Tips

Small Steps To Live A More Ocean-Friendly Life

So tomorrow is Earth Day and if you've been wondering how you could live a more ocean-friendly life, I can tell you that it's not so hard. I know it may seem like a huge undertaking. I mean, what difference can one person make? The answer honestly is, a lot! It's also nothing earth-shatteringly difficult. Just making a few small swaps is all it takes and I'm here to tell you about them! 

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  1. Don't Be Trashy

Make sure that the trash that you throw away makes it's way into the proper receptacles. Something that I've noticed during beach clean-ups is that there is usually an accumulation of trash near the trash cans. I guess people have a tendency to think "close enough." Well no. "Close enough" is when it's actually IN the trash can. 

2. Ditch The Disposable

Make it a point to use reusable bags, water bottles/cups, and containers. Keep a reusable straw and a fork in your bag so that you can use them whenever you're out and about. Plastic straws are one of the top five ocean trash items and easily get swallowed by ocean animals.

3. Say 'No' To Foam

Instead of biodegrading, plastic breaks down into tiny particles which are ingested by and kill fish. (Surfrider.org)

 

See, I told you it's not so hard. Just a few swaps and  you're golden. Which one will you implement first? 

Amanda ❤

How To Be A Good Starbucks Customer

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 I know we've all seen those articles about why Starbucks baristas get your name wrong. Revenge and them being bored are usually what that whole thing gets chalked up to, but as a Starbucks barista myself, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. 

Promise not to tell, right? 

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Ready? 

Here we go. 

It's because it's loud. 

Yup. There it is. That's the reason we get your name wrong sometimes. Also, it's kind of your fault as well, but.... hey!

For anyone who has ever worked retail, we know that the saying "The customer is always right" is total bull. Yes there are times when they're right, but there are also times when they're so terribly wrong.  So I'm here today to tell you how to be a good Starbucks customer because being a good Starbucks customer can come with a few perks. 

  1. Use Your Big Boy/ Girl Voice.
    So a majority of the time we end up writing the wrong name on your cup simply because we can't hear. There are so many noises going on behind the counter that you don't even realize. A couple off the top of my head are: Blenders blending, steam wands steaming milk for lattes, the espresso machine grinding espresso for shots, the safe beeping letting you know that it's ready to be open, the ovens beeping letting us know your pastry is ready, the coffee timer beeping letting us know it's time to brew more, the Ditting machine grinding beans for fresh coffee, the two hour timer beeping letting us know we need to change the sanitizer water, people having conversations in store, people having conversations on their phone, music playing, and depending on the store, the air curtain that starts up every time the door is opened. There is A LOT of noise.

    And these are all usually going off at the same time. 

    Here's how it might be your fault: You're speaking as loud as a shy 5 year old. Have you ever wondered why it seemed like we were always yelling at you? It's because we can't hear. When we say, "I can't hear you" and lean forward, that doesn't mean speak more quietly because yes, I'm trying to read your lips as well. 

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  2. Assert Yourself
    This is for most of the people who use mobile order. If I'm on bar, yes I see you standing there, and unless you're a regular who I know by name or face, I have no idea whether you used mobile order, or if you stood in line. Don't just stand there on your phone or stare at me while I make drinks expecting me to know who you are, because I've learned to ignore the people standing around waiting.  I'm focused on these 20 drinks that are in front of me that need to get made. The only way I'm going to notice you is if you're standing there and I don't have cups queued and let's be honest, if it's the morning time, who knows how long that's going to be. 

    You are an adult. You just paid $4 for a drink. Assert yourself. Ask for what you paid for. 
    "Hi, do you have a mobile order for Josh?" 
    "I sure do! Here you go!" Proceeds to hand Josh said drink . 
    And that's when other people who have been standing around waiting for *their* mobile order come forward. We've been trained to call out mobile orders when they're done. If you're not in the store when it's finished, you might not hear that, so don't get mad at me when you've been waiting for 15 minutes and still don't have your drink. Come ask for it. 

    Like I just mentioned. We've been trained to call out mobile orders when they're done. If you ARE in the store when we call out your drink, again if I don't know your name or face, don't assume that we know who you are. I don't know whether you paid in store or through the app . 
    "I have a mobile order for Stephanie."
    If you don't let me know that you're there, then I'm just going to assume that you're still on your way to the store, and I'm going to continue to make drinks. A simple, "That's me!" or "Right here" will reduce your wait time. 

