Noel Arcallana - Staff

Noel Arcallana

Noel Arcallana

Current UpStream Contributor

Recent UpStream Articles

The key to employee improvement: boosting their intelligence

posted Friday May 17, 2024 by Noel Arcallana

As a business owner, you're likely no stranger to seeking ways to enhance your employees' performance and potential. You're not alone in this quest. Many of us strive to improve our own motivation, perspective, and skills. But have you considered that the key to unlocking your employees' full potential lies in developing their cognitive abilities? Research shows that cognitive skills play a crucial role in not only job performance but also career advancement and overall engagement with the organization. While it's not possible to suddenly increase an individual's IQ, it's important to remember that intelligence is not fixed and can be developed and improved. In this article, we'll explore simple yet effective strategies to help boost your employees' brain skills, leading to a more productive, efficient, and successful organization.

Brain games and brain teasers

The old adage 'use it or lose it' rings especially true when it comes to our brainpower. While we can't force employees to become enthusiastic corporate robots, we can help them stay mentally active and engaged, even in roles that may not inherently stimulate their minds. We've all experienced days where we feel mentally numb, like we're on autopilot. That's where brain teasers and games come in. By incorporating activities like online chess, puzzles, strategy games, and other cognitive exercises into their downtime, employees can sharpen their critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovative thinking skills. This can make a significant difference in employee engagement and overall performance. Instead of simply going through the motions, mentally active employees are more likely to be enthusiastic and present in their work. By encouraging employees to keep their brains active and engaged, we can help them stay motivated and focused, even on the most mundane days.

Encourage physical exercise

Physical exercise has been scientifically shown to enhance cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health. Therefore, giving our employees the opportunity to do any form of exercise either on their break or at their desk could work wonders.

While it may not be possible to encourage employees to do press-ups or squats, especially in an office environment, you can either set the precedent here by encouraging this and leading by example or you can focus on a number of different exercises that can be done while sitting down. Isometrics is one excellent approach to exercise that is seldom spoken of. Exercise like this involves tensing a muscle against a fixed form of resistance. For example, a plank is an excellent isometric exercise because the muscles don't move.

When you translate this into a whole heap of exercises an employee can do at their desk, they could attempt to tense their stomach for as long as possible or try a bicep curl with their other hand as resistance. Isometrics is fantastic for building strength and overall health because it boosts blood flow, and this means that when we exercise like this, we're going to feel a great sense of clarity. Any exercise is better than none at all, and this is particularly true in relation to cognitive skills!

Incorporate brain training programs

If you are actively interested in improving your employees' intelligence, you need to start thinking about the right types of programs that would benefit them. Many organizations prioritize things like e-learning, but they can be very dry, dull, and drab affairs. If you want your employees to actively retain the information they've learned, especially when it comes to an interesting subject matter or things that don't benefit them at all, then you need to start thinking about the best way to prime their brains.

When it comes to something like memory, one of the best ways to learn something is through spaced repetition in combination with active learning, in other words, paying attention and/or quizzing yourself. So, you may want to think about brain training programs or quizzes that actively test your employees on either the subjects they have learned or go straight to assessing their cognitive strengths and weaknesses and then assign targeted exercises to improve specific areas.

Learning is not just about memory, but it could be about focus and attention or processing speeds, as well as special awareness. When you then incorporate exercises that particularly focus on an employee's weakness, bringing them up to code doesn't just mean they're able to do a better job, but they will benefit from it in so many different areas of their lives.

Offer mindfulness and meditation sessions

When we talk about improving our intelligence, we can easily fixate on ramming information down our employees' throats. The problem with this is that it can easily lend itself to a more old-fashioned approach to forcing people to learn, like in school. We all learn in different ways, but we also need to be aware that in addition to finding out things like our employees' learning styles, stress could be a major obstacle that gets in their way.

