4 Thoughtful Gifts for Your Mentor

With the holiday season in full swing, the pressure to find the perfect present for everyone your list is on, including your mentor. Exchanging gifts in the professional world is a little different than the traditional exchange with family and friends, so you want to be sure you’re maintaining that important balance of thoughtful and appropriate. Depending on how well you know your mentor, this might be easier said than done.

Here are a few suggestions, however, that you can get your mentor to show you appreciate them, no matter who they are:

Travel Mug

Everyone needs a good travel mug, regardless of whether or not there’s coffee in it. Good Housekeeping put together a list of the top performing mugs they could find, and any one of them would make a good gift for your mentor. This list is especially helpful in that all of the suggested items are reasonably priced, and won’t break the bank. A Hydro Flask is especially a good option, as they’re stainless steel and vacuum-insulated, so your drink will stay as hot or as cold as when you first poured it.

Unique Bookends

If your mentor is the type that likes to keep books on display, consider getting them some new bookends! Bookends are a great way to show personality or add some color into a room. The Joss and Main website has some great, affordable choices to fit anyone’s interests. The Gordon Corbel bookends would be sure to instantly add a little style.

Rocketbook Notebook

A nice notebook is always a great choice, but consider a twist on an old classic: a Rocketbook. These notebooks come with the ability to wipe clean all with a damp cloth. Definitely include a Pilot FiXion pen to make sure your mentor can reuse it. The nice thing about these notebooks is that you can easily send its contents to Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, or wherever you keep your files, all through the app on a smartphone.

Of course, a leatherbound notebook is never a bad choice, either, if your mentor is a little more old school!

A Bento Box

For the mentor who likes to pack everyday, a beautiful new bento box is a perfect idea. These monbento MB Original bento boxes are dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and BPA free. They’ll make bringing lunch to work fun, and your mentor will think of you everytime they use them.


AR in Real Estate

So many industries across the board have experienced an impact from new technology, and real estate is one of them. Already, the way people purchase homes has changed from even twenty years ago, with the internet being one of home buyers’ primary tools.


Another tool that’s becoming increasingly in high demand is virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Virtual reality, of course, is shows a completely digital world, of course, whereas “augmented reality superimposes digital elements on an image of the real world.” Augmented reality has changed the game forever when it comes to staging rooms and allowing people to tour potential homes without ever leaving their current location.


Below you can find just a few specific examples of how augmented reality is already starting to impact the real estate industry, and what you can expect to see as a result.


Time Saving

It takes time to show a house! It takes time to stage the rooms, to travel to and from the property, and between augmented and virtual reality, the issue is mitigated. Instead of having to set aside an entire afternoon, potential buyers can browse the home on their smartphones or computers, saving both the buyer and agent plenty of time.


Virtual and Augmented Reality Tours

Pictures of a house have never felt so real. By utilizing augmented or virtual reality, you could look for a home halfway across the world without so much as stepping foot in an airport. Of course, you can already see properties for sale, but until now, to experience them, you’ve had to physically be present. Soon enough? This won’t be a necessity.

Virtual Stagings

Staging a house takes time, and once a home is staged, you really can’t change it without spending hours to order new furniture, transport it, and arrange it. In the future, that could change. Already, Sotheby’s has come up with an augmented reality app called Curate, and what it does is allow users to to stage a room the way they want to see it. Both buyers and brokers are able to use it. All you need is an empty apartment or home, and the app user can customize the place’s appearance all while getting a physical reference point in terms of the layout. This is only one application of what will sure to be many to come, but already, Bloomberg is describing Curate as Pokemon Go but to catch couches instead of Pokemon.


Originally posted at AlvinHopeJohnson.org

Popular Neighborhoods in Austin

Austin, Texas is scattered all across lists featuring the best places to live. Its music scene, fantastic restaurants, and overall unique atmosphere is extremely attractive to residents and visitors alike. If you’re planning to move there, though, it’s a good idea to learn about the neighborhoods before making that jump.


Every Austin neighborhood has its own personality and there’s a fit for households in every stage of life. Here are some of the most popular neighborhoods throughout the city and why:


Barton Hills

Historic and well-established, Barton Hills rests only minutes from Downtown Austin and Zilker Park, giving the best of both worlds whether you’re in the mood to commune with nature at LadyBird Lake or go on a city adventure on Dirty Sixth. The homes in Barton Hills an eclectic mix of historical and modern, with some having been around since the 1930s, and others a more recent addition to the neighborhood. Although Barton Hills is practically in the middle of Downtown Austin, it still feels like a welcome respite from everything else around you.



