Alyssa J Freitas

December 4, 2019

How To Knock Out Your Christmas Shopping

It's that time of year, where the world falls in love...and goes crazy with everyone buying gifts! I'm not one for gift guides (though I did create a Minimalist Gift Guide in 2016 that I still stand by) so that won't be my contribution this year. Instead I thought we could talk about how to efficiently and economically knock out your Christmas shopping so you can spend your time enjoying the holidays instead of spinning in circles looking for the perfect gift (unless that's your thing, then go for it!).
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out my top tips for doing all of your Christmas shopping efficiently and effectively
Photo by Ally Marcino

Let's talk money

First thing's first, budgeting for the holidays is important and essential. I've pretty much done away with big gifts for my girl friends as we've agreed to spend time together and forego the expense of a physical gift. When it comes to family we don't exchange gifts, or it's a small token, so we make things very easy! 

If it isn't possible for you to scale back the number or size of your gifts, there are a few ways you can save on your holiday shopping. I explain discount gift cards in this post, as well as searching for coupons and buying second hand. I'd recommend installing the Honey plugin to keep on top of available discounts. 

Now on to actually figuring out what gifts you want to buy

I am a huge advocate of spreadsheets because you can adjust them to your needs, but I know other people prefer to manage their lives on pen and paper or in a note app, so pick whatever floats your boat. If you go the spreadsheet method you can create a list of people you need to shop for, assign budgets and actuals, and keep track of your progress and spending all in one place. My recommendation is to have a column for your loved ones' names, what you want to spend, what you actually end up spending, and a link or description of each gift.

Some of the best gifts I've given have been experiences (like the best purchase I made in 2016), so you can brainstorm outside of the classic physical gift. Other favorite gifts have come from unlikely places, like Costco (high quality and you can shop for so many people in one place). Here are some videos you can check out for extended gift guides that I enjoyed watching - one and two

So where's this method for knocking it all that you promised?

There isn't one perfect way to get all of your holiday shopping done, so here's what's worked for me - take what makes sense for you and leave the rest behind! 

Try to get as much from one store as possible. Remember me mentioning Costco as an example? Finding places where you can get gifts for multiple people (pulling from the ideas you already have laid out in your spreadsheet) can be a huge help. 

Shop online from places you already know. One of the challenges of online shopping is not being 100% sure of the quality of what you're going to get. If you opt to shop online do so well in advance to avoid any shipping related fiascos and go with places you already know. 

Go early. Aside from making sure that items are in stock and you can get everything you want, I'm also referring to going early in the day. Everywhere is going to be crowded on the weekend and on week nights. There's no avoiding it. Since that's the case, going when the stores open will help you beat the crowds, have a better experience, and increase your chances of getting everything you need in one fell swoop. 

You still have a few weeks before it's time to exchange gifts, so get on it and use these tips to knock it out of the park!

What's the gift you're most excited to give this year?

-Alyssa J

November 27, 2019

November 2019 Monthly Recap

I can't believe there's only one more monthly recap left in 2019! No one seems to be freaking out yet that we're entering a new decade. Does anyone else remember this being more of a thing? I'm excited to enter 2020 and live it up in the roaring '20s! But we're not there yet...let's take a look back at what happened in November.
Click to read now or pin to save for later. Check out what I got up to in November in NYC!

I started the month off with an amazingly perfect New York day. I had a great day at work, headed out a bit early and made my way to my favorite place - The Met. A world renowned lutenist came to perform in what has been my favorite exhibit on Dutch art. I was the youngest one there by at least a couple of decades and the place was packed! I won't be seeking out the lute again, but it was a cool experience to hear the music of the time with the art. On my way home (just a quick walk across Central Park, don't ya know) there were fireworks to kick off the marathon, but I felt like they were just for me.

The fabulous New York City weekend continued the next day when I met Austen for brunch. We had such a fun time catching up and I joined her for a photo shoot she had scheduled in the park. You can check out her vlog for more of the fun!

Will never get over that this is our street <3

The next day Joe and I went over to visit with Christina, Fran, and John. We chilled out and when we decided we needed dessert John went out and came back with a whole ice cream selection!

For a special date night Joe and I went to a seafood place around the corner and then went to the Beacon theater to see the comedian Tom Segura perform.

