Should You Only Use Cash?

July 6, 2020

View Article
Rich & Kristina Messenger

Rich & Kristina Messenger

Senior Vice President

550 S Watters Rd.
Suite 155
Allen, TX 75013

Subscribe to get my Email Newsletter

June 29, 2020

All About Food Deserts

All About Food Deserts

You’re hungry.

You just got home from work, you haven’t had anything since lunch, and you need a bite to eat ASAP. What do you do? Most of us just pop over to the local grocery store, pick up some ingredients, and prepare a meal. But that’s actually not possible for many Americans who live in areas without access to fresh groceries. It’s a phenomenon known as “food deserts”, and it affects millions of people throughout the country.

What’s a food desert?
Defining food deserts can be tricky. Roughly speaking, a food desert is an area where residents have limited access to healthy food options. But limited access doesn’t always look the same. The United States Department of Agriculture looks at things like distance from grocery stores, income, and access to vehicles when delineating a food desert.(1) Consider a few examples…

Let’s say you live in a densely populated, low income, urban area. You and your neighbors mostly take public transportation to work, and there aren’t many cars to go around. While there might be plenty of gas stations and corner stores nearby, the closest supermarket or grocery store is around a mile away. Technically speaking, you live in a food desert. You don’t have easy access to healthy food options.

But there are examples from the other side of the spectrum. Let’s say you live in a low income rural area. You own a vehicle out of necessity, but your closest neighbors are a mile away and the closest real grocery store is over ten miles away. Once again, you would technically live in a food desert. The settings and details are totally different, but getting healthy food is still a massive hassle.

Why do food deserts matter?
Remember that a food desert is all about access to healthy food. There might be plenty of fast food and processed food to be found in urban and rural food deserts. But living on junk food carries a steep price tag. The upfront cost of constantly eating out can add up quickly. That’s already less than ideal for a family in a low-income neighborhood. But consuming junk food may also increase your risk for obesity and other health problems. That could eventually translate into increased healthcare expenses. It’s a double whammy of problems; you pay more for bad food that will cost you more later down the road!

How many people live in food deserts?
According to a 2009 report by the USDA, there were roughly 23.5 million people who lived in food deserts.(2) About half of those people were impoverished.(3) Americans drive on average over 6 miles to go grocery shopping.(4) In the Lower Mississippi Delta, locals sometimes drive over 30 miles just to find a supermarket!(5)

We’re still trying to figure out solutions for food deserts. Some communities have formed local gardens that grow fresh produce. Grocery trucks have started to pop up throughout the country, bringing healthy options into neighborhoods. Only time will tell for the long-term effectiveness of these solutions!

  • Share:

March 9, 2020

Public Speaking Tips

Public Speaking Tips

Fear of public speaking is common and can be intense.

Some surveys have even suggested that we’re more scared of it than dying (1)! But giving a presentation or leading or speaking up at a meeting doesn’t have to be scary. Here are a few tips that will take your public speaking game to the next level.

Prepare and practice
Preparation is key for successful public speaking. That means doing thorough research beforehand on your presentation topic. Keep your speech simple and create a solid outline. That might mean you write everything down word for word or you keep a few bullet points handy. Just make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to say and at what point in your talk you’re going to say it. Once you’ve gotten the content of your speech sorted, start practicing it. Test run it on your spouse, your dog, or even in the mirror. This will give you an idea of which ideas or phrases are working, if your outline flows, and if you have any nervous ticks you need to address!

It’s also helpful to visit the venue before presenting if possible. Get to know the room you’ll be speaking in and what kind of setup you’ll need. It’s also a chance to rehearse in the actual place you’ll be speaking, which can be a big confidence booster!

But even a researched and practiced speech can fail if you don’t connect with your audience. Doing those things can help you feel more sure of yourself, but they’re not enough on their own to sway a crowd. How you talk and your body language are just as important as your prep work.

Speak slowly and build suspense
Fast talkers can be overwhelming in any situation. Blasting through your speech can sometimes indicate excitement, but more often it makes it hard to keep up with, which may create confusion and irritation. Plus, it could be a sign that you’re nervous and jittery, which can be distracting for audience members. Try slowing down when you’re speaking to a crowd. It gives listeners time to digest everything you’re saying and communicates confidence. You can bring your speed down even more for important points. It’s a way to help your audience focus on what you’re saying and hang on every word!

Eye contact
Let’s face it. Eye contact can be weird. Unflinching and unbroken eye contact is enough to make any of us uncomfortable. But eye contact in moderation can establish trust and show that we’re actually listening. As a speaker, it helps build a connection between you and your audience, helping them be more receptive to what you’re saying. Don’t go on stage and look at your shoes or just scan back and forth through the crowd. Choose one person at a time and establish eye contact with them for a few seconds while you speak and then move on. It’s an easy way of letting a listener know you’re talking to them specifically! Just don’t stare at one person in the crowd. The victim of your ocular assault will feel uncomfortable and the rest of your audience will feel ignored, weirded out, or, most likely, a combination of both.

There’s a reason public speaking is scary. We’re social animals, and the potential of humiliating ourselves in front of a crowd goes against everything we’re hardwired to do. But there’s no better way of overcoming fear than with preparation and then confronting it. Try these tips out the next time you’re nervous about giving a presentation or leading a meeting. You might be surprised how far they go in making your next speech one to remember—in a good way!

  • Share:

Subscribe to get my Email Newsletter