How to Start your Mornings on the Right Foot

The tone of your morning will determine the tone of your day, so it’s time to start planning accordingly. What are some steps you can take to ensure a positive start to your day?

Hydrate

The benefits of drinking water are plenty, but the benefits of drinking water immediately after waking up, instead of coffee, are even greater. After a full night’s rest, our bodies are often dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water when you wake up will not only quench your thirst, it will rehydrate you, fire up your metabolism and provide fuel for your brain.

Make your Bed

Perhaps you think making your bed is a waste of time, or unnecessary. You won’t be home to see it all day, plus, you’re getting back into it at night. Wrong. Making your bed is a very simple action that you can take in the morning that will help you start your day feeling accomplished. Getting the simple and easy tasks out of the way in the morning also give you the foundation to take on larger projects throughout the day.

Exercise

It does not matter what type of exercise you choose to do in the morning, but get your body moving in some way. Whether it be yoga, a brisk walk with your dog or a set of sit-ups, any type of movement in the morning will help get you started on the right foot. As your blood starts flowing, your mental chatter will slow. If you begin to get bored with one type of exercise, change it up.

Stay Unplugged

If you have gotten into the habit of checking your work email as soon as you wake up, it is time to change that. By doing this, you are immediately cultivating a reactive mindset, instead of a proactive one, which will cause you to start your day in a defensive state, rather than a place of inner peace and control. Stay unplugged for the first hour of the day. This will start your day with a peaceful mind, and don’t worry, those work emails will still be there an hour later!

The morning is the setup for our entire day. So instead of rushing through it, slow down and enjoy. Drink water, make your bed, get your blood flowing with exercise and remain unconnected for as long as possible.

How Reading Affects Your Work

In the past year, about a quarter of American adults did not read even a part of one book. This is an alarming statistic! Why? Reading has so many benefits including many directly related to your job performance. What are those benefits?

Fiction Leads to More Creativity

Reading nonfiction books related to your career and subject matter is a given. If you want to continue to learn and grow in your field, you should absolutely be doing this. However, don’t discount fiction books, According to research conducted at the University of Toronto, study participants who read short-story fiction experienced far less need for “cognitive closure” compared with counterparts who read nonfiction essays. Essentially, they tested as more open-minded than those who solely read nonfiction.

Reading Makes you a Better Leader

When it comes to better connecting with others, one study found that people who read for just thirty minutes per week reported a stronger sense of empathy. This ability to relate to other people—to be able to place yourself in their shoes—is a skill that readers have in common with the best leaders.

It Makes You Smarter

Your brain is like a muscle, and you need to exercise it to keep it healthy. The more you exercise the muscles in your brain, the stronger they become. Reading will not only help you to learn new things, it will improve your overall intelligence, too. Think about reading like lifting weights for your brain. The more consistently you do it, the stronger your brain will become!

Your Vocabulary Improves

This may go without saying, but reading regularly and reading a variety of styles will teach you new words and give you the confidence to use them in everyday life. Strong communication skills and the ability to voice your thoughts in a concise and effective way is a crucial tool for any employee to have in their skillset.

Next time you go to turn the tv on to fall asleep, pick up that book on your nightstand instead. When you’re anticipating waiting in the doctor’s office, bring a book to read. Incorporating reading, both fiction and nonfiction books, into your lifestyle will have many benefits but best of all, it will make you a better employee!

How Robots are Entering the Corporate Finance World

Robots today are commonly used in the automotive and other manufacturing industries on assembly lines. The mechanical devices have also been implemented in medical settings to disinfect areas, monitor patients and perform surgeries. Robotic process automation or RPA is now venturing into the corporate finance field.

The use of ledgers and spreadsheet programs keep financial processes trapped in the 20th century. Employees commonly spend the majority of their days gathering, consolidating and verifying information. Time is also spent analyzing data and making decisions. Robotic processes and artificial intelligence have the ability to train software robots to automatically process transactions, perform audits and track compliance. The technology will also have the ability to upgrade their functions based on new information and experience.

Analytic Functions

Many financial executives plan on adopting the automated technology and some already use RPA. Robotic processes expedite accounts received and paid out while helping to maintain client relations. When an error occurs, many man hours are typically required to find and correct the problem. However, by automating the process, errors are detected quickly along with having the ability to recommend solutions.

Cost Efficiency

Companies have the potential of losing profits through errors, fraud or overpayment. Manual audits are time-consuming and often may not detect errors or wasted profits. Artificial intelligence requires less time to perform the function and is better able to monitor and analyze transactions. Equipped with current trend information, robotic processes discover problems that may otherwise go unnoticed. In this way, companies save money while being more efficient.

Educational Options

Depending on the type of AI processes implemented, the technology has the potential to educate employees. The technology can be useful for training employees to see patterns or trends in order for individuals to make better informed financial decisions. For example, the processes are capable of saving companies money in terms of business travel. By storing and analyzing travel and accommodation data, robotics would be able to make cost-effective recommendations based on location and time of year.

