Leela Kids, World’s First Kids Podcast App

One of the Filipino Podcasters that I follow is my good friend, Marv De Leon. His podcast is called Freelance Blend and he talks about freelancing. Other podcasts that I listen to are the ones of Tim Ferriss and Amy Porterfield. It got me thinking, why don’t we have any kid podcasters. I was telling a friend yesterday how talkative my 4 year old is. She may be a podcaster, too, one day.

Do you know that there is a podcast app for children? And I got to interview the founder. The founder is Sandeep Jain, CEO of Leela Kids, the world’s first podcast app for children, describes himself as being ever-restless, a tinkerer and a maverick.

Based in Santa Clara, California, this full-time entrepreneur and his wife of 11 years have a five-year-old son, Kabir. Sandeep spends his time experimenting with technology in order to make smart products. Beyond that, he also enjoys hiking, running and traveling—he recently completed a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 45°C weather, has run a marathon and plans to do the Ironman one day, and has been to more than 25 countries.

 

About Sandeep! 🙂

I am a tinkerer, ever-restless, and a maverick. I like experimenting with technology to create smart products. I live in Santa Clara, California, with my lovely wife and our bubbly son. We have been married for 11 years now. I led InMobi’s North America’s Business Development & Strategic Partnerships charter before I started Leela Labs. Prior to that, I was managing a global firewall business worth more than $400M at Cisco. I am a full-time entrepreneur. My hobbies are hiking & running. I recently completed a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 45°C weather. I have run a marathon and hope to complete an Ironman at some point in my life. I love travelling—I have travelled to more than 25 countries. I like connecting with people wherever I go. I picked up a little Spanish from my extensive travels in Central and South America. I hope to do an RV trip across the USA at some point. There are two causes that I am passionate about: supporting orphans and women who were victims of acid attacks. I support these issues from the sidelines, but hope to become an active participant later in my life.

Interview Questions:

Ginger: What is your Startup/brand/business? What is it about? How long have you been in business?

Sandeep: Our company’s name is Leela Labs Inc. We create technology so that people can listen to spoken audio (podcasts) easily. We have been in business for a little over than a year now.

Ginger: Who is your target market? Why did you choose this market? Can you give us the insight behind this market?

Sandeep: Our current target market is kids and parents.

Kids love to hear stories, but we didn’t find any app in either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store that aggregates podcast content for kids based on their age and topic of interest. That was really surprising as both stores have millions of apps on any topic imaginable.

It’s even difficult for parents—even though there are several parenting-related podcasts, it is hard to find lists of episode belonging to a given topic, e.g., conceiving, pregnancy, life after kids, single parenting, divorce, how to deal with kid’s issues, etc.

A recent PWC report on Kids Digital Advertising  mentions that the kids digital advertising market will double to $1.2B from the $600M in 2016.

Ginger: How did you come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

Sandeep: I was originally planning to start a business related to the online marketplace when someone suggested I listen to a podcast episode on that topic from A16Z, a podcast channel by Andreessen Horowitz. That episode was super helpful in that it laid out a framework to think about.

But what struck me most was that, despite living in the technology hub of the world, my information consumption resources had been limited to Google Search and certain print publications only… I had no idea that podcasts offered such amazing and relevant content and that I could consume this content while driving, at home, etc. I asked my techie friends and found that only two people out of the roughly 20 people I asked listened to podcasts. In fact, one study pointed out that 40% of Americans still don’t listen to podcasts. I quickly found out why—technology to access them is horribly broken. It’s like what Internet used to be before Google came along. Specifically:

  1. One is first required to find the name of podcast shows
  2. One must then individually subscribe to each show
  3. Then one must figure out which episodes to listen to from all the subscribed shows

This is a really cumbersome process for consuming information.

I figured that unlocking the podcast medium to let people find and listen to meaningful content was actually a much bigger idea than my original marketplace idea. It was much like what Google did in unlocking the Internet for the world.

Leela Labs was born with the mission of using technology and machine learning to connect people to best podcast content instantly.  Around 10 months after starting the business, we launched our first app, Leela (IOS).

The idea for Leela Kids came about much later. I wanted to play podcasts for my five-year-old son, but found it hard—really hard, even on Leela—to do so. Unlike podcast content for adults, podcast content for kids is very age-specific. What a five-year-old will like about dinosaurs, a ten-year-old will likely find too basic or even boring. And for busy parents and kids, the user interface needs to be really simple. I looked around on both IOS and Android and didn’t find the kind of app I needed. And the idea for the World’s First Kids’ Podcast App was born.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Sandeep: The biggest one for me was a substantial financial hit—I had to let go of my high-tech salary and stocks when I started Leela Labs.

