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Archive for the category “travel”

Great relationships with your kids do take a bit of time and work


Great relationships with your kids do take a bit of time and work 

Just this last week I went to a public event at school and my daughter gave me a big hug. One of the school’s administrators saw this and commented that he would give money for his daughter to do this with him in high school and that this may not happen. Public display of affection is just not all that cool when you are in school – definitely not for high school folks.

I commend my daughter for not caring enough about her peer’s opinions. Yet great relationships with your kids do not come easy and they are not the norm (perhaps they have never been the norm?). Once the teenage years come around hormones set in, parents are no longer cool. It will not take much longer and they are out of the house and they want to spend less and less time with you.

Some of this is totally natural. You need to provide the solid roots for them to have a good footing in life. On the other hand, you also should want to let them grow wings such that they can fly away eventually. Finding yourself in today’s world is tough and I am glad that I do not have to do that again.

You hope that you have a solid relationship with them that they feel they can come back anytime – eventually. They should of course not feel like that they are being shamed into seeing you regularly. Wouldn’t it feel great if they felt compelled to ask you for advice later in life?

You put the odds in your favor by always maintaining a great relationship. There are some really quick and simple ways how to initiate for this to happen.

  1. Start early. Children are like batteries – you charge them up early in life and they will not run out of power for quite some time. Make sure to teach them great habits from the day they are born. Some say it starts as early as when babies are still in the womb. I have seen this so many times that parents imposing rules when children are 3 to 4 years old. Guess what: the train has left the station.

 

  1. See the world through their eyes. Literally and figuratively get down to their level. See the world through their eyes.

 

  1. Spend time not money: The best and most expensive baubles, trinkets, clothes, shows, etc never make for long term sustainable relationships. They get to know whom they can pump for the money and what they need to do or say in order to get it. All it takes is to ask them what they want to do. Be amazed how little it takes for them to be totally happy spending time with you.

 

  1. Instill intrinsic motivation. Punishment and rewards for tasks performed do not work well when they leave the house. I call it the sugar and whip routine. Intrinsic motivation comes from within your child; it cannot be forced from the external world. Your short ones look for your approval, and genuine appreciation. Share with them – often – why you are happy about what they do and who they are.

 

  1. Let them fail. Hover over them all you want, ultimately you will not be around forever. Let them fail, otherwise they will not know what to do when you are not around to save them. Easier said then done, I know. It is heartbreaking to watch too. It is the circle of life. Suck it up, or get used to the idea of the mental picture of you becoming the crutches that hold up your kids.

 

  1. Do not be too critical. Yell often and you will no longer be afforded the truth. Period. If you are berating them for every little bit, then what is the point for telling the truth anyway? They would get yelled at either way. Telling you a half-truth is their way to get yelled at less. Pick your battles wisely.

 

  1. Provide responsibility with With any responsibility there is always also authority. Be prepared to get inundated with the question “what do you want me to do now?, if you only provide rules, but no wiggle room for how your little critters will make it happen.

 

  1. Foster spirituality. Be a role model here. In the evening say a prayer with them appreciating the great things that happened. Reflect on the lessons learned. Pray for people in need. In the event you can coax them out of bed early enough, say a prayer with them in the morning. Appreciate what you have and be thankful for it. When they are ready, ask what God means to them (prepare for shedding tears of laughter and deep emotions).

Life is tricky a friend recently shared with me. She is definitely correct about the relationship part with your kids. Good news is that you have it in your hand as to what kind of a relationship you will have. Choose wisely.

Ralf

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United Airlines and how to kill your brand with bad customer service in three easy steps


United Airlines and how to kill your brand with bad customer service in three easy steps 

We supposedly live in the land of customer service. Worry-free shopping of products and services is the mantra. What really happens is most often totally horrific customer service when things do not quite go the “standard” and “normal” way. Last night United Airlines forcibly removed a passenger from a plane on flight UA 3411 trying to make room for United personnel on an overbooked plane. It was a horrific scene recorded by many on their cell phones. Just two weeks ago the same airline barred two teenagers from boarding a plane due to them wearing leggings. Then who has for instance not seen the little video clip of “United Breaks Guitars”? More than 14 million views for this little ditty all because United Airlines was particularly ignorant listening to Dave Carrol’s request for getting his guitar repaired or replaced.

United is doing everything to kill their brand’s reputation. Treat your customer as a second or third class one. Perhaps he will get the message that he is just wasting his time and will thus just go away. Killer move! They appear to have totally lost the focus as to who pays their bills. It’s the customer stupid. Is that the best an airline of this kind of magnitude can do? Top management seems to totally forget that customers choose with their clicks – and they do not need to ask for permission. They will just not show up anymore. Let’s hope they will learn their lesson well.

Ralf

8 things helping enrich your life and that of the people in your life


8 things helping enrich your life and that of the people in your life 

We are blessed beyond measure with all the different people who come into our life. Keeping your talents to yourself is not only selfish, but you are wasting your life’s potential away. Even if you consider yourself to be an introvert, you still cannot ignore the fact that we humans are a very social bunch who managed to survive a lot better as a community. Singling yourself out is all but unnatural and most certainly will limit what life has got to offer for everyone of us. Here are 8 examples of how you can turn this situation around.

