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How Going for a Walk in the Cold Sharpens Your Business Focus

Plus more innovative tips from thought leaders to help you better your pet business in January and February.





PRODUCTIVITYGo For a Walk in the Cold

To be sure, there’s nothing quite as nice as that first spring morning to enjoy and explore the glory of the outdoors – or to just take a walk around the block. But according to recent studies, there are benefits to be had from heading outdoors even when it’s not so balmy. A brisk walk in the cold, it turns out, is akin to taking a bracing cold shower in that it raises alertness and stimulates thinking, according to INC magazine.


Once your business gets big enough, you hire others to answer the phone. That’s great for efficiency, but it also adds a layer between you and your customers. And it’s not just you — it’s everyone who no longer answers the phone, from your managers to your groomers to your day-care attendants. But there’s real benefit in maintaining that contact, marketer and business author Seth Godin says, arguing that everyone in your business should spend time every month working the customer service line and answering questions. On top of learning about what people are searching for or unhappy about, you establish a human connection.

BRAINSTORMINGLet It Happen Naturally

It’s a new year, so time to come up with big ideas. The key is to not force yourself, OpenAI boss Sam Altman says in his playbook for founders. Instead, he recommends getting into the habit of noticing problems (faced by your customers) and following what interests you. “At some point, ideas will naturally emerge,” he says, adding that you should aim for simplicity in your ventures. “Complex ideas are almost always a sign of a made-up problem.”



To get the most out of yourself in 2024, you need breaks. And to get the most out of your breaks, book them way in advance, like this week! You’ll enjoy it more because of the distance between the pain of paying and the actual experience of the vacation, and you won’t spend all of your time thinking, “Am I getting my money’s worth?” Make it all-inclusive, and it will just be a nice relaxing break, behavioral economist Dan Ariely writes in Dollars and Sense.

OPERATIONSPut That Meeting on Hold

Feeling like your meetings aren’t that productive? According to a recent Harvard Business School survey, two-thirds of managers don’t think they are, so why not hold a moratorium for a week or month or however long and look for alternative ways to disseminate information. Make a note for when things aren’t being communicated well and then reintroduce meetings for those instances.

PRODUCTIVITYStory-Worthy Moments

Each day, write down the most “story-worthy” thing that happened. It improves your memory, helps you feel grateful and gives you more stories to share, productivity blogger Colby Kultgen says.


Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, never says yes to anything immediately. According to the Brain Food Newsletter, people-pleasing had him making too many commitments, so now he says something to the effect of: “Thanks for the invite. I don’t say yes to anything on the spot, but I’ll let you know if I’m interested.” Turning the choice into a rule lowers the pain of rejection for others and makes the decision easy for you.


SALESNow, There’s Gratitude

What’s better? A grateful customer or a loyal customer? A paper in Journal Marketing argues the former. It says customers made to feel gratitude become enduringly loyal and as a result, increase their purchases. In contrast, loyalty or rewards programs rarely inspire gratitude. Points are seen as something customers earn. So what’s the psychology behind it? Humans get pleasure out of reciprocating good deeds, and guilt when they don’t. What unexpected gifts or services can you surprise your customers with?

PRODUCTIVITYTake Care of the Small Items with Forced Focus

Does the endless flow of small items that need attending sink your day? Try embracing them. “Here are the rules: All work must be done in blocks of at least 30 minutes,” Cal Newport writes, explaining his method for attaining what he calls “forced focus.” You’re free to abandon your most important work whenever you like, in favor of emails, minor errands and the like, but with a caveat: If you switch, you must stick to such “small stuff” for 30 minutes. The double benefit is that you “batch” your smaller tasks, clearing the decks more speedily, while creating a disincentive for getting distracted from the major ones.



P.L.A.Y. Media Spotlight

At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

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