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    3. Picture Us As Your Bartender
    With all those "Don't talk to me before I've had my coffee" or "But first, coffee" people out there, your morning brew is what you NEED in order to function for the day, right? Tips are pretty important to us. We notice them...and the people who give them to us. Just like being at a bar, you know you get better service or small perks from your bartender when you tip well. They're more attentive to you, they'll give you a shot on the house, etc. Now without incriminating myself, if you're a good tipper, more likely than not, you'll get little perks here and there from your local barista too. We're just trying to make the experience right for you. 

                

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I know I'll get the inevitable comment of, "Well if you don't like your job maybe you should get a different job" or something along the lines of those who work at Starbucks not being the smartest. This isn't a rant post about how shitty *YOU* think *I *feel my job is. I actually love my job but this is more of a guide to help people get the best experience that we're trying to offer customers. What I've written are my own thoughts on how to get a better Starbucks experience and no way reflect the company. :) 

 

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Amanda ❤

What Is A 4-5-4 Calendar (And Why Bloggers Should Use One)

Since studying fashion merchandising I've learned so much about the business from the college side, but what do you expect, right? One of the things that solved such a huge mystery to me was how it seemed that some retailers would begin selling merchandise so early. Like when they'd be selling Halloween merchandise, it would seem like they practically would skip Thanksgiving and were already selling Christmas merchandise. Well, if you have a small business and don't know about the 4-5-4 calendar it might just be the answer to some of your questions. 

What's-a-4-5-4-Calendar

So what IS a 4-5-4 calendar?  

If you divide the retail calendar into 52 weeks of seven days each, or 364 days, it leaves an extra day each year to be accounted for. As a result, every five to six years a week is added to the fiscal calendar. 

Why was the 4-5-4 calendar created? 

According to NRF.com, prior to and during the 1930’s, retailers used a straight calendar to report monthly sales. This calendar became problematic as Saturdays and Sundays became an increasingly large percentage of sales, since the number of weekends in a month varied year to year. A calendar that maintained the same number of weekends in comparable months was desired and the 4-5-4 Calendar was developed. 

What's the purpose of the 4-5-4 calendar? 

With the 4-5-4 Calendar in effect it serves as a guide for the retail industry and ensures sales comparability between years by dividing the year, or each quarter, into months based on a 4 weeks – 5 weeks – 4 weeks format. The layout of the calendar lines up holidays and makes sure there are the same amount of Saturdays and Sundays in comparable months. Like days are compared to like days for sales reporting purposes.  

That's great and all, but how do you USE the 4-5-4 calendar? 

Let's take a look at the 2016-2018 4-5-4 calendar. Let's use Valentine's Day since it's the next holiday coming up. For 2016 and 2017, Valentine's Day falls in Week 3, but in 2018 it falls in Week 2. That means retailers have three options here. They can either begin distribution and promotion of Valentine's Day merchandise a week or two earlier (Week 51/52), they can wait that week to begin distribution and aggressively promote the merchandise in the smaller time period, or do a combination of both. 

So why should bloggers use the 4-5-4 calendar? 

For practically the same reasons. Comparing analytics, editorial calendar purposes, and if you sell items through a shop, when you can start sales and such. If you know you only have a week and a half between the new year and Valentine's Day, you might start working on items for posts around the last week of the year to have them ready for the week of Valentine's Day. 

 Photo Credit: Studio Curve

Amanda ❤

How To Deal With Internet Assholes and Douchebags (In GIFs)

I was raised by a grandma who was never afraid to voice her opinion, and a sister who taught me that not every one is going to like me and to just get used to it. So at an early age I realized that it's none of my business what other people think of me. 

Unfortunately, some people aren't raised the same way and they have this need to be liked. Well guess what guys. The internet isn't a level playing field and we've all had to deal with overall jerks, assholes and douchebags while navigating it's seemingly endless territory. 

So I wanted to show you a way to deal with these people. 

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So as Kanye would say, "And if they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up." 

Amanda ❤

Gift Guide for Leos

Beach-Babes-Guide-Leo-Gift-Guide, what-to-buy-a-Leo-for-birthday, what-to-buy-a-Leo-for-christmas

Leo season is right around the corner. Literally. It's a week from today. As a Leo myself, I thought that I'd share a simple gift guide to help you find something special for the Leo in your life whether it be for their upcoming birthday or for Christmas

1. Books

Leo's love knowledge, and there's nothing quite like an arsenal of books to make them happy. Whether it's books on random trivia or of a particular interest, taking the time to find a good book for them will win you points. 

2. Adventure

Leo's love excitement and if that excitement comes in the form of zip lining, skydiving, or some other adventure sport, they're sure to enjoy it. Make it a surprise and they'll be gushing about it for the next week to everyone they know. They have quite the instinct and if you can pull one over on them, they'll admire you for it. 

