new or modified route home and notice anything different about this commute, both in your surroundings and in your awareness and emotions.
    5. After you’ve taken the keys out of the ignition or as you approach your door, take three deep breaths in gratitude for another work day completed.   
    6. As you brush your teeth, repeat the gratefulness practice you had at the beginning of the day.
    7. Before you go to bed, pay attention to how your body feels. Remember how it felt in the morning.

Want to learn the benefits of all these mindfulness practices? Check out our blog on the benefits of mindfulness in business.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

10 Mindfulness Resources for Small Businesses

So you know what mindfulness is and you’re intrigued. You may even have a good handle on how to get started in your workplace. But you’re still looking for a little bit more. Here’s a list of resources to help you introduce mindfulness to your team.

There is an app for that.

Because of course there is. One article claims that there are over 700 apps for mindfulness, but who has time to sift through all that? Here are eight of the best to get you started.

  1. Calm: With a picturesque interface, Calm lives up to its name as soon as you open it. Using this intensive program, you’ll be your company’s mindfulness guru in no time.
  2. Headspace: Like Calm, Headspace offers a complete mindfulness course. Once you’ve completed the basics, you can move onto more advanced tracks, such as Creativity and Focus.
  3. Buddhify: With Buddhify, you’ll pick your mindfulness exercises based on your location or other activities. For example, check out Work Break meditations during lunch or Difficult Emotions exercises after that contentious meeting.
  4. The Mindfulness Training App: The Mindfulness Training App gives your practice a jump start with some of the biggest names in mindfulness, including Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Pema Chödrön.
  5. Stop, Breathe, & Think: Looking for as little start-up energy as possible? With Stop, Breathe, & Think, you can get started with mindfulness in just five minutes each day.

Get found in a book.

Because sometimes you just want to get your head out of a screen. We love books, and here are 10 that will enhance your mindfulness practice.

  1. Mindfulness for Dummies: Self-explanatory
  2. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle: A classic on living in the moment
  3. The Mindful Workplace by Michael Chaskalson: A practical guide that includes an 8-week course on bringing mindfulness to your business
  4. Thrive by Arianna Huffington: A cautionary tale and a guide for slowing down
  5. Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman: A bestseller focusing especially on mindfulness techniques to manage digital distraction
  6. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh: An intro guide from a Zen master
  7. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn: The best-selling book by one of the world’s top mindfulness experts
  8. A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax: For those who like their mindfulness with a side of humor
  9. A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein: A guide to bringing mindfulness to everyday activities
  10. Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade Meng-Tan: From the architect of Google’s touted mindfulness program

Looking for more examples of how to work a mindfulness program into your business? Check out these examples of mindfulness programs in Fortune 500 companies.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

Stumped on How to Bring Mindfulness to Your Business? Learn from Top Brands

If you’re like most people — and most people on your team — you pick up your smartphone before you even get out of bed in the morning. You’re checking your email, your social networks, and your Slack channels before you even brush your teeth. You already have a barrage of incoming information, pulling your attention from one topic to the next, before you have your first cup of coffee.

Startups, especially, are hotbeds for constant work: you and your team are driven to get more done, faster. You likely work around the clock so your company will survive and thrive, so that you and your team will come out on top.

But, increasingly, experts are saying that all work and no play makes you more than just dull. Overworking can decrease productivity, weaken focus and attention to goals, and crush innovation. In short, you’ll end up getting less done by trying to do too much, and your life (and your company) may suffer for it.

Enter mindfulness. It’s grown in popularity in the U.S. in the past few years (as I’m sure you’ve heard) for a reason. Mindfulness is an in-the-moment answer to internal and external pressure to work constantly. It’s also a break from work that can take as little as five minutes. Stumped as to how to get started? Take a page from the books of the big brands. Here’s how Google, Aetna, and other top companies get their mindfulness on.

Google wants its employees to search inside themselves.

There’s a reason that Google is consistently named one of the best places to work in the country. Some people will point to Google’s high pay, pool tables, and sleep pods, or the benefit of changing the way the world works.

But, the foundation for what sets Google apart may just be a single innovative program: Search Inside Yourself. SIY is a mindfulness and emotional intelligence training program that teaches its employees how to hack their minds. Combining ancient meditation techniques with cutting-edge neuroscience research, the program focuses on self-awareness, compassion, empathy, positive thinking, resilience, motivation, and leadership.

Participants in the program report many benefits:

  • Improved leadership effectiveness
  • Better well-being
  • Increased resilience in the face of stress
  • Strengthened mental focus
  • Reduced frequency of sick days

SIY has expanded beyond the corridors of Google to become a full-fledged institute, bringing mindfulness training to companies across the globe.

Tip: Your startup may not yet be ready to take the plunge and bring Search Inside Yourself to your offices for a 2-day seminar. But you can start more modestly, right now.

Buy your team copies of Search Inside Yourself or Joy on Demand, written by Google’s former Jolly Good Fellow in residence and creator of Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan. This can kick off a discussion of how to bring more mindfulness techniques into your strategic thinking and your everyday work.

General Mills wants Betty Crocker to be aware of the present moment.

You probably know General Mills best for the cereal you feed your toddler or your favorite flavor of Haagen Daz. But the food manufacturer brings more than just tasty treats to your kitchen. Like Google, they are leaders in bringing mindfulness into businesses.

