company culture -cornerlight-sohosoleilCompany culture is an important part of whether you enjoy your job or not. A strong, positive culture that fosters personal connections and loyalty will help you get more out of your job and, in the long run, can improve the quality of your work. Here are some ways to improve your company culture in order to create a positive atmosphere in the workplace.

Define your company’s goals.
The basis for your company culture depends on the goals you set from the start. It’s important to know what the founder of your company’s mission was when they created the business. Having a defined goal for your company allows everyone to unite around this common effort to achieve the same thing. It will help different departments and teams within the company realize that while they may have different job descriptions, the end goal is the same. This promotes a feeling of togetherness in the workplace, as well as a culture of unity.

Engage your employees.
Having employees who aren’t interested in the work they’re doing will only encourage boredom and lack of enthusiasm, which will negatively affect the workplace atmosphere. Try to employ new ways to encourage engagement among your company. Promoting creativity and creative exercises instead of merely assigning tasks will allow your employees to approach their work with fresh minds. Take a look at this post for more ways to spur employee engagement at your next corporate event.

Get out of the office. 
Keeping everyone in the office all the time is likely to prevent your employees from really getting to know one another. In order to improve your company culture, your employees should get comfortable with one another. This will allow them to more freely share new ideas and insights without fear of judgment. An offsite meeting or event is the perfect opportunity to take part in team-building exercises that will provide a basis for lasting relationships between coworkers.

product planning -101-cornerlight-sohosoleilPlanning the development of a new product is exciting yet serious business. It is a chance for your company to innovate and create something that could have an impact on the world, and should be approached with the right attitude. Beginning product planning with a closed mind or without an end goal will result in misguided or off-track development. Here are some of the basics to keep in mind when planning your next product with your company:

Think outside the box. 
Basing your planning off ideas your company has used a thousand times before will likely yield the same results. If you want new and improved products, use new and improved ideas. Planning your products from the same angle every time won’t result in innovation, and will only waste time. In order for your company to grow, creative thinking must be applied to your product planning.

Consider your demographic. 
Knowing your demographic is one of the most important parts of planning. Look at the statistics of who your product and your company is popular with, and use that information to develop the building blocks of your new product. Planning with your target demographic in mind will help you to consider details that will make your product more appealing to them when it comes time for its release.

Be in the right environment.
Doing your product planning in a cubicle or in a cramped environment will be less conducive to creativity. Instead, find a place that inspires you and your company to brainstorm innovative ideas. Getting out of the office and going to an offsite location has been shown to increase engagement and team-building, and can help get your team focused on your product.

team-building strategies -cornerlight-sohosoleilHaving chemistry with your team and your coworkers is integral to the success of your company. Embracing getting to know the people you work with will not only make for a better work day, but can also help you make lifelong professional connections that could be useful in the future. It can be difficult to spark that first conversation with someone you don’t know yet, though. Here are three effective team-building strategies your company can use to familiarize yourselves with one another.

Socialize.
Getting to know your coworkers outside of the workplace is an important step in understanding them as people, not just parts of a company. Talking about topics separate from work in a relaxed environment can help you learn things about your coworkers that you may have never discovered. Knowing the people you work with on a more personal level will help your team’s chemistry, and will help you be more comfortable when working with them in the future.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.
When working with your team, it’s important to realize that playing around with different ideas is a key component of the creative process. Don’t take it personally if your idea is changed or modified. Instead, take it as an opportunity to understand your team’s way of thinking, and collaborate with them to incorporate everyone’s ideas into the project. This will help your team understand each other better as you continue to work and grow together. It will also produce a better result, since everyone’s input will have been considered and factored in to the final product.

Embrace team-building exercises.
Team-building exercises can sometimes feel a little bit forced or cheesy. But if you go in with the wrong attitude, there will be no point to the exercise and your company won’t have a chance to learn anything more about you. That’s why it’s important to embrace these exercises or activities with an open mind. Icebreaker games like these might feel a little ridiculous at first, but can actually be extremely helpful in strengthening relationships within your company and allowing your team to grow closer.

creative meeting -cornerlight-sohosoleilWhen your idea of a meeting is sitting around a conference table with your company for hours, listening to one person talk the whole time, it can quickly get dull or boring. Creative meetings are meant to be used for inspiration and innovation, neither of which will result from simply sitting and listening to a boss or coworker for the entire meeting. It’s easy to fall into a rut of complacency when you’re only expected to show up at the meeting, sit, stay silent, and then leave, but it’s important to break that mold and emphasize creativity in your company. Collaboration is just one of the keys to a more creative meeting, but there are several other ways to have a meeting that encourages innovation and a creative mindset.