AI Assistants

Much like Alexa and Siri act as vocal digital assistants, artificial intelligence could benefit financial employees in a wide range of instances from the office to the boardroom. The processes might be equipped with the capability to quickly access and analyze data before CEOs make a decision. Robotics might also answer questions on the spur of the moment.

The Top 3 Ways to Invest in 2018

For those with extra cash on their hands, it’s best to invest it before spending it on nonsensical purchases. Of course, research and analysis is needed first to make the best investment possible for one’s risk tolerance and goals. Potential investors should act as quickly as possible. Below are the three best ways to invest in 2018.

 

The Stock Market

 

Even though investing in the stock market is an obvious choice, it’s worth mentioning because many people are still skeptical about getting involved in the market. Some even think that there are too many people involved in stocks, so it’s too late for them to get a piece of the pie.

However, a really good strategy is to invest small amounts of money over a specific timeframe into the stock market. Basically, when the market is hot, as it is right now, an investor buys less shares, and when no one is buying, they buy more shares. This keeps things even and makes a high return more likely.

 

Peer-to-Peer Lending Services

 

Being a loan provider used to be an investment medium reserved for banks. Today, there are many investment platforms that make providing a loan possible for the individual investor.

On the most popular platforms, returns are usually around six percent, but could be even higher.

Another strength of this strategy is that some investments require as little as twenty-five dollars therefore, someone who is considering this option can test the waters with little risk before diving in.

 

Real Estate

 

While real estate investing is not for everyone, there are still big returns to be made in the real estate market. Nowadays, there are other real estate mediums besides becoming a landlord. For example, someone could invest in real estate notes. In this scenario, the investor funds someone else’s real estate investment, and gets paid a dividend or interest on their investment. There’s also turnkey rentals, where an investor puts up the money, but someone else manages the property and tenants.

 

In 2018, those looking to invest should use a combination of traditional and new-age strategies.

For example, real estate and the stock market are still profitable investments. At the same time, there’s now peer-to-peer lending services that provide a new avenue of revenue.

 

Pepper Rutland, MMR President & CEO, on the Company Being Named One of the Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge

Pictured (l-r) are MMR shareholders and staff: Kevin Alexander, Vice President; Donnie Fairbanks, Chief Financial Officer; Grady Saucier, Senior Vice President; Holly Hollis, Corporate Counsel & EEO Officer; James “Pepper” Rutland, President & CEO; Amber Leach, Marketing Director; Rodi Rispone, Legal Counsel; Tom Welborn, Executive Vice President; John Courville, Senior Vice President; and John Clouatre; Senior Vice President.

Pictured (l-r) are MMR shareholders and staff: Kevin Alexander, Vice President; Donnie Fairbanks, Chief Financial Officer; Grady Saucier, Senior Vice President; Holly Hollis, Corporate Counsel & EEO Officer; James “Pepper” Rutland, President & CEO; Amber Leach, Marketing Director; Rodi Rispone, Legal Counsel; Tom Welborn, Executive Vice President; John Courville, Senior Vice President; and John Clouatre; Senior Vice President.

On Monday our team announced that MMR was recognized as one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report and the Greater Baton Rouge SHRM, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management and Best Companies Group.  MMR was impressively ranked third out of thirty companies who made the list in the “Large Company: 250 or more U.S. Employees” category.

The competitive Best Places to Work Program identifies, recognizes and honors the best places of employment in Baton Rouge. MMR initially completed an extensive questionnaire about its workplace policies, practices and demographics. Additionally, employees completed an anonymous survey about their engagement and satisfaction at the workplace. Survey questions covered areas such as corporate culture, training and development. The employer and employee surveys were then combined to form a set of data which enabled the analysts to determine the strengths and opportunities of the participating companies.

I am extremely humbled by this honor. One statistical fact that has always stuck with me is that people spend 80 percent of their waking life at work, so if you don’t like what you are doing or the job that you are in, you need to find a new career. At MMR, our employees are the heart of our company, and we strive to promote a culture that fosters personal development and professional growth while offering both tangible and intangible rewards to those with the drive to succeed.

Best Social Media Practices for Small Businesses

Pepper Rutland's photo of facebook and scrabble piecesBefore the 1990s, companies relied mostly on print and broadcast media, such as television and radio, to get the word out about their products, services and/or progress. Prior to those inventions, word of mouth and various guerilla tactics were the focus. Nevertheless, with the advent and subsequent ubiquity of the Internet, businesses saw the importance of getting online. Those who weren’t early adopters, relying still on the aforementioned tools to reach customers and supporters alike, learned quickly that “the net” could not be ignored. Today, more than half of small business have their own website. However, as trends continue to evolve beyond a mere home for your business, the need for web presence via social media has become just as, if not more, imperative to the success of business owners, especially smaller businesses. Yet, while most have at least taken steps to create a social profile, not many use it to their full advantage.

