Reflection Week: All Things Calendar

A look back and a look ahead



As we wrap up the month, I want to give you three reflection questions that will also prepare you for a special theme month coming up in April at Our theme will be “All Things Calendar.” Each of our postings, and much of our social media content, will be focused on how to use your calendar in the most effective way. We’ll be having a drawing for a couple of great prizes from our sponsor, Greenville Office Supply. More details coming your way soon!

In the meantime, here are three questions for you to reflect on for THIS month:

1. Did you use a calendar to plan your time?

2. How effectively did your calendar usage assist you in being productive and stress free?

3. What is one thing that was on your calendar in March that looking back, you realized now should have been taken off?

I hope you’ll take some time with these questions so that you can make your calendar work better for you in April.

Contact me with any questions you’d like to see addressed or tips you want to see during All Things Calendar.

Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps. 90:12 NIV


Tip: Desk Fun

Treat yourself to the occasional “for fun” office supply–just because you like it or it will brighten your workspace. #helpingpros

Image: I received this tape dispenser as a door prize at an event at Greenville Office Supply. 


Office Fun

How to Write a Meaningful Thank You Note

A simple method for a deeper impact

Thank you note

When is the last time you received a sincere thank-you note (electronic or written)?

I’m not talking about the quick “thank you” many of us add to the bottom of our emails, or the one sentence text (meaningful though it might have been.) I’m talking about a warm, inspiring note that caused you to pause and almost want to thank the writer for making your day.

Quality thank you notes are a lost art. We are living in a day of quick communication when people are juggling so many details in their heads that they may simply forget to write a thank you note for a gift, experience or favor. But it’s not as hard as you think. Here is an effective three-part formula to help you write the type of thank you message that will have the recipient thanking YOU.

The “You-Me-You” method goes like this:

YOU – point out the actual gift or thoughtful gesture you experienced because of someone else. It could be a tangible item, a service provided, or their presence at an event.

ME – write a brief acknowledgement of how you were affected by the gesture, how it made you feel, and the difference it made in your life (i.e. what memory it will bring up.)

YOU– compliment something specific about the person that is not necessarily related to the gift they gave you.

Now let’s practice. Let’s say Sally took Brianna to lunch for her birthday, and also gave her a cute necklace in acknowledgement of the special day.

Brianna could use the You-Me-You method in this way:


Thank you for taking time to take me to lunch for my birthday. I really enjoyed spending time with you at a favorite restaurant, and the cute necklace was a nice surprise. When I wear it, I will fondly think of you and our friendship, and how much we laughed!

I am grateful for you. You may not be aware of this, but your cheerful spirit uplifts me and I frequently gain wisdom from our discussions. I am blessed to have you as part of my life.

Warmly, Brianna

Another tip: be careful in using superlative or trite words in a note. This can come across as over-flattering, insincere or cliche. Sally could have added words such as “always uplifts me” or “phenomenal necklace” but it might have sounded forced. Just be warm and honest without embellishing.

Now, how does that compare with:


Thanks for taking me to lunch and giving me a necklace for my birthday. I really appreciate it.


While any thank you is nicer than none, do you see how enriching the first note is compared to the second, without being much longer or time intensive? Which would you rather receive?

HOPE Unlimited is here to help you improve your communication skills. Want to talk over a specific issue? Sign up for a “Coffee with Beth” appointment to discuss it.

Question: What’s the best thank-you note you ever received?

Photo source.

A Free Path to a Less Stressful Day

Please take the survey.

Have you joined our HOPE Academy community yet? There’s always at least one free course available and over the next several months we will be adding more content at affordable prices to help you overcome overwhelm and be the best professional you can be!

We’d love your feedback as we build. Would you take a moment to answer five short questions? Click here.  Thank you!

And don’t forget to enroll in the free course!



10 Apps, Tools and Resources for Your Professional Development and Inspiration

Your growth is your responsibility


Who has time for personal or professional development?

Dedicated professionals know that it is important to invest in ourselves. Our physical, mental and emotional health play a role into how we can carry out our professional goals. But it can be difficult to make time for feeding ourselves healthy information and inspiration. Here are a list of ten tools that can make it easier, some of which that I am currently using. 

