Category: Businesses

Finding Balance

Finding and maintaining balance can be a real struggle. You’re not alone. We’re not alone. I’m not alone. What are some strategies you use to maintain balance in your life?

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Whew! What a summer. It’s hard to believe that it’s already creeping towards the middle of August. I just heard a commercial on the radio today about pumpkin spice… whatever, so that’s my cue to know that fall is just around the corner. This summer has been a wild ride between getting married, going on our honeymoon, and working on our various projects, it has been a whirlwind.

As I sit here writing this post, I begin to think about what I’ve accomplished this summer, but at the same time it feels like there’s so much equally neglected. Everyone talks about balance and staying grounded, but is there such a thing and how is it possible to stay accountable?

Take for instance this salad that I’m about to eat. It seems pretty balanced right? That’s until you factor in the huge bowl of ranch dressing that is about to destroy the balance. No big deal, right? The dressing makes the salad taste so much better. However, these small exceptions compile and so does all of the responsibilities that surround us. One day you are feeling pretty good about how you’re doing, but then you look up and realize that everything is burning around you.

Summer is already wrapping up, but I’ve been promising myself to eat healthy and get into shape. It’s sometimes just simply too easy to dump the ranch dressing on things and ignore reality. Perhaps tomorrow is the day that I make it to the gym… in the meantime, at least I chose a turkey burger for dinner tonight instead of a cheeseburger… tiny steps.

We’ve got to take care of our families, careers, and businesses, but we also have to take care of ourselves. Take a second to live in the moment and do something for you today.

The World of VLOGGING

As a complement to this BLOG, I’m going to start a VLOG. Gone are the days when text is cool. VLOGGING and video content is an absolute must to create engaging content. I just ordered my first VLOG camera and I can’t wait to get it!

Trying to determine which camera to get was overwhelming. After reading countless reviews and researching the features of dozens of cameras, I chose the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Digital Camera w/ 1 Inch Sensor and tilt LCD screen – Wi-Fi & NFC Enabled (Black). This camera has all of the bells and whistles in an easy to use package for creating stunning videos.

I have determined that my passion is not only to be successful, but to be able to help others in the process. I think that more important to my success is being able to help set others up to be successful. I can think of several instances where I have put other’s best interests before my own so that they have an opportunity that they may otherwise never have.

VLOGGING for me is going to help provide the medium for me to connect with you at a more personal level. I am hoping that what I share can help inspire, motivate, and create exciting dialogue around entrepreneurship. I will simply be jazzed by having the chance to provide content that will hopefully change lives.

Keep in mind, while I do have some experience with starting and running businesses, I am new enough to absolutely be able to relate to the struggles of finding direction and validation. I’m at the beginning of my journey and if you’re in the same position or looking for company, join me. There’s no reason that anyone should feel that they need to do it alone. There are enough sources for self doubt and criticism. Let this be a place for inspiration and uplifting encouragement.

More to come on the VLOG soon! Bear with me though. I am not a videographer or marketer by trade, so there is definitely going to be a learning curve. I welcome feedback and constructive criticism in advance.

Make it an awesome day!!!

 

 

 

Embrace What You’ve Got

What’s the fastest and easiest way to be happy? Be grateful for what you’ve got. In today’s world of marketing, it’s hard to tell the difference between what’s an advertisement and what’s real life. Our social media accounts are full of people touting how perfect their lives are and that they’ve got it all figured out.

*Disclaimer: I’m not writing this blog because I think that I have figured it out and have all of the answers. This is just a matter of my observations and opinions of which I am grateful for.

While all of the positivity is a welcome change from a world of negativity, it can have negative effects of discontentment, jealously, and self loathing. If you are having any of these strong feelings, perhaps it is a good opportunity to take a hiatus from social media and check your feelings. Take a breath and figure out where they are coming from. Make note of those feelings that are genuine that you want to work towards making a change.

Be grateful. Being grateful is having appreciation of what you have, who you are, and what you’re capable of. Focus on your abilities and what makes you unique. You can be grateful for your great looks, but you’re only ever going to look so good.

Do it often. Make it a part of a ritual. Perhaps when you wake up, before you eat, while your brushing your teeth, whenever. I have never heard of anyone overdoing being grateful, so do it often. I actually carry a gratitude rock with me, which is a little trick that I learned from the book The Secret. Every time that I come across the rock in my pocket, it reminds me to be grateful.