Treat your meeting like improv.
Recently, The New York Times conducted an interview with Goop C.E.O. Lisa Gersh, titled “Treat Meetings Like Improv Sessions.” That doesn’t mean making up your ideas as you go along, but instead means that you should think about how you can use your idea and your coworkers’ ideas in different contexts or for different purposes. Immediately shutting down an idea without considering all uses for it could result in some of the best ones being lost.

Have a creative environment.
Trying to come up with creative ideas off the top of your head while sitting in a grey conference room won’t be effective or useful if the only thing to stimulate your brain is your coworkers’ faces and white walls. Instead, create an environment that encourages your company to think outside the box. Having plenty of space to brainstorm and experiment with new ideas will allow you to have a creative meeting that promotes innovation.

Get comfortable with your coworkers.
A creative meeting can sometimes be challenging due to the fact that you’re sharing personal thoughts, ideas, and perspectives with your company. Putting those ideas out in the open means they can be subject to criticism or questioning, which can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with your coworkers and their ways of thinking. That’s why it’s important to get comfortable with the people you work with. Seeing them as more than just coworkers and developing personal bonds with them will make it easier to share your true opinions and ideas without fear of being criticized.

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The pressure of planning an offsite event or meeting for your company can be a lot to handle. It’s a big responsibility, and it can sometimes feel like everyone is depending on you for a successful day. There are several factors that go into planning a great event, and knowing what they are can help you make sure your company will benefit from taking the event out of the office. Here are some tips to ensure a successful offsite event.

Pick the right place.
The most important factor to pay attention to when planning your event is the venue. Being stuck inside a crammed, stuffy room all day won’t do any favors for your company, and would defeat the purpose of having an offsite event. Instead, pick a venue that has plenty of room for different activities and discussions, and will allow your company to create and brainstorm without feeling constrained.

Plan your breaks.
Making sure you plan out your breaks beforehand will allow your company to better decide what you want to accomplish between each break. It will help you work towards your goals for the event since you’ll be able to visualize what the plan is for each part of the day. Also, taking breaks is an important part of the creative process and will ensure that your coworkers won’t get burnt out over the course of the day.

Have engaging content.
Making sure that your company is engaged in the event is integral to its success. If people are attending the event but not focusing on its information or purpose, then it hasn’t achieved anything. Having content that engages the company and prompts them to take part in the creative process is a huge part of a successful offsite meeting, and will eliminate boredom or off-topic thinking.

A change of scenery for a meeting not only gives you and your company a fresh perspective, but it can also help everyone engage more in the conversation. An offsite meeting space is a great opportunity to grab your employees’ attention and channel their productivity. Here’s how you can use your offsite meeting to your advantage.

Get active.
An offsite meeting space often means that more space is available than the traditional conference room. It’s been proven that being active gets your creative juices flowing, so use the extra room to move around more than you normally would in the office. Having employees do creative exercises or brainstorm on the move will keep them more engaged than just sitting and listening.

Take “breaks.”
Use your new environment to take breaks without actually losing sight of your purpose. You can use the time when everyone’s eating lunch together to do creative and fun brain exercises that will keep everyone’s mind fresh and ready to brainstorm. Having a space that brings everyone together even when the meeting isn’t in progress can help employees stay engaged throughout the day.

Meet your coworkers.
Use the opportunity of being out of the office to get to know your coworkers or employees. An offsite meeting space can create a more casual environment that makes it easy to spark up a conversation with the person next to you. Once everyone knows each other better, people will be more engaged with what each other has to say. This attitude will follow employees back to the office, making for more engaging meetings in the future.

offsite meeting space -cornerlight-sohosoleil

 

customers cornerlight-sohosoleil

In a time when every company seems to offer some sort of loyalty program, whether it consists of discounts, early access to products, or other special treatment, how can you make sure you stand out in your customers’ minds? This New York Times article explains how traditional rewards programs aren’t cutting it anymore. Businesses must find other ways to make sure customers remain loyal to them. Here are a few ways you can keep your customers coming back for more.

Personalize. 
When customers feel a personal connection with a business, they want to maintain that relationship. Buying a product from a company that knows who you are will result in a better experience than buying from a company that sees you only as a consumer, not an individual. Personalizing the customer’s experience with your company and making sure they know you care is an important part of earning their loyalty.

Get noticed. 
It’s easy to be forgotten or ignored if your customers have a hundred other companies they can go to who are just like you. That’s why it’s important to get noticed by your customer. Social media is a valuable tool in doing so, since it’s easy to find the community you cater to and interact directly with them. Being able to associate the name of your business with a specific memory or picture will help your customer remember who you are and how good of an experience they had with you.

Make your purpose clear.
Having a clear, direct message or purpose will help your customer immediately associate your company with what they need. When they hear your name, the customer should be able to instantly know what you can do for them. Making sure your company’s purpose is obvious to consumers will help them automatically think of you when they need your product or service.

motivate cornerlight-sohosoleil

Everyone’s had those days when your motivation is nowhere to be found. No new ideas are coming to you, you’re bored, you don’t want to get to work. Lacking motivation not only puts you in a slump, but can also affect your employees or coworkers. Trying to lead a team to brainstorm their best ideas is difficult when you don’t want to do it either. Here are some tips on how to motivate yourself and your team to create, innovate, and be productive.

