Stephen D’Angelo is a best-selling author and Silicon Valley veteran with more than 30 years of experience in the tech industry. He has led global sales organizations as a CRO and served as CEO and President of both private and publicly traded companies. Stephen has been an integral part of IPO’s and company acquisitions and has helped build global organizations that become leaders in their respective market segments.
His book A Single Day of Peace serves as a guide for self-empowerment and how to climb to success in both business and personal endeavors.
A leader must believe the business can win, but winning is partly dependent on the other principles of leadership.
Leaders must be accountable for their actions. Since your team will hold you accountable and you will instill accountability in them, it’s a two-way street. Both groups need to be totally accountable.
Things don’t run smoothly in a business all the time. There are many bumps in the road. Acknowledge the bumps and be transparent if you don’t have all the answers. Brainstorming with your team to come up with creative solutions will make for a stronger business.
#4 Continuous Learning
Learning comes in different forms and shapes for all of us. From YouTube to books, courses, and learning from each other. If you are stuck, learning from a coach or mentor can be invaluable. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
#5 Process and Metrics
If your business has effective and efficient processes (think Amazon) then you will delight your customers and you can measure your results. The metrics are powerful for customer retention and improvement.
Equally important are the processes for each of your job functions. If an employee understands what is expected and feels supported, then you will get the maximum output.
#6 Customer and Market Driven
Nothing provides repeat business like customer satisfaction. If you are focused on your customer’s repeat business is almost guaranteed. They will stick with you even in times where you might have supply chain or capacity issues if you are transparent and accountable.
#7 Leverage Diversity
If you only hire people like you, your company will be one-dimensional. Diversity in gender and age is important to the growth of your business. You need diversity of thought and opinion. Are you open to diversity?
#8 Caring and Recognition of People
Does your business leadership create a caring work environment and recognition of their efforts? From the bottom to the top, your business culture must set a standard that cares for its employees right from the first day of hire to retirement.
#9 Having Fun
You and your staff spend at least 8 hours a day with each other, so make it a fun and enjoyable place to work.
Carol Christopher is CEO of Ellis Day Skincare Science and has a solid background in business
Carol has spent more than 25 years in the biopharma industry, focused on translating new technologies into valuable commercial products and sustainable businesses. As Director of CNS Drug Discovery at ALZA Corporation, Carol built ALZA’s CNS pipeline and is an inventor on several of its patented products, which led to ALZA’s sale to Johnson & Johnson for $13B in 2001. After ALZA, Carol spent 10 years as a founding team member of three consecutive venture capital-backed biopharma companies (AeroGen, Alexza Pharmaceuticals, and NuMedii), where she held executive roles in finance, business development, and product development.
Carol’s advice on Leadership is to think about forming a Collective in your industry. What is a Collective? A Collective is a group of people with similar interests who can help each other grow quickly and sustainably.
Carol is the founder of a Collective in the beauty industry. With over 300 members they help each other with so many phases of their business that each individual business is able to progress at a faster pace because of all the specialized help they receive from other members of the Collective.
The beauty industry has so many competitors that it is amazing that a Collective with this many members was able to launch, given the competitive nature of the business.
Carol said the secret to success was forming relationships with leaders who were like-minded. And to find leaders who felt this way, Carol found her tribe on Clubhouse. After many Clubhouse sessions, a core group formed the Collective for common good. Members are from all across the globe.
From the Clubhouse start, the Collective moved to form a Group on the Slack platform. With the ease of asking questions within the Slack group, so many issues have been solved for these beauty businesses.
From labeling to regulatory issues, sourcing products to patents, many questions have been answered by members of the Collective.
Carol finds the Collective to be so inspiring to help founders become better leaders of their business that she recommends it to any small business group. Click here for the full podcast interview with Carol,
Elaine Slatter is a Small Business Expert, founder of XL Consulting Group and author of the popular book, “Fabulous Fempreneurship”, a complete business guide for women. XL Consulting Group helps entrepreneurs with market planning, strategy, branding, web design and social media. She has over 30 years of executive business and marketing experience and is ready to help you rocket your business to success. Elaine is passionate about mentoring women to become successful women entrepreneurs. To find out more, visit XL Consulting Group or join the Fabulous Fempreneurship mastermind.PrevOlder Stories
The advertising agency I’d joined was the most competitive and ambitious in London. Building business was hardwired into every one of us. Competition with other internal teams as part of the process. Jumping to the top of the queue above other teams for the next new business prospect gave us more opportunities for winning new business. We were trained to present, to sell, and sell again and again. And I was desperate to succeed.
