Expert Tips for Productivity You Can Use Today: Part Two

In a perfect world, we’d be at our peak productivity every time we walked into work.

Unfortunately, that world doesn’t exist. If it did, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be on your phone and your coworkers wouldn’t be stopping by to interrupt your work cadence.

In our first post about productivity, we highlighted five tips that included learning how to say “no,” taking mini-breaks, avoiding over-scheduling, cutting back on emailing and cleaning up your desk.

Each of these bits of advice is easy to implement. However, they aren’t the only ways to augment your creativity. The experts we reached out to were more than happy to share their wisdom with us, so much so that there was too much advice to fit into one article.

So, in this post, we’re going to list an additional seven tips straight from the experts’ mouths.

1) End Your Multitasking: Marc Prosser, Co-founder of

“Numerous studies have found that multitasking does not enhance productivity. In fact, multitasking reduces productivity. However, we often need to accomplish personal matters while we are ‘at work’ or during the workday.

“Instead of trying to do ‘personal business’ while listening to a phone call or making evening plans on your phone during a meeting, take a five- or 10-minute break to handle personal matters. Those around you will notice that you are more focused and less distracted as a result.”

2) Plan the Night Before for the Next Day: Suzanne Brown, Founder,

“Use the night before to play the upcoming day. If you’re in an office environment, take about 10-15 minutes before you leave to understand what your next day will look like. Understand what your most challenging tasks or goals are and prep for those.

Gather any resources you might need or put headings on a few slides. The idea is to take the time the day before so that you know what the flow of your day needs to look like and so that you can hit the ground running.”

3) Wean Yourself Off Social Media During Work Hours: James Pollard, Owner,

“Use a browser extension that blocks social media sites. There are horror stories of how much time—many hours—workers spend on social. You can solve this problem by completely eliminating the temptation

“If you’re using Google Chrome, I recommend installing extensions like StayFocusd, which allow you to block certain sites”

4) Plan Your Week Ahead, Not Just the Day Ahead: Samantha McPhall, Marketing associate, Aciron

“At the beginning of each week, create a weekly check-in where you make a list of the tasks you want to complete during the week as well as the time you think it will take to complete each task.

“Throughout the week, categorize and track your time not just by to the tasks your set for yourself at the beginning of the week, but also by the unforeseen tasks that arise on a day-to-day basis.

“At the conclusion of the week, compare your weekly check-in to the actual time you tracked to give yourself a better understanding of where you’re spending your time in the office.”

5) Monitor How Much Time You Spend on Tasks: Nellie Akalp, CEO,

“A real downer on productivity is spending too much time on one certain task. Spending hour after hour on one thing can make your eyes blurry and your brain go radio silent, which doesn’t help that project get done any faster!

“I’ve found that if we have large-scale projects that take a lot of time, my team is much more productive when we divide and conquer the tasks between employees and for only a certain amount of time at once. This ensures the job gets done but morale stays high with everyone.”

6) Block Off Time During the Day for Focused Work: Jessica Watson, President, Points North

“When we are interrupted by phone calls or emails during a time when we should be productive, we have to start all over again with getting focused back on our project.

“If you are able to and your company allows it, block time on your calendar (maybe a 2-hour window in the morning or afternoon) that is uninterrupted time for some of the more complex tasks you are working on. This will allow you to get focused, stay focused and be more productive in a shorter amount of time.”

7) Front-Load Your Week: Lindsay Satterfield, Founder, Satterfield & Company

“Figure out what you most want to accomplish that week and begin working on it on Monday. What often happens is you know what you want to accomplish and you start thinking about it on Wednesday. And then, it’s Friday and that important thing is still untouched on your to-do list, hijacked by all those everyday ’emergencies.’ But, if you start making progress on that high-impact work on Monday, you start out ahead of the game.”

Wrapping It Up: It’s All About Focus

Productivity is a matter of discipline: Can you remove distractions and plan ahead? According to the experts we interviewed, it’s well worth the time to have a plan of action each week with the proper protocols in place to help you avoid social media and email distractions.

One of the things that defines the way we handle our interactions with our clients is planning and protocol. We meet with you to find out what your office needs, then we apply our expertise and meticulous installation standards to provide you with a finished product that matches the dream office you had in mind.

Part One Link

How to Plan a Work Event: Tips from the Experts

Summer is nearly upon us.

Before you know it, you’ll find yourself slapping on the sunblock and getting ready to bat cleanup at your company softball game. Afterward, you’ll all feast on a picnic and share stories. You’ll revel in the fact that you’re together with your co-workers in the warm sunshine and not in the confines of your office.

While planning a work event like a picnic may seem simple, there are plenty of nuances you want to keep in mind.

We reached out to workplace experts across the country for advice on how to plan a successful work event.

