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Tips for Executive Assistants: How to Find More of You

Published November 30, 2016        by Matt

Finding Groups of Executive Assistants

Guest Poster - Christina Holzhauser

executive assistants

Sometimes as executive assistants it can feel a bit like you are a lone wolf, especially if you are a Virtual Assistant. Often times not being part of a “team” in an office or having no coworkers can be lonely!  Whether you’re virtual or not, there are great ways to meet others in similar roles.  You’ll get advice, a great camaraderie feeling and be able to connect with others who really "get it."  Here are some resources that are great for finding others in your field.

Executive Secretary magazine has a terrific list of networks and associations at the national, regional and local levels.  Here’s where you can see this impressive list: Associations. One of our favorite groups on the list is Office Ninjas. They hold fun and well-organized "Admingling" networking events in various cities, which I recommend.

There are a variety of ways to find local groups, all it takes is a little searching.  In Austin, for example, we have the Young Women's Alliance, Texas Young Professionals and Austin Young Chamber.  There are also national groups like Network After Work that have meetings in most cities in America and a number of smaller ones as well.  Try googling keywords, such as "networking [your city]" and see what pops up.  

If you haven’t heard of MeetUp, you should check it out! There are often times local Meetups like the one we found in Austin called APNA. I recommend searching within MeetUp using keywords such as Administrative Assistant, Office Manager, Executive Assistant, etc.  You’ll most likely find one in your area; if there isn’t one, maybe you’ll be inspired to start your own!

A lot of folks are active on LinkedIn, which is used for much more than just recruiting.   Here are some LinkedIn groups I recommend: OfficeNinjas, Effective Executive Secretary Network, Executive Assistants to CEOs, Executive Personal Assistants Society, Executive/Personal Assistants, as well as the PAs, EAs, VAs and Senior Administrators group. You could also ask your fellow assistants if they’re connected to any other groups themselves.

Great websites can also foster a feeling of community.  I’ve stumbled on some great ones here:

Of course there are tons of blogs, but these are some nice ones to check out:

Also, don’t forget workshops and conferences both locally and nationally.  One great workshop is Be the Ultimate Assistant. Don’t be afraid to ask your principal to cover the fees; you’d be surprised at how often principals are happy to support continuous professional development.

I hope these resources help to build your network of like-minded people. Please reach out to me if you know of any other resources that I can add to this list at christina@tipsforassistants.com.

Who is more generous with Friends & Family? Trump or Clinton supporters?

Published October 17, 2016        by Matt

If you support Trump or Clinton, you'd probably use some tough words to describe the other side.  But which one would you call more generous? We analyzed 10,000 orders and discovered interesting differences in how generous Trump Supporters and Clinton supporters are with their own friends and family.

Over the past twelve months, 30,000 people have shopped with us from all over America. We wanted to find out if one side was more generous than the other. We looked at gifts sent from the “most Trump” and “most Clinton” states to see if there were any clues. Boy, were we surprised.

After tallying over 10,000 orders, we discovered Trump leaning states  spend 21% more on gifts to their friends and family.  Which is ironic because Trump states tend to be poorer.  (We adjusted our data for income by state and by buyer since we have an idea of the average income of each of our buyers)  What gives Clinton-ites? We also discovered a few other interesting patterns below.

But first: How did we decide what state is a Trump state or a Clinton state? Most states are rabidly on one side or the other (think California or Alabama). In order to only analyze the strongest Trump and Clinton states, we excluded eight toss-up states.  These states were determined by looking at what Nate Silver, of the website 538, determines as leaning Trump or Clinton. The states leaning strongly in favor of one candidate or the other were defined as Trump states or Clinton states. Sorry, Libertarians!

Copy of US Presidential Election Maps 1996 - 2008 - Google Drawings 2016-10-17 11-34-50

 

Copy of US Presidential Election Maps 1996 - 2008 - Google Drawings 2016-10-17 11-37-36

 

Then our data scientists dug into thousands of gift orders. We asked, “Who spends more money?” It turns out that nine of the ten most generous states, as measured by the amount spent per gift, are all Trump states.

trumpgifts

Was the opposite true? Yes: seven of the least generous states, when adjusting for incomes, were Clinton states.Clintongifts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That piqued our curiosity, so our data scientists wanted to learn more: What kinds of gifts do Trump states buy? We have over 1,000 gifts in thirty categories, so we wondered whether we’d see any patterns. And we did.