  • Be prudent with the time you spend at work. Have you ever seen a gravestone engraved with a sentence like this: “I wished I could have spent another hour at the office”? Try achieving a healthy work / family / social activity balance. Who needs you the most?
  • Go to your kid’s activities. Do not lead a life of regret. Kids grow up so fast that you will lose track of time in a heartbeat and before you know it they will be out of the house. Spend as much time with them and do not miss any of their school and leisure time activities. This time will never come back.
  • Travel as much as your budget and time will allow. The world is out there for us to experience. People and places are different from where you currently live and you only need to go a few miles for starters checking out a different county or state. Comparing and contrasting your life and environment add to the spice of life. You will see that we people are really not much different as far as our basic needs and aspirations are concerned. All the while nature, architecture, culture, food, work, etc can be dramatically different. Getting to know that there are more than one way to look at things helps build a mutual understanding and thus our tolerance for others goes up as well.
  • Volunteer your time and talents. Give without expecting anything back in return and you will be given and provided for beyond measure. Your gratitude and servitude will make others better off and you will feel great about yourself. Topping this list off is that you never know whom you will bump into who just may change your life forever.
  • Pay it forward and carry out random acts of kindness. Is it not sad if at the end of each day you have to admit to yourself that you have not been able to one kind thing for another person? Change this as fast as you can. You will feel great and you are giving someone reason for renewed hope. Don’t you like it when others recognize your existence?
  • Share your best skill or expertise with others. There is no excuse for you not to share your talents with others. Social media allow for you to do this with little to no cost. Local business associations, interest groups, Scouts, etc always look for people who can present on a relevant topic. Here is a chance for you to make provide information and training to others, you also raise your net worth with your employer. You brush up on presentation skills and at the same time people will always seek more of your advice.
  • Limit your time spent watching TV, computer, cell phone, etc. Much like the above comment about work here are just some of the many activities that your mind and life go into full blast inactive mode. They are a total waste of time. Read a book, take a walk, but for heaven’s sake do not let your life go into idle mode.
  • Be physically active. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Physically, there is a similar issue. We sit and rest way too much. Get up and get going, join a gym, participate in physical activity opportunities at work. Getting the bad juices out your system by exercising is a terrific stress and depression buster.

We are blessed beyond measure living in a country full of helpful people and organizations. You have no one but yourself in your way to grow socially and professionally. Here is my call to action for you to live to your full potential – all you have to do is to give your talents to others.

Ralf

There is no excuse for not going out to travel the world


There is no excuse for not going out to travel the world 

Photo credit: Ralf Weiser

Well, even if it is not the world that you want to see, at least get out of your state. Still not comfortable with that? Can you make this getting out of your home county? Pretty please? Traveling places and getting out of your comfort zone has so many mutual benefits. It helps you relax and see how other people do some of the same stuff you are doing – just differently. It helps benefit tolerance and back at home and work it creates a sense of appreciation of what you do.

Many a times I hear that people do not set their sails because they are afraid of not knowing how they should prepare for being on the road. In essence they are afraid that they are getting lost and that they would rather travel when they are much older so that they can take guided tours. Huh? What on Earth are they really afraid of?

I could perhaps understand when people are apprehensive of traveling overseas. Not being able to understand another language can be difficult, I give you that. One thing that we humans do well though is recognizing patterns and using visual and any or all of our senses. Here is a recent example of using the railroad in Germany. Even if you do not speak or read one word of German you can still figure out which train, car, and seat you have.

This first picture shows the reservation. It gives you the train number ICE842 (Inter City Express) and the time it is scheduled to depart at Berlin at 19.49 (that is 7.49pm for us). Gleis means track and here it is number 4. All it takes is asking someone from the helpful and countless railroad folks at the station and you will get to what you need to know. This also says something about a Reservierung. I had reserved two second class seats (the web site www,db.de also fully supports English). So 2 Pl are my 2 seats in Wg for wagon or car 22 and sitting in 25 and 27.

So once you reach track 4 you will see huge announcement boards like this one. You recognize the train number and departure time. Notice the letters A through G? Those are the zones in which the track is divided. You cannot miss the huge letter signs along the track. The little symbol below the letters represents the train and where it will come to a stop. The knife and fork symbol stands for the restaurant car and the 1s and 2s stand for first and second class cars. Now I know that I had better queue up in either zone F or G.

As the train pulls in each car features a sign on its side that shows the train number ICE842 and to its right is the car number. Here it is 23 and so I had to go back one more car. This also shows the place the train starts from, the stops it will make, and also the final destination.

 

 

Getting into the car now I start looking for the seat numbers right over top the seats near the luggage rack. That is kind of like getting on to a plane. The neat thing here is that you can tell if the seats are reserved when the signs like this photo show are lit up indicating starting and ending destination. Any seats not occupied are on a first come first taken basis. Once the conductor checks your tickets (Deutsche Bahn even has an awesome App for this) and you are getting close to the final destination the signs disappear magically.

There is even free Wifi on the train and most of the time you will be zooming through the super nice country side with more than 120mph. ICE trains make very few stops and with the proper discount cards renting and driving a car is not worth it from a time and monetary point of view. Sure, there are a few moments when I initially did not know exactly what to do. I will never forget the disbelieving look from a fellow travel when he had to explain how the seat reservation sign worked in the car. Those moments come and go. They can and should not prevent you from going on the road. There is not even a language barrier when you travel into another county or state (well, there may be another dialect). Look for the patterns that emerge and make sure you travel your heart out.

Ralf

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