Friday, June 1, 2012

Time for a break!

Hi all! So if you haven't noticed, Operation NICE is on a temporary hiatus. I've recently gone through some changes in my career which have taken away a lot of the time I used to have available to devote to this project. Don't worry! I'm not closing up shop. I have complete hope that I will be able to pick this up again in the future.

There is plenty of goodness archived on this site, so I hope if you're new, you'll take a look around, maybe read through some past testimonials.

If you'd like to see what I'm currently up to, you can check out my design blog or follow me on Twitter, where I'm always overly active. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

NICE Site: The Nicest Place on the Internet

Originally I had thought I'd just post something on here and not mention the fact that I haven't blogged since November 1, but I know I can't sneak anything past you guys. Things have been kind of nutso for me over the last few months. Using this handy flowchart, I've realized that I need to make a change.

Oh, I'm happy, don't get me wrong. But there is one area of my life that I'd like to improve. My career. And ever since October, I've been dabbling in some new arenas that I'm super excited about! Really time-consuming new arenas. :) So while I've been exploring these opportunities, other areas of my life (like this blog and cleaning and grocery shopping) have suffered. But I haven't forgotten about you all! I'm just trying to get myself to a good place.

Speaking of good places, have you all seen The Nicest Place on the Internet? Any time I'm feeling overwhelmed because I'm working all day and going home and working all night (sounds so glamorous, doesn't it?) I launch this site and soak it all in for a little while.

I've been wanting to submit a hug of my own, so if you see a nerdy girl wearing pink bunny ears on there, well that's just me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

TEDxPhilly winner!

Before I announce the winner of the TEDxPhilly giveaway, I just wanted to mention that this past weekend I went to see TEDxMidAtlantic in DC. It was phenomenal. It's amazing to listen to these presenters who are so passionate about changing the world. One of the themes I picked up on was that we shouldn't really complain about the state of affairs unless we're prepared to work towards change. It's easy to trash talk opposing viewpoints, but unless we're actually doing something about it, that talk is pointless.

So many of the presenters showed their creative solutions to various challenges. Jay Parkinson realized that a visit to the doctor didn't have to be a painful experience. Luis von Ahn discovered a way to get YOU to help digitize books using captchas and also translate the internet by allowing you to learn a language for free.

Ready for #TEDxMid!!

They also showed a video about a project called, A Liter of Light, which was incredible. So many homes in developing countries are dark, even during the middle of the day. A plastic bottle filled with water and some bleach is a simple, innovative solution to this problem. Remarkable.

I left feeling inspired and motivated. I want to change the world. I don't want to just sit in my chair and do nothing. I want to make an impact.

And I know that TEDxPhilly is going to be just as wonderful of an experience. Soooooo, who will be joining me?? Well, thanks to the Random Integer Generator, response number 15 is the winner!

And that is Ellie Brown! Congrats Ellie! I have a coupon code for you to use when registering, which I'll email to you! And thanks so much to everyone who entered. Your responses made me really happy to live in the Philadelphia area. :)

Also, thanks to the folks at TEDxPhilly for offering up this registration! You all are amazing and I really can't wait for November 8th!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NICE Site: 88 Ways To Make A Stranger Smile

My friend, Bryan, posted this link on his Facebook page this morning. I love it! Making people (strangers, acquaintances, best friends, WHOEVER!) smile should be something we strive for every day. And like I always say, it doesn't take massive amounts of effort. The simplest things can make a big difference.

88 Ways To Make A Stranger Smile

These are some of my favorites on the list:

10. Send flowers to someone anonymously.
11. Be a courteous driver. Let people merge in front of you.
17. Send letters of appreciation to business owners/managers and other people who support you.
35. Wave to a kid in the car next to you.
48. Stop and buy a drink from a kid’s lemonade stand.
57. Say “Please” and “Thank you.”
69. Acknowledge people for a job well done.
82. If you see a couple taking a self-pic, offer to take the picture for them.
86. Make yourself available and approachable.

Which ones resonate with you? Number 35 reminds me of when I was a kid and how exciting it was when you'd wave at other cars and someone would finally wave back at you. Anything you'd add to the list? I think I'd add "Ask someone who looks lost or is looking at a map if they need directions."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NICE Giveaway: TEDxPhilly

Things are WILD right now! This past weekend I participated in Startup Weekend Philadelphia and had the best time of my life! Short story: I had an idea for an app, pitched it, formed the most incredible team ever who made the thing in a weekend, and took 2nd place! Woot! FYI, it will be launching for realz in a few weeks. :)

In addition to that, I have so many events going on this and next month, that I'm hoping I can make it to the holidays without burning out. But hey, I liked to be busy. One of the things I'm most looking forward to is TEDxPhilly on November 8th (my mom's birthday, holla). I'm making the assumption that most of you are familiar with TED, but if you're not, definitely check out their site. So last year, I went to our local TED event, TEDxPhilly, and it was beyond inspiring! Listening to these motivated, do-gooders discuss their passions was electrifying. And I can't wait to experience it all again! The theme for this year is The City.