Not everybody likes school, and so when it comes to learning new things or anything that vaguely resembles a classroom environment, we can instantly put our guard up. Therefore, if we think about learning as being a by-product of a relaxed mind, we then need to encourage the right settings for people to learn, not just in work but in their minds. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve focus, help manage stress, and benefit decision-making abilities, which are all fantastic in a work setting. The more relaxed we are, the better we can be in bouts of deep learning.

It's about making sure that our employees are alert in that and while some people can benefit from reading information once and retaining it, others will have their own unique stresses or hang-ups that prevent them from doing this, which is why something like mindfulness is not just beneficial for this, but it is going to boost their well-being.

Promote healthy habits

It's one of those things that we can't force our employees to do, but we should encourage a nutritious diet and focus on brain-boosting foods. Proper nutrition will always support cognitive performance, but the big issue with nutrition is that it's a massive rabbit hole that everybody's got opinions on. We can't please everyone, but when it comes to boosting cognitive performance, focus on providing foods that contain the following:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which promote general thinking and learning abilities.
  • B vitamins like folate, B6, and B12 support memory and reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Choline, which is essential for brain development and the formation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
  • Vitamin D, with some research linking a deficiency in vitamin D to an increased risk of cognitive decline.

We also need to remember that a positive work environment that fosters trust, teamwork, and healthy relationships can bring together people with different thinking styles, encourage shared information, and different ways of thinking can reduce stress, enhance brain function, and ultimately create a workplace culture that prioritizes continuous learning and cognitive health, which are all essential for high performance and employee engagement. Helping our employees fine-tune their thinking abilities is not necessarily something we would consider, but with some of these practices, you might be surprised as to how it boosts performance overall, increases well-being, and does so much more for the culture than you realize.


How to help employees handle demanding projects

posted Sunday May 5, 2024 by Noel Arcallana

Learning to be a better boss and business owner can help your team succeed, especially when faced with demanding projects. By providing the right support and guidance, you can empower your team to excel, build their confidence, and achieve their goals. Effective management of demanding projects requires a combination of strategic delegation, resource allocation, and emotional intelligence. In this article, we will explore some essential strategies for helping your team handle demanding projects and come out on top.

Delegate tasks fairly

Demanding projects often involve a multitude of complex tasks, and it's essential to delegate them fairly to avoid overwhelming individual team members. Consider your team's strengths and weaknesses when assigning tasks to ensure each person is playing to their skills. Fair delegation not only maintains productivity but also fosters a sense of equal contribution and shared responsibility.

Equip your team with the right tools

Technical issues can be a significant hindrance to project progress, leading to frustration and delays. Ensure your team has access to the best tools and technology to facilitate their work. This might include upgrading software, using high-performance hardware like KingSpec SSDs, or providing other resources that streamline their workflow. By minimizing tech-related issues, you can reduce stress and maintain productivity.

Recognize and address burnout

Demanding projects often require intense focus and long hours, which can lead to burnout. Be aware of the signs, including exhaustion, apathy, and low-quality work. Take proactive steps to manage workloads, encourage self-care, and provide support to prevent burnout. Remember, a well-rested and motivated team is more productive and efficient in the long run.

Celebrate small wins

Large projects can feel overwhelming, but celebrating small victories along the way can help maintain morale and motivation. Acknowledge and highlight the excellent work done so far, even if the project is far from completion. This approach helps break down the project into manageable chunks and provides a sense of accomplishment and progress. By doing so, you can create a positive and encouraging team culture that fosters collaboration and innovation. But make sure to know how your team members are motivated. Some appreciate public acknowledgement and work harder, while others get uncomfortable in the same situation and shrink away.

Lend a hand when needed

It can be tricky to know when you should get involved, but if you want to embrace hands-on project management, your assistance could be vital for ensuring the project is a success. You don't want to take over too much, but asking our team if there's anything you can do, even if it's checking that content reads well or a webpage works, can make a huge difference and allow them to move on to the next stage.

