7 Winter Foot Problems and Tips for Keeping Them At Bay

With winter just around the corner, most of us are already dreaming of long days spent on the slopes followed by leisurely evenings by the fireplace. Even if you aren’t planning to head off for a skiing or snowboarding weekend, there’s no denying the charm of watching snowflakes drift down from the sky while you’re toasty warm indoors!

Except, winter isn’t all cheer and joy. It brings its own fair share of trouble, especially for the feet. Practically everyone suffers some foot problem when the mercury drops, whether it’s a simple case of dry skin, or severe and painful chilblains, stiffness and even foot infections.

Why Are Foot Problems So Common In Winter?

Generally, we tend to take better care of our feet in summer because we’re walking around in open sandals or flip flops most of the time. When the weather gets colder, though, we slap on those heavy boots and forget all about how our feet look and feel. Out of sight, out of mind.

The trouble is, cold and dry weather aggravates your skin, and feet take the brunt of this change because they’re furthest from your core. They get less blood and oxygen than the rest of your body, and have no oil glands to keep skin moisturized. The skin on your feet is generally more prone to dryness, since it can only rely on sweat glands for moisture.

With dry skin and circulation problems come a host of foot-related issues such as inflammation, stiffness and neuropathy, which become even worse in cold weather. Wearing wet boots or the same pair of socks all day also raises the risk of infections such as Athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, unless you’re wearing antimicrobial copper socks.

Let’s look at common cold-weather foot complaints, as well as some of the most effective tips for relieving aches, boosting skin health and caring for your feet in winter.

Top 7 Foot Conditions People Face in Winter

foot problems during winter

Diabetics and the elderly usually suffer from foot issues in winter, but some complaints are common across all age groups and demographics. These include:

1. Dry Feet

Symptoms of dry feet include red, itchy, rough, flaky or peeling skin, as well as rashes, cracks and fissures. Dry feet may not seem like a serious problem, but leaving them untreated can cause numerous complications, including difficulty with movement or walking, pain, chronic burning or itching, and skin conditions such as psoriasis or dermatitis.

2. Chilblains

These itchy, red and swollen spots are a common complaint among people with circulation problems. They happen when your feet are exposed to sudden changes from cold to warm temperatures, which doesn’t allow blood vessels in the skin time to react. Chilblains usually show up on toes, and scratching them may cause cracks or ulcers.

3. Raynaud’s Phenomenon

This disorder of the blood vessels is very common in colder temperatures. The tightening of small blood vessels reduces blood and oxygen circulation in your extremities, leading to blisters, pain, discolored skin and even chilblains. The symptoms of Raynaud’s usually get worse when the temperature changes or drops suddenly.

4. Blisters

Friction from new or ill-fitting shoes often leads to blister development, even in summer. However, these irritating “bubbles” can also happen with comfortable footwear in winter, since you’re constantly wearing shoes and socks that rub against your skin. It’s also difficult to keep them from popping as a result of friction when you’re trying to stay warm!

5. Fungal/Bacterial Infections

When feet are enclosed in tight shoes or thick socks all day, they tend to get warm and sweaty. This creates the perfect environment for bacterial and fungal growth, especially between the toes and under toenails. If you’re heading to the gym instead of outdoors for exercise, you can also pick up germs from dirty floors.

6. Pinched Nerves/Neuromas

The nerve between your third and fourth toe can thicken due to excessive pressure from tight-fitting footwear, etc. It is usually treated with plenty of rest, foot elevation, ice packs, anti-inflammatory medication and a metatarsal pad placed beneath the ball of the foot. However, it also may require surgery or steroid injections in severe cases.

7. Bunions

Some people have a hereditary tendency to develop bunions, but these can also occur as a result of wearing shoes that are too tight, pointy or otherwise ill-fitting. Without proper care and padded footwear, bunions can become more severe and may even require surgical treatment. Chilblains are more common near bunions and calluses too.

Top 7 Tips for Preventing Winter Foot Problems

winter foot problems solutions

While regular foot care should be a part of your daily routine throughout the year, it’s even more important during the colder months. Here are 7 simple and effective ways to keep your feet healthy and prevent foot problems this winter:

1. Avoid sitting or standing too long

Long periods of sitting or standing are no good for your feet, and not only because they cause foot and ankle pain. Remaining in the same position for too long cuts off circulation to your legs and feet, which can lead to aches and pains, tired feet and legs, stiffness in the joints, edema or swelling in ankles and feet, as well as varicose veins and spider veins.

