South African Spotlight: Once-In-A-Lifetime Moments on Robben Island

To create a successful incentive program for a client, you need to not only check off bucket list locations and desired experiences but also create moments that participants are unlikely to be able to create on their own. South Africa is the perfect destination to achieve all of these goals.

When you think of South Africa, images of safaris, wine tours and Cape Town are brought to mind. These items are usually on the typical tour guide for a trip to South Africa and as amazing as they are, will most likely be part of an individual’s vacation itinerary with or without a team of expert Travel Planners. We require more than that, insisting that participants experience more than the norm for it to be a JNR incentive trip.

South Africa is a land of stunning experiences and deservingly has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are included both for cultural reasons and natural beauty.

Robben Island was added to this list in 1999. This island’s remoteness was utilized for various reasons between the 17th century and the 20th century including as a hospital for patients that were deemed to need isolation, a military base and a prison. It was in the late 20th century that the island was used as a maximum security prison in the Apartheid period for political prisoners including Nelson Mandela.

Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island for twenty years. For many of those somber years he shared a cell with a fellow political prisoner and freedom fighter named Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada.

Kathrada left school at the age of 17 to become a full-time Transvaal Passive Resistance Council representative and fought to gain greater political representation for Indians. He spent a month in a Durban Jail for his participation in these campaigns for civil disobedience.

Kathrada studied at the University of Witwatersrand and continued his political and equality work. In the 1950s he was accused in the Treason Trial but eventually found not guilty. Despite repeated detentions and severe house arrest measures, Kathrada continued his anti-apartheid activities and was arrested in 1963 and found guilty of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government by violent means. He was sentenced to life in prison.

During his time incarcerated in Robben Island Maximum Security Prison and sharing a cell with Mandela, Kathrada completed a Bachelor’s degree in History/Criminology and Bibliography as well as Honours degrees in History and African Politics through the University of South Africa.

In 1990, after President Frederik Willem effectively negotiated to end Apartheid, Kathrada was released and elected to serve in parliament representing the African National Congress (ANC).

JNR was able to coordinate a meeting with this amazing man and program participants, giving them the opportunity to sit and talk in the very prison cell on Robben Island where he spent years of imprisonment with Nelson Mandela. Through his words, these Participants experienced the heroic perseverance that eventually led to a democratic South Africa. Kathrada shared stories of survival, hope and inspiration with those lucky enough to have won a spot on this once-in-a-lifetime, more than bucket-list-worthy, incentive trip.

The criterion that qualifies this island for World Heritage recognition include that it symbolizes “the triumph of the human spirit, of freedom and of democracy over oppression.” This deeply moving experience gave participants on this trip the chance to understand the meaning of these words and they still share stories from that unbelievable experience that few others share in the world.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo courtesy of Donna Rohmer

Motivating Millennials: Traditional Engagement Is Not The Answer

Watch out Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, the Millennials are on their way! The demographics of business are changing, and with it, the environment in which employees can best harness their talents. Gone are the days where communication is handwritten and hierarchy is strictly structured, and with this change comes new strategies that employers must understand to capitalize on the value of the increasingly younger workforce.

The rigidity of various firms established decades ago leaves executives struggling to ‘engage’ the youth moving into their careers without looking upon them as entitled or self-centered. However, in recent studies, this is where the problem may lie – engagement is not the standard protocol, as it is so widely believed, to keep younger employees stimulated. Employers are gradually using more resources to further engage Millennials, when this is actually unnecessary.  Younger workers for the most part have actively sought out the position within their company.  This speaks to this generation’s goal oriented nature, proving that they are highly determined and productive when given autonomy and a clear purpose.

Highlighted in a recent article from Forbes, one of the largest catalysts to the progressive alterations in business demographics is the difference in education between each generation. The Millennials, or Gen Y have grown up in a world with technological advances at every step of their life.  In return, they are the most tech savvy generation and as a result, can better exploit these skills to be more efficient in learning and producing results than their Gen X or Baby Boomer counterparts. The influx of networking and social media have created a unique dynamic of the Millennials, they work well both independently or in social or group task setting, to the benefit of any organization in the 21st century.

So, how does a company successfully incorporate and promote Gen Y into its workforce? According to Talented Heads, here are some simple methods that have the potential to encourage the Millennials to positively harness their energy for their respective jobs:

  • Millennials are deeply drawn to work that promises self-direction and an individual’s own creative control.
  • Millennials thrive under leaders who are accessible and provide a comprehensible narrative about the organization’s direction.
  • Millennials desire a voice in the company to share their opinions and to challenge themselves to become better problem solvers.
  • Millennials provide their best results when they are able to directly interact with their work in hands on experiences.
  • Millennials most powerful incentive is a flexible work-life balance, where basic needs are met and time both inside and outside of work is enjoyable.

