Happiness Journal

We’re a happy bunch here at Ruby, and we like making others happy too. After all, we’re in the business of making personal connections! We take care to hire folks who enjoy making others’ days, as well as strive to foster happiness in our work environment. We celebrate successes, encourage staff to share affirmations through our “Ruby Raves,” and empower employees to spread joy to our clients through small acts of “WOW.” Additionally, we take the time each year to reflect on our own happiness and the power of positive thinking with the Happiness Journal challenge.

Ruby’s Happiness Journal originated from an article by The Happiness Advantage author Shawn Achor. In the article, Achor shared that a happy workforce leads to increased sales, productivity, and accuracy. After reading the article, CEO Jill Nelson created the Happiness Journal to encourage Rubys to focus on the positive aspects of their day. The first year of the challenge saw a 60% improvement in employee accuracy.

Now in its third year, the Happiness Journal challenge continues to significantly impact our staff. To participate, employees write one quick journal entry consecutively for 21 days. Each journal entry takes only a few minutes, and asks the following:

  • List three new things you’re grateful for that day
  • Write about a positive gratitude action for the day
  • Share a positive experience from the past 24 hours

The journal also encourages participants to exercise for 10 minutes and meditate for two minutes each day.

As Achor points out in the article, “happiness is a choice,” and we’d like to invite you to join in on our Happiness Journal challenge. Simply complete the form below and we will mail you a copy of our Happiness Journal.

We look forward to hearing your stories about the impact the Happiness Journal has had on your own life!

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Matilda Kahl has worn the same outfit every day for the past three years. The idea came to her after she realized how much time she spent each day agonizing over what to wear to work. Did she have an event that day? Would this blouse be appropriate for a client meeting? As she told Business Insider, “I just wanted to save some time and energy.”

Just like willpower, our ability to make effective decisions requires a great deal of mental energy—and this energy can be sapped much in the same way your body is tired after a long run. The more decisions you have to make in a day, the harder it becomes, and the less capable you are, of making a good one.

There are two simple solutions to combat decision fatigue—limit the number of decisions you make in a day, or delegate certain decisions to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Of course, if you’re a solopreneur or running a small business, it isn’t easy to spread the decision-making around. To make sure you’re in tip top shape for those critical decisions, try a few simple tips.

Tip #1 – Get It Out of the Way
It may seem easier to push off a big decision, but the anxiety and willpower spent avoiding a decision ends up wasting more energy in the end. Get those tough decisions requiring the most focus and energy out of the way early in the day. Not only will you feel more accomplished, other decisions will seem easier and less burdensome.

Tip #2 – Limit Your Options
As Matilda Kahl discovered, eliminating even the smallest of decisions can help conserve energy for the more important decisions down the road. Head off decision fatigue by limiting your options. This can be as small as packing lunches for the week, or as big as limiting yourself to a certain amount of research time for a new vendor. For example, during a recent search for project management tools, I restricted myself to the top three most mentioned tools after an hour of research. This saved me from getting lost in the weeds, evaluating hundreds of tools with features I didn’t need, and instead focused my assessment on the most useful features.

Tip #3 – Rest
Even with careful planning, there will be days when you can’t escape decision fatigue. On those days, your best weapon is recognizing the signs of decision overload and taking time to rest. Are you spending lots of time on minor decisions, or rushing through tasks? Take a walk, go for run, watch a show, nap—choose an activity that allows your brain to shut off and your mental energy to replenish.

Tip #4 – Outsource
You may not be able to delegate the big decisions, but there are many small decisions outside services can take off your plate. For example, have ever been in the middle of making lots of progress on a project, only to have your cell phone buzz? You take a few seconds to glance at the screen, see who it is, and determine if you want to take the call. The process takes less than a minute, but has caused your brain’s focus to shift and used valuable decision-making energy. Hiring a virtual receptionist, like Ruby, can save you time and energy by handling calls for you. Using your call instructions, we can connect the calls you need to take, and offer to take messages or send callers to voicemail for the stuff that can wait. When you’re having to make important decisions about a big project or case, having someone handle your phones takes one smaller decision off your plate.

As they say, the small things add up. Reflect on the number of decisions you make each day and determine where you can cut back. Save important decisions for when you’re at your peak, and rest when you feel yourself becoming fatigued. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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It’s critical for small business owners today to craft and implement an effective customer engagement strategy. The reason is simple—it will do wonders for your bottom line. The higher your engagement levels are, the deeper your relationships with customers become. Engagement fosters loyalty and drives customers to spend more money.

