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Category — Guest Blogger

Austin, the well-rounded Intern in AZ, IL, IN and Korea

Hello!

I have just completed another lovely week here at DollarDays. It is amazing how my time here is flying by and I only have two weeks left. At the end of this month I will be returning back to Illinois for a brief period and then returning to school (Hanover) blog option 2 - Copyin Indiana for my senior year. Although I am excited to get back to school I am very sad to be leaving DollarDays. I will miss being in the office every day. Everyone here has been working hard during this busy back to school season. I have continued maintaining social media here as well as data entry and other tasks.

Recently I have been following the Federation of International Lacrosse World Lacrosse Championships. Team USA has so far been undefeated and is playing tomorrow against major rival Canada. Team USA has already beaten Canada once in round robin play and have never lost an international game played on US soil. I have also been active myself playing three or four times a week here.

I am currently reading the book, Escape From Camp 14, By Blaine Harden. The book is about a man named Shin who is from North Korea. The book details Shin’s life growing up in a North Korean prison camp, how he escaped, and how he has had issues adapting to life outside of North Korea. The book is extremely eye opening to the human rights violations happening in North Korea.

I’m highly excited for the next two weeks and any projects or challenges they bring. I am still learning new things everyday.

Regards,

Austin

P.S. My boss asked me for a photo to go with this post, so this is the one I gave her. Movie night at the fraternity—can you guess which movie I’m in? And you’ll never guess how I got the baby!

July 21, 2014   No Comments

Hey look! It’s Austin the intern! He survived another week!

blog post photo 3Hello!

This past week at DollarDays has been another great one! Things have slowed down a bit since the new website launch but there is still plenty to do. I’ve been working hard to maintain the social media properties as well as creating databases for our business development division. I have enjoyed every minute here at DollarDays. I am hoping to continue growing our social media presence and contribute anywhere I can in the office.

Outside of the office, I have been playing lots of box and outdoor lacrosse. Lacrosse is a major passion in my life and I am glad I get to play as much as I do here (even though it’s like 107 degrees every day!). Currently, the Lacrosse World Championships are being held in Denver. This event only happens every four years and I am very excited to see all the great games and hopefully see the United States bring home their 10th Gold Medal.

Also, I recently started to read the book, Flags of our Fathers,  by James Bradley and Ron Powers. This book takes an in depth look into the men who were raising the American flag in the famous photograph taken on Iwo Jima. The book is absolutely captivating and once I start reading, I have a hard time putting it down! Did you know Hollywood made it into a movie in 2006? Yes, it’s that good!

I also had a fantastic 4th of July in Cincinnati where I got to see a lot of my lacrosse teammates and got to see the Milwaukee Brewers play (they beat the Reds!).

The new website has been working phenomenally and I am glad that I had the opportunity to witness some of the work that goes into a new site. I learned a ton from everyone here about what goes into a new website and the different metrics that are used to measure the success of a website. I am excited for the next few weeks and am dreading leaving at the end of summer. I know I will learn a lot more in my remaining time here.

Regards,

Austin

July 11, 2014   No Comments

Austin the intern wraps up his first month at DollarDays

austin the internGreetings!

My last post was on June 13. I’ve been trying to post every week so you all know what “Austin the intern” has been up to!  I’m a little behind, but here’s my latest!

The last couple weeks at DollarDays have been fantastic! I highly enjoy working here. I’ve been busy with many projects such as helping launch the new website on July 1 by combing through it to ensure everything was working properly, doing different data entry tasks and running the social media for the company. In fact, I have discovered a way to grow our audience and reach on Facebook—I’m having a photo caption contest every Friday and the best caption gets a $100 shopping spree! Managing the social media has been fun! I have learned a ton in the short time that I have been here and I know I will learn more in the coming weeks. One of the most exciting events that has occurred is the launch of the new design for DollarDays website. I am excited about the new design and I know that a lot of hard work has gone into it.

Outside of DollarDays I have been enjoying activities such as reading, fishing, riding my bike, swimming, lacrosse and playing video games. I am currently reading Super Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. The book tries to take economic theories and use them in areas that economics would not typically cover. It’s a great read and Levitt and Dubner are two of my favorite authors. I’ve also found a great fishing spot (here in the middle of the desert!) and there are plenty of catfish just waiting for me!

