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Eleven Money Saving Tips

Here are eleven excellent money saving tips for your household.

Before we get into the money saving tips, let’s discuss why cost cutting is more important than ever. In the year 2022 in the United States official rate of inflation peaked out at almost 9%. If you feel like it’s hit you and/or your family much harder, you’re probably not imagining it. Around both 1981 and 1991, the US government made major revisions to the way the “measure” inflation, which drastically reduced the official inflation numbers. For example in 2022, the inflation rate as measured by the 1980 standard was about 17%. If you were earning $60,000 in 2021, at 17% inflation, you should get a 2022 raise to $70,200 just to have the same purchasing power. If you’re with the majority, you probably didn’t get that big of a raise, which means you have less purchasing power. So you might have to make up for the difference yourself. You could cut the amount you put into savings, but wouldn’t it be better to cut some costs instead?

Without further ado, here are eleven money saving tips:

  1. Reduce energy consumption: One of the easiest and most effective money saving tactics is to reduce energy consumption. This can be done by using energy-efficient appliances, sealing drafts and gaps in doors and windows, and using low-energy light bulbs. Some utility companies also offer free home energy audits, which can help you identify areas where you can save energy and money. The potential monthly savings from reducing energy consumption will depend on the specific actions you take and the amount of energy you use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing drafts and gaps in doors and windows can save a typical household up to 20% on energy bills, while using energy-efficient appliances can save up to 50% on energy costs. Depending on the size of your home and your current energy consumption, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year by reducing energy consumption.
  2. Save money every month for emergencies. This is the primary difference between financially successful people and those still struggling. Without an emergency fund, even a minor emergency can have people turning to revolving credit on credit cards, payday loans or car title loans, paying enormous interest payments that the savers don’t have to pay. Try to save up enough to pay bills for at least 6 months. Avoid spending on vacations or most pleasures until you achieve this necessary financial goal. Saving money leads to more money saving!
  1. Shop around for the best deals to save money: Whether you’re buying groceries, household items, or insurance, it pays to shop around and compare prices. Look for sales and discounts, use coupons and cashback apps, and consider purchasing in bulk to save money.
    1. Compare prices: You can save money by taking the time to compare prices from different retailers, both online and in-store, to ensure you are getting the best deal. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices or ask for discounts, especially if you are making a large purchase.
    2. Use coupons and promo codes: Look for coupons and promo codes that can help you save money on your purchases. You can find these online or in newspapers and magazines, and you can also sign up for newsletters and email alerts from your favorite retailers to stay informed about special offers.
    3. Shop during sales: Expert money saving people keep an eye out for sales and clearance events, which can offer significant discounts on a wide range of items. These events are typically held at regular intervals throughout the year, so it pays to be patient and wait for a good deal.
    4. Buy in bulk: If you use a lot of a particular product, consider buying in bulk to save money. This can be especially effective for items like toiletries and household supplies that have a long shelf life. Just be sure to consider the storage space and expiration dates before making a large purchase.
  1. Cut down on unnecessary expenses: Save money by taking a look at your budget and identify expenses that you can eliminate or reduce. This might include subscription services, expensive cable packages, or dining out frequently.
    1. Cable or satellite TV: Many people are able to cut their cable or satellite TV bills by switching to streaming services, which can offer a similar range of programming at a lower cost.
    2. Landline phone: Many people are able to eliminate their landline phone bills by relying solely on their cellphones for phone calls.
    3. Gym memberships: If you have a gym membership but don’t use it frequently, you may be able to save money by canceling your membership and finding other ways to exercise, such as going for walks or runs outside or using online fitness resources.
    4. Subscription services: If you have subscriptions to services like magazines, music streaming services, or streaming video services that you don’t use frequently, you may be able to save money by canceling these subscriptions.
    5. Dining out: Eating out at restaurants can be a significant expense, especially if you do it frequently. By cooking at home more often and packing your own lunches, you may be able to save money on dining out expenses.
  1. Negotiate your bills for optimal money saving: If you’ve been a good customer, your service providers may be willing to negotiate a lower rate for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or to shop around for a better deal. Here are five things you might consider saying when asking for a discount or reduction in a bill:
    1. “I’ve been a loyal customer for a long time. Is there anything you can do to help me save on my bill?” This approach acknowledges the value of your business and asks the company to consider your long-term relationship when determining whether to offer a discount.
    2. “I’ve recently experienced some financial hardship and could really use a break on my bill right now. Is there any way you can help me out?” This approach explains your current situation and asks for help in a direct but respectful way.
    3. “I’ve noticed that your competitors are offering similar services at a lower price. Can you match or beat their rates?” This approach points out the competitive landscape and gives the company an incentive to offer you a better deal in order to win your business.
    4. “I’m considering switching to a different service provider. Is there anything you can do to keep me as a customer?” This approach creates a sense of urgency and suggests that you are open to exploring other options if the company is unable to offer a competitive rate.
    5. “I’m not sure if you have any flexibility on your rates, but I wanted to see if there was anything you could do to help me save on my bill.” This approach is a bit more general and leaves the door open for the company to offer a discount or other solution if they are able to do so.

