Setting the Right Career Goals – Ask Yourself These Questions

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Career GoalsWhether you want to advance your career or make the change to a new career, it’s up to you to make it happen.

“Sometimes hundreds of professionals are sending resumes for one open position, so you cannot leave things up to chance,” says University of Phoenix School of Business Dean Dr. Bill Berry. “You need to put a solid plan in place that will help you set the right career goals and obtain the skills you need to give you a competitive advantage.” (more…)

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You’ve Made a Mistake, Right?

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

business apologyIt seems our society has turned dodging responsibility into an art form. From celebrities who insist that a brush with the law was all a big misunderstanding to political figures who use spin and double-speak to blame everything on the other side, no one wants to admit it when they mess up. If you’re a business leader, the temptation to use this strategy is huge. After all, your customers are paying you to get it right, so the last thing you want is for them to know that you’ve made a mistake, right?Maybe not. According to Michael Houlihan, along with Bonnie Harvey of The Barefoot Spirit, when your company admits to mistakes in a constructive way, you won’t damage your brand in the way you feared. In fact, you have a valuable opportunity to gain respect and loyalty.

“You and your company are not judged by how well you do when you’re good, but by how well you do when you’re bad,” shares Houlihan. “The fact is, everyone—and every company—makes mistakes. Denying that they have happened usually exacerbates and magnifies an already awkward situation, because chances are, you aren’t fooling anyone and you appear insincere.

“In fact, in a very real way, trying to dodge responsibility can hurt your reputation more than simply owning up to the mistake in the first place,” he adds.

Houlihan speaks from experience. He and Harvey are the founders of Barefoot Cellars, the company that transformed the image of American wine from staid and unimaginative to fun, lighthearted, and hip. And when they started the company in the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse, they knew almost nothing about winemaking or the wine business.

“As you might imagine, we made many mistakes over the years as the business grew,” admits Houlihan. “Some of them even caused us to worry that Barefoot might not survive. So early on, Bonnie and I made a conscious decision to confront our mistakes, and to view them as opportunities to learn and grow. I believe that attitude is part of what ultimately made Barefoot Cellars successful.”

Honestly and humbly admitting to missteps, Houlihan and Harvey found, often diffuses a tense situation instead of exacerbating it. And as time passes, they say, people tend to remember more clearly how you handled the mistake as opposed to what it was.

If you’re ready to face up to your company’s mistakes and turn them into building blocks, read on for five of Houlihan’s suggestions on handling your next business “my bad”:

Cop to it. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to admit that your company did something wrong. Uttering that mea culpa involves swallowing your pride and acknowledging that you are not, in fact, perfect (which is an illusion that our culture encourages us to zealously cultivate). But the sooner you admit to the error, the more you reduce the drama…and the faster you can move on to the next, more important stage: what you are going to do about the situation.

“People actually like a little imperfection now and then,” points out Houlihan. “It demonstrates a level of authenticity, vulnerability, and humanity with which we all can identify. Plus, it’s harder to be angry with someone who says, ‘You’re right—I messed up,’ than with someone who insists the fault doesn’t lie with him…even though you know it does. And it’s difficult—if not downright impossible—to make any constructive progress if the responsible party refuses to admit there’s a problem.”

Recognize how it happened. If you admit fault but then put the incident behind you, guess what? You’ve just increased the chances that it will happen again. It’s very important to investigate how and why an error occurred, so that you can fix the faulty procedure or process. That’s why Barefoot made sure employees weren’t afraid to make or report mistakes (those involving technical errors, that is—Houlihan is adamant that bad behavior or an inability to perform should not be overlooked).

“Basically, our approach to mistakes was to say, ‘Congratulations! You found a new way to screw up, and that’s a good thing. We didn’t know that this could happen, but now that it has, we can keep it from happening again,’” recounts Houlihan. “Then we would brainstorm what went wrong and make technical adjustments. Honestly, I think that large siloed organizations where you can be demoted, passed over, or even fired for a mistake are missing the boat. That’s because real progress in progressive companies is often built on the backs of mistakes and the improvements they spark.”

Aim, don’t blame.
 What happens when a mistake involving your company really can be traced to someone else? While it’s easy (and temporarily satisfying) to point your finger and say, “Not my fault!” the truth is, if it happened on your watch and you are accountable for the finished product, you ultimately share the blame in the customer’s eyes. In this situation, get to the bottom of what happened and aim your focus on what you and your company can do on your end to prevent the situation from reoccurring.

“This lesson was driven home to me during a business trip to Chicago,” recalls Houlihan. “I was supposed to show some new wines to retailers, and the samples had been shipped to my hotel.

However, when the package arrived, the hotel didn’t check to see that I was on the reservation list—they noticed only that I wasn’t currently occupying a room—and they sent the package back. Technically, my lack of samples wasn’t my fault, because the hotel didn’t do their due diligence. But to my buyers, all that mattered was that the new wines weren’t there.

“From that point on, we at Barefoot worked to make sure that no package would ever be refused in error again,” he continues. “After some trial and error, every box of wine was ultimately decorated on all six sides with instructions to the hotel not to return the box, and details of when I would be arriving. We also included Barefoot’s contact information and instructed the reader to get in touch with the hotel manager, whom we had told to expect the package, before sending it back. Overkill? Not really. Because the problem was solved.”

Write it down. If you successfully resolve a negative situation that was sparked by an error, then rub your hands together and continue with business as usual as if to say, “Yes, it happened, but it’s all cleaned up now,” then you’re making a second misstep. According to Houlihan, if you don’t write down what happened and how to avoid it, even you are in danger of making the same mistake again, and the same is doubly true of others.

“When you are still smarting in the immediate aftermath of a fiasco, it’s easy to assume that you will always remember what you did wrong and that it will never, ever happen a second time,” Houlihan points out. “But often, as life goes on and your focus inevitably shifts to other things, your memory can get fuzzy.

Or you might fall back onto old habits unconsciously. And you certainly can’t pass your own experiences to everyone else in your company through osmosis. That’s why it’s crucial to take the lessons you learn and physically make them part of your company’s policies. This might mean writing a new procedure, checklist, or sign-off sheet, or drafting a new clause in a contract. But whatever you do, write it down!”

Resolve that it won’t reoccur. Along with your apology, assure the injured parties that it—whatever “it” was—won’t happen again. Voluntarily describe how the mistake happened and what changes you are implementing to prevent its reoccurrence. And most importantly, tell the other guy, gal, or group how you and your company are going to make things right. Most people will appreciate your thoughtfulness, resolve, and the action you are taking. And often, handling an error in this way will reinforce the fact that you are, ultimately, a trustworthy company that can be relied upon.

“I remember one situation in which Barefoot had put the wrong bar code on a store’s shipment of cabernet, which meant that the wine rang up for less than it should have,” shares Houlihan. “In this instance, it was us who caught the mistake, not the customer. But as soon as possible, I showed up at the store’s corporate office with a check for the store’s loss, plus the time and expense of dealing with the mistake. Then I described to the manager in detail how we at Barefoot were changing our internal processes to make sure that the bar code problem would never happen again. And guess what? That store thanked us for doing the right thing, and it didn’t stop ordering from us.”

“Once again, mistakes are bound to happen—even if you’re an established company, and especially if you’re a newer one,” reiterates Houlihan. “So don’t waste time and energy beating yourself up, and especially don’t try to create the illusion that you’re perfect.

“Remember, what people recall most of all is how you handle missteps and errors, not what they were,” he concludes. “So don’t miss out on these golden opportunities to show your integrity, reduce the drama, and improve the way your business operates. That is how you make mistakes right.”

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, authors of The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built a Bestselling Wine, started the Barefoot Wine brand in their laundry room in 1986, made it a nationwide bestseller, and successfully sold the brand to E&J Gallo in 2005. Starting with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles and create new markets.

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6 Tips for Self-Publishing

Comments (0) Boomer Life

self publishingSelf-published books have transformed both the reading and writing landscape, with hundreds of thousands of authors now eschewing traditional publishing routes. Once reserved for distribution to a writer’s close family and friends, these books are now respected as an affordable option with every bit as much potential for becoming best-sellers as those produced by the New York houses.

“Countless books published this way have gone on to become best-sellers, from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ to ‘Still Alice’ to ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad,’ ’’ says independent publisher Sheryn Hara, founder of the 30-year-old Book Publishers Network and author of the new how-to, “Self-Publish Successfully.”

“But it’s important to note that these don’t look like they were just spit out of the inkjet printer in your bedroom. You have to have a good product if you want even a shot at success. That means good content that’s well edited; a good cover; good layout; and a good print job. Additionally, you can expect to spend a lot of time and/or money marketing, promoting and getting publicity for your book.”

So, where to begin? First, of course, is getting the book written. But once you’re ready to publish, you can easily be overwhelmed with options: Do a Google search for “independent publishers” and you’ll get nearly 8 million results!

To help sort through the options, Hara offers these 6 tips for self-publishing:

  • Decide how you want your book printed. Consider your budget, time frame and individual preferences when evaluating options. They include Print-on-Demand (POD), which involves lower up-front costs and is beneficial if you need only a minimum number of books. However, there are quality issues with POD, and you must pay close attention to your contract, which may assign the copyright to the publisher. Most POD publishers do not provide editing services. Digital printing is another option for small print runs, and comes without many of the pitfalls of POD. Finally, there’s standard printing, which utilizes web-fed or sheet-fed presses.
  • How to choose a printer. Get quotes from at least three printers, and ask for samples of books and papers. Use only a printer whose main job is printing; most of these are located in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The most economical size books to print are 5.5 by 8.5 inches; 6 by 9 inches; or 8.5 by 11 inches.
  • Covers. People do judge books by their covers, so make sure yours is fantastic. It’s worth the investment to have it designed professionally. Now you must decide whether you want soft cover, hard cover or both. You may have a choice of gloss lamination or matte. If you go with matte, check to see whether the printer has a scuff-free version; otherwise, books returned from bookstores may look beat up.
  • Paper. For most books, you’re probably safe going with the “house paper” recommended by the printer. If your book has a lot of pictures, you may want to use gloss paper.
  • Bindings. “Perfect bound” is the norm for soft cover books; a layer of adhesive holds the pages and cover together. Most bookstores don’t like “saddle stitch” – staples used in the center of the book, or comb or wire binding, because you can’t print information on the spines. “Layflat binding” is used for computer, music and cookbooks, which often need to lie flat for functionality when in use.
  • If you plan to work with an independent publisher – a company you’ll pay to shepherd you through all the details, Hara suggests talking to former customers about their experience. Did the company follow through on everything promised in the contract? Did it meet deadlines? Were representatives accessible, especially if there was a problem? Was the customer satisfied with the final product?“Decide on your budget, and then look at the quality of books produced by publishers you’re considering. Frankly, the better the quality, the more the book will cost,” Hara says.

“Your pocketbook and your goals should help make the decision easier.”

Sheryn Hara is founder and CEO of Book Publishers Network in Seattle, a 30-year-old company whose clients have produced award-winning books.

For more information, visit www.bookpublishersnetwork.com.

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Getting Your Client Relations House In Order!

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Building Client RelationshipsIf you’re like most business owners, you probably assume your client relationships are pretty good. After all, you have enough clients to still be in business, which, in light of our recent economic death spiral, is saying something!

However, author Joseph Callaway says it’s possible you’re merely surviving instead of thriving because you’re only scratching the surface of what it means to truly put the customer first. He suggests you conduct a “spring cleaning” to identify and purge the bad habits that are gumming up this crucial area of your business.

“There’s something about springtime that makes you want to get your metaphorical house in order and start fresh,” says Callaway, who, along with his wife, JoAnn, is the author of the new book Clients First: The Two Word Miracle

“If you’re feeling that impulse but not sure where to start, zero in on client relationships. This is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

“Most business owners are so concerned with paying the bills that we instinctively put ourselves first,” he explains. “It’s a behavior fueled by fear. But when you really put the customer first, and put your own needs second, a whole lot of other things naturally fall into place. Decisions will become easier, your business will flourish, and your relationships will be based on true transparency.”

Callaway and his wife built their thriving business—Those Callaways—in a tough industry that’s had more than its share of challenges. To date, they’ve sold over a billion dollars’ worth of homes. Their book describes their late-in-life entry into the world of real estate, how they had their “Clients First” revelation, and how it has impacted their professional and personal lives. It also gives readers step-by-step advice on how to put their own customers first, as well as why each one works.

“Living and working this way is not easy,” Callaway admits. “Putting your customers’ interests ahead of your own—every time—will seem counterintuitive, risky, and sometimes even frightening, especially at first. Eventually, though, keeping your commitment to Clients First will start to feel more natural. And by that point, the benefits, rewards, satisfaction, and success will be rolling in—and you’ll be proud of the person and professional you’ve become.”

Here, Callaway shares ten bad habits (some fairly obvious, others much less so) that might be keeping you from putting clients first—and tactics to help you start sweeping them out with winter’s dust bunnies:

Bad Habit One: Making client interactions about you. Having a healthy ego can be a blessing and a curse. Yes, you need a strong sense of self in order to avoid being taken advantage of and marginalized by competitors and by clients. But when you start to believe that winning, recognition, and accolades are “the point” of what you do, you’ve veered off onto a destructive path. You become less likely to put the client’s best interests first if they interfere with reaching your own goals or with how others might see you. And while you may believe it’ll never happen to you, this is also the path that leads to moral ambiguity, cheating, and trampling others in the name of success.

“Plus, no client likes working with someone who has a patronizing attitude or constantly sings his own praises,” points out Callaway. “That’s why it’s crucial for you to redirect your ego and get out of your own way. Remember, your job is to be a champion for your clients, to solve their problems and find them satisfying solutions. Your job is not to be the most important person in the room or to put others down. Believe me, when you take care of your clients first and foremost, they will take care of you through their loyalty and appreciation.”

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: Notice how often you bring the story around to yourself. Stop doing that. Many people think building rapport is a matter of finding a common interest. They then dominate the common interest discussion by talking about themselves. Don’t. This is a form of arrogance and it takes your focus off the client.

Bad Habit Two: Worrying too much. If you’re like most people, you probably feel burdened with a myriad of worries, fears, and obligations. You assume that “it’s all up to me,” and you might even lie awake at night fretting over what isn’t right and what could go wrong. However, if you want to successfully care for your clients, you can’t expend the majority of your mental energy on worries and what-ifs. This puts you in the wrong frame of mind to think innovatively about how to meet customers’ needs. And taken to extremes, worries can effectively paralyze you and prevent you from moving forward at all. (Needless to say, in this state, you won’t be useful to clients or anyone else!)

“No, I’m not saying that laying this burden down is an easy or instantaneous process,” Callaway clarifies. “Far from it. It’s challenging to break what’s often a lifetime’s worth of mental habits. But here’s the beauty of Clients First: Success is no longer about you; it’s about your customers.”

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: Every time you find yourself fretting, do something for a client. Spend an hour solving a client problem you’ve been avoiding. Connect one client to another who might be able to help him. Email him a link to an article you know would interest him. Worry thrives when you procrastinate and hand-wring. Action is the antidote…so do something (anything) to back up your commitment to your clients.

Bad Habit Three: Letting apathy creep in. In the real world (and especially in a tough economy), you can’t always follow the popular graduation day advice and “do what you love.” Unfortunately, that reality often leads to apathy, disengagement, and an “I just have to make it till five o’clock” mentality. If that describes you, it’s time for a wake-up call: You can’t coast through each workday and give 100 percent in service to your clients at the same time. That’s why, regardless of how you spend your nine-to-five hours, it’s imperative that you choose (yes, choose!) to take pride in your work.

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: Make plans to do something this year that will help you get better at your job. Maybe it’s going to a seminar. Maybe it’s asking the client how you can serve him better. Maybe it’s shutting down your email so you can better concentrate on the task at hand. The better you get at what you do, the more rewarding it will be.

Bad Habit Four: Fudging the truth. You may think you’re always honest with your clients, but do a little soul-searching and you might be shocked at the number of little white lies, exaggerations, mis-directions, and lies of omission you’re guilty of. For example, “I’m not going to meet my deadline so I’ll tell him I’m sick to buy myself a couple more days.” Or, “This is probably not the best vendor for this particular client, but since she (the vendor) sends us a lot of business, I’m going to recommend her anyway.” Sound familiar?

“When you cultivate a reputation for rock-solid honesty—for laying out all your cards even when it doesn’t benefit you, for telling the whole truth, for never holding back or sugarcoating—you’ll gain customer loyalty that money can’t buy,” asserts Callaway.

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: You know that thing you’ve been wanting to say for a long time? Go ahead and say it. Don’t worry about the fallout. Bravely take the leap. You’ll find that most people want the truth. Give it to them and you’ll be joined together in a bond that never betrays.

Bad Habit Five: Being too professional. Yes, there is such a thing! Think about it: Do you see your clients as business opportunities and sources of income, or do you see them as actual human beings with likes, preferences, quirks, and stories? To truly put clients first, your number one goal at each meeting and during each phone call should be to invite them within arm’s length and make them less of a stranger.

“People want to do business with individuals they like—and they like people who like them!” Callaway points out. “Sure, it’s important not to cross certain boundaries, but there’s no reason you can’t strive to make a deeper connection with your clients by asking about their kids, their pets, their hobbies, and their jobs or businesses.”

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: Every time you meet with a client, ask at least one question that has nothing to do with business. Ask about their kids. Ask about their pets. Ask about their favorite food, or movie, or vintage car. The conversation will likely develop in a surprising direction. As you hear their stories and get to know their joys and sorrows, you’ll start liking them. And you’ll find it more natural to put them first as clients.

Bad Habit Six: Thinking that you know best. It’s true that you, not the customer, are the expert on your business. You are the one who knows how to sell real estate or market a product or properly install a heat pump. But does that mean that yours is the only opinion that matters? Of course not. No matter what industry you’re in, you need to turn your viewpoint around and make a sincere effort to see yourself and your business as your client does.

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: Call up an ex-client and ask her how she sees your business. Assure her up-front that your goal is not to win her back. You just want the truth about how she perceives you and the truth about what she as a customer really wanted from you. If you are willing to do this (and make no mistake, it’s hard), you’ll learn a lot about what needs to change.

Bad Habit Seven: Being stingy with time and money. We’ve all heard the expression “The more you give, the more you get.” And we understand its meaning when it comes to things like love, smiles, and kindness. But how does it relate to business? Well, you can give your clients honesty, competence, and care, and hope to get those things back. But if you give away your expertise, time, energy, and (gasp!) money, won’t you just go broke?

“Not necessarily,” says Callaway. “I remember being very apprehensive about donating a large sum of money to build a Habitat for Humanity house as a Christmas gift for our clients. I thought I’d never see that money again. But in the years since, I’ve learned that new clients chose us—and even that a bank gave us all of their foreclosures to sell—because they had learned of that donation. Now, you might not always give and get on such a large scale. But the principle works for all amounts of money, and it also works when you’re giving over-and-beyond service.

“Understand that giving to get isn’t like a financial transaction where you give and get right there and then,” Callaway adds. “There is no up-front agreement on what you’ll receive or when you’ll receive it. It may take time. But rest assured, whatever you give will come back to you with interest.”

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: Look for something to give away.Whether you give free popcorn to moviegoers or a free grooming to pet boarding clients or a gorgeous framed print to your interior design clients, you make them feel special. This will keep them coming back.

Bad Habit Eight: Not expressing genuine gratitude. Sure, you may close each interaction with a “thank you for your business” or some variation thereof. But that doesn’t mean that your clients walk away feeling the warm fuzzies that accompany being truly appreciated. People can usually tell when you’re just mouthing a catchphrase as opposed to really meaning it, and if they don’t feel valued, they’re more apt to take their business elsewhere. Plus, if you don’t tap into an attitude of gratitude, you’re more likely to take your clients for granted, which only exacerbates the problem.

“Clients, like anyone else, want to feel valued and appreciated—not just as sources of income but as individuals,” explains Callaway. “JoAnn and I have realized that there are many ways to say ‘thank you’ to clients, and not all of them are verbal. In addition to heartfelt words of thanks, you can show clients just how much you appreciate them by getting to know them personally, forgiving occasional bad behavior, and staying up-to-date in your field so that you can give them the highest level of service.

“Overall, strive to make politeness, consideration, and friendliness things your company is known for, and never justify treating customers with rudeness,” he adds. “And, of course, when it’s financially possible, give loyal customers a freebie, discount, or gift to show them you’re thankful for their business.”

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: List the reasons why you’re grateful for your clients. Obviously you’re grateful for the fact that they allow you to make a living. But chances are, they bring more to the table than financial rewards, such as their loyalty, their referrals, the lessons they’ve taught you, and the relationships you’ve built together. With this list fresh on your mind, any expression of thanks—whether overt or implied—will be delivered with a ring of truth that money can’t buy.

Bad Habit Nine: Doing it all yourself. When you truly care about the success of your business—and about the well-being of your clients—it can be hard to let go of any aspect of your work. The thought of allowing someone else to take over any area of responsibility is extremely worrisome; after all, what if they mess it up? What if, because of another person’s mistakes, you end up letting a client down or delivering subpar results? Out of those questions, as you’re probably aware, many micromanagers and I’ll-do-it-myselfers have been born. What ends up happening in both scenarios is that you become stretched too thin, feel overwhelmed, and (ironically) become less effective.

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: Delegate one responsibility to someone else. It’s okay to start with something small. The point is to pick something that another person can duplicate and get it off your plate so that you can devote more of your time and energy to the things that no one else can do. Yes, sometimes you will be left holding the bag, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But more often, you’ll have opened yourself up to winning in a situation where reluctance might have caused you to fail.

Bad Habit Ten: Writing off difficult clients. Sometimes, it seems that your job—and life in general—would be so much easier without that one client. You know the type: Maybe he just can’t be satisfied. Or she asks for way more of your time than she’s actually paying you for. Or perhaps every meeting and conference call is an ordeal featuring hostility, accusations, and very selective listening. Whatever the case, you’ve mentally written off this client. Perhaps you can’t actually fire him (in a bad economy, many businesses can’t afford this “luxury”), but you’ve gone into endurance mode. You’re just going through the motions required to get your monthly retainer check rather than truly looking for ways to meet the client’s needs. (And guess what? In many cases, this type of disengagement will lead to the client—and his money—leaving anyway.)

“In over fourteen years, my wife and I have never gotten rid of a single client—even when we secretly wished we could—and we believe this no-fire strategy has contributed significantly to our ultimate success,” shares Callaway. “Even when clients make your life a lot more difficult than it theoretically should be, your job—your professional reason for being—is to serve them. If you cannot or will not do so, it’s the client’s job to fire you, not the other way around. And here’s the payoff: When you make the choice to stand by all of your frazzled, frustrated customers, you will eventually reap financial and personal rewards. You may even become known in your company or industry as the guy or gal who can handle the toughest customers—and receive referrals as a result!”

SPRING CLEANING TACTIC: The next time a client makes you want to pull your hair out, get to the bottom of why he’s being so difficult. When you know that a client is throwing a fit because he has to lower his hourly rate to compete, for example, or is facing laying off an employee who’s been with him for years, you’ll be much less inclined to fire him. Instead, you’ll be inspired to go to greater lengths on his behalf!

“Yes, this list may seem overwhelming at first,” Callaway acknowledges. “But trust me, it isn’t. If you commit yourself to your clients’ best interests, your bad relationship habits will begin to dissipate on their own. And over time, your clients will begin to take care of you just as you have taken care of them. By this time next year, I hope you’ll report that this year’s ‘spring cleaning’ was the longest-lasting, most effective, and most beneficial you’ve ever done!”

Joseph Callaway and JoAnn Callaway are coauthors of the New York Times bestseller Clients First: The Two Word Miracle .

For more information, visit www.clientsfirstbook.com.

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Females Lead With Impact!

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Female LeadershipA record number of women are Fortune 500 CEOs. Women are launching businesses at 1.5 times the national average. There are now 8.2 million American women running their own companies.

“The numbers are notable,” says executive and business coach Debora McLaughlin, author of “The Renegade Leader: 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits.”