I am extremely excited for the coming weeks and plan to continue contributing my best effort.  I have never been involved in a launch of a new website for a company as large as DollarDays. They have as many as 30,000 customers each day, so as you might imagine, we continue to find little things on the site that need to be fixed, added or removed. The entire company gives feedback to the IT department and they take it from there. In case you thought a website launches and it’s “set it and forget it,” that’s not the case. I was told the website will be in beta indefinitely! I AM learning!

I hope you all have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend!

Regards,

Austin

July 3, 2014   No Comments

Meet DollarDays’ New Summer Intern!

Greetings!

I am Austin Czisny, the new summer intern here at Dollar Days. I will be working with  the great DollarDays team  while on break from school. They have already been awesome and I can tell that I will highly enjoy my time here this summer.

A little about me…I am about to enter my senior year at Hanover College in Hanover ,IN. While I’m a political science major, I also participate in the Business Scholars program that Hanover offers. Through the Business Scholar program, I was able to secure a summer internship here at Dollar Days. The program is designed to supplement my major and give me the skills needed to be successful in a business environment. The curriculum of the program calls for me to have an internship at the end of my junior year and I am very excited to have one with Dollar Days.

I will be working in the marketing department and have already learned a lot as well as shared new ideas with my coworkers. I am excited to be working under Jackie Eldridge and I can already tell I will walk away with lots of new skills and experience that will help me in the future.

Besides my academics, I am also a member of the varsity lacrosse team, Student Athletic Advisory Board, and Greek Life at Hanover. In my free time I enjoy many outdoor activities such as fishing and hiking. I also enjoy playing video games, reading and keeping up to date with current events.

Regards,

Austin

large mouth bass

4 lbs.,10 oz., 22 inches!
Largemouth bass.

June 13, 2014   No Comments

THIS is How To Pay for College

pickuoguitarclubBy Guest Blogger Jack Ross
Co-Founder, PickupGuitarClub.com
Like many, Jack Ross, a high school student from Washington D.C., falls in financial aid no man’s land. With most colleges topping $45,000 a year, his chance of leaving school in four years without a crippling amount of debt is bleak. Despite his near perfect test scores and GPA, scholarships are few and far between. So, he decided to fund his own schooling by teaching others.

Jack and his best friend, Brian Abod, recently launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding effort for their music education website PickupGuitarClub.com.

Jack is a self-taught software developer who built his first tablet computer at age 12, and Brian is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist. Together they developed a learning environment that is the first of its kind.

Centered on gamification and popular songs, their website turns learning guitar into an enjoyable experience. Jack developed polyphonic note-recognition software that listens to the guitar as it is played, rewarding players’ improvement and demonstrating how to improve where needed. The intuitive user interface breaks down every part of guitar from notes and rhythm to technique and chord shapes, making it easier than ever to follow along.

Brian taught himself guitar through songs and designed the curriculum in the same way. Songs like Sweet Home Alabama, Wagon Wheel, and Hey There Delilah teach all the skills needed to play guitar – picking, fretting, scales, chords, and more.

It is like Guitar Hero for real guitar.

With the funding from Kickstarter, they will finish the development and launch their company. Profits from the company will go towards funding their college education.

Here is their video describing their project:
Embed: <iframe width=”480″ height=”360″ src=”https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pickupguitarclub/pickup-guitar-club-finally-a-fun-way-to-learn-guit/widget/video.html” frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”> </iframe>
If you want to support these young men and their endeavors, visit their Kickstarter campaign page – bit.ly/PickupGuitarClub

A few words from DollarDays:
Jack Ross contacted Marc Joseph, CEO of DollarDays.com about an article Marc wrote last October for the Huffington Post, titled “It’s Too Expensive to go to College Anymore.” Jack asked us to take a look at his story to see if we would publish it, since Marc and Jack are basically coming from the same place about getting an education today: it’s hard to get money to pay for college.

DollarDays hopes you’ll take a look at their project and possibly donate a buck or two. We think these two young men are rising stars to watch!

 

April 14, 2014   No Comments

Old World Egg Nog will Spice Up your Holidays!