Nearly two years ago LinkedIn reported that 81% of small to medium business had some form of social media. Why the remaining 19% hasn’t caught up is a concern in itself, but that’s not the primary issue at hand. Of those which do have a profile, approximately 95%, virtually all, of them use it for marketing reasons alone. While this makes sense given the wide reach of such platforms at little to no cost, simply using the space to announce deals, sales or new products is akin to handing out flyers on the corner. You may reach a lot of people, but it doesn’t guarantee connection nor interest. Therefore, creating a strategy for engaging your social media audience is key. Here are tips for doing so.

1. Create Quality Content

Consumers are exposed to about 5,000 ads per day, in comparison to 2,000 in the same time, just 40 years ago. The oversaturation and overpopulation of advertisements have led many to either tune them out or block them altogether. That said, using your business profile to do just that creates an automatic division between yourself and the client/customer you’re trying to reach. Instead, create and publish content that is informative and relevant to your product or service. As a result, your business comes across as an authority on related subjects, and appears to onlookers as a brand that is interested in its customers, not just selling to them.

2. Interact With Followers

Use social media to be social. Just as it would be rude to only talk about oneself and never respond to any questions, comments or inquires, in-person, the same applies online. Perhaps there is no dedicated social media person on staff, thus making it difficult to respond to every single interaction; however, merely acknowledging the message goes a long way. Such can be done with a simple like or share on many social platforms. And when it makes sense to do so, follow back.

3. Use Analytics Tools

The larger and more popular websites provide very specific and helpful data, including how many people viewed a post as well as liked and/ or shared it. Not only do these details provide insight about the value of your content to your audience, they can provide key information about how many people you’re actually reaching and optimal times for doing so.

4. Be Channel Specific

As the old saying goes, there’s a time and place for everything. Each business owner or dedicated social media specialist would do well to note best practices of each platform. For example, content on Twitter must be shorter, to the point, and use of hashtags bolster the length of your reach. On Facebook, content can be a little longer, more in depth and media heavy. Hashtags are not as effective, though available, and click through content, such as a link to an external website or presentation, are normal. Using a cookie-cutter approach to all platforms only diminish the effectiveness of your message and goals online.

As we enter this new year, there is an even greater incentive to try new things. With over 2 billion users on social media, an incredible opportunity exists for all businesses to not only acquire new customers but to retain them. Regardless of your product or service, your audience is online. Your competition will certainly be doing all they can to reach them. Beat them to the punch.

Understanding The Importance of Employee Wellness

Pepper Rutlands exercise equipmentInterest in health has become a major focus for many Americans. Now, more than in recent decades, individuals are concerned about getting healthier and adopting wellness as a lifestyle, as seen in the incredible popularity of FitBit and other wearables which monitor activity and quality of sleep, as well as the consumer trend toward juicing, smoothies, and organic or Non-GMO foods. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that U.S. News & World Report’s #1 trend in employee benefits to watch for in 2016 is wellness programs. As a consistent leader in our industry, the MMR Group had already begun investing in our employees, and this month, we’re proud to announce that our very own employee wellness center is open for all staff, at our in company headquarters in Baton Rouge, LA.

At MMR, we’ve taken notice of studies with regard to stress as a growing problem in America, and how it affects overall health. Research shows that stress can lead to significant, deadly illnesses when left untreated or exacerbated, such as heart disease, migraines, obesity, and accelerated aging. It is worth noting the role work plays into or sometimes causes stressful situations as well. According to a Carnegie Mellon University study, workplace stress has increased between 1983 and 2009, by a startling 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men. While employers cannot control stressful situations outside of the workplace, it is our duty to alleviate any issues resulting from work, and one of the best ways to do that is through well programs.

Most entities, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to private companies like Altitude in Massachusetts, agree that wellness programs and centers like ours are imperative, with the CDC going as far as to declare that such is a “vital piece of a healthy lifestyle.” In fact, nearly 28 percent of employees who participate in wellness programs offered by Aetna experienced less stress and 20 percent sleep better. That was early last year and just one study, as more services are offered, that number may likely increase.

Additionally, the benefit of giving employees access to sports and exercise equipment leads to an increase in productivity. According to that same study, healthier, better rested, and less stressed employees produce, on average, about 62 minutes more of quality work per week. Financially, that is about $3,000 per employee every year. Likewise, a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that companies which invest in employee health perform better in the stock market than those who do not. Thus, such contributions are equally beneficial to all involved, and should be implemented on a larger scale.

Our 10,000-square-foot facility houses a weight training and exercise room, a basketball court, and will offer instructor-led boot camp classes. Active home office personnel and MMR staff employees can utilize the facility free of charge Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 8 AM, 11 AM to 1 PM and 5 PM to 8 PM. Click here to find out out more from our company website.