It is important to approach the conversation in a respectful and professional manner, and to be prepared to negotiate if necessary. You may also want to consider offering to pay your bill upfront or agreeing to a longer contract in exchange for a discounted rate. It is also a good idea to do some research beforehand to determine what kind of discounts or promotions the company is currently offering, as this can give you a better sense of what to expect and how to negotiate.

  1. Money saving using cashback apps and credit card rewards: There are many cashback apps and credit cards that offer rewards for purchases made at certain stores or for using certain payment methods. By using these apps and cards, you can save money on your purchases. Many retailers and credit card companies offer cashback or rewards programs that allow you to earn points or cash back on your purchases. By taking advantage of these programs, you can save money on your purchases over time. There are many blogs you can consult for finding a cashback app that fits your needs. Here are a few: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/cash-back-apps https://dollarsprout.com/best-cash-back-apps/ https://moneypantry.com/best-cashback-apps/
  2. Plant a garden: Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be a fun and cost-effective way to save money on groceries. You’ll need to invest some time and effort upfront, but the payoff can be significant in terms of both cost savings and the satisfaction of growing your own food. There are many resources available for starting a garden. A few of them are: https://commonsensehome.com/start-a-garden/ https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-start-a-garden-from-scratch-2132778 https://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Garden
  3. Use a budgeting app: Budgeting apps can help you track your spending and identify areas where you can save money. Some popular budgeting apps include Mint, You Need a Budget, and Personal Capital. A household budget is a plan that outlines how you will allocate your income towards expenses and savings. Without a budget, spending tends to add up much faster than you might think. Without a budget, you will always be surprised by how much you spend. Making and following a budget can help you to:
  1. Get a better understanding of your financial situation: A budget allows you to track your income and expenses, which can help you to see where your money is going and identify areas where you may be overspending.
  2. Control your spending: By setting limits on your spending and sticking to your budget, you can avoid overspending and reduce the risk of falling into debt.
  3. Save money: A budget can help you to prioritize your spending and identify areas where you can cut back, freeing up money to be used for saving or investing.
  4. Achieve financial goals: A budget can help you to set financial goals and track your progress towards achieving them. This can be especially useful if you are trying to save for a big purchase, pay off debt, or build up your savings.

Overall, a household budget can help you to take control of your finances, spend wisely, and achieve your financial goals.

  1. Make your own cleaning and personal care products: Many household and personal care products can be made at home for a fraction of the cost of store-bought versions. This can save you money and reduce your use of single-use plastic. The potential monthly savings from making your own cleaning and personal care products will depend on the specific products you make and the cost of store-bought versions. For example, if you make your own laundry detergent, which costs approximately $0.15 per load to make, and you currently spend $0.50 per load on store-bought detergent, you could potentially save $0.35 per load or around $8.50 per month if you do laundry once per week.
    1. Laundry detergent: You can make your own laundry detergent using a few simple ingredients, such as borax, washing soda, and grated bar soap. To make a batch of laundry detergent, mix together 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda, and 1 bar of grated soap in a large bowl. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and use about 1 tablespoon per load of laundry.
    2. All-purpose cleaner: You can make your own all-purpose cleaner using a mixture of water, vinegar, and essential oils. To make a batch of all-purpose cleaner, mix together 1 cup of water, 1 cup of vinegar, and 10-15 drops of your preferred essential oil (such as lemon or tea tree) in a spray bottle. Shake well before use and spray on surfaces as needed.
    3. Hand soap: You can make your own hand soap using a combination of liquid castile soap, water, and essential oils. To make a batch of hand soap, mix together 1 cup of liquid castile soap, 1 cup of water, and 10-15 drops of your preferred essential oil in a liquid soap dispenser. Shake well before use and dispense a small amount onto your hands as needed.
    4. Toothpaste: You can make your own toothpaste using a combination of baking soda, coconut oil, and a few drops of your preferred essential oil (such as peppermint or spearmint). To make a batch of toothpaste, mix together 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and a few drops of essential oil in a small bowl. Transfer the mixture to a small container and use as you would regular toothpaste.
    5. Lip balm: You can make your own lip balm using a combination of beeswax, coconut oil, and a few drops of your preferred essential oil (such as peppermint or vanilla). Adding Shea butter is also great. To make a batch of lip balm, melt together 1 tablespoon of beeswax, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and a few drops of essential oil in a double boiler or microwave-safe bowl. Pour the mixture into small lip balm containers or tins and let it cool before use.
  2. Repair items instead of replacing them: Whenever possible, try to repair items rather than replacing them. This can save money and help reduce waste. Don’t know how to repair things? YouTube is an excellent how-to resource. There is a video for how-to-repair just about anything.
  3. Shop secondhand: Buying secondhand items can be a great money saving tactic and reduce waste. You can find gently used clothes, furniture, and other household items at thrift stores, garage sales, and online marketplaces like eBay and Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

