Archive for the ‘Personal Values’

47 facts about Christmas that will surprise you 0

Posted on December 21, 2014 by Rob Petersen



BarnRaisers ChristmasHappy Holidays from all of us at BarnRaisers. May the New Year unfold everything you hope it does.

The Christmas Spirit is about expressing extra tolerance, charitableness and giving, especially to those who have had a difficult year or are going through trying times. And to be focused on a bright future.

Perhaps, by learning a little more about Christmas, it will give us an appreciation to express this spirit now and in the New Year.

Here are 47 facts about Christmas that will surprise you.

    1. The Bible doesn’t mention when Jesus was actually born. Most historians believe it was the Spring because of shepherds herding animals.
    2. December 25 was probably chosen because it coincided with the ancient pagan festival Saturnalia, which celebrated the agricultural god Saturn with partying, gambling, and gift-giving.
    3. On Christmas Eve during World War I, Allied troops took a break from fighting to sing Christmas Carols. When German soldier emerged they all shook hands exchanging greetings and cigarettes. It was called the Christmas Truce of 1914.
    4. Every year since 1947, the people of Oslo, Norway have given a Christmas tree to the city of Westminster, England. The gift is an expression of good will and gratitude for Britain’s help to Norway during World War II.
    5. Since 1971, the Province of Nova Scotia has presented the Boston Christmas tree to the people of Boston, in gratitude for the relief supplies received from the citizens of Boston after a ship exploded in 1917 following a collision in the Halifax, Nova Scotia Harbor. Part of the city was leveled, killing and injuring thousands.
    6. Because of its roots in pagan festivals, Christmas was not immediately accepted by the religious. In fact, from 1659 to 1681, it was illegal to celebrate Christmas in Boston. You were fined if you were caught celebrating.
    7. Christmas in early America was inconsequential. After the Revolutionary War, Congress didn’t even bother taking the day off to celebrate the holiday, deciding instead to hold its first session on Christmas Day, 1789.
    8. In 1856 Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, was the first President to place a Christmas tree in the White House.
    9. Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.
    10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer got his start as an advertising gimmick. A copywriter named Robert L. May first created the merry misfit in 1939 to lure shoppers into the Montgomery Ward department store.
    11. Rudolph almost didn’t have a red nose either: At the time, a red nose was a sign of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward thought he would look like a drunkard.
    12. Though Santa Claus has worn blue and white and green in the past, his traditional red suit came from a 1930s ad by Coca Cola.
    13. Frosty the Snowman was made famous by a whiskeymaker in 1890 who used Frosty’s likeness to showcase an entirely different kind of holiday cheer. Once Prohibition ended, Frosty quickly became the go-to guy for alcohol ads, appearing in posters for Miller beer, Jack Daniel’s, Ballantine ale, Rheingold beer, Schlitz beer, Schenley, Oretel’s lager beer, Chivas Regal scotch, Fort Pitt pale ale, Mount Whitney beer and Four Roses.
    14. Mistletoe is magical according to Celtic legend. It can heal wounds, increase fertility, bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
    15. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began the Victorian era, surprising (or maybe not) considering the stuffy and sexually repressive behavior of the time.
    16. The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season occurred before the birth of Christ.
    17. Germans decorated evergreen trees to brighten the dark, gloomy days of the winter solstice. The first “Christmas trees” appeared in Strasbourg in the 17th century and spread to Pennsylvania in the 1820s with the arrival of German immigrants.
    18. The Germans made the first artificial Christmas trees out of dyed goose feathers.
    19. Approximately 30-35 million real (living) Christmas trees are sold each year in the U.S.
    20. 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms, while only 2% are cut from the wild.
    21. Most Christmas trees are cut weeks before they get to a retail outlet. It is important to keep them watered thoroughly when they reach your home. In the first week, a Christmas tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day.
    22. The earliest known Christmas tree decorations were apples. At Christmastime, medieval actors would use apples to decorate paradise trees (usually fir trees) during “Paradise Plays,” which were plays depicting Adam and Eve’s creation and fall.
    23. Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882. Christmas tree lights were first mass-produced in 1890.
    24. In Finland, Finns visit saunas on Christmas Eve.
    25. In Portugal, Portuguese revelers hold a feast on Christmas Day for the living and the dead (extra places are set for the souls of the deceased).
    26. In Greece, some believe that goblins called kallikantzeri run wild during the 12 days of Christmas, and most Greeks don’t exchange presents until Jan. 1, St. Basil’s Day.
    27. In Australia and New Zealand, most Australians and New Zealanders enjoy Christmas on the beach or at barbecues.
    28. In Spain, the Spanish hold the World’s Largest Lottery on Christmas Day. It is called “El Gordo” or “The Fat One.”
    29. Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone.
    30. In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations because according to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas.
    31. Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836.
    32. Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.
    33. Oklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.
    34. The poinsettia is native to Mexico and was cultivated by the Aztecs, who called the plant Cuetlaxochitl (“flower which wilts”). For the Aztecs, the plant’s brilliant red color symbolized purity, and they often used it medicinally to reduce fever.
    35. Contrary to popular belief, the poinsettia is not poisonous, but holly berries are.
    36. Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra (also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker, Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna, and Nikolaos of Bari), who lived during the fourth century. Born in Patara (in modern-day Turkey), he is the world’s most popular non-Biblical saint, and artists have portrayed him more often than any other saint except Mary.
    37. Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nikolas of Myra (also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker, Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna, and Nikolaos of Bari), who lived during the fourth century. Born in Patara (in modern-day Turkey), he is the world’s most popular non-Biblical saint, and artists have portrayed him more often than any other saint except Mary.
    38. There are two competing claims as to which president was the first to place a Christmas tree in the White House. Some scholars say President Franklin Pierce did in 1856; others say President Benjamin Harrison brought in the first tree in 1889.
    39. President Coolidge started the White House lighting ceremony in 1923.
    40. President Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1912.
    41. There are approximately 21,000 Christmas tree farms in the United States. In 2008, nearly 45 million Christmas trees were planted, adding to the existing 400 million trees.
    42. Christmas is a contraction of “Christ’s Mass,” which is derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse (first recorded in 1038).
    43. The letter “X” in Greek is the first letter of Christ, and “Xmas” has been used as an abbreviation for Christmas since the mid 1500s.
    44. The first person to decorate a Christmas tree was reportedly the Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546). According to legend, he was so moved by the beauty of the stars shining between the branches of a fir tree, he brought home an evergreen tree and decorated it with candles to share the image with his children.
    45. Christmas purchases account for 1/6 of all retail sales in the U.S.
    46. he first batch of eggnog in America was crafted at Captain John Smith’s Jameston settlement in 1607, and the name eggnog comes from the word “grog,” which refers to any drink made with rum.
    47. “Jingle Bells” was originally supposed to be a Thanksgiving song.

