Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

Top 10 TED Talks for Insight on Curiosity

Curiosity has been linked in engagement, emotional intelligence, communication, motivation, creativity, innovation, productivity and more.  As part of research for Cracking the Curiosity Code, combing through TED talks was a fascinating way to review some important research into the area of curiosity.  The following includes some highlights from some of the most insightful talks that inspire and educate regarding the importance of curiosity.

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Curiosity: The Key to Improving Innovation, Engagement, Creativity, and Productivity

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious” – Albert Einstein

Everyone is born curious. So, what happens? Why do some people become less curious than others? For individuals, leaders, and companies to be successful, they must determine the things that hold curiosity hostage. Think of the most innovative companies, and you will notice they employ people who do not accept the status quo, they are not reluctant to change, they evolve with the times, they look for problems to solve, and focus on asking questions.

Billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates held a question and answer session at Columbia University. Just after the 5-minute mark, the moderator asked, “What is it that you two share?” They both answered with the same thing: curiosity. Buffett said, “Well, we both certainly share a curiosity about the world.” Gates said, “I think that curiosity that Warren mentioned, is an amazing thing.”

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What Holds Us Back? 4 Things Holding Our Curiosity Hostage

We are often told to follow our passion.  Even if we determine our passion, some things hold us back from pursuing our natural sense of curiosity.  Curiosity has been called a sort of mental itch.  There are surprisingly few studies about curiosity because it is difficult to study.  Some people are more naturally curious than others. It can be important to have curiosity hardwired into us because it helps us grow and develop.  There are factors like stress, aging, drugs, genetics, etc. that could impact our level of curiosity.  Outside of medical issues or lack of financial capabilities, I have found four major things that hold people’s curiosity hostage including fear, the way things have always been done, parental/family/peer influence, and technology.

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It Wasn’t Curiosity That Killed the Cat

Lack of curiosity is holding people back from having a better job and fulling life. Having taught more than 1000 business courses, I have seen the same issue with thousands of students. The success of those who lack curiosity pales in comparison to those who embrace it. Over the last decade, I have researched the importance of curiosity to improve performance. I have also learned how successful individuals value and develop curiosity through interviewing hundreds of guests on my show. That has led to my interest in doing further research for my forthcoming book about curiosity.

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To Become a Highly Effective Leader: Reduce Fear by Developing Curiosity

It might be surprising, but many leaders fear being discovered for not being as smart as they appear.  Realistic or not, people often look to leaders as if they should know everything. This external pressure often leads to internal pressure.  Leaders fear criticism, failure, making hard decisions, taking responsibility, or being unable to reach an important goal.  Because of this, leaders often surround themselves with experts in areas with which they have less experience or knowledge, which can be a very crucial to their success.  However, this can also keep them from developing some of these skills on their own.  There are other things leaders can do to be truly effective, including developing their sense of curiosity in areas with which they might not normally be comfortable. Continue reading “To Become a Highly Effective Leader: Reduce Fear by Developing Curiosity”

Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences

How do we know how others would like to be treated if we only look at things from our perspective?  Understanding personality and generational preferences is so important because we learn about opposing or differing perspectives.  To improve some of the key challenges in the workplace requires this understanding.  These challenges include poor soft skills, low emotional intelligence, lack of engagement, and a negative culture.  Many articles address how these problem stem from Boomer and Millennial conflict. Continue reading “Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences”

5 Top TED Talks for Insight on Employee Engagement

Whenever Gallup’s research comes out, it highlights the low levels of employee engagement that continue to burden organizations and cause leaders to scramble to do something about it. If only 33% of the workers are engaged, there are real problems with productivity, turnover, and a host of other factors that cost organizations more than $605 billion a year. As everyone seeks new ways to improve engagement, it may be helpful to look at what we already have learned through some of the best TED Talks. The following five talks give some great insight into what do to improve employee engagement. Continue reading “5 Top TED Talks for Insight on Employee Engagement”

Has a Book Become the New Business Card?

With the advent of self-publishing, realizing the dream of writing a book has become a reality for more people.  Many guests on my nationally-syndicated radio show have been authors. I was fortunate to interview Sharon Lechter recently, and she brought up how a book has become the new business card.  Sharon, of course, is the co-author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series and several best-selling books based on the recently re-energized Napoleon Hill Think and Grow Rich series.  Sharon is the ultimate example of a successful author.  Most authors do not have Napoleon Hill Foundation behind their work.  However, many have access to sites like Createspace and others to showcase their writing skills. Continue reading “Has a Book Become the New Business Card?”

How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work

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Job listings often describe the skills needed to perform in a position. However, many of the skills required for success fall under the category of soft skills.  Many employees may be hired for their knowledge and yet may end up being fired for their behavior or lack of social skills.  Forbes reported that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.  Mitchell Communications Group found that companies lose $37 billion a year in the United States due to miscommunication.  Research from Adecco Staffing considered what the C-suite thinks about the type of skills employees lack. They found that the C-suite believed 44% lacked soft skills including communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.  This has led to missed growth opportunity, low productivity, and reduced profits. Continue reading “How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work”

Managing Millennials Requires Understanding Their Values

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Millennials are one of the most misunderstood generations, which has led to frustration in the workplace.  With so many generations working together, it is not unusual that there would be some conflict. The biggest issues have revolved around the clash between Boomers and Millennials.  With varying views on political and leadership issues, as well as differences in the frequency at which they embrace technology, conflict management has become a top concern for many leaders.  Part of learning to manage this unique generation includes understanding and embracing their values. Continue reading “Managing Millennials Requires Understanding Their Values”

