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Treincarnation: destroyed trees not always destined to be firewood

When massive amounts of trees come down in a storm, there are more sustainable options besides beloved trees on our properties becoming tons of firewood, just ask Treincarnation.

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Not in Kansas Anymore

Back in August, it was as normal as any other August in Arlington, until the amazing gusts of the Derecho Storm whipped their way through the cherry-tree lined avenues. We had a native cherry tree in our back yard that was teetering on the edge of the fence line, and I watched it out the window that was getting sucked in and out, as the locomotive sound of the winds swooshed and churned through the neighborhood. Please don’t come through the window, I thought. Don’t land on a neighbor. Wicked Witch of the West music played in my mind… 

It uprooted, but thankfully didn’t fly across the neighborhood, like so many other trees and their weak limbs did. Ultimately, we ended up paying a pretty penny to have the gnarly, wild cherry tree, which was sick, cut out and stump ground out to prevent termites, but jeez! Who knew the business of tree-work was the song and dance that it was?! I started to wonder what else could be done with so many of these trees that had also come down in the wake of the impending storms of the year.

You wouldn’t believe how many solicitors come to our new house about tree work. They show up like right before meals- like they have this sixth sense for people’s rears about to hit seats for dinner. Imagine a lovely steaming dinner that has just been plated. The family is about to be gathered together to sit and relax together for the first time all day… DOOR BELL. DOG BARK. TREE PERSON TRUCK. No thanks. Thank goodness it wasn’t a woman with a picnic basket on a bicycle.

Wicked Forest

Century old oaks, maples, poplars and cedars plummeted to their demise, uprooted by those gale-force winds, taking out power lines, cars and many homes in their timber paths. What now?  What do you do with these once magnificent trees that are no longer going to be providing their shade and privacy? Glorified fire wood? No, there is another answer.

Yes, there is some clean up involved, but the trees didn’t just have to be hacked to pieces. In many instances, these trees played a vital roll in a life story; a family history or heritage. Sigh- nostalgia is about to happen: A child was reared under those branches, lovers carved their initials and impending promise to each other under a knot, a stubborn kitty climbed to the tippy-top and stayed there mewing for hours. Many of these trees tell our story, and when they topple down, they don’t have to go away, taking that story with them.

Revealing the True Story

Local artist, Marcus Sims of Treincarnation has taken his keen sense of sustainability, along with integrity for the product itself, the wood, and creates amazing, useful and soulful pieces of art and furniture from fallen trees.

Of course, over the last few months, with the sheer amount of tree damage the Washington, DC area has been the brunt of, he has seen an increase in business; however, Sims has been creating with “nature in mind” for over twenty years. When I asked him if he had noticed an increase in people seeking him out in the last few years, he said “yes, people want to have a piece of their beloved tree…to have it milled into lumber and made into something,” something tangible, and something that they can take with them if they happen to move.

His clients want anything from huge logs of oak honed into bookcases and trellises; his own headboard is a Houzz.com-worthy massive slab of maple. Sims’ designs work in conjunction with the client and the wood itself to “reveal and set off the beauty of the wood.” It makes me think that he is allowing the wood to tell that story of each moment that it towered over before it came down.

The Man Behind the Curtain

Maybe he is sort of like the Great and Powerful Oz. Sims doesn’t really know what he is going to get to make magic out of until he gets his whole tree to play with! For instance, he was commissioned to make square benches for the Janney school out of the Janney Oak when they were going to do their major expansion in DC.

“Only when the logs were brought to me, and I could see the wind-shake on the inside (the separation on the tube of the tree) could I see that I would have to do something different. My colleague, Cecil Smith, suggested that we separate the inner column from the outer wood, and use the ‘halftubes’ to create the benches.” These pieces of Janney history now sit on the Janney School’s elementary playground and continue to be a part of the school’s rich history, but in a much more elegant way than being hacked into firewood.

Yes, trees can be milled to lumber for floors and siding and actual lumber for construction, but there are some trees that people may want to make into something a bit more special like their “beloved [enter tree name here].” As we are catching full stride into the new year, we can only hope that no more insane storms bring their wrath; but if there is anything we have learned, it is that there are options to do things more sustainably and people like our artist friends who think with nature in mind.

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 

Business News

Asking the wrong questions can ruin your job opportunity

(BUSINESS NEWS) An HR expert discusses the best (and worst) questions she’s experienced during candidate interviews. it’s best to learn from others mistakes.

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When talking to hiring managers outside of an interview setting, I always find myself asking about their horror stories as they’re usually good for a laugh (and a crash course in what not to do in an interview). A good friend of mine has worked in HR for the last decade and has sat in on her fair share of interviews, so naturally I asked her what some of her most notable experiences were with candidates – the good and the bad, in her own words…

“Let’s see, I think the worst questions I’ve ever had are typically related to benefits or vacation as it demonstrates that their priorities are not focused on the actual job they will be performing. I’ve had candidates ask how much vacation time they’ll receive during an initial phone screen (as their only question!). I’ve also had them ask about benefits and make comparisons to me over the phone about how our benefits compare to their current employer.

I once had a candidate ask me about the age demographics of our office, which was very uncomfortable and inappropriate! They were trying to determine if the attorneys at our law firm were older than the ones they were currently supporting. It was quite strange!

I also once had a candidate ask me about the work environment, which was fine, but they then launched into a story about how they are in a terrible environment and are planning on suing their company. While I understand that candidates may have faced challenges in their previous roles or worked for companies that had toxic working environments, it is important that you do not disparage them.

In all honesty, the worst is when they do not have any questions at all. In my opinion, it shows that they are not really invested in the position or have not put enough thought into their decision to change jobs. Moving to a new company is not a decision that should be made lightly and it’s important for me as an employer to make sure I am hiring employees who are genuinely interesting in the work they will be doing.