These facts were curated from articles by Time,  Random History, Entertainment Tonight and University of Illinois Extension, with gratitude and appreciation for helping me gain a deeper understanding of Christmas and the Christmas Spirit.

Did they do the same for you?

30 things obstacles teach us 0

Posted on November 01, 2014 by Rob Petersen




Obstacles are things that blocks our way or hinder progress.

That “thing” can be a barrier, complication, hindrance, problem, disadvantage, difficulty, feeling of being overwhelmed, catastrophe, obstruction, drawback or stumbling block.

Obstacles are also great educators. Obstacles, by their very nature, challenge us to grow, change and adapt.

How? Here are 30 things obstacles teach us.

  1. They open us up to change.
  2. They make us examine our priorities.
  3. They point us to options.
  4. They engage creativity.
  5. They slow us down to help us choose the right path.
  6. They create new meaning around a purpose.
  7. They redefine progress as a series of small steps.
  8. They start us out taking small steps in a new direction.
  9. They force digging deep and finding strength and courage.
  10. They teach us that our plans, hopes and dreams require commitment.
  11. They make us ask: what can we do to make a difference?
  12. They increase self awareness,
  13. They overcome our fear of failure.
  14. They enable us to discover hidden gifts.
  15. They push us to seek guidance.
  16. They make us gain necessary resources.
  17. They make us ask questions to understand the problem.
  18. They reinforce a positive outlook.
  19. Through obstacles, we find balance and learn to keep emotions in check.
  20. They help us be honest and realistic.
  21. They are humbling.
  22. They focus us on the end game.
  23. They give us the skill of problem solving to last a lifetime,
  24. They conquer frustrations and make us focused on the outcome.
  25. They present the reality there are no miracles, only the belief in ourselves.
  26. They are the opportunity for growth of our soul.
  27. They prove nothing is predestined. They are pathways to new beginnings.
  28. They measure the size of our accomplishment by the obstacles we have overcome to reach our goals.
  29. They make us aware we are on journey and force us to identify the destination.
  30. They enable us to have control of our lives.

Do you agree obstacles are great educators? Did this teach you how obstacles, help us to grow, adapt and change?

12 insights for a new year from building stone walls 1

Posted on December 28, 2013 by Rob Petersen



lessons from building a stone wall

Rocks are abundant in Connecticut. Since this is where I live, when I have spare time, I build stone walls.