The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It

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Many people misunderstand the meaning of engagement. It is important to note that engagement does not mean satisfaction. Engagement refers to an emotional commitment to an organization and its goals.  Engagement, generational conflict, emotional intelligence, and other communication issues are some of the most requested speech topics by organizations. This is not surprising because 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from relationship-based issues.  Numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between engagement and performance.  Leaders with high levels of engagement also were more transformational, had higher levels of interpersonal skills, and had a better sense of well-being. Continue reading “The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It”

Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success

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Attend any leadership conference, and someone likely will bring up startling statistics regarding how employees and leaders lack something they refer to as soft skills. This term is used to describe many qualities that include interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and other personality-based issues. The problem that many organizations have experienced is that people are hired for their hard skills, or in other words, for what they know (knowledge). Then later, are often fired for their lack of soft skills, or what they do (behaviors). If employers recognize the importance of soft skills, they can avoid costly hiring and training mistakes, improve turnover, and boost productivity. Continue reading “Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success”

Stop the Madness with Top Classroom Management Techniques

I have worked with educators in schools and universities across the United States since 2006.  My experience includes teaching, speaking, mentoring, training, program review, and curriculum design.  My goal is to help educators succeed and make a difference in the lives of students.  As a successful educator, coach, national trainer, and speaker, I promise to motivate and inspire educators through my on-site school training and district keynotes.  I share practical, proven strategies for immediate use in classrooms. Continue reading “Stop the Madness with Top Classroom Management Techniques”

Expert Speaker and Trainer, Dr. Diane Hamilton, Available for Corporate Events

I have updated my speaker and training bio. Please click on the picture below to watch the video. To contact me for an event, please go to http://www.speakermatch.com/profile/drdianehamilton/

Entrepreneurs: Help for Getting Started

I had to opportunity to interview Martin “Marty” Zwilling this week.  Marty has an impressive background.  He is a former executive with IBM.  He has served on multiple advisory boards.  He currently works as an author and consultant.  His company, Startup Professionals, is dedicated to helping new entrepreneurs succeed.  He gave some great insight regarding some of the toughest issues facing new entrepreneurs. The following is our six-part interview. Click on the link below the picture.  Scroll to next video with the arrow at the bottom after watching each one. Continue reading “Entrepreneurs: Help for Getting Started”

Grammar: When It Just Does Not Sound Correct

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My job has taught me that a lot of people struggle with grammar and spelling. My first sentence brought to mind one of the most common spelling errors. Many of my students type “a lot” as one word, which is incorrect. There is no such word as “alot”. If spelling is not hard enough, grammar is just as tricky because some things that are correct, do not sound correct. I know I tend to say things incorrectly just to sound like everyone else. For example, people might look at you funny if you correctly stated, “that is she” instead of incorrectly stated “that is her”. Continue reading “Grammar: When It Just Does Not Sound Correct”

Professors’ Media Choices in Online Classes

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There is limited research regarding the use of social media or other types of media in online courses. In 2013, I surveyed 110 adjunct professors from a Linkedin group to determine if they added media (including social media) to already developed curriculum. Due to the prevalence of online classes, it might help curriculum designers to determine media preferences. This type of study may also demonstrate the flexibility of online courses, the perception of content requirements in online courses, and professors’ best practices.

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Professors’ Expectations: Helpful Writing Tips for College Students

 

Students often struggle with writing essays.  Some have difficulty with structure. Others dread dealing with APA formatting. I teach everything from bachelor-level to doctoral-level courses.  The following contains some helpful writing tips that I have found may make writing essays a little easier.

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Entrepreneurs and Celebrities Use Kickstarter for Funding

 

Kickstarter has been a successful crowdfunding option for potential entrepreneurs to garner cash.  However it has not been without some issues.  According to The Wall Street Journal article The Trouble With Kickstarter, “The only thing worse than having to watch your friend’s arty movie is having to pay for it too.” Aside from the problems associated with pestering friends to donate, there have been some successful ventures thanks to this site.  The following list contains some of names of celebrities who have used the site:

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Researchers Debate Importance of Introverts Acting like Extroverts

 

Several courses I teach include discussion regarding the importance of understanding personality preferences.  Students often take personality tests to determine their “type”.  Part of their type includes whether they are introverts or extraverts (Myers Briggs spells extravert with an “a” instead of an “o”).  In my training to become a qualified Myers Briggs MBTI trainer, I learned that people have preferences for how they like to receive and process information.  We were told it was similar to how people prefer to write with their right or left hand.  That is why I found the recent Wall Street Journal article titled How an Introvert Can Be Happier:  Act Like an Extrovert to be so interesting.  The title contradicts some of what I learned in my training.

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Millennial Student Entitlement Issues

 

The word Millennials is used to describe adults born between the years of 1980 and 2000.  They are also known as Generation Y.  Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me explained Millennials tend to be more self-focused and may expect to receive a lot of recognition. Sixty Minutes aired an interesting story titled The Millennials are Coming.  In this show, they explained how this younger generation expects good things and expects them with little effort. I have noticed that this sense of entitlement has carried into the online classroom setting.

Most of my students are very respectful. They follow directions.  They ask questions with the proper tone.  However, there are a few that are more demanding.  Although I have not formally studied the age group of the students who demonstrate issues with entitlement, I have noticed that my older Baby Boomer students seem to demonstrate more respect.

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Facebook Better for Following Blogs than RSS

 

Facebook has made it so much easier to follow just about anything.  RSS feeds and Twitter are still an option for many people. However, with Facebook, once someone “likes” a page, it shows up in their feed on their homepage whenever anything from that page is updated.  Unlike Twitter and RSS feeds, on Facebook, it is easier to see pictures and information.