Janice Marturano, the Founder of the Institute of Mindful Leadership, developed the very first mindful leadership curricula while she was still serving as the General Mills’ VP. General Mills was the first of many Fortune 500 companies she brought her intensive training to, and the company maintained their dedication to mindful leadership after Marturano left to run the Institute full time.

“It’s about training our minds to be more focused, to see with clarity, to have spaciousness for creativity, and to feel connected,” says Marturano. “That compassion to ourselves, to everyone around us – our colleagues, customers – that’s what the training of mindfulness is really about.”

While many companies offer mindfulness training to all employees, General Mills continues to devote special focus to strengthening present-living techniques in their leaders. Throughout a typical week, team leaders and senior employees may engage in meditation and yoga together. Mindfulness spaces are available to gather and sit in silent reflection together.

And those who participate see benefits not just to their well-being but to the employees they lead as well. After one seven-week mindfulness program at General Mills, 89% of participating senior leaders said they were better listeners. What’s more, 80% said they had experienced a positive change in their ability to make better decisions.

Tip: If a widespread mindfulness program seems too daunting for your company, start with smaller training and practice sessions for you and other leaders in your startup.

This can be as simple as joining together to do a few meditations, such as the free guided meditations available from the Institute of Mindful Leadership. You can join a yoga class together or sit in on a free mindful leadership seminar at your local meditation center. By beginning with the leaders of your startup, you can create a culture of mindfulness before introducing any practice within your organization as a whole.

Aetna knows an Om a day keeps the doctor away.

Aetna, the managed healthcare company, is committed to keeping their employees healthy. Their wellness initiative is guided by the unconventional leadership and hard-earned wisdom of Aetna’s CEO, Mark Bertolini.

After a near-death skiing accident left him with a long-term disability and chronic pain, Bertolini turned to yoga and meditation. He reflects: “I still have my pain, but as we say in the meditative arena, in the mindfulness arena: ‘I have pain, I’m aware of my pain, I am not my pain.’ I had to learn how to be more ‘Zen’ in the way I approached my daily life, and meditation was a way to learn how to do that.”

Bertolini brought this sense of Zen into his Fortune 100 company. He offers free meditation and yoga classes to his 50,000 employees (and about a third participate). Aetna runs a mindfulness tumblr with regular tips on being more present in everyday moments, such as reminders to enjoy the walk between meetings or to place mindfulness Post-Its around workspaces.

Aetna employees who participate in the mindfulness activities report significant gains:

Tip: Browse Aetna’s mindfulness tumblr for concrete, actionable ways to encourage more daily mindfulness in and out of the workplace.

Aetna also introduced mindfulness and yoga practices to their customers. Can you move your dedication to mindfulness outside your immediate team? Can you share what you’re learning with your customers? It won’t just make your whole business, inside and out, fitter, happier, and more productive — it might just be good for your bottom line, too.

What are your thoughts on mindfulness in business? How is your startup getting going with a new mindfulness program? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

10 Benefits of Mindfulness for Your Business

By now you know what mindfulness is and that tons of people swear by it. Here are 10 benefits of mindfulness for your business.

1. Fewer distractions

Your brain is like a computer. Having too many tabs open at once or activating those pop-up windows can slow down your system.

Mindfulness closes out the unnecessary stuff that clogs your brain. You may not be able to reduce external distractions and interruptions in your workday. But practicing mindfulness can help you tune them out or reduce their impact.   

2. Rapid memory recall

When your brain isn’t scattered and thinking about 10 different things, it’s easier to find the tab you are looking for. Meditating and practicing mindfulness helps you tune out the noise so you can remember the important stuff, like where to find the data for that report that’s due tomorrow.

3. Increased empathy

Northeastern University conducted a study that showed how meditation increases our empathy and compassion for others. Yes, even your co-workers! Less conflict = better teamwork = working smarter, not harder. Win-win!

4. Reduced stress

Those who practice mindfulness and meditation have improved responses to stress and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Some doctors even prescribe meditation to lower blood pressure! Bonus – when you’re not overstressed, you can get better work done.

5. Improved sleep

Better sleep at home means you won’t be sleeping on the job. If you’re not fully awake and present at work, you’re not going to do your best. Practicing mindfulness helps calm the brain. You won’t toss and turn because you’re worried about your review tomorrow. No worries, you’ve got this.   

6. Fewer sick days

Nobody likes to be sick. We avoid sickness at all costs. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve immunity. So you can use your time off for an awesome vacation, instead of that cold you can’t shake.  

7. Reduced bias

Everyone wants to work where there’s equal opportunity based on merit and performance. A study from Central Michigan University showed reduced gender and race biases in participants who practiced mindfulness meditation.

8. More creativity

We often praise innovation as the key to growth. Those who practice mindfulness meditation often have increased creativity, which is defined in the study as the ability to brainstorm multiple ideas, as well as finding a specific solution to a problem. Fewer ruts to climb out of = more stuff done.  

9. Reduced burnout

These two studies were conducted on teachers and medical professionals who completed weeks-long meditation courses. Both fields experience major burnout. With all of the other benefits on this list, it should be no surprise to you that meditation also helps reduce worker burnout.

10. Increased job satisfaction

People who meditate report higher job satisfaction than those who don’t. Happier employees = less turnover, and that is always good for business. And from an employee standpoint, if we’re going to be at work for a third or more of our day, we want to be happy while we’re there.  

Need to back up and review what mindfulness really is? Check out our blog defining mindfulness in business.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.