In conclusion, demanding projects offer valuable learning opportunities for your team, but they require careful management to ensure success. By delegating tasks fairly, equipping your team with the right tools, recognizing burnout, celebrating small wins, and lending a hand when needed, you can empower your team to excel and drive your business forward. Remember, effective leadership is about supporting and guiding your team, not just assigning tasks and expecting results. With the right approach, you can help your team thrive and achieve remarkable results.


Ways to be a better boss & business owner

posted Wednesday Apr 24, 2024 by Noel Arcallana

As a business owner, you wear many hats and shoulder a multitude of responsibilities. While it's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind, complacency can be a recipe for stagnation. As a leader, your team looks to you for guidance, inspiration, and direction. To truly excel, it's essential to continually strive for improvement and growth. By investing in your own development and learning effective strategies for leadership, you can become a more effective, inspiring, and successful boss and business owner. In this article, we'll explore practical tips and insights to help you embark on a journey of self-improvement and take your leadership skills to the next level.

Always be learning and growing

To excel as a business owner, it's crucial to prioritize your own professional development and continuous learning. Staying informed and knowledgeable on a wide range of topics will help you stay ahead of the curve and make informed decisions. Reading the news and exploring diverse subjects, such as science and technology, will broaden your perspective and enhance your critical thinking skills. For instance, reading up on what biomarkers are and their applications in research can provide valuable insights into innovation and problem-solving. By committing to lifelong learning and growth, you'll not only stay up-to-date in the business world but also cultivate a well-rounded perspective that will serve you well in all aspects of your professional and personal life.

Treat your employees fairly

In order to find business success, building a high-performing team is crucial, and retaining talented employees is just as important as hiring them. Constantly replacing staff can be frustrating and costly, so it's essential to create an environment that encourages employees to stay and grow. To do this, provide challenging and meaningful work assignments that help them develop new skills and feel a sense of accomplishment. Show appreciation for their hard work and contributions, and offer competitive benefits that demonstrate your investment in their well-being. Regularly recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond, whether through bonuses, promotions, or other incentives. By treating your employees fairly and with respect, you'll build a loyal and dedicated team that will help drive your business forward.

Take care of your customers

You can be a better boss and business owner by taking good care of your customers. They are the lifeblood of your business, and taking exceptional care of them is crucial for building a loyal customer base and driving growth. To demonstrate your appreciation, provide multiple channels for customers to connect with your company, share feedback, and receive support. Invest in training your customer service team to handle a wide range of issues with empathy, efficiency, and effective problem-solving skills. By doing so, you'll not only resolve issues but also turn customers into loyal advocates who will drive repeat business and recommend your company to others. Your goal is to create a customer-centric culture that prioritizes their needs, builds trust, and fosters long-term relationships.

Use effective communication skills

As a business owner, transparency is crucial for building trust and fostering a collaborative work environment. Use effective communication skills in clearly articulating your vision, goals, and expectations to your staff and leadership team, and be approachable and receptive to feedback. Remember, communication is a two-way street - be an active listener and encourage open dialogue. By doing so, you'll not only share your message but also gain valuable insights from your employees and customers. Their perspectives can help you identify areas for improvement, spark innovation, and make informed decisions. By listening and communicating effectively, you'll build a culture of transparency, trust, and mutual respect.


By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, you'll be well on your way to becoming a more effective and successful boss and business owner. Remember, leadership is a journey, not a destination. Be open to continuous learning, growth, and improvement, and be willing to adapt and evolve as your business and team grow. By putting these ideas into practice, you'll create a positive and productive work environment, foster a culture of trust and respect, and achieve greater success in your business career. Embrace the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on your team, customers, and community, and watch your business thrive as a result.


Elevating product quality: Innovative strategies for tomorrow's businesses

posted Thursday Mar 14, 2024 by Noel Arcallana

In today's fast-paced and competitive marketplace, standing out is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Let's face it, making your products rise above the rest requires hard work and innovative thinking. That's why this blog post is here to guide you through groundbreaking strategies that will transform your products from mediocre to exceptional in no time, turning them into the crème de la crème of the industry!