Ginger: What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Sandeep: The US is actually one of the countries which makes it easy for entrepreneurs to incorporate and start their businesses. One of the benefits of living in Silicon Valley is access to the ecosystem of like-minded people; however, the biggest disadvantage is that the talent is too pricey for an early-stage company to afford. You then look at contractor networks offered by sites like fiverr.com, upwork.com—both of these sites help you connect with talented individuals in East Europe and Asia who can offer what you need at competitive prices. As with any other marketplace, it does take some time to find the right candidate, though.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder should have when starting their own business?

Sandeep: Grit – There will be failures—it’s not a matter of if but when and how frequent. Most successful founders have gone through challenges that moved them toward the point of stopping what they were doing. You need to have resilience and grit to be ready to face the failures and take it in stride and move ahead.

Ability to attract smart people. – Even though you may be the sole person carrying the startup torch initially, you will need people to help you in building your company. Attracting people to your company depends on motivating them about your idea and inspiring them to work with you. Besides financial gain, your hires (employees and even co-founders) will gauge you on your personality—how easy it is work with you, do you inspire them to something great, etc.

Thinking outside the box. – I strongly believe that successful startups are built on “non-linear thinking”—what I mean by that is doing something that wouldn’t normally occur to you. For example, the Airbnb founder flew to New York to meet their initial customers (people who were renting their house) to really understand them well.

Most companies struggle with getting the right PR for their company. They pay a lot to websites that host the emails of reporters and then they start spamming those reporters. But guess what everyone else is doing? Probably the same thing. That should be an indication to you about effectiveness (or the lack of it) of email spam. A non-linear thinking strategy could be to connect with reporters on Twitter—most reporters are active there and appreciate retweets or likes of the articles they write. Engage them there, and your returns will be much better.

Ginger: Unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder

Sandeep: 

Unforgettable moment: Right before our external product launch, our backend system went down (which it had never done in the past). After looking closely, we found that we had been hacked and were being asked for a ransom (in bitcoin, worth about $10K) to fix our situation. My background is in network security and I am highly technical as well, so I wasn’t ready to give up as yet. I eventually found an issue in our system that allowed the hacker to take advantage of us. I fixed the issue and took care of the cliffhanger situation.

Lesson learnt: You find (very quickly) who your real friends are.

Ginger: What advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Sandeep: First, start doing content marketing yourself—even before you have built your product. Early adopters of your product, reporters and even investors look for the story behind the product. Get on Medium.com and start publishing your story. Talk about why you are doing what you are doing. What are you seeing that others are not? And very soon, you will start seeing yourself be identified as an “industry expert” on the issue you are trying to solve. That’s free marketing for you even before your product launches!

Second, focus on one thing and one thing only—traction. This could mean different things at different stages of your company. As you start in your venture journey, even getting your domain name feels like a victory, and it should, especially if you have spent time researching the right name (often several hours or even days). Start focusing on external traction as soon as possible, though. This means trying to get your product out as early as possible by distilling the feature set to the most critical ones—sites like producthunt.com help you get early feedback. Some people even create pre-release landing pages for their products and start accepting email signups.

Third, start building a relationship with reporters—getting the right kind of PR is crucial for early stage startups. Create a list of Tier-1 reporters, i.e., reporters in Tier-1 publications in your country who cover your product/industry. Email each one of them announcing that you are building a product/company that they will be interested in and that you are looking to establish a line of communication—send them link to your blogs that cover an industry perspective. If you have insights, offer them. Tell them something they may not already know. Even if they don’t respond right away, they will very likely remember you.

Lastly, don’t forget to take some breaks in between. The startup journey is hard, and oftentimes we forget how important it is to clear one’s mind, slow down the body engine, and charge yourself.

Ginger: Do you believe that everyone should become entrepreneurs?

Sandeep: I wouldn’t say everyone—it’s a tough life and has both financial and emotional costs to it. However, the returns are significantly higher as well. For people who are gainfully employed but are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs, I would recommend they spend 50-75% of their salary executing their idea. That will do two things. First, it will prepare you to go to a zero-monthly salary. And second, it will help you gain traction for your idea and if you don’t see it happening or if you find interest dwindling, you can fall back to your existing job.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Sandeep: We haven’t raised outside funding as yet.