3. Hosting Gifts

If you haven't noticed, your Leo is a very sociable person. They love being with friends and family and having them over for drinks, dinner, movie, or game nights. Buying them a gift to help them in those hosting duties will make them smile from ear to ear. On top of that, it may even solidify your place in their social nights and they will definitely give you credit for buying such a piece. 

4. Full Length Mirror

Think about this for a second, have you ever seen your Leo leave the house looking like a hot mess? I didn't think so. Leo's are very prideful people and can be quite vain. Give them a full length mirror as a house/apartment warming gift and you can be sure it'll be put to good use. Give them a smaller mirror and they just might place it next to the door for a last minute glance before heading out. 

5. Art

A Leo's home is an extension of themselves and therefore they love to show originality. Find them an original piece that caters to their lifestyle and you can bet it'll be on display in an instant! If you can get them a print of their favorite piece that will do just as well. It shows that you actually pay attention to them.  

6. Quality Sheets

Lions are known for sleeping about 20 hours a day. Your Leo will openly admit to being lazy. One of their pastimes most likely will be laying in bed reading or watching movies all day. A Leo's haven is typically their bed. Giving them 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets will definitely make them purr and want to stay put even more. 

7. Leo Symbolism

I mentioned earlier that Leo's tend to be very proud people so naturally they will be proud to be a Leo. Get them a piece to show off that pride and it might soon become one of their favorite pieces of jewelry. 

8. Massage

Leo's have a tendency to stress themselves out. No one is as harsh a critic of a Leo than themselves. For that reason they tend to be stressed. Since Leo's are ruled by the heart and the spine, they usually tend to carry that tension in their backs. Get them a massage to help relieve that stress. 

With all of that in mind, you may have noticed that your Leo can be opinionated, so if you have any doubts as to a gift you might be thinking about getting them, try to figure out their opinion on it first before you go spending your money. Also, it's been noted that Leo's are the most generous and giving of all the zodiac signs so expect to get a thank you from your Leo. If you're merely acquaintances, it will most likely be in card form, but if you're on a more intimate level, they will definitely put a whole lot of thinking into getting you a gift just as special than what you've given them. 

Amanda ❤

What I Learned at Agenda Emerge July 2015

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Last Thursday I had the chance to attend Agenda Emerge and it was chock full of great information. 

If you didn't know, Agenda is a Street, Surf, and Skate fashion tradeshow that I've been DYING to get into for the last two years. A couple of years back they introduced Agenda Emerge where industry leaders share their stories and information with people. From the website, 

"Agenda Emerge now exists as a public portal into the creative process. We have created Emerge to inspire the next generation of innovators and to reignite the passion of the veterans. We believe that brands, artists and designers are storytellers and we are captivated by their stories. Emerge is our way of telling these storyteller’s stories. Through unprecedented access and insightful narratives, we will explore how these mavericks of industry have adapted to, overcome, conquered, disrupted and influenced their fields of work."

The speakers included people from Paypal, Stance Socks, ReadyPulse, NuOrder, Merchant Factors, CIT Group, Shopify, and Trendalytics. I left the conference SUPER inspired to keep doing what I'm doing. To keep working on my dream of building my own company. I honestly left with like, 8 pages of notes, so I thought I'd share a few tidbits that I learned. 

Paypal

Do you know what the largest selling day in commerce is? Think it's Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Nope. Guess again. Still no idea? Well, there is a Chinese holiday called 'Single's Day', a sort of anti-valentine's day, celebrated on November 11th. 11/11. All the one's because you're single. Get it? Yeah. Well apparently, last year, revenue from single's day alone surpassed $9 billion dollars. What did Black Friday bring in? $2+ billion dollars. 

*So if you plan on selling internationally, you're definitely going to want to have some sort of deal or acknowledgement of the holiday. I know I will. I also learned that cross-border shoppers spend 2x as much as domestic shoppers do. Take that into consideration. 

From Stance Socks and ReadyPulse, I learned that brands LOVE influencers and that great storytelling is critical in order to advance your brand. You need to understand your demographic, content/ analytics, and engagement. 

*ROI or Return on Investment doesn't always have to be about money. 

*Having the right people as brand ambassadors/ Influencers will make the brand standout, and to let your customers tell your story. 

Merchant Factors/CIT Group 

*Raise enough money to get out of "hobby level" of what you're trying to establish. With that being said, look into your resources. 

*Be deliberate when raising capital. 