Failure could be challenging. Our creative teams could be fearsome to deal with. Emotions ran high — sometimes way too high, with unpleasant consequences. I planned to stay for a year or so. But twelve years passed quickly, and I ended up running a big group. The rewards for those of us who succeeded were good, but I wanted more.
I took a big, big risk and started a breakaway agency with seven colleagues. With a full team and a great office in the center of London, we had a stupidly large overhead from Day One. We also had no client and no income. We had to sell to survive. Every single opportunity, every new business prospect, however small, was critical. Our family houses, the school fees, the grocery bills, and everything we owned depended on winning business.
We were good — mostly, very good. Even if we lost a new business pitch, we didn’t give up. Sure, this irritated some prospects, but mostly they appreciated our hunger.
Every idea had to be sold and nurtured. Every opportunity, however small, is exploited. Our lives and our families depended on it. And at the end of the first year, we broke even. Our bankers were so amazed they threw us a private lunch to celebrate.
Then times got edgy. We had big debts. We restructured, redoubled our efforts, and focused harder on winning business. We survived — and produced some outstanding work.
After years and years of selling the agency to prospects, to staff, stakeholders, and selling work to clients, I realized something. I was dog-tired. I was exhausted from filling the leaky bucket of revenue over and over again. I knew it was time to merge my agency and get out. I stopped selling.
New Business. No Selling
After a stint at business school, I was back in business, but this time, on my own. I had no website and no nameplate in my office. I was invisible, and I didn’t sell. I just told past clients and colleagues what I was planning and doing.
For four months, the phone was quiet. Then it rang. I met with the prospect — and instead of selling and telling him about my offer, I just asked questions about his company and what problems required attention. I checked the size, importance, and cost of those problems.
He was interested in working with me, and I was interested in working with him. I wrote a two-paragraph summary of how to tackle the issues and added a price range. It was large and provided good value.
And the phone continued to ring, despite no website, no marketing, no sales activity, and no long submissions. I refused to write submissions – only one-page outlines. I just asked questions.
A few years later I co-founded The Client Relationship Consultancy. Again: no website, no marketing, no selling. I met with past colleagues and explained our philosophy. We made them sign a two-way NDA — we would never talk about them, and they would never talk about us.
But they wanted to work with us. As clients moved to new agencies, the word spread and we got more calls. These new prospects wanted credentials presentations. I explained that I would tell them about our business for less than sixty seconds, and about our philosophy and approach for four minutes. At that point, if they did not agree with our approach, we could cut short the meeting and I might be able to suggest others who could be a better fit for them. But no one ever said that. And we still had a two-way NDA.
We never chased after a meeting. If I thought a prospect would not be right for us, I would decline their business. Occasionally, existing clients wanted to do things differently. If whatever they suggested failed to meet our philosophy, we refused to work with them.
I loved this new way of carrying out business. I felt re-energized. And our clients stuck.
To my business partners’ intense irritation, I refused to set annual targets. I did not want to feel that I needed to sell. But over sixteen years, our business grew and grew — to offices and consultants in London, Windsor, Boston, Mexico, Munich, Singapore, and Sydney. Still no website. Still no new business or marketing activity. Still a two-way NDA.
Why It Worked
Why did this approach work? Not having objectives for sales, and not selling, meant that I had a powerful position, equal to that of a prospective client. I could relax. As a result, so could the client. We were able to have adult-to-adult conversations. The prospective clients became less defensive, and more open to me. They were comfortable disclosing deeper, underlying issues.
Both parties had the opportunity to ensure that the ‘fit’ between was tight. Both sides had the chance to ensure that our beliefs were in synch. The result: long-term, enduring relationships, and no leaky buckets anywhere.