 

Josh Froelichby Josh Froelich

I love finding simple old world recipes and bringing them back to life. And this old world egg nog recipe is so delicious, after one sip, even egg nog nay sayers will have a glass! Or two!

This recipe is a delicious trip back in time. There are several origins of the word “nog.” One is a block of wood or a cup carved from a block of wood. I like to use a handmade palm wood cup from Thailand to sip my egg nog.  An alternate definition is “a strong beer” from Norfolk, England.

For this recipe I prefer using an Oatmeal Stout.  The history of Oatmeal Stout dates back to the mid to late 1800s, with the discovery that adding oats to beer made it healthier. This new creation was often considered a table beer and prescribed to nursing mothers and ailing children and believed to be a remedy for sickness in general.

Now that you know a little egg nog history, are you ready to try the best egg nog on the planet?

eggnog

Ingredients

10 oz of oatmeal stout

4 oz bourbon (optional)

4 large organic farm fresh eggs separated

2/3 cup pure organic cane sugar

1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1/2 pinch of cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another.

Hand beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

In the other bowl, beat the yolks, sugar and vanilla until light in color and creamy.

Add the milk, cream, nutmeg and cinnamon, mix until well combined.

Gently fold the egg whites back into mixture with the beer and bourbon.

 

Enjoy your egg nog! Happy holidays from Josh Froelich, DollarDays’ resident purveyor of fine food, drink and other random finds (he even makes his own wine). And of course, happy holidays, merry egg nog and good health from all of us at DollarDays.

 

 

December 14, 2013   No Comments

Facebook brings people together during life’s milestones

by guest blogger, Jackie Eldridge

The last thing I want to sound like is an advertisement for Facebook. (That’s my caveat for this post.)

I know I’ve said many times that Facebook and Google are taking over the world. Maybe I should say they’re changing the world instead. Despite all the push-back each giant receives regarding privacy, I believe the ability to share our lives to many usurps the threat of privacy. (Hmmm. There used to be  a mega giant called the yellow pages who had all of our private information and published it in a book!! Then they distributed to everyone!! Hope this puts Facebook in perspective.)

My cousin Patrick and his partner Tabatha had their first child last week. Facebook kept me in the loop to the point that I almost felt like I was in Ohio with them. I read updates, enjoyed videos and chatted with family. Pretty amazing that technology can bring people together during a major life event. The photos and videos meant everything to me.

Then there’s my friend Lindsay. Her father has had stage IV cancer for a year now. I read her posts, and those of her siblings, as her dad transitioned from hospital to hospice. Reading the posts not only kept me connected, but I couldn’t help but feel that Facebook was serving a much larger purpose for Lindsay and her three siblings. They were posting their feelings, talking to God, praying, reminiscing, sharing photos—truly commemorating their lives with their father. This morning, when their dad passed, I read their posts and felt connected to them, and most of all, they were connected to each other. I cried for them. Today, on his death, I know his life was full—as full as a parent’s could be—because he, too, got to witness how his kids and grandkids expressed their feelings and love for him, with some thanks to Facebook. When a loved one is passing,  we often break that stubborn dam of intimacy and flood them with last words and pent-up emotions. While I have no doubt that Linds and family did their share of “flooding” with their dad, I know that being able to emote on Facebook for the past three weeks has been a great release for them. And it’s made them a closer family.

Despite the privacy issues (that we need to constantly monitor) Facebook’s ability to bring people together during life’s milestones is a gift.

November 15, 2013   1 Comment

Converse, Don’t Complain

by Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO, Rakuten Inc., from LinkedIn

ballSometime today, you may take a break from your work and walk around the office. Perhaps you will talk to a colleague. What will you say? Will you complain about the boss? About the workload? About the weather?

That is common. But it’s not helpful. If you work in a big company, chances are this kind of complaining is what usually goes on in the hallways. But if you look at small companies – at venture start-ups – there is a different buzz in the halls. That’s the sound of conversation.

The best part about being an up-and-coming company was always having someone to play verbal “catch” with. Starting a company is an experiment of trial and error, and when something happens you always end up discussing it with those around you. When Rakuten was in its early stages, there were not many employees, and the office was small. It was as if we were playing verbal “catch” 24 hours a day, all year long. It is no exaggeration to say that Rakuten today was born out of the conversations of that period.