Allandale is a favorite of new residents and old, and it’s no surprise, given its lively, involved community, big open spaces, and spacious homes. It’s especially attractive to families thanks to its traditional feel, as well as all of the things to do around the area. Of course, there’s the nightlife scene for anyone interested, but there are also stunning parks of Old Austin to explore, and plenty of nearby small businesses that give Austin’s its charmingly quirky character.


Old West Austin

This neighborhood is in high demand as one of the ten Great American Neighborhoods as decided by the American Planning Association. Old West Austin has also been on the National Historic Register of Historic Places as of 2003; the community was originally developed between 1886 and 1953. You can see the history in the houses, which are like a timeline in and of themselves. Old West Austin is also home to the Clarksville community, which was founded by freed slaves after the Civil War.



If you’re a golfer, Lakeway is a perfect option with great homes, quality schools, and nearby natural parks. Currently in the works is the Lakeway Resort and Spa, which promises a relaxing break from the bustle of everyday life. Although Lakeway doesn’t have much in terms of history, it’s a vibrant place to call home complete with stunning views of Lake Travis.


Originally posted at AlvinHopeJohnson.org!

4 Thoughtful Gifts for Your Mentee

Find the right present for anyone can be a challenge, but it can be even harder in a professional setting when your relationship isn’t entirely established, yet. Finding the right present for your mentee, for example, can be tricky, if you are still getting to know them and want to strike the right balance of personal without being too forward.

Luckily, there are plenty of options that will offer a meaningful impact and without placing a huge financial burden on you. Here a few suggestions to consider:

Homemade Goodies

You can never go wrong with homemade baked goods. After all, everyone needs to eat! A homemade treat means that you put time and effort into your present. If your mentee doesn’t get to go home very often, a homemade meal or dessert will be especially well-received. Of course, it might be easier to order something and have it delivered, but making something yourself just conveys that extra sense that you care.

A Shared Experience

Sure, you could give your mentee something wrapped up in a bow, but it’s also not a bad idea to give a present in the form of an experience. By spending time with your mentee, you’re showing you’re taking an active interest in their life and the things they enjoy. Something like attending a holiday concert or even just grabbing a cup of coffee is meaningful because you set aside time especially for them.


The holidays are the perfect time to give back to the community and instill those values in your mentee, and there will always be people who need help. Serve at a soup kitchen together, or maybe bake some cookies together and deliver them to someone who deserves to feel appreciated. Visit a nursing home and spend time with the seniors who live there and might not get to see their families very often. The holidays can be a lonely time if you’re on your own, and reminding your mentee to show kindness and compassion is a gift that will stay with them for years to come.

Send Them a Card

Lots of people send cards around the holidays, and if you do, why not send one to your mentee? It’s a kind way to show you were thinking of them, and could keep the door open for further communication even after you go your separate ways. It’s a great way to keep in touch and up-to-date on the happenings in their life.


Originally posted at AlvinHopeJohnson.net!

Popular Neighborhoods in Dallas, Part 2

Dallas is a big city, and with that size and extensive history comes a rich and diverse range of cultures. No one neighborhood in Dallas is alike, and chances are that you can find a spot that suits your personality and preferences. Here are some of the best neighborhoods to settle down in Dallas.


Casa Linda


One of Casa Linda’s biggest selling points is the sense of generational community the neighborhood offers. First established in 1939, many of the residents have been here for decades, and that multi-generational feeling extends to the design and architecture of the neighborhood as well. Vintage homes dominate the neighborhood, and their large lawns and towering trees evoke a time before developers began trying to pack as many houses together as possible. Casa Linda is also near White Rock Lake, making it an ideal choice for those with a passion for the great outdoors.


Hollywood Heights and Santa Monica


While Hollywood Heights and the adjoining region of Santa Monica may not be the most famous neighborhoods to bear those names, they’re well regarded as some of the best places to live in Dallas. The Tudor-style architecture that first found footing during its development in the 1920s has been preserved well, and there’s a real sense of community that’s reflected in the frequent festivals and events – both formal and informal. Lakewood Elementary services students in the district, and its high rating makes it an appealing prospect for young families looking to settle down.


The Park Cities


Despite consisting of two separate suburbs, Highland Park and University Park, these self-governed suburbs have become some of the most venerated areas to settle in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. That self-governance combined with the high wealth of its residents means that community projects are well and generously funded. Combine this with an impressive school system and upscale dining and shopping experiences, and you have a neighborhood appealing to singles and families alike. A highlight is Highland Park Village, a town square that’s been designated a National Historic Landmark.