It is simple to create a Facebook page that includes links to blogs like this one.  What I think is great about a Facebook page is that I can incorporate links to this blog, to my other blogs, and any other sites.  It is an all-in-one spot to access information. To see my Facebook page, click here.

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Online vs. Traditional Faculty Demands

MOOCs have drawn attention to the different requirements of online vs. traditional teaching jobs.  I recently watched Dr. Dani Babb’s Udemy presentation titled How to Make Money Teaching as an Online Professor.  She said something that I thought was interesting.  She had worked as a traditional professor prior to becoming an online professor.  When she discussed the job requirements of an online professor, she mentioned that online professors have to deal with students who expect a lot more interaction in the online environment than the traditional one.  This is very true.  This is also something that I do not think gets enough attention in the media.

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A Professor’s Top 15 Book Recommendations

 

One of the hardest things I had to do when I moved was to get rid of some of my books.  My house was starting to look like a Barnes & Noble.  I kept the textbooks I use for my courses and a few others that I found especially useful or interesting.  The following list is in no particular order.  It contains some of my favorite books that I kept. I often recommend them to my students:

  1. Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman  – Goleman is one of the main thought-leaders in emotional intelligence.  This book is easy to read and explains the importance of emotional intelligence.
  2. The Happiness Advantage:  The Seven Principles of  Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by  Shaw Achor – This book included some interesting information about how to be happy.  I liked the author’s style.  It is entertaining and interesting.
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  This book is required reading in many courses.  Although some students hesitate to pick up “self-help” books, this one is a classic for good reasons.
  4. Emotional Intelligence in Action by Marcia Hughes, Bonita Patterson, James Terrell, and Reuven Bar-On.  This book is a helpful tool to develop emotional intelligence in teams.
  5. The Pig That Wants to be Eaten:  100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini.  This strange little book was required reading for a course I taught about foresight.  My technology students love it.  It is filled with short stories. It is not for everyone. However, it is a book that will make you think.
  6. Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice by Howard Gardner. Gardner’s work in multiple intelligences is an important foundation for anyone studying personality assessments.
  7. The Effective Executive:  The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker. Drucker’s book is often required in management and leadership courses.
  8. The Bugaboo Review:  A Lighthearted Guide to Exterminating Confusion about Words, Spelling and Grammar by Sue Sommer.  This is a fun book to teach spelling and grammar.
  9. Between You and I: A Little Book of Bad English by James Cochrane.  This is helpful book to teach grammar.
  10. Eats, Shoots, & Leaves:  The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.  This is another fun book to explain the importance of punctuation.
  11. It’s Not You It’s Your Personality:  Skills to Survive and Thrive in the Modern Workplace by Diane Hamilton and Toni Rothpletz.  This is a book written by my daughter and me.  It explains all of the top personality assessments and helps readers understand how to get along with other people at work.
  12. The Elements of Style by William Strunk.  This is a classic book on  how to write correctly. Most authors keep a copy of this.
  13. On Writing Well:  The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zessner. I like how Zessner teaches writers to write in a simple way.
  14. The Online Student’s User Manual:  Everything You Need to Know to be a Successful Online Student by Diane Hamilton. This book will help new and continuing students to be successful in online classes.
  15. Entreleadership: 20 Years of Practical Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey.  This book contains a compilation of things that managers or entrepreneurs should know but may have never learned.

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Changing the Way Students Perform Online Research

 

Google and other search engines have changed the way people locate information.  The problem is that online students think of Google as a proper tool to use to perform research for assignments.  Google Scholar may provide access to some scholarly research.  However, most online schools prefer that students use the school’s library search feature.  It is important that students consider the reliability of the type of content that is available on traditional websites.

Pew reported that the majority of students are not able to recognize bias in online content.  This has become frustrating for professors because these skills should be taught in first-year college courses.  Turnitin’s white paper titled What’s Wrong with Wikipedia, reported that in over 37 million papers submitted by students, there were 156 million matches to content found from the Internet.  This means that students use sites like Google Books, May Clinic, Yahoo Answers, Wikipedia, etc.  These are unacceptable sources to use for college-level courses.

According to Turnitin’s research, the following problems exist with student’s research behavior:

  • Problem: Students value immediacy over quality – Students use sites like Wikipedia to find quick answers.  Wikipedia may offer some valuable resources at the bottom of their site to support the content. Solution:  These sources are usually available through the school’s library search feature.  Schools’ search engines are quite easy to use. They access some of the best material available for free.  Students can easily mark a box for peer-reviewed studies.  This will ensure that their research contains quality information.
  • Problem:  Students often use cheat sites – Students may find sites that offer to write their papers for a fee.  Most of these papers are captured within Turnitin’s plagiarism detecting software. Therefore when students buy the paper and submit as their own, the software will detect it as plagiarized.  Solution:  The time it takes to find and buy a paper on the Internet could have been used to simply write an original paper.  Nothing is gained from submitted plagiarized work.  Students risk getting expelled.  Most assignments are not that long or difficult.  The point of writing them is to gain knowledge.  Students who attend school just to obtain a piece of paper will not be prepared for the working world.  They will spend money on a degree that will not help them if they have not learned the information.
  • Problem:  Research is not synonymous with search – Students may put a lot of faith in the information found on the Internet.  Just because a site allows people to ask and answer questions, does not mean that the answers are correct. Searching for answers on the Internet does not mean that the answers are based on actual research.  Solution:  Using peer-reviewed sources that are available through the school’s library ensures that the information in the article has been reviewed by the author’s peers.  These studies are actual research.