*Get a lawyer. It doesn't matter how big or little a contract may seem. Get a lawyer to look over it anyway. 

* Continue to plan and project for the next level of success despite growth. 

* and finally from them, DO THINGS. FIGHT FOR YOUR DREAM

Shopify

*Don't buy 'likes'. 'Likes' don't make money. 

* You have a better chance at hitting long-tailed keywords than you do for short-tailed ones. What's a long-tailed keyword, you ask? Here's an example for you: Black mid-calf crocodile boots, versus: black boots. 

* Facebook ads actually have a better ROI

 

Anywho, those are just some of the bigger pieces of knowledge that I left the conference with, but I know I'll definitely be implementing most of them within the next couple of months. 

 

Amanda ❤

#PositiveVibes Primer: How to Be Enthusiastic Part 1

#PositiveVibes-Primer-Enthusiasm, how-to-be-enthusiastic
Awhile back ago I remember watching a Buzzfeed video 'Signs You're Still Not An Adult'. While I relate to pretty much every "sign" in that video, there's one in particular that relates to what I'm talking about today.

"Treats still excite you."  

It's not so much the fact that it's treats, but small things still excite me and I pretty much gasp at everything that does. Friends and family are a testament to that because I've scared a few of them that way. 

*GASP* Kitty! 

*GASP* A parking space!

*GASP* The corn man! 

While maybe it is a sign that I'm still not an adult yet, I like to take it in the sense that I can still be enthusiastic about things. Not just the big things like "*GASP* ___'s pregnant!" but also the small things like the examples above. 

An example of this is "Costa Rica Money". Let me explain what Costa Rica Money is. One of my dream vacations is to go to Costa Rica, and I'm saving up for it, but another way that I'm getting money for it is simply by picking up change from the ground. A penny may just be a penny to you, but add them up over time and you eventually get $17 in pennies, and that's $17 that you didn't have beforehand. Tax-free that you didn't have to work for! You don't realize how often you can find change on the ground, but every time I do, I get excited. "*GASP* COSTA RICA MONEY!" because to me, it represents an opportunity, a dream that I'm trying to fulfill. So eventually when I get to Costa Rica, I'll have myself and countless, unknowing donors who helped me get there. 

I try to keep the excitement of experiencing things, new. I don't like the thought of being jaded to situations and experiences so this is my way to prevent that. A good example of this is kids. Kids see everything with excitement and wonder, and that's how I try to view things. 

So maybe you're finding that you're lacking in the enthusiasm portion of your life, or that you're not as enthusiastic as you used to be? Here are five ways to bring enthusiasm into your life. 

1. Accept Small Victories

Sometimes people are so caught up in winning the big battles that they forget about small victories. Okay, so you didn't get into your first choice college but you got accepted to your second and third choices. It's not a bad thing. Who's to say that your first choice college would have been a good fit for you? And maybe you meet "the one" at college number three? That's definitely not a bad thing. Just because things didn't go the way you wanted them to doesn't mean that all is lost. Look for the silver lining. 

2. Be Yourself

It goes without saying, but when you're yourself life is SO much better. Trying to be someone that you're not is exhausting. You can't be an authentic version of somebody else. Plus, why deny the world your awesomeness? You have personality strengths and flaws that are unique to yourself, so show them off. Personally, I'm a giant goofball. I like making people smile and laugh. It feels good to me. I also like to dance. So what's my "thing"? Being goofy while dancing. I do it everywhere. At the post office. On the train. In line while waiting to order coffee. I have rhythm but I purposely dance as if I had none because I know that it makes people laugh. That's my authentic self. Find your thing. Embrace it. Unleash it on the world. 

3. Be Positive

The whole reason I'm starting #PositiveVibes Primer is because I'm going through a whole 'nother round of CBT. My therapist has told me I have a penchant for going straight to the doom and gloom of issues. There's no in-between for me. It's either zero or 100. Zero being everything is fine, 100 being worse possible scenario and then some. Last August I talked about how Robin Williams' death brought me closer to my own pit but I was able to recognize it and keep away. Unfortunately, I've had a slip and now I'm back on the road to my peak. So this whole post is essentially an exercise in positivity. Find things to be positive about, like the small victories and that fact that you are the only you that will ever exist. Nobody in this world, nor universe, nor galaxy, nor in the entire existence of life, will have your soul. 

