Tuesday, 30 April 2013

BRAND OF THE WEEK: KOBO Candles


Years of travel are inspiration behind Junko Kobori’s candle collection, KOBO. Originally from Japan, Junko was strongly influenced by the scents she encountered on her travels with her husband. When the couple eventually settled in Saratoga Springs, NY, Junko set about recreating some of the fragrances that had stayed with her from her journeys. From its inception in 2006, the KOBO brand has grown to encompass several core collections that are constantly growing and evolving.



What makes a good scented candle? Fragrance and longevity are obviously important, but what about packaging? The quality of the packaging a candle comes in is probably not something most people would consider when purchasing a candle. However, the packaging is one of the unique points of difference for Kobo’s candles: “the fresh look of the KOBO packaging is a gift so beautiful it need not be wrapped”.

KOBO candles are made from domestically grown sustainable soybeans. The advantage of 
soy is that it holds fragrance well and is one of the cleanest burning mediums. KOBO’s soy candles also have a cotton wick, which provides “a pure and clean flame”.  KOBO are proud to produce candles that “are not only created using environmentally friendly materials but they do not pollute the home either.”

The quality, balance and strength of the fragrance are also important factors. KOBO use boutique fragrance houses in the US to guarantee only high quality aromas are blended. “Each candle is made to specific standards that maximize the fragrance yield to the individual scent to create a room-filling yet not overpowering aroma”.

We are excited to introduce KOBO’s Seeds range of candles to Mr Gift. This beautiful collection of candles features environmentally friendly packaging that is infused with seeds so that it can be planted after use. Fragrances in the Seeds range include:


The KOBO Seeds Candles boxes are infused with seeds that can be planted and grow the same plant as the candle

The Thyme, Tomato and Calendula candles in particular have a deep herbaceous aroma that men will love. Sweet Sunflower is a light, refreshing fragrance, whilst Siam Poppy is dark and exotic. None of these candles are over-powering or sickly sweet – they are comforting home fragrances that everyone will love.

Why not indulge mum with one of KOBO’s delicious candles this Mother’s Day?

SPECIAL OFFER: Receive FREE DELIVERY on all orders containing a KOBO Candle placed before 5pm Sun 12/5/2013. Simply enter Coupon Code KOBO when you checkout.


Monday, 29 April 2013

My Top Gift Tips - Howard Jarvis, Bud Perfums

“You can never go wrong with flowers, champagne and chocolate”. Howard Jarvis is a man after my own heart! Howards shares some of his other Top Gift Tips with us this week…

1. The best gift I ever received was…breakfast in bed on my birthday from all my kids (5).

2. The top gift on my wish list is…one day of happiness for someone older.

3. The best gift I have ever given was…a weekend in a spa.

4. The hardest person I have ever had to buy a gift for was/is…my partner is difficult because she always guesses.

5. The best last-minute gift is…a fine perfume.

6. My hot gift buying tip is…YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WITH FLOWERS, CHAMPAGNE AND CHOCOLATE.



Bud Perfums makes fine perfumes as special gifts for lucky people. Discover more at www.budparfums.com.au.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

ANZAC Biccies with a twist: Almond Breeze Honey Cranberry Oat Biscuits


If you’re planning on making a batch of ANZAC biccies tomorrow, check out this delicious variation on a classic favourite using Almond Breeze almond milk.



Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons macadamia oil
¾ cup cranberries
½ cup walnuts
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup Unsweetened Almond Breeze
½ cup honey
½ coconut shreds
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or vanilla essence

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180°c and lightly grease or line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Stir together plain flour, baking powder, salt, macadamia oil, cranberries, walnuts, oats and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
3. Stir in Unsweetened Almond Breeze, vanilla paste and honey with a fork, and then mix with your hands to make a soft dough.
4. Knead several times on a lightly floured board then pat into a 3/4-inch thick circle; cut into 8 wedges. Place on baking sheet and brush with additional honey.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned and cooked through. Drizzle honey on top.