There are times when assignments allow for students to use websites like Apple.com, or other corporate or news sites.  If this is allowed by the instructor, students must be able to recognize if the site is highly regarded. An example might be The New York Times.  If students are in doubt, they should direct questions to their instructor for guidance.

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Advantages of Peer Interaction in Online Learning

One of the most important ways students learn in online courses is through peer-to-peer interaction.  In my experience with traditional classrooms, there were far more lectures and much student involvement.  The professors spoke “at us” in traditional courses. In online courses, there is more of a group discussion. Students receive the professor’s perspective as well as viewpoints from every student in the course.  In my opinion, this makes for a much more interesting and interactive classroom.

Not all students are fans of lecture-based learning.  MOOCs may experience high dropout rates due to their lecture-based format. According to the article MOOCs: Will Online Courses Help More Students Stay in School, “Critics of MOOCs are quick to point out their low completion rates (fewer than 7% of students complete the courses on average). They also note that the courses take the ineffective lecture format and make it the primary mode of learning.”

The types of online courses I have taught rely very little, if at all, on lectures.  The courses include more peer interaction and written assignments. The peer interaction revolves around discussion questions.  There are usually at least two discussion topics posted each week.  Students must respond to the initial question and respond to their peers’ postings as well.  This requires students to address the question, discover other students’ perspectives, and develop critical thinking skills.

Students’ responses to their peers must include substantive comments and well-constructed follow-up questions.  These questions often develop the conversation and create a dialogue.  Every student can see these discussions.  Every student can interject their comments.  It creates a pool of information that would not be provided to students in a lecture hall.  It allows for much more depth to the exploration of the topic.

In a traditional course, the professor may give their insight and opinions about a topic.  In an online course, this is possible as well. What is different is the amount of interaction required by the students.  Granted, things may have changed since I took traditional courses in the 80’s.  However, based on what I read and what I hear from my students, traditional college courses have not changed that much.  I believe that is why there is such an interest in MOOCs.  They add a new dimension that traditional courses have lacked.  However, MOOCs may not provide the peer interaction is the same way that regular online classes can.  The reason for this is due to the number of students in class.  MOOCs are massive.  Most online courses I teach include fewer than 20 students. When there are too many students, the discussions become overwhelming and no one takes the time to read all of the postings.

The best part of peer interaction is that students can learn from everyone’s experiences. Many online students have had decades of experience. This provides a wealth of knowledge that may be added to the professor’s perspective.  This allows everyone, including the professor, to garner important insight.

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Online Student Safety and Behavioral Issues

The online classroom may make it easier for students with personality problems or even mental health issues to go undetected.  It may provide a false sense of security for some students who make friends with other students who may appear to be well.  However, in any online situation, it is wise to look for some behavioral signals that may indicate some problems.

I have had students who ignore netiquette, aka rules of proper behavior in the online classroom. I have had a few students who concerned me to the point that I believed, for safety reasons, I had to report them.  Although I have not had this happen often, it can be frightening for innocent students who get bullied or are provoked by these behaviorally-challenged students.

I recently had a student send me a note that she felt uncomfortable by certain wording that another student used in class.  She asked me to ask the student to refrain from using what she considered profanity.  Although this “profanity” may have seemed very mild to some of the other students, it bothered her.  It is important for students to realize that everyone may not be comfortable with certain words.

In the Wall Street Journal article When Social Skills are a Warning, the author explained that it may be important to look for social skills that may indicate a warning of behavioral issues. Instructors and fellow students might be able to detect some early signs that are symptoms of problems like social indifference, lack of empathy, and inappropriate behavior.  Some students do not recognize when to “back off” in discussions.  In the article, the author explained how our brains are set up differently. “Some networks act as emotional brakes and others as the gas.  Everyone has a different balance of these networks, which contributes to our personalities, emotions and behaviors.”

When students notice something that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should report it to their professor or counselor.  Many students are harmless and just do not realize how they may come across to others.  The problem is that there have been incidents that make the news that scare people.  These past tragedies may help to make people more aware of the importance of recognizing behavior.

Just because there is a computer screen between students, does not mean there is no danger.  Some students connect in online chat rooms.  Sometimes they exchange email and telephone numbers.  Just because a student is in an online college classroom, it does not ensure that this person is harmless.  In online, just as in traditional courses, there will be some students who have behavioral problems.  It is important that students do not let their guard down too far due to a possible incorrect assumption that all students must be normal.  I do not want to squelch the college connection experience. It is just important to remember that people may have issues whether they are in a traditional or online location.  Students should be just as vigilant about their safety in an online class as they would be in any other situation.

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Hiring Graduates Based on Personality Skills

HR professionals within organizations have given personality assessments to potential employees for many years. I was asked to take a personality assessment for a pharmaceutical sales job in 1987.  The changes I have noticed since that time include the type and frequency of personality tests given.  What also may be trending is the fact that leaders of schools have become more interested in personality assessments. In the Wall Street Journal article Business Schools Know How You Think, but How Do You Feel, author Melissa Korn explained, “Prospective MBA students need to shine by showing emotional traits like empathy, motivation, resilience, and dozens of others.”  Schools may be interested in these traits because organizations value these traits.  Korn also explained, “Measuring EQ-or emotional intelligence quotient-is the latest attempt by business schools to identify future stars.”

I find this trend to be particularly interesting because I teach business, I am a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, a certified EQ-i instructor, and I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance.  I have also witnessed that online schools have placed more importance on personality assessments. Many of my first-year students must take a Jung-like personality test.  Many of my undergraduate and graduate business students have to assess their EQ.

I think it is important for these personality preference and emotional intelligence issues to be addressed in online courses.  Some of the things that may hurt a graduate’s chance of obtaining is job include having poor self-assessment skills, poor interpersonal skills, and a lack of concern for how they are perceived by others.