In bigger companies, that natural ongoing conversation may fall off. When that happens, the company loses a critical tool.

In the same way that pro baseball players use a game of catch to warm up and check their form, you can use conversation to verify whether your own way of thinking and judgment are correct or not.

Try raising an issue – “throwing a ball around” – with those nearest to you. People are strange creatures. In most instances, if you throw a ball to someone, they will throw it back. And from there you can start playing catch. This is much more constructive than just approaching other people to complain about your boss or coworkers, or to gossip. And more than just helping you to find a good conversation partner, it is fun.

October 30, 2013   No Comments

Are your employees helping you LOSE money?

by Guest blogger, Chuck Vance, President, MaskMail.com

employee theft - CopyDo you know if your employees are stealing from you or, if a manager is sexually harassing one of his/her subordinates or, if you have an employee who is about to “go postal” at your business or, if you have people using illegal drugs while driving company vehicles?

Most business owners and managers would probably respond: “Of course, I talk to my employees and they talk to me, so I pretty much know what is going on. Besides, we are like family.”

Unfortunately, experts and statistics would tell you that that is your perception and not the reality. Let’s just take one category of what you don’t know, and it is the one that probably everyone thinks of first—- employee theft.

The FBI calls employee theft “the fastest growing crime in America” and adds that this trend is having a devastating effect on small businesses.  The U. S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 75% of employees steal from the workplace and that most do so repeatedly. The Department of Commerce estimates that employee theft of cash, property, and merchandise may cost American businesses as much as $50 billion per year. That sounds like a lot, but consider if one of your trusted employees is taking just one pack of cigarettes per day (5 days per week), at your store—you lose, (in revenues), between $2,000 and $3,000, per year.

The average annual loss suffered by small businesses (fewer than 100 people) is $200,000, which is significantly higher than the average loss in any other category, including the largest businesses. Would you be surprised to know that it is estimated that about one third of all corporate bankruptcies are “directly” caused by employee theft? What if you had that $200,000, (or even part of it), back in the business? Could it have kept you out of bankruptcy?

You may be thinking, “That can’t be true; why would there be greater losses in a smaller business, where you know the people better, than in a larger company?” Let’s look at the factors that make small businesses especially vulnerable to employee theft and fraud. For one, small businesses generally have more limited resources to devote toward crime detection—they are busy focusing on trying to keep the doors open. When they do spend time and effort on theft deterrence, they think about protecting their company from external theft, not internal theft. In addition, small companies often include employees with multiple responsibilities (people known in baseball as “utility players”), who are not closely supervised. This provides them a greater opportunity to commit and conceal illegal activities. Furthermore, the family-like atmosphere of many small businesses may, believe it or not, lead to higher rates of employee theft—because owners of such businesses place too much faith in the belief that familiarity breeds honesty—which is not true.

And remember, thus far we are only talking about employee theft.

How about sexual harassment? Would it surprise you to know that in a recent survey taken of 782 U.S. workers that 31% of the females revealed that they had been sexually harassed at work—43% of those were harassed by a supervisor? The Business Forum estimates that over $20 billion is spent each year by businesses for litigation—and that does not include settlements or judgments.

There are other issues such as workplace violence, discrimination, alcohol or drugs in the workplace, and many more.

So, if we realize that we probably have problems in our business that we are not aware of, how do we find out about them? Do we meet collectively, or even privately, with our employees and say, “Come on, tell me what you know?” How effective do you think that that would be?  Most people will not step forward with negative information for a number of reasons:

They don’t want to be branded as “snitches” and they don’t want to be ostracized, ridiculed, or perhaps retaliated against by their peers, or even supervisors. They don’t think that their information is important enough to pass along and they don’t believe that management truly wants them to report issues—and make waves.

If these are their concerns, how do we assuage them? How can we get them to provide information to you that could, if unreported, harm the company and its bottom line?