The process isn’t as simple or easy, though. Today’s generation of consumers is more proactive and discriminating than ever. They’re “multi-screening” and interacting with all sorts of media content using different kinds of devices: desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. They’re conducting their own research before they think of making a purchase decision. Businesses, large or small, can’t simply distribute a press release or place a 30-second ad on prime time TV and expect a sudden boost in calls or sales. Potential customers will Google you first, look up your business on Yelp or TripAdvisor, and read between the lines of your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Customer engagement is a challenge for small business owners and large-scale company executives alike. It seems there’s an infinite number of things to consider—yet you have so little time. To help you reach and engage with customers successfully in a multichannel world, as well as create compelling experiences that give you a much-needed competitive advantage, remember these six key points:

Extract Customer Insights From Available Data

Get to know your customers. These days, it’s not enough to know who they are, or which of their email addresses you can send newsletters to. You have to be able to understand their thoughts and behaviors, their interests and priorities.

Don’t worry; there is no lack of tools and technological resources available to help you gain critical customer insights. You can conduct customer surveys, track your online reviews, integrate analytics and reporting features to your website, receive Google Alerts for the latest news and research in your industry, or measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign. The key is you’re able to leverage available information to gain as many insights as you can; that way, you’ll be in a position to engage with customers more meaningfully.

Join the Conversations on Social Media

You should be engaging with potential and existing customers whenever and wherever possible. This goes beyond posting a customer support phone number or email address all over your website pages. If people are talking about you on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, or on review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, you have to be there to listen in and join the conversation. Spend 15 to 30 minutes a day on channels where customers are talking, and very quickly you’ll begin to gain valuable insights about what customers really want. Also, be sure to monitor social channels for comments, complaints, and criticisms. Your ability to respond to what your customers are saying is crucial in boosting your business reputation and increasing your engagement levels.

Recognize an Issue and Apologize

Ignoring issues can destroy whatever goodwill you have built with customers. On the other hand, you can win over even your harshest critics if you demonstrate your business cares about and listens to their feedback. If a complaint is legit, don’t hesitate to say sorry. A business that’s sincere and humble enough to apologize is more likely to win the trust of consumers than those that are oblivious or apathetic to feedback.

Establish Your Presence Locally

It’s impossible to engage with customers if they don’t know where to find you, which is why it’s so important to build out your local business presence on as many traditional and digital properties as possible. Claim your listings, add your business information, make sure you can be found, and post content regularly. If you don’t know where to start, focus on popular search platforms like Google+ (via Google My Business), Yelp, YP.com, Citysearch, Facebook, and similar sites.

Get Your Business Mobile-Ready

There are approximately 1.75 billion mobile users worldwide. And, according to Google, 4 out of 5 consumers look up local information using mobile search engines. Show your responsiveness to consumer attitudes and behavior by getting your business mobile-ready.

Implement mobile-friendly web design and optimize your content so it looks good on multiple screen sizes. Offer special deals and coupons for mobile users, and make sure your customer support features are available via mobile. Connect your business to Google Maps (again via Google My Business) and apps like Yelp. By strengthening your business’ mobile presence, you can attract not only the passive audiences sitting at home on their couches, but also the on-the-go consumers who are ready to spend and make a purchase decision.

Excel at Face-to-Face Engagement

Amidst all these trends and technologies, today’s consumer generation still highly values face-to-face interaction. Commit to delivering excellent customer service and positive, personalized customer experiences. You can start by transforming your employees into powerful brand advocates: people who are vocal about the core values of your business, who are passionate about increasing brand awareness, and who recognize that engaging with customers is the responsibility of everyone in your team.

Be sure to check out our other posts from Chris on managing your online reputation, “8 Tips and Tricks For Building a Winning Reputation” and “Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Responding To Negative Reviews.”


Chris Campbell is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.

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A friend of mine recently took his family to Disney World for vacation. While waiting in line for a ride, my friend was approached by a woman who had been standing a few spots ahead. The woman had noticed my friend’s shirt, which advertised the small, boutique web design firm he owned. She had heard good things and was interested in hiring his company to help redesign her site. When my friend asked how she had heard about him, she mentioned she recently attended a small business conference in Arizona (where his company is based) and many attendees had shared stories about his company. And where was she from, he asked? New York. My friend had neither attended the conference, nor had any clients in the New York area, but this small act by a few happy customers expanded his client-base to a whole new coast.