Here is a quote from the co-founder of Thrive Market:
“Growing up in the Midwest in the ‘90s, I saw how hard my mom worked to put healthy food on our table despite limited knowledge, a limited budget, and limited healthy options in our hometown. She did an amazing job, but it was hard—and she was mostly on her own…Thirty years later, so much has changed. Today, millions of moms, dads, grandparents, and young people are all aspiring to live healthier and more sustainable lives. My mom is no longer on her own!And yet one thing hasn’t changed: finding convenient, trusted, and affordable ways to shop healthier is still hard.At Thrive Market, we’re on a mission to change that.”—Nick Green, Father of Two + Thrive Market Co-Founder & CEO
Thrive Market is benefiting from four converging trends that shifted into overdrive by the pandemic: healthy eating, online grocery, subscriptions, and personalized shopping.
It’s propelled an already rapidly-growing company, tracking at 40% year-over-year growth before the pandemic, to nearly double its business since, with sales up 90% year-over-year.
With its membership rapidly approaching one million, Thrive Market solves many of the problems inherent in traditional grocery shopping and online as well. Because the typical grocery store carries between 30,000 to 50,000 products, grocery shoppers suffer from a confusing abundance of choices.
Thrive Market makes selection simple, offering about 6,000 carefully curated items that represent the best brands that are better for people and better for the planet.
Initially focused on non-perishable products in the center aisles of a grocery store, it now offers wine, meat, seafood, and ready-made meals, along with a growing list of pet, beauty, and home products. The only thing missing is dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables, which present logistical challenges the company is working to overcome.
“We are about six years old now, and we have always been a fast-growing business,” says Sasha Siddhartha, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer. “Since we launched, keeping up the growth and scale has been a consistent focus for us. But then starting in late February/early March, that growth accelerated dramatically, and we continue to hold that accelerated pace. It turns out Thrive Market is a sticky concept.”
“Our approach has always been curated, so you don’t have to worry about which brand is better for you or spend time studying the labels. Our merchandising team has already done the work for you to pre-select and curate based on the highest standards in the industry,” Siddhartha says. “Instead of finding 40 products to choose from, we offer the best two or three, taking the guesswork out.”
Since Covid hit, people have prioritized health and wellness in grocery shopping. Thrive Market sits in that sweet spot. Even before the pandemic, natural and organic had been the fastest-growing sector in the grocery industry, he shares. It is a trend that is sure to continue as the immediate health threat abates.
Online grocery shopping is a great convenience, saving time, which is the ultimate luxury. But consumer habits are hard to break and going to the grocery store has long been a staple of the American’s lifestyle. That changed overnight due to the pandemic.
Why give your money to a company that is not only infringing on your Constitutional rights, but those of their employees?
Thrive Market is the way of the future.
They provide high-quality products at very reasonable prices.
Expect to see other online grocery stores adopt a similar model of Thrive Market.
There are ups and downs in business but fearing failures can stop you from taking your first step towards excellence. With pandemic on tow, aspiring entrepreneurs feel a little stuck when ideating a business prospect. Here, we give you some actionable tips to deal with negativity while starting a business, even during situations like a pandemic. We also took the liberty to throw in some amazing book recommendations that’ll help you enjoy the process of being positive and achieving your business goals.
10 Tips to deal with negativity while starting a business in a pandemic
1. Get a mentor
The first thing to do as a new business owner is to find the right kind of mentor. That person could be someone in your industry or in general who you look up to. The guidance must be apt for your business, and it should be a mutual responsibility of sharing knowledge.
2. Two big R’s – Routine and Refresh
Made a mess of something? Try to reboot the situation and make it work. Take a break once in a while and refresh yourself if you feel stuck or your ideas feel mundane. Plan a routine and stick to them – both personal and professional. Having a routine can increase productivity and engage in more activities apart from your pre-planned schedule.
Do not panic once you are thrown a problem. Arrange a meeting with the respective party, listen to both sides of the stories, and make a decision that is more realistic and feasible.