Never Forget the Fun

Even if you’re just hosting a picnic at a local park, you should invest some planning in events that serve no other purpose than letting everyone have fun.

Jeff Kear, owner of online event planning software Planning Pod, says fun is a catalyst for a great event, as obvious as it may sound. Summer is the season of good times and your event will be competing with epic family vacations and weekend getaways.

“Most employees and their families have a lot of activities on their plate in the summertime, and many of them involve doing something fun, like going to a ballgame, or going hiking, or a trip to an amusement park,” Kear said. “Unfortunately, your work events have to compete with these other activities, so you need to give your employees incentive to attend your event.”

Carnivals are a great way to get kids involved, Kear said, along with raffles and booze, as long as they fit within company rules.

“Just make sure that you are offering fun activities that resonate with your audience,” he said.

Nail the Creature Comforts

Planning a memorable work event is all about mastering the details, says MaryBeth Hyland, founder of consulting firm SparkVision.

You should consider everything from the temperature of where the event will be held to providing enough food and drink for everyone and making sure everyone knows where and when to go.

“These are the most basic yet most important aspects of any environment,” Hyland said. “Believe it or not, they are often overlooked, which is why they are the very first thing to take care of. Creature comforts are the things that we need to stay physically comfortable.”

Make the Food Free or Do a Potluck

As great as the actual event may be, every employee hopes that food and drink will be on the house. When that actually happens, there’s a sense of relief that enhances the enjoyment of the event.

Laura Handrick, a workplace analyst at, says companies should make every effort to provide a free meal.

“The best way to get employees engaged in after-work events is to provide food and drink,” Handrick said. “If it’s in the budget, have the event catered by a popular restaurant nearby. There’s nothing like ‘prime rib sandwiches’ or craft beer to entice employees to show up at your summer offsite work-sponsored event.”

Sophia Borghese, an SEO and content specialist with NOLA-based Online Optimism, says renting food trucks is also a great way to build excitement about an event.

If your budget doesn’t allow for the company to pay for the cost of food and drink, then consider doing a potluck.

Handrick pointed out that if the event is a sporting event, a potluck is a great way to tailgate. Also, getting people to sign up to bring a dish is a good way to get commitment.

“Once employees agree to ‘bring something’, it’s more likely they’ll attend, as they won’t want to let their peers down,” Handrick said.

If You Can, Keep Everything Free

There’s nothing that says “employee appreciation” like an event that will cost your employees nothing, says Bill Fish, co-founder of sleep site

As a Cincinnati-based business, Fish says a common work event is going to a Cincinnati Reds game. And, when the events are planned, he makes sure his employees don’t have to pay for tickets, parking or food and drink.

“I believe the key is to not ask the employee to spend a dime once they make it to the event.  Thus, we always find tickets in a hospitality area that includes food and beverages,” Fish said. “The goal should be to have everyone in a relaxed fun state and get to know the team on a personal level.”


An Insider’s Look at the Executive Desks of America’s Business Leaders

Executive furniture says a lot about the leadership of your business.

Big, commanding desks that create space between the executive and the guest or employee indicates a power move, while an office with a normal-sized desk and a sitting area is a little more friendly.

It’s hard, though, to pin down a person or company by the type of desk they have because there could be complete surprises as it relates to the person in power and their workspace.

Being the followers of office trends and executive desks that we are, we looked at an article from Business Insider that highlighted the desks of 39 well-known business execs and entrepreneurs. Some of what we saw surprised us.

In this post, we’re going to highlight some of the more interesting things we noticed in this article.


Arianna Huffington, former editor-in-chief, Huffington Post: Small Desk, Lots of Books

The first photo we looked at was of Arianna Huffington’s office. Now, we’d expect the editor-in-chief of a Pulitzer-winning publication would have a somewhat roomy office, but that’s not what we found.

Huffington’s workplace is a cramped alcove with two bookshelves, at least 100 books, a small sitting area and a modest desk you’d expect to find at an antique store.

On top of that, her office has a wall-to-wall window through which everyone can see her. Curtains add some privacy, but they were drawn back in the photo we saw.

“It’s all about transparency,” Huffington told Business Insider. “I can see out, and everyone can see in.”

Michael Moritz, chairman, Sequoia Capital

If Arianna Huffington’s desk is small, then Sequoia Capital’s Michael Mortiz’s workspace is microscopic. Moritz’s desk is sparse. The venture capital guru’s desk is home to a Mac laptop, an iMac desktop, chocolate, a shot bottle of whiskey, a bottle of Pellegrino and a pair of analog clocks.

His desk is one among many desks in one room – a corner office seems to be out of the question.

What surprises us most about this is fact that Moritz’s simple desk belies the billions of dollars the company has made from investments in Apple, Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn.

Here’s an apt description of the company’s offices, via Forbes contributor George Anders.