2. Wear copper compression socks

Wearing socks in winter is a good way to provide your feet with additional protection and warmth. Many people use compression wear to boost circulation in their legs, and copper compression socks are your best bet. In addition to graduated compression that enhances blood flow and keeps feet warm, copper infused compression socks also fight infection – and odor-causing bacteria, fungi and viruses, wick away extra sweat and boost skin health.

3. Keep your feet well-moisturized

Most winter foot problems occur due to dry skin, so it’s important to moisturize your feet regularly. After you bathe, shower or wash your feet, dry them thoroughly with a clean towel and use a thick, oil-based moisturizer to lock in moisture and keep the skin from drying out. Avoid using too much, or using harsh or scented products that can cause itching or inflammation, and don’t apply moisturizer between your toes.

4. Make sure you stay hydrated

We tend to drink less water in winter when we aren’t sweating in the heat. However, not drinking enough water is one of the main culprits behind skin dryness, in addition to numerous other health issues. Keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water every day, as well as clear soups or green tea, etc. Eating plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, and foods with omega-3s can also help skin hydration.

5. Don’t wear ill-fitting footwear

Always wear shoes that are comfortable, well-fitting and let your feet breathe, so your skin is not being rubbed raw when you walk around. Avoid footwear styles with a narrow or pointy front, which compresses your toes and increases the pressure on your feet while also reducing circulation. When you’re buying winter boots, try to find a pair that’s roomier than normal and you can wear thick socks without cutting off circulation.

6. Don’t rub or scratch your feet

If your feet and legs feel itchy, avoid scratching or rubbing them. This will only make the inflammation worse, and increase the risk of secondary infection by allowing dirt and germs to enter broken skin. Keep your skin moisturized and use an anti-itching lotion or ointment if necessary. Make sure to trim your toenails regularly after a bath or shower, since they can also damage your skin if they’re too long or sharp.

7. Try home remedies for problems

There are many ways to improve skin health at home, and even get relief from common foot problems. E.g., scrubbing your feet with a pumice stone after soaking them in warm water and Epsom salts can help relieve calluses and corns, while soaking them in water and baking soda can alleviate itchiness. Get a doctor’s opinion before trying any home remedies if you have serious skin conditions or other health issues such as diabetes.

Winter isn’t easy on your feet, but you can reduce the chances or severity of a problem with the right care. Make sure to get a checkup if you face serious or chronic issues, since timely treatment can keep them from getting worse!

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5 Trends In E-Learning You Should Know For The Coming Decade

This year’s pandemic has accelerated e-learning from a “good-to-have” to a “must-have” option for every organization. It’s bringing to the forefront strategies that are on the rise and showing no signs of slowing down in the coming decade.

If you’re thinking of creating a course for your company, adding new courses to your e-learning website, or just curious about what the future of online learning looks like, this article breaks down five e-learning trends you should know.

Personalization of Learning Experiences

The great thing about e-learning is that it’s accessible to everyone from any part of the world with a strong internet connection. A downside to this is that it doesn’t allow a customized learning experience. It also doesn’t account for different skill levels or different time frames for learning.

Course creators have turned to Big Data Analytics to solve this problem. This means using analytics tools to get information on learner performance to offer personalized learning experiences.

Some e-learning platforms require participants to take a test to evaluate their knowledge level. This provides better learning material based on what learners don’t know on a particular subject. This saves the students’ time sifting through stuff they already know.

From Big Data Analytics tools, course creators can also tell whether the ROI from training is increasing or not. Instructors can pinpoint exactly what’s missing from the course, making necessary adjustments so the course offerings are more worthwhile.

With the analysis from big data influencing training concepts and learning paths, the personalization of learning experience trend is just getting started.

Mobile Learning

What are the top three things modern learners want?

  • Control on how much, when, and what pace they take a course
  • Access to training on demand
  • Training that syncs with their lifestyle

Given the above, it’s not surprise that the mobile learning craze is only going to increase in the coming decade. Over 91% of people are using phones and 9.9% of them are stating that mobile learning offers a better learning experience. With this, course creators are catching up with this trend by creating mobile apps that mimic the desktop software version of their site.

mobile apps on play store
Mobile Apps on Play Store

Flexibility and accessibility of mobile combined with immersive technology of e-learning creates a high-impact learning experience that will only get better in the coming years.

