Welcome To Relax Consulting's Blog

Transparent thoughts and ideas from Administrative Consultant (aka: Virtual Assistant, Crystal Casavant of Relax Consulting.

Relax Consulting - Let Us Help, So YOU Can RELAX!

Phone: 920.645.7529

Email: Crystal@RelaxConsulting.com

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Struggling With KeyWords?

Do you struggle with choosing key words to boost your business? Search Engine Optimizing, Marketing, SEO Optimization, you call it what you want, but the long and short is this: You've heard that key words, blog labels, and ad words are important for reaching a larger audience. Leave it to Google to provide a tool that can simplify keywords. I thought about keeping this amazing tool a secret, and then realized that's just not my style, so here you go: https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer?__c=1000000000&__u=1000000000&ideaRequestType=KEYWORD_IDEAS

Once you've clicked on the link, the help on the left of the screen can explain this tool better than I can. What I can advise is the following:

Choose words and phrases that are "low" in the competition category

Choose words and phrases with between 50,000 and 150,000 global monthly searches

By keeping these parameters in mind, you'll ensure that you'll be found (less than 50,000 global monthly searches and you won't be on the 'map' and more than 150,000 the competition will be so great that you'll become a 'needle in a large haystack'). Give it a try and see if you can increase traffic to your blog and your website and increase business. Take it one step further and use your keywords at the beginning of a sentence or the end of an article/sentence/paragraph!

This is also a tool I plan to use when writing for Ezine as well - and best news yet? It's FREE - now that's a price we can afford no matter how small or large our business is!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

What Is A Blog Tour Manager?

What Is A Blog Tour Manager?

I've been eluding to some interesting changes at Relax Consulting - one of those changes is a hat that I (Crystal) will be wearing in 2013 and beyond. I am taking on some freelance work with WOW Women on Writing. I will be working with WOW in the capacity of a Blog Tour Manager. I thought I would do a post about this, primarily to help me wrap my head around what I will be doing - I need to explain this to others, and since I will not be active in this role for a few weeks yet, research is key in preparing and explaining.

Let's start with the first question my mother will ask: "What's WOW?"

WOW! is a global magazine, designed to support women's creativity, energy, blood, sweat and tears, throughout all stages of the writing process. Wow! is committed to excellence in every way, in their work ethic in the products and services they provide, and in their relationships with readers, contributors, freelancers, interviewees, advertisers, and subscribers. WOW! is a resource for writers; offering classes, links to author sites, free newsletters, quarterly contests, teleseminars, and great support at all levels.

Now we know what WOW! is - what is a Blog Tour Manager? (I've read the job description and I'm not exactly sure I can do the position justice with an elevator pitch, but I'm going to try - here goes:)

A Blog Tour Manager is an extremely motivated self starter who has their own blog and blogs regularly. Someone who uses Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and who enjoys reading (and can read quickly) and writing book reviews. Someone who is comfortable with sales, enjoys interviewing authors for blog posts, and someone who works at home and is available via email. A WOW! Blog Tour Manager works with authors booking blog tours, staying organized, interviewing the author, and ultimately launching the author's work!

I feel that the position of Blog Tour Manager will fit nicely with my work at Relax Consulting as well as the duties that fall under my other titles of mother, wife, diary farm owner, and musician. I am super excited for this opportunity and didn't want anyone thinking that Relax Consulting was closing. This should be something that will enhance what Relax has to offer by refining my writing and marketing skills.

Your continued prayers and support are appreciated as I embark on a new leg of this amazing journey called LIFE!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

When Quitting Isn't Bad...

When Quitting Isn't Bad
By, Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

There are plenty of people ready to tell you that quitters lose and losers quit. Let's look at quitting in a little different way. I'll expound on it in a few moments, but the following quote by Osayi Osar-Emokpae from "Impossible Is Stupid" sums up where I'm going today:

"Quitting is not giving up, it's choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it's realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it's learning to be more productive, efficient and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength."