5 Ways to Improve Employee Retention

Give Them a Reason to Look Forward

Employee retention is based on more than monetary compensation. Money is of course the root reason of anyone’s employment, however, if money alone is the mode of employee retention, your workers will flock for the first job that offers better pay or comfort. People need to feel a sense of belonging at their job, one that lays a path that already provides what your poachers may offer. Keep them in the loop, provide a plan transparent enough for them to see where they fit in and how they are more essential there than anywhere else.

Provide Recognition For Good Work and Keep Criticism Constructive

Gratitude is a critical key for employee retention. Money talks but a pat on the back and a genuine compliment tends to stick. Often, work is thankless, and thus most people are starving for a crumb appreciation.


One of our most popular openings for a program involves sharing between two people what they themselves can do better at work. They then give a literal pat on the back to each other. It builds from a lighthearted High-Five exercise we do as a warmup; one we’ve been informed carries on as a company tradition today by the same groups who have played it years before.


By that same token, mishaps are inevitable, and to snap on someone with disrespect is a sure fire way to get them to check out before they’re out the door. Correction comes when the issue is addressed with civility, not aggression. A leader in employee retention brings out the best through encouragement and positive coaching.

Encourage Friendly Relationships for Employee Retention

The hardest day is easier when working with those you know and trust, without those aspects, people will rely on themselves alone as much as possible and neglect their colleagues for the assets they are. Team building isn’t always about formal training, most the time it comes naturally through interactions in and out of the workplace. Provide nonthreatening environments for them to grow in, let them talk and get to know one another, take them to lunch, or better yet hold a field day. Employees should look forward to seeing each other; not dreading who they must work with.

Venture Up Local Amazing Race


Invest in building your teams for employee retention. Team building allows clients a chance to work on interactions without risking real consequence. In our experience, 90 percent of people who participate in our programs feel more comfortable approaching people they want to work with.

Keep Management Grounded to Those They Direct

The difference between a boss and a leader is how familiar higherups are with what goes on at ground level. Leaders with the best employee retention are those in touch with their individual contributors. Hierarchies are important to any form of corporate governance, but they become disillusioned and out of touch if interaction between them and those they command is neglected. Any teambuilding events that occur, formal or otherwise, should always introduce officials to as many people below them as possible. This will boost morale and remind employees that they, and managers they work under, are all people.

Employee Retention Needs Respect for the Work / Life Balance

The lines between office and home found themselves blurred with this last pandemic, and in the fallout since the boundaries have been redefined. It is not uncommon now for people to prefer working remotely, and it has caused many employers to worry about employee retention. Our advice is to roll with it wherever possible, and stay flexible for best employee retention. There are a litany of benefits working from home for the employees, the company, and society.

Commuting is time consuming, risky, and expensive (especially now), anyone would appreciate the added free time and savings. Whatever building they would normally occupy would require less space and use of amenities, saving the company money as well. Their home is their office, an office they would be responsible for caring for. As for society, the more people allowed to stay home would alleviate many traffic concerns and provide more time for parents to care for their kids and pets. Many companies see remote working as a detriment, but truly, it allows people greater independence and relieves much of the stress businesses would have to endure.