When I was in pharmaceutical sales, they rated us each year on our concern for impact.  It was such an important part of what they believed made us successful in the field, that there were consequences to poor judgment and rude behavior.  In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, there is a chapter regarding concern for impact, as well as one for Myers Briggs MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, DISC, and many other personality assessments that may help young adults in the workplace. One of the universities for which I teach requires students to read this book in a foresight course.

It is important for online students to learn about these assessments because employers use them.  Some personality traits stay with us throughout our lives.  The MBTI is an example of an assessment that determines preferences that may not change.  This assessment may be helpful to students who are not sure about career paths.  Other assessments like the EQ-i determine emotional intelligence levels.  The good news about emotional intelligence is that it may be improved. Marcia Hughes has written several books about how to improve EQ in the workplace.  The savvy online students will work on developing their EQ and understanding personality preferences before they graduate.  By being proactive, students may have a better chance of being successful in a career that matches their personality preferences.

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Use of Media and Copyright Issues in Online Courses

Some students like to present papers with a bit of pizzazz. Many may add pictures or charts they have found on the Internet.  Unfortunately many of the things they try to incorporate into their work may create a copyright violation.  The good news is that there are sites where students can find media to share that is not protected.

The Creative Commons site is a good place to go to find content. According to their site, “If you’re looking for content that you can freely and legally use, there is a giant pool of CC-licensed creativity available to you. There are hundreds of millions of works — from songs and videos to scientific and academic material — available to the public for free and legal use under the terms of our copyright licenses, with more being contributed every day.”

Some famous sites like Google, Flickr, and Wikipedia use Creative Commons to access media. Wikipedia’s Public Domain Image Resources page also provides some great links to media that is not copyright-protected.  This site provides general as well as government resources.

Some students incorporate images they have found using the insert clipart function in Word. According to the Microsoft site, “The Clip Art and Media gallery provides a compilation of artwork. See the use terms for the description of permitted uses. If those terms do not meet your needs, our Clip Art partners at Office Online provide a variety of images you can license directly. Sample Art may be used for personal use only. You may not sell, lease, or distribute Sample Art, or any materials you create that use Sample images, for any commercial purposes.”

If students submit a Word document that has clip art obtained from Word, they may have questions about how to cite it in APA.  According to Owl Purdue’s site it is, “unnecessary to provide citation on a document presented via the Microsoft program for stock images that a specific to that software package.”

It may be difficult to find free clip art simply by searching for it on Google. Many sites that come up offer some free clip art that is usually not that great.  The better clip art usually requires a fee.  I am often contacted by people about the clipart used for my online education blog.  I have used a couple of sources that charge a fee, including Shutterstock and iStockPhoto.  The really good pictures like these usually require a fee.

When students insert pictures that are copyright protected, professors should explain this to them.  There are many students who assume they can copy and paste just about anything from the Internet into their assignments. Students may benefit from reading:  How to Avoid Copyright Infringement and Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images.

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What to Expect in Online Doctorate Degree Courses

As a doctoral chair, it is my responsibility to help guide students through their doctoral dissertation process.  In order to receive a doctorate through online courses, there is a series of courses that students take prior to the time they begin writing the proposal for their dissertation.  Each online program varies to some degree.  Based on the two programs I have either taken or taught, I can say that they were pretty similar.  The following is what students might expect from an online doctoral program.

Students must first complete a series of online courses that address their field of study. For example, I received a degree that is titled: Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration with a Specialization in Management.  That means that those initial courses included a specific focus on business management.  Some students may combine their Master’s with their Doctorate.  Assuming that students have already taken the thirty or so credits required for a Master’s degree, there may be another 10 or 15 courses required in the field of specialization. In this case, it would be to study business management.  These courses are not that different from taking graduate-level classes.

After finishing those courses, students begin taking courses that are more specific to the proposal and final dissertation.  It is difficult to state how many courses may be required at this point. Some students require fewer courses than others based on how much work they complete within the scheduled time for each course.  I have had some students make it through the dissertation in the process by taking only three dissertation courses.  Others may take a dozen or more courses to finish.  It depends upon how much students have done on their own prior to beginning the doctoral courses, how quickly they work, and the type of research they do.

The steps in the doctoral process include writing the proposal (which describes how the study will be performed, aka chapters 1-3 of the final dissertation), obtaining proposal approval, doing the research, writing the final dissertation (updating Chapters 1-3 and writing Chapters 4-5), obtaining approval for the dissertation, defending the dissertation in an oral presentation, and finally having the doctoral chair, doctoral committee, and dean give a final seal of approval.

The hardest part generally seems to be writing the proposal or the first three chapters.  This is difficult because students have to learn how to write in a very specific and scholarly way.  There are templates that may provide helpful information regarding alignment, content requirements, and formatting.   Students work very closely with their chair during this time.  Students must also have at least two committee members.  Some schools, like the one I attended, required an additional outside member to review the dissertation.  All members of the committee must have a doctorate.

Students usually work strictly with the chair until Chapters 1-3 are ready to submit. At that point, the committee looks at the work to give input and make suggestions.  After all adjustments are made, the proposal goes through several stages of approval.  Students may need to submit more than once if there are changes requested. This is commonly the case.  Once the proposal is approved, students can perform the study, and eventually write the last two chapters that describe the results.  This final document goes through the chair and committee approval process again, and eventually must meet with the dean’s approval.  The last step is for students to defend the dissertation in an oral presentation.  Usually that is the easiest part of the process because students know their study inside and out by that time.  It takes some students just a few years to go through the process.  Others take much longer. Some never finish.  It is a very difficult process.  However, in the end, it is worth it.