The headline of a June 16th 2012 article in the New York Daily News read: Stress Levels Soar in America by up to 30% in 30 years.  Our friends and neighbors are working 50-60 hours each week (not including drive time to and from the office or additional time with volunteer activities) and divorce rates are climbing. Some of us have too much on our plate. Our calendars are filled with things to do. We aren't finished with one meeting and we are checking our smart phones in anticipation of the next meeting. If we are honest with ourselves, we aren't truly engaged during most of those activities. During luncheon presentations, we are checking the emails from our office, answering texts from teenage children wondering about transportation arrangements for evening sports events, and taking a mental inventory of what's in the cupboard to throw together for dinner. Add in the stress about finding time to get to the gym, worship time, and the ever elusive time to call and catch up with a friend and what do we have?


That's a depressing statement - so don't stop reading here ... I dislike a problem without a solution, so stick with me a bit longer and I'll offer a solution.

Look at your calendar. If you are using a smart phone, just humor me and print out your calendar for the month. Take a look at one month (not a holiday month please). Write down the different things you see on the calendar - put them into a list:

Process Payroll
Pay Taxes
Volunteer Meeting for ______________
Lunch with the ________________ Group
Send out reminder email to the ______________ Group about upcoming meeting
Work at ___________________

Take this list and assign a number value to each item. Give the things you love a 10. The items marked 10 are the things you "can't not do" meaning you truly enjoy them or the value they bring far outweighs the things you may dislike about them. For example, processing payroll for our business isn't 'fun' necessarily, but it sure beats paying someone else to do it. The money savings makes the 15 minute job time well spent. If the volunteer meeting for the _________________ association is becoming a total drag and you groan at the thought, give that a 1 or a 3. If lunch with the _______________ Group leaves you feeling refreshed, creative, and excited - give it a 10.

Do you have your list with a number value beside each?

10 - Process Payroll
10 - Pay Taxes
5 - Volunteer Meeting for _______________
3 - Lunch with the ______________ Group
2 - Send out reminder email to the _____________ Group about upcoming meeting
10 - Work at ___________________

Looking at this list again, I can see that the Volunteer Meeting for __________________, Lunch with the ___________ Group, and Sending out reminder emails for ____________ Group are activities that no longer serve me. Whatever joy I took in those groups/organizations in the past, has expired. It may be painful, but if I want to de-stress, I need to allow myself time for thinking, relaxing, and being creative. 

Now it's time to take action. I've taken an inventory and I know what I need to do - I am going to remind myself that quitting isn't bad, it's something I need to do so I can take things to the next level in other areas of my life. I will have more time to do things that give me strength!

Enjoy your new found strength!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Don't Let Your Email Manage You

We are supposed to manage our email accounts, not the other way around. That was sure profound, right? Not at all ... but do you ever have those days when it feels like your email is managing you instead? I've learned a few tricks and tips over the years that may help you get back in the driver's seat of your email-mobile

1) Touch It Once - if you aren't going to do anything with it today, get rid of it. The thought "maybe I'll need that" should not apply to emails. If you don't think you need it, you likely don't. Go with your instincts and don't be afraid to discard what doesn't apply to you. Saving it to a new folder doesn't make it any more important.

2) Pick Up The Phone - you know that thing on your desk? Yup - that's a phone ... and people are still able to talk on them. Even your smart phone - I'm sure you know that you can text on it and read emails - but did you know that you can also talk on it? Sarcasm aside, just pick up the phone if the email requires a brief response. It allows you to build relationships, respond quickly, and it saves additional emails in your inbox. (if you don't pick up the phone, see the below example of what might happen)

From: Liysa
To: Me


Good morning! Do you think you could come to the meeting early this afternoon? I need someone to set up beverages and get the projector ready. I don't have time and I'm hoping you can help. Let me know.


From: Me
To: Liysa


Sure - glad to help. What time? Just water, or water and coffee too? Do I need to bring my laptop, or will yours be there?