“From 1997 to 2011, the number of U.S. women-owned businesses increased by 50 percent,” McLaughlin says. “And in 2011, the median compensation for female CEOs was 13 percent more than for male CEOs,” according to NerdWallet Financial Markets.

According to Catalyst, a non-profit organization, as of Jan. 1, there were 21 women running Fortune 500 companies, including IBM and PepsiCo, That’s up from seven in 2002-2003. Among the Fortune 1000 companies, there are twice as many, including the CEOs of Neiman Marcus Group, Cracker Barrel and Dun & Bradstreet.

“Nonetheless, business women still face hurdles,” McLaughlin notes. “Keep in mind, while 21 are Fortune 500 CEOs — a record high – that’s only 4.25 percent of the total and the figures hold for Fortune 1000 companies, less than 5 percent have a female at the helm.”

A recipient of the 2012-13 Women of the Year award presented by the National Association of Professional Women, McLaughlin watches the financial trends. While women are launching more businesses, they have an upward climb; studies show that women-owned companies are less likely to hit the $1 million mark and are more likely to fail.

“To claim, own and keep the keys to the corner office, women executives need to be seen, heard and to lead with greater influence and impact,” McLaughlin says. She offers three key tips:

• Develop your personal brand: Let people get to know you, your core story of experiences and how they relate to your drive and vision. As Steve Jobs said, “connect the dots,” then use transparent communication to share your story. People make better connections with people who tell a great story, and they’re most interested in the story behind the person at the top. Transparency encourages greater communication, team building and leadership.
• Develop and use your personal network. Find a mentor and be a mentor; seek out other women at your level; and accept the strength, ideas and energy your connections have to offer. It is no longer necessary to blaze trails alone, and women have more power than they may realize. According to a Dow Jones report, startups with five or more female executives have a 61 percent success rate. It goes further and says that odds of success “increase with more female executives at the VP and Director levels.”
• Stand for something; position yourself as a strong thought leader. It’s not easy being at the top. Women tend to distrust powerful women, and men may view women as weak or too collaborative and sensitive. Take a firm stand on something you care about deeply and rally the organization around that objective. You will gain the respect of your peers, customers and stakeholders.

As the numbers clearly demonstrate, business is changing. Women account for 73 percent to 85 percent of consumer decisions in the United States, which gives female CEOs yet another advantage — insight into their customers’ values, McLaughlin says.

Debora McLaughlin, best-selling author of “The Renegade Leader: 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits;” the forthcoming book, “A League of Her Own,” and CEO of The Renegade Leader Coaching and Consulting Group combines her experience as certified executive coach and as a top sales performer in New York City and Boston to help CEOs, business leaders and organizations achieve accelerated results.

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The More You Eat, the More You’ll Crave Them

Comments (0) Food and Drink, Health

What's for DinnerIt’s the question we ask ourselves almost every day: What’s for dinner?

Entwined in this daily dialogue is wondering whether we’ll need to dash into the grocery store on the way home from work. The next time we make one of those supermarket pit stops, Dr. Eudene Harry, author of “Live Younger in 8 Simple Steps,” would like us to veer in a new direction.

“When people shop on the go, they tend to gravitate toward old standbys and foods they can multipurpose with – usually not the most nutritious choices possible. But by substituting a few items on your list, you can not only look and feel more youthful, you’ll boost your resistance to certain cancers and other illnesses.”

Some of the most nutrition-packed foods not only taste great, they’re readily available at the grocery store and easy to prepare, Harry says.

“The more you eat, the more you’ll crave them.”

Here are five food combos for shoppers with healthy eating on their minds:

• Tomato, garlic, chicken and almonds: Tomatoes contain one of the world’s most concentrated sources of cancer-fighting lycopene, which is best absorbed from tomatoes that are cooked. Garlic has been used for centuries for various health purposes and is a known free-radical destroyer. Nuts help to lose weight, maintain healthy blood pressure and support moods; almond crumbs are a great substitute for bread crumbs on chicken. Pair these goodies with whole wheat couscous for a full dinner.

• Tempeh: With its high protein, fiber and isoflavones content, and meaty texture, tempeh is heavily utilized by vegetarians. It’s made from soybeans processed in a manner similar to cheese making. Like tofu, tempeh takes on the flavors with which it is cooked or marinated, including zesty-tangy balsamic vinegar – perfect for accentuating salads.

• Mashed cauliflower gone Greek: Mash some cauliflower with Greek yogurt! Not only does the “original” yogurt have a thicker texture and richer taste, it’s also denser in lactobacilli, the healthy bacteria that may delay the onset of cancer. And yogurt is low in fat and high in protein, which is essential for many body functions, including building and repairing muscle tissue, organs, bones and connective tissue. Rather than add fatty, cholesterol-filled butter and sour cream to starchy potatoes that stick to your ribs, why not pair two healthy options with mashed cauliflower with Greek yogurt and fresh black pepper for simple goodness?

• Sushi – wild salmon, minced cucumbers, shredded carrots, kelp, sesame seeds and rice: A sushi roll is much more filling and satisfying than a non-sushi eater would think. Many grocery chains offer ready-made rolls, but they are also fairly easy to make. A bamboo roller is a great start; place a sheet of nutrient-dense kelp as the first thing on the roller, and add, lengthwise, desired ingredients. Your first try is not likely to be perfect, but the tasty and healthy ingredients will be there.

• Fruit salad for dessert: Bring together chopped apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple with blueberries and grapes for a sweet and juicy post-dinner palate-cleanser. Lemon juice prevents fruits from bruising. If that’s not enough, combine the salad with Greek yogurt – perhaps blended with vanilla or almond extract – and fiber-filled granola for a parfait.

Dr. Eudene Harry holds a bachelor’s in biology from New York University and completed both her medical degree and residency training at Thomas Jefferson University. Currently the medical director for the integrative and holistic Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center, she has practiced medicine for nearly 20 years, is board certified in both emergency and holistic medicine, and for more than a decade practiced emergency medicine as an attending physician in Level II trauma centers.

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Entrepreneurs Do Not Focus On What Was Lost

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Focus on SuccessAs we pass the five-year anniversary of the start of the economic recession in December 2007, many observers focus on what was lost:

• 8 million jobs
• 146,000 employer businesses
• 17.5 percent average individual earnings

But the businesses that survived the Great Recession and are thriving today didn’t focus on losses then – and they aren’t now, says Donna Every, a financial expert who has published three non-fiction business books and recently released her first novel, “The Merger Mogul,” (www.donnaevery.com).

“The entrepreneurs who are successful during times of uncertainty are so because they don’t rely on the standard approaches they’d use in predictable times, and they look for opportunities – the positives — in situations that would have been considered negatives five years ago,” Every says.

“It’s similar to how we deal with the weather. In places where it’s sunny most of the summer, we wouldn’t leave our house each morning packing coats and umbrellas just in case. The weather’s predictable. But in the winter and other seasons when the weather can quickly change, we head out with a different mindset.”

For businesses, switching gears to deal with inclement economic conditions involves adopting new perspectives and practices, she says.

“I incorporated some of these in ‘The Merger Mogul’ because it’s set during the recession and my protagonist, the mogul, had to adapt,” Every says. “He used many of the strategies I recommend to real-life business people for thriving during economic uncertainty.”

What are some of those strategies? Every outlines them:

• Build on what you have, not toward what you want: Instead of setting goals and then seeking out the resources you’ll need to meet them, assess what you have available and decide what you can achieve with that. This not only saves you the time and expense of pulling together resources you may not have, it also gives you the advantage of working from your business’s individual and unique strengths.

• Follow the Las Vegas rule: Tourists planning a weekend in Las Vegas will often set aside the amount of money they’re willing to gamble – and lose — on cards or the slots. That way, they won’t lose more than they can afford. During an uncertain economy, entrepreneurs should calculate their risks the same way. Rather than going for the biggest opportunities as you would in prosperous times, look for the opportunities that won’t require as much of your resources. Calculate how much you can afford to lose, and always consider the worst-case scenario.

• Join hands and hearts: Competition is fine when things are going well, but when times are tough, you need allies. Explore forming partnerships with other entrepreneurs so you can strategize to create opportunities together. With what your partners bring to the table, you’ll have more strength and new options to work with.

• Capitalize on the unexpected: Surprises can have positive outcomes if you handle them nimbly by finding ways to use them to your advantage. Instead of planning damage control for the next unexpected contingency, look at it as an opportunity. Get creative as you look for the positives it presents.

• When life is unpredictable, don’t try to forecast: Focus on what you can do and create now rather than what you can expect based on what happened in the past. In good times, that information can be a helpful and reliable way to make predictions, but savvy entrepreneurs don’t count on that in uncertain times.

“While the U.S. economy certainly is improving, there’s still too much uncertainty both here and abroad to go back to the old ways of doing business just yet,” Every says.

“If you’ve survived the past five years, you’ve probably been relying on many of these strategies – maybe without even realizing it,” she says. “Don’t abandon them yet, and if there are some here you aren’t using, work toward incorporating them, too.”

About Donna Every: Donna Every worked with Ernst & Young for 10 years before starting Arise Consulting Inc., a company that offers business training, and consulting services. She is a Chartered Certified Accountant with a master’s in business administration. She is the author of “What Do You Have in Your House?”; “The Promise Keeper”; “Arise & Shine”; and her first novel, “The Merger Mogul.”

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In 2013 – Think like a man!

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Think Like a ManSince the recession began in December 2007, more than 8 million jobs have been lost with unmarried women taking a large hit. “While the country’s economic decline has touched all Americans, its effect on unmarried women has been devastating,” said Page Gardner, President and Founder of Women’s Voices Women Vote (WVWV).

The timing is ripe for women to take greater control of their destiny. There is a severe shortage of talent in the labor pool and women graduate from college and have far more degrees than men. Another powerful tool that women have and don’t use is their buying power; women account for and influence over 83 percent of all buying decisions, that’s a lot of buying power. Women know why women buy and know how to convince them to buy more. They are the walking, breathing psychology behind buying. They also lead with both sides of their brain, exhibiting both the analytical as well as the creative.  Women have a higher value in today’s workplace, writes Claire Shipman, one of the writers behind ABC News’ “Womenomics” blog. Shipman points to a Pepperdine University survey that found that companies that promoted more females made more money.  Being unemployed can be the perfect time to reflect, reevaluate, rejuvenate and chart a brand new course.

Let’s begin by asking, ‘Who are you?’

Play the Match Game

The first thing you must do in the course of charting your own destiny is some ME analysis and ask yourself, ‘Who am I?  I know sometime women are afraid they don’t know the answer, but its time you found out.  If you could have any three jobs in the world, what would they be?  List them. Now, title three columns on a piece of paper, ‘Skills’, ‘Talent’ and ‘Passion’ and write down what yours are; it may take awhile.  Be able to quantify your skill set with examples; what have you done, where have you done it and how have you performed? Write down the number of hours per week you’re willing to work towards your passion and for how long.  Now with list in hand, is there a match between skills, talent and passion to what you’ve always done, what you’re currently doing or with what you want to do, which is the three jobs listed?  The key to charting your own destiny and having the career of your dreams, whether working for yourself or someone else is to match and connect your skills, talent and passion to your career.

Have a Bull’s-eye

Too many job seekers are reactive and send out tons of resumes and/or show up to hot, crowded job fairs without having a strategic approach. To hear Donald Trump’s famous words, ‘you’re hired’ you must have a strategic plan-of-action that includes research, networking and becoming an expert in the brand called you. Have a bull’s eye approach. Look at all companies large and small, for profit and not, federal, state and city agencies and educational institutions. Have a target list of companies. Do they have positions that you can transfer your skills, talent and passion?  When you take a bulls-eye approach you automatically position yourself above your competition because you have matched your skills, talent and passion to targeted industries, companies and positions.  Your time and effort in this endeavor will greatly enhance your job search experience and place you in a position of ultimate power.

Facebook, I Don’t Think So

Whenever you get the opportunity to sell your skills, talent and passion in person do so as nothing beats face-to-face networking.  As far as social networking sites go, they can be very useful but be careful when sharing career aspirations or making inquiries, let your information be short, specific and concise. Don’t use social sites to vent your frustration or tell the world how long you’ve been out of work. Never talk about or post negative comments about your current or previous employer. I know some of you may have to pop a Prozac on that one but don’t do it.  Employers are known to search your name so use a professional email name not SexyGraphicDesigner@gmail.com.

Think Like a Man and Know Your Value

Too many women devalue and disregard their skills. I’ve heard many women say, I only do volunteer work or I’m just a mother or l could never go after that job because it pays too much money. I can’t remember the last time I heard a man state that he could not pursue a job because it paid too much money; hello, really, a man is not going to pursue a job because it pays too much, yeah right. Know yourself, know your value. Honor, respect and think highly of your skills and talent.  Start saying a short, daily confidence mantra “I’m worthy” and add to it as you make that conscious shift in internal perception.

Create a unique resume

Before you start uploading, reloading, faxing, mailing or handing out resumes make sure you know the answers to these four critical questions:

  1. What am I qualified to do?
  2. Why am I qualified to do it better than my competition?
  3. Where have I done it?
  4. How well have I performed?

You should have some of these questions answered from playing the match game. Make sure you quantify your success and have three to five examples of accomplishments. Search the internet to see the latest resume formats and styles. Look into creating an internet-based resume. One website to check out is www.visualcv.com and sign up is free. Whatever approach you decide, make sure it is professional looking and error free. There are many free resources to help you develop an up to date resume. If you are not technically astute, seek the help of your tech savvy children, nieces and nephews. There are no longer any excuses for not having a sharp resume.  Remember a job interview is about what you offer, want and expect from the employer versus what the employer is looking for, needs, offers and will provide. Let your value provide the answer to their needs.

Listen-up

Research has proven that women talk to connect and share but the interview process is about how well your answers match the job requirements.  It’s still all about the match game. When you practice active listening, you will hear the interviewer giving you valuable information about the position, their needs and what they’re looking for. That is a perfect opportunity to directly discuss how you can meet their needs and satisfy their requirements. What’s the formula for listening? I have lots of tips on my audio CD but let this be your reminder: You have one mouth and two ears, so listen twice as much as you talk.

Original article posted in Kalon Women Magazine – January 2011 by Dickie Sykes

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Boomers Need to Think Retirement With More Urgency

Comments (0) Boomer Life

retirement planningThe economy may be recovering, but some of the changes wrought by the Great Recession may be long-lasting. Anyone planning for retirement, no matter what their age, needs to take those changes into account, says financial advisor Philip Rousseaux, a member of the esteemed Million Dollar Round Table association’s exclusive Top of the Table forum for the world’s most successful financial services professionals.

“People in their 40s and younger have some time to retool their plan, but baby boomers need to think with more urgency,” says Rousseaux, founder and president of Everest Wealth Management, Inc.

“A lot of boomers had all of their retirement investments in the stock market and, if they didn’t lose their principal, it will take some time for them to recoup their gains. Others moved their money to short-term savings, like CDs. But with interest rates so low, they’re actually losing money when you factor in inflation.”

Those are the two most common mistakes people make in retirement planning – having everything in either stocks or short-term savings is a bad idea, he says.

“Space your investments so they’ll come due as they’re needed,” Rousseaux says. “Plan some that can be available in the short term, for emergencies, and others that will be available as you age.”

Only 14 percent of Americans are very confident they’ll have the money to live comfortably in retirement, according to a 2012 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Here are Rousseaux’s suggestions for ensuring you’re part of that 14 percent.

• Don’t take risks you can’t afford. This is another common mistake. “Don’t put the bulk of your assets into anything that makes your principal vulnerable. Gambling that you’re going to win big on the market, or any other investment, means you also risk losing big.” A portion of your investment should have a guaranteed return.

• Seek any guidance from independent financial advisors. This has two benefits: Advisors who aren’t marketing their own products have no conflicts of interest. “You wouldn’t go to a commissioned salesman for advice on buying a high-tech product. Instead, you’d probably turn to a trusted friend or an independent expert source, like Consumer Reports. Take the same care with something as important as your retirement.” The second benefit is that independent advisors can devise creative, innovative solutions to meet the needs of individual clients. Those working for companies like MetLife are not free to think outside the box. And that’s especially important In this new, post-recession economy.

• Consider alternatives to the stock market. One of the effects of the recession is that the public realizes Wall Street is not a safe retirement plan. Even if it can get you there, it’s not necessarily going to keep you there.“There are a number of great, safer alternatives,” Rousseaux says. One of those is fixed, indexed annuities. “You loan an insurance company money and it guarantees you payments over a specified length of time. It’s a contract between you and the company,” he explains. Fixed-rate indexed annuities have a minimum and maximum interest payment that’s linked to a common index, such as the Dow. When the Dow goes up or down, so does the interest rate, but it never go below the guaranteed minimum or above the guaranteed maximum. “Your principal is safe and you can ride an up market without the risk,” he says.

With pension plans a luxury of the past and Social Security not a guarantee for the future, Rousseaux says whatever your age, it’s important to start planning now for retirement by creating your own private pension.

“The good news is, our life expectancy grows every year,” he notes. “It’s up to you to ensure that you have a great quality of life when you decide you no longer want to work.”

Philip Rousseaux is the founder and president of Everest Wealth Management and Everest Investment Advisors money management firm.

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Are You Always On Their Mind?

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Lead Generation FunnelLeads, leads, leads. They’re probably always on your mind. Where to find new leads, how to respond to them quickly, and what it takes to convert them into clients.

While you may spend plenty of time focusing on the best way to find new leads, have you thought about the valuable, qualified leads that may already be in your existing database? Why not spend some time working those leads? Consider these four best practices for stirring up your database and finding new opportunities.

1. Research and reach out
Spend some time discovering the types of leads that are sitting in your database. Even better? Segment those leads so you have a better handle on the best strategies for reaching out to a specific group. Your database likely includes dormant leads, newer or active leads, past customers, and referrals.
Market Leader research has shown that 90% of buyers would use the same real estate agent or recommend him or her to their friends and family. All it takes is one well-timed communication reminding existing leads that you’re available.

2. Work in your database every day
The first step in working in your database every day is making sure it’s up to date. Dedicate a few hours to updating information, deleting old contacts, and segmenting.

Once your database is updated, make working in it a daily habit, even if it’s just for a few minutes. When you do a bit of maintenance every day, not only is it a less daunting task overall, but you’ve also eliminated the time-consuming barrier of updating your whole database prior to sending out a campaign. Instead, it’s always primed to send appropriate, timely, and relevant communications.

3. Set up ongoing campaigns
Now that your database is cleaned up and organized, take the time to set your most promising leads up on a yearlong drip campaign. Start now, so that when the peak spring and summer buying season gets here, you’re already top-of-mind, having established yourself as a valuable resource and increased your name recognition.

4. Always communicate with relevance and value
While any communication you send out is better than nothing, always take the time to make sure you’re sending something that’s relevant to your audience and that demonstrates your value as a real estate professional. Show leads that you’re an expert they can trust by taking the time to send useful information like MLS listings, demographics, facts about interest rates, and market trends.

By spending some time giving your existing database a little bit of attention, you’re increasing the possibility that as soon as one of those leads is ready to buy or sell, you’ll be the first agent they call. The average real estate client only spends one day interviewing agents and only interviews one agent overall—make that agent you!

For more information, click here to download the full report from Market Leader.

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The P’s of Marketing

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Letter PMarketers have grown up with the foundation of the four Ps of marketing: product, price, promotion and place. These are as relevant today as they were when first coined for both online and offline efforts. However, as time passes and the discipline of marketing becomes more complex and more enabled, additional factors come into play to augment and enhance the foundation, especially as marketers navigate a fragmented marketing structure encompassing online and offline data and tactics. Here are five key factors that have the power to impact marketing performance:

1. Predictive: Using modeling and predictive analytics, marketers can better determine who is likely to purchase a certain item, and also when they’re most likely to purchase. This is helpful in increasing the effectiveness of campaigns and reducing waste. It also prevents a company from generating negative customer sentiment due to undesired contact or content.

2. Personalized: This goes hand-in-hand with using predictive analytics, but incorporates what’s known about customers. Factors range from the preferred mode of communication (e.g., are they more likely to respond to email or direct mail) to the type of messaging that resonates with them. Take for example two people living in the same neighborhood who are in the market to purchase an SUV. Perhaps the same vehicle would fill the needs of both people, but customized communication tailored to their interests and needs would result in one being more outdoor-focused, featuring messaging and images as such, while the other features the same vehicle being used to haul materials for business. Don’t forget to customize delivery to a preferred channel — email for one, Facebook for the other. Doing so further creates a personalized experience based on the user’s preference.

3. Permission powered: A key way to engage customers and prospects is to have them opt in to receiving communications from your brand. Permission-based marketing is getting more specific in terms of types of products, mode of communication, frequency, etc. Review current personalization capabilities being provided to customers; they provide a detailed road map to help deliver more effective campaigns.

4. Peer reviewed: Peer reviews are important for specifics about a product’s performance. The value of peer reviews increases with factors such as location or keywords used by a reviewer to describe themselves. Customers may be more interested in the perspective of a fellow reviewer who is more like them than someone who is less similar to them. Enable shoppers to sort or select the reviews by ratings and various criteria about those providing reviews.

5. Proactive: Being proactive in implementing one or all of the factors above is important. Don’t wait for customers to tell you what they want, as they may do so by going to your competition. Don’t wait for a “critical mass” in your competitive set to start following these guidelines. Use it as a competitive advantage for better customer engagement and higher return on investment. Listen to your customers, anticipate what they want and when they want it, then deliver it.

Adding Ps to the marketing mix may seem complex and time consuming. While there is an element of complexity present, better planning and proactive solutions take time. The returns, however, can be great. There are a growing set of solutions available to marketers which can help even the smallest of businesses become better engaged and drive better results. It’s no longer for just the big companies.

The final P? Stay positive. While trends and buzzwords will come and go, the movement towards better engagement with the factors noted above is a win-win for businesses and buyers.

Source: Kamal Tahir is senior manager of product management at Experian. Kamal can be reached at kamal.tahir@experian.com.

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Choosing a Tax Preparer

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs, Finance and Money

Tax PreparationApproximately 60 percent of Americans enlist the help of a paid tax professional to file their income tax returns, as stated by the Internal Revenue Service. According to Jackson Hewitt Tax Service®, the nation’s largest privately held tax preparation firm, even more consumers may turn to a tax preparer this year to determine how the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 impacts their individual situations. But what are the advantages of working with a paid preparer, and what credentials should consumers look for when selecting a tax professional?

“With the sweeping last-minute tax law changes, even taxpayers who have filed their own returns in past years with do-it-yourself software should think twice this time around,” says Mark Steber , chief tax officer, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. “Many taxpayers may benefit from engaging a paid professional to ensure their returns are accurate, but need to know what questions to ask and what to look for in a tax preparer. A skilled preparer who understands your tax situation, including all the tax deductions and credits available to you, can provide you with the best possible outcome, because if you miss claiming certain tax benefits on a return, they are off the table – the IRS doesn’t claim them for you.”

When choosing a paid tax preparer, Steber encourages consumers to consider these five tips:

Engage now — The IRS will start to accept 2012 tax returns on January 30. You may need some time to find a tax preparer who best meets your needs, so you’ll want to start your search as soon as possible. It is important to ensure that your tax preparer is well-versed in all of the recent tax law changes and tax codes. The sooner you find the right preparer, the sooner you can start the filing process and ultimately get your refund, if you are owed one. Jackson Hewitt ‘s preparers are meeting with clients now to review documents and fill out returns in advance of the January 30 date.

Check the preparer’s background — Make sure to go with someone who is qualified and credible, so check your tax preparer’s history. You can conduct your own research through various sources such as the Better Business Bureau and state boards of accountancy for certified public accountants. You can also ask friends, family or co-workers for references to get a first-hand account of their experiences.

Make sure the preparer is knowledgeable — Make sure your preparer understands how tax law changes may affect you. Jackson Hewitt offers a comprehensive tax preparer training curriculum, including basic, intermediate and advanced courses, as well as ethics and ongoing update training.