Maybe your in a really tough place where it’s hard to think of anything worth being grateful for. Try starting with very broad topics like the sunshine, food, the air we breath, family, friends, and this blog. As you practice being grateful, you’ll start to discover all of those little things that you previously took for granted. Practice truly feel the emotions of being grateful. Feel it in the pit of your stomach and the smile on your face as you think about all of those things that your grateful for.

Watch your life change. Bringing gratitude into your life will change it. You’ll begin to look at things with a healthy genuine positivity and this will translate to great things throughout all other aspects of your life.

861 Mandy: Kitchen

After a bit of a hiatus on the rehab project at 861 Mandy, we are back to full swing. We had take our eye off the ball with the recent purchase of the Paper Box Factory in Lebanon and prioritizing jobs for our customers. The plan is to get this house on the market within the next 6 weeks for the Spring buying / selling season. Fortunately, the market in central Pennsylvania has been highly competitive and continues to strengthen.

Over the past week, we have been hanging trim and finishing the kitchen floor. We also had our friends over at cabinets.com work on a kitchen design for us. The kitchen drawings below will closely resemble the kitchen once it is installed. The only major difference will be the color of the flooring. We have installed a light grey ceramic tile which will pair very nicely with the white shaker style cabinets.

 

This week we are working on finishing the trim and hanging the doors. This is the part of the project that really excited me as everything starts to come back together! It is starting to look like a home again and will be a joy for the new homeowner! I’m looking forward to wrapping up this project and posting our “after” photos.

 

You Make It Look So Easy

Have you ever watched someone do something that appeared to be effortless for them but when you tried it was seemingly impossible? Sure. We all have. That skate boarder that lands an impossible stunt, the ballerina’s graceful performance, the actor, the athlete, the rapper, the entrepreneur…

They all have the same thing in common, preparation. Let’s face it. It takes years and years of practice and preparation to operate at the highest levels in any profession. We get to see people perform at the top of their game for entertainment or inspiration, but what we don’t get to see is the effort that it took for them to get there. We don’t get see the countless hours of practice, the early mornings, the late nights, the strict regiments, or sacrifices.

One the most difficult concepts to wrap my head around throughout this journey of entrepreneurship is how easy it looks for so many others before me. By the time that we recognize a successful person, they have already spent years preparing and practicing. What we see is an instant success. We tend to see someone that just happened to get lucky or have natural abilities. Sure. Luck and skill have a huge role in success, but you can prepare for luck and hone in on a skill.

This has been a difficult concept for me to grasp as I look at the greatest entrepreneurs of our time for inspiration. They are so far out of my league that I cannot even imagine performing at their level. It’s difficult to relate to their beginnings and what they are accomplishing today. Intimidating? Absolutely. Why? because I am trying to compare myself to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerburg, the quintessential entrepreneurs.

I think it is important to have role models and heroes. They keep us energized and dreaming bigger than a life that we can imagine. But, I also think that it is important to have an individual perspective. This is to know your personal intent and what success is for you as an entrepreneur. So you’re not a billionaire, that’s okay. Tell yourself it’s okay.

Now that you don’t have to sit trying to come up with the next billion dollar idea to compete with the greats, get to work preparing and practicing for your success. You’ll eventually have your friends, family, and possibly the world saying, “Wow, they make it look so easy.”

 

The Lebanon Community Responds

I asked and the Lebanon City residents answered. In an earlier blog, Lebanon Paper Box: Day 40, I asked for feedback from the community of Lebanon on their ideas of what they would like to see incorporated in the the old Lebanon Paper Box building. Here is a recap of some of the responses that I have received so far. 

It has been a little over a week since I published the blog post, Lebanon Paper Box: Day 40, and hit social media to solicit some suggestions and ideas about what the community would like to see at this predominant landmark in Lebanon City. The suggestions have been enlightening and has provided a glimpse of what is on the minds of the community, albeit only a small segment was sampled. I have received feedback from over 50 residents thus far.

Below is a consolidated recap of the suggestions that I have received. They are not listed in any particular order. Some of the ideas come as no surprise, while others were very unexpected…

  1. Homeless shelter
  2. Veteran shelter
  3. Roller skating rink
  4. Something tech related and interesting
  5. Recreation center
  6. Retail stores
  7. Apartment building with affordable housing
  8. Ballerina school
  9. Art gallery and studios
  10. Karate school
  11. Public clinic
  12. Go karts
  13. Something similar to the GoggleWorks in Reading
  14. Trampoline park
  15. Museum of the history of Lebanon
  16. Grocery store
  17. Skate park
  18. Chick-Fil-A
  19. Place for kids to play
  20. Community center
  21. Lebanon annex of the Spooky Nook Sports complex
  22. Connect with the Lebanon county Career and Technology Center during renovation
  23. Great location with a bike trail. I’d be so happy just to see it restored

A common thread, throughout a majority of the suggestions, is that Lebanon City is in need of community events and affordable things for residents to do. Primarily for the younger residents. It’s also clear to see that there is a lot of pride for the city and residents are passionate about providing programs for the homeless and our Veterans.