4. Hire half and half
Whenever you hire someone for your business. Make sure that half of the people contradict your ideas, and the other half have the same mindset as yours. The people who contradict can bring in more valuable points and their perspective might take the discussion to a whole new level. Don’t take too much time finding the perfect one. Hire an apt person who can have the right attitude.
5. Network, Network, and Network
Find like-minded people and mingle with them. Be more sportive in the learning process. Listen more and talk less – if you are a beginner. You can only be a constructive person who gives input to someone if you have listened to everyone’s point of view. If you feel down, your network might have something to uplift your mood and change your perspective on something.
“Negativity, in general, is one of the things that holds people back, and you have to see what’s holding you back to get away from it.” – Lucy Dacus
6. Tech-savvy personnel
Learn a thing or two about the latest technology that you implement in your organization. Since the world revolves around technology, make sure your administrative authority knows as well.
7. Don’t schedule a meeting, that could have been an email
Yes! I said it. Having unnecessary meetings will weaken the purpose of having a constructive discussion. Having back-to-back meetings drains the team members and yourself too. Always have a 10 to 15 minutes break between each meeting to feel refreshed and give your 100%.
Always, I mean always have a pros and cons list. Let’s say one of your team members pitch an idea to improve the marketing strategies starting next month. Jot down the pros and cons before approving or rejecting it point-blank. It’s a systematic way of making a decision.
Even if you have a team of accountants and auditors, make sure that you are present (both mentally and physically) – learn if you are not aware of it. Trusting your employees is a must, but not overseeing the records is a mistake that should be avoided.
10. Remember your “why?”
At some point in your hectic schedule or not having ME time can get to you. During those tough times – ask yourself – “Why am I doing this?”. If you can answer this question with a valid explanation, you’ll feel energized. Because “A purpose drives you”.
5 Best books to read to be more positive as an entrepreneur
Reading always puts me into perspective. Therefore, I took some liberty to give a sample of positivity and determination through words.
These are the 5 books that’ll guide you to be a more positive and successful entrepreneur.
Attitude is everything by Jeff Keller – The decisions you make, the routine you set for yourself, and the affirmations you say to yourself every day are going to make a huge difference. If you feel tired, hopeless, and quitting – then this book is for you to boost you up!
Mindset: The new psychology of success by Carol Dweck – You do what you think. In this book, the author talks about two mindsets: The growth mindset and the fixed mindset and what they’ll do to you respectively. She helps you recognize your mindset and change it for the better.
Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen – This book is about technology uprisings all over the world and businesses that adopted and implemented technology in their firm. The author teaches you that just because your competitors and others are adopting something into their businesses doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Make an informed decision.
As A Man Thinketh by James Allen – This book specifically is about the power of thought and how it shapes your life into a more meaningful and fulfilling one.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – The author talks about how people always keep thinking about what the future holds but then forget to live and enjoy the present. And also helps us understand how to make decisions more efficiently based on the present.
Working towards inner balance requires consistency and perseverance. So does hard and smart work. Being negative is a part of our lives. It’s important to channel it appropriately and make things happen despite the roller coaster ride that is our lives. Hope you overcome your fears and negativity to shine bigger and brighter. Cheers!
Saaradha Kumar is an enthusiastic writer and has immense love for books. She works as a Digital Marketer at RentALLScript. RentALLScript (the one who designed Wooberly, an Uber clone app) gives out creative web and mobile app solutions for entrepreneurs to enhance their business.
When Amy Buttell separated from her husband in 2005, her anxiety spiked off the charts. A suddenly single mother, Buttell didn’t have a lot of money to throw around. Still, in the wake of her marital upheaval, she made massage a priority. It helped her weather the storm, she says, and today, she still finds that getting one or two massages a month helps keep stress at bay. And that helps her defend against physiological tension, too.
“When I’m anxious, I feel all clenched up,” says the 49-year-old marketing communications director from Erie, Pa. “My massage therapist untangles my knots.” Like many people, Buttell values not only the hands-on healing but also the opportunity to power down her brain and nervous system for an hour or so. “Even if I’m short on money,” she says, “I find a way to make it happen.”