Avoid preparers who ask you to sign a blank return — It is important to review your tax return completely and ask questions before signing it. Remember, you are ultimately responsible for what is reported on your tax return. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return. Check for errors such as incorrect social security numbers and addresses; these common mistakes can delay IRS processing of your return.

Use tax preparers who e-file — The majority of taxpayers today electronically file (e-file) their tax returns. E-filing is safer than filing a paper return, offers faster processing time, greater accuracy and confirmation the IRS has received your return. Jackson Hewitt offers free e-filing.

“Taxpayers who have purchased off-the-shelf tax software and plan to prepare their own returns should confirm that these products are up-to-date, as many late-breaking changes have occurred that may not have been integrated by the time of purchase. Similarly, if you are using a trained tax professional, confirm that their software is current and up-to-date as well,” adds Steber.

Source: www.jacksonhewitt.com

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Find Your Passion and Indulge in It!

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Business, Entrepreneurs

discover your passionMany of us want to pursue happiness, but we aren’t always sure where to find it. In his years as a successful entrepreneur creating and selling corporations to the likes of Coca-Cola and Kimberly-Clark, Richard Jaffe, one of the owners of the Phoenix Suns, found a few constants to guide him in business and in life.

“Love myself; live my values, and learn to give back,” says Jaffe, who gained respect as an inspirational leader.

The most important of these and the key to happiness, he says, is learning to love himself. It’s a recurring theme in the poetry he’s been writing for decades and recently published in, “Inner Peace & Happiness: Reflections to Grow Your Soul.”

“I’ve found that loving myself is fundamental to my happiness,” he says. “The one person I have a relationship with for my entire life is myself, so it’s essential to make that relationship my priority. When I have the inner peace that comes from loving myself, I don’t have to look to others to fill my emotional needs and wants.”

How does one learn to love him- or herself and to be happy? For Jaffe, it came from living and acting on his values in business and in his personal life, whether he was struggling or succeeding.

“These are the things that have worked for me,” he says. “Values guide my choices, and my choices affect how I feel about myself and how I interact with others.”

These are some of the values and tenets that have helped make Jaffe an exceedingly happy man.

• Find your passion and indulge in it. Jaffe has been expressing himself through poetry for 30 years – that is one of his greatest passions. “Poetry helps to provide me balance in life between work, family and other external commitments,” he says. “When I allow myself time to indulge in my passion, I recharge my spirit, my mind and my body.”

• Remember – givers gain. Even when he was a broke young entrepreneur, Jaffe and his wife of 28 years, Ann, always made sure to give to the community, to their temple, to charity. “Give even when you have nothing,” he says. “It always comes back to bless you, though sometimes from a different source.”

• Don’t rely on anyone else to make you happy. It doesn’t work, Jaffe says. When your happiness is dependent on your love for someone else, they control your happiness. Love doesn’t always stick around – sometimes it comes into our lives in order to teach us how to care. We have to rely on ourselves.

• Be the very best you can be at whatever you do. Don’t compare yourself to your competition, to history, to anyone else. Instead, raise the bar on yourself. “Even if I get knocked down at something, I can be happy when I know I gave it my very best effort,” Jaffe says. “I don’t always succeed, but I can give an even better effort the next time because I will have learned from being knocked down. Defeat is being knocked down; failure is the unwillingness to get back up!”

• Control your thoughts and keep them positive. “My kids used to come to me to complain when they were unhappy about something,” Jaffe says. “I would tell them, ‘If you do not like the way you feel, just change the way you think!’ It drove them crazy!” But they did eventually understand that their negative thoughts were making them feel bad. Jaffe says beware — thinking positively is habit-forming, at least for him.

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Do You Have a Blueprint for Success?

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Vision of SuccessMany people who want to create success for the New Year don’t realize that in order to do that, they need to have a blueprint for success. What does that mean specifically? It takes two things to create a blueprint for success. The first thing you have to have is a clear vision of what it is you want to create. The more powerful your vision and the more you can feel your vision, the stronger it is.

So for example, if you want to make $500,000.00 in real estate in the year 2013, and you’d like to work maybe 30 hours a week or less, and you’d like to work with your ideal clients, then create a mission statement to that effect. I would recommend start off with the words, “I am so happy and grateful that I am making $500,000.00 or more in 2013, and I’m working 30 hours a week or less, and I am working with my ideal clients doing work I love.” Once you say that and you state it and you put it on paper, you should put it on an index card where you can read it out loud every day.

The next thing you do is to step into the visualization and really feel what it feels like. So for example, you step into it and feel what it feels like to be making $500,000.00 a year. You can imagine what you would do with that added income. Perhaps you could visualize yourself spending part of it and saving part of it, or giving part of it to charity.

Make your vision very vivid and make it like a moving picture, not like a snapshot, but like a just a moving picture of seeing yourself doing all of these things you want to do with this added income. Perhaps you’re already making $500,000.00, so for you perhaps in 2013 the big stretch would be $800,000.00, $900,000.00 or beyond; whatever is a stretch for you. Pick a figure that’s realistic and yet optimistic at the same time.

Once you’ve got that vision statement, you simply need to feel it. You need to feel what it feels like to have that income. Feel what it’s like to be working your ideal number of hours per week. Feel what it feels like to be working with your ideal clients. Experience the joy and the fun of being of service to these clients. The more you breathe into the vision, the more you’ll be able to feel it.

The key is to do this frequently. Every morning look at your vision statement, read it out loud with feeling. Take a few extra moments to really feel it before going to sleep. Your subconscious mind is very receptive. Put it by your nightstand and right before you go to sleep look at it, read it, and feel it. Let this sink into your subconscious mind that this is your vision. This is your intention for the New Year. It’s very powerful to have a vision statement.

The second thing to do to create a success blueprint is you need to be sure that you’ve cleared your self limiting beliefs. Here’s the process that I recommend to do that. Get out a piece of paper and create a T diagram. Draw a horizontal line across the page and draw a vertical line down the page so you have two columns. The left hand column is called your Self Limiting Beliefs. The right hand column is called your Empowered Beliefs. This next part requires that you become like a loving detective and search inside yourself as to what self limiting beliefs you would need to reprogram in order to reach your goal, in order to really manifest that vision statement.

Some examples of self limiting beliefs that stop people, (and the biggest one right now) is “I can’t reach my financial goals because of the economy.” So that statement is a self limiting belief that belongs in your left hand column. Another one that’s very common that people have is “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t have what it takes to succeed.” Over the years of coaching clients, real estate agents in particular, I’ve heard many self limiting beliefs that create an anti success blueprint.

Realize that self-limiting beliefs are not facts, they’re just beliefs. You’re not stuck with them. Do not judge yourself for having them, because at one point in your life these beliefs were survival strategies. Get as many down in the left hand column as you can. Take some guesses.

Once you’ve done that, go to the right hand column and for every self limiting belief you’ve written, write down your empowered belief. So if your self limiting belief says, “I can’t be visible” then write down “It’s now safe to be visible.” If your self limiting belief is “I’m not supposed to succeed” then write down “I am highly worthy of success and I’m supposed to succeed.” “I’m supposed to live my dreams.”

What you do after that is you want to totally release the left hand column, and one of the best methods to do that is called the “burn technique.” Simply cut the paper in half, burn the left hand column. Let it go in a ritual, and as it’s burning just say good-bye to all of the self limiting beliefs that you no longer need.

In the right hand column, I would recommend taking each of those empowering beliefs and putting each of them on an index card and then saying those empowered beliefs every day out loud with feeling to reprogram your self conscious mind. If the negative beliefs start to creep up again, simply use the power of your mind to interrupt those beliefs. Just say, “Stop.” Take a deep breath and put in an empowered belief. In this way you are maximizing your possibility of a Success Blueprint for the year 2013.

Just to summarize, be sure to create your vision statement with feeling and be sure after that that you dig down and bring to the surface any possible self limiting beliefs that could be getting in your way. Be sure you burn those, and then implant or install your new positive Empowered Beliefs and enjoy creating your Success Blueprint.

Dr. Maya Bailey, Multiple 6 Figure Income Business Coach for Real Estate Professionals, integrates her 20 years of experience as a psychologist with 16 years of expertise in marketing. 

For more information, visit www.90daystomoreclients.com.

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Exploring New Career Paths

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

New CareerThe current economic climate has many Americans adjusting their career paths, and exploring new opportunities—including starting their own businesses. Since 2001, the number of people who primarily work on their own has increased by 1.3 million to reach 10.6 million, a significant 14 percent, according to a recent Forbes article.

Read the following advice for those harboring franchise dreams, provided by Home Instead Senior Care.

Think demographics. Consider the population composition, nationally, globally and in your community. What are its needs, behaviors and preferences? How do people live their daily lives? You’ll want to identify where consumers in your target market spend their money and how they make financial decisions to determine what products and services they’ll find worthwhile. Then deliver on one of those products or services.

Doing what you love pays. Know yourself. Awareness of your preferences and natural strengths, and pursuing your interests is critical. You’re most likely to excel and work hard when you find the work meaningful and you are passionate about it.

Address unmet needs. The most successful businesses meet important yet unmet needs, which allows them to occupy niches with little or no competition. Apple with its iPhone, did just this — bringing together, in a mobile device, information useful to people while on the move. Home Instead Senior Care also founded its business on the unmet need of a growing senior population and the generation’s intention to age in place.

Don’t underestimate the power of good timing. Interest rates for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, for example, are at an all-time low. Starting a business when rates are favorable can help lock-in terms that free capital over time and reduce overall business costs.

Partner for success. Do you have a great business mind, but your spouse is terrific with people? Your talented spouse can balance weaknesses (and vice versa) that could otherwise hinder your success. A husband-wife partnership enables you to bring a robust and well-rounded skill-set to market. Those not quite ready to give a new business idea a try may consider buying into an existing franchise.

Source: Home Instead Senior Care

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From Zumba to Walking – Fitness Can Be Fun

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Health

Regular physical activity at any age can help you live longer, feel better and reduce health problems. But far too many people, including baby boomers, don’t get the exercise they need. According to the 2012 Participation Report from the Physical Activity Council (PAC), 35 percent of Americans over the age of 55 are physically inactive. Since regular exercise helps control blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol and so much more, boomers need to find ways to get their bodies moving so they can live longer, healthier lives.

“Though any amount of exercise is beneficial, ultimately adults should work up to getting at least 30 minutes most days of the week, as long as they feel comfortable and pain-free,” says world-renowned nutritionist Joy Bauer. “From taking a Zumba class to walking and stretching, getting regular physical activity helps the joints stay loose, maintains muscle mass, and gets the blood flowing — all of which make everyday tasks easier.”

The American Council on Exercise recommends older Americans choose exercise programs that include cardiovascular, muscle conditioning, and flexibility exercises. Low-impact, non-jarring exercises such as walking and swimming are good options. A key to sticking with a fitness program is making sure it’s enjoyable.

A fun new program for older adults is Zumba Gold, a low-impact dance-based workout designed specifically for boomers and seniors. Workout routines combine salsa, merengue, flamenco and cumbia moves with fun music. For those that would prefer to work out in the comfort of their own home, there is also a Zumba Gold “Live it Up” DVD collection that offers 3 discs with workouts, as well as advice from experts in the fields of nutrition, brain health, enhancing your well-being and more.

Workout Safety Tips

Whenever beginning a new fitness activity or program, make sure you do it safely.

Wear comfortable shoes that fit well.

Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids.

Listen to your body. If it hurts or it feels like too much, stop.

You also need to be aware of danger signs while exercising. Stop the activity and call your doctor or 911 if you experience pain or pressure in your chest, arms, neck or jaw; feel lightheaded, nauseated or weak; become short of breath; develop pain in your legs, calves or back; or feel like your heart is beating too fast or skipping beats.

“It’s important to see your doctor before beginning any workout routine to receive a thorough cardiovascular evaluation,” says Bauer. “Once you’ve been cleared by your doctor, I recommend starting out slowly.”

Pick an Activity that You Will Enjoy

The best way to find a regimen that will stick is to choose something that you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to stick with it and reap all the benefits the physical activity has to offer.

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A Guide for Parents with Boomerang Kids

Comments (0) Addiction/Codependency, Boomer Life

With a slowly growing economy and a still sluggish job market, there has been a continued increase in children moving back home after having lived independently on their own. These so called “boomerang kids” are popping up more frequently and when this situation is managed improperly, it can cause serious tension in a family.

However, many parents are viewing this “boomerang” as an opportunity. It can allow youth to begin saving money for the future, continue a job search or to get out of debt, but only when expectations are clear and roles are known.

Patrick Egan, chief retirement spokesperson for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans says, “This is not necessarily the troubling scenario it was once thought to be and this can actually be a very productive time for both children and parents if it’s handled well. When children move back home a closer bond can form between young adults and their parents, and this can lead to the young adults receiving financial, practical and emotional support from their parents.”

In May, sociologists Karen L. Fingerman and Frank F. Furstenburg reported that “in 1988 less than half of parents gave advice to a grown child in the past month, and fewer than one in three had provided any hands-on help. Recent data show that nearly 90 percent of parents give advice and 70 percent provide some type of practical assistance every month.”

This type of increased financial co-dependence between parent and child can lead to strain when living together again after a separation. If you are a parent with a young adult at home, it is important to communicate about expectations and responsibilities and to help your child build a solid financial foundation for their future.

Egan says reviewing these tips can smooth the transition and can guide both the child and parent through a tough time:

1. Set expectations

Discuss with your child how much he/she should contribute to household expenses and tasks. A key to making the transition easy on everyone is having clear expectations for everyone involved both financially and otherwise.

2. Review your insurance and taxes (and theirs)

Save time and money by seeing if your boomerang child is covered by your health and/or car insurance. Also see if you are able to claim your child as a dependent.

3. Consider having them “pay rent”

Consider having your child pay rent or at least a token amount for living expenses. This gets the child into the habit of paying a monthly amount. Or have a set amount of money go into a saving account monthly that the child could later use for a down payment on a house or car.

4. Help them keep busy

While waiting to get hired, your child could continue to expand their resume. For example, remind them to consider volunteering, joining a professional organization, connecting with a networking group or participating in an internship, even if it’s unpaid.

5. Focus on your own finances first

You may be tempted to use retirement dollars toward financial assistance for your child, but don’t derail your own financial plans. Make sure your savings and retirement plans remain intact. Not sacrificing your own livelihood and continuing to invest in important options like life insurance, disability income insurance and long-term care insurance is critical to maintaining your overall financial health.

Though you may not have planned on it, helping support your child after they’ve left home can be a springboard toward a healthy financial future for them. Following these tips can help ensure that the boomerang experience remains positive and the relationship remains strong.

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Tips to Help You Stick to Your 2013 Goals

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

While approximately 90 percent of Americans break their New Year’s resolutions by January 31, there are strategies to help you stick to your guns and make your goals for 2013 a reality. Consider these tips from life coach, Dr. Maya Bailey:

• Be clear and specific. Dissect general resolutions, such as “I want to be more successful,” to come up with the specific steps to reach that goal. For example, define what success means to you: More money? More time to spend with family? More notoriety? This will help clarify the necessary steps for reaching your goal, says Bailey.

• Confront your mental blocks. Ask yourself what blocks and obstacles you will have to overcome to reach your goals, advises Bailey, and take inventory of your own self-limiting beliefs. Uncover the beliefs that have historically blocked you from moving forward and replace these with new, positive thoughts right away.

• Determine where you need improvement. Once you’ve conquered your self-limiting beliefs, figure out which areas of weakness tend to hold you back from reaching your goals: Disorganization? Avoiding people? Lack of consistency? Sometimes our bad habits derail us from reaching our goals, so seek to strengthen such areas, says Bailey.

• Have a timeline and a plan. Declaring a resolution is a great first step but if you don’t put some parameters around it, such as a deadline, chances are high that it might never happen. A plan and a timeline build in necessary accountability to your resolution, Bailey explains. Consider enlisting a colleague, spouse or coach to help in the accountability department.

• Keep the prize in mind. Did you know that most top athletes mentally rehearse and visualize themselves performing at their best? If you’re really serious about manifesting what you want this year, take advantage of this important strategy, says Bailey. Picture yourself a year from now having achieved all your resolutions for 2013, ready to take on the challenges of yet another year. This positive mental image will serve as an important motivator throughout the year.

 

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8 Must-Dos to Tackle Before the End of the Year

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Business, Entrepreneurs

All year long you’ve been in frantic motion. You’ve put out fires, solved employee snafus and issues, juggled conflicting priorities, fielded exhausting back-to-back meetings, telephone calls, and endless emails. You have motivated yourself and others and kept blocking and tackling month after month by leading and managing your company toward achieving the objectives and goals you set. In other words, it’s been a typical year in the life of a small business owner, and, suddenly, December is here, and 2013 is right around the corner. And according to Bill McBean, author of the new book The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t. with a little focused thought, the last month of 2012 can also be the most valuable one.

Sometimes the business world pauses to catch its breath in December,” says McBean. “This may or may not be true in your industry or company. But either way, you owe it to yourself, your customers, your employees, and your future to tear yourself away from the daily grind long enough to do some end-of-the-year or early-next-year reflection and forward planning.”

Typically, entrepreneurs and small business owners have trouble seeing above the action and the dust it creates. But maintaining a cool and measured perspective on where you are, where you’re headed, and—most importantly—exactly what you need to do to get there is crucial to next year’s success.

“Too many owners and their senior staff just get so caught up in the daily whirlwind that they lose sight of the realities of business ownership,” he says. “When that happens, success may not evaporate overnight, but it will, inevitably, slip away. It doesn’t have to be this way. It pays to step back and reevaluate your market and your company’s place in it by making sure your practices are in line with ‘the facts.’”

Here are eight “must-dos” to tackle before the end of the year:

Hold a 2012 post-mortem. Start by analyzing whether you’ve been an effective leader. A skill every great leader has is the ability to self-analyze, away from the high fives of success and the consistent pressure tight cash flow brings.

“This is a good chance to gauge the effectiveness of your leadership,” says McBean. “Good leadership begins with defining the destination and direction of the company and deciding how the business should look and operate when it arrives. If you haven’t done those things, you aren’t leading, and if you aren’t leading, no one will follow.

Do a top-to-bottom walk-through of your systems and procedures. Examine what is working and what isn’t. You may find that a system that once worked well no longer does (because the marketplace has changed, your competitors have changed tactics and strategies, or your customers’ needs have shifted) or that your business has fallen into bad habits that hinder success. In particular, look for inconsistencies in how employees handle tasks, especially those that directly impact customers and those who handle the data you use to make decisions about the business. This allows you to catch problems before they develop into crises.

Pinpoint your best customers. Give them a heartfelt end-of-the-year thank you. McBean insists that protecting your company’s assets is job one. Those assets are not just monetary—far from it. Customers are some of the most important. (After all, without them, no one gets paid.) What’s more, all customers are not created equal. Some are more profitable than others, and they’re not always who you think they are.

Don’t neglect your other big “asset:” employees. If possible, meet with each one individually. Even if it’s not a “formal” performance review, a quick end-of-year conversation one-on-one can help you shore up relationships, challenge low performers to do better, and reward and rerecruit your highest performers. (Rewards don’t have to come in the form of a big end-of-year bonus. You might offer an extra couple of days off, a gym membership, or a gift card for a spa treatment as a thank you for a job well done.)

“The idea is to show employees that you recognize and appreciate their contributions,” says McBean. “A heartfelt thank you, a compliment passed along from a customer, an inquiry into an employee’s goals and aspirations, or a simple handshake and acknowledgment can be incredibly meaningful. A good motto to follow is ‘Be firm—but fair, and show them you care.’”

Review your marketing campaign. Does what you’re doing make sense for you? Ask yourself some specific questions: Are you marketing aggressively enough to attack the market, or are you trying to coast by, letting your competitors stir up the market? Are you targeting the best possible markets and customers? Might a customer reward program improve repeat purchases? Would the money you’re pouring into ad placement be better spent on direct mail? Does a huge social media campaign really make sense for your company, or are you tweeting fruitlessly into cyberspace just because everyone else is doing it?

Meet with your accountant, your attorney, and other key advisors. These specialists almost certainly know things you don’t. Their perspective can be extremely valuable to an entrepreneur who has been chained to his or her desk all year (and, as a result, is out of touch with changes in the external business environment). Planning for a future you can’t predict is part of a business owner’s job, and these advisors can help you gather the information needed to get the “lay of the land” and make smart decisions.

“Successful businesspeople have a good grasp of business in general,” he adds. “By regularly touching base with important members of your larger network, you are educating yourself on the various aspects of the business world beyond just your industry.”

Kick off a cost-cutting, gross-profit-building mission. No one knows what the future holds. But it’s a safe bet it won’t be “smooth sailing.” More likely “choppy waters filled with sharks and the occasional iceberg.” When tough times and financial uncertainty loom, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand. And, one of the best ways to create cash is to find added gross profit and at the same time cut some expenses. That said, McBean suggests you ask yourself: What expensive ($$) mistakes did we make last year? How can we avoid them next year? And what can we do to build up the cash cushion that might help us get through any market corrections or uncertainty?

Set some realistic goals for next year. Then, dial up the “aggression factor” just a little bit more. In other words, aim high. Don’t be lulled into complacency or let the continued talk of doom and gloom handcuff you. You might be okay now, but that doesn’t mean you will be tomorrow and you have to keep pushing the market. Every company has competitors, and if it doesn’t and it’s successful, it soon will. Successful owners know they have to fight not only to win market share but to retain it as well, says McBean.

“Being an owner has its ups and downs, just like most things in life,” says McBean. “But it can be an immensely rewarding career, especially if you do a yearly check-up and prepare yourself and your business by building on the success of 2012 and prepare yourself and your business for 2013 and beyond.”

Bill McBean is the author of The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t

For more information, visit www.FactsOfBusinessLife.com.

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Triaging Your To-Do List

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Business, Entrepreneurs

“We Can Do It!” was a World War II-era battle cry that empowered women. Today, however, the expression for many women is more like, “We can do it — if there’s time.” By their 40s, more than 80 percent of American women are mothers, according to the U.S. census. Meanwhile, they also make up roughly half of the workforce, a percentage that has doubled since Rosie the Riveter’s proclamation. At least 50 percent of women say they don’t have enough free time and 60 percent feel guilty for spending what little time they do have on themselves, according to a survey published in an issue of Real Simple magazine.

Between motherhood and work, it is crucial that busy women also take time out for themselves, says Saniel Bonder, a wellness coach, Harvard graduate and author of the acclaimed new novel “Ultimaya 1.0: The Trouble with the Wishes of Leopold Stokes.”

“Putting things into a new perspective and realizing that a really good mother and home manager — or a mother who works outside the home — can’t be chronically tired and cranky is a first step to achieving a healthy balance between a mom and her to-do list,” he says. Mothering is a marathon, not a sprint, Bonder says. Unhappiness, failure and disappointment are guaranteed when a woman continues to drive competing interests at excessive speeds, he says.

He offers tips for managing a mother’s to-do list:

Make “me time” a priority every day. Set aside 5 to 10 inviolable minutes for triaging your day’s to-do list early on, when you’ve got plenty of energy and aren’t already overwhelmed. ” Do it with ‘Mother Bear’ fierceness. Go at it with ferocious intention to protect your “cub” — except in this case, the cub is your own total wellness.”

Serve everyone notice. Let your family, friends, and others who depend on you know that for everyone’s sake, you are going to take better care of yourself and you’re not going to try to be Superwoman any more.

Ruthless ranking. Rank each item 1, 2 or 3 in order of real importance. Make sure your priority is only the most important, and that you actually can do it.

Indulge your inner child. Make at least one of your daily No. 1 priorities something to pamper yourself something you know will really make you feel good but that you think you really don’t have time for and shouldn’t need.

Talk back to your inner critic. Do this out loud; shout it if you need to! Just say “no” a lot, to that fault-finding perfectionist in your head. You’re right. It’s wrong!

“Sustainability begins at home, and the true hearth of most homes today is the mother’s well-being,” Bonder says. Your children need to learn this from how you live, not just what you tell them.

Saniel Bonder received his bachelor’s in social relations from Harvard University, partaking in a unique curriculum that focused on the fields of psychology, culture and social behavior.