Let me know.


From: Liysa
To: Me


I really should have given you more information - sorry. I think water and coffee is a great idea. You'll have to pop by my office and pick up my laptop if you wouldn't mind. Does that work?


From: Me
To: Liysa


No problem - I'd be happy to stop by your office. What time works for you?


From: Liysa
To: Me


I think 2pm should be fine and give you plenty of time. See you then. Thanks again!


From: Me
To: Liysa


You're welcome - see you then!


Six emails later ... we each have the information we need. Had I picked up the phone after receiving the first email, we could have spent two minutes or less on the phone and quickly exchanged the information as well as a few pleasantries. Additional emails waste time and disrupt productivity.

3) Purge Anything Old - Do you have emails from several months ago cluttering up your inbox? Set yourself a limit - and then stick with it. For me, my mantra is "if it's over 60 days old, pitch it". I go into my inbox and purge anything over 60 days old. This allows me to keep my inbox(es) tidy and clean and I don't feel overwhelmed.

4) Walk Away From Your Smart Phone - Nothing terrible is going to happen if you leave your smart phone on the kitchen table while you spend time folding laundry. I'm sure there are exceptions if you have a terminally ill relative, or if you are a heart surgeon ... but the rest of us deserve a break sometimes. When we are reading bedtime stories to our children, we shouldn't be checking our emails, taking client calls, or catching up on our daily dose of social media. It's okay to disconnect. Set some boundaries for yourself. Our inbox can be flooded with coupons, offers, and non emergent emails. If we are afraid to put down our phones, important life moments can be disrupted for no good reason (ie: in the middle of a romantic dinner, I hear and email come in, so I check my phone ... it's a Kohl's coupon ... I just sent my husband the message that the latest sale on designer shoes is more important than he is? f a i l ...)

As you start to put some of these tips and tricks into practice, you'll find that it's easier to click 'delete' and it won't be as overwhelming when you log into your email account each day. I have several email accounts - some are personal, some professional, some connected to my blog and others connected to my website. If I allowed those email accounts to manage me, the only place they'd drive me is certifiably nuts! I'm in the driver's seat ... and my emails can wait ... I have a life to live!

Happy Travels!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Scholarship and Awards Opportunity in Manitowoc

The Manitowoc Chapter of Women in Management Announces that applications are available for:

Professional Woman of the Year

MANITOWOC, Wis.—Manitowoc Chapter of Women In Management, Inc. announces that application and nomination forms for WIMI’s Manitowoc Chapter Professional Woman of the Year Award and College Scholarship are now available. Forms can be downloaded from the WIMI website: (
www.wimiwi.org) or can be obtained via e-mail request: manitowocwimi@gmail.com
The Professional Woman of the Year Award recognizes a professional woman who has made significant contributions to her company, employees and community. The award recipient will receive a complimentary one-year membership to the Manitowoc Chapter of WIMI.

The WIMI scholarship will be awarded to a female college student aspiring to a post-secondary professional, managerial, or entrepreneurial career. Applicants must have completed at least their first year of college with the intention of obtaining a degree. Preference will be given to applicants attending college in Manitowoc County, but those who reside in Manitowoc County, or who have graduated from a Manitowoc County High School will also be considered. Financial need, academic performance, community and extracurricular involvement will be considered. The top applicants may be asked to participate in an interview to determine the scholarship winner.

Applicants to the award and the scholarship are due April 1st 2013. Recipients will be recognized at the May 14th 2013 chapter meeting held at the Holiday Inn (4601 Calumet St. Manitowoc) starting at 11:30am.