Adopt a zero-based design philosophy

Imagine hitting the reset button on design thinking that's zero-based design in a nutshell. It's like playing a game of "What If" with your products, where no idea is too wild, and every assumption is tossed out the window. Adopting a zero-based design philosophy means every feature, material, and design element is reevaluated from scratch. Why does this product exist? Who is it for? Could it be lighter, faster, more sustainable? This mindset doesn't just encourage innovation - it demands it.

Utilize predictive analytics for quality control

Who wouldn't want a crystal ball that predicts the future? In manufacturing, predictive analytics is the next best thing! It prophesies which parts of your product might fail and empowers you to proactively prevent problems before they even arise. With predictive analytics, you're not just firefighting issues as they occur; you're anticipating, planning, and often preventing them altogether. It's like having a superpower that transforms your production process from reactive to revolutionary!

Integrate sustainability as a quality metric

Sustainability is the new black, and it's not just about looking good - it's about being good. Making eco-friendly choices, like opting for sustainably sourced materials, doesn't just win you brownie points with the planet. It also tells your customers you're serious about quality, not just on the surface but all the way down to the core.

Empower frontline workers with quality autonomy

The people on the front lines of your production process are the eyes and ears of your operation, often spotting opportunities for improvement that might fly under the radar of higher management. Giving these workers the autonomy to make quality-related decisions on the spot can be a game-changer. Imagine a scenario where a worker notices that switching to ceramic bearings in a machine could significantly reduce wear and tear. By empowering this worker to make the change without jumping through hoops of approvals, the improvement is made swiftly, leading to a noticeable uptick in product quality. It's a win-win situation where innovation is cultivated from the ground up, ensuring that your products are always on the cutting edge of quality.

Leverage augmented reality for precision manufacturing

Augmented reality (AR) is revolutionizing the way we approach precision in manufacturing, transforming complex assembly tasks into a walk in the park. Imagine using a pair of AR goggles and seeing a virtual overlay on your workspace, guiding you through each step of the assembly process with pinpoint accuracy. This isn't just handy; it's like having a GPS for manufacturing, ensuring every component, down to the tiniest element, is placed flawlessly. AR takes the guesswork out of precision tasks, providing real-time feedback and instructions that make it easier for workers to perform intricate assemblies correctly the first time around.


From playing design "What Ifs" to embracing the magic of AR, these strategies are about thinking differently and daringly. And remember, sometimes it's the smallest touches that elevate your products from good to great. So, let's keep pushing the limits, one quirky innovation at a time.


11 key components of business success

posted Friday Mar 1, 2024 by Noel Arcallana

There's no way to guarantee business success, and even heavily funded projects can fail for any number of reasons. While most businesses fail in their own unique way, all successful businesses tend to follow the same blueprint.

While the ins and outs of their offerings naturally vary from one business to the next, they all have the same key components in place that make finding success a lot more straightforward. Indeed, you could argue that these elements are so essential that it would be impossible to find success without them. So, what are they? We'll run through eleven key components of business success in this blog. Make sure your business has them all, and you'll be putting yourself in a good position to have a positive future.

A clear purpose

The business world is complicated, so there's no reason to make things additionally complex. Businesses that have a clear purpose and vision nearly always perform better than ones that still haven't figured out why they exist months into their run, even if the fundamental idea behind the latter group is better. You don't need to have every facet of the business figured out by the time you launch, but the overall mission and purpose should be solid. For most businesses, this will include figuring out what problem it is that they help solve/eliminate.

Wise hiring

There's only so much that an entrepreneur can do by themselves. And there's even less they can do with a substandard team of employees. Business success depends on the ability to hire the right players, which is often a lot more difficult than people realize. Finding someone to do the role is easy; finding someone who can bring real value to the organization is not. It's important to put together a hiring process that attracts the highest quality candidates to the business. If you're really unsure of how to do this, then it'll be best to work with a hiring agency. This will cost money, but if it results in the right person, then it'll be worth it.