“Sequoia doesn’t display its heritage with the well-heeled pride you might find at other top-tier venture firms, let alone the likes of JPMorgan or KKR … Sequoia partners don’t enjoy luxurious private offices; instead, they toil at stand-up desks in a big open hall. Conference rooms are adorned with cheap plastic wastebaskets. It’s as if Sequoia’s partners haven’t fully realized that they might be rich.”


Lou Adler, CEO, The Adler Group

Adler’s company has virtual employees all around the country, so he doesn’t like to head to the office because, in his words, “it’s boring and there’s no one to talk with.”

So, Adler works from his home office, which is comprised of a standing desk with a view of his backyard.

Adler told Business Insider he doesn’t get any work done when he’s looking at the ocean from his home, which is why he chooses to work with a backyard view.

Aaron Hurst, founder, Taproot Foundation

Hurst, like Huffington, has his own office separate from other employees.

However, he’s chosen to break down the walls, so to speak, with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall that allows him to “feel connected to the dynamic and brilliant team at Taproot while providing the sound privacy unfortunately required. My team is amazing and watching them work gives me tremendous energy.”

This is the same type of response that Huffington gave – transparency and a lack of barriers are important to executives.

Hurst’s office also includes a bookshelf, a floor-to-ceiling mirror and a small sitting area along with a metal desk that’s home to a lamp and two monitors.

Variety is the Common Theme for Executive Desks

As you’ve probably gathered, there really is no right or wrong desk for an executive. In these examples, the magnitude of the business and/or the power of the person didn’t really influence the size of their desk.

In fact, there was an inverse effect. Arguably the most valuable person on the list, Michael Moritz, had the simplest work desk: uncluttered, clean and underwhelming.

We’re aware of how executive desks have changed and our inventory reflects that. Stop by our Executive Furniture page to learn more about what we offer.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Start a Business: Dealing With Growth

You’ve done it. You’re startup. Your brainchild is growing up. You’d love nothing more than to sit back, relax and let nature run its course.

Alas, just as a parent’s work is never finished, so too are the continued responsibilities of a new business owner. Now that the dust has settled and breaking even is behind you, it’s time to start investing in the future of your company.

It’s understandable to want to keep your burgeoning business close to home. You’ve come this far, so it might be difficult to imagine what was once a fledgling idea, has now come into its own and is bursting at the seams to grow and expand.

We’ve gathered up a few tips from experts to help move into this new phase of your business.

One is the Loneliest Number

As we mentioned in Part One of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Start a Business,” it’s never been easier to connect with motivated, talented individuals who have the potential to add to your vision.

It’s easy to be over-protective about your project, but loosening up on the reins and enlisting some much-needed help allows you to focus on growth, rather than just keeping things afloat.

“Some of the best advice I learned early on was don’t try to be all things to all people,” wrote Michael A. Olguin, contributing writer for Inc., “because it typically means you are not very good at any one thing.”

As you gain traction, it’s harder and harder to cover all the components that keep the lights on and the revenue coming in.

What worked when you were a one-man or one-woman operation may not necessarily work when you’re juggling a growing demand for your products or service, as well as the day-to-day minutia.

When you tackle it on your own, Olguin said, “you jeopardize your ability to focus and create undue pressures for your team, your budget, and your company as a whole.”

Stay Focused and Set Goals

It’s easy to get tunnel vision after the struggles of your startup, but there are ways to mitigate the rut.

In “5 Tips for keeping your Startup Business Growing,” Forbes contributor Eric Basu highlights the value of continuing to organize your time and expectations right along with your budget.

Goal setting ensures that you are always on track for the next stage of development in your business.

“It’s a common trap to get immersed in the chaos of a startup and find a year later you were phenomenally busy, but never achieved the goals you originally planned,” Basu wrote. “You can revise the goals as need be, but you need to set them first to revise them later.”

If you’re lucky enough to have a team early on, goal-setting also allows people to see eye-to-eye on the direction of your company.

Whether it’s daily for yourself, quarterly for your employees or yearly for the business itself, goals give everyone a common, concrete, and achievable vision.

More Ideas on Managing Expansion: Partnerships and Self Care

Growth often demands that you, at some point, consider scaling your business through partnerships, franchising and other avenues. It also demands that you take care of yourself – your body’s health influences all.

Tips for Expanding

In a 2014 article for Entrepreneur, reporter Karen E. Spaeder offered 10 practical ways to expand your business.

Expansion can happen through licensing, franchising, forming alliances with companies offering complimentary services, diversifying and branching out into other markets. The possibilities are endless.

It’s not as risky as it sounds if you’re careful and well-researched and the benefits to your business’ financial future and longevity are manifold.

“Choosing the proper (method) for your business will depend on the type of business you own, your available resources, and how much money, time and sweat equity you’re willing to invest all over again. If you’re ready to grow, we’re ready to help,” Spaeder wrote.