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Holiday Grief Coping Tips

Comments (0) Boomer Life

The glitz and glitter in the stores, special traditions and get-togethers with family and friends make the holidays a time of anticipation and joy. However, holidays can act as a trigger for those who are grieving the death of a loved one. While some people want to ignore the holidays altogether, some want to continue traditions. What can one do?

Diane Snyder Cowan, the director of Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center, Hospice of the Western Reserve, offers the following tips:

  • Recognize that the holidays may not be the same and you may feel intense feelings of grief. Try not to isolate yourself
  • Talk with family members and friends about your feelings and share stories about your loved one.
  • Plan ahead so you can be prepared when invited to holiday get-togethers. People who are grieving often do not have the emotional or physical energy to celebrate the holidays as have they done in the past. Let others know when you are not up to attending a gathering.
  • Consider honoring your loved one through a commemorative ritual. This can be as simple as lighting a candle in his or her honor, visiting a place that holds special meaning, or baking a favorite holiday dish.
  • Do what you want to do, not what you feel you should do.
  • Surround yourself with those who are supportive and understanding.
  • Allow someone else to do the baking, cooking and decorating this year.
  • If you go to an event, take your own car so that you can leave when you choose.
  • Shop using catalogs or the Internet or don’t shop at all this year.
  • Do something for others: volunteer at a soup kitchen or bake and deliver muffins to a homebound neighbor.

“There is no calendar for grief. Give yourself permission and time to grieve,” Snyder Cowan says. “The first year, things may seem surreal. You may still be in a fog. The second or third holiday season can be just as difficult as your new reality sets in. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Honor your time to grieve.”

Source: http://www.hospicewr.org

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5 Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Health

With more than a third of Americans classified as obese, everyone from first lady Michelle Obama to TV news anchor Katie Couric is advocating exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

That’s great, says Dr. Eudene Harry, author of “Live Younger in 8 Simple Steps,” but the benefits of exercise go far beyond fitting into those skinny jeans.

For one, it will give you younger looking, more blemish-free skin.

“The increase in circulation and perspiration that occurs with exercise delivers more nutrients to your skin while allowing impurities and waste to be removed,” says Harry, who combines years of emergency-room experience with holistic medicine in her private practice. “The result? A healthier complexion!”

She adds four more hidden benefits of a good workout:
• Natural “feel-good” chemicals: Exercise releases endorphins, the brain chemicals that boost your mood and make you feel happy, as well as relieve stress, and enhance your self-esteem and self-confidence. Exercise has also been shown to increase neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which gives us a natural high and allows us to sleep better.
• Constipation prevention: Exercise increases the contractions of the wall of the intestine, helping to move things along through the intestinal tract more easily, and decreasing the time it takes to pass through the large intestine. But wait an hour or two after eating before exerting yourself: Exercising too soon after a meal can divert blood flow away from the gut and toward the muscles, weakening peristaltic contractions (and slowing down the digestion process).
• Prevents brittle bones: Walking, jogging, dancing, weight training and yoga are all weight-bearing exercises that help strengthen bones. Swimming and bicycling are exercises that are considered non-weight bearing. During weight-bearing exercises, bones adapt to the impact of the weight and the pull of muscles by building more bone cells, increasing strength and density and decreasing the risk of fractures, osteopenia and osteoporosis.
• Enhanced immunity: Physical exertion increases the rate at which antibodies flow through the blood stream, resulting in better immunity against sickness. The increased temperature generated during moderate exercise makes it difficult for certain infectious organisms to survive.

Don’t overdo your exercise, or you won’t see all of these benefits, Harry says.
“Check with a physician who can advise you on the right activities and intensity level for your individual needs,” she says.

“For all the benefits of exercise, there are down sides if you go at it too vigorously for your physical condition. For instance, you can actually increase stress hormones, which can make you more vulnerable to illness, rather than building your immunity.”

Source: www.LivingHealthyLookingYounger.com

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Boomers Shifting Household Needs

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Business

Boomers expect to stay in their homes and live independently into their later years, but in the midst of change that is occurring in their households, it’s easy for them to lose focus on planning for their own future housing needs.

New research by The Hartford shows that 40 percent of boomers have experienced or anticipate experiencing family member changes in and out of the home, mostly related to their children. However, 70 percent of boomers have not made design changes to their living space, perhaps due to the fact that they don’t know if their children will move back home, notes Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist at The Hartford. Changes that increase your home’s livability allow you to stay in your home longer and make living easy for people of all ages, sizes and abilities.

“Most of us want to stay in our homes as we age, which often requires making the design choices to help us do that,” says Olshevski. Moving, remodeling or simply redecorating, all present opportunities to incorporate design factors that make your home comfortable and safe for everyone you care about, from small children to older individuals. While a life transition might cause you to halt your plans for improvements, Olshevski recommends taking the opposite approach and using it as an opportunity to incorporate more accessible design into the home.

By following the principles of universal design – what’s good for people of all ages, sizes and abilities – you can make sure your home is more livable across your lifetime, and can stand up to any life changes that come your way.

Olshevski recommends concentrating on three design elements in order to accommodate changing needs over a lifetime:

Adaptability. Is your home flexible and functional for family and friends now and in the future? For example, if you’re installing a new bathroom sink, you might consider storage space in the cabinet underneath. You may also want to make sure the cabinet opening is at least 36 inches wide, which allows a wheel chair to slide in between the doors when open and makes the sink accessible to all. Or, if you’re installing new kitchen countertops, think about choosing a design with multiple heights to increase flexibility and comfort for things such as standing for food preparation or sitting to check for recipes on the computer.

Ease. Any components you add to your home should be easy to use. For example, improvements like pull-out drawers for easy access in kitchens and bathrooms can help make reaching for items easier. If you’re replacing door handles or faucets, opt for lever style handles that are easier to turn.

Openness. Open floor plans are becoming more the trend, but it’s not just for style reasons. More open space means additional room to maneuver, eliminating obstacles for those who have mobility challenges. Improvements like rounding edges on countertops can also help eliminate sharp objects that could cause injury.

Recognizing both that people are living longer and wish to remain in their homes, and seeing the types of transitions that families have gone through over the past few years, The Hartford has dedicated a section of its website to helping people make their homes more livable across a lifetime, meeting the needs of every age and everyone. More resources for getting your home ready for the rest of your life can be found at www.thehartford.com/lifetime 

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‘Tis the Season…to Plan Wisely

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Food and Drink

It’s the season for giving, and with consumer sentiment making a comeback, shoppers are expected to open their wallets a bit wider this year. But will holiday spending leave shoppers in the red? Not if they plan wisely and use some common sense tips from the American Bankers Association.

“This is the most festive time of year, but consumers don’t have to end up with a holiday hangover when the bills arrive,” says Gov. Frank Keating, CEO of the American Bankers Association. “Simple planning can make the season more care-free and enjoyable when you know you’re in control of your budget.”

To help consumers spend within their means and enjoy a financially happy New Year, the American Bankers Association offers the following tips:

Develop a budget. Before you start shopping, develop a realistic budget. Consider your income, subtract your normal monthly expenses, and then add any savings to whatever cash is left over. If you need to use your credit card, think about what you can afford to pay back in January. Don’t forget costs beyond gifts, like postage, gift wrap, decorations, greeting cards, food, travel and charitable contributions.

Make a list and check it twice. Keep your gift list limited to family and close friends, noting how much you want to spend on each.

Spend carefully. Avoid shopping while rushed or under pressure, which can lead to overspending. Make sure to comparison shop online first, or download an “app” that lets you compare prices before you buy anything in a store. Before you head to the cashier (or online “checkout”), make sure your purchase is within the budget you set.

Avoid traps. Finding a spectacular sale on something you’ve been wanting can easily throw you off course. Stay strong and stick to your budget. And don’t apply for store credit cards you don’t need just to get a one-time discount

Use credit wisely. Limit the use of credit for holiday spending. If you must use credit, use only one card, preferably the one with the lowest interest rate, and leave the rest at home. Pick a date when you can pay off your holiday credit card bills, and commit to paying off the balance by that time. Be sure to check statements for unauthorized charges and report them immediately.

Save your receipts. Not only will you need them for possible returns, you’ll need them to keep track of what you’ve spent and to compare with your credit card statement. Knowing how much you spent will help you plan for next year, too.

Be creative. Consider simple, hand-made gifts instead of store-bought ones. Send greeting cards or handwritten notes of appreciation for those outside of your list. Home-baked goods, simple crafts or hand-made gift certificates for your time or talents are often less expensive and more appreciated that what you would buy at a mall or big-box store.

Source: www.aba.com

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Tips to Avoid Scammers this Holiday Season

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Finance and Money

Shopping online can be easy and convenient, especially during the holiday season when stores are packed with shoppers and it’s harder to find what you want. However, scammers are always looking for ways to get your money or personal information, so it’s worth taking a few moments to learn how you can protect yourself when shopping online.

Consider these tips:

How to Avoid Scams

Minimize risks by shopping at well-established online stores with a good reputation. You can often learn a lot about the store by looking at comments and feedback from other shoppers.

Also, when shopping online:

• Use credit cards instead of debit cards. Credit cards offer better protection against unauthorized purchases, as you are typically only responsible for $50 worth of unauthorized purchases, if that. Debit cards generally don’t offer this level of protection.

• Calculate the total price of your purchase. Before clicking on “buy,” make sure the price includes shipping and handling, insurance, taxes and anything else that you expect from the purchase, such as discounts or coupons.

• Read the return policy. Returns are part of the experience of shopping online, and each store has its own return and exchange policy. Some might charge fees for restocking products or for resending merchandise. By reading the return policies you will know what to expect.

• Avoid shopping in stores outside the United States. This can help you avoid problems if you need to return or exchange items or resolve other disputes. Online retailers in the U.S. are subject to U.S. consumer laws and therefore offer protection to the buyer.

How to Protect Your Personal Information

Your personal information can be as valuable as money to a scammer. Scammers can use personal information like your credit card number or Social Security number to shop or steal your identity. To protect your personal information:

• Shop at secure sites. When paying, make sure the website address begins with https (the “s” at the end means it’s secure). It also means the website encrypts the information it sends.

• Be careful when sharing your personal information. Don’t provide your personal information in exchange for prizes or special offers. It might be a trick to get you to give away sensitive information. Also, avoid sharing your Social Security number and don’t send your personal information via e-mail. It’s not safe.

• Be careful when using public Wi-Fi networks. The safest public networks are those where you have to type in a password. Even so, you should always use secure sites (with the address beginning with https) when shopping online.

• Monitor your statements. Read your monthly statements to make sure there are no unauthorized purchases on your bank or credit cards. If you find unauthorized charges, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.

Source: USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov

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Are You Raising Financially Intelligent Children?

Comments (0) Finance and Money

All parents want to support their children’s learning process. From algebra to a musical instrument, parents can help their children improve their education through support and encouragement. But what about financial intelligence?

According to a recent BMO Harris Bank national survey conducted by Ipsos America, Inc., a leading market research company, nine out of ten (89 percent) U.S. parents think that they are an important resource for their children to learn basic money management. Unfortunately, less than four of ten (36 percent) parents talk to their kids about money management on a regular weekly basis.

Now that children have settled into another school year, it it is an opportune time for parents to start teaching their kids about the basics of investing and saving for the future.

“Learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings at the end of the day,” says BMO Harris Bank Regional President, Julie Curran. “It’s never too early to introduce kids to the world of finance and that can start in the home. Even very young children can learn basic money skills, while older children can be taught about the stock market and the importance of setting financial goals.”

BMO Harris Bank offers tips for parents on how to teach their children about saving and investing at any age:

The Early Years: The Value of Saving (suggested ages: 5 to 9)

As soon as children start to collect a few coins and understand the value of money, open a savings account for them:

Explain to them why saving/investing money is important in life.

Introduce them to the concept of having a bank account and how money in a bank account earns interest.

Focus on a specific goal (such as buying a video game or a bike) this can make it easier for kids to set aside the money. Suggest children save at least part of the cash they receive for birthdays, holidays or jobs for something they really want.

By setting a goal and purchasing items themselves they will develop a better appreciation for the value of saving.

Taking Action: Learn the Marketplace (suggested ages: 10 to 12)

Once the basics are in place, it is time to start learning about investing:

Educate children on the concept of risk and the importance of having a balanced investment portfolio – use language they understand and keep to key, simple concepts.

Explain that purchasing a stock means they own a small piece of a company and the value of the stock can go up or down.

Show them how to read stock prices in the newspaper’s financial pages or online. As homework, have them track the stock prices of a handful of familiar companies, such as Disney® or McDonald’s, to make the exercise more interesting and personal.

Decide together how frequently they will check the stock prices (once a day, once a week) and then show them how to keep a log of the price changes to see how well their selections have performed.

If you have an online investing account, walk them through your portfolio and explain to them the rationale for your portfolio’s composition and any trades/changes you make.

Getting Real: Becoming an Investor (suggested ages: 13 to 19)

Once the groundwork has been set, have kids invest a small sum of money in a few stocks they were previously tracking and perhaps offer to match any gains the child makes in their stock picks.

Consider setting up a custodial account and having the child contribute part of his or her savings.

Teach kids about the different savings and investing instruments available to them, such as 504 Plans and money market accounts, to build up a contingency fund, pay for college, or save for a larger purchase such as a post-graduation trip or car.

Explain that the younger an investor starts to put aside and save his/her money, the more time his/her money has to grow.

“An important lesson is that we can make learning about finances fun for kids,” says Curran. “With some instruction and hands-on experience, you may have the makings of the next world-renowned economist living under your roof!”

Source: www.bmoharris.com/parents

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Advice to ‘Boomerpreneurs’

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Business, Entrepreneurs

Are you a baby boomer looking to start your own business? You’re far from alone. The “Boomerpreneur” trend, which involves individuals on the cusp of retirement looking to realize their self-employment dreams, appeals to many for a variety of reasons.

For some, the change has been forced upon them by the tough job market. Others are taking the leap to escape boredom, become their own boss, pursue a passion — or simply in hopes of striking it rich.

Whatever the motivation, entrepreneurs face a tough road.

So how can you beat the odds if you want to join the boomerpreneur boom?

While there are many benefits to opening a small business in retirement, ‘Boomerpreneurs’ should understand that entrepreneurship involves an enormous financial commitment that is best managed with the assistance of a financial professional. Lack of sufficient preparation could have a negative effect on the business owner.

BMO Harris Bank offers the following tips to Boomerpreneurs-to-be:

Do your research: Take advantage of the resources and network you have built over the years and learn all you need to know to set up your company. This includes gaining industry insight, arranging a new phone number, deciding whether or not to incorporate the business and looking into the potential tax implications.

Consider the pros and cons: Think carefully about why you want to start your own business. Being your own boss can offer some flexibility. However, other sacrifices, such as longer hours and a possible decrease in cash flow – starting up, and potentially over the life of your retirement — may be necessary to ensure your success.

Develop a plan: Stress-test your idea and research your marketplace, including what products and services you will be offering, their appropriate price point(s), who your potential customers will be and what your sales targets will need to be to cover your costs. Keep your end goal in mind as you build your company and maintain a positive, yet realistic, outlook as you progress.

Seek outside advice: Speak to an accountant and a small business banker. Financial specialists that can provide insight into setting up your company, market competition, personal and business capital and how it may change over time.

Source: http://www.harrisbank.com

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Tax Strategies You Should Implement Before the End of 2012

Comments (0) Finance and Money

According to financial planner Rick Rogers, income taxes are going up next year, and not just for those who earn more than $200,000 a year.

“We all know about the expiring Bush tax cuts, which may or may not be extended for everyone or just some,” says Rodgers, author of “The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning” (www.RodgersSpeaks.com). “There are also new taxes that were part of the health care reform law passed in 2010; the expiring payroll tax cut; the alternative minimum tax that already expired in 2011, and many other provisions that have expired or will expire at year end.”

The good news is you still have time to take advantage of 2012 tax rates, which may turn out to be the lowest we will see in some time.

Rodgers offers these strategies that can be implemented before the end of 2012:

Roth conversion – No one knows for sure what will happen to the tax code next year, which is why a Roth conversion is one of the best tax-planning strategies available. Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA creates a taxable event in 2012. All future earnings in the account will be tax-free, as long as you wait five years and are age 59½ or older when you take withdrawals. The biggest advantage to the Roth conversion strategy is the ability to “undo” the transaction as late as Oct. 15, 2013. Should the new Congress pass a major tax reform bill next year that lowers tax rates across the board, you can put the money back into your IRA. It will be like the transaction never happened.

Harvest capital gains – Harvesting gains is similar to harvesting losses. Sell appreciated securities that you’ve held for at least 12 months to realize the long-term gain for tax purposes. You can immediately repurchase the same asset because there is no wash sale rule for realizing gains. This allows you to pay tax on the gain in 2012, when rates are low, and establish a new cost basis in the asset to minimize increased gains that may be taxed at higher rates. This strategy should appeal to anyone in the 15-percent tax bracket because capital gains are taxed at zero and may jump to eight to 10 percent in 2013 if the tax cuts expire. The strategy is also appealing to anyone subject to the Medicare surtax. If the current tax laws expire, the tax rate on long-term capital gains will jump from 15 percent to 23.8 percent (21.8 percent for assets held more than five years).

Pay medical expenses – Anyone who normally itemizes medical expenses on their tax return should accelerate those expenses into 2012 if they can. Medical expenses are deductible only if they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). This means if your AGI is $50,000, you can deduct only medical expenses over $3,750. Next year the threshold jumps to 10 percent of AGI. Pay your January medical insurance premium in December to move this deduction to 2012. Any routine eye exams or dental visits should be moved up to December. Paying with a credit card would give you the deduction this year and delay the actual payment until 2013.

Rodgers warns that a common mistake is to wait and see what happens. It has not been uncommon for Congress to make significant changes to the tax code late in December, leaving taxpayers little time to react. He advises a diversified approach to tax planning. Make a partial Roth conversion, harvest some capital gains, but don’t wait until it’s too late to do anything about rising taxes.

Take a proactive approach to tax planning this year to cushion any fall from the fiscal cliff.

Source: www.RodgersSpeaks.com

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Bored with Your Bedroom?

Comments (0) Home and Garden

Whether you’re tired of your boring bedroom or have recently moved and are taking the opportunity to revamp your style, below are a few ways to restyle your space in a quick, simple and relatively inexpensive way.

1. Start with color. Popular fall colors are traditionally associated with autumn leaves and include deep reds, russets and burgundies, as well as vibrant yellows, pumpkin orange, mochas and browns. Choosing comforters and bedding featuring these colors will help you create a warm look that says “fall” as soon as you walk into the room.

2. Layer it on. Having multiple layers of bedding not only looks more elegant, it also offers you and your guests more flexibility when it comes to customizing for temperature. You can also add warmth and comfort with soft throws — and be sure to have extras on-hand for overnight guests or particularly chilly nights. Choose the softest sheets for your bed and be sure to have about three sets on hand. That way, you’ll have a few on reserve during laundry time or when guests visit.

3. Think pillows. Much more than an accent color, decorative pillows have come into their own as one of the simplest ways to personalize any space and change a home’s décor. Many exciting new pillow trends are making their debut, including couture, nubby and boldly-patterned choices.

4. Mix & match. Add warmth and character to your room by mixing and matching textures and patterns. For example, choose throw pillows that look like they came from the same place or era as your bedding, then mix nubby with smooth. To mix patterns, simply repeat the colors in each decorative pillow, while differentiating the pattern’s motif or scale.

5. Don’t forget the basics. All the decorative bedding in the world won’t truly make you comfortable if you don’t have the basics covered. Begin by choosing supportive pillows and, of course, a comfortable mattress and bed foundation.

Source: AshleySleep.com.

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What Does it Take to Build a Truly Custom Website?

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

I know unless you have been in the business of website development you may not know all that goes into it. Earlier, I wrote an article explaining the difference between a customized website and a custom website. If you are a little fuzzy on what the difference, please go back and read the article

I am outlining the workflow of a genuinely custom website – one that is built from scratch from the ground floor up.

Each project is as unique as the person building the business, so there are some variables but the similarities are what I am going to focus on.  This is my personal workflow – the process I go through with my clients.

When I am first meeting with the client, I find out:

  1. What specific goal are they wanting their website to do? Marketing, informational, e-commerce…
  2. What target market are they going after? People over 50, women-owned businesses, young mothers, etc. The more detailed the better.
  3. Why would a visitor want to buy what they are selling services or products? Find out how it will benefit your client and work with that.
  4. Are they established as a brick and mortar business – just starting out – or do they need to re-establish a website gone wrong?
  5. Who are their competitors – have they checked out their websites? If so what impression did they get. What do you think is lacking and what would make yours better?

Once I gather all this information – I then ask them to send me links of websites they love – it doesn’t have to be in their market, I just want to see their style and what type of graphical interface they are drawn to, always keeping in mind their target market.
The next step is to do a little research myself and come up with content architecture – that is the flow of the pages – navigation and how the website will be structured. After each task, I consult with the client and get their OK.

Designing – the Fun Part!

This is where I can become creative – this is my favorite part of the process. I then open up all images in Photoshop (image editor) size and compress them, so they look great but load quickly when online.

Pictures – graphics are a combination of what they have or what I can find or create. If the client doesn’t have any royalty-free pictures or very few, I will go out on websites buy the appropriate pictures.  All pictures need to be royalty free. I also design the banner and interface using different fonts, images and colors. If the client already has a logo I design around that piece if they don’t have a logo I suggest they get one so important in branding your business. And yes I do design logos as well!

Once the static image is constructed – I upload it to a unique folder with the clients name on it – I will do three different interface designs so my clients will have a variety to pick from.

Dreamweaver is my tool of choice when putting together a website – I then go into Dreamweaver create 3 html pages and put one graphic on each page. This is where I send me client the links to the pages, so they can look at what has been created and decide what they like. Once my client decides which they want to go with – then the real work begins.

Each page of the website needs to have copy with keywords – those are words that a client would search online for your services or products.  I will work with my clients to create great copy – search engine optimization is a major plus. Some people give me a basic idea and I totally write the copy – some people are great writers themselves and they write the copy.  I will go over it and critique it.  I want to make sure it sells the sizzle not the steak and makes visitors that come to their website want what they have.
Actual construction of the website consists of seven steps:

  1. Cut up the graphic into  pieces to be put together using mark-up language
  2. Import them from Photoshop into the image folder of your website.
  3. Create the .xhtml page that will be the template for your website.
  4. Using CSS style sheets and other elements put the images back together as shown on the static pages.
  5. This will be the shell in which all your content and graphics will be displayed.
  6. Make sure the navigation is correct and all the links are set for the structure of the website.
  7. Take edited and approved copy/text and pictures starting with the home page put in the guts.

Once everything is built and tested it is then ready to launch into its permanent home – to go live. I will take everything that is built and transfer it to my client’s host of choice – depending on who they decide to go with – I can set up emails and different elements you may need.

This is not the end of the story. While the website is being constructed, we have to consider the elements of Search Engine Optimization. How fast website loads – keywords in the title and pages are only the tip of the iceberg. We must also design the description meta-tag using proper phrases – make sure there is only one header using the (h1 tag) on each page, and the alt text for all pictures have the appropriate keywords.

You will also want to be able to analyze who the visitors are that come to your website. Google has a fantastic tool called Google Analytics – I suggest you use it. If you monitor your website you will be able to see what need to be changed and what is working.

After looking at all that goes into a custom built website it goes without saying,  you will pay more for a custom built website.  I personally do a per project amount, and my clients greatly benefit because with all the hours we put into building their business they would pay much more if we went hourly.

Now some businesses may decide they want to go with a pre-built template, or a customized interface. That is a perfectly viable solution the most important thing is to get your website up and running – and you need to start somewhere. Just make sure whatever you build that you put in the most crucial elements – like Search Engine Optimization elements.  Your website does need to look professional in order for people to take your business seriously.

To Exciting Opportunities & Endless Possibilities!

Pamela Jacob ~ Artista Design~ 801.910.4825

Providing Creative Solutions and Amazing Results!