Interactive Videos

Video has been a major player in the e-learning industry. In the US alone, major TV networks make less movies and shows in thirty years compared with the number of new videos created every thirty days. This is an impact that only increased with the introduction of interactive videos, for which users can engage with the video content through the links and interactive objects that appear.

This is also something that was lacking in traditional video sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Through interactive videos, students go from passive watchers to active learners. They can navigate content using interactive transcripts, bookmarking tabs, and content tables.

Course creators can even add questionnaires to assess the impact of the material at various stages, or combine discussion and polls for a more experimental learning simulation. Of course, this is also to keep students engaged and monitor their progress throughout the learning path. Evidently, the added benefits from interactive videos are slowly making traditional e-learning videos obsolete.

Focus on Soft Skills

You may be aware of the ever-widening skills gap. But what you may not know is that it’s not the hard skills – programming or plumbing – that people don’t have. It’s the soft stuff.

Research from LinkedIn Learning revealed that in 2019 the most sought skills from Fortune 500 Companies were analytical reasoning and creative persuasion. Normally employees learned these skills from co-workers or bosses. But because this type of learning was infrequent, informal, not scalable or repurposable, it created more problems than it solved.

A more effective method many companies have started to use is creating a learning platform that allows anyone in the company to quickly shoot a video tutorial and upload it on the platform. The subject experts can keep track of what they haven’t covered. Moreover, student employees can take tests to demonstrate what they’ve learnt and send it over for evaluation.

Another option is having a course creator create learning materials for the company. These materials can cover topics that are difficult to teach without hands-on experience, helping employees stay current with soft skills trends and improve ability to succeed in the company.

Game-Based Courses

Have a boring topic and want to make it fun? Make it a game and watch as learners work hard to win. The fear of losing drives people to push themselves harder.

duo lingo spanish game
Duo Lingo Spanish Game Course UI

Game-based courses tap into this human condition by turning difficult or dull topics into game stages. Students become so immersed in the easy-to-navigate UI and interactive design of the game that they forget they’re working through a course.

Unlike other mobile games where players become addicted to matching candies or shooting villains, students actually get something useful from the experience. The more engaged you are the more content you understand, increasing the likelihood you’ll retain the material and apply it.

Given the effectiveness of game-based courses in streamlining the learning path, it’s no surprise it’s in our top five e-learning trends of the coming decade.

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Fun Activities That Involve Your Children and Pets Together

Life isn’t easy, more so if you are a double parent (meaning you have kids as well as pets to take care of). It can get a lot hectic to balance and spend equal amounts of time with both of them. But fortunately, for all you multi-parents out there, there are ways to spend time with both your kids and pets and still have time to yourselves. That’s correct! There are numerous fun activities that can help you to involve both your human baby and furry buddy. They will not only have a great time, but you will too. So without stretching any further, let us dive straight into the list of activities.

Fun Activities For Children And Pets

We have come up with as many as five fun activities for your child and pet to enjoy. And we are pretty sure, at least one, if not all, will excite them both.

Fun Activities Involving Your Dog

pet activities for kids and dogs

Below are three fun activities you can perform with your child and canine buddy.

Fun Activity #1: Hide & Seek

The age-old game that we all have played in our childhood days can be brought to life once again. To play this game, hide your dog inside the house while your child finds a suitable spot outside to hide. Then release your four-legged pal and ask him to sniff his way out to find your child. This game can be played all year round, including the hot summer season as well.

Fun Activity #2: Dodging Obstacles

Make use of the scrappy old cardboard boxes and use them as obstacles. Place them haphazardly and tell your kid to dodge them all and reach the other end. While he performs the task, let your dog follow him behind in doing the same. Reward them both with tasty treats after their good performances.

Fun Activity #3: New Trick To Teach

It’s always amazing to teach your dog a new trick or two. This time, instead of you being the teacher let your child take over. Tell him to teach your little canine friend a new trick. It may take a while, but it will be worth it, wouldn’t it?

Fun Activities Involving Your Cat

pet activities for kids and cats

Below are a couple of fun activities you can perform with your child and feline friend.

Fun Activity #1: Teaching Fetch

Dogs sure love to fetch, but did you know that even cats like it too? Well, find a suitable thing to throw (like a squished up piece of paper or a tennis ball). Tell your kid to throw the object in the opposite direction and then summon your kitty to go get it for you. It might take a while for your cat to master it, but it will sure be fun. Reward them both with treats after each session.