Tips for Your Mind

We’ve talked about the health of your company, but one point that has been neglected thus far is your physical and mental health.

It’s easy to say you don’t have time for yoga classes or gym memberships, but when passion is one of the biggest driving forces for entrepreneurs today, can you really afford not to find time? When you’re passionate about your business, it shows and spreads.

There’s a positive correlation between passion for your work and success, and it’s harder to feel enthusiastic when you’re drained physically and mentally.

Take the stairs, park a little farther away from the office, or watch a 15-minute yoga video online before work or during your lunch break.

The health of your company is maintained through healthy habits. Give yourself the same level of care you put into your company as CEO and you’ll ensure vitality for years to come. You’ll decrease the chances of burning out so you can continue to manage and direct your startup.



Organization Apps

apps_labeled for usageIt’s February and that resolution you made about enjoying an organized 2017 is a literal mess.

Your office is spotted with scraps of paper and a mound of to-be-completed invoices. The floor is pockmarked with coffee spills and a random napkin or two. This past week you were late to a couple of meetings because you got lost in other tasks.

You may have given up on yourself already, but we haven’t.

You’ve still got 11 months left to nail your New Year’s resolution and we’ve found four apps that will help you get it done.

Dropbox (Browser and app)

If you haven’t started using this beauty of a cloud storage solution, drop what you’re doing and sign up for Dropbox right now.

There are those who will scoff at DB and hail the virtues of Google Drive. We have no complaints there, but we will say this:  Dropbox gets the upper hand because you don’t have to be logged into your Google account to access your files.

If you’ve ever had to deal with Google’s crazy log-in/log-out process to get from one account’s Drive to another, then you know what we’re talking about.

Dropbox gives you drag-and-drop capabilities and allows you to share documents and folders with just one click. This solution may not worked in a highly-regulated office environment, but it’s a godsend for startups or freelancers.

Basecamp (Browser and app) 

There are plenty of great team-management tools out there – Asana and Basecamp are at the top of the list in terms of function and fanfare.

We give Basecamp the edge because its browser interface is easier to navigate. New tasks can be created instantly and are fully customizable, thanks to Basecamp’s stripped down functionality.

Team members are added with ease and project updates can be sent out as soon as they happen, every couple of hours, every day and more.

If you’re running a team of developers or writers, Basecamp provides that simple solution you’ve been wanting. Asana has an aesthetic edge, but we believe Basecamp’s functionality makes it the best way to manage a team, set tasks and create deadlines.

24me (App only)

If you’re looking for a magic wand to organize your non-work life, 24me is about as close as you’re going to get.

The app combines task management and calendar functions to give you an all-in-one virtual personal assistant whose functionality is just as elegant as its UX.

“Receive billing, event, and birthday reminders, or have the app pay your bills and send gifts to friends. The app even lets you know what time you should leave for your meeting based on current traffic,” PopSugar wrote in a January 2017 article.

Sound like the perfect match? We agree.

LastPass (Browser and app)

Do you ever get that frantic feeling when you’re in desperate need of a certain app, but you can’t remember your password and it’s making a searing ball of stress rise up in  your chest?

LastPass is your solution for that tense personal moment. The app stores passwords for every single app on your phone. And it gets better: LastPass works on your browser, too.

In the realm of free password storage, this app reigns supreme. PC Mag gave LastPass a 5 out of 5 and nearly 100,000 in the Google Play store give it 4.5 stars.

This past November the app’s developers released an update that made the LastPass experience an even better one.

“The breadth of features in this free password manager is amazing,” PC Mag’s Neil J. Rubenking wrote. “LastPass 4.0 remains an Editor’s Choice for free password managers.”

clean office LFRA Few Other Tips

Can we talk about your cubicle for a minute? It’s one of the only things in your office that an app can’t fix.

So, let’s start with your work desk. Take five minutes at the end of the day to tidy things up. Trust us; a little housecleaning at 5 p.m. is worth the slight delay getting home.

On Fridays, devote 10 minutes to your cleaning routine. Do the usual tidying up for five minutes, and then crack open a tube of Clorox disinfectant wipes. Give your desktop, keyboard and computer screen a quick scrub. Dump out your trash and perform a final inspection before charging off into the weekend.

As for your home life, consider taking the first 10 minutes of the day to meditate on what you’d like to see happen at home and at work. Doing this mental checklist before the craziness begins will work wonders on your ability to stay focused and, more importantly, stay organized.

QWERTY, Dvorak and KALQ: The History of Keyboards and the Legends Surrounding the Original

This past week BlackBerry CEO John Chen finally announced the news that he’d been hinting at for some time. Chen said the company will no longer develop QWERTY keyboard hardware for its phone.

So long, small plastic keys. A moment of silence, please.