Even if you’re an amateur or have no experience, anyone can build one. It”s an experience that’s rich in learning because rocks always teach something new.

Here are 8 insights for a new year from building stone walls.

  • THE ONE ESSENTIAL IS TO HAVE A PURPOSE: Few tools if any are required to build a stone wall and the rocks, of course, are very available. Just putting a few stones together gets you started. But you need a purpose and a plan for what you intend to build and can’t start without one.

Stone Walls require a plan

  • THE ONLY WAY TO PROVE YOUR PURPOSE IS BUILD UPON IT: To show belief and faith in what you’ve started, there are no shortcuts other than to keep adding to what you’ve begun.

Belief in your purpose require how you add to it

  • A STONE WALL DOESN’T CREATE BARRIERS; IT SHOWS HOW YOU DEFINE BOUNDARIES: What most people perceive as a stone wall is actually a stone fence. It’s used to show boundaries rather than act as a barrier.
  • FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION: They are only two kinds of stone walls – free-standing stone walls or retaining walls meant to hold up the land. The form it takes depends on function you give it.


  • THE ACTION YOU TAKE MOST OFTEN IS TO MAKE CHOICES: Although there is some lifting, fitting and pushing stone into place, you spend the most time making a choice: what stone should go here?
  • A STONE THAT FINDS  ITS PERFECT FIT IS SUPPORTED EQUALLY BE A STONE ON EITHER SIDE: The answer to this question, what stone should go here, is not the biggest, squarest or most unique-looking stone. It’s the stone that is held is place because it is balanced equally by two other stones.

free standing stone wall

  • A STONE WALL THAT ENDURES REPEATS THIS PATTERN OVER AND OVER: One stone balanced and supported by two other stones repeated over and over is the key dynamic behind a stone wall that stands the test of time.
  • STONE WALLS SHOULD LEAN TOWARD THE TOP: Even structures as rigid as stone walls are not meant to be perfect straight. As a rule, a dry stacked wall should lean in towards the top 1/6 of the height.
  • CAPSTONES SHOULD BE SET ASIDE WHEN THEY ARE FOUND: The crowning achievement is a capstone placed at the top. Since they are the final stroke, you are likely to spot one as your are building. It should be set aside and used at the end to recognize achievements.

Capstone in a dry stacked stone wall

  • YOUR WORK HOLDS UP FOR CENTURIES: There are few things that any of us could build that could a purpose and function based on the successful repetition of a simple principle that are capable of standing for centuries.
  • THERE IS A STORY BEHIND EVERY STONE WALL: Once you build a stone wall for yourself, you will look at them differently. For me, they capture my imagination and I wonder: Who built them? How many were involved? How long did it take and why was it built?

BarnRaisers is a full service digital marketing solutions company. We help businesses achieve their goals in new channels of digital, social, mobile. We make results happen quickly but purposefully because we repeat patterns that work over and over. We’ve found this makes enduring brands.

How about you? Do these insights from building a stone wall give you any ideas for the new year?

The best way to predict the future is to create it. 12 reasons why 0

Posted on December 22, 2013 by Rob Petersen



Blank Canvas

“The best way to predict the future is to to create it.” This quote is credited to both Abraham Lincoln and Peter Drucker, two people known for their word of wisdom and lessons to live by.

Will 2014 be the year you predict your future by creating it?

Here are 12 reasons why this is such timeless wisdom. 12 perspectives on the meaning and benefits behind advice that has been given to us for over 200 years.

  1. “Life is a largely uncharted waters.  The best way to know what is coming is to be an active participant.” – Philosoblog
  2. “The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” – Dalai Lama
  3. “We are still the masters of our fate. Rational thinking, even assisted by any conceivable electronic computers, cannot predict the future.” – Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future
  4. “In the face of the unknown, entrepreneurs act. Specifically they: 1) Figure out what they want, 2) take a small step toward making it reality, 3) think about what they learned from taking that step, 3) build that learning into their next step, In other words: Act. Learn. Build. Repeat.” – Forbes
  5. “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare
  6. “Don’t worry about what anybody else is going to do.” – Alan Kay, Apple
  7. “Today’s leaders create the future, versus simply trying to predict it. They: 1)  Unlock potential through empowerment, 2)  Move away from linear thinking, 3) Experiment, Experiment, Experiment and 4) Find your authentic voice.” – Miroslay Tibernaus, Vice-president of Barroso Comission and European Commissioner for Enterprise
  8. “When faced with a challenge, make one. The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” – Peter Diamandus, Chairman and Co-Founder, Singularity University
  9.  “In order to build a future you must know the past”, Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father
  10. “Change is inevitable and one can either effect a desired change yourself, or be subject to the results of someone else’s change. In other words, be a leader, rather than a follower; proactive rather than reactive.” – Active Rain
  11.   “What is the use of running when we are not on the right road?” – German Proverb
  12. “The only real way to have any kind of insight into what will happen is to create your future.” – Jennine Jacobs

Did these perspective teach you something new? Will 2014 be the year you predict your future by creating it?

