Our Interns, and Summer, Are Almost Gone!

Hard to believe it but school is about to begin for our interns, and school starting is often seen as the sybolic end of summer.  It’s been great having them with us.  Two are employees of one of our clients, which we have hosted in our office, and one we claim as our very own.  So many benefits, for both them and us. 

They have learned much of the ins and outs of customer advocacy but that’s only the beginning.  With very little experience in an office beforehand they also learned communication skills, how to dress, business etiquette for meetings, and that lunch with your friends might allow for a different set of manners than when in a work setting.  They all go to great colleges but there is a lot about day to day behavior in the workplace that they have no way to learn until they are in the workplace! 

We benefit as well.  Nothing like having your documentation tested by someone with fresh eyes and that has never used any of the referenced applications!  We’ve been able to accomplish much more with their help. While we might have to do some teaching or reviewing they have been able to contribute from day one, allowing us to get to ‘wish list’ projects.  Having interns also provides a growth opportunity for Referential staff. Mentoring others is valuable experience and we did match each intern to staff for the bulk of their work. 

Being honest, we’re looking for a great pool of talent to help us not only in the summer but throughout the school year and just possibly to join Referential, or one of our clients, once they graduate.  We’ve had interns for years and the set we have now is great, we’ve been very happy to work with them.  And we must thank them for introducing us to a wonderful fried chicken restaurant, another benefit!

Take Your Vacation – All Of It!

Last year fully 54% of American workers did not use all their vacation according to this post from Business 2 Community written by Kristen Carlson.  Taking time away to refresh and recharge is valuable but do you know just how valuable? This article from Inc by Lolly Daskal has some interesting statistics.

When we do go on vacation 3 out of 5 of us do some work, some more than others! If you don’t take your vacation you’re likely to have higher stress levels and negatively impact both your cardiovascular health and even your year end performance rating!

At Referential we believe taking vacation is important.  We just did a quick mid-year reminder to everyone of how much vacation they have already used this year and how much they still have available. We encourage early planning for time off at the holidays, which is really important for us as our clients still need our services. We are open and stagger time out of the office so as to continue to provide coverage.  We discourage carry over, we’d rather people take their full vacation and get the associated benefits each year.  So far team members have had staycations, attended music festivals, visited the Caymans, the Dominican Republic, Spain, France, and Seattle, to name just a few places, with more exciting locations in plan.

Be among those that take all of their vacation time each year!  You’ll feel better and perform better as well.

Good Things Come in Threes – Three Interns!

Good things do come in threes and in our case it means three interns this summer.  We have an intern working on a variety of Referential projects. The other two interns are with us courtesy of one of our clients that wanted increased resources for their projects this summer.  Each Monday for the last 3 weeks one has started.  They are students at St Mary’s, UC Berkeley, and Cal State East Bay, with a variety of majors.  We’ve paired them with “buddies” to help train and mentor them.  It’s great to add to the pool of advocacy experts. 

And in case you are wondering about the phrase ‘good things come in threes’, read this blog post from Historically Speaking.  The examples range from the three little pigs, genies always granting three wishes, to a saying from Confucius.   

And from StackExchange:  Good Things Come In Threes – has a definite positive connotation. From fairytales to Hollywood blockbusters, “the rule of three” (Latin-“omne trium perfectum”) principle suggests things that come in threes are inherently more humorous, satisfying and effective than any other number of things. 

We certainly believe that good things do come in threes!

 

 

Beat the Lock – Almost!

Well we almost did it. With the very last clues in our hand, solving the last puzzle, to open the last lock, time was up! 

From their website, Beat the Lock is described as: an interactive adventure experience where you and your friends are locked in a themed room to piece together clues, decipher codes and solve puzzles to ultimately find the key to escape!   Beat the Lock 3

You have an hour to solve myriad types of puzzles, open all sorts of locks, which lead to more clues for more puzzles! In our theme we were looking for jewels hidden by Grandma Edna so we could have our rightful inheritance. We had an hour to find the jewels before pesky relatives would arrive to stake their claim. 

And we almost did it! It requires teamwork and communication and is bounded by time pressure. Just in case any of you do a similar experience we don’t want to share details but suffice to say it’s a great team building experience and even though we didn’t Beat the Lock we did have great fun!

Phishing, Smishing, Vishing, Phaxing…..

Our whole team recently went through one of our regular security training sessions.  We talked about a range of issues from physical security  such as laptop locks, door codes and so forth ,to various laws and regulations we need to be aware of.  As our clients are international and in a wide range of industries there is a lot to be knowledgeable about!

Some of our time was spent talking about phishing (email), smishing (text), vishing (phone), phaxing (fax)… all the variations cybercriminals are using to trick folks into giving them valuable personal or company information.   Of course it’s much easier if someone hands over that valuable information than if the criminal has to break through various  levels of security to try to find it on their own.   

The following article from BBC News, though about a year old, is an overview written in layman’s terms so good to share with those that may be less tech saavy. “Vishing and smishing: The rise of social engineering fraud”, by Marie Keyworth,   here.

There are plenty of resources with tips.  If you need a place to start consider the resources from the National Crime Prevention Council, for both adults and children, here.  Be vigilant!  Stay safe!

Belgium – be there soon!

provinciaal-hof-1508333_1920Two of the team are headed to Belgium.  After a grueling day of travel, which includes a quick stop in Iceland and a multi hour drive, they will arrive in Belgium.  One of our clients has customers there and wants interviews and video which we’ll turn into video testimonials, quotes, case studies and more.  The team is taking what looks like thousands of pounds of camera and lighting equipment, plus all their personal items, carefully packed into many rolling, hard sided suitcases and two backpacks.   

Their time in Belgium is completely booked, and short, as they return to the US late Friday.  While they likely will have no time for sightseeing we have been lobbying that they return with Belgian chocolates for the office!

Get up and get moving!

Like most office jobs our roles are very sedentary.  It would be easy to spend the full day at our desks and even walking to the printer and the rest room and the break room does not add up to many steps.  We do care about the team’s health. Our office has two treadmill desks, which have shown some of us are better at walking while typing than others!  We also have a standing desk, balls instead of chairs, and each new employee gets a Fitbit.  We encourage people to stay healthy and get their steps in.   

Northern California is an area with wonderful weather, usually, and many of us take a walk around the block at some point in the day.  We’ve had the chance to meet Bill as he’s on his daily walk, he’s the most energetic 95 year old ever!  Sometimes we see our letter carrier, kids and parents walking home from the nearby school, or the couple who watch their preschool grandchild during the day. We’re anxiously awaiting the opening of a nearby coffee shop too! 

Our office is in an interesting area, commercial on one side and residential on the other.  The walks give us a chance to know the neighborhood and nearby residents better.  Also, importantly, research shows getting up and getting exercise, improves your productivity at work, your overall health, and reduces stress. Not only all that, a study from the Journal of Neurology shows exercise slows brain aging by 10 years!  Read the article here. Just as we encourage our employees to get up and get moving we encourage you to do so as well.  Take a few more steps next week than last!