By joining the rest of the touch-screen keyboard world, BlackBerry’s announcement brought into focus the QWERTY keyboard. And that got us thinking: How did QWERTY come about? Who invented it? Are there competitors?

To us, it seems so peculiar that one keyboard design would dominate typewriter, computer and mobile keyboards for as long as keyboards have been around.

The Origins of the QWERTY Keyboard Go Back More Than 100 Years

Christopher Latham Sholes. Sound familiar? If it doesn’t you, aren’t alone. The inventor’s name isn’t nearly as famous as his invention – the first typewriter and its QWERTY keyboard. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Sholes was an editor at several newspapers in Wisconsin before Abraham Lincoln hired him for a federal position at the Port of Milwaukee.

The government job allowed Sholes tons of free time, which he devoted to various inventions. His focus settled on his best project: a writing machine.

Sholes, along with two colleagues, won a patent for the typewriter in 1868. Like many startups, he was struggling for cash flow. So, four years later he sold his patent rights to the Remington Arms Company, who helped the typewriter flourish.

In fact, Mark Twain used a Remington typewriter to produce the first-ever typewritten book manuscript in America.

Sholes Chose the QWERTY Layout to Prevent Typewriter Jamming…Or Did He?

The history books are certain that Sholes was the creator of the typewriter. However, the trail goes a bit cold when experts try and pin down exactly why Sholes designed the QWERTY keyboard.

According to Smithsonian magazine, Sholes found that when common letters were placed next to each other, typewriters were jammed because keys were hit in succession too quickly. The “type bars” connecting keys to letters would get tangled up.

So, he separated popular letters to prevent any problems.

“The type bars connecting the key and the letter plate hung in a cycle beneath the paper. If a user quickly typed a succession of letters whose type bars were near each other, the delicate machinery would get jammed.” the Smithsonian wrote in a Fact or Fiction post on their site. “So, it is said, Sholes redesigned the arrangement to separate the most common sequences of letters like ‘th’ or ‘he’.”

Below is a photo of Sholes’ drawings of the first QWERTY keyboard, courtesy of Google Patents. These drawings were submitted for the QWERTY patent and were approved.


As tidy as this story sounds, it didn’t add up for a pair of researchers from Kyoto University.

Japanese Researchers Say QWERTY Legend Is Just That…A Legend

In 2011, Japanese researchers Koichi Yasuoka and Motoko Yasuoka presented a paper that challenged the prevailing QWERTY origin story.

They argue that Sholes didn’t invent the QWERTY keyboard to prevent jamming. They say the machine’s early adopters, Morse code technicians, needed a keyboard layout that allowed them the fastest possible typing speeds so they could keep up with the Morse messenger on the other end of the line. So, Sholes designed QWERTY to meet that need.

Here’s what the Japanese researchers wrote: “If Sholes really arranged the keyboard to slow down the operator, the operator became unable to catch up (to) the Morse sender. We don’t believe that Sholes had such a nonsense intention during his development of (the) Type-Writer.”

We doubt historians and QWERTY enthusiasts will ever dig up the true story behind the origins of the QWERTY design. However, that narrative could become obsolete if another keyboard layout takes over.

QWERTY Competitors: Dvorak and Mobile Layouts

For several decades the QWERTY design faced no legitimate challengers to the typewriting throne. However, a doctor named August Dvorak created a new layout in the 1930’s.

This new layout featured all vowels in the middle line of the keyboard, replacing the current position of the A, S, D, F and G keys.

The popular consonants R, S, T, L and N are located on the right side of the keyboard where the P, O, colon/semi-colon, L and K keys are.

The Smithsonian says early proponents of the Dvorak claimed that the keyboard was faster, but the evidence on the claim is thin and the Dvorak design never gained much traction.

More recently, the KALQ keyboard has been rumored to be the future keyboard for thumb-oriented mobile users. The keyboard takes about 8 hours to learn, and users can surpass their QWERTY typing speed in as little as 12-13 hours, a Tech Crunch article reported in 2014.

Want to give it a try? You can download the KALQ

On the Big Screen: Three of the Best Movies About Office Life and the Workplace

movie“Nothing that happens in my office is interesting,” said no employee ever.

Whether you’re pounding away at a tiny cubicle in a massive insurance office or you’re rubbing shoulders with the founder at an open workspace, you’ve got stories. Some of them are hilarious, some of them are frustrating.

And with such a rich amount of source material at hand for storytellers, it’s no wonder that dozens of sitcoms and movies have been made about the workplace.

While there are plenty of options for office-related shows on Netflix, HBO and regular cable channels, the selection thins out a bit when you move to the realm of cinema.

That doesn’t mean there’s a shortage, though. Quite the opposite; work-related movies are like that battle axe of a coffee pot steaming with another cycle of acrid brew…there’s plenty to go around.