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Hey Mr. President, Where are all the Women Basketball Players?

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Forty eight years after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and despite four decades of affirmative action initiatives, equal employment opportunity mandates and countless diversity inclusion training programs, boardrooms and senior leadership conference rooms according to diversity pioneers Judith H. Katz, PhD and Frederick Miller remain 95% White and male. Last month the Wall Street Journal reported that there are only 35 women CEOs in Fortune 1000 companies.

There is no denying that prestigious titles that come with high paying salaries bring with it certain unspoken privileges, but for members of underrepresented  groups, it also brings unspoken subliminally interpreted bias. Diversity has many dimensions but race, gender and age are probably the most predominant. The question of leadership development and how well underrepresented groups are treated in the corporate environment probably starts with how our brain processes data. The brain is a large data storage bin and with limited information on any group, such as Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Women, Lesbians, Disabled Veterans, etcetera, it processes the data it has and categorizes people within a group as one.

This process in the field of psychology is known as cognitive categorization and makes the issues of diversity and leadership very complex within the workplace.  On the surface cognitive categorization is not racist, sexist or insidious; the dangerous aspect comes into play when mental categorizations are used to prevent hiring and promotions, derail careers and make negative assumptions about individuals based on group categorization.

These are multilayered, complex issues that must be discussed because dimensions of diversity matter but according to Katz and Miller, they matter less when brought out in the open and discussed.  Contrary to what we tell our children and what we want to believe, people are not blind to differences nor due do we live and work in bias free environments.

One of the ways to minimize cognitive categorization is to develop culturally diverse activities outside the workplace. If more people of diverse backgrounds socialize outside of the work environment, they would come to see the totality of the human being and no longer evaluate or judge one another through a bias lens. Notice that the President plays basketball with men of diverse cultures and backgrounds. These men from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, call each other friend and genuinely like and respect one another.

Outside socialization gives people the opportunity to get to know one another and have fun without feeling forced or pressured to do so. So I say, hey Mr. President, where are the female basketball players?  Were any invited to play?  By the way, isn’t his friend Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education?  Another benefit to external socialization is its great networking properties.

The problem of the diversity inclusivity dilemma becomes more apparent when you consider the data. In 2011, according to the U.S. Census, 36.6% of respondents checked minority, which is 114 million people. That percentage is expected to continually climb.  Diversity inclusion is certainly a leadership challenge related to organizational growth and change because it limits how an organization hires and utilizes talent and makes the most of its workforce, and with the workforce consisting of a large population of minorities and women, this lack of inclusion will increasingly impact a company’s bottom line.

This separate and unequal corporate environment is part of America’s cultural landscape; past and present forces have shaped racial identification; cognitive processing, socio cultural in-group/out-group status and working relationships. Race, gender and age are prominent dimensions of diversity but diversity inclusion is about accepting people regardless of how they self identify or what personal idiosyncrasies or uniqueness they have—think Garcia on the hit television show Criminal Minds. Don’t judge talent by the package it comes in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, a quarter of the labor force will be baby boomers, those 55 years and older; therefore, the age dimension of diversity is something that will have to be addressed.

Diversity inclusive practices is a challenge for organizational growth because in order to achieve a work environment where all people feel that their differences are valued and respected, takes an entire organizational paradigm shift. Sigmund Freud proclaimed that we are not the rational rulers of our lives but are under the influence of unconscious forces of which we are unaware.

Leaders may not be acting with malicious forethought but in subconscious ways which are guided by internal and external social cultural influences.  This is why it is critical that companies be willing and prepared to evaluate, assess and change their infrastructure, i.e., management practices and behaviors, human resource policies, and rewards, the systems that supports, validates and encourages the organization’s exclusive culture. This takes time and considerable effort.

The challenge for senior leadership is to understand in a work environment that has limited talent resources and more global competition than ever before, there is a huge need and big profit in being able to utilize a broader pool of skills, talent and perspectives that reside within the organization.

The research has spoken and diversity inclusion practices increases employee morale, lessens turnover and lawsuits, improves promotion and retention rates and improves a company’s public image. Talent management officers should address how diverse talent is being utilized, managed, mentored and groomed to succeed. How well an organization grows and develops is in large part determined by how well an organization uses its human assets.

Talk to me and let me know how you have been able to overcome some of the challenges surrounding diversity inclusion. Follow me DGSBlogger on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DGSBlogger

 

 

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Leadership preparation beyond the MBA

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Leading is a difficult and complex task. Leaders have to develop, inspire and motivate employees, while ensuring the organizational vision and processes are aligned with goals and objectives that achieve company growth and profitability. Rapid changes in technology and an uncertain political environment add an extra level of anxiety and uncertainty to an executive’s portfolio. Rarely does one ascend to leadership status with all the necessary intra and interpersonal competencies and technical skills to achieve both the human and business demands of leadership. Having an MBA does not prepare one to self analyze and sort through biases, blinkers and blind spots. Once a leader elevates beyond mid management, an entirely different set of skills and competencies are needed to lead an organization and its people.

I know many of you reading this article are experts at what you do and because of your success you were tapped for leadership.  In a month’s time, you went from managing processes, to having to develop teams, manage conflict, ethical behavior and communicate clear goals and objectives and quite honestly you’re overwhelmed but dare not say so aloud.  Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson wrote in the Harvard Business Review ‘The more pressure an alpha male feels to perform, the more he tends to shift his leadership style from constructive and challenging to intimidating or even abusive.” One of the most important competencies at the executive level is relationship management. Few enter the ranks of leadership knowing how to do it well without some form of training or coaching.

The task of leadership preparation largely goes untapped in many organizations because it requires objective assessment and critical feedback to subordinates.  Stratford Sherman and Alyssa Freas wrote in the Harvard Business Review “Assessments and candid feedback are seen as essential to executives’ development, yet supervisors of all ranks don’t provide such feedback to subordinates. Why don’t they? This type of candor generates emotion, and emotion can be scary.”  Therefore, many of the high achievers who ultimately become leaders have never had unbridled feedback. The higher one goes up the corporate ladder the less likely this feedback occurs. Leaders need someone around who’s career is not hindered by them saying the unsay able. I know you’re saying that’s not me.

High achievers, those tapped for leadership, can be simultaneously brilliant and productive; yet, overly critical, domineering and condescending; leaving a path of bruised egos, broken relationships and hurt feelings along the way. Eventually their demeanor impacts the organization’s productivity, creativity and growth. Before someone is tapped to assume greater responsibility within your organization, perform due diligence and give them the tools needed to lead successfully. Invest in leadership development and reap the rewards and return on your investment for years to come.

Leadership preparation beyond the MBA

1. Develop a culture of learning and development

Learning and development should become part of your organization’s corporate culture.  We live in a fast paced, global environment, where competition is fierce and talent scarce. Learning and development programs should be communicated in a way that fosters excitement and intrigue, a desire to enhance personal performance.  For executives tapped as leaders, executive coaching would fall under leadership development and should be viewed as a company perk for high achievers, a rite of passage for those entering the ranks of executive leadership, the high mile club. Coaching for leadership development should not be interpreted as a program for troubled executives. It should be communicated in a way that brands the program’s prestige and value.

2. Engage all stakeholders

Leadership development training should involve all stakeholders; the client, their boss, and human resources. Stakeholders should work together to identify the executive’s learning objectives. Coaching for leadership development improves the executive’s coping mechanisms, communication style, working alliances and problem solving; these improvements benefit the executive and the organization, and alone are worth the investment. In a collaborative relationship, the stakeholders know the organization’s challenges and develop a flexible plan of action to address them.

3. No surprises.  Determine cost and budget upfront

The human resources department should research the cost of leadership development training and the best programs available to meet the needs of the leaders and the organization. Should it be group training, one-on-one executive coaching or a combination of both, collectively the stakeholders should prepare a budget upfront for what they want to accomplish and how and when they are going to pay for it.

4. 360-degree feedback

Provide those tapped for leadership with a 360 degree feedback evaluation. Survey data is collected from the client and stakeholders. This feedback gives an objective assessment of how others view the candidates’ behavior and how that behavior impacts the organization. Patterns of behavior that negatively impact behavior and performance goals emerge.  It shows their weaknesses and strengths. Sherman and Freas stated, “It is remarkable how many smart, highly motivated, and apparently responsible people rarely pause to contemplate their own behavior.” The survey also uncovers how bosses can unknowingly become part of the employee’s negative behavior.  If the survey shows low, negative marks from colleagues, customers and direct reports and high praise from the boss, that shows the boss is part of the problem.

5. Provide lots of data

Graham Jones and Kirsty Spooner of Lane4 Management Group, Ltd., identified common characteristics amongst high achievers.  They are goal driven, totally committed to be the best, demanding and continually strive for improvement.  They are interested in opportunities to improve their performance and development so use this to your advantage.  They respond well to lots of data so communicate with them in a language they understand by providing them with hard numbers and facts. Show them not only where the weaknesses are but how they can become better performers, because that is something that adds value and motivates them.

6. Hold leaders accountable

Bosses have a vested interest in having their high achievers assume leadership positions. They are rewarded for developing leaders and passing on the company reigns to qualified candidates. Therefore, they must hold them accountable for improving their behavior. Once a candidates’ leadership development plan with action steps is completed, their boss must hold them accountable for their behavior and monitor their progress; no progress, no advancement.

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Search Engine Optimization – Whats New

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Every year I update how the search engines have changed their algorithm. Though Google has not revealed all their algorithm formulas (the way, they index web pages) due to competition they have been transparent to some.As I was researching the topic I came across two fantastic articles that will put you in the know. Why re-invent the wheel right! I would make sure and access both articles the first has some explanations on terms and topics on search engine optimization that became valid late in 2011. The second article gives even more up to date changes and how they will affect your website.In a nutshell – they are giving more preference to original copy and quality fast loading websites with unique attributes. Unfortunately, it is really important to go over your website every year to make sure you keep pace with all the changes – and rank higher in the search engines.

Google Dramatically Changes the Face of SEO in 2012

Google’s Latest The “OMG This Isn’t Really Happening” Algorithm Change By Lahle Wolfe, About.com GuideIf you have a website you probably know what search engine optimization (SEO) is and the purpose it serves in marketing your website to search engines. You probably also know that more than 80% of all Internet users turn to Google for search. MORE…

SEO Analysis of Google Algorithm Search Updates

There is no doubt that come 2012, Google is sure going to implement the content-to-ads ratio. According to Matt Cutts of Google, the testing for measuring this parameters is been conducted. The algorithm also known as “above the fold”, will be aimed at ensuring adverts do not interfere with reading of content. MORE…

To Exciting Opportunities & Endless Possibilities!
Make sure your website is up to the new Search Engine Standards – here is my SEO Checklist and as an added bonus you will get 27 established places to advertise on the internet and they are free…

http://search-engine-optimization.artistadesign.com/

Pamela Jacob – Owner of Artista Design

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Team leaders do you have what it takes to lead?

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

We’ve gone from cows and plows to assembly lines to virtual teamwork. Today companies go outside brick and mortar corporate walls to recruit and retain the best talent and profitable partnerships. According to Trina Hoefling, President of GroupOne Solutions, if your company is outsourcing, telecommuting or dispersed geographically, you are a virtual organization. Many of you are working in a virtual organization without realizing it. Virtual employees, independent and project-specific contractors have become a fundamental part of the workforce. Managers no longer manage just employees they see; some they may never see and some they don’t even know. In this context, developing teamwork and collaboration means acquiring a set of competencies and skills that can motivate, coach, assess performance and integrate people with different values, beliefs and attitudes. Leaders must have a strong cultural IQ, credibility, and sensitivity. (more…)

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Are Parasites Sucking the Blood Out of Your Business?

Comments (0) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs, Relationships/Marriage/Divorce

I recently read an article on small businesses and what stops them from being successful – half way through it hit me…These problems could be described as parasites – things you don’t even realize are killing your business. Little by little they waste your time and keep you from doing the things that actually make you the success you deserve to be.

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Parasite # 1- Demanding Client(s)…

If you are a business that values your customer – you give great customer service – you bend over backwards to do everything possible to make them happy and give them an experience that will bring them back for more.

In fact 99% of my business, in the past 5 years, have been repeat customers and referrals.

I am proud of that.

Even so, that doesn’t mean along the way I have not run into what I call the demanding client.

When I was a young company, I was just happy to have anyone that needed my services. I didn’t care how difficult or time consuming they were. I would do the design project as we had discussed, but then suddenly, they were not happy with something we had been developing for weeks – thing that were great last week needed to be changed.

Now you may be thinking that is great – more hours more money – NOT!

I work on a per project basis, my clients are mainly small businesses or start up companies that could not afford me if I were to charge per hours, so we have an agreed upon project price. Looking at this scenario you can see that I was working for less than minimum wage – the more time I would give the more they would demand. I realized after having a few of these types of clients I had not communicated with them effectively. I didn’t have a written – contract that explained in detail what I would do for a given amount.

Lesson learned I started to set boundaries and write contracts that were much more detailed.

The communication got better and the clients knew what to expect and things ran along much smoother. Happy customers – even happier business owner

Parasite # 2 – Unreasonable Client(s)…

My motto,

Under promise – Over Deliver

How many of us have seen or heard the ads – make 20 billion dollars in 3 hours – solve all your problems in life with just 3 easy steps…. You get my point, if it sounds too good to be true – it is.

I always try and give my clients 110% – I will not nickel and dime them to death. I will help them with marketing advice if they need it etc.

However, ever once in a while I have a client that will not adhere to our contract.

They are just plain difficult – expect the impossible, and I found myself in the difficult position of having to say things like – we didn’t agree on that, or look at the proposal we outlined, or (fill in the blanks)…

What do you do when this happens to you?

Be up front, if you feel it is not worth your time – refund the money and move on – or refund a portion of their money (if it is for a service rendered) and quit doing business with them.

It is not worth the time when you have someone who does not respect you or your business – and if you cannot find a solution cut your losses. Do not continue to hit your head against the wall – you are losing business with people who want what you have to offer because you are trying to do the impossible.

Important point:

First of all, I hope you have structured your business so you take a deposit for services rendered. I personally have my client’s pay 50% up front and 50% upon completion.

If it is a huge project, I will take 50% up front, 25% once we have an agreed upon design – and 25% upon completion.

This protects my clients from worry because they know if I don’t live up to my promises, I will not get a full payment – it protects me because I know they are serious and have paid me a portion of the agreed upon fee.

Luckily, I don’t have clients like this anymore. I can tell by the initial consultation if it is a client I want to work with.

Don’t be afraid to turn down a client if you find they are not a fit – you will benefit in the long run and so will they.

Parasite #3 – Time Wasters…

You’re a business owner that is trying to be frugal. Times are a bit tight so you think you need to do everything yourself.

Even when you don’t have the slightest idea how to do it…

After all you are smart – why not learn how to do a website – design your own marketing material – and keep the books?

ARE YOU CRAZY?

Seriously, stick to what you do well – don’t waste your time trying to learn things that should be done by someone who knows how to do it right and in a fraction of the time. You don’t need to hire the most expensive person, just a professional who knows how.

The time it takes you to learn how to do these things – could be time you are spending finding clients, marketing, networking doing what you do well.

The old adage is true, time is money. So don’t waste your time learning to do something that should be left to professionals.

In fact you may even do more harm than good to your business. An example may be something like putting up a website that is less then professional and portraying a poor image.

Or not hiring a CPA to do your taxes when you know nothing about what exemptions you can take for a business – so you end up actually losing out on tax exemptions simply because you have no clue about financial matters.

In my case I am not a programmer – I can do some minor programming – and I know where to get java scripts I can use etc. But I hate the heavy duty stuff – and it would take me forever to learn something I am not talented at and I do not like.

If I have a client that needs something I cannot do I hire it done by a professional – and I outsource it.

I know it will cost me a lot less to have it done by a programmer because it will take them a fraction of the time – and they know more than I will ever care to know. On top of that, it will cost my client a lot less because I will not spend hours trying to figure it out.

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The bottom line is – it is important to recognize time wasters when you run your own business.

A lot of things (you may not even realize) can waste your time and pull you under making your business less than successful – and in time drain you of the enthusiasm and excitement you had when you first started the dream of developing your own financial security.

The thrill of developing a business from scratch and seeing it come to fruition is amazingly satisfying and to be able to learn from others will put you on the fast track to success…

Just remember that nothing good comes easy – but everything good will come when enjoying the fruits of your labor!

Pamela Jacob  owner of Artista Design

For my list of free places to advertise your site go to:

http://freeadvertising.artistadesign.com/


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I thought it was a good idea… What do I do now?

Comments (0) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs

I am always getting e-mail from business owners who, in their crunch for time have opted to conveniently go to a host/web design/web development/domain registrar all rolled into one…

Not a good Idea!

Let me tell you why, this is just my view, but it is an educated one. I have dealt with many, many business owners who have been burned. They now have to deal with the difficulties of redoing mistakes that didn’t have to occur in the first place.

Many business owners who are brilliant at what they do are also clueless when it comes to the Internet and all the things that must be done to develop a website, register a domain name and host that website.

On the other hand, they may know enough but want the convenience of a one stop shop, so they can be free to operate their business. (more…)

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Do You Have a Custom Website?

Comments (0) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs

There are some huge misconceptions out there. People who are smart and savvy when it comes to business really don’t know the difference between websites, customized websites, and custom websites. I must admit a lot of web people, and websites play fast and loose with the terms but there is a big difference between each of them. You really have to ask questions when you have someone do a website for you.

It seems everyone is saying they do custom websites – but do they? What is the difference? (more…)

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White Lies = Red Flags

Comments (2) Boomer Life, Online Dating, Relationships/Marriage/Divorce

Men assume that I am older than the age I have posted on my online dating profile. At least, that’s the discouraging news that one man passed along to me when we met for a glass of wine.

Apparently, so many men and women lie about their age online, that it is commonly assumed that you are “fudging”. I’ve been told that many viewers automatically add at least several years onto your age, or maybe just round up to the next milestone. Does my 56 get rounded up to 60?

I recently read a males profile that stated his age as 61. When I got to the end of his self-description, he had a disclaimer that said his age was a few years older than what he had stated.

Since he wanted to meet, I responded by asking him if it was only a few years, why would he bother to be deceptive, and how was his strategy working for him?

He responded that he was actually 71, and that his caveat was working quite well. He boasted that he actually had received compliments for admitting that he hadn’t stated his true age.

That made me feel a bit annoyed. Women were praising him for being truthful about his deceitfulness! I wasn’t impressed when he told me he had dated many women younger than me, and I didn’t meet him.

From the research I have done personally and through online blogs and articles, I believe that the two most common lies that men tell are about their age and their height. Men tend to add two inches to their height and to deduct as much as ten years or more from their age.

They also try to be deceptive about their hair, or lack of it. I have seen men’s profiles with numerous photos of them in different settings, but always wearing a baseball cap.

I read an article that claimed that men lie online more than women, but women are certainly doing their fair share of deception. Nearly every man I have met has told me about at least one frustrating date with a woman who was obviously older (sometimes much older) than she said she was.

Maybe the most shocking story I have heard is of the woman who actually ‘fessed up (after being confronted by her disgruntled date), that she had posted photos of her daughter!

After the “age deception complaint”, the second most common beef I have heard from men is about women representing themselves as thinner than they actually are. Every guy seems to have a story about the woman who listed herself as “about average”, who in reality was very overweight, or even obese.

One tactic overweight women employ is to only have headshots posted. Another strategy is to post flattering photos from thinner days gone by, which means the photo is also of a younger woman.

Hearing about those tactics always makes me curious how women think they are going to pull that off in person? I ask the same question about how men think they are going to hide their lack of hair? Maybe they will suggest meeting at a sports bar so they can wear their baseball cap.

I had a man tell me that he didn’t feel good about it, but he actually had turned around and headed for his car when he saw his date waiting for him. In his opinion, she was overweight. Does that make him a jerk, or is it fair if she had misrepresented herself?

I would rather stay at home than have a disappointed date. I can hope that he will want to get to know me and discover how wonderful I am; but the problem is, if I deceived him to get him there, then I am not what he expected. That’s a shaky start.

Gregory Hartley, former military interrogator and co-author of How To Spot A Liar: Why People Don’t Tell the Truth? and How You Can Catch Them says, “We are working in an area that is new to most people. The world’s oldest game on the world’s newest field. The Internet dating scene is about filtering among the vast numbers for an opportunity. It is about evolution. It is both very primitive and very modern.”

Is there harm in telling a few teensy white lies when you are looking for a new relationship? What’s a couple of pounds, a few inches, or even a marriage or two?

Hartley says, “This depends on the lie; sure we all omit facts about our past. I am no advocate of radical truth. Do you really want someone to come out and tell you how many people they have slept with?”

Hartley warns, “In my mind, a lie at the beginning of a relationship is asking for trouble later. No lie can stand alone. To sustain a lie you must tell other lies. Before you know it, deception is rampant.”

“Which means those harmless little white lies are more harmful than we thought. Can pretending to be something you’re not quite be keeping you from finding a real relationship? If you are one of two people offering up their fake selves, how can you possibly meet your true soul mate? You can’t.”

What seems blatantly obvious to me, is that beside the fact that someone has offered you a false self, how do you ever really trust someone that you know lied to you right out of the gate?

I’ve heard people make light of this behavior with the comment “everyone does it”. Actually, I don’t believe that’s true, “everyone” doesn’t lie and there are plenty of people who want to start a relationship with an honest foundation.

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Cheryl Alexandra Michaels, CPC, CSC is a Certified Professional Coach and Spiritual Coach.  She is a Reiki Master, an Angel Therapy™ Practitioner and a Reconnective Healing™ Practitioner.  She lives in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington.

 

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Three Tips To Effectively Navigate Frustration

Comments (0) Entrepreneurs, Holistic Living/Life

© Guo Yi | Dreamstime.com

It seems to be up in the air and around people I speak lately, the sense that there is irritation, a feeling of being on the edge, frustration and yet, hope and optimism for the changes underway.

To a certain degree, irritation can be the result of uncertainty and mis-communication.  Especially if you are a perfectionist like I tend to be (getting better as time goes on!), when things don’t go the way you planned or the way you want them to, you may get frustrated because of losing control of the situation.

There is also a heavy astrological influence these days and with Mars in Virgo for the next few months we are learning how to harness our energy for moving forward, our strength and courage, our assertion or lack there-of, while staying grounded and methodical about our pursuits. On the flip side for those of us in the perfectionist camp, this can create heavier friction and self-criticism as Virgo tends to focus on the minute details and loose grasp of the bigger picture when under stress.

Here are three tips you can use when you feel frustrated:

1)      Take a breath before you speak; pinch yourself if you need to so as to energetically shift your perception.

2)      Be patient! Remember that not everyone thinks nor responds the way you do. If you feel your point has not made its way across, take a breath and re-introduce it.

3)      Note your self-talk; I will not clarify here between positive and negative as I trust that if you do praise yourself throughout the day for what you do and how you think, you will continue doing so!.

However, if you catch yourself in “beating-up” mode for a decision you made or for a course of action you committed or not to, pause. This is the voice of the perfectionist within where there is no room for mistakes.

Please consider how you can handle the situation that triggers you in a different way; there is always a different way and you have to allow room for it to emerge.

About the author: Liliane Mavridara is a published author, poet, mentor and creative groupwork facilitator who supports holistic practitioners and coaches to build their expert status through blog and book writing.    www.livebrightlythebook.com.

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Design vs Content

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

OK… So the debate rages on. One type of person believes the design is not important it is the content that makes the difference..

Then the other type of person thinks the design is all that is important – the content is secondary. I hear it all the time and it…

Drives Me Crazy!!

Being an artist at heart I am very visual and so design is absolutely essential.

Being a business woman my clients and website visitors are important to me and I believe that content of the site and the information you give your clients is also absolutely essential.

Being a successful entrepreneur I know that design – image – content – navigation – uniqueness – credibility – great customer service – sharing your knowledge with others is absolutely essential to have a thriving – successful online-business (or even brick and mortar business).