What is Almond Breeze?
Almond Breeze is a delicious low-fat milk alternative made from almonds, a natural super-food, and it is completely free from diary, eggs, lactose, casein, peanuts and gluten. With its wide range of natural health benefits, Almond Breeze makes managing wellbeing and health easy.
For more info, check out: www.almondbreeze.com.au

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

My Top Gift Tips - Jem, www.leisuregear.com.au

This week, Jem from www.leisuregear.com.au gives us a guy’s perspective on giving and receiving gifts. He also shares a few of his top tips for the best gifts…

1. The best gift I ever received was…a mountain bike.

2. The top gift on my wish list is…a new outdoor sound system.              

3. The best gift I have ever given was…a set of global knives.

4. The hardest person I have ever had to buy a gift for was/is…my fiancĂ©e - she knows what she wants and needs and doesn't like surprises.

5. The best last-minute gift is…grog.

6. My hot gift buying tip is…a gift card.  




www.leisuregear.com.au has a massive selection of top quality camping gear and stocks the biggest range of leisure gear in Australia. They also throw in free delivery if your order is over $80. If you’re a keen camper, or simply need a new carry-on bag, you’re sure to find something in their extensive range.


Monday, 15 April 2013

Work Hard, Play Hard: Top tips on dealing with conflict in the workplace

Out of the four below personality types, which best describes you at work?:

1. Analytical: Thinker, perfectionist, good attention to detail
2. Amiable: Team player, diplomatic, loyal
3. Driver: Strong, independent, high achiever
4. Expressive: Good communicator, passionate, creative




For each positive trait these personality types have, there are also some negative points, which are the things we need to focus on when trying to resolve conflict in the workplace.
Workplace conflict is something that will affect everyone at some point in their working career. It might be directly, where we find ourselves clashing with a colleague, boss or employee or indirectly when we get caught in the conflict cross-fire of other work colleagues.

When we’re working at least seven hours a day, conflict at work can really put a downer on our outlook when we feel like we’re ‘going into battle’ everyday, which is why we’ve dedicated this post to advice on avoiding workplace conflict.

With some help from our expert panel, we’ve identified some common themes and key strategies for addressing conflict.

1. Conflict is good
Shane Warren from Waterworth (a human resource leadership and organisational development consulting firm) looks at conflict from a different angle and says, “I always encourage people to accept that conflict is in fact good, because this shows people can be bothered to have an emotional investment in the work experience (apathy is the true killer to team dynamics)”.


Clair Couttie from fibreHR agrees that being open and honest is best: “Welcome conflict. Deal with it quickly and openly, don’t push it underground by not addressing it. Facilitate difference of opinion in a structured and safe way.”

When involved in difficult conversations, always remember “It’s not 'what you say', but how you say it (as my mum says!),” says Felicity Murray from Strategic Administration Services Australia (SASA).



2. Pick your battles
My grandad once wisely said, “You can’t win ‘em all!” which rings true in the workplace. “Individuals must be smart and you need to choose your battles well – don’t waste time and energy fighting a fight you can never win. Be sure to access your power of influence and run with it – what you cannot influence you are better learning to accept!” says Shane.


To avoid taking criticism at work personally, Felicity offers these gems of advice:
1. Think like a business owner and rise above the emotion of it
2. Focus on the outcome, not the reaction
3. Remember to 'lead by example'




3. Define expectations – within the company and your team
“Grey areas” can lead to a grey culture. Most people like to know where they stand and uncertainty can lead to frustration, negativity and a lack of productivity.

When managing expectations, Felicity says it is important to take a step back and “Firstly, be clear about what they are”.

Lack of role clarity and goal setting “is often the biggest reason for conflict at work,” says Clair. Problems can arise when “Roles have not been clearly defined by management with some roles overlapping in accountability and responsibility. Where there are no clear goals set it is often difficult to make effective decisions in the best interests of the business.”