Buttell is not alone. Despite massage’s reputation as a self-indulgent luxury, an increasing number of people are embracing it — not just as a “spa treatment,” but as a powerful therapeutic tool.
Americans currently log more than 114 million trips to massage therapists every year. Massage therapists are the second most visited complementary and alternative medicine providers behind chiropractors. All told, Americans spend up to $11 billion a year on massage. And statistics from the American Massage Therapy Association project that over the next five years, that number is likely to grow considerably.
What we’re getting for our money, whether we realize it or not, is an access code of sorts — a healing key capable of opening the body’s stickiest locks.
Scrunching our shoulders, craning our necks, sitting for hours, driving in rush-hour traffic — such mundane activities can create patterns of muscle tension (referred to as “holding”) in the body. And when muscles are chronically tense or tweaked, it can have a nasty effect on both our bodies and our minds.
Persistent musculoskeletal tension can restrict blood circulation and nutrient supplies to the body’s organs and tissues. As the weblike connective tissue (fascia) that envelops the muscles gets increasingly dense and less mobile, it can negatively affect posture and breathing. The experience of low-grade, habitual tension can contribute to chronic hormonal, biochemical, and neurological problems of all kinds.
In conventional medicine, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are the gold standard. But massage and most other forms of bodywork don’t lend themselves well to such studies. Therefore, scientific “proof,” both for massage’s efficacy and its means of function, runs a little thin. But convincing clinical evidence is accumulating.
For example, in 2004, Christopher Moyer, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, published a meta-analysis on massage therapy research and found that, on average, research subjects who received massage had a lower level of anxiety than those who did not.
“My research consistently finds that massage does have an impact on anxiety,” says Moyer. “We don’t know exactly why, but people who get massage have less anxiety afterward.”
One popular explanation is that massage lowers the body’s levels of cortisol, the hormone notorious for triggering the body’s fight-or-flight response. “No matter how we measure cortisol — in saliva or urine — or how often, we always find that massage has a beneficial effect,” says Tiffany Field, PhD, a researcher at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
Although Moyer is yet to be convinced of the cortisol connection, both he and Field agree that massage is potentially very therapeutic for what’s known as “state” anxiety. Unlike generalized anxiety disorders, state anxiety is a reaction to something you can pinpoint, such as a troubling or traumatic event, circumstance, or setting.
Although more research is needed, says Moyer, “some experts posit that the reported alleviation of state anxiety could be a result of something as simple as the social and psychological environment where the massage takes place.”
Relieve Lower-Back Pain
Aside from stress, if there’s one thing that drives people to the massage table in droves, it’s pain. Especially lower-back pain, which up to 85 percent of Americans experience at some point during their lives.
In 2008, the Cochrane Collaboration (a global, independent, nonprofit organization that reviews the usefulness of healthcare interventions) published an examination of the evidence linking massage to relieving lower back pain. Reviewing 13 clinical trials, they found massage to be a promising treatment.
“Physical pain is like the alarm system of a house,” says Andrea Furlan, Ph.D., a clinical epidemiologist who specializes in massage at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto. “With acute pain, like a burn or a broken bone, the pain signal indicates something is wrong. But, if you have pain every day, like chronic back pain, the alarm is malfunctioning. Massage may not be able to turn off the alarm, but it can lower the volume.”
Theories abound on how massage interrupts the body’s pain loop. One of the oldest and most well-regarded explanations is called the gate-control theory. Proponents surmise that pain signals to the brain are muffled by competing stimuli. More specifically, the pain travels on small-diameter nerve fibers, while massage stimulates large-diameter ones. Larger nerve fibers relay messages to the brain faster than smaller ones. In essence, says Furlan, the sensation of the massage “wins” over the sensation of pain.
One word of advice from fitness experts, though: You’ll get more lasting, long-term relief of lower back pain by supplementing massage with isometric core exercises, such as planks, that focus on strengthening the muscles that support and guide the spine’s movements.
Soothe Tension Headaches
Tension leads to headaches, so it follows that massage would help ease them. And for many, trigger-point therapy can prove particularly effective.