  1. YouVersion Bible App: This is a great way to carry a Bible with you all the time. It has a wide variety of short and long term reading plans, image making tools, and even opportunity to connect with friends if that interests you.
  1. Abide App: Abide provides audio prayers, music, and scenic backgrounds (among other services, depending on what version you pick).
  1. Calm App:* With lovely graphics and though provoking meditations, this app can help you take a few minutes to focus. As this is not a faith-based app, I challenge myself to connect the word of the day to Scripture.
  1. Feedly: Feedly collects posts from sites/blogs that I want to follow. I scan the feed in the morning, marking articles I want to read in more depth later. Then during short breaks or on weekends, I pull up an article or two (or more) read it, and either save it to a topic board or discard it.
  1. The Skimm*: this weekday email provides a conversational summary, generally fairly balanced, of current national and international event, so you can be prepared for daily “water cooler talk.” Immersing myself in news does not work for me, but I do see value in knowing the basics, and this morning email gives me a quick overview. (Warning…the language used in some of the writing may not appeal to some.)
  1. Greenville Today: In the spirit of Skimm, my local county offers a weekday e-newsletter that summarizes interesting information and happenings in Greenville county.
  1. The Daily Shine* this is a weekday text that can be a source of bright encouragement for your day that I have used in the past.   I also have a group of friends in a text group and we randomly send Scripture to one another from time to time. We call this “Scripture Sisters” – it’s our own form of regular text encouragement.
  1. Newspapers: I don’t typically read newspapers instead staying informed by the summaries above. But I do enjoy reading our local business journal (Upstate Business Journal) usually during a lunch break.
  1. Platform University: I highly recommend that you find a membership site that corresponds to your profession or industry. In my case, Platform has had a major impact on my journey as an entrepreneur and the building of HOPE Unlimited. I make time to watch the training videos and/or read resources, usually over a 15-30 minute period once a week.
  1. Books: since 2012, I’ve successfully had a goal of finishing one book per month. (Note I said finish, not start and finish.) Sometimes its a business book, sometimes a faith based book, and sometimes fiction or a classic. This simple goal (which I track on Goodreads) keeps me reading consistently, although I do feel I don’t read books enough.

BONUS: HOPE Academy This is a branch of HOPE Unlimited where we will be offering strategic courses to help overwhelmed professionals. Have you tried the free course yet?

How about you? Do you have a plan for your professional and personal development?

*Caveat: Many of you know that as a follower of Christ, my faith saturates all aspects of my life. I provide this list with the advice to be discerning. Not every tool completely aligns with my worldview, and I have indicated those with an *.  However, I feel the tools can have valuable elements and are worth listing.


Guest Post: 7 Lessons I’ve Learned in My First Year of Business

by Megan Constantino, Parachute Partners

Megan ConstantinoToday Facebook reminded me that I have officially been in business for one year. Really? It has already been a year? It has ONLY been a year? The desire and dream of owning my own PR firm was planted in my heart a long time ago. Many factors led to my plunge but ultimately it was God’s timing that sealed the deal. Basically, I needed to develop my craft and be circled with an extensive, powerful network of clients and collaborators for a sustainable launch. What I didn’t anticipate was the having to put on my big-girl pants and figure out my own special recipe for work-life integration. Oh what a year of growth!

Let me save you some stress, anxiety, and heartaches by sharing a few crucial amazing and heart-filled lessons that I have learned over the past 12 months. Perhaps this post is just a self-reflection or it will touch one or three thousand budding hopeful entrepreneurs. Save yourself some sanity and stand firm on boundaries around these 7 things.

  1. Put God first. Every area of your life should glorify Him. If you are working only for earthly recognition, you will not find that deep fulfillment. Each day is nuts when you are running a thriving and growing startup and you cannot do it without Him.
  2. Care for yourself. I ran myself in to the ground. This is easy to do when your laptop is available 24/7 and your phone, social media, etc. are always within reach. If you don’t make moments for you, nobody will. Actually, nobody can care for you. That is up to you. Even if you just take a bubble bath or fifteen-minute walk, treat yourself. Your clients need a well-balanced and rested partner. Do it for you. Do it for them.
  3. Secure family time. When we are all retired or our life has passed, the amount of revenue you brought in a quarter, year, or decade will not matter. We have an amazing and wild two-year-old. I finally have learned to secure quality time without a screen to relish this time. Your family is your most important stakeholder. Secure time for them.
  4. Don’t slave for money. Yes, work hard and be extremely ambitious but don’t sacrifice your sanity and soul for dollars. Pace yourself already! Sign only work that makes your heart skip a beat. There is plenty of business out there… wait for the right matches when you financially can. If you are trying to find happiness in money, you will never be able to earn enough. You will let life pass you by and regret much. Balance needs with sanity, okay?
  5. Price right. You will spend much more time on each project than anticipated if you’re a perfectionist like me. Also, you are worth it! Ask for fair market value! You have invested YEARS in developing your craft. Not to mention, it costs money to make money plus rent isn’t free, right?
  6. Use a project management system. Once you get going and things get crazy, details can become a blur. Perfectionists, find a good low cost or free project management system like Asana or Basecamp. Document each detail with deadlines!
  7. Remember that camaraderie is worth a million bucks. If you are working remotely, enlist the dialogue of collaborators. I now take time to talk on the phone to a few great partners and even do a regular video prayer meeting with Beth. (If you are our client or teammate, you get prayed for!)

I cannot believe my business is already a year old. Happy birthday, Parachute Partners… thanks for the grey hairs but ability to make a difference the way God intended for me to do.

If you are in business for yourself or thinking of taking the plunge, know that you can do this but it might be a little wonky finding that balance or integration that first year. Learn from my top 7 tips on how to keep sane, okay?

I am thankful for this wild journey and see God’s blessings in my work each day. Here’s to our second year serving the world’s best clients.

My best,


Megan Constantino

Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Half Crazy Mother, and Frazzled Wife
Parachute Partners

android-icon-36x36[1]A note from Beth: building a friendship with Megan (who I call my ‘business sister’) has been one of the recent joys I’ve received in running HOPE Unlimited. Megan is also one of our ‘strategic referral partners’ — part of the network HOPE has established of trustworthy, ‘rock-star-service’ professionals designed to help your business excel. To see more about our team click here.