Fun Activity #2: Build A Cat Castle

Use cardboard boxes to build the “purrfect” castle for your cat. Trim the edges, cut holes, and paint it with beautiful colors. Let your kid help you while you’re at it. Once done, watch how your cat slides through the maze that you and your kid created.

Pro Tip: While all these activities are fun, they more or less require outdoor interaction. So before you step outside, make sure you have your pet on a flea and tick schedule. If not, visit PetCareClub for incredible offers on pet supplies. Have fun with your pet and child!

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12 Frequently Asked Questions About Student Loan Debts

For millions of Americans, student loan debts are something that is always in the back of their minds. They can be very complicated, and this can lead to a lot of questions. We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about student loan debt to give you the answers you seek in one place below.

What types of student loans are available for college expenses?

You can break student loans down into three broad categories. There may be Federal Pell Grants available, but you can borrow from the government if you don’t qualify. Your choices are Direct Stafford loans, Perkins loans, or PLUS loans. Direct Stafford loans come in Subsidized and Unsubsidized forms, Perkins loans are for students in great financial need, and PLUS loans are for a college student’s parents to apply for to help fund their education.

What is the FAFSA?

student loan debts fafsa

FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application determines whether you can get grants you don’t have to pay back. It’ll also determine your eligibility for student loans through one of the three programs we mentioned earlier. You have to report all of your income and your parent’s income on the application, and they assign grants and loan amounts based on need.

Can you invest your excess student loan funds?

According to Best Student Loans, it depends on the type of loan you get whether or not you can legally invest your student loan funds. If you have private student loans, there aren’t many restrictions attached to them. However, investing any excess funds from a subsidized federal government loan could require you to face legal action or pay subsidized interest on the amount you invested.

Is it possible to cancel your loans when you’re in school?

Yes. You can cancel your loans even after you signed the promissory note. You can cancel a Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, or a PLUS Loan if you tell your school that you won’t accept the loan payment within 14 days of your school telling you the lender disbursed your loan. If it’s later, you can wait until the first day of the payment period and still cancel it. You can return the funds to the school and refuse them as well.

What repayment plans are available?

student loan repayment

If you want to make your payments more affordable, you have several repayment options available. Keep in mind that you will end up paying more in interest the longer you repay your loans. We listed the repayment options below.

  • Standard – You’ll pay a fixed amount every month for 10 years.
  • Extended – You’ll pay a fixed amount every month for 25 years.
  • Income-Based – You’ll pay a monthly payment amount capped at your income level and family size.
  • Graduated – You’ll pay smaller payments to start with, and they’ll gradually increase to standard payments over time.
  • Consolidation – You can consolidate your PLUS, Perkins, and Federal loans into a single loan with a fixed interest rate.

What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Under this program, you’ll make 120 qualifying payments using a qualifying repayment plan. You also have to work full-time for a qualifying employer and submit proof that you stayed employed with them throughout the payment process. When you make it to the 120 payments under these conditions, the government will forgive whatever balance you have left. If you miss a single payment, it starts over. Also, the IRS can tax you on any balance the government forgives. You can find out more by clicking here.

How do you find out which type of government loan you have?

Student loan debts can easily blur together, and it can be challenging to find out which type of government loan you have. However, the National Student Loan Data System on Studentaid.gov will tell you who holds your loans with your contact information.

What happens if you can’t make your payments?

If you’re struggling to pay your student loans, you can apply for deferment or forbearance for one year at a time. If you defer your loans, it freezes everything for a year. Forbearance also freezes your payments, but your interest still adds to your balance each month. You should contact your loan servicer and see which one they suggest.

Can student loans get canceled?

There are a few circumstances where the government could cancel your student loans. They include the borrower’s death, permanent or total disability based on a condition you didn’t have when you took out the loans, the school closed while you were going or 90 days after you withdrew, and false certification. False certification is where the school signed your name on a promissory note without your knowledge.

Does declaring bankruptcy means the government discharges your loans?

Rarely. For this to happen, the bankruptcy court has to believe that keeping your student loans would cause undue hardship. This is very rare, and you could still have loans in default after you declare bankruptcy.

What is loan rehabilitation?

Once you default on a student loan, the lender will give you one chance to rehabilitate it. You’ll have to make nine consecutive monthly payments that are affordable and reasonable to you. Once you do, the lender will put your loan back in good standing and remove it from the default status.

When do you start paying back your student loan debts?