Word of mouth marketing is a powerful tool for growing a business. Think about the last time you needed a service—a hairdresser, accountant, dentist, cleaning service, etc. Most likely, you asked your friends and neighbors for recommendations, or used online reviews to help narrow down your options. You’re not alone—84% of consumers agree word of mouth recommendations from friends and family are the most trustworthy source for engaging a new product or service. And though word of mouth is one of the oldest forms of marketing, it isn’t until recently businesses have been able to effectively plan, measure and replicate word of mouth campaigns.

To get an idea of how to optimize this medium, I picked up “Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing To Drive Brand Growth.” Written by Fizz Marketing CEO, TED Wright, the book shares a number of stories about clients successfully using word of mouth to grow their brands, as well as tactics businesses can use to grow their own word of mouth campaigns.

Word of Mouth Marketing vs Advertising

Unlike traditional advertising, which tells the consumer exactly what they should think about your product or service, word of mouth marketing assumes your audience is smart, and capable of making decisions based on the information you provide. Instead of delivering short, carefully tested soundbites highlighting only the best elements of your product, word of mouth marketing focuses on the story. To be successful at word of mouth marketing, you must craft your story and get it into the hands of the right people.

Takeaway #1: Influencers Are the Key

Influencers are defined as folks who enjoy talking about their passions with friends, family, even strangers. Influencers often possess a large network, and are a trusted source of information.

Before engaging influencers, it’s important to know what motivates them. For example, the book shares the story of a private school struggling with their referral program. The school offered a $500 tuition discount to parents who referred new students, but few claimed the discount. Fizz discovered the parents weren’t motivated by money, instead feeling the discount gave the impression they were only referring the school in order to receive the reward.

Influencers are often driven by a desire to be “in the know” and build connections with others. If you share a compelling story, influencers will come to you.

Takeaway #2: Craft Your Story

Before embarking on a word of mouth campaign, determine what is special about your brand. Simply put, what’s your one thing? This one thing doesn’t focus on a product or service, but instead reflects the soul of your company.

Once you’ve found your “one thing”, it’s time to craft your story. Fizz outlines a good story must be three things: relevant, interesting, and authentic. Think of your story like you would a good book—it should be comprised of a situation, climax, and a resolution. Forbes has a great article which identifies some of the most common types of brand stories including: the Founding Story, Pivotal Stories, Teamwork Stories, and Great Work stories.

Lastly, rehearse this story internally. Have your employees sit down and take on different personas. Then, practice telling your story in different ways. For example, what would be the relevant points for Persona A versus Persona B? What interesting facts would draw in one audience compared to another? Your story should also be reflected in other aspects of your business—your website, your business cards, even how you answer the phones. Once you and your employees have internalized the story, you’re prepared to begin sharing your story with others.

Takeaway #3: Trust Your Influencers

It may seem scary, even counterintuitive, to open up to your customers. After all, we’re used to sharing only what we want or need them to know. This approach won’t work with influencers. To jump start your word of mouth marketing, provide influencers with as much information as you can and allow them to craft their story accordingly. Just as a good sales associate adjusts their pitch to address different business problems, your influencers should be able to tell the most relevant story to the person with whom they are speaking.

One way we show our trust is to ask influencers to serve as references. Prospective Ruby clients often request a list of current clients to speak with before signing up for our service. By serving as a reference, our influencers can speak openly and honestly about their experience. Another option is to provide influencers with a number of outlets for sharing their story. When a client agrees to serve as a reference, we also invite them to review us on Yelp or Facebook, write a 2-3 sentence testimonial to be included on website with their headshot, or share their story with a friend through our referral widget. Again, we don’t ask for a good review, merely give them the opportunity to pass along their experience.

Be Patient

Despite advances in technology, the majority of word of mouth marketing is still done offline, face-to-face. Tracking word of mouth can be tricky, and often takes time to see results. Yet, the evidence shows customers are more likely to trust a business referred by friends, resulting in stronger customer relationships. Be patient. Continue to ask customers how they heard about you, and take time to go out into the community to hear what folks are saying about your business. You may find your story is being told in places you never expected.

For more insights into word of mouth marketing, check out Fizz’s blog, as well as the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

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