Trump states are HUNGRY

  • Trump states are 2.1x more likely to buy a gift box with fruits and nuts from us than a Clinton state. And when they do, their boxes are twice as big.
  • Trump states buy 50 percent more giant holiday food towers than Clinton states.
  • And they buy 30 percent more food gifts. From sugar cookies, to fruits, to dried nuts, they buy far more food than Clinton states.

But Clinton states have a SWEET TOOTH

  • Clinton states LOVE chocolate. People who live in a Clinton state are 452% more likely to buy chocolate as a gift.
  • Not only do they love chocolates, folks in Clinton states are much more likely to buy caramel than those in Trump states. A person living in a Clinton state is 140 percent more likely to buy caramel than someone living in a Trump state.
  • Rounding out our top three, Clinton states are 135 percent more likely to buy kids’ gifts . . . and not just any kids’ gifts, but “get well” kids’ gifts.

After we discovered that Clinton states are chocolate lovers, we couldn’t stop digging. Was there something different in how they wrote notes to their family and friends? There was!

Turns out Trump states used a few words more often in their gift notes than Clinton states did. Trump states were more likely to use the words “love” (25 percent more likely), “happy” (24 percent more likely), and “celebrate” (35 percent more likely).

Clinton states had other preferred words. They used “Hug” (33 percent more likely), “Happy Birthday” (50 percent more likely), and “Daddy” (148 percent more likely). And yes, there was more than one note that said “Hug Daddy,” but we won’t tell you from which side.

What we learned: It turns out voters don’t just disagree on the main issues like guns and healthcare, they don’t even buy gifts the same way.  Who knew?

Some Data Nerd notes on our methodology:

**We're just one store!  Of course we don't know how every single American thinks.

**We had to exclude Minnesota, (sorry!) because a large number of orders in our data set originated in Minnesota where we have a physical presence)

**This year, some traditionally ‘blue’ states have gone red.  And some ‘red’ states are only mildly red.  So we set a ‘threshold’ defined by Nate Silver’s probability that a state would vote one way or the other, and assigned that state as a “Trump” or “Clinton” state. This threshold of 70% one way or the other as of October 11, 2016.

**We made adjustments for income. This is because according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, folks in California, for example, earn more than folks in Arkansas. We used the BEA’s wage and price deflation data to make adjustments so that a dollar in California would be equal to the spending power of a dollar in Arkansas.

**We chose a simple k-means clustering methodology to assign categorical and continuous variables which led us to develop state and candidate clustering.

Media questions?  Contact david@aagiftsandbaskets.com

How to Choose the Best Corporate Gift for the Holidays

Published October 08, 2016        by Matt

Brownies
A Guide To Choosing Corporate Gifts from 4 of the most popular types

During the holidays, it's easy to get bogged down buying gifts for friends, family, and significant others only to realize at the last minute you need to send your clients a corporate gift for the holidays!  When giving gifts to clients or other corporate partners, you'll want to look both professional and grateful for the business relationship. Your goal is to choose an appropriate and presentable gift that your recipient will hopefully use (or eat!)

For instance, an effective corporate gift can be enjoyed by the client's friends and family. Corporate gifts can also be used by the recipient if they are collectors. So the question is, "What are some excellent corporate gifts that you can give to your special clients and other coworkers?" Here's a list of four of our favorite four and when how to decide which one you want to send to your 50 clients.

Holiday Gift #1: Corporate Food Gift Towers

Corporate Holiday Gift Ideas
Everyone loves food! That is why food gift towers will make the perfect gift to give your clients as it can be appreciated by a whole group, such as friends and family. You can even enhance the tower by embroidering your company's logo on the ribbon of the tower, a great way to have them remember your company as they are munching on your gift full of food. Food choices of particular tower gifts can range from cookies to chocolates. Who doesn't enjoy sweets during the holidays?