You’ll start to repay your student loans after you drop below half time status or finish your schooling. Perkins loans have a nine-month grace period before you have to pay, and Stafford loans have a six-month grace period. Your loan lender will send you monthly payment notifications when your grace period ends. For PLUS loans, you start repaying it 60 days after the disbursement date, even if you’re in school. You must make each payment in full by the due date. The only exceptions are if you made a deal with the lender or signed up for forbearance or deferment.

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9 Productivity Tips Your Work-From-Home Career Needs

Whether you are a full-time office worker, a freelancer, or entrepreneur, get ready to pile your bricks and really get stuff done! The population percentage of remote workers is on the rise. Several organizations are getting used to their employees working virtually from anywhere in the world.

Working from home allows flexibility, reduces the ”office” work tension, and bossophobia. It is all fun and exciting when you work from your comfort zone until you realize you are falling behind on your target or goals. The “work-from-home” life has its downside, but it is nothing you cannot handle.

Here are 9 productivity tips that would make you successful in your work from home career.

Set Up a Work Plan

stay productive while working from home

When you work from home, you need to set up a work schedule you actually stick to. Work-life balance is a prerequisite for increased productivity. Your personal life will get jumbled with work a lot of times if there isn’t a clear cut line between when work starts and when it ends. If you skip your mealtime, relaxation period, or sleep, it could, to a large extent, reduce your productivity.

It could result in health issues, fatigue, and mental stress. Although remote work allows flexibility, this shouldn’t be abused. You can make use of planning apps to help plan your workdays and manage time. In this way, you will be able to stick to your plan and make the most out of your work-from-home career.

Create an Aura of The Office Place

The feeling of “being in the office” makes you more committed to work. Set up a comfy home office, write down all your schedule of operations in the office, and follow through. Make a copy and paste routine (with whatever tweak you like) of office workdays. Set alarms, drink coffee, dress well, resume at work, telecommute, and take breaks. This helps you stay focused and disciplined to be more productive at home.

Start Your Day Early

How are the office workdays like? You set alarms, wake up early, get set, and reach your workplace before the day’s activity commences. You are punctual because you want to settle into the work for the day. This is the same strategy you need to set up for your work-from-home career. It could be hard when working from home sometimes.

You don’t feel like working, so you get up late and while away the day being lazy. The lack of enthusiasm to work affects your activities negatively, your projects, and workdays. One effective way to get the most productivity out of your day, every day, is to start work early. Starting with a project early in the day could set the pace for a productive day.

Set Rules For Yourself

If you would ever achieve more working from home, you need to kill distractions. Telecommuting makes distractions quite reduced as there would be no chit-chats amongst employees. Nonetheless, it’s still very important to set ground rules for yourself and be strict with them to get maximum productivity when working from home.

Developing self-discipline is an effective way to manage distractions. You should set rules to bind you when you might want to engage non-work related posts, such as receive long calls from friends and chat on social media during the work period. Don’t be afraid to set work boundaries.

Take Breaks

staying productive while working from home

Working remotely deserves as much adequate break periods as working in the office. Leaving your computer to relax the body and brain would not steal time. Instead, it would massage your mental muscles and improve efficiency. Take time out to relax, stretch your back, eat a healthy lunch, take a quick stroll, feel the breeze, and relax your eyes.

Connect with like-minds

There is no fun in being a lone ranger when working remotely. You need to socialize and connect with like-minded people. In recent times, companies that allow members to work remotely encourage virtual socialization.

Telecommunicating, joining related communities online, and talking to business mentors can do a lot in boosting your productiveness. Connecting with people will give you information and innovation advice that could be a major push for your career. Instead of being disconnected, build high-value relationships.

Don’t Overwork Yourself

It is important not to mistake working hard and overworking. To get the best out of your workdays when you work from home, you need to control stress. A foolproof tip to managing work-stress is not to drown yourself in workload. Practice good self-care to keep your energy level up. On days when you are not well, take sick days. When you deny your body health needs, it tells on your effectiveness in the long run. Take time out to relax to prevent burnout.

Learn A Relevant Skill

It’s good to learn a relevant skill when you have the time when working from home. Taking up training and certification courses in related skills can go a long way in boosting your productiveness. You could take on organized skill acquisition by your company or others. It adds to your portfolio, credibility, and ability.

Get Out Of Your Chair

Get off your chair, and leave the house, and roam to whatever extent outdoor freedom is allowed with the current health crisis. When you sit long hours in front of your computer screen, take strolls. Go out for walks to help massage your body. Sometimes, all the productivity magic you need is some good ray of natural light and fresh air.