The solution? This is where management comes in. Someone needs to take charge and ensure that every team member is on the same page. This is where a clear and concise induction procedure comes in handy. Good habits are cemented when there is clarity around roles and goals for new team members. Clair believes that it’s important to “Define appropriate corporate values and behaviours. In this way when inappropriate conflict behaviours arise performance management can be undertaken quickly and in a structured way that is clear to all parties”.


4. Learn how to negotiate
“Learn how to say ‘no’” is a common bit of advice thrown to people who are overwhelmed by their workload. But sometimes saying ‘no’ isn’t that simple. If ‘no’ isn’t a word you’re comfortable with, put on your negotiating hat and learn how to offer alternative solutions.

Felicity suggests, “Don't say no but rather offer solutions”. Asking simple questions such as “When do you need it by?” helps to establish the urgency of the task. Offer solutions such as, “I will be able to do it for you by end of next week (rather than 'no' because you're too busy)” or “Perhaps Sally can help, would you like me to ask her?” are helpful options says Felicity. “Communicate if there are issues with your workload such as "I will be able to do this, however, that will need to be pushed back until next month."



5. Have the right people in the right roles
If you think back to the jobs you have enjoyed previously, chances are they involved tasks that you enjoy and/or are good at. Melinda Walker from Elite Success Coaching believes this is paramount. “If people are doing what they enjoy doing and they drive satisfaction from it, then they will and do spend less time complaining about their workload and their workmates.”


Clair believes that part of the key to success is to “Embrace and understand diversity. Everyone has different backgrounds perspectives and values which can enrich a team. The key is to understand these in teams and appreciate everyone’s strengths and acknowledge development areas.”

What are some strategies that you can use to ensure that you have the right people in the right roles?

1. Identify the different personality types within your workplace. Clair suggests using organisational psych tools such as DiSC and MBTI to help “start the conversation and create shared understanding”. These are great tools that can be extremely beneficial in a variety of workplaces, but they must be used with care. Instruments such as MBTI and DiSC "need to be used responsibly to assist in understanding of differences rather than to divide or excuse inappropriate behavior," advises Clair.

2. Start to match employee’s strengths with specific tasks, as Melinda explains below:
a) The devil is in the detail – “People who are good with detail should be creating things like computer programs, working with numbers, spread-sheets, office manuals that kind of thing.  Essentially anything that involves a lot of detail.”


b) People who need people – “People who are good with people and not so good with detail should always either be in sales or at front of house, greeting people to your business and making them feel welcome.”

c) Lone Wolf – “People who are good at working on their own and not taking direction should be in charge of a sales team, be in leadership or be involved in organizing training for the staff and ideally running it as well.”

d) Comfort Seekers – “People who are good at being comfortable and like stability and don’t have any real desire to move up the corporate ladder are the best people for maintaining your database and your clients.  They should be the ones doing the follow up and making sure your clients are happy.”

Melinda believes it’s important to recognise that “People are an emotional lot yet essentially we are all very similar and if you know what motivates someone and what makes them happy by understanding their personality types better then you will have a far more cohesive and productive workplace.”



A huge thank you to our contributors for their wise words:

Shane Warren, Waterworth – Waterworth is a human resource leadership and organisational development consulting firm working across the Asia Pacific www.waterworth.com.au

Clair Couttie, fibreHR - fibreHR is a generalist HR consultancy operating in the SME space with up to 70 different clients across a range of industries. www.fibrehr.com.au

Melinda Walker, Elite Success Coaching – Melinda works with businesses to develop their people by creating high performing teams who are committed to the culture of an organization. Together we increase cohesion and productivity for individuals and within teams. www.melindawalker.com.au

Felicity Murray, Strategic Administration Services Australia (SASA) - SASA is Australia's leading Strategic Administration Services provider.
For over 21 years, founder and principal specialist Felicity Murray, has
supported business leaders and owners, developed administration processes
and programs, and recruited, managed, trained, coached and mentored
Administration staff across Australia.
www.strategicadministrationservices.com.au
www.facebook.com/strategicadministrationservicesaustralia
http://www.linkedin.com/company/strategic-administration-services-Australia