“Up in the Air” (2011, George Clooney and Anna Kendrick)

This pick is a bit of a surprise because the movie focuses on a guy who rarely spends any time in an office. However, Clooney’s winsome performance reminds us that, at the end of the day, every person who suits up to go into the workplace is a human being. As hard as we try to put on a certain persona, there are cracks in our carefully hammered armor.

Clooney’s character Ryan Bingham also gives us insight into the shadowy world of “letting people go.” His job is simple: travel around the country and fire people. He provides them with a few platitudes and a debrief folder that explains the next phase in their life.

For employees, we all know how terrible it feels (or would feel) to get that fateful summon to the firing room. For employers, Bingham’s role reminds us how gut-wrenching it can be to tell people they’re fired.

The movie also includes Anna Kendrick’s character Natalie Keener, the typical young employee with bright eyes and big dreams. Some of us will observe her character and think about how we were like that at one time, or her youthful exuberance may annoy us.

And while the themes of this movie are more on the emotional and interpersonal side of work, there’s also the fun side. Bingham is trying to collect 10 million miles on his credit card, an honor rarer than walking on the moon, he says:


  1. Office Space (1999; Ron Livingston, Jennifer Anniston)

Considered the absolute king of workplace movies, Office Space was the precursor to the emergence of office sitcoms from the mid-2000s on.

One of the main reasons the movie led to a movement is that it covers all the day-to-day aspects of work life through the eyes of a dissatisfied employee (Peter). You’ve got the odd but enduring relationships between quirky coworkers (Milton), the annoying boss (Bill Lumbergh) and that persisting daydream that one day you’ll leave your cubicle for greener employment pastures.

Here’s how a Washington Post review of the movie described Lumbergh, the prototypical boss we’ve all grown to despise:

“Running the program is Peter’s smarmy boss, Bill Lumbergh, dressed in the slicko duds of the office park manager: the expensive shirt, the suspenders matched perfectly with his tie, the eternal coffee cup in hand and the unctuous patter that starts with a “yeeeeeaaaaah” at the beginning of every sentence. You gotta love this world.”

  1. Pursuit of Happyness (2006, Will Smith)

There are many worthy movies out there that could’ve easily made this list. The 80’s classic Working Girl is hailed as a work of workplace art, as is The Hudsucker Proxy and the winsome In Good Company.

However, Pursuit of Happyness is, like Up in the Air, an exploration of the “what-goes-on-outside-the-office” life that tends to cause a tear or two to fall from just about anyone’s eyes.

The movie is loosely based on the life of Chris Gardner, a salesman who gets trapped in a bad investment. One day he runs into a finance pro who drives a nice car and Gardner vows to get a job that affords him the same level of luxury.

However, the only open position he can find is an unpaid internship at brokerage firm Dean Witter. There are two huge problems with this (besides the lack of a paycheck): He has a son and they have no place to live.

Happyness isn’t a satire of office life, but a narrative on what it’s like to believe in yourself enough to overcome poverty and earn the kind of money you deserve.

Gardner, of course, overcomes the odds and wins a position at the firm, beating out much younger opponents in the internship with him. Here’s the scene where he learns he’s been chosen from his internship group for a full-time position as a broker:

While the movie certainly has its points of sappiness, it is an excellent narrative on determination and self-belief, no doubt bolstering more than a few souls during the Great Recession that came just a couple of years after its release.

Heavy Hitters: Quick Facts and History of America’s Five Biggest Companies

fiveHave you ever thought about the five biggest companies in the United States?

The Forbes addict in your office might be able to reel them off like she was reciting her five favorite foods, but for most of us the task is much harder. Sure, most of us can guess Apple and Google, but even those might be a surprise to some.

We wanted to know what those five companies were, so we went out and did a little investigation. “Biggest” can be a slippery word – Biggest workforce? Most revenue? – so we decided to narrow it down to market cap.

In doing so, we discovered a very helpful list written by CNN Money in 2015. We’re going to take that list and expand on it, noting some interesting moments and personalities and other trivia about each company.

#1 Apple

Tech companies have taken over the mega-corporation landscape and Apple has led the way. The tech company’s top standing isn’t much of a surprise, although some may be a little stunned by the fact the storied titan finished ahead of Google.

In 2009, Apple’s market cap was 33rd on the list. Six years makes a huge difference, doesn’t it? And yet that rise isn’t so surprising, given the spike in iPhone and iPad sales during that time.

What we think is interesting about Apple is that the story of its origins is one of the most familiar tales in tech history, thanks to eccentric-yet-brilliant founder Steve Jobs. The genius is the subject of several movies that have graced the big screen over the past few years.

Quick and quirky facts about Apple:

  • The name iPhone was chosen from a weird lot of names that included Telepod, Tripod and Mobi.
  • The company has been known to create fake projects to see if the staff working on them will leak details to the press.

#2 Google

If there’s one thing Google has over Apple, it’s that “Apple” hasn’t become a verb.

