Thursday, April 27, 2017

Just Drive!

That’s the message from the National Safety Council as we celebrate Distracted Driver Awareness Month. It only takes a quick look at the statistics to realize that “Just Drive” is something that needs everyone’s attention. Why? Well how about the fact that it’s estimated that 80 percent of all accidents involve some form of distracted driving? Eighty percent! So, what’s a distraction? Basically, anything that prevents you from giving full attention to something else.

Probably the most obvious distraction that comes to mind is using a cell phone when driving – talking, texting, checking email, taking selfies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that texting is the most alarming distraction because it takes your eyes off the road. If you take your eyes off the road for even five seconds, at 55 mph, it’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed! Now that’s scary.

But cell phone use isn’t the only distraction. How about blaring music, fiddling with the radio or any other buttons on the dashboard, trying to program your GPS after you’ve already started driving, juggling food that you just picked up at the drive-through, trying to reach for something in the back seat, personal grooming? The list goes on. In this world of multi-tasking, we often feel the pressure to be able to handle several things at once. Behind the wheel is not the place to practice that fine art.

It’s estimated that distracted driving leads to more than 3,100 fatalities and 400,000 injuries each year in the U.S.  That should be enough to make us realize that distracted driving definitely isn’t worth it. Sorry to say, it’s not. And that’s a problem. Too often, we think that we can beat the odds; get away with it just once; it won’t happen to me; and so on and so on and so on. That kind of thinking is dangerous to you and the other drivers on the road.

Be safe. Be smart. Just Drive!

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, April 21, 2017

It’s never over, till it’s over

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the playoffs – again. The defending NBA champions are on a quest to “Defend the Land” and that’s no easy task. Once again, they are playing heart-stopping, jaw dropping, wring your hands and hold your breath basketball; at least from a fan’s point of view.

Last night they did something that has never occurred in NBA playoff history. The Cavaliers overcame a 25-point half-time deficit and stunned the Indiana Pacers with a 119 – 114 victory. Oh, and does anyone remember how they won the championship last year? Coming back from being behind three games to one against Golden State to clinch it. The comeback kids are at it again. They don’t quit.

They don’t get rattled, they don’t throw in the towel, they stay the course; confident in the team’s ability to make it happen. And, it’s not just about the “big” names on the team; it’s about everyone on the team – the guys on the bench, the starters, the coaches, everyone.

What a great lesson for life. Against the odds, keep going, stay the course, believe in yourself (and your team) and don’t give up. Bottom line is that it’s easy to quit. Making the comeback is hard; it takes work; long hours; not letting anything deter you from your goal and hanging in there even when everything around you tells you that you don’t have a chance.

Babe Ruth said it best, “You just can’t beat a person who won’t give up.”

Go Cavs!

Posted by MJ Thomas

Monday, April 17, 2017

Laughter IS good medicine

How many times have you heard someone say that? Turns out that it’s true! Numerous studies show that not only is laughter good for you mentally but physically as well. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  So, today’s blog topic is laughter – because we could all use a lot more of it in our lives.

Did you know that April 14 was International Moment of Laughter Day ? No joke! The unofficial holiday encourages people to forget the stresses of daily life and give into the healing and relaxing power of laughter. HA!

Why is this so important? Health is important. It’s that simple. Laughing can reduce stress, increase blood flow, lowers blood sugar levels and can even promote better sleep. It can lead to reductions in stress hormones. When a person laughs the brain releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain. It can increase immune cells and infection fighting antibodies. It can make it easier to cope with tough situations, can help lessen depression and help you connect with others. And here’s a personal favorite – laughter can help you burn calories! Okay, so not a lot of them, but still it can be a small assist to your fitness plan. Fifteen minutes of laughter can burn ten to 40 calories. Who knew?

The point is that laughter is beneficial in many ways. It’s a tough world we live in and some days it’s hard to find anything to smile about; much less laugh about. Humor can and does make a difference – at work, at home, in our personal and professional relationships. Finding a reason to laugh is important for our physical and emotional health.

So, I will leave you with a thought that made me chuckle just a little – “An apple a day keeps anyone away if you throw it hard enough.”

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, April 7, 2017

Let’s talk

Today is World Health Day, a day celebrated on April 7 each year to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization. Each year a theme is designated to highlight a global health concern in hopes of increasing awareness and encouraging those who are suffering to seek help. This year’s theme is Depression: Let’s Talk. “For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery,” said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.

It’s interesting because in many cases one of the last things a person suffering with depression wants to do is talk about it. Why? They don’t want to hear how it’s all in their head and that they should just “suck it up”, snap out of it and move on. Depressed people can’t control how they feel. They don’t want to hear that they are just exaggerating issues or trying to seek attention. Wrong. People with depression have no desire to be in the spotlight. If they do speak about it, they just need people to listen and not judge; too often the case. Depressed people don’t like to talk about it because it makes people uncomfortable. As one article stated, when someone breaks their arm, we rush to sign their cast but if someone is diagnosed with depression, we run the other way. As far as we have come in so many ways, the stigma still exists.

Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries; possibly even the person sitting next to you at work. It causes anguish and makes it hard to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks. The consequences can be devastating. Depression has strong links to diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and increases the risk of substance abuse. It’s also an important risk factor in suicide. Depression affects more than 300 million people. That’s an increase of 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.

The good news is that depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of the disease is much needed.

Let’s talk.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, March 31, 2017

Walk a mile in my shoes

Our team at Sentry Protection Products is headed to Chicago next week for the 2017 ProMat Show – the leading event of its kind bringing together solution providers with buyers in the manufacturing and supply chain industry from all over the world.  Current information states that the show includes 950 exhibits and 375,000 square feet spanning two floors of the McCormick Center. That’s a lot of miles to walk, people to see and things to do.

Trades shows are all about the experience – the whole experience; the good and the not-so-good. First, the good. There’s something to be said for the “up close and personal” interaction at a trade show.  In these days of instant, wireless, and other seemingly impersonal communications, face-to-face conversation is almost a novelty. Looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand makes the connection stronger; a name with a face; and that makes it more real – at least it does to me. All the stories, the anecdotes, making new acquaintances and renewing old ones, the product pitches, the elaborate displays and demonstrations can’t be replicated in an email.

Trade shows aren’t easy. Long hours standing in the booth or walking the show; early morning meetings; lack of sleep; eating at all hours or not eating at all; fast food over healthy food; delayed flights; and packages not arriving when planned are all part of the not-so-good side of the coin.

In my opinion, the good stuff outweighs the not-so-good stuff. Why? The experience. The people I meet, the knowledge I take away will now be part of me; something that will better me as a professional and as a person. Looking forward to it.

If you are attending ProMat 2017, stop by Booth S1157 and say hello. The Sentry Team would love to meet you. It will be an experience.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, March 24, 2017

Asking the right questions? How about asking the right people?

Here’s something to think about. When you decide a new policy, set guidelines or formulate new rules do you ever look for input from the people who are directly affected by those decisions, follow those guidelines or enforce those rules? If you don’t, you are missing out on valuable information.

I was reading through the latest edition of DC
Velocity magazine and came across an article titled, “What your forklift drivers want you to know.” Raymond Handling Concepts, a Pacific Northwest dealer of material handling equipment and systems, took the time to ask forklift operators what was important to them. Their responses indicated how important safety is to them; the pride they take in their work and the importance of adhering to high standards; their appreciation for new equipment; the significance of forklifts and rack systems being compatible; and their concerns about poor lighting reducing productivity leading to accidents. Now you might say, “Of course. That makes total sense.” Yes, it does. The point is that we have that information because someone asked; not just anyone, but the people directly involved.

It’s one thing to ask, it’s another to listen. The people who work in the trenches, those on the front line of operations each day, are the ones who can make a difference. Let me give you another example. A while back, I was involved in creating a communications campaign for a hospital opening a new emergency room facility. Before actual construction, a mock version of the room was created and employees at every level of the organization could walk through and provide feedback as it related to their jobs. The exercise was invaluable. Everyone from upper management, to physicians and nurses, to housekeeping and dietary had a chance to look at it from their perspective and how it would affect them carrying out their daily duties. Not only did employees feel like they were heard, they were now totally invested in the project and became the best ambassadors for its success. Wow. Seems like a simple thing to do, So, why is it too often overlooked?

Good decisions, guidelines for success and rules of the day aren’t created in a vacuum – at least they shouldn’t be. If you want the real story, just ask the right people.

Posted by MJ Thomas

Thursday, March 16, 2017

May the wind always be at your back!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day; a day of celebration, good food and drink, parades and merriment around the world. What started as a religious feast day for the patron Saint of Ireland, has become a day of partying; a day where everyone is a “little bit Irish.”

How much do you really know about St. Patrick’s Day? The facts, the myths, the traditions. I did a little research and thought I would share a few interesting facts.

St. Patrick was not Irish! He was from Wales. At 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. At some point he escaped and it was only later in life that he returned to Ireland as a missionary. And guess what? The “wearing of the green” could’ve been the wearing of the blue. The color was originally linked to St. Patrick. Green only came into the picture after it was linked to the Irish Independence movement. One legend suggests that revelers thought wearing green would make a person invisible to leprechauns who would “pinch” those not wearing green. Good luck with that. Oh, and by the way, did you know it takes 40 pounds of green dye to color the Chicago River for a few hours?

Corned beef and cabbage? Originally it was more like Irish bacon and potatoes. Irish immigrants to America found the cost of the bacon and potatoes prohibitive. Corned beef and cabbage was a more affordable option.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade happened in New York City in 1766. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Irish government decided to start holding a parade in Dublin to promote tourism. And the tradition of drinking green beer? That didn’t come from Ireland either. Thanks to the United States and Canada for that one. In fact, until the late 1970’s, pubs in Ireland were not permitted to be open on St. Patrick’s Day. Guinness Irish stout is considered the drink of the day on St. Patty’s Day and is it estimated that three million pints are downed on the day. A 2012 estimate figured that about $245 million is spent on beer for St. Patrick’s Day.

That brings me to the real point for today. Be safe. Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is great; have fun, revel in the day’s activities but do it safely and responsibly. It’s better for everyone that way.

I leave you with this thought – “As you slide down the bannister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Posted by MJ Thomas