Ginger: How do you market your products? Growth strategy?

Sandeep: We market Leela Labs Inc. through direct reach-out and building relationships with relevant reporters, bloggers, etc. In terms of ad-based marketing, we have used Apple Search Ads and Facebook Ads.

Our growth strategy is to keep adding meaningful content for kids and even for parents. We are also exploring other verticals like Christianity and Sports.

Ginger: What are tech tools that you use for your business?

Google App Engine, ElasticSearch, Canva, Keynote, Gimp

Ginger: Thank you Sandeep for sharing your knowledge! I will definitely download the app for my daughter! 🙂

Contact information about Leela Kids!

Website: http://leelalabs.com

Email address: sandeep@leelalabs.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LeelaKidsApp

Twitter account: https://twitter.com/sandejain1

*Featured by Huffington Post and Forbes last December.

10 Things to Start This Year

Now you’ve probably already made your new year’s resolution list, and I hope you’ve started to make some progress when it comes to realizing each of your goals. But if you’re still looking for a little direction, I thought I’d come up with a few things to start or update yourself on this year to make sure that by the end of it, you’re happier, healthier, and wealthier!

Amp up your graphics game.
Learn to use graphics apps and services like those offered by Canva.com. I’m not a very artsy person, but Canva has made my life wonderful! Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a professional, you’ll find this skill useful for social media promotions and ads, poster-making, sprucing up presentations, and so on. Even if you’re not using this for business, you can prettify your personal messages and posts, add personalized graphics to your blog, and more.

CANVA BASIC TUTORIAL

Open an online payment account.
If you’re not already using PayPal or a similar online payment gateway, this year’s the year to do it. It’s getting more and more convenient to buy and sell online, and this is one way to keep your credit card information secure. Plus, you can use this to send money to loved ones anywhere, anytime.

Transition to online shopping.
Like I’ve mentioned, online shopping is becoming more and more popular and convenient. Whether you get home, fashion, tech and more from Lazada, makeup and skincare from BeautyMNL, restaurant food and groceries from HonestBee, or whatever else you shop for online (and these are just a few of the local options), you have to admit that online ordering and delivery is one way to beat the traffic and save hours on your shopping trips.

Use transport networks.
Ride services like Uber and Grab have been around for years, but if you haven’t been using these too much, now’s the time to embrace them. And before you start thinking using them regularly is too expensive, perhaps you should also count the cost of parking, gasoline, car maintenance, and either wages for a driver or your own driving stress. Plus, there are ways to save, by sharing a ride with officemates who live close to you or with neighbors who work in the same area as you, by creating a “carpool” system so your kids can share a car with schoolmates from the same area, and so on.

Start or grow your rainy day fund.
This is one of those things that makes just about everyone’s new year’s resolutions list, but rarely gets resolved to your satisfaction. It’s understandable—expenses pile up, and temptations to spend are everywhere. But this year, start thinking about a sustainable way to save money. Better yet, look into investments that will grow your money instead of simply saving it.

Schedule regular date nights with your partner—and your gal pals.
It’s so easy for life to get in the way of romance, so make sure you and your partner take time out to rekindle that flame. Add it to your weekly schedule so you never forget to spend some quality time together.

On a related note, your monthly schedule should also include time with your BFFs. One study I read about has shown that, for women, spending time with your best friends can help your body fight stress and create more serotonin, which is a mood-balancing hormone essential to staving off depression. And another study mentioned we are more likely to live longer if we maintain a large network of friends as we get older.

Maintain a skin care regimen.
Time and aging only move forward, never backward, so it’s never too early or too late to start taking care of your skin. This doesn’t just mean slapping on some facial wash and moisturizer each morning and night. Pamper your skin and it’ll keep you looking and feeling fresher and younger. Plus, you’ll need less makeup if the canvas you have to work on—your face—already has a healthy glow to it. Check out this 10 Step Korean routine video that I created using Nivea products!

Explore freelancing and entrepreneurship possibilities.
Whether you’re already a freelancer or entrepreneur or you are working a corporate job, it’s always a good idea to diversify your income stream. And who would say no to making a little (or even a lot of) extra money? Explore ways to supplement your current income, and if you need a little help doing that, check out the events we have planned for this year at ManilaWorkshops.com.