Being productive in your work-from-home career is achievable even if you just started remote working. All it requires is a strategy, commitment, and discipline. Set up a work plan, commit to it, and enjoy the flow. Socialize with people and practice adequate self-care for maximum productivity. Ultimately, create a work-life balance that works for you. It might get tricky, but don’t drop your guard!

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How to Shape Your Startup into a Brand

According to Seth Godin, a brand is defined as:
“The expectations, stories, memories, and relationships that account for a consumer’s choice of a product or service over another.”

In simple terms, a brand is what your business does to create a memorable impression in the mind of your audience.

From color to logo design, product selection fonts, and other factors, contributes to your brand. But more significantly, it is a reflection of your business values, practices, and the motivation for why you started on the journey.

That said, here some steps you can follow to build your brand.

Steps to Build Your Startup Brand

Essentially, what you need to build a brand is a business name, a logo, colors, fonts, and brand personality. But it’s not as straightforward. You need a lot of research before starting to determine your target audience and understand your competitors.

Additionally, it’s essential to humanize your brand so that your consumers can not only relate to it but also trust it to solve their problems.

Here’s what you need to work on when building your brand:

Research is the Foundation to Success

startup branding research

Researching your target market and your competitors are the first step to building a brand. It can not only help you validate your business idea, by understanding your audience’s pain points, but also highlights the principal players in your industry.

With competitive analysis, you can answer the following questions for your brand:

  • Who is your top competition?
  • What are they offering?
  • Are the customers’ needs being met?

It would help if you also considered highlighting the demographic of your target market that would be easy to reach and acquire, how your customers speak, and their interests, when researching. Knowing your competition and audience would also help you establish the unique selling point that sets you apart from the rest.

Additionally, since a brand defines how your consumers perceive your company, researching also helps to unite your brand with your business values.

Aside from the people buying your products, your brand strategy could also target influencers, bloggers, journalists, and individuals who might be more interested in your way of work. Thus, it’s essential to research your potential market to understand the audience demographics, as well as the individual buyer personas you could reach.

Define Your Brand Personality

A brand reflects your business’ personality, which like human personalities, is showcased in various forms. From your logo to your color scheme, fonts, and more, all speak of your brand personality.

There are also your values that define how you conduct business and your company’s environment, its employees, and more.

That said, these things are ever-changing for a startup as it grows and expands. Thus, it can be more beneficial to consider defining your brand by who you are at your best than who you are in general.

Additionally, to ensure the success of your brand, you need to give it direction and focus. You can ask yourself:

  • What’s your positioning statement?

It’s a statement that highlights your products or services, target market, and your unique selling point or value proposition.

  • What words define your brand personality?

Like human personalities, identify what set of words define your brand and which would attract your target market?

  • What metaphors or concepts are reflective of your brand?

Personifying your brand through a metaphor or concept will help you visualize your brand’s vibe and the tone that you want to set. It will also help you stay consistent throughout your branding strategy.

Bring Your Brand to Life

brand startup

To shape your startup into a brand, you need to have a set strategy to follow. It’s vital to help you visualize your goals and stay on track. That said, your strategy needs to focus on these three attributes of your brand:

  • Logo

A logo is one of the most central aspects to consider in your branding efforts. It is the visual or graphical representation of your brand that people identify with your company. That said, it should be unique, memorable, and scalable to fit on all platforms that you target.

It can be a text or an abstract design like Walmart and Google Chrome logos, respectively. Conversely, you can try letter-mark logos like IBM or an icon like Twitter or Apple’s.

  • Brand Colors

Aside from deciding on your brand name, how you choose to present it to your target market is just as essential. Meaning, you need to consider its typography and colors.

Colors not only define your brand but also help convey your brand personality and the promises you want to communicate to your audience. For example, blue represents trust, strength, and dependability, which is what brands like Dell, HP, Orient, Walmart, and WordPress guarantee.

That said, your choice of color for your brand name will help you stay consistent with everything you do, and distinguish you from your competitors.

  • Slogan

A catchy slogan is another branding element that can help you resonate with your audience. It’s a brief but descriptive tagline that is useful on platforms like social media, your website, business cards, and more.

There are infinite possibilities at hand when it comes to writing a slogan. But mostly, it needs to be short, catchy, and should create a strong impression. You can follow Redbull as an example and use a metaphor, ‘Redbull gives you wings,’ or adopt an attitude like Nike’s ‘Just do it.’