“A trigger point is an area of tightly contracted muscle tissue,” says Albert Moraska, Ph.D., a researcher focused on complementary medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. “Trigger points in the shoulder and neck refer [relay] pain to the head. By reducing the activity of trigger points, we can reduce headaches.”
Moraska’s work, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, explores how massaging the neck and shoulders can ease tension-type headaches. “We think massage can disrupt trigger points by forcing apart the tightly contracted sarcomeres (proteins responsible for contraction) within the muscle cells; as a result, the cells relax and subsequently muscle tension dissipates.”
Restore Deep Sleep
Roughly one in five Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. That’s a problem because lack of sleep alters the body’s biochemistry, making it more vulnerable to inflammation and lowered immunity, and more sensitive to pain.
“The relationship between pain and sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle,” says Tiffany Field. “Your body doesn’t get the rest it needs to heal.”
Although studies of massage therapy and sleep quality are few, the findings suggest that massage can promote deeper, less disturbed sleep, especially in people with painful chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. Massage therapy indirectly promotes good sleep by relieving pain and encouraging relaxation.
Because massage therapy stimulates the body’s parasympathetic “rest-and-relax” nervous system (the opposite of its sympathetic “fight-or-flight” response), it counters both physical and mental stresses — giving you a better shot at enjoying the sleep you need to repair tissue during the night and to cope better during the day.
It may seem surprising that physically manipulating the body can help counter a malady we associate with the brain. But, in his oft-cited 2004 review, Christopher Moyer found that depression is particularly responsive to massage.
The average research subject who received massage had a level of depression that was lower than 73 percent of those who did not. These findings are on par with more conventional approaches to treating depression, including psychotherapy.
Field’s research on depression shows that massage boosts the body’s natural levels of serotonin, a substance that works “much like Prozac” in the brain. Her studies show that massage also encourages the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, a mood enhancer, as well as oxytocin, a hormone that generates feelings of contentment.
While the exact mechanisms are unclear, it seems evident that a good massage has a variety of positive psychological implications as well, from receiving nurturing touch from another person, anticipating that the experience will be beneficial, or feeling empathy from the therapist.
Lower Blood Pressure
Given how positively it affects the rest of the body and mind, and how well it moderates stress, it probably comes as no surprise that massage therapy can also benefit the heart — in part by reducing blood pressure. In his meta-analysis, Moyer found that massage significantly lowers blood pressure, at least temporarily.
He notes that the findings are consistent with the theory that massage can trigger the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which helps prompt the body to return to biochemical balance and emotional ease after enduring a stressful event.
But perhaps the bigger takeaway here is that massage can help unlock the body’s healing potential not by anyone means, but rather by many. As epidemiologist Andrea Furlan points out, “Well before drugs or surgical procedures were developed, people used massage to treat almost everything.” Still, today, she notes, “when we get hurt, our first instinct is to rub.”
Amy Buttell, for one, doesn’t need any more evidence than her own transformation. “I don’t know if it’s the touch, the warm table, or the fact that I get to turn my phone off for an hour, but I do know that massage is worth every penny.”
Multiple Modalities: What Kind of Massage Is Right for You?
Not so long ago, available massage styles in most U.S. cities were fairly limited. Today, bodywork modalities abound, from familiar basics like Swedish to more exotic options like Hawaiian Lomi Lomi and Chinese Tui Na. Wondering which style of massage is right for you? Read on for a rundown of some of the most popular options. Some massage styles are more physically intense than others but keep in mind, you always have a role in guiding your therapist about how much pressure feels good to you and where it’s applied.
Abhyanga: Based on the principles of Ayurveda, one or more therapists apply herb-infused oils to usher the body into a state of relaxation and balance.
Acupressure: Working with the same theory of acupuncture (but without the needles), acupressure stimulates points on the body to release energetic congestion and open the body’s energy pathways.
Craniosacral therapy: A gentle, non-invasive form of massage in which a therapist uses a light touch to work the cranial bones, the spinal column, and the sacrum (a triangular bone at the base of the spine) to balance energy, treat headaches, and reduce mental stress. Mild enough for infants, as well as the elderly.