Glen Abbey


Chances are you won’t find a neighborhood more exclusive than Glen Abbey. First developed in the early 2000s, this gated community is home to roughly two dozen residents. Sequestered away among bright green hills, most would never imagine that it’s located conveniently in the heart of Dallas. The close proximity of Bent Tree Country Club provides opportunities to socialize without even having to get in your car, and White Rock Creek is right around the corner as well.




The biggest and most obvious draw of Kiestwood is the presence of Kiest Park. Sprawling out over 248 acres, it’s one of the most striking and scenic stretches of greenery inside the Dallas city limits. The neighborhood consists of over 400 homes tucked away from the hustle and bustle of big city life, but that doesn’t mean that the greater Dallas area isn’t accessible. The Bishops Art District is right around the corner, and downtown Dallas is just a short commute away.


Originally posted at AlvinHopeJohnson.org

Mutual Mentoring: Everyone Can Teach and Learn

The sharing of business knowledge and skills is shifting away from the master-disciple paradigm toward mutual mentorship that transcends position, gender and age. Mutual mentoring provides each colleague space to share ideas and learn from others. Mutual mentors support and invest in each other, even if they are from different generations or industries.


Most business leaders and professionals aspire to grow and better themselves. This is evident by the proliferation of books, videos, and conferences dedicated to personal development. The increasing popularity of these educational resources demonstrates that more individuals are committing to career and personal growth. However, more meaningful learning occurs when people come together and share with each other instead of merely listening to a teacher.


What does mutual mentoring look like? It can happen with seemingly unlikely allies, and it can happen quite successfully. These examples show the powerful synergy of sharing.



With five generations in our current workforce, we have vast stores of wisdom within our networks and spheres of influence. A treasure trove of insights on career experiences waits to be mined. Unfortunately, the more mature professionals have not always had a clear opportunity to impart their knowledge to the younger generations, nor have the newer workers been given an opening to share technologically efficient advancements with their elders. That is changing, though, and proactive leaders are fostering cross-generational mentorships that benefit everyone.



Experienced employees can give historical insight and context while new employees can offer fresh perspectives on an organization. When these two groups forge mutual mentorships, enhanced understanding and unity of purpose result. Mentors may work in completely different levels of responsibility or function yet be able to provide counsel on projects and company politics. These relationships can be safe havens to discuss challenges and failures as well.



Professionals from different fields can offer different perspectives on situations peculiar to an industry. They can also share insights on universal issues such as human resource challenges, communicating with difficult clients, vendors, or bosses, and negotiating contracts. Gathering counsel and feedback helps empower fellow mentors to stretch themselves into new arenas.



Some mutual mentorships are more organic than official, based simply on friendship. Friends who are successful or advancing in their careers can glean much from each other to grow personally and professionally. Close friendships help create an ideal environment in which to learn, love, and enjoy the journey of personal and professional development.


Originally posted at AlvinHopeJohnson.net

Popular Neighborhoods in Houston, Part 2

​Houston, Texas has so much to offer as a city, and each neighborhood has its own vibe to experience. If you’re moving into the Houston area, consider checking out these affordable and convenient style communities:
The average home price for living in the Katy neighborhood in Houston is approximately $182,000 to $335,000. The deciding factor for a majority of people interested in living in this area is their family life. People often move here with their spouses or partners, and/or their children and extended family members. This area provides housing with enough space for multiple tenants and comfortable living with nearby parks and attractions. It lies in a small part of Houston that has a tightly knit community where neighbors can all rely on each other in their time of need.

The Heights
The average home price for living in this neighborhood is a bit more expensive, running anywhere from $445,000 to $449,000. The deciding factors for the residents in this area are being able to have a house with a yard and being in the loop with the rest of the community. You are able to have your own house and private lives for your family, but you won’t be left out of the events or community gatherings in the nearby city.

The average home price for living in this neighborhood is $615,000. The deciding factors for the residents in this area are the urban and more open minded vibe that they receive from the community. New couples often move into this neighborhood to get a more modern experience and explore their surroundings to adjust to their new lives.

The Woodlands
The average home price for living in this neighborhood is from $489,000 to $756,000, which is higher than the other homes listed. The deciding factor for a majority of residents in this area is being able to seclude yourself while surrounding yourself with well-maintained nature and parks.

The average home price for living in this neighborhood is $1.64 million. Although this may seem like a major investment, it’s within good reason! In this neighborhood, neighbors report that their deciding factor is being able to explore the surrounding amenities with friends and enjoying themselves.



Originally posted at AlvinHopeJohnson.org