Any questions can be directed to Teresa Satori, Awards and Partnership Chair: 920.684.1891 or via email: manitowocwimi@gmail.com

Women in Management, Inc. is not a fund-raising organization. Our objectives are to promote growth and self-development of women through
educational programming, offer support and guidance, and provide women with the opportunity to exchange information, experiences, and ideas.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Facebook Pages - Doing it Right

If you're anything like me, you want to have a Facebook page that is successful. Not because you are hungry for popularity or you want to 'sell something' to every 'friend' per say - but because social media is an important part of company branding and image. I recently read a fabulous article about companies that are doing Facebook and doing it well:


The list includes:
Bare Escentuals
Brendan's Irish Pub
Burt's Bees
Candles Off Main
Community Coffee
Fresh Brothers
Johnny Cupcakes
Mabel's Labels
Old Spice
Red Mango
Stella & Dot
Steve Spangler Science
Tiny Prints

Don't reinvent the wheel - if you are looking for your Facebook page to be successful, read through what's working for these companies and see what you can put to work for you. Thanks Inc.com for another great article filled with value and insight! Hopefully you'll see Relax Consulting on this list - but in the meantime, I'm sure you'll agree that these 20 companies deserve the spotlight!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Speak Out Against Bullying and Abuse

Speak Out Against Bullying and Abuse
by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

What would you do if your child came home and told you that someone in their class was being abused or bullied? I bake my worries away, and the first thing I would want to do is pop another chocolate chip in my mouth to give myself some time to think about what to say. The most important thing to do is listen, so whether you pop another chip, or pour yourself a cup of coffee, you should encourage your child to tell you as much about the situation as possible. Once you have the facts as your child knows them, you can make an educated decision about what the next step should be.
I’ll be honest with you, when my daughter came home telling me about one of the smaller boys in her class who was being bullied, my gut reaction was:
·         At least it’s not my kid
·         At least my kid knows it’s not right to treat people like that
·         I hate to get involved, doesn’t sound like this is my fight – maybe I can change the subject
I chatted with friends (some with children and some without) and ultimately ended up at the door of my Pastor. My argument sounded something like this:
“I understand that it would be the right thing to talk to a teacher or guidance counselor, but the next thing you know the bully will be picking on my kid. I don’t want to do what’s right for everyone, I want to do what’s right for MY family. I can’t save the world like I thought I could ten years ago. What’s so wrong with taking the easy road?”
My Pastor reminded me about recent news stories about shootings in schools and pointed out that I have a responsibility as a Christian to do what is for the greater good of my community. He didn’t say that today’s bully would become tomorrow’s murderer – but that’s where my mind went. If I allowed this bully to pick on the little boy, I would be sending a message to the bully that it was okay and to my daughter that it was okay to treat people this way. After some additional talking and some prayer (not to mention sleepless nights), I decided it was time to sit down with my children to talk about bullying and abuse.
Before sitting them down, I figured I better have a pretty good handle on what bullying and abuse is – so I looked it up and here’s the official scoop (thanks Wikipedia):

Bullying is the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others. The behavior can be habitual and involve an imbalance of social or physical power. It can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of racereligiongendersexuality, or ability.[2][3] If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a "target".
Bullying can be defined in many different ways. The UK currently has no legal definition of bullying,[4] while some U.S. states have laws against it.[5] Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotionalverbal, and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation.
Bullying ranges from simple one-on-one bullying to more complex bullying in which the bully may have one or more "lieutenants" who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse.[6] Robert W. Fuller has analyzed bullying in the context of racism.
Bullying can occur in any context in which human beings interact with each other. This includes school, church, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods.

Now that I have all this great information, I am rehearsing what I can say and different scenarios to open up the discussion. The first thing I came up with was a graphic:

I am sharing this graphic through social media to hear how others have dealt with the topic in their families. The following steps seem crucial in combating the problem:
·         Listen Objectively
·         Work With Teachers and Those in Authority
·         Talk to Your Children About Speaking Up
o    and
§  The Importance of Being a Voice for Others
·         Keep Talking and Listening (don’t assume the problem went away)
·         Use All Resources Available to You
o    Ie:

Not saying that we do everything right at our house, but as Pastor reminded me – you can never go wrong when you tell the truth and do the right thing. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worthwhile in the end.
Don’t be afraid to speak out!