Start journaling.
Bullet journaling and similar practices can help with your efficiency and productivity, so I’d definitely recommend this. But what I really would suggest doing this year is journaling for your state of mind. Here are some ideas for your journal. go over the events of your day to put things into perspective and clear things for the next day, make a list of things to be happy about and grateful for, have a daily goal and write about what you did to achieve it. You’ll find yourself happier and healthier just for having picked up the pen more regularly.

Manage your taxes.
There are a lot of changes related to taxation coming in 2018. Make sure these things don’t take you by surprise. Plus, if you aren’t filing your taxes properly, now’s the time to make sure you do that. After all, you don’t want to risk heavy penalties from BIR for failing to file the right taxes at the right time! And to make things easier for you, make sure you check out Taxumo and the services we offer, which are ideal for freelancers, entrepreneurs and mixed-income professionals.

Do you have a recommended must-do for 2018 I didn’t get to list? I’d love it if you’d share in a comment. We all have our personal goals this year, and it would be great if we could work toward them together!

How to Build Up on Cash Again after Spending Over the Holidays

Christmas is so much filled with activities like decorating, attending parties, travelling to see friends and families. It is also a season when everyone loves to give. Thus, you feel the urge to buy gifts for almost everyone. It is indeed a very expensive time that even if you set a budget, you have the tendency to overspend it. Some of you are now thinking on how to build up cash again after going overboard during the holidays.

Here are some ideas that you can try to build up cash and regain what you lost during the holidays. Just wanted to share the things that I do:

 1. Sum up the cost of each item you spent on during the holidays.

What I usually do is keep a spreadsheet of our Christmas list. As I purchase, I input the price of the gift that I chose. This is something you can actually do next year. But since it’s too late to start this (since you’ve already given out gifts), pick a pen, try to recall and make assumptions on how much the gifts were, then do the math. See if you can still find receipts even if they are already crumpled. Try to come up with an approximate number. After which, try to split the total into cash and what was spent using a credit card.

2. Use an application and try tracking your income and expenses starting TODAY!

After I download and app or use a planner, I’m guilty of deciding to use it at the start of a month. Para malinis (so everything is in order!), as I would say. But the thing is, it will be most likely that you’ll forget to use it at the start of the month. So, you’ll end up delaying and delaying.

What I would advise is to start ASAP! Once you have downloaded the application, start using it.

Okay, so what applications do I use.

One, I use Taxumo (for obvious reasons to some). Since I use it for paying my taxes, I thought might as well use it to log in my income and expenses for my business. By the way, this is a web application, so you don’t need to download anything. You can access Taxumo straight from your browser!

The other application that I use is called Wally. I love it because I know at any given point in time how much I have in any of my accounts and in my wallet. I update it every day (at the end of the day) and I check if I get to balance everything out. So far, I have been doing a great job!

The last application that I want to share with you is called 52 weeks. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the 52 week saving challenge! Well, this actually automates it! But unfortunately, for the past 3 weeks, I haven’t saved anything yet. But, we’ll see! I know that I need to catch up.

3. Challenge yourself  and stop buying expensive things.

After calculating, you need to spend less during this time. My rule is to only spend if that thing brings me joy. I learned that from my friend who is a decluttering consultant. This is her blog: https://www.myjoyfulspace.com/. She taught me how to think really hard before buying.

Stop spending on not-so-important things so you can build up your savings. Avoid going to places that will tempt you to buy for expensive items like in the restaurant, bar, departments store, etc. Substitute a high-priced meal with one that you can prepare nicely at home. If you are looking for fun, go out with a friend and talk about good experiences. Some fun things can be free. Well, you do have to make some sacrifices for the shopping spree you did last year.

What I have noticed also is that if I know that I need to track expenses, I spend less. I’m lazy to track a lot so that keeps me from buying a lot of things!

4. Find other means of earning back your money.

It’s timely to be resolute to regain the money you’ve lost. Be determined to incur extra cash to cancel out your debt. Think about your strengths that can be valuable to others. What can you offer and be paid for it? Can you write, layout or bake? Are you good at selling? Can you teach students during weekends?

Don’t focus on JUST budgeting from what you’re earning. That will lead you to fall into the trap of going from pay check to pay check. If you want to earn back the money that you have spent, you need to find extra sources of income and make it happen!