These days, you can barely go an hour without Googling something. Also, whereas Apple’s products still face tough competition from other mobile phone and computer companies, Google absolutely dominates the search engine world. Bing and Yahoo are almost an afterthought.

And don’t forget that Google is the king of mapping, their driverless cars have ridden 2 million miles and they created their own mobile operating system, Android.

The company first launched its search engine in 1998, but the domain name was registered on September 15, 1997.

Quick and quirky facts about Google:

  • Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford University. Larry was visiting the school and Sergey was assigned to show him around campus.
  • Google’s first doodle incorporated the Burning Man. The team went to the desert festival that year and posted the doodle on August 30, 1998.



#3 Microsoft

With all the tech companies popping up all over the world (and popping up on Forbes lists), we sometimes forget that there’s one tech company that’s been a top-10 contender for decades: Microsoft.

We think part of this forgetfulness has to do with the rather mundane perception Microsoft gives in light of Apple’s iOS genius and design-focused products. Also, there’s that whole thing about the clunky, buggy Windows operating systems.

We think it’s a matter of founders, too. Bill Gates comes off as generous but boring and nerdy, while Steve Jobs is seen as an inspirational superhero.

The pop perceptions of the two men couldn’t be more exaggerated, as both Gates and Jobs are superheroes based on their intelligence, creativity and drive.

Quick and quirky facts about Microsoft:

  • Microsoft registered as a company in 1976 in New Mexico, where founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen were working with their first big client.
  • Employees are known as “Softies” and they celebrate their anniversaries by bringing in a pound of M&M’s for every year they’ve worked for the company.

#4 Berkshire Hathaway

It’s time for a tech break, isn’t it?

The Oracle of Omaha’s holdings company has 60 subsidiary companies and has substantial investments in big-time American companies like Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola and Goldman Sachs.

Warren Buffet’s reputation among businesspeople and investors is absolutely legendary, and his theory that you should buy when everyone is selling and sell when everyone is buying has been a bedrock philosophy for many an investor.

Quick and quirky facts about Berkshire Hathaway:

  • BH was originally a textile company that went into a steady decline and was eventually bought by Buffet after buying enough shares to gain enough power to fire the owner.
  • The company may not be the biggest in the country, but it’s stock is the most expensive. Class A shares of BH were selling for $225,000 in 2015.

#5: ExxonMobil

If you’re a Baby Boomer or Generation Xer, then Exxon is synonymous with the Valdez, an oil tanker that ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound and spilled 10-11 million gallons of oil into the sound’s pristine waters.

These days, the company shares its name with Mobil and is, to today’s generation, nothing more than a gas station. However, ExxonMobil is the largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world.

Quick and quirky facts about ExxonMobil:

  • Exxon came into being after the Supreme Court broke up John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil into 34 different companies.
  • The 1999 ExxonMobil merger was worth nearly $80 billion.

Don’t Fall into the Mouse Trap: Four Solid Mice for the Workplace

mousetrapThink about your daily workplace grind.

What’s the one peripheral you use more than any other? The mouse. Speakers are a great perk if your boss allows them, as are a decent pair of headphones or earbuds. But not every work environment is conducive to audio equipment, which vaults the mouse to the top of the most-needed list in employment spaces around the country.

If you’re a low-maintenance worker, you probably don’t have much of an opinion about mice – you take what your IT department gives you. And, in one sense, this isn’t a bad idea. Even the most basic mouse can get the job done if you spend the majority of your time typing and checking email.

But if your job requires a little more mousal precision – think graphic design, page layout or game design – then you’ll need something more than just your average click-and-scroller.

The Razer Mamba (2015 Model): The Ultimate Mouse (But Maybe a Little Too Much for the Office)

Remember how we said some people are content with a mouse that clicks and scrolls? The two-button system is great for them, it’s a timeless design and it functions really well.

But as the world of gaming has exploded over the past decade, mice have followed suit. The Razer Mamba is the perfect example of the gaming-oriented peripheral that can double as the hero of your work day. Here’s a basic overview of the Mamba’s features:

  • LED lighting that can be changed based on your preferences
  • Rubberized grips on the side of the mouse
  • Click-sensitivity adjustments for the right and left buttons
  • Wireless or wired capability in one mouse
  • 10 programmable buttons
  • Ambidextrous

Razer Mamba

Like we said, in the heading of this section, the Mamba might be a little too much for you. But for those who perform a series of complex keystroke or mouse-click actions within a short amount of time, this mouse could be a savior.

And, it’s the only mouse in PC Mag’s 2016 Top-10 ratings to receive higher than four stars.

“Although it’s expensive, the Razer mamba offers an unmatched set of features, plenty of customization and high-end performance,” contributor Matthew Buzzi wrote.