Even though the times are changing at a rapid rate, companies should look at this as an excellent opportunity rather than an unavoidable conundrum. The Millennials are here to stay, so it is of the utmost importance to make their transition into any organization a smooth one. The generation of the future will undoubtedly provide great benefits if a company is willing to support the newest additions to the real world to keep retention high and employees motivated.

For more information on how JNR can help you to engage your Millennial employees contact

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Andy Tallon



JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.


Let’s Do This: Work Place Motivation

I enjoy slogans. Let’s do this, just like the taglines of the world’s most beloved brands, inspires movement and activity. Don’t believe me? Take a look:

AppleWhat will your verse be?     Kaiser PermanenteThrive

NikeJust Do It     Bank of AmericaLife’s Better When We’re Connected

StaplesMake More Happen     FordGo Further

I want to ask you a personal question: What is your workplace motivation? Is it the promise of a reward? Is it security? Is it the annual Holiday Party or Company Travel Program? If we do not like our jobs or do not feel like we are appreciated, it is easy to become disgruntled. We have all been at a point where we believe “we deserve more” or “we deserve better”. We complain, we cause dissention, we become complacent, we affect the attitudes of our peers and our job performance declines. One bad apple slowly causes the entire tree to rot.

Why does it seem like the incentives our employers offer to us for our work are never enough? Our health benefits, our 401k accounts, the potlucks, the parties, the travel programs, and a number of other motivators are provided to boost morale and to create loyalty, and we still complain, cause dissention, and provide less than satisfactory output. We sometimes focus all day on how a company can better motivate its employees, but I believe that motivation is a team effort where employee and employer give 100%, and unless an employee first takes ownership of his or her job and success, rewards and benefits are going to fall short. Look back up at the company taglines again. What will push you to change your workplace outlook?

I am no brown-noser, but I feel incredibly lucky that I enjoy my job at JNR. Why do I like my job? I get to travel vicariously through the programs I help to develop! That in and of itself is rewarding. How do I motivate myself to do my best job?

1)    I am grateful for my job. Not everyone is fortunate to have a job, and I try never to take this for granted.

2)    Utilizing tools from a time management course I took when I first started, I prioritize my day. This allows me to feel in control of the tasks that I complete, and I feel less anxious and overwhelmed.

3)    Have Fun. I enjoy working with all of my colleagues, and I enjoy investing in their lives.

It is important to know what motivates you. Have you honestly ever sat down and thought about why you work? I encourage you to do so because it will help you better understand how workplace motivation succeeds or fails.

Employer: how will you better motivate your staff? Will it be a reward card program, a keynote speaker, headline entertainment, an “iChoose” merchandise and travel concierge program, or a luxury travel program? When you’re ready to move forward with your program of choice, call us first! Just look at our website. With over 34 years of experience in travel and recognition incentives, we have the tools behind us to create an unforgettable experience that will truly WOW! your participants.

I will close with how Let’s Do This came to be:  Once upon a time, my husband was an avid gamer, and anyone who knows MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) recognizes the name Leeroy Jenkins. He even has his own YouTube video. Check it out. And no, this is not an advertisement for World of Warcraft. In the video, Leeroy Jenkins is preparing to invade enemy territory. While on comm with several other players, “Leeroy’s” voice is heard over the channel shouting, “Let’s do this…Leeroy Jenkins”. Then with gusto and passion, Leeroy enters enemy territory and begins to fight.

I am sad to have to say that Leeroy and his teammates fail miserably at their task, and his YouTube video became a world-wide spoof of what not to do. “Leeroy” had all the passion and gusto to go in solo, but he didn’t work together with his team to get the job done. However, I can guarantee you that Leeroy did not quit playing World of Warcraft from his one failure, nor did his teammates quit playing the game with him. They both worked together to get through the task and move on to the next. It took both parties to be successful.

The bottom line? You can change your workplace. Let’s Do This.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Katharine Heinz

Katharine Heinz has been with JNR for nine years, first as a Desktop Publisher and now as a Business Administrator, Travel Planning. When she is not researching the next hot destination or hotel, she can be found at home enjoying her family.


JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

8 Steps To Effectively Implement Employee Incentive Programs

“Properly constructed incentive programs can increase performance by as much as 44 percent.”

Source: The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF)

The brief quote above is the most direct answer to the question: “Why do I need to utilize incentive programs for my business?”