And because the TEDxPhilly people are so fantastic and super NICE, they have donated a ticket to the event to give away right here on my blog! Now, I know the majority of you aren't in the Philly area, but if you are, or if you can be on November 8th, then you have the opportunity to win a free registration (normally $100) to the event at the Temple Performing Arts Center.

To enter, and since this is a Philly event, leave a comment telling me "What makes Philly so NICE?" (Don't forget to include your email address.) Travel + Leisure magazine ranked Philly as the 3rd rudest city in America, but I personally think it's pretty awesome! So I want to know what YOU think makes Philly a nice city to live in, work in, or visit.

For me, it's all about the events. You know I like to do as much as possible, and in Philly, there's always something going on. Concerts, lectures, festivals, events like TEDxPhilly. I could do something amazing every day if I wanted to. And I kinda do. :) So get YOUR entries in and I'll draw a random winner next Friday, October 28th. Good luck!

Monday, October 10, 2011

NICE Assignment: Make something for someone

NICE Assignment

Hi everyone! How's your October going so far? This fall has been one of the busiest ever for me. So many things to see, people to meet up with, events to attend. I really love having a packed schedule, although it can be exhausting. This upcoming weekend I'm participating in Philadelphia Startup Weekend. I'm a little (okay a lot) nervous. I think it's going to be intense. But I'm hoping that by the time it's over, I'll have gained some skills, some friends, and maybe a new project.

The one problem with keeping busy is that I'm slacking on my hobbies. I used to love crafting for hours and hours on end. Still do, but I haven't made anything in a while. My friends and I signed up for a knitting class starting next month, but in the meantime, I'd really like to get back into making crafts. So I think I found the perfect thing.

My friend Eric was awesomely nice and sent me a copy of Quirk Books new release, Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share. I love this so much! First of all, miniature things are infinitely more adorable. And because they're small, they take less time, space, materials, etc. I could totally get into this.

I thought it might be fun to repay Eric's kindness by making some microcrafts for others. And that'll be an encouragement for me to get back into crafting.

Today's Assignment: Make something for someone

Everyone loves a personal gift. Handmade items are the best because it involves so much more than just opening up your wallet. They really mean something because they require time and patience and love. And it's perfect if you don't have much expendable income. Why not surprise someone in your life with a piece of macaroni art, or maybe a sock monkey, or even a card. It doesn't have to be fancy. Try out something new!

As a big fan of bookbinding, I think I want to try my hand at these mini books. How adorable, right??

(photo from Microcrafts)

So what do you think? If you could make something for someone, what would it be and who would it be for?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Post: Lia Fagan for People for Good

Well this is a first. I know I post mostly stories written by others, but this is the first official "Guest Post" for Operation NICE! I was contacted by Lia Fagan, who had a post idea, and she was kind enough to write about a project (of which she is not affiliated) that she found to be incredibly nice. Drumroll please!

Have you heard of People For Good?

It’s a Canadian based website, but their message is universal. Their goal is to inspire people to make the world a better place, one good deed at a time.

On their site you’ll find a list of simple, good deeds that you can do today to make someone else’s day a little bit brighter.

You’ll also find a bunch of videos from good do-ers who share their experiences of good deeds and the “high” that can be enjoyed from doing something nice for others.

This got me thinking about some of the good deeds my guy & I have done in the past.

The most memorable was a few years ago during the holidays. My guy & I were living in an apartment building and every Christmas the building sponsored a less fortunate family.

The superintendant would post a list of everything the family needed in order to give their kids a good Christmas and the tenants of the building would donate those items to the family.

It was just a few days before Christmas when the building posted a new notice saying that many of the items on the list had still not been donated.

Unknown to me, my guy had read that posting first thing in the morning on his way to work. It just so happened that it was the same day that he was given his Christmas bonus cheque.

That night after work he went out and spent his entire Christmas bonus buying all of the remaining items on the list.

When he came home and told me what he’d done, I felt so lucky & proud to be with someone so thoughtful and generous.

I still get a little teary when I think about it, so I can only imagine how that family felt on Christmas morning.

In the 9 years we’ve been together, he’s taught me to be a better person. He’s taught me that it doesn’t always take a grand gesture to make a big difference. The good deeds that take only a small investment of time, effort or money can make a big difference to someone else.

Here are three easy good deeds that I highly recommend!
  1. When you’re in the drive through buying your morning coffee, pay for the person’s order behind you in line. It’ll be such a nice surprise for them and they may even pay it forward.
  2. Next time you’re at a book store and you see an author sitting at a table for a book signing, only no one seems to care, take a few minutes to talk to them about their book. It’ll make their day!
  3. Compliment your Barista/Bank Teller/Etc. when they try something new with their hair or wardrobe. It takes guts to step outside your “style” box. Encourage them and help build their confidence with complement.