The Cori's came to visit for a weekend and I asked these cuties to be my bridesmaids! We went and picked out dresses and I am so excited to have them stand by my side.

Papa came into the city for Veterans Day and we went to see the parade together. It was a great showing and I'm proud to be the daughter of a vet!

We checked out another show this month at the Brooklyn Steel. We saw Mister Wives and they did a phenomenal, happy job!

Sheetal and I kicked off what is turning out to be our annual hot chocolate tour of NYC. We started at Maman's and I'm thinking this may have to be a blog post in and of itself. We had a fun time together and she really is the sweetest.

Jessie and I (another IBM friend!) got together for breakfast and had wonderful conversation. It's so helpful to have friends who are also in sales to talk with and relate to outside of your own company. I also got to see Logan in November, so it was quite an IBM month.

Joe and I were finally able to get together with Chrystalla and James, who also are recently engaged!!! We had been waiting to open champagne with them and got to drink it out of wine glasses haha We had dinner and hung out at the apartment and just had the best time with them.

I headed to Florida for a full week of work. I did some training for Yukon and attended an event for Looker and feel so grateful that I have challenging and engaging work. I also got to check off a bucket list item - I was upgraded to first class on the way home! It was everything I dreamed it would be and more.

Joe and I had a perfect weekend at home and were so glad to be back together after all the travel. We went to my co-worker Catherine's friendsgiving, had a breakfast date, ran errands, and all that jazz.

How has your November been?! Happy Thanksgiving! 

-Alyssa J

November 13, 2019

Friendsgiving Etiquette

I am so into November. It's finally chilly, I have my few Thanksgiving decorations up (still festive, but not time to go over the top for Christmas), and it's perfectly acceptable to cozy up on a Sunday afternoon at home near the radiator. Another reason I'm into November? So many opportunities to rely on etiquette to help us have a fun time. You'll remember from previous posts that the purpose of etiquette is to help everyone feel at ease, and today I'm excited to jump into Friendsgiving etiquette!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out what you need to know when you attend a friendsgiving!

Find out what to bring

More likely than not the host will suggest dishes that will be good for you to bring (and if they don't, ask!). Please listen to them. They're coordinating a number of guests and have a view of the entire menu, so don't get too creative and diverge. If you do come up with another idea, bring it in addition to what you've been asked. 

Plan ahead

To make sure you don't put yourself in a scramble the day of the event, take a look at your calendar and block time to prepare whatever you need to bring. Show up on time, not too far in advance, and just generally make sure you're ready to be a great guest to help the generous hostess. 

When you arrive, be helpful!

When you arrive it is always good to offer a helping hand to your host. Ask if he or she would like assistance passing out hors d'oeuvres or taking other guests' coats. But get out of the way! Your host is likely to be slightly overwhelmed so be sure to asses what he needs and then move on to talk to other guests; you don't want to be underfoot while he is working.

Keep conversation flowing

If it is an intimate gathering and you know everyone this should be easy enough. However, if you do not know many other guests make an effort to introduce yourself and learn a little about them. Asking how they know the host, where they went to school, where they are from, what they last read, etc. can help get you started.

We all know the feeling of getting through the usual small talk with someone and not knowing where to take the conversation next. This can be particularly difficult when it's someone you don't know well and are unsure of his or her interests. Now is the time to pull out your inner investigator and use some questions to find common ground. Asking about travel experiences and plans, books, music, holiday memories and the like is a good way to start. Be an active listener and make follow up inquiries to keep the conversation going.

...And appropriate

When politics or religion or economic policy discussion comes to the table it doesn't bode well for the enjoyment of all, so avoid it! Yes, it can be fun to have a debate, especially when you are passionate about a subject, but a Friendsgiving dinner is usually not the time or place.

Help cleanup, but know when to leave

When the table is being cleared, ask once if the host needs help, ask twice, and accept denial on the third time. Sometimes a host can't help but begin to straighten up but still wants his guests to enjoy each other's company and linger at the table. Just remember that the host in charge of the meal and guests should follow his lead.

Figuring out when it's time to leave is an art that is somewhat difficult. You do not want to be the last remaining nor do you want to leave too early. If the host has put an end time on the invitation, then this is a straightforward indication of when you should begin to gather yourself. If there isn't a specific end time look to signals from your hostess such as if she remarks on the time or finishes clearing up.