Deep tissue: Targeting chronic patterns of holding, deep tissue relies on slow strokes and targeted pressure, often with a finger, thumb, or elbow.
Hot stone: Smooth, warm stones are placed on the body and become focal points of relaxation as the heat penetrates and soothes tense muscles.
Lomi Lomi: An ancient Polynesian practice, this style is characterized by the practitioner’s rhythmic use of the hands, forearms, and elbows. Long, broad strokes invite relaxation.
Myofascial release: A light, sustained pressure is applied to constrictions in the body’s fascia, or connective tissue, to elicit elongation and release.
Reflexology: Stimulates pressure points on the hands, feet, and ears. Each point is believed to correspond to other, less-accessible parts of the body, such as the organs.
Shiatsu: A Japanese style, shiatsu directs pressure to lines of energy (meridians) considered important for health and well-being.
Sports: Often used before and after athletic activity, the focus is on reducing inflammation, keeping joints flexible, and enhancing performance.
Swedish: A combination of long, gliding strokes, as well as kneading, stretching, and tapping. Swedish massage is thought to enhance health by increasing blood flow to the muscles.
Thai: Performed on the floor with clothes on and no oils, a Thai massage involves being stretched into yoga-like positions.
Trigger-point therapy: Trigger points often show up as “knots” in the muscles, most often in the shoulders, upper back, and neck. Trigger points are different from acupressure points because they actually feel like lumps. Trigger-point therapy (also known as neuromuscular therapy) uses pressure to dissolve the knots.
Tui Na: A vigorous kneading and pulling of the body, Tui Na (meaning push and grab) is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Like other Eastern approaches, such as Thai massage and acupressure, the goal is to open up the flow of Qi through the body’s energy pathways or meridians.
How to Choose a Massage Therapist
Finding a truly great massage practitioner — one whose skills, style, and personality all suit you — can make the difference between a merely nice (or worse, ho-hum) experience and the kind of transformative healing dynamic that keeps you coming back for more.
You won’t know for sure until you get on the table, but here are some key questions to help you decide whether a therapist is right for you.
1. Are you nationally certified? More than 300 schools and programs in the United States offer accreditation for massage therapists. To become nationally certified, a person must have a basic set of skills, pass an exam, adhere to certain ethical guidelines, and take part in continuing education.
2. Are you state certified? Every state is different, but most of them (42, plus the District of Columbia) offer certification for massage therapists; some are voluntary, and others are mandatory. Seek out a massage therapist who is state-certified, which typically means he or she met a minimum number of training hours and passed an exam.
3. How many hours of training have you completed? This is a helpful question, especially in states lacking strict oversight of who can call themselves a massage therapist. The answer you’re looking for is a minimum of 500 hours. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, the average practitioner has 633 hours of training. A massage therapist with less than 500 hours of training can still be good, but consider the number a benchmark.
4. Do you have any special or advanced training? The best massage therapists spend years developing specialties and honing a specific skill set. The massage therapist who is passionate about Chinese meridians and spends several weeks a year going to special training may have an edge over the generalist who hasn’t evolved beyond the basic moves she learned in massage school. The same goes if you have special needs. For instance, a massage therapist who emphasizes sports massage might be a good bet if you have a weekend-warrior injury, but not if you have fibromyalgia.
5. How much do you charge? Expect to pay roughly $1 a minute for a chair massage at the mall or airport. At an upscale spa or studio, massage rates range from about $60 to $120 an hour, plus a 15 to 20 percent tip. (Sometimes, packages of four or six massages are available at a discount.) If you have health insurance, ask your provider if you are eligible for either a discount (available with some plan-approved therapists) or if you can pay for massage with money from a flexible spending account. Unless you have the Mercedes-Benz of healthcare plans, preventive massage is probably not covered 100 percent, but if your doctor or chiropractor recommends massage therapy, your plan might cover a specific number of sessions.