Onboarding and training

Some businesses think that everything will come together once they've hired a great employee, but that's not the case. That new employee represents a seed of opportunity; it's what the business does that determines whether it'll grow into a beautiful flower. Businesses that have solid onboarding processes enjoy a much better employee retention rate than those that do not, and it also ensures that the new employee can begin producing quality work as soon as possible. In addition, successful companies invest in their employees' ongoing professional development, such as by offering training and courses. This can help to enhance employee loyalty while also giving organizations access to the latest skills.

Understanding the target audience

There are very few businesses that try to capture all audiences. In fact, only the big ones - Amazon, Facebook - tend to fall into that category. In most cases, you'll be targeting your business at a particular audience. If you don't know who that audience is, then it'll be much more difficult to do, well, everything. Understanding who you're trying to reach can help with virtually all aspects of business operations, including your marketing materials, communication methods, and branding. You should identify your target audience during the initial market research phase of your business, though remember that it's worthwhile updating from time to time, as consumer expectations and demands do change over time.

Understanding competitors

It's highly unlikely that your business will be offering something entirely unique. In all likelihood, you'll have a host of competitors who are all vying for the same customers you identified as being your target audience. The best businesses have a solid understanding of who their competitors are, what they offer, how they're different, and the level of overlap there is between the two businesses. While your first priority will always be on what your business is doing, it can pay to have a broader sense of what's going on in your industry. After all, if you know what your rivals are up to, then you can ensure that you're always one step ahead of them.

Robust branding

Customers have a sea of options when it comes to choosing which business they'll work with. As such, anything that helps your business stand out from the crowd will be valuable. Your branding can be a good determining factor since it's what allows potential customers to remember who you are, which can make all the difference when it comes to choosing a company. Good branding should reflect what you stand for, evoke trust and stability, and be subtly improved in line with modern standards as time progresses.

Key tools

There was once upon a time when a business could run its operations with generic software, but those days are long gone. Today, it's essential for businesses to use software that has been specifically designed to meet the unique demands of their industry. Regardless of which industry you operate in, there will be a host of software options that allow you to complete any number of tasks. There are telematics for fleet management that help fleet owners get an overview of their entire fleet, payroll software that has been designed just for healthcare facilities, and customer relationship management tools put together with the health and fitness industry in mind. Whatever type of industry you're in, or whichever type of problem you need to solve, it's recommended to see if there's something available - in an age when there are more tools than ever before, there likely will be.

The right working setup

There's no single correct way to work. Only the way that's right for you. It can take time to figure out the right way to structure your business, but it's a worthwhile pursuit. Some businesses find that having everyone in the office is the way to go, while others select remote or hybrid working. It's worthwhile consulting with your staff to see what makes the most sense for them and, if possible, go with that. Keep in mind that working schedules and locations can be adaptable and you don't need to be loyal to just one way of working. If things change, then you can adjust your strategy.

External help

It's difficult for businesses to stay on top of all the many tasks they need to complete. But in today's world, they don't need to do everything all by themselves. There are countless businesses that offer supplementary support that allows your organization to run more efficiently. This is called outsourcing. It's recommended to outsource tasks that take too much time or which are overly complex (say, legal matters). In doing so, businesses can free up time and working hours, all the while knowing that the key parts of their operations are being handled by experts.

Managing potential problems

If you take a look at why businesses go out of business, you'll often find that the warning signs have been there for a long time. It's just what nobody noticed. Leading businesses take steps to identify what could be a problem in the future, and then fix them - or at least mitigate the risk - ahead of time.

Moving with the times

Finally, all top businesses move with the times. Just because something worked five years ago, that doesn't mean that it'll work today. Businesses that have a mindset that pushes them towards constant innovation find it much easier to stay relevant than those that get stuck in their ways.

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