Send a thank you note

There is nothing better then receiving a thank you note after working hard to host a party. Show your appreciation and drop a note in the mail the next day.

Check out more etiquette posts here and the posts that inspired a lot of the points here and here

Anything else you would add? Hope everyone who is attending a Friendsgiving has a fabulous time. 

-Alyssa J

November 6, 2019

How to Make Progress Every Day

Sales is a fun business. It's exciting and varied and I love the strategizing and creativity that's required. One of the challenges of being in enterprise sales is that things take time. A long time. You can work on a deal for months and maybe you'll win it and maybe you won't. The fact is, it can be hard to keep yourself motivated when you can go quite a while without a victory or a complete indication that you're on the right track.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out this one small tip you can use every day to ensure you're making progress

Since I'm sure this feeling is not unique to sales, I wanted to share the ways I've been staying motivated and excited and measuring my progress.

Utilizing your calendar for planning

I have a recurring calendar event every morning at 8:30 called "Schedule Day." In the details of the event I ask myself
What can I do to move my current opportunities forward today? 
What can I do to generate new opportunities today? 
When it comes down to it, these are the most important questions any salesperson can ask themselves when planning out their day. Depending on your role, you can modify these questions. The main idea is to get yourself thinking about how you can best use your time to achieve your goals.

Based on this (and all of the existing meetings on my calendar), I fill in my calendar with what I will do each hour or half hour to help me answer these questions.

Utilizing your calendar for reflection

At 6 every evening I have another recurring calendar event where I ask myself
What did I do to move my current opportunities forward today? 
What did I do to generate new opportunities today? 
What am I grateful for today?
I then reflect on my day and fill in the event with answers to these questions. By looking back at what I did for the day (the meetings I had, emails I sent, calls I made), I can see if I made progress that I'm happy with and it helps me think through how I can do better tomorrow.

This also gives you a great record of your small victories and is something you can look back on to help articulate your value and what you contribute/how you think through and make progress in your role. Whether it's your resume, LinkedIn, an interview, or a performance review, this is an easy way to collect the information you'll need to use again and again.

I also like to ask myself what I am grateful for over the course of the day. I tried to institute gratitude journaling into my routine in the morning, but I find that reflecting on one thing at the end of the day works for me.

How do you keep yourself on track and making progress? 

-Alyssa J

October 30, 2019

October 2019 Monthly Recap

October has been an action packed month, with tons of travel. It feels so good to have a few hours at home this Sunday to write this post and get myself together after being on the move!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out what I was up to in October, with a lot of time spent in Disney

A professional highlight was opening the latest Women in Sales Everywhere panel. WISE is an organization I'm involved in in the capacity of content chair (check out our Instagram and blog!), and I helped connect Looker with WISE for our October event. It was exciting to kick off the discussion and my dream is to speak on a panel one day!

I've felt the happiest this month since moving to the city. It's almost like the summer felt like I was on vacation - like living in the city wasn't permanent. Now, when I'm taking walks in Central Park with Joe and hitting up the Met every free weekend, it finally feels real. Not going to lie, I teared up a bit looking at this view and realizing that my dream has become reality!

Mama and Papa came into the city and we visited Hamilton's Grange. Very cool to see where he lived and learn more about his life. That weekend Joe and I played quite a bit of Forbidden Island and Nina came for a visit too!

A local bar had a Disney movie trivia night, so you better bet we were there! We came in 4th place and were very proud of ourselves. Our team name (Put that thing back where it came from or so help me) was a big hit.

I headed off to North Carolina for a Women in Data event, and when I got back Joe and I went to the NY Historical Society for free Friday nights.

The following week I was in Atlanta for a happy hour and a few meetings, and that weekend I jetted off to Orlando for a weekend in Disney with Casey!

We went to Epcot on Sunday and I had a conference from Monday to Thursday. The conference was a great opportunity for me to perfect my Looker pitch and to refine my understanding of where we are in the data analytics space. All that aside...the conference closed down Magic Kingdom for us one night and I lost my mind! We got all the food and ice cream we wanted for free and I was so excited to go on the rides and meet characters. Major perk that comes along with all the travel.

I came home and had a hot second to rest, then the next day we headed to Jersey to visit with my and Joe's family. We also went to a Halloween party and made an interesting pair.

What has your month been like? 

-Alyssa J