Employee retention with remote workers is viable. Venture Up has had several repeat clients book programs for employees who have only ever seen each other on a screen, and they perform just as well as people working day to day in the office. Today we offer team building events that are remote as well, which serve the same effect of building relationships between each other, relationships they would be all the less likely to break by moving elsewhere.

5 Things to Consider Before Joining the Great Resignation

Have you ever known anyone who divorces and remarries over and over, or jumps from relationship to relationship in search for that dream partner? Only to find the same problems emerge, with different faces? Do you think jumping jobs could have the same effect? Imagine that the very job you have now could be another person’s dream job.

1. Examine Your Thoughts

Before jumping ship, ask yourself the main reasons you wish to leave. Do you have an intolerant boss or devious co-worker? Are work hours too inflexible? No matter the problem you have now, you can expect it to resurface at your next job. Only the faces have changed.  Write down at least 3 personal reasons you want to leave and 3 ways to solve the problems that will make you stay. These are for you to keep your goals specific and on track, not to hand over to any colleague.

2. Speak Up

You can be sure your company is gauging the threat of a diminishing work force. You are a valuable asset. Once they’ve trained you, you become even more valuable to them — and other employers, and they know it. Find the best way to provide feedback to the decision makers who could make reasonable changes that you believe would make the work life easier on all staff. You are providing an inside voice, perhaps speaking for others too shy or afraid to speak for themselves. You are offering an inside view as to how your company can best retain staff with whom they’ve invested. The “What’s in it for them” is the best approach to selling your ideas.

3. Put it in writing

De-personalize your request. It can’t be just about you. Every company knows there is a growing subculture of staff looking for greener pastures. Outline 3-5 points that would improve the work environment not only for you, but for others on the fence. The focus should be on retaining staff in general vs. retaining you personally. You can get to your specifics at the end, using yourself as an example. Venture Up recommends that you prepare the written statement and do NOT email it. Bring your (1) hard copy to the in-person meeting with the decision maker.

 Focus Tubes Team Building Activity

4. Meet With Decision Makers

Whether you choose to meet with HR or your direct boss, you must be careful that you are not undercutting anyone. Egos at higher levels can easily bruise. Do not, for example, meet with the boss of your boss. If the boss is the problem, meet with HR. If you feel afraid to rock the boat, you have two choices: stay in your job and put up with it, or risk rocking the boat.

Enter the meeting with a bounce in your step. Smile and sincerely thank them for taking time out of their day to meet with you. Tell them you will keep it short and make eye contact with any colleagues in the room.. Eye contact is imperative. That is why Venture Up suggests you do not provide a hard copy of your points to your colleague since it would provide an easy way to avoid eye contact by reading instead of listening to your points.

Amazing Race Team Building Activity

As you review your points, speak slowly and clearly, pausing after each point to allow your colleague to assess what you’ve said and ask questions. Be prepared to elaborate and give concrete examples regarding the point you are trying to make.

5. Wrap up: When you wrap up the meeting, be sure to thank them again for taking time from their busy day. Casually let them know you will summarize the meeting in an email including all matters discussed, including action plans or a follow-up meeting if applicable. In this way you not only reinforce your points, but also relieve your colleague of making a summary. Conclude your email summary with something like, “Please let me know if you have any additional feedback or wish to clarify anything in the summary.”

Venture Up USDA Strategic Games Focus Tubes

Meetings with staff in higher professional levels is not easy for everyone but is imperative if managers wish to keep their finger on the pulse of their workforce. One way to help create a relaxed environment is to engage in fun, productive activities beyond the workplace. Venture Up offers creative charity programs to engage companies with the community as well as staff of all levels, as well as company-only games tailored to bridge gaps with leadership levels and staff, such as the Escape the Case game series. For more information, contact info@ventureup.com or call 888.305.1065.

How to improve diversity training … yes, it can work!

Organizational psychologist and writer Janice Gassam Asare says resistance is a primary reason D&I programs fail. Writing for Forbes magazine, she names five reasons such programs fail:
1. Resistance
2. Improper Implementation
3. Lack of Consistency
4. Lack of Leadership buy-in
5. The Diversity Label

In terms of Resistance, Dr. Asare cites several reasons why employees are hesitant to take on the course. Employees don’t believe that actual changes can be made (maybe they read too many “diversity training doesn’t work headlines?”), they may feel victimized, or may feel singled out as a member of a diverse group.