One final tip: Get a referral. It’s OK to be picky about who puts their hands on your body. If you’re feeling spontaneous and want to book a one-time massage at a local spa, great. But if you’d like to explore massage as a long-term investment in your body, or if you have some tenacious kinks to work out and you think you might need a series of treatments, talk to your friends about whom they like and why. If your friends don’t get a massage, ask for a recommendation at your local yoga studio, health club, acupuncture center, or chiropractor’s office. More often than not, these folks are plugged into the local “who’s who” of bodyworkers and can steer you in the right direction.
Federal Covid-19 relief programs may be winding down or–in the case of the Paycheck Protection Program–over, but chances are, your business might still need aid.
Half of the country’s smallest businesses continue to struggle with the economic impacts of the pandemic, according to a June report by Yahoo Small Business. The survey also found that just 38 percent of microbusinesses–defined as those with fewer than five employees–received government support during the pandemic, with 85 percent saying they relied on community assistance to keep them afloat.
If your company still needs financial support, consider tapping state and local small-business relief programs. Many of these programs were launched early in the pandemic, but they still have funds available. The American Rescue Plan Act, which President Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021, allocates $350 billion to states, localities, territories, and tribal governments to help eligible residents. Of that, $195.3 billion is going straight to the states.
According to the National League of Cities, an advocacy group for municipalities, the funds for local governments will remain available through December 31, 2026, but may only offset costs incurred by December 31, 2024. While states can elect to deploy the money in different ways, approximately 30 states, including Utah and Georgia, are using it to fuel small-business relief efforts, mostly in the form of loans or grants. Some states also offer to connect founders with resources or mentorship.
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, a pub, and restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, was approved for a $10,000 grant through the state’s Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund in November 2020 after the company was forced to lay off most of its 77-person staff. Co-founder Bob Szuter says the assistance program, which ended in January 2021, was not small change. “The total amount was not significant relative to the size of our business, but it certainly helped during a difficult period of 2020 when we did not know when and if there would be additional federal support,” says Szuter.
Different States, Different Rules
Every state and local program is unique–proffering different eligibility requirements, potential awards, and revenue-loss floors. Some programs require businesses to show certain revenue-loss thresholds or proof of having to close up shop. For example, businesses in Grand Junction, Colorado, can access up to $7,500 in grants but must demonstrate that the business was compelled to close or substantially limit operations because of the pandemic. New York awards grants based on an entity’s annual gross receipts for 2019, with a maximum of $50,000. Connecticut supplies one-time grants of $5,000 to businesses with fewer than 20 employees or a 2019 payroll of less than $1.5 million.
Other states offer both grant and low-interest loan programs–typically defined as loans with interest charges of less than 5 percent. Arizona’s Small Business Success Loan program offers loans of up to $75,000 with repayment terms ranging from six months to five years. Similarly, the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund provides businesses with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue low-interest loans of up to $50,000. At least 50 percent of a loan’s proceeds have to be applied toward payroll or other eligible compensation, including salaries, wages, tips, paid leave, and group health care benefits.
While these programs may still have plenty of funds available–some don’t even have an application deadline–you’d better act fast. Many programs are accepting applications on a rolling basis until the funds are gone. That’s why it’s best to get your applications in as soon as possible, says Tom Sullivan, vice president of small-business policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been following state programs throughout the pandemic. But track them, he says. While all 50 states are due some portion of the funding from the Rescue Plan, the timing of the disbursements may be different in each state.
To wit, the timing of the second tranche of funding provided to states through the Rescue Plan is contingent on the local unemployment rate. According to the Treasury Department, states that have experienced a net increase in the unemployment rate of more than 2 percentage points from February 2020 to the latest available date of certification will receive their full allocation of remaining funds in a single payment on or around May 2022. Other states will receive funds in two separate, equal tranches.
With that, some states, counties, and cities may choose to establish new programs in the near future, says Sullivan. Governments have to apply through Treasury, and those applications are getting processed now, he says. He recommends first getting in touch with your local chamber or local economic development center, as these institutions may be paying close attention to the deployment of funds.
Before you contact a local department or apply for assistance, it’s crucial to have your financial documents in order, notes Sullivan. This includes annual or quarterly profit-and-loss statements and tax documents. “Every city and county is generally a little different,” says Sullivan, “but the folks who get their stuff in first generally get preference.”
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