As if brightening someone else’s day and the high you’ll receive from doing so weren’t enough, there’s always the karma incentive.

Think of karma as a piggy bank. Every time you do something nice for someone else, you fill up your karma bank. Every once in a while, something good will happen to you. Think of this as the universe making a withdrawal. Go out of your way to fill it back up again.

While we won’t always have overflowing bank accounts, we can always aim to have overflowing karma banks.

And, don’t forget… Courtesy is contagious!

What’s your favorite good deed? Tell me in the comments!

Lia Fagan is the designer behind Mod Pieces, the blogger behind Mod Nest & a contributor at Scoutie Girl.

Monday, September 26, 2011

NICE Stuff: Tees for Change

I had so many comments about the shirt I was wearing in that Ladies Home Journal article that I had to repost about Tees for Change. It has been over three years since I mentioned them! And that's three years since I've taken that picture. My hair is totally different. I kinda like it this way though. I might have to consider a style change!

Practice Kindness...

So yes, I got this fantastic "Practice Kindness" shirt from Tees for Change! These wonderful tees not only promote a positive message, but they are also eco-friendly. In addition to using organic cotton and a bamboo/cotton blend in their products, they also plant a tree for every tee purchased!

They don't currently have the shirt I'm wearing in my photo, although I do see a few long sleeve tees available. But I recommend you check out their other text tees. I'm really loving these two.

And the thing about organic cotton is that it is SO SOFT. It is probably one of the most comfortable tees that I own. And I like being able to wear a message that I'm so supportive of! And hey, if tees aren't your thing, they also have totes, journals, and jewelry. Check out Tees for Change!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

NICE Testimonial: A Lost Shoe

This week is FLYING by. I have been non-stop busy lately. I don't think I mentioned this here, but I'm going to be one of the presenters at next Thursday's Ignite Philly! Very exciting. I'll be talking about Operation NICE and how it relates to Philadelphia. Well, I still have to write it and develop the slides (thank goodness it's only 5 minutes), but I'm sure it'll be awesome! ;) I actually had a nightmare last night that I was at the event with no presentation. So I furiously worked in Powerpoint as the other speakers were on stage. Stressed much??

Well, I'm sure my stress is nothing compared to Stephanie of The Spotted Monkey, who submitted this testimonial. She certainly has her hands full!

SpottedmonkeyI have three children three years of age and under. Life can get a little harried at times, especially when I am out and about with the kids.

On Monday I took the kids to the mall to pick up a few things. My husband works shift, so I was flying solo as he didn't finish work until 4am. The outing was going very smoothly and all had been accomplished. So we headed for the parking lot. Unfortunately, somewhere between the middle of the mall and the parking lot, all three of my kids started crying. The youngest, six months old, is teething and encountered some major discomfort. My two year old son was hungry, and, as so often happens at that age, broke down in tears because his snack was in the van. And my oldest, who is three and a half, became upset because she was not able to have a Nemo ride in the mall due to teething and hunger.

Needless to say, getting through the parking lot and to the van was quite the production. Add several parcels on top of that and my hands were full.

We made it to the van and I loaded each of the kids in. When I put my son in his car seat, I noticed he was missing one of his shoes. I didn't know where he lost it and I didn't think the kids and I would be up to going back in and trying to find it. Let alone trying to determine where the shoe was lost.

As I am standing at the van weighing my options, a woman approached. She walked up to me, said hello and handed me my son's shoe, stating 'you may be looking for this'. I was stunned. She saw where my son's shoe had dropped and rather than trying to interject with three screaming kids, she simply followed me all the way out to my van to ensure I got the shoe. She then said, 'don't let these kind of moments overshadow your whole day'.

I thanked her over and over for the shoe and the encouragement. I was so surprised that I did not even ask her her name. But her kindness stayed with me. And that was the best gift of all.

Sounds like that woman must also be a mother. :) She not only helped out by returning the shoe, but she empathized with Stephanie's situation. Sometimes, when in high stress situations, we all just need to hear that things will be alright! It will be, right?!

Do you have a NICE:Testimonial that you'd like to share? If so, click here to send me an email!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Operation NICE in Ladies Home Journal!

I got a BIG surprise today! An email came in from Dell B. that said, "Saw your item while browsing through the Ladies Home Journal." It took me about ten seconds to grab my purse and run out of my office to the nearest Walgreens where I bought three copies of the October issue. And there on the back page, in their monthly "It's All Good" section, was a photo of me! I giggled the entire walk back to my office.

Operation NICE in Ladies Home Journal

I really love how Ladies Home Journal give a lot of attention to people doing good things in their communities. They encourage volunteering and support companies that care. I am so honored to be featured in their publication! Thank you Ladies Home Journal!

And if you've stopped by here because you're a LHJ reader, welcome! Learn about Operation NICE, check out some of our free NICE downloads, maybe read some reader-submitted NICE Testimonials. I hope you like it here!