It is no small deal if you have employees who feel victimized or isolated as a member of a diverse group. What may be difficult is recognizing these issues, especially if team members are shy or reluctant to speak up for themselves. The good news is there is an easy fix to get people engaged. Before the often pricey diversity and inclusion program begins, you can make much headway by involving your team in an affordable interactive team experience that involves everyone and is fun for everyone, regardless of culture or background.

The most common complaints we hear from HR staff is a lack of trust and poor communication;. communication. We have a relatively quick remedy whether the team works in person or remotely. Escape the Case has been explosively popular, as well as our Cyberspace virtual team challenge for remote teams. in engaing teams in a positive, fun and non-threatening way.

One thing we stress with D&I trainers is that if you want a receptive audience, participants must not be forced to take the training session. It must be voluntary. We are happy to say 100 percent of the people who have participated in our “pre-diversity training” team building event has been willing to engage in their company’s diversity and inclusion training with the team they just had so much fun with.

Dr. Asare says when “individuals feel like they don’t have a choice, this can lead to resistance and opposition”. So true. Give them a choice, with a Venture Up team building event beforehand, and you can expect them to jump on the train.

Improper implementation is evident, Dr. Asare asserts, when programs “point the finger and paint one group as the villain”. This is also evident in the divisive politics we experience in the USA today. There is nothing worse than dividing people if you want unity. Dr. Asare suggests mentorship and sponsorship programs may be effective, as well as conducting a needs assessment when designing the program.

In many cases a scandal propels a company to a knee-jerk reaction to introduce a diversity program, with little thought as to how it ties into to the company’s current culture. The reaction can come across as inauthentic, she says. If D&I programs are consistent, vs. a one-shot deal or band-aid to fix a damaged reputation, the approach is more authentic and employees will more likely trust in the company’s commitment to D&I.

The lack of lack of leadership buy-in is a common obstacle to D&I success. Leaders, generally the Type As tend to be rigid and resist change, or doubt change is possible. Or they simply don’t get it. They may consider D&I a ‘feel good’ program with reputational, but no monetary benefits. There are other benefits to ongoing D&I programs. Employee recruiting and retention for one. Today’s employees want to associate their work with a socially responsible company, sensitive to the need for workplace harmony and mutual respect. Diversity fosters the innovation a team of clones could never match. Today’s leaders need to be flexible to survive and be open to the backbone that supports the organization. When leadership reflects diverse backgrounds, the customer base is more likely to expand into more demographics and markets.

Dropping the diversity label may fend off resistance to the D&I program. Labels often bring images of expectations, often unattainable. In this highly-judgmental world, especially of late, people are fear being criticized or cancelled, God forbid. They may feel they will be trapped in a corner, in a Catch-22 where they cannot win if they are disparaged for immutable characteristics. What all human beings need to flourish — in organizations, families and individual relationships — is acceptance of differences, respect and support for one another. An open mind, an open heart.

7 Ways Leaders Can Build Trust

All human groups rely on trust to be functional and survive. It’s no different in the workplace. In order for leaders to be influential they must be willing to be vulnerable. That’s right. Are you able to show your trust in others by being vulnerable to them? Few leaders have the courage to do so and still get by. But the most influential leaders establish a mutual bond of trust and respect with staff that translates to a more relaxed and productive working environment.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to keep yourself in good standing with staff:

  1. Ask advice: Show your vulnerability to your team. Nobody has all the answers. If you are embarking on a new project, or facing a new change in the workplace, offer your team a chance to speak up during meetings or, as ideas gel, ask that they send an email or put an anonymous suggestion in a physical suggestion box on your desk or in the break room. In so doing, you are establishing a chain of trust and reinforcing your needs to your team  that their ideas count. Keep in mind more quiet people may have the best ideas, so watch that suggestion box.
  2. Communicate. Good communication relies on trust. Next meeting, thank your staff for their comments and remind them how useful their continued feedback is. Review each comment with positive remarks on each one. Discuss as a team any ideas to act on now.
  3. Action Plan: Put into action a few of the ideas derived from the feedback.
  4. Offer Variety of Ways for Continuous Feedback: Just as you may hesitate to give your email address right away to a website, or fill in their cookie cutter form, so may some staff members be hesitant to send into cybersphere their info. Feedback options should include simply using  a pencil and paper and putting an anonymous suggestion into a box without fear of judgment or repercussion. And if you get an email, that’s fine too.
  5. Stay Consistent: Keep consistent between words and actions. Don’t play favorites or cliques will form. Involve everyone in decision making.
  6. Avoid gossip and sarcasm: Gossip is an instant way to erode people’s trust in you. If they gossip about one person they are gossiping about you. People who make sarcastic remarks are often speaking their opinions. And when they go too far they say, “I’m only kidding.” You’ve seen it in your family and personal life. It’s no different at work. If you notice your team members exhibit these behaviors, ask them to keep it out of the office place to keep things peaceful.
  7. Have fun! Celebrate everyone’s birthday. Keep the tradition going. No business can truly claim they are a “family”, nor should they, but celebrating everyone’s birthday shows everyone they matter. Team building games are also a great way to forge bonds.