Based on all of this information, I have some research to do to better understand what programs already exist and where there may be some gaps to fill. Perhaps there are already some things in place that may require some public education, or perhaps not. Ultimately, the extent of feedback is motivating in that there is a community that cares. In time, there will be the a call for participation and action to help bring opportunities to fruition, this will be the true test of the community spirit.

The call for suggestions has not only spawned a list of ideas, but it has also created some dialogue between residents on the official Facebook page of the Lebanon Paper Box building. The conversations have been a mixture of constructive and destructive criticism. I have not been moderating the conversation as I want everyone’s voice to be heard. After all, criticism is a sign of doing something and making a contribution.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
– Aristotle

In the meantime, keep the ideas and suggestions coming! Also, give some thought to how some of these ideas can be accomplished though other initiatives. This is just one building in the City of Lebanon, but it can be a part of a bigger movement to help bring life into the surrounding community. This is bigger than one person or one building and it is going to require the effort of many.

If you want to become more involved in the Lebanon community, but don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out and I can help.

 

 

Sharing my Love for LED Light Bulbs

Never in my life would I have expected to get so excited about light bulbs!

It didn’t take me long after settlement on the Lebanon Paper Box warehouse to develop a passion for converting old ballast powered light strips to work with LED bulbs. Although there is a significant cost savings to switching over to LED, the primary motivation for me was to be able to see the building that I just purchased!

Over the years of prior ownership, all of the windows have been bricked over on the first floor and a majority of them have been bricked over on remaining floors. This was done to improve security since the building had previously been a target of vandalism in years past. The building is now locked up tight, but it is also awfully dark inside. I’m not quite ready to reopen the windows, so I needed to find another solution.

workshop light strip

Fluorescent Light Fixture

The lights that are in the building are of various ages. I’m not a lighting professional, but some are probably from the early iterations of fluorescent lights. The fixtures that are really old are salvageable, but I prefer to retire them when possible. Besides the fixtures being old and ballasts failing, fluorescent lights tend to mind the cold. The Lebanon Paper Box building does not have an HVAC system and it is often much colder inside the building than it is outside. The fluorescent lights take a while to start up in the bone chilling months of winter, and sometimes they just won’t turn on at all.

So between the failing ballasts and cold temperatures, converting the fixtures from fluorescent to LED was the most logical and economic option to solve my lighting issue. An expensive ballast replacement is not necessary when converting to LED and bypassing the need for a ballast. It took me a while to research how to retrofit a fluorescent light ballast to LED and I wasn’t sure which LED light bulbs to purchase. Most of the YouTube videos that I watched made the rewiring look easy since the fixture was laying on a table. It is actually pretty easy, but I was retrofitting the fixture while it was still hanging over my head. If possible, I highly recommend taking down the fixtures. It ends up being about 2000% easier. Also, if you’re not 100% sure what you are doing, speak with a certified electrician before attempting to do this yourself.

After a ton of research and trying multiple brands and styles of LED bulbs, for the 4′ fixture retrofits, I very highly recommend the Diva Light Plug and Play & Bypass Tube Lamp. I don’t get royalties for you clicking that link and purchasing the bulbs. I just love them that much! They are also very inexpensive compared to some of the other LED bulbs out there. I have spent as much as $30 for an LED bulb that performs no differently than this Diva bulb. I have also done a few 8′ fixture retrofits and have been very happy with this 8ft 40W LED (bypass) by GreenLightDepot.

One of the options that you will notice when choosing a light is the color. They typically range between 3000K – 6000K. The 3000K side of the spectrum is your typical office lighting scenario which is very similar to the traditional Soft White incandescent bulb. It is explained as a warm light that tends to have a bit of a yellow coloration. The 6000K end of the spectrum is a very bright, almost blueish, light. This level of light is supposed to be more along the lines of daylight. I have tried the different colors of light and prefer 5000K for my application.

Color Temperature Chart (Kelvin)

The afterthought of all of this for me is the cost savings. I have been able to cut the cost of energy for each light fixture by over 50%. In some cases, even more because one bulb is a sufficient light source in certain parts of the warehouse. Going from two fluorescent bulbs to one LED is over a 75% energy savings!

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