What makes entrepreneurs? 44 obstacles we overcome 1

Posted on March 02, 2013 by Rob Petersen



What makes an entrepreneur

What makes some of us want to create something new and build a business instead of joining one that is already established?

Conclusions are no one is born an entrepreneur and no formal study turns you into one. Instead, an entrepreneur is made through a journey; one beset with obstacles before opportunities where a spirit raises to the occasion. Maybe that’s why many say the most distinguishing asset of entrepreneurs is their entrepreneurial spirit.

To guide, get through the hard times and help you get there, here are 44 obstacles entrepreneurs overcome.

  1. Know how to take advantage of an unfair advantage – Forbes
  2. Vision and dissatisfaction with the present – Forbes
  3. Ability to get people on board and add to that vision – Forbes
  4. Flexibility to adapt, openness to feedback and the ability to learn – Forbes
  5. Persistence and execution – Forbes
  6. Start small with the means that are closest at hand – Harvard Business Review
  7. Find ways to reach the market with a minimum of resources such as time, effort and money – HBR
  8. Take a product to the nearest potential customer even before it’s built – HBR
  9. Plans that are made and unmade and revised and recast through interaction with others – HBR
  10. Landmarks that point to a discernible path – HBR
  11. Know that surprises are not deviations from that path – HBR
  12. Believe the future is out there to be discovered – HBR
  13. Obtain pre-commitments from key stakeholders – HBR
  14. Because the market in unpredictable, it has the opportunity to be shaped by their actions and decisions in conjunction with stakeholder and customer-partners – HBR
  15. Are not waiting for jobs and incentives and come to them – HBR
  16. Don’t wait for the right people to come along – HBR
  17. Have a process – Inc.
  18. Trust their gut – Inc.
  19. Have got something to prove – Inc.
  20. Have had someone in their lives who paid attention to their skills and it made a difference – Wall Street Journal
  21. Spend time asking provocative questions – WSJ
  22. Observe the world like anthropologists – WSJ
  23. Network with people who don’t think, act or talk like them – WSJ
  24. Have a burning desire to build a great company – pandodaily
  25. Focus on things like user experience ahead of monetization – pandodaily
  26. Create a culture where it’s fun to come to work – pandodaily
  27. Know there is a better solution to a problem than how everyone is solving it right now – Vijay Anand
  28. Seek out, acquire, practice the skills they need to succeed and do what they have to get to where they want to be.- George Torok
  29. Have a much higher level of trust toward their society, their peers, colleagues, subordinates, and employees – Cipe
  30. Have a low fear of failure – OpenLearn 
  31. Begin with who they are, what they know and whom they know, and immediately start taking action and interacting with other people – Darden Business Publishing
  32. Focus on what they can do and do it, without worrying much about what they ought to do – Darden
  33. Creating something new with existing means – Darden
  34. Committing in advance to what one is willing to lose rather than investing in calculations about expected returns to the project – Darden
  35. Are willing to make actual commitments to the project, without worrying about opportunity costs, or carrying out elaborate competitive analyses – Darden
  36. Acknowledge and appropriate contingency by leveraging surprises rather than trying to avoid them, overcome them, or adapt to them – Darden
  37. Relying on and work with human agency as the prime driver of opportunity rather than limiting entrepreneurial efforts to exploiting exogenous factors such as technological trajectories and socio-economic trends – Darden
  38. Do not wait to “discover” the perfect opportunity – Darden
  39. Act on things they can do without worrying too much about what they ought to do – Darden
  40. Reflect an emphasis on future events they can control rather then those they can predict – Darden
  41. Are propelled by sufficient conditions for the creation of new ventures and new markets, not through necessary conditions – Darden
  42. Make a variety of contributions that, on average, begin to look very much like progress over time – Darden
  43. Create something out of nothing – Krauthammer
  44. Help other would be entrepreneurs – Inc.

These learnings and experiences have been a guide in my journey. I hope, if you’re on that journey, they help you too.

Do these 44 obstacles describe what makes an entrepreneur to you?



  • About

    BarnRaisers builds brands with proven relationship principles and ROI. We are a full service digital marketing agency. Our expertise is strategy, search and data-driven results.

↑ Top