So those are my 4 tips on how to build up cash again after spending it all over the holidays! Do you have anything else to add? Feel free to comment on this blog and let me know!

Happy new year!

Always, your partner towards success,

Mommy Ginger

 

Understanding TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion

A lot of people have been discussing the TRAIN law and how will it affect us. I’ve been reading about it and I’ll be sharing some of the things that I read about with you. Also, I’ll be sharing a Philippines BIR Tax Software that I have been using.

What is TRAIN?

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) into law last December 19, 2017. It’s the first package among the other tax reform measures to be issued by his administration. It expected to make a considerable impact on the prices of goods and services, take-home pay of Filipinos and their purchasing power.

About 70% of collected revenues will go to infrastructure projects that the Duterte’s administration plan to build. His administration has planned to allocate P8.44 trillion for its “Build, Build, Build” program for 2017-2022. They plan to build more road networks and better mass transportation rides for the public.  These will enhance the economy and create more investment opportunities, thereby creating more jobs or income sources for the Filipinos.

The other projects under the 70% collected revenues are the following: infrastructure for the military, drinking water facilities in all public places and sports facilities for public schools. The remaining 30% will be spent on social mitigating measures and investments for health, nutrition, hunger and education.

What is it to Employees?

Under this law, there is a zero percent tax for low-income earners with an annual income of P250,000 and below. Those with an annual income of P8 million and above are taxed with 35 percent. The 13th month pay and other bonuses at P90,000 and below will remain not to be taxed. This new law lightens the financial burden among low-income earners. With the previous income tax law, about 5 percent is deducted from earners with P10,000 and below income. Those with an annual income of P500,000 and above get to have 32 percent of off their income.

What is it to us Business Owners, Freelancers and Professionals?

For business owners, sole proprietorships and licensed and non-licensed individuals, those earning below Php 250,000 per year will be tax exempt. Those who earn Php 3 Million and below per year now have the option to file and pay for a 3% percentage tax + income tax (paid quarterly) or an 8% percentage tax of gross receipts (paid annually).

Although the 8% percentage tax paid annually may seem attractive, you may want to check what is better for your business. There is still a level where 3% percentage tax + income tax (paid quarterly) is a better option.

Here’s how to check:

One – Download this calculator by a my friend Mark Ong, who is a CPA.

Train bill – compare: Train bill – compare

Second Option – This is a blog from Taxumo, Philippines’ BIR tax software.

TRAIN’s New 8% Tax – Does it really save you money?

What else did change?

The BIR placed a higher tax rate on coal, mining, tobacco, sweetened beverage petroleum, and automobiles. Some may not find it as good news. They fear that companies will increase the prices of their goods for consumers to shoulder the higher tax rates.

What’s next? 

Everyone’s awaiting the other packages and the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the BIR. If you want to know more about the Philippines Tax Reform law, join the workshop of Manila Workshops on January 27. Check it out in this link: http://manilaworkshops.com/events/understanding-tax-reform-for-msmes-self-employed-professionals-freelancers

Personally, our team in Taxumo studied the law and thought about how to easily cascade it to our users. If you haven’t checked out this Philippines BIR Tax Software, you should. It really makes your life as an entrepreneur, freelancer and professional easier. How? Taxumo is the first in the industry to have automated calculations of your tax dues. And guess what? The Taxumo Income Tax calculations now uses the formula from the TRAIN law (RA No. 10963).

Once the Implementing Rules & Regulations are released by the BIR, Taxumo will be updating the forms & formula speedily and accurately to make sure that you’re using the latest forms when you’re filing your taxes.

If you want to try out Taxumo, sign up now for a FREE trial.

My ONE WORD for 2018 — JOY

Last year, I was on an emotional roller coaster. Some days were filled with joy and happiness and some days were just bad. In some days, I felt as if I were on top of the world, while on other days, I felt like quitting. I thought that being busy would make me NOT think about things, but it actually made things worst. My emotions rose and dipped at extreme levels.

Welcoming the New Year wasn’t easy for me either. This is the reason why this (first blog of the year) came in pretty late in January. By the way, I can’t believe that it’s almost the 15th of the month. Anyway, going back to my story, it wasn’t a “happy” new year for me. First of all, joy wasn’t in the air when I noticed that my blog was hacked by some random hacker. This made my host take down my blog for almost a month.

Next, the yaya that we had for almost 5 years just didn’t return after going on vacation. I was furious! It wasn’t so much that she was gone, but it was more of that she didn’t have the decency to tell us that she wasn’t coming back.