Price at the time of this post: $139.99 on Amazon

The Logitech M320: The Pedestrian Choice for Top Performance

If the Razer Mamba is the Bentley of the mouse world, the Logitech M320 is the Honda Accord: an affordable option with a track record of reliability. It is the flagship of the simple-mouse niche in the tech world.

Logitech M320

There isn’t much to say in the way of features, aside from the fact that, according to the mouse’s page on Logitech’s website, it has a 2-year battery life and a soft-rubber surface. There are no fancy LED lights, click calibration or 10 different customizable buttons.

PC Mag gave the mouse four stars and deemed it an Editors’ Choice selection. Reviewer Brian Westover said the 320 is “a fine example of simplicity done right.”

Price at the time of this post: $17.96 on Amazon

The Logitech Performance MX: Good for the big-handed

One thing we haven’t talked about yet is hand size. Most mice are built for average-sized hands, which means if you’re hands are bigger than most, you’ll probably feel a few aches and pains from using an undersized mouse.

Logitech Performance MX

Logitech’s Performance MX ranked high in The Wirecutter’s rankings because it’s a bigger mouse that’s suitable for people with manos grandes. It’s fancier cousin, the MX master, costs about $25 more but is smaller than the Performance MX and has a shorter warranty.

The mouse is light on extra features, which is a downside for people looking for a versatile mouse. Also working against it is the fact that it will be too big for most people.

As Wirecutter’s Kimber Streams put it, “Our largest-handed tester … preferred the size and shape of the Performance over the MX Master, but he liked the features of the MX Master better.”

Price at the time of this post: $62.97 on Amazon

The Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600: A Tiny Choice for Lots of Travel

While the Logitech Performance MX is known for being the perfect fit for massive hands, the Microsoft 3600 is the perfect choice for an entirely different reason. This reliable and simple mouse is designed for travel, which means it’s got a small body.

One of the drawbacks to travel mice is that they don’t always provide a lot of support for your palm, resulting in annoying aches and pains after prolonged use. But this Microsoft model, Wirecutter says, stands out because it’s “compact without sacrificing hand support – great for travel and for smaller hands.”

Microsoft 3600

Like the Logitech M320, this mouse can be had for less than $30. Before you buy it, Wirecutter warns, make sure it’s compatible with your operating system and that your computer can sync with a Bluetooth 4.0 device.

Price at the time of this post: $20.99 on Amazon

Upgrading Your Company Image With Used Office Furniture

Whether you own a small business that’s just starting out, or you’ve been around a while, you need to have a good suite of office furniture. The items you choose have to make your business look good, set your customers at ease and function the way that you need them to. Upgrading to a more professional image is less expensive when you choose used office furniture over buying new. Here are some other things to consider when outfitting your office.

waiting room

Cost & Resale Value

It’s pretty obvious that purchasing used office furniture will be less expensive than buying new. When a company is working under a tight budget, every dollar counts. From chairs to desks, filing cabinets and conference tables, everything a company needs to furnish offices, lobbies and meeting rooms can be purchased second-hand. What’s more, used furniture can be resold once it is no longer needed within the organization and can often fetch 50% or more of the purchase price.

Environmentally Sound

As with all second-hand market purchases, used office furniture is a great way to help protect the environment and reduce pollution. Because there is no manufacturing and very little transportation involved in buying used furniture, you’re not increasing your carbon footprint. It also helps to reduce the amount of waste that is taken to landfills. This eco-friendly solution helps you in the short-term but it’s also good for future generations as well.

A Good Stepping Stone

For a new business, going all-out and purchasing an elegant office suite is probably not the best option. In a tight-budget situation, you have more purchasing power when you purchase used office furniture so you can get everything you need. Perhaps you’re in a temporary office space, and you have plans to relocate within a year or two. Instead of investing in new office furniture that may not work in another location, purchasing used keeps more money in your pocket for investing in your business growth.

Design Your Space

Think about how you’ll be using the space including how people will do their daily tasks at their desks. Also consider filing cabinets, book cases and other furniture that will help with organization and productivity. Your client’s opinions matter when it comes to your image. You want to be seen as a professional, trustworthy organization worthy of doing business with. That said, don’t be afraid to mix and match items, it’s okay to let your company’s personality shine through.

Spend Less Time Looking

The truth is, when you are shopping for used office furniture, your choices are going to be somewhat limited. That’s not really a bad thing, when you consider what your time is worth and the huge number of other things that you have to do. Consider it a challenge to find the style and designs that best suits your company and clientele. Being creative and limiting the time you spend thinking about the furniture will pay off in the future, by allowing you to get to work quicker.

If you’re thinking about upgrading your office furniture or you’re furnishing a new office, buying used has plenty of advantages. If you need help finding the right office furniture or if you’re stuck for ideas for laying out your office space, contact us. Our friendly, professional staff will be more than happy to lend a hand.