So lets just look at it all … If you want true success and a great business you need it all…

In fact the foundation needs to be built before you even begin building a website. This will be the foundation of your success.

  1. Who is your perfect client? (The answer is not everybody!)
  2. What make you different from the competition?
  3. What color would attract that type of client?
  4. What content will give you client the most value?
  5. What will bring on-line visitors back and turn them into clients?
  6. What type of navigation will be best to get my visitors information they need without having to search?

The list goes on…when you take care of the foundation and make it strong; the rest will fall into place.

The design of your website must be professional and polished,

When you cut corners and you think you are saving money think again! Doing it right the first time just makes sense.

IF you want a thriving business with results then content, design and marketing work together, leaving out any of these elements will not bring you the amazing success you deserve!
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To your success – and bottom line!

Pamela Jacob – Artista Design

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They Say It Is Free! Really?

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

I don’t know how many of you feel the way I do but when I hear the word FREE I expect it to be free…

I cannot tell you how many times I will get an email – the subject line catches my interest, so I read further, I see that they have a FREE offer.

It looks great, and is something I am interested in. I click on the link and fill out the form only to find that it isn’t free at all, “you may use these tools for a limited time only or must pay shipping and handling” and by the way, shipping and handling is usually much more than it would cost to send.

There is nothing wrong with limited time offers or getting something for just the shipping and handling but put it up in front, be honest!! I will more than likely still be interested in what you have to offer – I don’t need to be tricked into signing on the dotted line!!

If you are a company that has been using this tactic, think again. As a possible client I have to tell you it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I am sure I am not alone. When this happens, I feel that I have been led down the wrong path, and I cannot trust the business that has sent me the offer.

Upon reading a piece of email like this, I will immediately put the company name and email on my spam list, to be banished forever (a little dramatic but true.)

I have an extremely busy schedule (as do all of you), and I do not have time to read email and take action, unless I am truly interested.

Remember: Perception is everything and you do not want to leave the wrong perception. If you are currently planning a marketing campaign, please heed my warning; be upfront and honest – no gimmicks please!

When you have gone through the time and trouble to put together a marketing campaign – be up front with what you are actually offering. Ethics and honesty are one of the most important things that a business must hold true to, or they will not build a lasting clientèle base.

Without it your business will not flourish and grow, it will eventually wither and die…

Pamela Jacob – Artista Design Providing Creative Solutions and Valuable Results TM

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2012 The Financial Action Plan

Comments (0) Finance and Money

First and foremost – it’s important to start by patting yourself on the back if you managed to weather 2011 with its crazy market swings, record breaking natural disasters, political grid lock in Washington, DC and a near collapse of the Euro Zone. Oh, let’s not forget China and the Asian continent’s continued strive to grow their middle class and most importantly, the Arab Spring throughout the middle east. Yes 2011 was a whopper of a year and I am quite sure 2012 will not be any less stressful or eventful.

So how does one begin 2012?

Financial action plan, of course.

A sound financial plan is based on many factors all of which are important and need to be reviewed consistently and coordinated on an on-going base. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you make time to sit with your financial advisor or wealth consultant and review your finances on an all-in approach. Leave nothing off the table. Discuss every topic however mundane it may seem. Ultimately a sound plan that is visited and actively managed may lead to a less stressful year ahead.

Stock and bonds? When discussing your portfolio here are a few ideas I would pass on.

In a market likely to produce only modest gains, diversifying your fixed-income holdings and focusing on relatively stable equities, is a strategy I recommend you actively discuss in 2012.

Hold the Big Dependable – According to common economic knowledge, early on in a recovery cycle, small company stocks historically give you the biggest pop. However, at this stage of our recovery, it’s the big-boys with balance sheet “might” that are likely to outperform in 2012. These large companies have a far larger exposure to foreign markets and a greater potential for profitability. However, their bigger dividend can account for a larger portion of your gains in a low return universe this coming year.

Bet on high yield On the flip side of the investment spectrum we have bonds. As the recession fears rose in 2011, economically sensitive high-yield bonds sold off big time. This caused a reduction in the price of existing high yield bonds thereby pushing their yields up to records highs. At the same time the flight to safety meant that short-term treasuries jumped up in price by almost 9% according to Barclays US aggregate Bond index in early 2011 driving their yields down to barely a positive number. Since the high yield bond products tend to bounce around, keeping a modest allocation perhaps in the 5 to 10 percent range.

As mentioned before, treasuries won’t default or bounce around as much as high-yields, but are at risk if rates rise. Treasuries maturing in five to eight years are paying barely more than cash, so it makes little sense to buy them at this point. A “bar bell” approach makes a lot more sense such as approximately 80% of the treasuries to be short-term securities and 20% in long-term bonds. In fact the Fed’s campaign to buy long term bonds known as Operation Twist, should make long term bonds less risky. Since this strategy with today’s numbers should yield about 2.5% yield, it’s almost one percentage point greater than the seven year treasury. Again discuss this with your advisor to make sure this allocation is sufficient to give your portfolio some exposure to the asset class.

Over all the markets may very well continue to swing wildly back and forth right up to the election all the while keeping a closer eye on Europe’s financial woes. You will need to remain vigilant and proactive with your plan but most importantly, focused on the long term goal versus day to day numbers.

Good luck out there.

Ronit Rogoszinski, CFP®, is a graduate of Citibank’s elite management program who became one of the youngest mangers in the bank’s New York region in 1990. Shortly after, she became a licensed Financial Advisor for Citicorp Investment Services, an achievement which launched her current successful career. Ronit heads up our New York office where helping both individuals and business owners gain control of their finances has been her primary goal. Ronit Rogoszinski has always been on a personal and professional quest to demystify personal finance, money management and investing for individuals and business owners. She has presented at many seminars in addition to holding one on one consultation to help clients better understand their finances and get closer to achieving their financial goals through specific recommendations and advice.

There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk. The prices of small cap stocks are generally more volatile than large cap stocks. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk. High yield/junk bonds(grade BB or below) are not investment grade securities, and are subject to higher interest rate, credit, and liquidity risks than those graded BBB and above. They generally should be part of a diversified portfolio for sophisticated investors.

The economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

Securities and Financial Planning offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC

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Five Tips For Grounding The New Year

Comments (0) Entrepreneurs, Holistic Living/Life

GREAT BLUE HERON © Robert Roach | Dreamstime.com

Even though we have already been in 2012 for over a week now, it has taken me as long to find my whereabouts, to establish a clear picture of what I would like to do different this year.

On New Year’s Day I have a ritual of, among other things, doing a dreamboard that encapsulates both the intention I am putting forth for the year and the energies available to me, whether I am consciously aware of them at the time or not.  This year portrays a lot of assertion, independence, love, playfulness and less control, as far as my spontaneous nature goes.

Here are five tips I’d like to share that may ground in a practical way your wishes and aspirations for this year:

1) First of all, please keep in mind that it is your year, thus reflect on what it is you would like to have, do, accomplish not only in your business but also in your personal life, romantic or other, and your social endeavors. Visualize the big picture without focusing on the details.

2) What are the feelings you would like to experience? I.e. fulfillment, being in-love, inspired? Pick three that stand out.

3) How would you like to be perceived in your professional endeavors? I.e. knowledgeable, resourceful, good listener? Pick three.

4) Which area would you like to be emphasized in your life? I.e. is it in the romantic arena, your income, personal development, health regime? Prioritize.

5) Lastly, how will you have fun? Write down three things you love (or would love to do) i.e. taking a zumba class, writing, painting, horseback riding.

If you are visual, create something that captures what you have noted, and if you like writing things down or prefer lists, then put together in a meaningful way what you have noted.  Keep the whole process simple and enjoyable, and place your creation where you can refer to it as often as possible.

About the author: Liliane Mavridara is a published author, poet, writing mentor and creative groupwork facilitator who supports entrepreneurs in the healing and creative arts to have a successful business and a harmonious lifestyle while making a big difference.  www.livebrightlythebook.com.

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Do You Know Betty?

Comments (1) Business, Entrepreneurs

Years ago, I watched the Dr. Phil McGraw show and he said “If you are going to sell things that Betty buys, you better see life through Betty’s eyes.”  I never forgot it and if you’re in business, neither should you.

Researchers Colleen Butler and Paul Chinowsky identified the interpersonal skill of empathy as one of five key emotional intelligent behaviors that need additional attention during the development of executives. To be empathetic is to understand the emotions of others; to walk in another person’s shoes.

To continually grow your business, you must seek to understand the needs of your customers and see life through their eyes. If you were sitting on the other side of that desk what would you want to hear?  You would want to hear the benefit of the product or service, what sets it apart from its competition and its value to your organization. Abraham Lincoln said, “When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking about what they want to hear and one third of the time thinking about what I want to say.” Based on your customers’ needs, challenges and products, what do you think they want to hear?

Before you show up for your next business meeting take time to research who the client is, what they do and how you can service them.  Whatever you do, don’t focus on problems, have a solutions focused mindset on how you can help your clients achieve their goals.

Coaching psychologists Dianne Stober and Anthony Grant found that having a solutions focused mindset enables people to access and use the wealth of personal experience, skills, expertise and intuition that resides within all of us. With that mindset, determine the goal of the meeting and what action you want to happen. A goal expressed plants a seed in your client’s mind and with the right action plan can grow. Action planning is the process of developing a systematic means of attaining goals.  This is extremely important let me tell you why.

When you show up with a goal and action plan, the conversation has structure like a good speech, it has a beginning, middle and end. You are not floundering; you know what you want from the client and the action needed to get it. Your client may not know the action needed. It is not their responsibility to know how to get you what you want but with a goal and plan, they are more likely to discover during the course of conversation ways in which they can be of assistance. The best goals will fall by the wayside without a concrete plan of action. You should create mind mapping exercises at your office based on mock client responses. This gives you direction and ideas on what you can say to keep the conversation flowing towards the goal.

Finally, be your authentic self; No one likes someone who comes off as disingenuous or fake. It’s bad, bad business. High-performing salespersons are significantly more self-aware and authentic (which is a function of emotional intelligence) than low-performers. On the day of your meeting show up wearing confidence and have points in your discussion that excite you, points that you are passionate about and let that enthusiasm shine through. Deliver your ideas with commitment and passion and remember to remind your face that you are excited about what your team can bring to the table. The conversation should have rhythm let your voice rise and fall throughout your presentation so the conversation doesn’t come off flat, monotone and emotionless.  Make direct eye contact, smile and ask for their business. Before you leave the meeting ask the client if there are any next steps, anything you can do to make their decision easier. After that, you can leave knowing you arrived prepared, seeing life through Betty’s eyes.

By: Dickie Sykes

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7 tips to survive the holiday craze

Comments (0) Entrepreneurs, Holistic Living/Life

I was recently in a conversation where a colleague was inquiring on suggestions to “survive” the holidays.  Being on my own and traveling over the last couple of years, I am glad not having to participate in the whole frenzy of gift shopping.  However, I do notice that my friends and others around me seem exhausted and in a “when will this be over” attitude, while traffic and impatience are prevalent wherever I go.

So, whether you are on your own and are in complete control of the holiday events or whether you run around until the last minute to catch up with everything, here are a few tips I have found may ease the stress and help you actually enjoy the beautiful moments of these holy-days:

  1. Make a list of what you have to buy for gifts, food, etc and stick to it
  2. Arrange or group your shopping according to geographic location
  3. Try to do what you need to do during the week and not during the weekend
  4. Schedule time to pamper yourself, i.e. a massage, half day at a spa, relaxing lunch with a friend before the actual holidays
  5. Pause to breathe and re-group when you feel overwhelmed
  6. Practice honoring your boundaries and saying no
  7. Take some time daily to be on your own and in silence, even ten minutes will do!

Holidays provide the best ground for personal growth as our buttons tend to get pushed from multiple sources.  Practice staying centered this Holiday season, true to what you want for yourself and your loved ones, and do your best to relax and take care of yourself above all!

About the author: Liliane Mavridara is a published author, poet, writing mentor and creative groupwork facilitator who supports entrepreneurs in the healing and creative arts to have a successful business and a harmonious lifestyle while making a big difference,  www.livebrightlythebook.com.

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Networking is still important, even with social media.

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

With the advent of social media sites, a lot of business owners think this is all they need. They mistakenly believe that good old fashion person to person networking is dead.Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The fact is it is more important than ever to make these human connections. It actually will make connecting online more powerful when you have met your online friends face to face.

Networking has been a really important part of my business – the connections have kept my business alive and well. A lot of people get the wrong idea about how to go about networking with groups. It isn’t the immediate sale that you are looking for it is long lasting relationships. Being know for you expertise and building trust with other movers and shakers in you communities is priceless. These are the types of people you want in your circle of business friends.

In every city and town there are business networking groups – you may have to go to several before you settle on the one you want to attend regularly. When you do go to a networking event I have 10 tips that will help you make the connections you need.

9 tips to productive networking…

  1. Always bring a handful of business card – give a card to everyone you meet.
  2. Dress in business attire – first impressions are everything
  3. Go out of your way to meet people, introduce yourself
  4. Do not sell while networking. Your purpose is to make contacts not drive people away the minute you meet them.
  5. The best way to make conversation is to ask them questions about what they do.
  6. When you get home follow up by emailing them and letting them know you would like to keep in touch.
  7. Organize contacts on your – computer or smart phone. Using their business cards to make notes
  8. When making referrals think of people in your contact circle first. This is a good way of cementing your relationships.

So find a meeting to attend in your community – nothing but good can come from it… For help in promoting your business shoot me an email – I would love to chat…

Pamela Jacob Artista Design

 

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Negative Impressions WILL Kill Your Business

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Being a designer I know the value of a good looking – and eye catching web site.

However, unlike some designers I also know the value of good content it is extremely important.

It is like first impressions – when you see someone you judge them within less than 3 minutes of meeting them. Whether you want to admit it or not – it is the truth, it is human nature.

Then if you decide to stick around and get to know this person your impression can change radically – you may find your judgment was right spot on, and you are impressed with them inside and out –or- you may find they are not what you though and they are superficial without any depth.

The same is true for your website.

The first page of your website should capture your visitor’s attention – highlight the positive aspects of your service or product. Capture the essence of what it is you are trying to convey.

Your home page should not be long winded with all the details you can find. It will bore or even turn off potential clients who will feel they do not have time to read it or just feel overwhelmed.

We all lead busy lives and don’t have time to read a novel on the first entrance to a website.

Once your visitor reads what you can do for them – the essence or spark of your service or product you want them to think “wow that is just what I need! Or I really want to know more!

At this point, they will go deeper into your website. They are hooked – That is where you can take the time to explain the benefits they will receive – and what your product/service is all about.

So many times I have a client who wants to put everything but the kitchen sink on the first page

– resist this temptation -.

The truth is the simpler and more descriptive the first page the better – always focus on your visitor – what it will do for the customer or how it will solve client problems…

It makes you visitors want to go further and investigate what you have to offer. However, if your content is too long winded – watered down or just grammatically incorrect, I will guarantee they will not stay on your website to see what you have to offer.

Once someone likes what they see (and read) – they will go further and want to know more details…

So think about it – do you need to refurbish you website – simplify the copy on your home page and make it more appealing to visitors who stop by???

For more tips and tricks on how to have a more profitable website – sign up to receive articles by email (see side bar above).

Pamela Jacob – Artista Design

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Sexual Fearing

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Business, Education, Relationships/Marriage/Divorce

Do men sabotage successful women? I think some do. I think some men just can’t understand the essence of this very common phenomenon.

Much has been written about the new generation of young men – the “millennials” as they are called – that they have been coddled by over protective mommies of my generation; that they have been helicoptered and micromanaged to the point of perennial adolescence and now are ensconced in “Peter Pan syndrome” for the long haul. It is said that their female counterparts are soaring ahead in education and career, even in this down economy.

But what of the mommies? Do we “ baby boomers” fight off male angst while our daughters tackle apathy?

Male Angst #1 – the Media

I have a friend who is the President and CEO of a community bank chain – her mother is the Chairman of the Board. They have six robust branches along a busy corridor in the San Francisco Bay area. Her mother has been an iconic female force for many years, having raised ten children (five she gave birth to and five step-children), while putting herself through school, becoming an investment broker and a banker along the way. My friend, the eldest daughter, not quite a score younger, followed suit with Mom as mentor. Like most of us her tap dance is continual, with the rich obligations of wife and mother. However, I rarely pass the bank on Sunday mornings when I don’t see her car parked outside, and she alone, putting in a few hours of work. She does not advertise how hard she works, nor feels compelled to.

They both are “hot” women. They are as good looking as they are savvy and they aren’t the least bit interested in hiding any of their assets. They are also extraordinarily community minded and philanthropic, giving thousands of dollars to scads of causes and non-profs – the most of any bank in this area. They also spend countless hours volunteering their time and expertise on a smorgasbord of charitable boards and commissions.

It recently occurred to me that they’ve been the victims of some bank bashing by male reporters. Since they have succeeded where many banks have floundered or failed since the 2008 bust, a few news guys pick at non-existent scabs, stepping right on the border of unethical reporting, though God knows these days the media is myopic when it comes to objectivity. A problem bank that is women-owned seems a tastier morsel than one that is meeting goals.

However, my friend and her mother never stoop to low levels in the pond – they don’t believe in bending down. While I want to attack the scum, they quietly move on and up, ignore the bait and fish more ambitious waters. They continue to succeed.

Male Angst #2 – the Politicians

A male county supervisor is retiring here and will ultimately succumb to pancreatic cancer, and my video company has been commissioned to act as testimonial documentarians. His female appointee will greatly tip the sex balance on the board at four females and one male, something I gave little thought to until it was demonstrably brought to my attention.

At his retirement ceremony, a (fat, old, sloppy, “good ‘ol boy) former supervisor moved to the podium to give his commendations. He had obviously given a lot of thought to the female leaning equation. Before speaking he handed out copies of a thirty-year old newspaper article, heralding the fact that with the appointment of this retiree, replacing the sole female ever elected to the Board of Supervisors in this county (currently one our U.S. Senators), this body would now be 100% male.

“Those were the good old days,” he lamented loudly to the lone male on the dais – “I pity you, you poor bastard.” What should have been a tribute to a man retiring in ill health, became a “diss” to the women sitting on the board and all the women in the room. For no apparent reason.

Last week California celebrated the 100th anniversary of suffrage in this state. Women have been elected to political offices on every level and have served with incredible distinction. Most of the time, they’ve given very little thought to their sex as they work through the tasks at hand. They are too busy tap dancing and achieving to laud their accomplishments as females. It seems some men on the other hand, find it important to take note of gender, and criticize and misrepresent information about their successful female counterparts.

Whether angst or apathy, I think the real emotion at play in either case, is fear.

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.
~Gandhi

Copyright Oct. 2011

Christine Scioli

All Rights Reserved

 

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What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Comments (0) Entrepreneurs, Holistic Living/Life

Being an independent and self-sufficient entrepreneur, daily planning and routine tend to put me in a specific mental loop which is wonderful for reaching my goals and get things done.

However, sometimes I can brood and think over and over what to do on a specific topic and before I know it, it is already a few hours later and I am so caught up into the same mental vicious cycle, that the promise of a clear vision is nowhere to be found.

Here are three tips that I have found useful when you look to get clear on what is important to do next:

1)    Go for a walk and distance yourself from the issue at hand. Walking and breathing fresh air have both physiological and psychological benefits. The space you create by distancing yourself from what is in front of you, allows for creative solutions to come in and match your innate guidance.

2)    Get into your body, dance, do yoga, breathe, go upside own.  When you spend prolonged time thinking and are caught up in the mental stream, you lose track of the grounding that comes from being in your body.  Any physical activity you enjoy will succeed in that, and once more by being grounded you can tap into your guidance.

3)    Make a list of the pros and cons of option A and option B. Get it all out on paper and visually see which option has the most pros.  Even though this is a mental activity it nevertheless allows for the outward materialization of your concerns, doubts, fears and whatever may have been in your mind that was blocking a leeway to what was important in the first place.

Experiment with the above tips, note your experience, and please share it with us on the Kalon Women Blog!

About the author: Liliane Mavridara is a published author, poet, book writing mentor and creative groupwork facilitator who supports entrepreneurs in the healing and creative arts to have a successful business, make a difference and have fun all along.  www.livebrightlythebook.com.

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Exploring Nutrition and Supplements to Help Lower Stress and Anxiety

Comments (0) Education, Health, Holistic Living/Life

Throughout my personal journey to mental wellness, I research information that’s outside of the conventional realm.  Several years ago, I was fortunate to hear of an educational series sponsored by NAMI www.NAMI.org and Safe Harbor www.alternativementalhealth.com It truly changed the way I viewed options available for overcoming anxiety and other mental health disorders.

The two speakers, Dr. Nancy Mullan of Burbank, California and Professor Jim Croxton from Santa Monica College were amazing.  When I share this story told by Professor Croxton, my wish is that it will start a shift in the way you view achieving mental wellness.

Professor Croxton told the audience that when his daughter turned 14, she started displaying symptoms of a mental health condition.  The symptoms worsened so the Croxton’s took their daughter for a psychiatric evaluation.  The diagnosis was devastating.  They were told that their daughter had developed severe schizophrenia and would most likely have to be institutionalized for most of her life if the symptoms could not be managed.  After visiting several other psychiatrists, the diagnosis was the same.  Then a family friend told the Croxton’s about another option.

Their friend suggested that they take their daughter to a nutritional specialist and have her tested for food and mold allergies.  Feeling that they had nothing to lose, they followed this advice and the news was amazing.  Their daughter had a condition called Celiac Disorder, which is an extreme allergy to wheat and gluten.  After just seven days of a wheat and gluten-free diet, their daughter’s symptoms diminished and thereafter disappeared completely.

Much of the information I am sharing comes from books by Julia Ross, The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure.  Gary Null also has books on nutrition to reduce stress and anxiety.  Good Food, Good Mood is one of them.  The Mood Cure is one of my favorite reference books.

Disclaimer:  If you are taking medications, are pregnant or nursing, please consult with your physician or practitioner before beginning a supplement or remedy protocol.

What Feeds the Body, Feeds the Brain

Rather than going into information overload, I’m providing a brief overview of each topic.  If there is any topic on which you would like me to expand, e-mail me and contact information is on my website.

Supplements and Remedies 101

5-HTP and GABA (gamma-amino-butric acid) are two of the many amino acids needed by the body.  “Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They band together in chains to form the stuff from which your life is born. Think of amino acids as Legos for your life.  The essential amino acids must be ingested every day. Failure to get enough of even one of the 10 essential amino acids can result in protein degradation. The human body simply does not store amino acids for later use, as it does with fats and starches.”  (Source:  www.WiseGeek.com)

Amino acids help naturally increase serotonin levels in the brain.  “In the United Kingdom, standard psychiatric practice calls for the addition of tryptophan when SSRI’s or other antidepressants don’t work well.”  (Source: Pharmacological choices after one antidepressant fails: “A survey of UK psychiatrists.”  Book:  The Mood Cure.)

The United Kingdom, in my opinion, is more advanced when it comes to the use of psychiatric medications.  Visit http://www.guardian.co.uk/search?q=mental+health&section= to learn more.

As this information shows, amino acids have many uses.  They can help some achieve relief from stress and anxiety without medication, boost properties of current medication and they can also help minimize withdrawal symptoms when tapering off medication.  “You must get professional advice about how to taper off… Consult with a physician, pharmacist … a professional who really knows the ropes to advise you and your doctor.”  (Source: The Mood Cure.)

Visit www.neuroassist.com to learn more about amino acid therapy.

If you are interested in more detail about any of the information contained in this blog, please e-mail me.  Contact information is on my website.

Calms by Hyland’s www.hylands.com/products/calms.php

“Hyland’s Calms Tablets provide needed relief to symptoms related to nervousness, nervous exhaustion and stress. Many testimonials praise its soothing and calming effect in the face of life’s every-day stresses.”  Hyland’s has other products like Calms Forte as a natural sleep aid and products formulated especially for children.

How do Flower Remedies work?

Flower essences are water-based solutions which contain the essential energies of flowers. They are made by floating flowers in water and allowing the light of the sun (or in some cases the moon or stars) to help the water absorb the energy signature of the flowers. The structure of the water molecule is such that it can store these energies.