The best questions that I’ve been asked typically demonstrate that they’re interested in the position and have a strong understanding of the work they would be doing if they were hired. My personal favorite question that I’ve been asked is if there are any hesitations or concerns that I may have based on the information they’ve provided that they can address on the spot. To me, this demonstrates that they care about the impression that they’ve made. I’ve asked this question in interviews and been able to clarify information that I did not properly explain when answering a question. It was really important to me that I was able to correct the misinformation as it may have stopped me from moving forward in the process!

Also, questions that demonstrate their knowledge base about the role in which they’re applying for is always a good sign. I particularly like when candidates reference items that I’ve touched on and weave them into a question.

A few other good questions:
• Asking about what it takes to succeed in the position
• Asking about what areas or issues may need to be addressed when first joining the company
• Asking about challenges that may be faced if you were to be hired
• Asking the employer what they enjoy most about the company
• I am also self-centered, so I always like when candidates ask about my background and how my current company compares to previous employers that I’ve worked for. Bonus points if they’ve actually looked me up on LinkedIn and reference specifics :)”

Think about the best and worst experiences you’ve had during an interview – and talk to others about the same topic – and see how that can help you with future interviews.

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Business News

AdvoCare MLM was painted as a pyramid scheme! Well color me surprised

(BUSINESS NEWS) AdvoCare is the most recent case of an MLM being called out as a pyramid scheme by FTC, but there’s plenty more MLMs where that came from…

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AdvoCare business structure

It’s always a good day when an MLM (multi-level marketing business) actually suffers legal repercussions. Granted, these days don’t happen nearly as often as we’d like – MLM CEOs have historically had deep pockets and a far reach – which means it’s all the more reason to celebrate when one gets called out.

Today’s culprit is AdvoCare, a Texas-based “wellness” company. AdvoCare has been fined $150 million by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for operating a pyramid scheme. The company, as well as a few of its top influencers, have been misleading people when it comes to how much money they could earn. This is pretty typical behavior for MLMs in general, though many are careful to couch your potential earnings in vague terms.

For the record, the majority of users lost money, and most who managed to turn a profit made a maximum of just $250. I say ‘just’ because it’s hard to know how long someone would have had to work to not only break even, but manage to turn a profit. MLMs make big claims about earning money, but when you have to pour a hefty sum of cash into the products, it can take a while just to break even.

That’s why many MLMs, including AdvoCare, push contributors to recruit, rather than sell the product. And if you’re thinking that sounds like a pyramid scheme, you’re totally right. This method of putting recruiting first is part of the reason AdvoCare has gotten in trouble with the FTC.

In response, AdvoCare is moving away from multi-level marketing sales and pivoting to selling products directly to retail stores, which in turn sell to customers.

Now, with AdvoCare’s downfall, don’t be surprised if other MLMs insist that they’re different because they haven’t gotten in trouble with the FTC. In fact, plenty of MLMs are quick to tell you that they’re totally legal and totally not a pyramid scheme. Sure, Jan.

First of all, if there’s a big focus on recruiting, that’s obviously a big red flag. There are plenty of pyramid scheme MLMs out there that just haven’t gotten caught yet. But there are other sneaky ways an MLM will try to rip you off. For instance, some companies will insist you buy tons of product to keep your place, and that product can be very hard to unload. Not to mention, many of the products MLMs tout are subpar at best.

AdvoCare getting called out by the FTC is a great start, but MLMs seem kind of like hydras. Cut down one and two more seem to spring up in its place. So be vigilant, y’all. Just because an MLM hasn’t gotten caught yet doesn’t guarantee it won’t still scam you out of your hard earned cash.

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Business News

Bose is closing their retail stores, but we haven’t heard the last of them

(BUSINESS NEWS) Over the last 30 years Bose has become so well understood by consumers that they don’t even need retail stores anymore. We hear them just fine.

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Over the next few months, Bose plans to close all of their retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The company made the announcement last week. With 119 stores closing, presumably hundreds of Bose employees will be laid off, but the company has not revealed exact numbers.

However, this shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the maker of audio equipment is struggling to stay afloat. Rather, the move marks a major change in how consumers purchase tech gear.

When the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company opened its first U.S. retail store in 1993, it was making home entertainment systems for watching DVDs and listening to CDs. According to Colette Burke, Bose’s vice president of global sales, these first brick-and-mortar locations “gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us” about Bose products. “At the time, it was a radical idea,” she says, “but we focused on what our customers needed and where they needed it – and we’re doing the same thing now.”

When a lot of this equipment was new, consumers may have had more questions and a need to see the products in action before purchasing. Nowadays, we all know what noise-canceling headphones are; we all know what a Bluetooth speaker is. We’re happy to read about the details online before adding products to our virtual shopping cart. The ability for Bose to close its retail stores is probably also an indicator that Bose has earned strong brand recognition and a reputation as a reliable maker of audio equipment.

In other words, consumers are less and less inclined to need to check out equipment in person before they buy it. For those who do, Bose products can still be purchased at stores like Best Buy, Target, and Apple. But overall, Bose can’t ignore the fact that their products “are increasingly purchased through e-commerce,” such as on Amazon or directly from their website.

In a statement, Bose also said that it has become a “larger multi-national company, with a localized mix of channels tailored for the country or region.” While Bose is shutting down its retail stores in several continents, it will continue to operate stores in China, the United Arab Emirates, India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.

Burke said the decision to close so many retail stores was “difficult” because it “impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day.” Bose is offering “outplacement assistance and severance to employees that are being laid off.”

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