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The PayPal Mafia: What is a Serial Entrepreneur?

The PayPal Mafia refers to a group of individuals who created multiple companies that created a frenzy of growth in the Silicon Valley.  The entrepreneurs created PayPal before they set out to develop other multiple successful technology-based companies.  These men are serial entrepreneurs or individuals who, “continuously come up with new ideas and starts new businesses. As opposed to a typical entrepreneur, who will often come up with an idea, start the company, and then see it through and play an important role in the day to day functioning of the new company, a serial entrepreneur will often come up with the idea and get things started, but then give responsibility to someone else and move on to a new idea and a new venture.”

To learn more about some of the individuals associated with the PayPal Mafia check out the following members and how their initial success led to other serial successes:

For a more complete list of the PayPal Mafia members and their accomplishments, click here.

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Creative Disruption or Destruction?

Leaders often have to deal with the effects of creative disruption. According to CreativeDisruption.net, “Creative disruption intentionally brings the challenge or change right to the organization to force it to change and adapt in advance of a random, unpredictable challenge that will eventually reach the organization.” With the creation of innovation, there may be fallout in terms of lost jobs.  However, with loss, there may also be creation of new jobs.  A computer may replace work that was done manually.  At the same time, someone must run the computer.

Creative disruption may be necessary in order to remain competitive. If the competition embraces innovation, they may gain a foothold in the market.  The key is being able to recognize the type of innovation that will allow companies to grow.

Some ideas have actually led to the demise of companies.  An example is the invention of digital images and its impact on Kodak.  The invention of digital images occurred in a lab at Kodak.  This invention not only changed the industry but caused the eventual demise of the company.  Kodak tried to embrace changes, but lacked foresight.   Companies like Kodak may need to embrace new business models when faced with innovative changes.

According to the article Big Data and the Creative Destruction of Today’s Business Model, having a grasp on the importance of managing and understanding data is critical.  “Companies are increasingly experimenting with and implementing ways to capture big data’s potential for both short- and long-term advantage. The crucial success factors are to first think of data as an asset—as the foundation upon which to build propositions and business models—and then to diligently build out the capabilities necessary to capitalize on big data’s potential. And perhaps most importantly, embrace the creative destruction of today’s business models.”

Uber is Uber Cool

Uber is an app (iPhone and Android) that allows you to request a black Towncar or SUV rather than a typical cab in the U.S. and Canada.  When you use the app, it finds your location and allows you to order an “Uber”.  You can see all of the black cars in your area on a map.  You can simply pick the closest driver and the system will send you an alert on your cellphone to let you know the car is on its way.  The service alert includes your driver’s name and his cell phone.  You can even watch the vehicle coming toward your location on the map.

I spoke to a frequent user of Uber who told me that it normally takes about 5-10 minutes for the vehicle to arrive.  The driver opens the car door for you.  They usually have bottles of water, candy, gum, and other handy items. The price is a little more than a standard cab.  However, she felt that the few dollar difference was well worth it.

When you reach your final destination, you do not have to worry about having cash, tipping, or even dealing with negotiations.  Since your information is stored in the app, the receipt is simply sent to your email. They ask you to rate the drivers so that they can be sure they have excellent service.  I was told that drivers need to maintain a 4.7 out of 5 star rating in order to continue driving for the company.

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How to Use iPhone to Connect Computer to the Internet

If you are like me, you may want to use your laptop when you travel.  One way to gain access to the Internet is by using an iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature.  The cellular data connection on the phone will allow you to connect your laptop or desktop to the Internet.

To use this feature, go to the settings on the iPhone (3GS version or later) and chose general and then choose Personal Hotspot. Turn the Personal Hotspot to the “on” position.  The Wi-Fi password will be listed on the iPhone under the Personal Hotspot area next to Wi-Fi password.  The wireless connection should now be listed as a choice on the laptop or desktop computer.  To connect to the iPhone, go to the Internet Access area on the computer and select the iPhone connection option. Then enter that password listed on the iPhone when requested.

When the personal hotspot is turned on it may incur charges so it is important to turn it off when not using it for temporary access.  The Apple support website states that the Wi-Fi hotspot will turn off when no devices are detected, but I was told by a Verizon employee that there may be charges.  I was also told that the phone could not be used when in personal hotspot mode.

According to the Apple Support site, “While devices are connected to Personal Hotspot, the status bar will be blue and will indicate the number of connected users.  The maximum number of supported connections may vary depending on your carrier or iPhone model.”

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Are QR Codes Successful?

 

I am currently reviewing a text about marketing.  Schools hire me to do this on occasion.  One thing that disappointed me was there was nothing in it about QR codes and some of the other newest marketing techniques. QR codes have been around for a while. If you have not noticed them, they are the little barcode-looking square that appears on newspapers billboards, flyers, and even cars.

While QR codes offer some great marketing opportunities, they have not been as successful as other techniques.  In the article QR Codes are Dead! Long Live QR Codes, the author stated, “One of the most popular Tumblr blogs of 2012 is Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes. If you click through to the site you will see that it is empty. The joke here? No one scans QR codes (short for Quick Response code). It is obvious that QR codes have a bad rep and haven’t gained much traction on the consumer end of the equation.”