When a person places a few drops of a flower essence under the tongue, the energy of the flower floods one’s aura, vibrating at its own special frequency, and can nudge the vibrations in a person’s aura toward their own frequency. This creates an immediate effect on the emotional and spiritual levels of the aura.

Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower Remedies) www.bachflower.com/38_Essences.htm

Note:  Both Calms and Flower Remedies such as Rescue Remedy are formulated for adults, children and animals.  There are 38 remedies and you can read about the properties of each one to find the right remedy for you.

El Sereno Essences Flower Remedies www.ElSerenoEssences.com

El Sereno Essences are similar to Bach Flower Remedies and produced locally in California.  Reading the properties of the essences guides you to which one would work best for each issue.

To read more about my story, please visit my website at www.AnxietyWellnessMentor.com

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for your general information only. Kalon Women does not give medical advice or engage in the practice of medicine. Kalon Women under no circumstances recommends particular treatment for specific individuals and in all cases recommends that you consult your physician or local treatment center before pursuing any course of treatment.

 

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3 Daily Tips To Keep You On Track And In Your Heart

Comments (0) Entrepreneurs, Holistic Living/Life

As an entrepreneur I know what a challenge it is, and some days more than others, to stay centered throughout daily activities, especially if you are handling many things at the same time, i.e. at work, home and family.

How you start your morning I find to be the most important component in how the rest of the day will go.  You may have had that experience of waking up having slept “at the wrong side”, and you are all cranky; the rest of the day is colored by that morning impression.  Similarly then, when you wake up and set an intent for your day, consciously starting it off as you wish it to be, the rest will unfold accordingly.

Inspiration is the next on my list. What inspires you and keeps you motivated throughout your day?

I regard this inspiration as something that connects me to my heart’s joy, i.e. a picture on my desktop of beautiful Seattle in the hot summer days, a song that makes me smile and sing its tune constantly, a flower that its fragrance elevates my mood.  The purpose of all the above is to bring me back to my center from where I speak, make my decisions and direct my thoughts.

The third tip has to do with pausing and connecting to your breath throughout the day.  You would think this is easy and why should you bother, however I am here to challenge you to count how many times you actually do that during your daily routine.

Personally, I find it fascinating how easily I get off track and absorbed in what needs to be done in the next hour, day or whatever the case may be. It is a constant practice and what works for me is a reminder on my desktop or bathroom mirror saying “take a deep breath”, or “pay attention to your breath”.

To summarize the 3 daily tips for staying focused and in your heart:

1)      Start your day with an intent

2)      Stay inspired

3)      Check-in with your breath throughout the day

Practice with the above tips for a week and note your experience, and please share it with us on the Kalon Women Blog!

About the author: Liliane Mavridara is a published author, poet, book writing mentor and creative groupwork facilitator who supports professionals in the healing and creative arts to have a successful business, make a difference and enjoy their life all along.  www.livebrightlythebook.com

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How to ask for what you want…and get it!

Comments (0) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs

Asking for what you want is the necessary first step in getting what you want. That’s the way it works! If you don’t ask, you don’t get – simple.

Simple. Really?

If it was so simple, then why are less than 15% of C-level positions in corporate America occupied by women, although they comprise 47% of the U.S. labor force? And women only own 1% of the world’s wealth.

Are women not asking for or wanting higher level positions? Are they resisting leadership, decision-making and authority roles? Do women shy away from being in situations of power, wealth and influence?

Women are still being the “good girl” aka polite and self-sacrificing. This translates into passivity, ineffectiveness, and being poor. Women aren’t feeling free enough to state what they want, ask for it and demand to get it. Did you cringe at the word “demand?” If so, then this is for you.

Here are the 5 things you need to have in place before you ask for anything, especially what you want.

Recognize what you want. You will never get what you want if you aren’t sure of it. Too many women ask for something that they have no idea if it’s for them or not. They listen to what others say they should want. Not a good idea. You only end up with wants that belong to someone else. Rather, think of what will further your growth, your influence and your power.

Ask in an optimistic way – Negotiate for you and them. When you appear selfish and self-centered, you won’t get what you want. Perception is critical. If you appear timid, doubtful or egotistical, then you’ll be seen as unworthy of getting what you are asking for. Everyone who goes to bat for you wants to be certain you are worthy of their time and efforts.

Ask the right person. You’ll never get what you want when you chase the wrong person and expect them to open doors, give you opportunities or believe in you. Do your homework and think of your request for the long term. Study who controls the string to what you want. Who is the ultimate decision maker? What are they willing to do for you? Finding the right person may take some time, so be patient.

Expect to get what you ask for. This is probably the most important factor in getting what you ask for. If you decide that you have a 50-50 chance of getting it, then you are already half-beaten. Believe you deserve what you are asking for. If you don’t, then no one will. What goes on in the mind is 90% of your reality.

Don’t stop asking. This means not fearing the word “no.” Rather, set your sights higher and go back. Find another route if necessary. Approach your situation or what you desire from a different standpoint. But under no circumstances should you surrender what you want because someone told you no. Women who conquer the fear know their value, their skills, and their talent.

When women start asking for and expecting to get what they want, they will. It takes practice and more practice. Start with something small. Negotiate with your kids or spouse. Make solid, confident requests of friends. Graduate to the bigger things when you are ready. But don’t wait too long; take charge and strike when it’s hot.

The Top 5 Characteristics Of Being The Leader People Follow

Being the boss can be difficult at times. Making the tough decisions, giving people a second chance, being held accountable, taking responsibility, and being unpopular all go along with the territory. But what does it take to be the female leader in charge?

You may ask yourself daily if people will ever give you the benefit of the doubt, trust your instincts and let you lead. If so, then here are 5 characteristics that will help engage and connect with people you need to lead.

  1. Set the tone. The environment is about how people feel around you. Are you approachable? Do you show interest in them as people? Do you disclose about yourself? Is the workplace fun? If you answered no or aren’t certain, then you have some work to do.
  2. Support your followers. Respect who you delegate to. Trust they have the skills and abilities to get the job done. Explore their potential. Take a chance on them. Ask them how they need to be supported.
  3. Be available. Listen to your followers’ suggestions. Listen for what makes them get up in the morning or, for that matter, what keeps them awake at night. Don’t hole up in your office. Make sure the lines of communication are open and not just one way. Be a person of your word. Follow through on what you promise and never betray a confidence.
  4. Provide feedback – frequently. Don’t wait for the annual review to share what isn’t working. Whether it’s good or bad, give your attention to who needs you. Providing constant feedback helps your followers improve tremendously. They begin to trust you and what you stand for. They believe in your goals and direction for the company.
  5. Show compassion. Remember the people who follow you aren’t just followers; they are people with feelings, needs, and ideas. Show that you care about them.

By: Karen Keller

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Flash Web Sites are Beautiful – But – Are They For You?

Comments (0) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs

I often have people asking me can you do a flash site for my business ? They love the flow, modern look and elegance that can be obtained.

I will ask them “are you sure?” You will pay much more to develop the website and it may not be profitable.

They don’t always want to listen to that – but I owe them the truth! I could say oh yes (because I would make a lot more money) that is exactly what you need. But that is not what 99% of online businesses need. (more…)

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Do-Re-Mi-Me-Me

Comments (1) Addiction/Codependency, Health, Relationships/Marriage/Divorce

I recently read a letter online that a distraught middle-aged woman had written to a life coach. She said she had been happily married for seven years to a well known “relationship expert”.

She said they have filed for divorce and her life is now unrecognizable from the life they had for many years. The woman is over 40 now and is depressed and crying every night, wondering why her husband discarded her, why she didn’t see it coming, and why she didn’t recognize his narcissism before it was too late.

She ended the letter by saying that she was writing with tears in her eyes. That she usually is very strong and tough, but the divorce has shattered her to the point she is not sure she will ever recover, yet he has so easily moved on.

When I was dating my now ex-husband back in 1978, I was annoyed by an attitude he had, which I couldn’t quite name or put my finger on. I rationalized that only sometimes was he a selfish, immature, thoughtless jerk that made my blood boil; and I knew he would outgrow it. I didn’t know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD.

My ex was handsome, in medical school, and a great catch by most people’s standards, but I turned down his first marriage proposal because of that “obnoxious attitude” he had. After a lecture from my BFF about what a fool I was and what a wonderful life we would have, I changed my mind and married him.

Sadly, I identify with the distraught woman I mentioned earlier. One of the hardest things I have had to accept is that it’s been five years since my ex suddenly left me at age 51; and I am still picking up the pieces…yet, he moved on instantly and apparently never had one down day.

How can that happen? How can someone discard their life partner like used chewing gum and never look back for a single second?

Well…it’s because The Narcissist isn’t connected to their partner and isn’t capable of really loving them.

When my sons were in middle school, I sought counseling to try to understand why I was so angry. My male therapist explained to me that I was angry because my husband “wasn’t connected to me” and I was being emotionally neglected.

I could not comprehend what the therapist was telling me. I was certain my husband loved me, and I literally tried to convince the therapist that he did; while at the same time, I was being told that my best option was to leave my husband.

Years later, after he left me, a second therapist suggested to me that I had been dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders…”the essential feature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts”.

“Narcissists possess an exaggerated sense of importance concerning themselves and their work. Work and Self come first while other people, especially close, intimate relationships, become less important. A narcissist would say, “I’m more important than you and so is my work” says Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.,MFCC.

The DSM says that 75% of those with NPD are men.  Can you think of any politicians or other high profile men who just might be narcissists? In 2008, Emily Friedman wrote the following piece for ABC News:

John Edwards, former senator, one-time vice presidential nominee and two-time Democratic presidential hopeful, can now add one more title to his resume: self-proclaimed narcissist.

The North Carolina native, who just last week admitted to cheating on his wife with documentary filmmaker Rielle Hunter, told ABC News that his time in the political limelight fed into his self-adoration so much so that his personal life eventually became the latest high-profile sex scandal.

“[My experiences] fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe you can do whatever you want,” said Edwards, admitting that he cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, with Hunter to ABC News’ Bob Woodruff. “You’re invincible. And there will be no consequences.”

Feeling invincible and having no regard for the consequences your actions may have, is not uncommon for men who fill powerful posts, several psychologists told ABCNews.com, and are common attributes of narcissists.

“There is something about a lot of the people in power that they think the rules no longer apply to them or they’re above the rules,” said Wendy Behary, an expert specializing in narcissism and the author of Disarming the Narcissist.

Mark Held, a clinical psychologist in suburban Denver who specializes in treating overachievers told ABCNews.com that “people who go into certain fields are much more prone to get involved in these kinds of things—they’re people who seek power and need validation,” Held said.

Miami based psychotherapist Samuel Lopez De Victoria describes narcissists as people who get a high from getting attention and who often are unaware of the chance that they might get caught misbehaving.

In turn, De Victoria said, “not only does a narcissist become unable to consider the effect his actions could have on his own career or personal life, but it also inhibits him from considering the feelings of those around him.”

If you think you might be involved with a narcissist, the internet abounds with information on this disorder. Some experts say narcissism is incurable, therefore, you should run in the other direction post-haste.

I have read several excellent books on this topic, and I recommend Why is it Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism, by Sandy Hotchkiss, or Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On, by Cynthia Zayn and Kevin Dibble, M.S.

Cheryl Alexandra Michaels CPC, CSC   Cheryl is a Certified Professional Coach and Spiritual Coach.  She is a Reiki Master, an Angel Therapy™ Practitioner and a Reconnective Healing™ Practitioner.  She lives in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington.

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Anxiety Disorder – The Basics for Seeking Treatment

Comments (1) Health

Currently statistics show that over 40 million adults live with some type of anxiety disorder.  Most of these adults are women.  That’s the grim news.  The great news is that, out of all the mental health disorders documented, anxiety disorder is the most treatable and manageable.  About 30% of people seek help.  Stigmas surrounding mental health disorders prevent the other 70% from seeking help.

Living with a Mental Health Disorder is Nothing about which Anyone Should Feel Shame or Embarrassment (more…)

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Think You Don’t Need a Logo? Think Again!

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

One of the most basic things you need for your company is a logo.

A logo is an image that represents your company. It can be an illustration, a symbol, a name, or a combination of these. A proper logo works to project your desired company image.

You may be one of those people who think a logo is not a big deal, I beg to differ.

I run into people all the time that think having a logo designed is a “waste of money” but nothing can be farther from the truth.

Why is a logo important in the grand scheme of things? (more…)

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A Woman’s Definition of Success

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Women are redefining the meaning of success – on their terms. They’re giving it a much needed makeover. Well-defined success factors or keys to success are important to a woman’s identity, to her sense of accomplishment and to her total acceptance of her success.

Women have defined success, particularly business success, according to other people’s rules.

They are challenging the “This-is-my-measuring-stick-and-it-can’t-be-broken,” mentality that women have lived with for too long. They’re breaking the stick. No longer do you have to accept success as a financial number, a career position or a number of years on the job.

The process of defining success can be a rich journey, or it can be a path laden with indecision and uncertainty. Success for women is a journey with peaks and valleys, setbacks and mistakes, achievement and disappointment.
How you define success is actually your key to success. Here is a process to help you reach clarity on your definition of success.

Find Your Balance. Anything in excess is not a good thing. Too much money, power, and sugar can result in a huge ego, unfounded expectations, or high blood pressure. In creating your success definition, remember that there is always a payoff.

In starting and building your business from the ground up, are you willing to sacrifice the time away from your family required to do it? Will you lose sight of your goal because of deficits in another area of your life?
Know Your Altruistic Values. What is important to you outside of yourself? How will your actions affect your friends, the community, and the world beyond? Is what you are doing or who you are contributing to others? Is it moral? Is it righteous?

If you are willing to sacrifice your integrity to attain a goal, you might achieve your goal, but you will not be a success. Keep in mind that at different times in your life, you will have different definitions of success. Sometimes women get caught up in one goal and define their life around that goal when there are really multiple stages of success throughout your life.

What you found to be a feeling of great success while attending college may not be the same as when you are holding your granddaughter.

Success is a determination of what you value at a certain time in your life. It’s evident in how you think, feel and breathe. Are your desires in the forefront, or do you help for the sake of helping, regardless of great personal sacrifice? The only gauge of that is in your soul.

Develop Your Character. What you speak comes from your heart. It’s your internal qualities that drive real success. If you are deplete, not possessing a honorable, high-quality character built on integrity, honesty and selflessness, you will never attain the true success that could be yours.

A dictionary can give you a definition of success, but real success is only determined by you – based on your needs, wants, integrity, values and beliefs. A woman’s definition of success begins with her character. Being authentic is being true to your belief system and your guiding principles.

What will your definition of success be? It could be a money goal, lifestyle change, good health, or use of time. It can be just about anything, but you will need to dig deep and do some serious soul searching to discover what success means to you.

About the Author: Karen Keller
Influence and persuasion expert, Karen Keller, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and Master Certified Coach with over 25 years of experience. She focuses on women’s leadership and empowerment as well as executive, personal, relationship and life coaching. She is also a successful entrepreneur and author. Her other areas of specialization include mentoring, sales techniques, success skills, intuition, body language, management development training, motivational speaking, and corporate training. Discover Influence It! Real POWER for Women now! For your free subscription visit http://www.karen-keller.com.

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Never Underestimate the Persuasive Power of a Woman!

Comments (2) Business, Entrepreneurs

The influential woman consists of an array of qualities that are not mistaken for anything other than influential. She is strong. She is confident. People take notice when she walks into the room. She commands the respect that she has earned.

Every woman can be an influential woman. But it doesn’t happen without effort on your part. Where do you start? How do you recognize influential traits?

The influential woman knows her mind. She has a heighten awareness of what she wants. Knowing and displaying her competencies, she approaches her life with self-reliance. She has a high emotional intelligence, identifying, assessing and influencing her emotions as well as others. For example, she discovers a co-worker that she relies on isn’t delivering on time. She doesn’t rush in, ready to explode. She evaluates the situation; the consequences, ways to solve the issue, who’s involved and what is to be learned from it. This happens in a few minutes for the influential women.

The influential woman evaluates the potential of every situation, so she can know what and how much she needs to invest in it. She asks herself these three very valuable questions:

• What will this opportunity do for me?
• What are the possible challenges or problems of this opportunity?
• What is required of me to grasp this opportunity?

Guarding her boundaries is another top quality of the influential woman. She knows when to say yes but equally when to say no. If the request violates her boundaries or ethical standards, she can quickly provide an alternative option or put her foot down. This applies in her personal and professional life. Working with integrity is an absolute.

The influential woman knows how to compete with the “big boys.” She doesn’t apologize for being ambitious and wanting more. Being a “small player” doesn’t discourage her. She knows how to offer more, better and smarter. She sees herself as agile, able to act quickly and use her power.

The influential woman knows the power of forgiveness, compassion, and generosity. She knows how to claim her place in the world, and so can you.

About the Author: Karen Keller
Influence and persuasion expert, Karen Keller, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and Master Certified Coach with over 25 years of experience. She focuses on women’s leadership and empowerment as well as executive, personal, relationship and life coaching. She is also a successful entrepreneur and author. Her other areas of specialization include mentoring, sales techniques, success skills, intuition, body language, management development training, motivational speaking, and corporate training. Discover Influence It! Real POWER for Women now! For your free subscription visit http://www.karen-keller.com.

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Florida Nixed in Kiplinger’s Top 10 States for Retirees

Comments (1) Finance and Money

For many of us, retirement may seem far down the road or it may be looming around the corner. I, for one, am not ready for retirement in many ways. But I have realized, as I have watched my parents deal with a variety of challenges in their recent retirements, things are more complex than I thought. Our quality of living might depend on where we live as much as how much we are receiving from qualified retirement accounts and social security.
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Driving Free Traffic to Your Website

Comments (2) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs

I am often asked “what is the best way to drive traffic to my website”. There are so many ways to market your website and get results some take a lot of time to cultivate and some can produce traffic right off the bat.

In order to drive traffic you need to know the options available – and then plan your strategy.

There are free ways – you don’t have to pay money but you do have to spend time to get where you want to go. Those of you on a shoe string budget may not have the cash to advertise or use Pay-Per-Click methods.

Remember even the best designed websites will not produce income unless there is traffic directed to it…

. Free traffic, as the term suggests, implies that you drive traffic to your website free of charge. The most common method of obtaining this involves usingSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. When you optimize your website, search engines view your site as being useful and relevant. This in turn, leads to increase in rankings for your keywords, key phrases.
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3 Things to Know About the Truth Behind Your Influence

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Being influential can mean the difference between success and failure. Yours.

Influence is touted to women as an outer or external component as a means of getting what you want.

This is logical IF you accept influence as how to exert power over someone or a situation. James Ford (article) instructs leaders on the five sources of power to influence people: reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, expert power and referent power. (more…)

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7 Personal Power Qualities of Influential Women

Comments (1) Business, Entrepreneurs

Personal power makes a woman influential. Her personal power is what is left when other powers (money, position, relational) are lost to her.

Women are learning the value of their personal power. For years, they have invested in the belief of being powerless. Competing desires, thoughts, and feelings interfered with accessing their power. Many times these competing desires included the desire to please or do for others.
(more…)

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Don’t leave it to chance analyze your website NOW!

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

If you have been on the internet for any length of time I am sure you have heard of Google analytics – and if you haven’t then there is no time like the present to learn how to use it.

This amazing tool will do everything from telling you where your visitors are coming from, what nation, what search engine, what web page. How long they stayed on your site, if they are a new/unique visitor and so much more.
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Texas Two-Step—One Step Forward, One Step Back

Comments (0) Finance and Money

After handing Amazon a bill for back-sales taxes owed, Texas lawmakers are now taking a step back. Although the bill is not explicitly written for Amazon, the American-Statesman states that critics called the action a “Hail Mary pass” for “Amazon in its dispute with Texas over whether it should have to collect sales taxes on Texas transactions.”
(more…)

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Other Side of the Coins

Comments (0) Finance and Money

A little known fact about sales tax collection is that states generally allow businesses who collect and remit sales tax on their behalf to retain a portion of the sales taxes collected to help relieve their burden. This reimbursement for their trouble is rarely discussed during the latest arguments over collection of sales taxes and may be at risk with some states. In most states, vendor compensation is only granted if the payment of sales tax occurs on time.
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10 unwritten rules for working women

Comments (1) Boomer Life, Business, Entrepreneurs

1. Men get the benefit of the doubt. Men generally get hired on their promise and women on their demonstrated experience. Men are usually taken at their word, while women get challenged more, required to deliver data and substantiation for their views. Chicken or egg: Do men get the benefit of the doubt because they are better qualified, or are they better qualified because they get the benefit of the doubt?
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Using Massage Therapy For Your Health

Comments (0) Health

In today’s society there are lots of health options. Traditional medicine has not always had all the answers. I had a physician once acknowledge to me that doctors only understand about less than 10% of the brain. That began my journey to learn more about holistic options for healthy living. Kind of an oxymoron, huh? What other options are there for healthy living but natural ones??

My journey began 20 years ago. I admit the journey has been slow—I only developed a great appreciation of “heal thyself” over the past 7-10 years when I began to commit to regular massage therapy to deal with muscular pain originating from sitting in a car long hours, prior car accidents and sitting at a computer for lengthy periods of time. I found that taking breaks and walks didn’t help as much as I’d hoped. I made the commitment to regular massage therapy every 6 weeks for 4 years.
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Why write an E-Book? Why not!

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

I am just about done with my third book. It is amazing how sharp and clear one can get when writing a book – it really sharpens your senses and your knowledge. E-books can be wonderful tool, and they are worth all the effort you put into them.

What an amazing way to let people know you are an expert in your field, it gives you such credibility.

What a fantastic way to promote your business while bringing in new streams of revenue…
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Ageism on Facebook

Comments (1) Boomer Life

Sigh. Yet another example of ageism has reared its ugly head in my world and this time it’s personal!! Social networking sites such as Facebook, My Space, Twitter, LinkedIn, are being invaded by, OMG, SENIORS! Can the implosion of our world as our kids know it be far behind?

I’m shaking my head at this latest twist of ageism, mostly because it’s just so silly for any age group to think they have a corner on any aspect of life – including social networking. And I’m shaking my head because this whole issue is just so incredibly blatant.

Bulletin to anyone under 50 – you are NOT alone. You do NOT have exclusive rights to social media sites. Get over your ice-flow mentality because we will not be sent to sea quietly!
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Tax Exemptions Under Fire

Comments (0) Finance and Money

In the current sales tax environment, more attention is being given to sales tax exemptions, their validity and appropriate use. According to The State, South Carolina’s Homepage, a recent lawsuit against the state is challenging sales tax exemptions. The law firm of “Lewis and Harpootlian said Monday the latest suit has merit because the number of exemptions has increased, and because of the fact the state now exempts more than it collects.” Lewis is quoted as saying, “The holes are eating the cheese.”

The State identified that $2.7 billion is collected in exemptions each year in the state of South Carolina, while only $2.19 billion is collected in annual sales tax revenue. “Of that amount, 4 percent goes to the state’s general fund, 1 percent to education, and 1 percent to property tax relief for homeowners.” That means for every exemption given, less money is available for educational purposes and to relieve homeowners of property tax burdens.
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Millions Lost! Or Millions Found?

Comments (0) Finance and Money

This just in from PR Newswire (May 3, 2011)―“Pennsylvania Losing Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Each Year.” Are they losing or did they just find hundreds of millions of dollars they could be collecting in sales tax revenue?

The Pennsylvania Alliance for Main Street Fairness recently released a study titled, “The Impact of Not Collecting Sales and Use Taxes from Internet Sales into Pennsylvania.” The study reiterates the basics of sales tax, reminding us that you pay tax to a retailer with a physical presence (nexus) in the state but an out-of-state retailer is not obligated by law to collect and remit sales tax to your state of residence. Residents are required, on their own integrity, to report purchases made with out-of-state retailers and pay appropriate taxes to the state of residence—this is referred to as a use tax.