And then, the worst thing that happened, was that Zeeka got sick. It’s the worst feeling in the world for a parent to have to bring her kid to the emergency room (again — twice within a month) after having intermittent fever for 5 days. Oh myyy!

But then, that’s life right?

You might be wondering, “then why the heck is her one word JOY after having a few episodes of unfortunate and definitely, sad circumstances?”

I really thought about this for a long time. For the past few days, this sat as a draft in my blog. I wasn’t too sure about the word either, until…

Until one day, I listened to the blink on Blinkist of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s all Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. That’s when I realized that being happy or joyful is a choice that we need to make. And I also realized that the things that we deem to be urgent, important and life changing or threatening aren’t always such a big deal.

Maliit na bagay lang pala.

There are things that we don’t have control over. There are things that happen to us that we obviously didn’t wish for, but what we can control is how we react.

So, what I did FIRST was I analyzed why I felt the way that I felt. What I found out was that…

1) Hacking incident – I felt so sad that people would waste time hacking into other random sites of strangers. I was feeling that way because I didn’t know if we would be able to restore it (which we did! Yey!)

2) Yaya Incident – I felt furious because I hated adjusting again to a new rhythm and new way of doing things again, especially that I have a ton of things to do.

3) Zeeka’s sickness – I felt like I didn’t pay much attention to Zeeka last year and I felt like I wasn’t a good mom. That made me hate myself.

So there. I analysed why I was feeling this way, and it was because of things that I could actually control. So what if my blog was down? I could converse with my readers via social media. So what if I had to adjust to a new way of doing things again? It’s not as if I didn’t have new things and ideas every time. Haha! So what was the difference, really? So what if I failed last year at being a mom? I still have a lot of time fixing my mistakes and focusing more on Zeeka this year. Maybe this scenario of being yaya-less is actually a blessing!

So this is why I chose the word Joy. I need to find those little things that I can be grateful for. This word that I have chosen will constantly remind me that life is great. Living is great. Even with the many challenges that I face, I know that I’m strong and I know that I will make the most out of it.

Living a life with no regrets will bring Joy. Saying I have loved will bring Joy. Striving to be the best that I can be will make me happy. Picking myself up after failure will make me love life more.

How about you?

Are you happy? Is you life filled with Joy?

 

 

5 Things You Should Do to End the Year Right

Another year is coming to a close, for better or worse, but as the song goes, “baby, it ain’t over til it’s over”! I don’t know about you, but I feel like it’s been a really big year for me personally, both in terms of business and for my family. And while there have been ups and downs, I’m determined to end this year with a smile on my face.

So whether 2017 was the best year ever, the worst year ever, or something in between, there’s still time to close this chapter on a positive note. Here are five things you should do before the year ends:

This is what my 4-year old daughter wrote! haha!

Show your gratitude.

It’s so easy to think of gimmicky #gratitude efforts, but the truth is, heartfelt gratitude is a powerful tool that helps lift up not just the person you express your gratitude to but also your own spirits. According to Forbes.com, gratitude improves physical and psychological health as well as sleep, self-esteem, and mental strength, and it also makes you more open to new relationships.  

Showing your gratitude can be as easy as posting a message on someone’s Facebook wall or sending them a PM. You can also just pick up the phone and tell someone how grateful you are that they are in your life. Or, if they are someone you see often, like your partner, kids, parents, siblings, kabarkada, and so on, make sure you take some time out the next time you see them to thank them for their role in helping you to become who you are, as well as for more tangible ways they have supported you over the years.

If you’re reading this, I’m going to take this opportunity to say thank you for following me and being such a great audience this year. I really appreciate all your comments, your likes and shares, and the time you take to read my posts.

Pay off a debt.

Some people like to say that you should end each year debt-free, but let’s be practical here—when that debt is something like a mortgage or a business loan or any large amount, that isn’t always possible. But if there are little debts you can afford to pay off (or even if it’s just advancing a little more than usual on your credit card payments or any other bills so you don’t have to worry about them at the start of the year), I’d suggest that you do it.

There are also cases of non-monetary debts, like when a friend has done you a favor and you know you’re in a position to do one back in turn, or to pay it forward.

Take a few minutes, an hour, even a day or two before the end of the year to work on balancing the scales a little more.

Share your blessings.