There are anonymous reporting systems which are the proven, most cost effective methods to find out what is going on in your company.  A program is established for your employees to anonymously report information without fear of retaliation.  This is a program that you can establish, endorse and publicize to your employees, vendors, contractors and even customers— because YOU DO CARE, and, YOU DO WANT TO HEAR FROM THEM!

But should that anonymous e-mail and/or phone line go to someone within the company? If you were reporting that your boss was sexually harassing his secretary or that your office manager was taking free trips from vendors, would you e-mail or phone a tip to someone within the company and hope that your voice, or e-mail address, wouldn’t be recognized? Or, would you be concerned that you would be identified and that overtly, or covertly, you would be punished for reporting?

Far more effective, both from a quantity and quality of reported information, is for businesses to use a professional vendor, with a qualified and trained staff, as a 24/7 conduit between the employees, and them. Having a third party between the reporter and management, (with rapid transmission of the report), gives the reporter the confidence to fully and frankly report without being identified.

Also, businesses can tailor the questions that they would like the vendor to ask a reporter and require that the vendor support many different languages so that reporters will feel comfortable communicating in their native language. In fact, because the communication through the vendor is anonymous, the vendor can facilitate an open dialogue between the reporter and the company, increasing the comfort level of the reporter and the likelihood that an incident will be reported.

Business owners and managers can ask follow-up questions through the vendor to gain additional insight and further their investigation.

So, is the anonymous reporting program, with submissions by e-mail or voice mail, monitored and relayed by trained professionals around the clock, 365 days of the year, in almost any language, expensive?

Surprisingly, no. And such a program is easy to incorporate into your business.  At the program’s inception there is a small, one time, start-up fee to get your company set up in the vendor’s software. Then your business and your employees are provided with posters (to be placed in strategic areas around the workplace), wallet size cards (giving URL for the reporting website and the toll free number). You, as the boss, designate who you want to receive the reports. After the start-up charge, you have a very reasonable monthly fee (based usually on the number of employees that you have in the company). That rate remains the same through-out the term of the agreement, no matter how many reports and responses you have each month. The start-up charge and monthly fee could easily be recouped by your company just by detecting and correcting one issue (e.g., someone stealing from you). The deterrent effect alone of such a program will probably save you enough money to more than offset the expenditure.

As an added bonus, an anonymous reporting system also qualifies as one of the reporting methods mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. In fact, some insurance companies have given premium discounts to businesses that utilize an anonymous reporting system. So, both the government and insurance companies must believe that such a program is an effective deterrent, and an effective self-policing tool.

Sound easy? That’s because it is. You go about doing what you do best for your company. When issues are reported, depending on their nature and seriousness, you resolve them knowing that you probably caught them early, before they became a more expensive and endemic problem.

So, as we’ve shown, you really can’t know everything that is going on in your company, no matter how small or large it might be. Then why not find an excellent vendor and enroll your company in an anonymous reporting program? Companies that have, see positive results. Their employees feel good that they have a way of communicating with management and reporting issues, even making minor suggestions, or voicing complaints—without revealing their identity. Management knows that by having a reliable, effective method to anonymously receive reports, they will probably get an early “heads up” about issues that they would otherwise not see or hear of. Even contractors, vendors, and customers will feel good because they know they are doing business with a company that has an effective tool for dealing with inappropriate behaviors.

So, don’t you think that it is time for you to enroll your business in an anonymous reporting program so that you’ll never have to say, “I wish that someone would have told us about that!”?

October 21, 2013   No Comments

Helping others is what we’re all about

Pinelake IndiaIf you know anything at all about DollarDays, then you know we always like to help others in need.  And we love to hear about others doing the same and thought we’d share a story of a customer who is devoted to helping others.

Pinelake Church, with several locations in Mississippi, is helping people in Punjab, India who are in need.  Teams from Pinelake Church travel to India and offer a Compassion Kit that is a good-sized box filled with practical living items like soap, toothpaste, t-shirts and other basic items.  The Kit is a gift that also shares the story of Jesus and gives the opportunity for a person to begin their own story of knowing Jesus.

DollarDays feels fortunate to be Pinelake Church’s wholesale connection for the contents of the Compassion Kits. It’s projects like these that make us feel like we are making a difference too.

Keep up the good work, Pinelake Church!

October 9, 2013   No Comments