Be creative and write a rhyme for your slogan or describe it in literal terms as Folgers Coffee and Aritzia, respectively.

Be Objective

As a startup, it’s essential to keep an open mind and be objective about your brand. Consider it from the consumer’s perspective than as an entrepreneur. It will help you ensure your target market understands who you are, your brand, and how it benefits them.

Right from the get-go, focus on the complete experience you want your brand to provide. From product conceptualization to the sales journey and interactions with all your marketing channels, assess your brand strategy from an objective perspective.

Branding and Marketing Strategy Go Hand-in-Hand

Branding and marketing strategies naturally amalgamate together, which means it’s best to take the two side by side when you’re starting. Your targeted marketing channels, for instance, are a gateway to gathering customer perspective on your brand, following which you can alter your branding strategy.

Consider marketing an extension of your branding that impacts how the target market perceives your brand. From the design of your marketing elements to the tone used in your content, including emails, tweets, blogs, or videos all influence your branding.

That said, marketing can be used to boost your branding efforts, primarily the awareness of your brand among the audience.

Shape Your Startup Brand!

For a startup, branding is not a luxury but a necessity, if you want to leave your mark in the target market and stand out from your competitors. Plus, it helps you delve deeper into the details of your business, understanding your audience, their pain points, and how to address them best.

That said, it’s not a one and done deal that you can leave after a while. You need to stay updated with the market trends, learn industry insights, and conduct competitor analysis to tune up your branding efforts to keep your brand resonating with your audience, the way you want.

The post How to Shape Your Startup into a Brand appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

3 Ways to Reduce Your Anxiety Before Going to Sleep

Having a lot of stress and anxiety is harmful for anyone during the day. Having a whirlwind of negative thoughts when you lay down to sleep is even worse! These anxious thoughts make it so difficult to get the sleep that your body and mind desperately need. My past experiences with living in unsafe neighborhoods and moving multiple times after eviction, have caused me to have negative and anxious thoughts every time I lay down to sleep.
After working on reducing my own anxiety for many years, I have found these three strategies help me fall asleep when I am having anxiety before bed.

Take a warm bath or warm shower

calming my anxiety at night

It is ideal to take a warm bath, but not all of us have a bath tub. I surely have had apartments that do not have the option to soak your stress away. A warm shower would do the trick as well. The warm water helps you relieve tension in your muscles and leaves you feeling fresh.

Set yourself up to relax by making the environment calm and peaceful. Create dim lighting with candles or a lamp. The bright lights of a bathroom can be overwhelming and prevent you from truly taking time to rest. Reduce the noise and turn off your phone. It becomes too distracting when my phone keeps ringing or notifying me about emails and social media. Allow yourself during this time to disconnect from those distractions and, let’s be honest, worries.

Also, add some bubble bath, a bath bomb, or epsom salts for an aromatic bath experience. For a relaxing shower, use a fragrant soap or body wash. Take your pick from the variety of products that are meant to promote stress relief and good sleep.


Find a way to add humor to your evening plans. Laughing has a similar effect as exercising. They both increase the flow of oxygen in your body and release endorphins to help your mind feel more relaxed. An activity that helps make me laugh is to watch a funny sitcom or one of my favorite stand-up comedy specials.

Another way to laugh is to call up a relative or good friend and remind them of a funny memory you two shared. It is so helpful to share a laugh with someone else. For instance, there are many memories from school years that my brother and I love to chat about.

If you prefer a non-screen option and do not want to pick up the phone, then dust off an old photo album and remind yourself of happy memories. Pay attention to the scenery and people in the pictures, trying to remember how you felt at that time. The hairstyles and fashion of your past will likely help you reminisce and laugh out loud.

Make a gratitude list

calm my anxiety at night

As you lay in bed, say the names of people and things you are grateful for out loud. It is helpful to close your eyes and visualize the faces of the people you are thankful for.

Imagine them feeling happy and fulfilled. Once you start with one person, it causes a waterfall effect and keeps going. You will find that it is easy to imagine many more people in your life that have been helpful to you.

Allow yourself to focus on these people and extend the list as far as you can go. Remember that all of these people and things that you are grateful for are real and true. Some of your anxious thoughts are not true but are actually worries about the unclear future. When stating this gratitude list out loud, you might notice that you start to smile and your anxious energy melts away.