Holiday Gift #2: Meat and Cheese Gifts
meat & cheese corporate gift

Meat and cheese are one of the most common delicacies in the business
world. Who hasn't gone to an office party and not seen meat and cheese
being served?  Similar to chocolate and cookies being appealing to the client's friends and family, the same friends and family can also savor the meat and cheese during personal holiday parties. And best of all, throw in a personalized wooden cutting board with the meat and cheese gift with your company's logo. Your client will be chopping away while thinking about your business!

Holiday Gift #3: Fruit Baskets

We find that this is is probably the best gift to give anyone. Why? It contains one of the healthiest foods--fruits! From apples, pears, oranges, and more, you can be sure that your client will enjoy his or her healthy gift. According to Calorie Control Council, more than 186 million Americans are weight conscious and 54 percent of Americans are cutting back on sugar. Therefore, what do you think these individual prefer more? The answer is "fruits." For that reason, a fruit basket will be a healthy choice to help your client pursue a healthy lifestyle.  Not to mention, you can even spice these fruit baskets up with nuts or wine. If your client is a wine collector, he or she will surely remember you for it.

Holiday Gift #4: Custom Corporate Chocolate Gifts

This particular corporate holiday gift is a win/win for both you and your client or colleague. You get to imprint either your company's logo or promotional message on the chocolate, which makes a big impression! Chocolate is one of the best gifts to give because it can be admired by a whole group. And who doesn't find chocolate pleasing? After all, 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate is eaten very year in the US (fun fact!), which adds up to be over 11 pounds of chocolate per person in one year. Give that promotional chocolate as a gift, and you will most likely continue that business relationship.

These four corporate holiday gifts are just a few of many wonderful gifts to give to your clients or other business partners. Just remember to keep it appropriate, presentable, unique, interesting, and useful, and you will be sure not to go wrong. You want that client coming back to you for your business. Therefore, corporate gift giving is a successful way to show your gratitude. Happy holidays and Happy gift giving!

How to Throw the Ultimate Election Party

Published September 27, 2016        by Matt

how to plan an election night partyTurn Election Night into Party Night

November is coming, and that means the opportunity to throw an Election Night Party! Invite friends over and make it a night to celebrate democracy and patriotism. With these easy election night party ideas on decor, food, and games, you can make your party a night to remember, no matter who wins the vote!

Election Party Decoration

No matter who you are voting for, you cannot go wrong with red, white, and blue for your election night party.

Balloons are by far the easiest way to add a little color to your party. Stagger the balloons at different heights in sets of three for an appealing arrangement. Tie some to your mailbox or outdoor light to let others find your house easier. Pull out your holiday lights if they are the right color and make your yard shine!

Personalized Napkins - Get Red and Blue napkins to get everyone excited for the big show

Election Party Napkins

Donkey and elephant motifs are great for decorating, and you could take this opportunity to clip political cartoons out of the paper and incorporate them by hanging or scattering on the table. Hang up your 4th of July flags again - but do not forget to put them away before winter weather sets in! As you will likely be watching election coverage on TV, put out some red, white, and blue blankets on the couch for your guests if you have them.

Props for those Instagram photos

Candles do a great job at dressing up a room, and they look wonderful if you use multiple heights flanking the television or on the coffee table or kitchen table. If you choose to buy some election party favors, they can also add to the decor, by scattering them about, or gathering them in a vase, or stacking them in a pyramid. You can find many other easy decorations by shopping for 4th of July decorations, which may be discounted during the off season as well!

Election Night Food Ideas

Finger food is most appropriate for this type of party. You can carry the red, white, and blue theme through the food as well. A fruit platter with blueberries, strawberries, and dried coconut is great starter.

You could also choose foods that represent each candidates home state. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both from New York, so New York style pizza would fit right in. You could also serve American classics to show patriotism, such as hot dogs and burgers. Both are easy to throw on the grill for your guests.

You can double on decor and food by serving a delicious patriotic cookie bouquet like this one - Patriotic Cookie Bouquet, or some great red, white and blue cake pops like these: Patriotic Cake Pops.