Be confident.
Confidence is key. Putting faith in yourself lets your employees and coworkers know that you can get the job done. Having confidence in your abilities will help you realize the potential you and your team have to come up with new and creative ideas. A team that knows they can count on each other will yield the best results. This Inc. article suggests ways to become a more confident person.

Have a clear goal.
Having a goal that everyone can easily focus on will help to remind you and your team of the purpose of the work you do. It’s easy to get caught up in the small details of a project or plan, but it’s important to always remember the bigger picture. Reminding yourself of the reason behind your work will help motivate you to achieve your goal. It will also help your team to think about what each person can contribute to reach that goal.

Get inspired.
Inspiration is integral to motivation. Having something that you can use to brainstorm and derive new ideas from is important to finding the motivation to keep working. Trying to come up with ideas with a blank slate is nearly impossible when you lack the incentive to do so, which is why finding something that inspires you can help you and your team find a foundation for new ways of thinking or working that will keep you motivated.

 

 

successful-meeting-cornerlight-sohosoleil

We all know that the word “meeting” is most often received with a looming sense of dread, or the ever-popular, “Just get through it” mindset. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Meetings can be engaging, and encourage productivity and innovation – if they’re done right. Here are four steps you can take to ensure a meeting that your company can look forward to:

Be comfortable.
An often overlooked yet highly important aspect of a great meeting is comfortability. Sitting in a cold, hard chair for several hours will not only guarantee back pain, but also stifle ideas. Making sure everyone is comfortable is a small step with a big payoff; it will allow creativity to flow and new ideas to develop without fear of resulting aches and pains.

Declutter.
A neat and tidy meeting space isn’t just more pleasant to look at – it will also declutter your brain. Staring at a mess while you try to brainstorm your best ideas won’t get you far. Instead, you should find a space that allows you to discuss and create without being distracted by stray papers or trash. This, in turn, will provide an atmosphere that promotes productivity. This Huffington Post article discusses how different office environments have different effects on your ability to focus and create.

Stay focused.
Use your resources to stay on track. Visual representations like Post-its or white boards let you quickly jot down ideas that are at the center of the discussion, and keep an eye on them as the meeting progresses. They also let you easily share these ideas with your coworkers, so everyone can be on the same page about where the discussion is headed.

Collaborate.
One person talking for the entire duration of the meeting will prevent everyone’s ideas from being heard, which means that you may miss out on the best ones. Having one person dominate the discussion is also an easy way for other people to lose focus if they feel that their opinion doesn’t matter. Instead, strive for an environment in which everyone feels comfortable voicing their opinions. Talking about different ideas will allow the company to look at them from different perspectives, and will yield the most innovative results.

innovation_creative_meeting_sohosoleil

Whether you’re one person or an entire corporation, you can benefit from innovation, especially because it’s the best way to develop and perfect ideas. Generating and implementing new ideas show that you embrace change, develop unique selling points, respond to trends and competition.

In addition to being straightforward, the process is scalable—individual freelancers, small business teams, or big corporations can use it. It’s also effective: it helps you pinpoint problems, strategize, and develop comprehensive solutions in one go. It can be repeated as many times as needed, too.

Here is how you can master the innovation process in five simple steps.

  1. Identify the problem and create a challenge. The innovation process always begins with a problem to be solved or goal to be met. Once you figure out what that is, convert it into a challenge that addresses the problem.
  1. In addition to thinking of your own ideas, ask others to offer creative solutions to your challenge. Ask your colleagues, business partners, customers, and even the public what they think about your idea so that they can help you improve it. Don’t criticize, censor, or shoot down any ideas during this phase. As actress Amy Poehler said in her commencement address to Harvard University’s Class of 2011, “Be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”
  1. Combine similar ideas and begin evaluating them. Put all of the similar ideas into clusters so they can be processed as one concept. After doing that, begin evaluating each cluster and see which of them will work the best. It is important to ask questions about each solution without being overly critical of them. More than one idea can make it to the development phase.
  1. Start development. Testing ideas is crucial because it shows you how an item or idea will perform in a business setting. Development can take many forms. For example: you can create a product’s prototype or take consumer surveys for a marketing challenge. The development process can take days or months to complete, so if your idea has some flaws, use this time to strengthen it.
  1. Implement ideas. Once your idea is bulletproof, take a moment to congratulate yourself. You’ve officially made it out of the creative process and are now at the finish line—your idea is now an innovation. At this time, take the necessary steps to launch your creation to the public. If your innovation is very different from your business’ usual, consider implementing it in steps for maximum impact.
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