Sound good? Call Venture Up at 888-305-1065 for a customized game to help your team celebrate and build bonds. Or email info@ventureup.com for quick response.

Gaming for Gratitude

The sea change of 2020 and 2021 has left many of us catching our breath after a whirlwind of change in every facet of our lives. Losing relatives and friends, pets, jobs and perhaps our own emotional stability has forced many of to focus on what’s matters most: our personal relationships — at home and at work. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude vs. grievance will set us on a path to healing and happiness on 2022 if we give grateful living a chance.

Gratitude and happiness are closely linked. Positive psychology researchers describe grateful people as being:

  1. gracious of their past —  as in framing your youthful memories in a positive light.
  2. gracious for the present — daily acceptance and appreciation of your life and others in it
  3. grateful for the future — feeling positive and optimistic for what lies ahead

We all do not have to agree to get along. If we are able to set aside our opinions and our insistence on being right our behavior goes a long way to smoothing the road to more peaceful and productive relationships. In general, if we can all agree that most people are good, we take a giant leap toward unity. You must be willing to dismiss the narcissistic social split so evident in 2020-2021 —  where half  the nation is bad because they disagree with you; and half is good because they do agree with you.

At Venture Up, the feedback from our clients indicates we really do want to get along. Nobody we work with wishes to clash with the next person. Everyone appears tired of the chaos. This is good news for companies who fear the split in politics is splitting the workforce. In real life, we all get along pretty well.

When it comes to work groups, what makes team members appreciate one another is to interact in a goal-oriented project independent from any workplace task. The Escape Case is one of our game series that offers such an experience. The all inclusive portable game suits players of all professional levels. After two hours of successful detective work, the team realizes the importance of their skill combinations to success in areas beyond the workplace challenges. The fact that the games are so fun naturally enhance staff relationships. It is no wonder that corporate teams come back again and again to complete the series with either the same team members, or a mix of teams from the same department.

If you wish to cultivate gratitude in your staff, contact Venture Up to discover the right match for your team: 888-305-1065 / info@ventureup.com.

Remembering Randi and the Importance of Perspective

 

The Amazing Randi" Original Offset Lithograph Poster | Collectors Weekly

James Randi, a master of illusion and devote activist up until his death in October of 2020. In the Preferred official head-shot from James Randi Educational Foundation.jpgbeginning of his career, he was a famed magician, and by the end he was renowned skeptic on a mission to save others from the same tricks he was famous for. He was performer who sold his acts as nothing more than a good show, but what he saw growing within the country was anything but innocent. One day in his retirement, he was watching television and saw a man named Uri Gellar using what he claimed was telekinesis to move paper clips. He performed other tricks as well, such as melting a metal spoon between his fingers and sending psychic waves across the nation. The audience ate it up, while Randy sat terrified at what he witnessed. Gellar claimed his powers were real and the audience believed him without question, an audience who didn’t know what Randi knew.

Geller hadn’t just fooled his way onto a daytime talk show, he had fooled doctors, military personnel, lawyers, scientists, droves of educated and perfectly competent people to get to where he was. He claimed to be apart a government program called Project Star Gate, a secret operation tasked to investigate the psychic and telepathic ability of humans. Today the documents are declassified since by the 90s the project failed to yield any scientific merit that such abilities were possible. Regardless, Gellar toted himself as a superhuman, while Randi understood he was nothing more than a charlatan peddling parlor tricks.