QR codes have been utilized well by some companies.  I am currently reading the book Neuromarketology by Brian Fabiano.  He is a marketing guru who was wise enough to put a QR code at the end of each of his chapters with the note, “scan to learn more!” Other examples of successful QR code use include:

For more information about how to use QR codes, check out the following articles:

Entrepreneurs Replacing People with Tablets

 

One of the hardest parts of getting a new business off of the ground is to have enough funding.  Many entrepreneurs use family members as personnel in order to avoid paying wages.  It may be quite expensive to hire people to take orders or process requests.  The Wall Street Journal article Can the Tablet Please Take Your Order Now included some examples of how some small businesses have begun to use tablets instead of people in the customer-ordering process.

If customers can order through a digital device, it may not only be cheaper but faster.  There are app-building tools that entrepreneurs can use to create a way for customers to input their orders.  Some companies have used QR codes to speed up the order process. Using apps is another logical alternative. With talk of increasing the minimum wage, some small businesses are looking for ways to remain profitable.  If tablets become a popular way to order, it may impact many minimum-wage workers.  “In all, one-third of low-wage workers are employed by businesses with fewer than 100 employees, according to the National employment Law Project, an organized-labor-backed advocacy group for low-wage workers.”

Not only may entrepreneurs experience some cost savings by utilizing tablets and apps, there may be some other entrepreneurial opportunities for the app designers.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Some entrepreneurs see a promising market in selling technologies to small businesses that might help them to streamline operations.”  While this may cost some minimum wage-earners jobs, it may also be opportunities to train them for higher-skilled positions.

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Credit Report Options

DrDianeHamiltonCreditScoreSavvy

Anyone who has applied for a home loan probably has some familiarity with the importance of having a strong FICO score.  FICO stands for Fair Isaac Company.  There are three major bureaus that provide credit information (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).  These bureaus got together and created a competing score called the VantageScore. CreditKarma explained, “The VantageScore offers additional features, such as predictive scoring and a 24-month review of credit history, that the classic FICO model doesn’t incorporate.” For a comparison of the Vantage Score to the FICO score, click here.

This new score has a different scale.  Experian, Equifax and TransUnion used a score that ranged from 300 to 850.  This new VantageScore has a range from 501 to 990.  This has led to some confusion as to how these scores compare.  Lenders usually charge consumers to check their credit. They obtain the three scores from the major bureaus and generally use the middle score to base the lending rate that they offer the borrower.  Some lenders have begun to use the VantageScore.  For more information see:  What Credit Scores to Mortgage Lenders Use?

Borrowers may want to obtain their score in order to repair any issues prior to applying for a loan. This can cost them around $20 if they want to receive a full Equifax or TransUnion score.  Experian does not offer reports to consumers.

There are some other free options for credit reports.  These include:

CreditKarma.com – Offers a TransUnion Transrisk and Vantage Score report.

CreditSesame.com – Offers Experian National Equivalency Score

Credit.com – Offers Vantage Score

While many sites offer different reporting options like these, they may not show exactly the same scores that the lender will obtain when they receive all three major bureau reports.  Consumers, who apply for a loan and have paid to have their credit checked, can ask for a copy of their credit report from their lender.

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How to Avoid Paying 85% Tax on Social Security

 

Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have found out some hard lessons recently about how easily their retirement money can disappear.  One thing they may not have counted on is how much they may be taxed on Social Security benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration Website, the guidelines for paying taxes on social security include:

  • file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your combined income* is
    • between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
    • more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income* that is
    • between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
    • more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

Many adults receive social security as their only form of income. If that is the case, there income level would be low enough that they would not have to pay taxes or even file a tax form.  See topic 423.

For individuals who are lucky enough to have saved a few bucks for retirement, check out the following articles for help to avoid having to pay this high percentage:

  1. When Uncle Sam Wants His Money Back
  2. Avoiding the Social Security Tax Trap
  3. History of Taxation of Social Security
  4. AARP: Social Security and Taxes
  5. How Much Social Security Benefit May Be Taxed

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How to Keep Facebook Private

 

Privacy issues have dogged Facebook and other social media sites for years.  There are so many areas within which to adjust settings, it may become so frustrating that people give up trying to figure it out.  The Wall Street Journal article, A Guide to Facebook’s Privacy Options, had a very good graphic that demonstrates where to go to make changes to privacy settings.  It is important that you go to the icon that looks like a lock with some lines next to it at the top right of the screen.  Once you click on that, click on “see more settings”, then click on security (listed at the top left under the word general).

Once you are on that page, the following list contains some suggested ways to improve security:

  • Turn on secure browsing which is listed first under security settings  – if it is on, it will show enabled.
  • Login approvals can be turned on for extra security.
  • Limit app settings (see left side of screen) so that certain things may not be posted to your profile. “Disable instant personalization if you don’t want Facebook to share your information with partner websites”.
  • Adjust ad settings (see left side of screen) to control what information appears in ads.

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Famous Entrepreneurs Provide Inspiration

There are plenty of examples of entrepreneurs who failed before they became successful.  Some of them even explain that failure has taught them their most valuable lessons.  While this may be true, many prospective entrepreneurs fear failure.  One way to avoid problems is to learn from those who have experienced negative issues and still managed to succeed.

Entrepreneur.com recently published the article 10 Inspirational Leaders Who Turned Around Their Companies.  In this article, author Stephanie Vozza explained, “From Apple’s Steve Jobs’ demanding personality to Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter’s frugal methods, these sometimes-controversial CEOs weren’t always popular with employees, but they earned the respect of shareholders.”

For some unusual entrepreneurial examples, check out the VentureVillage article The Top Ten Startup Founder Blogs Every Entrepreneur Should Follow.  These entrepreneurs offer a different perspective and update their blogs on a regular basis.

For more information for how to be a successful entrepreneur check out:

Genetics Impact on Intelligence

 

Was Einstein a genius because he inherited good genes?  That is just one of the questions some new research may be able to determine.  According to the article A Genetic Code for Genius in the Wall Street Journal, “In China, a research project aims to find the roots of intelligence in our DNA.”