Election Night Activities

While the television coverage is sure to have interesting points, it is a good idea to have other activities planned as well so that your guests do not get bored. If your guests enjoy alcohol, you could do drinking games. If you have younger guests, plan for more child friendly choices. Whatever you choose, this is a great opportunity to distribute election party favors as prizes. Particularly if you are careful to make sure everyone have a chance to get something. You could do this easily with team games. If your guests are passionate about opposing candidates, be careful with your games so that they do not start any passionate arguments. A little bantering is wonderful, but remember, you have already voted, arguing now will not change anything but your mood.

Try out some these election night party ideas, or create some of your own for a memorable night! It is a perfect night to celebrate and treat yourself for taking a stand and voting for your country, and a great way to get friends and family involved as well. All you need is a bit of decor, some well thought out food, and some activities and your night will surely start a new tradition. After all, this occasion only comes once every four years, so take advantage while you can!

How Much Money To Give As A Baptism Gift

Published September 06, 2016        by Sarah

Photo Credit: Kyle James at Flickr
Photo Credit: Kyle James at Flickr

When a Baptism invitation comes in the mail, thoughts quickly turn to the gift. What should you give? Should you give cash? Should you give a present at all? What’s appropriate? While there are no rules set in stone, there are some guidelines you can follow so you can relax about your gift.

How Close is Your Relationship

Think about how close you are to the family. Is the baby your niece, nephew, Godchild or grandchild? If you’re part of the inner circle of family or very close friends, you’ll want to give a little more than other guests typically do. But, that being said, times might be tough right now. The bottom line is to give what you can comfortably afford. $50 is a very nice gift for a Baptism. So use that as your benchmark. If you can afford to make ends meet while giving $50 or more, go for it. But if you’re going to have to go without groceries for the week, you may want to rethink your gift.

Gift Ideas Other Than Cash

There is no rule that says you have to give cash for a Baptism. If you can’t afford to give as nice an amount as you’d like, it’s perfectly acceptable to give a Baptism gift in another form. You can purchase a savings bond for baby at any bank. You’ll pay a fraction of the dollar amount on the certificate and as baby grows, the bond matures. She’ll have money to cash in when she’s older and you won’t have invested beyond your budget.

Another option is to give a present appropriate for baby instead of cash. You can give a silver rattle or keepsake such as a cross or angel that costs only a small amount but looks more upscale.

Consider also how many people from your immediate family are included on the gift. If you are bringing a family of five to a restaurant dinner, you may want to try to give more than $100. Keep in mind, however, that the gift is for baby and is not meant as an offering to cover the costs of your dinners. It is however, customary that if you have more people in your party, you should give a bit more of a gift.

It’s perfectly appropriate to show up with a card with a check or cash in it. That’s also where you’d include a savings bond. But what if you’re just tapped out and can’t give the gift you’d like to? There are options. You can make something special for the baby. Even a small frame decorated well will look nice. Include a photo of baby in it. Look online for inexpensive things you can make your own version of.

Can’t afford a designer china place setting for baby? Why not head down to the Paint Your Own Pottery studio (they’re everywhere) and paint a nice set of dishware that includes a small mug, bowl, and plate. You can personalize with baby’s name and the colors you choose. It’s very thoughtful and will come out looking lovely once the studio fires it and presents it to you finished.

Other Ideas

Parents love services. What about a gift certificate to a local child haircut shop, for when that special day comes.  Maybe spurge on a set of meals to be delivered. This is a celebration of the baby's baptism, but you can also celebrate the family as well.

Religious Gifts

If you're religiously inclined, a book teaching the child about his or her faith. Something the parents would be relieved to have, and probably won't go out of their way to purchase. There are plenty of cute stories of Noah's Ark or the Parables (for Christians). Other faiths may have books on their respective religions.  Perhaps even a Children's Bible.

If you’re thinking of not showing up at a Baptism because you don’t have a great gift, rethink. Your presence is what’s expected, not a present. So, go anyway. Even a heartfelt card is a fine idea if you can’t afford anything else right now.

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