Randi realized the nation’s best and brightest were just as susceptible as the common person to this foolery, and there was a heinous danger that came with it. As Gellar traveled the country showing off his fakery, Randi used his own fame to dispell the lie. Whenever Gellar aired on television, Randi would show up the next episode to expose him for the fraud he was. Sometimes he would even show up before Gellar to warn the hosts so they could expose him themselves. Day by day, show by show Randi worked to reveal the man behind the curtain. Randi renewed a carrier on this, not just by exposing Gellar, but all the others who mimicked him. Gellar was not alone; psychics have been around for thousands of years pushing the same tricks. Sooth Sayers, dowsers, mediums, breatharians, faith healers, all were guilty of exploiting the same vulnerability in people with disastrous results.

They would charge people thousands of dollars to offer meritless advice or give false solutions to serious problems. These people ruined countless lives through either delusion or sheer malice, and Randi was good enough to apply his perspective and destroy their false image. To see his work is as simple as a google search of his name, as there is a marathon of media to attest his crusade. The importance what of James Randi pointed out should never be forgotten and it reflects what we here at Venture Up preach in every one of our programs.

We always say that diversity drives everything. James Randi knew what others didn’t, and had he done nothing, untold harm would have befallen those Gellar captivated. Our programs such as Strategic Games hope to cultivate a similar ideal. The Dallas program shown above demonstrates a simple brain game, one meant to reach into everyone’s perspective to find a solution. The game acts a safe space for participants to open up and show what they know. What they learn is that they all bring something to the table, something valuable that should be shown for all to see.

Monkey Business: The Value of Teaching

Spear-Hunting Chimps | Animal CognitionMonkey see, monkey do … Turns out that’s about all they do. The intelligence of apes and monkeys are unmatched throughout the animal kingdom and at their pinnacle — we now as humans — reign supreme. Our closest ancestor alive today is the chimpanzee, yet despite the fact they share 98% of their DNA with us, they have yet to leave the jungles on their own, while we as humans are on our way to Mars thanks to Tesla and the scientists backing them. So, how could this happen? Why is it in the same amount of time humans and chimps have been on the planet, with all the brain power we share, why have we been the only ones to make leaps in technological development?

The truth is we are not the only animals that make technology. Chimps and other animals have been known to use and make tools for themselves, a very smart thing to do that they can’t seem to realize the full potential of.  Unlike us humans, they don’t maintain the technological thought that go into making tools. Archaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be ancient chimp settlements, where they see remnants of tools of their own time have been forgotten and rediscovered time and time again. Such tools are rudimentary, no more than honed rocks and sticks used to crush nuts or hunt bushbabies, but even still they become forgotten and rediscovered over and over again.

Why this happens is quite simple, chimps do not teach each other. Nova recently covered the concept in a documentary series called Ape Genius. Apes are fantastic learners; they mimic each other as much as they mimic us. They solve problems and power through adversity as we do through brain power. They communicate in languages among themselves and can even be taught sign language from us; but you will never see them teach it to another ape.

There has never been a recorded incident where a chimp sat down another chimp with the explicit intent of teaching them. A mother may smash nuts with a rock while her baby hangs on her back and the baby will learn by seeing, but she’s not trying to teach them. A group of hunters may shriek in excitement when they’ve cornered a macaque, but they don’t tell each other how to approach it. They may figure out how to make tools and weapons to solve the difficulty they’re having, but others doing the same comes from the observers own actions. They either figured out how to make the tool themselves or saw another make it. Unlike us, we they do not explicitly pass ideas from one another.

It is a strange and unusual nuance most never consider, especially when it comes to our own interests in business and team building. Everyone wants the strongest, smartest, most capable person to be a part of their team, but the value of communicating ideas too often falls to the wayside. A team of the best individuals means nothing if ideas aren’t reaching one another, and no team can hope to develop and grow if they don’t take the time to sit each other down to teach what does work and what doesn’t work.

At Venture Up, our Strategic Games ensure this niche aspect is satisfied. While Strategic Games as a whole cover the value of teaching within teams, The Maze game we offer presses the most focus on it (Seen in play by a Houston group below). The group is split into smaller teams and each are tasked with the same goal, to construct the maze as soon as possible and come up with the best strategy for doing so. Naturally, all succeed in making the maze, but where teams differ is how it is constructed. The message to be learned in it, is that teams’ representatives will be allowed to observe other teams and share what they learned to their own team. Through this dynamic, they not only learn the value of diverse thought, but more importantly, the value of conveying what they learned to others.

