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Tip Sheet

Take a Walk in the Cold, Brainstorm Naturally, and More Tips for the Start of 2024

Including spotting a bizarre new crime trend and the importance of planning your vacations now.





SECURITYFive-Finger Discounts

This is a little out there but points to where the future of crime might be headed: Be suspicious of browsers with an extra prosthetic finger. According to a post on X (Twitter), it may be a shoplifter looking to mess with your videotape evidence, as an image showing five fingers must have been digitally enhanced and would therefore be inadmissible in court.

PLANNINGBrainstorm Naturally

It’s a new year, time to come up with some big ideas. The key is not to force yourself, says OpenAI boss Sam Altman 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.”

PRODUCTIVITYWalk in the Cold

There’s nothing quite as nice as that first spring morning to inspire you to get out and enjoy the glory of the outdoors — or just 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 that raises alertness and stimulates thinking, according to INC magazine.



Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, has a rule where he 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.” It lowers the pain of rejection for others and makes the decision easy for you as well.

WELL-BEINGPay Now, Enjoy Later

To get the most out of your breaks, book them way in advance. You’ll enjoy it more because of the distance between the pain of paying and the actual experience of the holiday, and you won’t spend all your time thinking, “Am I getting my money’s worth?” says behavioral economist Dan Ariely in Dollars and Sense.


If you hold an annual company strategic retreat for your business, why not invite representatives of your key vendors? Share everything. Your vendors will understand you better and can usually provide ideas to help you sell better. Jason Jennings, author of Think Big, Act Small, cites this policy as a key strength at Sonic Drive-In, one of America’s hottest fast-food franchises.

MARKETINGWelcome Them Well

If you’ve got an opt-in list for your email bulletins, don’t just start them off with a boring, generic “thank you for signing up” message. Instead, give them a taste of what they’ll be getting – your most recent bulletin, or a message filled with special offers.


OPERATIONSStart a Store Diary

If you read business magazines you’ve no doubt come across stories touting blogs as a way to communicate with your customers or to help drive internet traffic to your business. Author Seth Godin believes their greatest benefit may simply be as a tool of record, maybe even with a password. “Use it as an internal diary, a way of tracking each day so that a month or a year from now, you can look back at where you were and how you dealt with the issue of the day,” he writes on his own blog. “Perspective is worth a lot more than it costs,” Godin says.

INSPIRATIONWords For a New Year

Advertising guru Roy Williams offers a quote that’s worthy of framing and hanging in your back office: “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”

INVENTORYParty Like It’s 2024

“Physical inventory” and “party” are two words that don’t always go together. But they do at Purrrfect Bark, an independent petshop in Columbus, NC. Owner Laura Backus told our sister magazine PETS+: “We do physical inventory on January 1 with lots of food and drinks, music and laughs. Everyone participates and we get it knocked out in a day.”


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