4. Set Goals and Figure Out a Way to Reach Them

Now that you're actually trying to think positively, try setting some goals. My goal for this round of CBT and subsequently, this series is to get to the point where I don't have to find daily positive reminders and affirmations. Where I can learn to view every day as a gift and spread that love, positivity and enthusiasm to others. I have a friend who's mantra is, abundance creates abundance. And it's true. I'm a firm believer that if you send positivity, love, and enthusiasm out into the universe, the universe will send you those things right back. It's like a good vibes boomerang. So what are some goals that you would like to achieve?

5. Fake it

…until you make it. We've all heard this phrase. Convince yourself that you already are enthusiastic, and then keep doing it until one day you just realize that you are. It's good to have a goal but you have to believe that your goal is actually attainable. If your goal is a big one, figure out a way to break it down into small doable tidbits. Work on those actionable steps until you can get to the bigger ones. 

Check back next Monday as I go over part 2 of #PositiveVibes Primer: How to Be Enthusiastic.

Amanda ❤

Dealing With Fear and Moving Past it

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A few weeks ago I had a rather uncomfortable and ill-timed meeting with fear and unworthiness. I say 'untimely' because it occurred on Valentine's Day while out with CHPG.

To save you a long story, one of my fears was addressed which lead me to admitting to him a personal question that I struggle with intensely when it comes to me being in any relationship. I tend to question whether or not I'm even worthy enough of being loved by someone else. 

It took some coaxing on my end in my head, and a great deal of patience on his end while I coaxed myself. Fear is what you feel in new situations and how you react to them determines whether you expand or contract your comfort zone. 

I knew admitting my fear of infidelity out loud to him wasn't anything that would physically harm me, so I took it one step at a time. Deciding to tell him, breathing, letting the tears fall, more breathing, hand writhing, and then a calmness before the admission. 

We only feel hurt about what we care about, and most people use hurt and fear as a reason to not do something. If what you're feeling fearful about isn't going to physically harm you, keep moving toward it so that you can eventually move passed it. 

Our psychological programming of hurt feelings and fear tell us to stop doing whatever it is that we're feeling hurt or fearful about. Our bodies scream to us, "This is uncharted territory! Stop! We don't know what's going to happen!" But what's wrong with uncharted territory? Yes, we may not know what's going to happen, but what if we took the chance anyway and something spectacular came of it. 

Haven't you had those moments where you were so scared of doing or saying something because you didn't know how someone was going to react or didn't know how the situation would pan out? Then something good comes of it or they react positively and you sit back and think, "There was really nothing to be scared of. I don't even know why I was so scared. I was just being silly." 

Emotionally, I wanted to let him in on what was going through my head. If you're a regular reader of XO Panda, you know that I've been on an ongoing mission to expand my comfort zone and trying/doing new things, and this was definitely one of them. Acting in spite of that fear though is called 'courage'. 

If we stop doing things because its hurt us or we're afraid, we end up hurting ourselves by keeping ourselves from attaining what we really want. We start living with regret. We start letting fear control us and our lives instead of us being in control and telling fear to kick rocks. 

Amanda

Photo Credit: Paul Nichols

Amanda ❤

12 Ways to Have Fun

The other day I talked about how I simply wanted to be more active this year. That there was no special number that I was trying to reach. Well that got me thinking. The reason everyone completely loves Beyonce's video for '7/11' is because she's having fun in the video. She's being silly and I think as adults a lot of us have forgotten how to do that. So I'm here to suggest a handful of ways to have fun as an adult that we may have loved to do as a kid.  

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1. Climb the jungle gym at the park with a kid you know. 

2. Go play on the swings. Get as high as you can!

3. Next time you're out running with a friend, have a small race. 

4. Play jump rope with your niece. 

5. Next time you're cleaning your house, put on some Bruno Mars then quickly forget about cleaning your house. 

6. Get some friends together and go play some volleyball. Even better if you can find a sand-filled court. 

7. Play a card game. Cards against Humanity will DEFINITELY bring out some laughs while UNO can get pretty competitive with just enough people. 

8. Next time you see musicians busking on the street, instead of stopping and staring at them, dance if the music is upbeat. 

9. Nothing is better and more calming than grabbing some crayons and a coloring book on a rainy day. Don't follow convention when picking your colors. 

10. Always an after-school favorite, Mancala!! 

11. When's the last time you climbed a tree or walked barefoot through the grass? Throw on some ratty jeans and head to the park. 

12. So you're at the park and there's a tetherball court? Get in line! If you don't know how to play ask the kids to teach you. They'll be more than happy, plus they'll think you're cool. Not many adults play tetherball anymore.

I hoped this helped a bit and inspired you to come up with a few ways to incorporate more fun into your life. I'd love to hear some of your ideas. Leave them in the comments! 

Amanda

Amanda ❤