According to the study, Pennsylvania could be collecting from $246 Million to $398 Million in additional sales tax revenue if they were able to require out-of-state retailers, specifically Internet retailers with no nexus in the state, to collect and remit sales tax to the state for purchases shipped to Pennsylvania.  In addition to the amount that could potentially be collected, benefits would include increased purchasing by residents from retailers within the state, which would result in an increase of jobs, increasing employment rates and increasing how many individuals would be purchasing consumable goods. This flow down could continue to even more positive benefits for the state and its residents, if calculations are correct.

More than one retailer within a state has declared that Internet sales hurts their business even if the prices are the exact same for an item—the opportunity to pay no sales tax, shipping aside, is very attractive to consumers. Should an Internet retailer offer “super free shipping,” then it is perhaps a no-brainer to purchase online in order to avoid the additional 6-10% in sales tax.

Pattie Diggin, owner of a retail store in Pennsylvania confirms this concern, quoted by PR Newswire as saying, “Today’s customer is always looking for some type of savings or discount, which I offer when appropriate.  I wish I could mark down my sales on a regular basis by an additional 6%, but I can’t and it’s a financial burden that is completely unfair.” She goes on to express that “…the easiest and most sensible way…” for the playing field to be leveled regarding sales tax “…is for remote vendors to collect and remit the tax at time of purchase.”

Remove this roadblock to fair commerce and all vendors are on a similar playing field of how to source products in order to bring in the best products for the most reasonable prices—whether they choose to do online sales or foot the bill for a brick and mortar location. With even the big retail locations such as Barnes and Noble and Borders struggling with the electronic age, closing down brick and mortar locations and fighting to find ways to survive, it can only be an even greater struggle for small to medium sized businesses in today’s economy.

About the Author: Susan McLain has over 15 years experience in technical and marketing writing, graphic design, business development and marketing management. She currently works for Avalara, Inc., a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company providing automated solutions for sales and use tax compliance for businesses of all sizes. The AvaTax family of products provide accurate, to the rooftop sales tax calculation, automated exemption certificate management and seamless filing, reporting and remittance of sales tax liability.

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The quest for true beauty

Comments (0) Beauty/Fashion/Style, Health, Menopause

Throughout my career, it’s been my mission to do everything within my power to help women- AND men- reach a healthy place of self acceptance-and let me tell you, at times it’s been an uphill battle, especially when addressing body image and self esteem issues.

I deeply believe how a woman accepts herself depends largely upon the cultural and societal norms that prevail in her day to day life. Nowhere is this more apparent than as a woman hits midlife and begins the processes of peri menopause / Menopause.

Women’s responses to Menopause and the aging process in general vary significantly.

The more Menopause is viewed as a ‘loss’ -of youth, vitality, beauty- the more likely a woman will experience pain, illness and emotional issues as she makes the transition.

Coincidence? I don’t think so!
(more…)

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Finding your stillpoint

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Health

“Only let the moving waters calm down; and the sun and moon will be reflected on the surface of your being.” ~ Rumi

What’s a stillpoint you ask? A stillpoint is the place where movement ceases and everything becomes clear as a result. Think of a rollercoaster – the kind that loops around first one way, then backwards through the loop, getting ever higher in its circle until the cars are at the top of the circle, hanging upside down – just hanging. THAT is a stillpoint. The object in motion has come to rest, balancing on its’ stillpoint. The same can be true for us even in the midst of our lives.

Our stillpoint is revealed to us when we can see through our conditioning, bring conscious compassion to all that we know and discover about ourselves, embrace all of who we are (warts and all), and find the freedom in the newness of life experiences. Some people would define it as the ageless connection with source energy, of merging with your divine for even just a moment… before the busy-ness of your linear mind, the connections of your relationships and the activities of your life come in and take over (which, as an entrepreneur, is exponentially more when the business-mind kicks in!). However, when we can attain our stillpoint, we have the opportunity to breathe with our entire being. We can stop the resistance, the struggle with what IS in appreciation of simply being.

One of my recent clients experienced her stillpoint for the first time. She hired me because her business wasn’t working. There weren’t enough clients, not enough money, too much to do, and a feeling of “not being enough”. Of course, when that starts, that message becomes internalized and becomes magnified as a vicious circle. She’s been going at a frenetic pace on all levels for nearly a year – she was worn down, fried out, and frustrated by other solutions she had tried but that didn’t make a difference. She’d tried time management, hiring a professional organizer, working with a marketing firm to handle her promotions, working with a life coach, and more – but each was a band-aid that addressed symptoms temporarily but didn’t last.

The reason was that she hadn’t met herself in the space of her stillpoint to remember her power, her true purpose, and the abundance of time to get what was truly important done – she not only had more than enough but she now knows that she IS more than enough in her stillpoint being. By taking a “break” to reconnect with her personal stillpoint, even though the first experience of it lasted less than a minute, she began to go beyond her current state to relate to a much bigger picture of herself.  She no longer views her past, or even her current state, as a predictor of what can be… and when she needs to fill up again on that level, now she can always access her stillpoint to feel the expansive focus of who she IS to align her world with that.

Take a minute to think about that… the expansive focus of your personal stillpoint…. What would that feel like? How do you get there?

Three Things You Can Do Today:

1.    Stop and be still. Give yourself permission to just stop. Close your eyes and imagine yourself as a blender that you turn off, or of being on a rollercoaster that just stops, or as a pebble that stops tumbling in the water to simply reflect the sun’s light. Be still. Breathe. Turn your conscious attention inward to find what your stillpoint looks like – it might look like you are a circle of light balanced at the top of a pyramid. It might be a feeling of the universe coming to a point in your center or a feeling of non-sensation in your body, as though you are free to do anything and gravity isn’t holding you. The most important thing is that you stop and be still – even if it’s less than a minute, it will help you to connect to your source energy, to that place where no one else can go but you.

2.    Pay attention to your near-wake or near-sleep state. In the few moments that dance between being asleep and waking up, or just before you fall asleep, the “veil” is thin for us because our conscious mind has already started to disengage or hasn’t quite engaged yet. In those “limbo” places, you can access your stillpoint more easily – the place where you are completely content and have no need to do anything other than be in that moment. If your conscious mind tries to horn in, you can sometimes push it back; over time, you will be able to prolong that in-between state to the extent that you might feel like you were there for a really long time (even if in chronological time it only lasted 30 seconds). It doesn’t take much to feel your stillpoint if you are attuned to doing so.

3.    Feel your feelings fully. When we are disconnected from, or don’t allow ourselves to feel, our feelings completely, they will find a way somehow to be acknowledged. Just like a child that demands to be heard, our feelings will find a way to get noticed. And “old” or “stuck” feelings can clog up our stillpoint because it becomes “noise” over time instead of a valid messenger in the moment. When you can be internally still enough to feel your feelings, and act accordingly, your internal world is in flow and you can more easily access your stillpoint.

And one last thought – taking the time to create a personal ritual for yourself can be a powerful way to access your stillpoint.

At the risk of using “woo-woo” language, connect with your stillpoint to be in who you are in the largest sense, and then bring that back into your everyday world for faster results on your priorities. It’s about vibrational creation from who you are in your most pure form to make manifest your gifts and desires in a tangible way. Imagine if everyone created their lives from the purity of their essential being… gives me the chills just thinkin’ about it!

Lynn Scheurell, Creative Catalyst, helps conscious entrepreneurs strengthen their inner systems, both personal and professional, for faster business results. She teaches renaissance souls how to gain clarity on their purpose by remembering who they are from their essential self, then aligning everything they do to express their unique gift through their business while working with natural energies for maximum support. Register for a free GEENI™ for Change ecourse to learn how to upgrade your life in just seven days at www.mycreativecatalyst.com.

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MO Considering Replacing Income Tax with Increased Sales Tax

Comments (0) Finance and Money

The Missouri Jobs and Prosperity Act targets removal of corporate and bank franchise taxes, elimination of income tax and greater flexibility for increases in sales tax to make up the difference.

Stalled for the moment, the “…Missouri Jobs and Prosperity Act…phases out the state individual income tax and replaces the corporate income tax, corporation franchise and bank franchise taxes, and state sales and use tax with a sales tax of up to 7% on retail sales of new tangible personal property and taxable services,” according to the Summary of the Committee Version of the Bill. (more…)

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The Amazon Law and Other Sales Tax Strategies

Comments (0) Finance and Money

Coined the “Amazon law,” many lawmakers in numerous states are moving forward to strive to enact laws that empower their states to require e-commerce businesses to collect and remit state sales taxes from residents of their state.

According to the Connecticut Mirror the “…Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee voted 38-14…to adopt a measure commonly referred to as the ‘Amazon Law’ and patterned after legislation enacted in New York three years ago.”
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Scarcity or Abundance How Do You Run Your Business?

Comments (2) Business, Entrepreneurs

It seems there are two different types of people in business – givers and takers (non-givers).

Now you may be wondering what I mean by that, but if you have come into contact with very many business owners you will know exactly what I mean. The sad part about this whole scenario is that these people who are afraid to share knowledge, ideas, or experiences are losing out on some really good professional connections and customers. I believe the motivating factor of this type of business owner is thoughts of scarcity. They are afraid someone may get ahead by giving away what they know or steal their ideas and concepts leaving them with less.

If you have ever heard Wayne Dyer talk about scarcity and abundance it is really enlightening. Simply put, scarcity is the idea that your negative thoughts and fears propel your actions and bring about consequences. So if you think in a negative way things like “my business is dying I will never make it” – “I have no customers” or any number of pessimistic thoughts about not having enough – you will begin to notice things start to dry up. Then you start to panic and what happens? Just what you believed would.
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Tax Laws and the Land of Foo

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs, Finance and Money

Foo—the place between the possible and the impossible—a place you can only access where streets corners don’t line up. A place that is a bit uneven. Enter the state of Nebraska’s need to meet the requirements of federally mandated sewer improvements with bills over $1 billion.

Mayor Jim Suttle regurgitated a previously suggested idea to tax toilet paper at the federal level to help pay the bill. This most recent dive into the fantastic realm that allows governments to hope, imagine and dream is called the “toilet paper tax.”

Although this kind of proposal isn’t new—a similar measure was brought before the House in 2009—it does painfully bring to the forefront that there are very little places for states and government to go in order to bring in additional funds to pay for what we consider basic services.
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10 Ways to Improve Your Relationship (and Your Health!)

Comments (1) Boomer Life, Relationships/Marriage/Divorce

How many times have you found yourself frustrated in conversation with your mate trying to explain something important and walked away shaking your head in frustration saying to yourself, “He just doesn’t get it!” Your shoulders tense, your brows come together in that little crease and the tension headaches continue.

Well knock it off. He just doesn’t get it in your language.

We all have different languages and ways of interpreting love and affection based on our upbringing, gender, personal belief systems, and other life experiences and filters. The key to successful communication in relationships however is not assuming that just because something makes sense to you or is something that you enjoy, it must make sense or be something your spouse enjoys too.

You may be wondering what the heck successful communication has to do with improving your relationship and your health. Here’s the scoop. Studies done at the Institute of Heartmath have shown that stress and different emotional states affect our autonomic nervous system, hormonal and immune systems, heart and brain. Quite simply, they’ve proven that negative emotions impact our health in a negative way, and positive emotions impact our health in a positive way. While we occasionally do experience emotions on our own, they are more often than not the result of a successful (or unsuccessful) experience with someone else.
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Staying Up in Down Times

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Business, Entrepreneurs

Times are tough. We are at war. The economy is down and unemployment is up. Trusting others is down, blaming is up. Optimistic outlooks are down and fear is up.

Staying up in down times requires a blend of energy, spirit, self-confidence and humor. Perception must change and include a broader knowledge and more comprehensive view. What is your perspective of life and the world? Do your lenses and filters of life and the world include a wide-angle lens or do you use a microscope with a narrowed view?

1. Energy: When precious energy is spent trying to control elements that are out of our control we feel down. We must expand our thinking to include new knowledge. I heard a broadcaster say this about the war; “If the peaceniks think the war is about oil, then maybe we should consider bombing Canada because they supply more oil than Iraq. Our second target should be Mexico – not Iraq.”

This statement may make you angry, so we must remember that we do not control the perceptions of others.
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Six Steps to Harnessing the Power of LinkedIn

Comments (0) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs

Ever notice that some people have tons of connections in LinkedIn and some people have one?

While it is easy to sign up for a LinkedIn account, few people realize that their LinkedIn account can open doors to new business partnerships, potentials clients, and a wealth of information to aid in building a business. Although it is not exactly rocket science, establishing strong relationships in LinkedIn is quickly replacing lunch meetings and cold calls. And, the reason why is simple. You can easily meet and introduce yourself to a host of interesting and interested business contacts all with a few minutes. More importantly, you gain exposure to many other business owners and clients from across the street as well as across the world!
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SSUTA may grow an extra state member…Massachusetts

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs, Finance and Money

The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA) is an agreement created for states to “…assist states as they administer a simpler and more uniform sales and use tax system.” Each state has the opportunity to adopt the SSUTA and join the current 23 member states. Who will be next?

On April 7, the Massachusetts State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue met and received testimony supporting H.B. 1695, a bill currently being considered that would allow Massachusetts to join the SSUTA. According to the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers), this “…is a critical step in leveling the playing field between community-based retailers and online retailers. As a member state, Massachusetts would be positioned to collect sales tax from remote sellers once Congress passes enabling legislation, known as the Main Street Fairness Act.”
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Sustainable eating: An easy way to celebrate Earth Day everyday

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Food and Drink, Health

You’ve heard the term tossed around enough by now…sustainability. What does it mean? Why does it matter?

Sustainability, in relation to food and agriculture, refers to production and harvesting methods that meet the needs of eaters while avoiding the exploitation of the land.

Sustain Web (http://www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefood/) cites a list of seven criteria which identify sustainable produced food as well as sustainable consumption.

  1. Food that is locally grown and seasonally available. This isn’t always possible for people who live in urban areas or the North, where seasonal produce is very limited, but the more you can do to support your local growers, the better it will serve your economy. Also, when the late fall rolls around, that’s a great time to pick up storage produce (apples, potatoes, garlic, onions)… things that will keep in a cool, dry, dark place for several month. To me, it’s essential to get these in their most organic form as well, whenever possible. A really good organic storage potato, which costs a little more than its conventionally grown cousin, is totally worth it in terms of taste and texture.
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Who am I? What do I want? How did I get so lost? When do I come...

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Health

These are questions that I get on a regular basis from friends, family and our Kalon Women across the world. They all have to do with “self-discovery,” which seems to be a hot topic of discussion these days within the world of boomer women.

Personal growth is most often a slow and gradual process, and it can be difficult to recognize the magnitude of the changes taking place in our lives when we are too close to it. It is so important that we regularly acknowledge our ongoing growth and reward ourselves for the many wonderful steps of self-improvement we have accomplished. When we take a hard look at our own progress, we need never feel that we are wavering between past achievements and the realization of future goals.
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Use Taxes: To Collect or Not To Collect

Comments (0) Business, Finance and Money

Use tax laws exist in every state. The purpose of a use tax law is to ensure a resident of the state does not evade paying sales tax on consumable goods or services that are taxable within their state of residence. Use tax laws allow a state to legally collect tax on items that were purchased outside of the state or online where the tax was not collected and remitted by the retailer or service provider during the transaction.

Currently, only a few states have striven to collect use taxes from individuals. Some items are easier to collect use taxes on than others. For example, if you purchase a car in one state, then move to another state, there are some laws that require you pay sales tax on any newly purchased vehicle within a certain time frame.
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Tax Freedom Day

Comments (0) Business, Finance and Money

In a special report at taxfoundation.org it has been determined that “Tax Freedom Day will arrive on April 12 this year, the 102nd day of 2011.” According to wikipedia, Tax Freedom Day is “the first day of the year in which a nation as a whole has theoretically earned enough income to fund its annual tax burden.”

This fictional day indicates that “Americans will need to work 102 days — more than three months — just to earn enough to pay ther tax bill,” according to a piece released by ktul.com. Author Mark Bradshaw continues, “Each state has a different date due to incomes as well as higher or lower state and local taxes. Oklahoma’s Tax Freedom Day this year is April 2…That’s a full month before Connecticut, a week after Mississippi.”

Though the American focus is on income taxes this time of year, legislatures in many states are determining changes to state sales taxes; and local jurisidictions are likewise considering ways to garner income to support programs while aid from state and federal government entities are fast disappearing.
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Why Every Business Needs a Blog

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

It seems every day as I do my work for clients, I run into things to talk about on my blog. I recall a time when I thought how can I possibly blog – I only have enough time in the day to do work for my clients and get them on the fast track.

Well think again!

I am now realizing that a blog really is an enjoyable way to get to connect with your clientele – to help those that possibly have lost their way and just need a little swift kick in the pants (only kidding)!

Part of what makes my job so enjoyable is gladly sharing what I have learned through all my years in this business and seeing it make such a big difference to others. So this is a perfect venue for me!! And it should be for all of you who are serious about customer services and assisting with whatever is needed in your particular field.
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Is That Your Landing Page? No Thanks!

Comments (0) Business, Entrepreneurs

Are you as sick as I am seeing plain boring, frankly cookie cutter pages??

The ones that say get this for free! Then once you sign up, they open up another page and go on and on forever and ever until you get to your free item, trying to sell you everything but the kitchen sink?

Frustration

So now you don’t know if you even want to get it free because they are just trying to trap you into oblivion…

Another thing, have you ever noticed that 99% of all landing pages look alike? They all look like cheap bill boards…
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Follow Your Passion

Comments (1) Boomer Life, Business, Entrepreneurs

You know. I think a lot of us get caught up in the rat race and don’t stop and really think about what makes us happy. Are you only out to make riches or are you truly following your heart desires? I heard a great saying. I am not sure who wrote it, but it is so true….

“Follow your passion and you will never work a day in your life.”

If you really love what you do – it will fulfill and motivate you. My hope is that this article will help you in evaluating your journey in business and in life. You really can have whatever you want in life – when you truly believe it and put action to it.
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Are You a Professional Student?

Comments (0) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs

Going through my emails today – tons and tons I might add. The thought came to me if I get bogged down in all the information coming into my inbox and stressed over what to save or what to throw away. How do you feel, overwhelmed, anxiety ridden?

Quite frankly, going through all the (junk) email is a big part of my job. Going through all my emails to find the gems – new resources and idea’s, that is why my clients pay me, to stay on top of revolving technologies and thing that work to explode their businesses.
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Do You Have a Personal Goal Contract?

Comments (1) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs

I have always felt that when we make a contract with ourselves that we have better success of achieving the goals we have set.  So take a look at this contract and read it and sign it and date it, as when complete you will have promised yourself that you would be doing these things and if you don’t do them then you will be disappointing yourself.  Also I find also that rather than writing down goals for 2011 if you would record them on a CD and play them in your car and listen to them everywhere you go, they will happen as they say if you hear something 21 days it gets impacted in your mind and automatically all those things happen, so why not make your personal goal for 2011, sign it and then record your individual goals and listen to them, it works a lot better than writing them down, as in the beginning we write them down and we perhaps read them for a few days and then the paper gets lost and that ends our ready of our goals and keeping them in front of us.  Try the CD version as I know you will see great results.

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They Say Time Heals All Wounds….

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Elder Care, Relationships/Marriage/Divorce

My life took a drastic turn in 2010. All my worries and fears came true – my dad passed away and less then 4 month later my mom was gone. They had been divorced for years and yet they passed so close together.

As baby boomers most of us are going through one of two stages: trying to help our aging parents or watching them slip through our fingers like sands in an hour glass, totally helpless to do anything to stop it.

As much as I loved my father, (and I was a daddies little girl) their is really nothing like a mother. She was my my cushion from the world. Anytime I had a disappointment or a set back she was my biggest supporter. It has been unbearable having to go on without her – We would talk every day sometimes twice a day.
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Your Business Success in 2011!

Comments (0) Business

Many businesses experience a decrease in customer interaction during the first weeks of the year. Embrace this opportunity. Take advantage of time with few or no distractions to accomplish projects, and prepare your business for high energy and productivity throughout the remainder of the year.

Organize, organize, organize: Clear the clutter from desk and counter tops and file the documents appropriately. File the stack of business cards you’ve been collecting, or better yet, input the information into an electronic format for easy transfer to e-newsletters, labels or phone databases.
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Traveling and Illness

Comments (0) Health, Travel

My father, who is being treated for esophageal cancer, recently took a trip from Washington State to New Mexico to visit his home. This was going to be like a vacation treat in between chemotherapy treatments, but the trip itself became a nightmare.

Due to the last minute nature of my father’s desperate plans to get himself out and on his own for a breather from his caregiver and situation, no-one could arrange to fly with him back to New Mexico. So my ill father began his journey on a flight from Wenatchee, WA to Roswell, NM carrying his own equipment for feedings through a tube in his stomach.
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Handling relationships with an ill loved one

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Elder Care

As I watch my siblings and I strive to handle the various situations that come up when a loved one is suffering from cancer and being treated with chemo and radiation therapy, I know there isn’t a single “right” way to handle the situation.  Even so, my father became keenly aware lately of the following:

It is very difficult to live in someone else’s home;
When one is dealing with their own illness, they like to have some sense of control of the choices in their life; and;
It’s very difficult to listen to someone else’s burdens or challenges when one is dealing with a life threatening challenge of one’s own.

At one point in the past few week’s my dad was ready to pull his hair out. In reality, he really was checking to see if his hair would pull out due to the chemo–he’s a bit paranoid about losing his hair and is full of anxiety about the possibility. But metaphorically speaking, he has been ready to pull his hair out from frustration at living in someone else’s home and feeling like he has not been given control over his own care and welfare.
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The Triple E Way to Holiday Entertaining

Comments (0) Business, Food and Drink, Home and Garden

Elegantly, efficiently, and economically …yes! There are two unalterable facts to consider: the holiday season is upon us and this miserable economy has hit our pocket books in a big way!

Whether you’re entertaining friends or business associates, you can do it at home. Forget pricey restaurants. That money is more wisely spent on other things. What you can also forget are the bags of chips, beer, and soda cans, paper plates, and plastic cutlery. These things are fine for the Fourth of July and birthday celebrations but certain holidays require bit more finesse.
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“Senior” is an Ageist Label

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Education

DownWithAgeismMINII belong to an online discussion group that’s currently debating the use of the word “senior” as in Senior Citizen and debating if this term, which has long been used, is acceptable and desirable to the people it encompasses.

My answer? NO!! This term, along with so many others, is a perfect example of ageism at its best. Any word that separates a group of people, labels them, differentiates them, and is discriminatory.
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What are the 5 Types of Men that Women Avoid and the 5 Types of Women that...

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Relationships/Marriage/Divorce

battle-of-the-sexes

Women don’t think twice about brushing these kinds of guys off.

Men don’t give certain personalities a second thought.

Too often a day in the life of the dating world goes something like this: you meet someone, have a few conversations over the phone, go out once and then never see that person again.

Sound familiar? Chances are while you were on your date you discovered a personality that you know you just can’t deal with. It’s not that your date was creepy or malicious; you just know that a long-term relationship with that person won’t work out.
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Filing a business tax return

Comments (0) Business, Education, Entrepreneurs, Finance and Money

taxesThe income tax form that you will need to file for your business depends on the business entity that you established when you started your consulting practice. The business entities available for those starting a business are sole proprietorship, general or limited partnership, C corporation, S corporation, limited liability company (LLC), and limited liability partnership (LLP). Once you have determined the type of business entity you have, you can follow the IRS’ guidelines on how to report your business income and expenses.
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Don’t Forget to Include Sensuality and Pleasure in your New Year’s Resolutions. It’s GOOD for our health!

Comments (0) Boomer Life, Health, Menopause, Relationships/Marriage/Divorce

sexuality and sensualityWe all know the health benefits of going to a Fitness Center. We’ll even make sure to schedule time in our busy lives for exercise. Yet most of us are quicker to hit the gym before hitting the sheets when it comes to taking care of ourselves. However, taking time to self pleasure, or huffing and puffing your way through a sweat-inducing sex session may be far more beneficial to your overall health than the time you spend on the treadmill.
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