In closing, those negative thoughts that come up at night might be for a good reason. However, anxious thoughts do not get to control how much you sleep. My sleeping patterns were impacted by worries and made me more tired and less focused at school and work. Reducing anxiety before bedtime can improve your sleep and increase your energy during the day. By releasing muscle tension, laughing, and reminding yourself of who you are thankful for, you can reduce your anxiety and enjoy your sleep just like I do!

The post 3 Ways to Reduce Your Anxiety Before Going to Sleep appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

5 Career Tips for Project Managers Post-Pandemic

It is said that difficult times bring out the best in people. Time and again, people, communities, and businesses have proved the same. All across the globe, nations are facing economic uncertainties while businesses are finding it difficult to manage challenges due to the current world crisis.

While the initial disruption was clearly unpredictable and a major setback for all, as we struggled to adapt to the new world; however, we can slowly see how many are rising to the occasion.

Every professional, project manager, and industry leader is making radical and positive changes in their working style, culture, pattern and thought process to mitigate the crisis and do what needs to be done to jump start economies.

Being project managers or business leaders, we are not an exception either, we have also felt the shock equally. The projects had to cancel, postponed, or delayed. In the first quarter of the year, we survived through supply chain disruptions, team management, collaboration, and connectivity crisis and are still striving to keep afloat.

As we see the crisis far from getting over, here to stay for the rest of the year 2020 if not beyond, we must look for ways to revive, endure changes, and develop effective survival plans for the future.

There are professionals who were furloughed amidst the current health crisis or are still uncertain about their need within the organization. Hence, it is time for some introspection. The relevant questions to ask oneself during this trying time are: what are the ways to become indispensable in the organization? How do I future-proof my profile for post-pandemic business? And If you are laid off: What can I do to attain another job quickly?

Here are 5 most critical career tips for project managers [for both PMP training and certification holders and non-holders] for the foreseeable future:

Update Your Profile on all the Professional Network Platforms

better project manager

Let’s get things straight here, professional social networking sites and other virtual platforms are important. In these platforms, you are most likely to find your peer groups and potential employers. You must keep your profile updated in these places. Mention your elegant skills, achievements, job responsibilities, and goals clearly and concisely.

This will show the headhunters your updated profile and get you the right kind of offers right away. Besides, seniors from your current company will also be aware of your credentials and where they can utilize your multifaceted skills in the organization during critical times if needed. Most importantly, in the current scenario, when we are working in a remote setting it is pertinent if you are required to manage teams virtually.

Continue Professional Development with Virtual Learning programs

When you update your profile, you will find out how many technologies you must acquire in order to be relevant for the times. And now, since you are spending considerable time indoors, it is always lucrative to acquire the latest industry-relevant skills rather than binge-watching another digital series.

There are many EdTech companies offering the latest Project Management courses in Virtual Instructor-led training mode. For example, a PMP course [Project Management Professional] will provide you with apt knowledge and resources that are beneficial to handle dynamics of changed projects during the pandemic and equip you with skills required for post-pandemic business dynamics.

Besides, PMP online training fee is also nominal and does not burn a hole in your pocket. You will get to learn from a variety of resources, videos, manuals, series of virtual events, and webinars which will keep you abreast of your game and prepare to advance.

Achieve that long-pending PMP Certification

If you have been laid off during these times and want to get into the workforce quickly, this is the shortest way. PMP certification demonstrates to hiring mangers your long-term commitment to your career and validate your learning journey.

Recently, PMI announced that they are extending access to the current PMP exam until 31st December 2020 by postponing the launch of the new PMP exam. They have launched online proctored testing for PMP aspirants. Now, you can take the exam online from home.

Build Genuine Professional Network

be a better project manager

Become a part of the virtual groups on the most relevant platforms and online networking sites. Being a PMP certification holder and project management professional, you may also join the local PMI chapter or try networking on other relevant forums. This collaboration will help you to keep updated with the latest in your domain and offer access to better job prospects.

Keep Connection with Recruiters

While recruiters are equally feeling the anxiety for their ability to provide suitable candidates in these volatile times, we must also keep a few trusted recruiters in the network. You may send an updated resume or profile to the trusted few who might be able to assist you if any viable opportunity comes up.

In addition to the above-mentioned tips, slight self-reflection is needed from each one of us. We all know that the post-pandemic world will be a changed world with respect to careers and jobs along with our personal lives.

Project managers are known for their quick strategic moves during stressful times, now when the industries all across the world need us we all must come together and deliver what is most expected from us – sound mind, good humor, and delivery.

The post 5 Career Tips for Project Managers Post-Pandemic appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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