Apart from balancing the scales, you can tip them in your favor by sharing your blessings. Are there good deeds you can easily do for people you know or even for perfect strangers? Or maybe you can take time out with your family and friends to volunteer, perhaps to play with kids at an orphanage or do some sort of last minute charity work before the year ends.

Also consider that the holidays are coming up, and not everyone can afford a feast to celebrate Christmas or New Year. Consider contacting local homes, shelters, orphanages, and such and asking them what you can contribute toward their holiday meals. Or even what you can contribute to them in the long term.

Do a post-mortem.

If you’re going to make sure next year is better than this year, take a little time to sit and reflect on the year that’s passed. Do a little soul searching. Are there goals you failed to meet this year that you need to revisit next year? Are there things you achieved that you can take one step further? Are there things you didn’t prioritize that need to take a bigger role in your work or personal life?

Even just sitting and thinking these things through will help a lot already, but for best results, I would recommend writing these down, even if no one buy you sees them. Even better, if you can ask your friend, sibling, or spouse to be your accountability partner going into the new year and do the same for them, that’ll help you ensure that not only will you have support for achieving your dreams next year, but you’ll also be helping someone do the same.

Treat yourself.

Last but definitely not least, make sure to indulge a little! Especially if you’re a mom. With the holidays coming up, the pressure is on to make sure presents are bought and wrapped, parties are planned and food prepared for the many get-togethers sure to be scheduled, and the house looks gorgeous going into the new year.

But all that effort is no good if we start the new year stressed or, worse, haggard! So make sure to schedule a spa day for yourself, or even just a staycation for Netflix and chill. Leave the kids with their grandparents for their weekend and book a room at a hotel or just take a road trip. Do whatever helps you rejuvenate so you can start the new year with a smile on your face and the energy to face another 12 months of awesomeness.

 

Don’t know what to Serve? Discover Purefoods Heat & Eat!

As a mom and entrepreneur, time management and convenience are my top priority. Still, I always make sure that I choose delicious and healthy meals for my family.

But thinking of a meal plan every day can be a challenge. No matter how creative you are, there will come a time when you’ll run out of food ideas. This is especially true when you have a four-year-old toddler who can be a bit picky at times.

So whenever we go to the grocery, I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting food that is tasty, healthy, and easy to cook. And today was a lucky day! I found a new line of ready-to-eat meats that will surely satisfy even the pickiest eater in the family.

For decades, Purefoods has provided families with delicious favorites like Tender Juicy Hotdogs and Purefoods Corned Beef. Today, Purefoods brings us another awesome line of delicious, and easy to prepare food that’s just in time for the holiday season: Purefoods Heat & Eat.

Purefoods Heat and Eat

It comes with two variants that every Filipino family will love: Crispy Pata and Lechon Kawali. What used to take days to prepare is now available to you in minutes. And what I love most is that I get extra time to spend catching up with my loved ones instead.

For only P325, you get scrumptious Crispy Pata cooked to perfection. You can also get Lechon Kawali without the fear of being splattered all over with hot oil for only P230. Each pack of Lechon Kawali is good for 3-4 people, while the Crispy Pata can feed about 5-6 persons per bag.

All you need to do is pop it in the oven or a Turbo broiler or heat it in a non-stick pan for about ten to twenty minutes and voila! You’ve got a restaurant grade Crispy Pata and Lechon Kawali! Just make sure you stock up on lechon sauce when you get this because it’s gonna be a sure hit.

If you get tired of fried Lechon kawali, you can switch it up and make Lechon paksiw instead.

Here’s a recipe my friend shared with me for the Easiest Lechon Paksiw Ever:

Ingredients:
½ kilo Lechon Kawali
1 cup of water
1 quartered onions
1 pc bay leaf
Peppercorns
Lechon Sauce
2-3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

You start with sauteing garlic, onions, Lechon Kawali, and bay leaf together in a pan. Once the meat browns, add water and lechon sauce. Stir a bit and cover for five to ten minutes or until the meat is tender.

After that, put about 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar and leave it to boil for five minutes. Leave the pan uncovered and do not stir. Once you the smell of the vinegar mellows down, add a bit of sugar, salt and peppercorns to taste.

Having Crispy Pata for dinner? Don’t throw away the bones just yet. Add it to a pot of boiling water along with some carrots, onions, potatoes, and cabbage and you’ve got yourself Pork Bone Soup. Just add some salt and pepper to taste.