Deciding that you are ready to begin offering incentives to your employees, channel members, dealers, and other sales personnel is the easy choice. Implementing a plan that will be effective and demonstrate a high return on investment consistently is the difficult part.

Thankfully, we’re here to help with and pass along some priceless knowledge that the IRF shared with us.

8 Steps to Effectively Implement Employee Incentive Programs” is not the catchiest title, but it just might be the most important thing you read all day.

1. Assess The Situation

When management decides that there is a lack of motivation and substandard performance levels present in the organization, it’s time to conduct a “gap analysis” and see where the difference lies between objectives and actual performance. If the assessment proves that incremental levels of effort and motivation can close the gap between “desired” and “actual,” then an incentive program may be the perfect tool to implement.

2. Select A Program

Quota-based incentive programs and rewards that are based on quantifiable, challenging, yet attainable performance benchmarks are recommended. Awards are administered based on surpassing these goals and are constantly adjusted and perfected.

3. Provide Work Value

Incentives increase performance based on the level of value that individuals assign to their goals, objectives, and successes at work. The key is to build stronger commitments, administer valuable rewards, enable communication, and constant support that make the contributions of a worker meaningful. This is the secret to motivating people.

4. Establish Training and Communication

After incentives that employees value and strive to achieve are in place, it’s time for them to put their skills to work. Enabling the success of your employees in their pursuit of incentive awards can be assisted by offering training and appropriate communication.

5. Support Your Employees

The only way to gain the trust of employees and their buy-in is to ensure that all rewards are given fairly. Disbursing, administering, and distinguishing awards fairly is the first step. The next step is to make certain that all employees trust and understand that you are doing an effective job on this step.

6. Appeal To Emotions

The most impressive performance gains are always produced when your employees are emotionally engaged. Inspired employees who have an emotional stake in the awards and a healthy competitive spirit are so crucial to program success.

7. Measure Results

The IRF stresses the importance of measuring three motivation outcomes at all stages in the program: active choice—the effort to complete the work as specified, commitment persistence to succeed continuously and mental effortthinking clearly.

8. Analyze and Gauge Feedback

Incentive programs are like any other investment and should be constantly evaluated against objectives and cost. Once the analysis is complete, it’s time to start the process over and refine and improve to optimize results.

Many companies do not possess the adequate resources, experience, and knowledge necessary to put an effective program in place as laid out above. Fortunately, we here at JNR have over 30 years of experience repeating this process with a multitude of clients from different industries and of all different sizes, including Fortune 500 entities.   

Give me a call at 800.343.4546 or send me an email at to discuss setting up a program. Whether you’re looking to manage your program in-house or have us provide some help, I am happy to talk! Our blog at is also a great resource with weekly postings on similar subjects.

By JNR Corp

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

America’s Top CEO’s Reveal How They Motivate Employees


The number one “secret” to success according to the CEO’s of the top companies in America: Motivate your people.

Forbes Magazine surveyed a wide variety of leaders from their 2013 “America’s Best Small Companies” list, and rewarding, motivating, and engaging employees was a dominant response.

Anyone interested in improving the performance of their most valuable resource (their employees), should listen, process, and learn from these innovative individuals.

Don Bailey of Questor (QCOR) Pharmaceuticals, Behrooz Adbi of InvenSense (INVN), Mike Fifer of Sturm, Ruger (RGR), and Steve Frederickson of Portfolio Recovery Associated (PRAA) were just a few of those surveyed.

Bailey feels that the key to motivating employees is to treat them as equals, listen to and respect them, and understand their personalities.

Stressing the importance of clearly communicating the vision and empowering the team to successfully work towards a common goal is what makes the team of InvenSense excel, according to Adbi.

More strategic in nature, Fifer utilizes profit sharing, 15% of pretax profits every quarter, as a way to inspire his team. Employees are naturally more concerned with performing well when they know they will directly benefit financially. More than 30% of pay now comes from this profit sharing initiative and a culture of innovation has been created.

Portfolio Recover Associated CEO Frederickson believes the best way to drive performance is to challenge employees with difficult tasks and see how they respond. With appropriate resources, close monitoring and reporting, and fair rewards in place, he feels unbelievable results can be achieved due to the fierce competition that ensues.

Incorporating some of these ideas into the culture and inter-workings of your company could yield dramatic improvements. The companies listed are some of the most admired in the world and their ability to optimize the performance of people was key to their success.

For more tips on how to engage your employees, increase productivity, generate sales, and improve employee retention and loyalty, please feel free to send me an email at today or visit our website at

Comment below if you’d like to add some insight or strike up a conversation on this topic.

Written by Kristopher Hewkin