Do You Tik Tok?

Hickory dickory dock, your sales might soar on TikTok.

If you haven’t taken your business to TikTok yet, you may be missing out on a golden opportunity to give your online sales a serious uptick, pardon the pun. reported in October that TikTok’s new in-app shopping platforms are a hit with companies that have signed on to give them a try. The integrations, currently in beta testing, “will allow businesses that use the platforms to seamlessly link their products in videos on TikTok, where viewers can shop for them directly without having to visit a web browser,” reporter Rebecca Deczynski wrote.

Social networks such as Facebook and Instagram have similar shopping functions, Deczynski said, but companies that use them say growth on the TikTok app has been much faster.

To Party, Or Not To Party?

The answer, if you’re not sure, is yes — a holiday party should be planned for your workers. In the wake of the pandemic they’ve endured in 2020 and 2021, a holiday party may well be the most important gift you can give them to show your appreciation.

Twas a few weeks till Christmas

And all through the land,

Employers debated whether

A party should be planned.

Here, according to the website, are some basic do’s and don’ts for planning a company holiday party this year:

Do throw a party. “Skipping the holiday gathering can give the impression that you do not care about employees,” the website noted in September.

Don’t make the party mandatory. Encourage employees to join in the festivities, but don’t twist their arms — that’ll take all the fun out of it.

Don’t ask employees to pay for the party. The employer should pick up the tab.

Do choose a time when most employees can attend.

Do send holiday party invitations. It’ll make employees feel more welcomed.

Do set clear guidelines for employees. “Standards are often looser than at the office, and there is more of a party atmosphere than a work atmosphere,” the website said. “However, these occasions are still company events, and a baseline of professionalism is necessary.”

Do consider a hybrid or virtual holiday party. You might even offer an in-person party and a virtual party and give employees the option of which one to attend.

Do take holiday party safety precautions. For example, if you’re serving food, consider food allergies and mark dishes clearly. If there will be alcohol, arrange transportation or lodging, or encourage designated drivers. Allow for social distancing and provide plenty of sanitizer.

Don’t limit festivities to Christmas. Inclusivity matters to your employees.

Don’t throw separate parties for managers and employees. It will create division and send the wrong message.

Do model good behavior as a manager. “Leaders set the standards for employee behavior, and the holiday party is no exception,” wrote.

Do plan games, activities and entertainment.

Do give out favors and swag.

The Eyes Have It

For generations, eye contact has been a telltale indicator of whether someone is paying close attention. Now, it appears that when it comes to eye contact — or the lack thereof — there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Here’s the lowdown: According to research recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the significance of maintaining eye contact may be overrated. The research suggests that eye contact “ebbs and flows” during an engaging conversation, contributing editor Jeff Haden wrote on in October.

“In simple terms, if what you say makes me think, processing it may naturally cause me to look away. To think ‘independently.’ To sift through your information or idea, match it to my own perspectives or mental models, and then re-engage,” Haden wrote.

While most people tend to lock eyes when they agree on something, looking away is a natural response when presented with something we haven’t considered.

“Not because we’re rude, but because we’re thinking,” Haden wrote. “Which, first impression tips aside, is actually the sign of a great conversation. Because great conversations make us think.”

As does intriguing research.

The next time a co-worker or prospective hire doesn’t maintain eye contact, don’t be offended.

“It may just be a sign you’ve given them food for thought,” Haden wrote. “Just like you hope they give you.”

Wanted: More Truckers

Keep on truckin’, a catchphrase once intended as encouragement, now smacks of irony.

The U.S. trucking sector, which already faced a labor shortage before the Covid-19 pandemic, now faces a record-high shortage of 80,000 drivers — and the road ahead looks even bumpier, according to the American Trucking Associations. The shortage could reach 160,000 drivers by 2030 if nothing is done to hit the brakes and put the trend in reverse, CNN reported in October.

According to the trade group, truck drivers move 71% of the U.S. economy’s goods, but they represent only 4% of the vehicles on the roads.

More driver retirements and sharper consumer demand have created the shortage, which in turn has led to a supply chain slowdown. A proposal for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to expand to 24/7 operations could help, but not entirely.

“It’s an improvement, but it doesn’t matter if it’s a port in LA or Long Beach, or the last mile of delivery from a train to a warehouse in Wichita,” Chris Spear, president and chief executive officer of the ATA told CNN. “You’re going to have to have a driver and a truck to move that freight.”

The key, he said, will be training thousands of younger drivers between the ages of 18 and 20.

“I think that clearly is the most impactful thing that could be done right now to alleviate this problem,” he said. “So next year, (we) are not going to be having this conversation because it will alleviate itself because we’re investing.”

Speaking From Experience

As a leader, you always want to appear confident, but it’s hard to put your best foot forward when the thought of public speaking has you shaking in your boots.

If this is you, heed the advice of Vice President Kamala Harris. Last April, when Harris visited the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, a technician was delivering a short speech to the vice president when he began to stammer his way through the words. He finally apologized, explaining how nervous he was.

Harris encouraged the speaker to take his time and remember that his speech was not about him, but about his message. Pointing to a throng of news media, she told him, “All these guys, they may or may not understand what you do, but they need to understand what you do because what you do is so important.”

Public speaking coach Joel Schwartzberg, writing about the incident on the Fast Company website, said the advice was spot-on. He offered the following tips to remember, based on the vice president’s words:

It’s not about you — it’s about your point. “Knowing this should make speakers feel less nervous and judged, as the focus shifts from person to purpose,” Schwartzberg wrote in September.

It’s about what they need to know. Instead of focusing on what you want to say, focus on what your audience needs to hear. “Giving yourself that sense of purpose will reinforce your point and reduce your panic,” he wrote. 

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