It is our willingness to teach others what we have learned that allowed us humans to become advanced enough to span the globe while the chimps have been stuck where they’ve always been for millennia. It’s not because they’re stupid and humans are smart, we can send a chimpanzee into space and he’ll come back in one piece of his own accord, but because they never consider teaching others, they do not grow as species. The same can be said for people, as we ourselves are often victim to the same pitfall. We assume the other of us knows what we know and so neglect them. One person may have a solution they are hesitant to share for fear of ridicule. Some of us may be sitting on the best solution for a problem and simply don’t think its worth sharing. The truth is communicating ideas is everything, so at the next meeting, sit each other down and say what you have to say.

Diversity and History: A Look Back at the Roman Dodecahedron

The year was 1739, when archaeologists uncovered a strange bronze artifact from a Roman treasure trove. It was a hollow dodecahedron with round knobs at each of its corners and circles of various sizes cut into its pentagonal planes. The first discovered was dated around the 2nd or 3rd century, but since then, hundreds more have been found all within the borders of what was once the Roman Empire.

Since their discovery, their purpose has been a mystery. There are no surviving records to describe their use, yet they were valuable enough to be included in treasure troves, and plentiful enough to merit it as a common tool. Their neat geometric shapes gave rise to the idea they were some sort of range finder for military commanders, or perhaps were used to calculate the grades of roads or buildings. They have been found in battle camps and in civic areas, but these theories seem unlikely, as there is a library worth of records that describe military and engineering practices, and nowhere are these devices mentioned. There are no graduations anywhere on the dodecahedrons, and their sizes vary between 1.6 and 4.3 inches in diameter, without standards, any measurements would be very difficult to make.

Mathematicians who saw the device speculated it could be used to predict celestial events, and after several mind-numbing calculations they found they could do just that, but there was a problem. Nowhere in their use of the device did they find the knobs on the corners necessary, and holes they looked through were not always present. Some could be used to measure the sky, but that didn’t mean that’s what they were meant to do. Many more theories came about of even less likely uses.

When wax was discovered in them it was thought to be a candlestick holder or a vase, though it could’ve just been a remnant of the casting process used to make them. Were they the head of a mace? Too flimsy. A child’s toy? Too complex and valuable. A religious relic, a fletcher’s gauge, a dowsing lens, the top of a scepter, Dice? No one could figure it out, but then, after hundreds of years of historians, astronomers and mathematicians beating their heads against the slate, a man from this past decade may have it figured it out.

A man named Martin Hallet had a theory when he learned these devices were found in colder areas of the empire. This man was not a historian, nor a mathematician, he was a hobbyist, a knitter and it took a knitter to recognize a knitter’s tool. This YouTube video from 2014 demonstrates how the 3D artifact works and brings history back to life.

He found that these dodecahedrons were best suited to making gloves. The hollow space in the center is used to hold the yarn, the knobs on the corners are where the where the yarn is wrapped to form a lattice and the holes are there to gauge the sizes of fingers. With little effort, the man makes a glove, just as the romans did almost a thousand years ago.

Since the discovery, the device has gained a cult following, but what’s most important, is understanding the value of a different perspective. The reason it took so long to figure out what it did had nothing to do with intelligence, there were plenty of smart people who worked on it, each competent in their respective fields. What it took was someone with a different background to see the problem differently. It is a phenomenon Venture Up knows all too well.

People when presented a problem play into what they know. Engineers tend to be very analytical, using numbers and formulae to get through their problems. Social workers are often more team conscious while people working in construction are more tactile in their reasoning. Different professions use different strategies, just as intellectuals do. The Escape Case we offer embodies many modes of thought participants must contend with, and as such serves as a diagnostic tool.

Critical thinking, spacial reasoning, creativity, linguistics, are all incorporated in the game, and what’s fascinating, is different teams of the same company often get hung up on the same obstacle. A team full of only engineers may get hung up on a problem that takes simple trial and error, as seen with this Houston group. Social workers and construction workers struggle with math, and salesmen are seldom thorough when searching the whole box. It’s not because they’re dumb, they are perfectly competent people. It’s the lack of different perspectives that get them hung up.

Whether it’s a centuries old knitting ball, team building games or obstacles of the workplace, a differed perspective can make solving a problem easy. Hundreds of years of same minded people went nowhere despite their education and wouldn’t solved until one guy happened to see the artifact and applied what he knew. He wasn’t any smarter or dumber, he just equipped with the right background, and showed diversity of thought goes a long way towards solving problems.