Purefoods Heat & Eat will be an awesome addition to your grocery list and your holiday menu. It’s easy to prepare, easy to cook, and most of all, it’s an affordable option for all occasions. Whether you’re feeding a family of four, or hosting a party for six, Purefoods Heat & Eat are a definite must-have in your fridge.

With Purefoods Heat & Eat, siguradong sarap lutong anytime, all the time!

Check out the Native Section in major supermarkets in GMA (Robinsons, Landmark, Puregold, Hi Top, and South Supermarket) or visit your favorite Monterey Meatshop in Luzon to get yours today!

Check out fb page: https://www.facebook.com/purefoodsheatandeat/ and their IG page: https://www.instagram.com/purefoodsheatandeat/

Gift the Child, Gift the Parent

Five gift ideas for kids that will make their mommies happy too

Christmas is a time of giving, and oftentimes that giving is focused on the kids we know—which is just as it should be. But when you get to be a certain age, you find that you might have a lot of kids to get gifts for (mga pamangkin, inaanak, and more) when really it’s their parents who are your friends.

So recently I got to thinking, why not kill two birds with one stone and get your friends’ kids gifts that their parents will really appreciate too?

Of course, this got me thinking, what kind of gift would this be? To get ideas, I went back to my marketing roots and asked myself, “What’s the one problem every mom, myself included, suffers from?” And the answer was obvious—lack of mommy time!

That is to say, just about every mom I know wishes there were more hours in the day because we are all so busy. Not only are we charging forward with our careers, whether we’re employees or self-employed, but we’re also busy managing our households and families.

Given this problem, it was easy to think up a solution: get gifts for kids that keep them active and creative… and out of their parents’ hair! That way, while the kiddies are enjoying, Mommy and Daddy can take a breather.

So here are a few ideas for these kiddie gifts that are actually gifts for the whole family:

KidZania passes

I’ve been a KidZania Manila fan since the child-sized city opened in Bonifacio Global City a couple years ago. It’s not just that it’s fun for kids between the ages of 4 and 14 to get to experience their dream jobs in areas that look like scaled-down versions of actual workplaces. It’s that they learn a lot about themselves and also the challenges adults face, which helps teach them responsibility and creative thinking.

Oh, looks who’s one of them? 🙂 hehe!

Zeeka created her own comic strip at Metro!

Learn more about KidZania Manila via their website. http://manila.kidzania.com/en-ph/

Ticket prices range from P900 to P1100 for kids aged 4 to 17.

ActiveFun

Another play and activity center kids are guaranteed to enjoy is ActiveFun, which has branches in Bonifacio Global City, SM Megamall, The 30th Mall, Power Plant Mall, and Evia Lifestyle Center. In fact, if the members of your barkada all have kids around the same age, it might even be cool to make a fun day out of it so the kids can exhaust themselves on the slides, in the ball pits, and more, while the mommies can have a spa party.

Learn more about ActiveFun via their website. http://activefun.ph/

Admission rates for unlimited play are P480 per child.

GummyBox PH

Just a couple months ago, I discovered Gummybox, which offers themed activity boxes containing everything kids could want or need for a hands-on crafting or science project—something sure to keep them occupied for at least a whole morning or afternoon.

To learn more about Gummybox PH, check out my previous blog post or the company’s Instagram account, @gummybox.ph. For inquiries, email kfunkidstoys@gmail.com or text +63 939 551 1501.

 

Workshops and Kiddie Courses

Who says learning can’t be fun? There are workshops all around the metro to cater to a whole rainbow of kids’ interests. SparkleLab.ph alone offers courses on game development, toymaking, robotics, film and animation, and more.

Know any MasterChef Junior contenders in the making? Check out the kiddie courses at the Red Apron Cooking Academy. Dolldalita offers dollmaking workshops where kids can learn what goes into making toys they love. Or if you know any kids set to become the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, check out the courses at Jack.com.ph. And kids with an eye for style and beauty can learn a lot from the programs at KidzArt.

Craft Supplies and Kits

Know kids who love to get hands-on with crafty materials? Feed their love for these types of activities by getting them age-appropriate art and craft supplies, such as watercolor, calligraphy and lettering, or scrapbooking sets. Some places to shop include The Craft Central, Hey Kessy, Craft Carrot, and National Book Store.

Do you have other suggestions on gifts that will make both the parents and the kids happy? 🙂 Share it with me in the comments section below.