There is no denying that emotional intelligence has become a buzz word in HR.  Employees’ emotional quotient or EQ may sometimes be more important than their IQ.  However, the roots of many personality and intelligence issues like IQ still remain a mystery.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Studies show that at less half of the variation of intelligence quotient, or IQ, is inherited. Truly important genetics that affect normal IQ variation have yet to be pinned down.”

The average person has an IQ of 100 and Nobel laureates have an average IQ of 145. In a study of intelligence in China, the researchers are looking at individuals who have an IQ of over 160.  To date, studies have not been large enough to give very useful information about IQ and genetics.  This latest study “will compare the genomes of 2,200 high-IQ individuals with the genomes of several thousand people drawn randomly from the general population.”  The problem is finding the people with such an extremely high IQ.  The researchers likened it to finding a bunch of people over 6-foot-9 inches tall.

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Have You Been Retargeted?

 

If you have ever shopped online for an item and then later noticed an ad for that exact item on another page, you have been retargeted.  It may cause some problems for people who are trying to surprise others with something special. Consider the scenario of the man who has searched for engagement rings. If his future fiancé should suddenly have ads for rings show up all over their shared computer screen, the jig may be up!

To see what it is like to be retargeted, try going to the site:  GreatCall.  Once you are on that site, you will notice they sell a phone service.  You might then decide to go to a site like Dictionary.com.  Once you get to the dictionary site, you might notice that suddenly there is an ad for GreatCall.

Now take a look at the top right corner of that ad. There is a little sideways triangle that you can click that explains AdSense.  “The AdChoices symbol appears on web pages and ads to let you know when information about your interests or demographics may have been collected or used to show you ads – what’s known as interest-based advertising. You can opt out of interest-based ads, as well interest-based advertising from other participating companies by visiting the aboutads.info choices page.” Click on the following link to find out how to manage your ad preferences.

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Successful Virtual Teams

 

Teams may not necessarily occupy the same building or location.  This may create some unique challenges.  When I trained teams within organizations to be effective, we dealt with personality preferences.  Team members would take the Myers Briggs MBTI to determine their type.  Team members were more effective if they understood why people acted the way they did.

In virtual teams, it is still critical to understand people’s preferences.  However, there are some unique challenges.  Leaders may deal with loosely described job descriptions.  Members of a team may share similar roles.  If team members are in other countries, cultural differences may impact the speed at which decisions may be made.

Trust and communication are still critical.  However, influence may become affected.  According to the Forbes article The Four Keys to Success within Virtual Teams, “The upshot of all this is that managers with geographically scattered teams need a much broader skill set than those with traditional, co-located teams. More than that, they need the ability to switch between skill sets, based on the diversity of their team members and the distance between them. Welcome to a new virtual world of business.”

According to Virtual Team Builders, “80% of corporate managers work virtually at least part of the time; 40% of virtual team members believe their groups are underperforming; 1 in 3 executives agree that teams are poorly managed; 56% of poorly managed virtual teams experience misunderstandings as a result of cultural and language differences; and 70% of attendees multitask during meetings.”

For more information about virtual teams, check out the following articles:

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Top Links for Employee Onboarding

 

New employees go through a process that is referred to onboarding.  This is the time that the company can make employees feel welcome.  It is also a time when they can begin to work on things like creating open communication, sharing a corporate vision, and defining goals. In the article Employee Onboarding, the following list contains high-level objectives of onboarding:

  • Helping the employee to identify with their new employer.
  • Allowing the employee to understand some of the company’s values and priorities.
  • Building an optimistic attitude towards the company.
  • Avoiding misunderstandings.
  • Helping the employee feel valued.
  • Encouraging socialization and creating a sense of belonging.
  • Reducing new employee anxiety.
  • Setting of performance expectations.
  • Decreasing the learning curve.

For more information about how employers and employees can have a successful onboarding process, check out the following articles:

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Update Your Resume for the New Year

 

One New Year’s resolution to consider is to update your resume.  Whether you are in job-search mode or have been with a job for a while, it is always good to be prepared.  The job market is constantly changing and people sometimes lose jobs that they had considered solid.

I recommend checking out the Ragan article 10 Words or Phrases That Shouldn’t be on Your Résumé. I like that the author mentioned the importance of not simply listing the word experienced. “Although you may have many years working in a certain field, don’t sell yourself short by using a word as vague and general as “experienced.” Get specific. Make a note of how long you’ve worked in a certain industry, how many clients you’ve had, what your sales were, and how much you increased profitability. Employers want to see results, not fluff.”

I have had to review many resumes that were sloppy, complicated, and just difficult to decipher. Due to a wealth of information on the Internet, there is no excuse for having a poor resume.

I recommend checking out some of the following links:

It is also simple to create a resume within a Word document.  To find templates, go to the file dropdown menu and pick new.  In the search bar, type in the word: resume.  This will bring up a list of free templates that can be easily modified.

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Top Business and Career Trends for 2013

 

Potential entrepreneurs often look for the next big idea.  With changing technology, it is important to have foresight.  It is not always necessary to be the first company to offer a product or idea.  Facebook is an excellent example of this. Sometimes an idea can be improved upon or tweaked.

Once an entrepreneur comes up with an idea, they must create a feasibility study.  After creating a viable plan, there are some unique ways entrepreneurs may obtain financing.  Crowdfunding and microlending are just one of the latest trends.  Check out the Top 7 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Obtain Funding.

Some experts have tried to predict the next big areas for innovation. There are even sites like Trendhunter that offer trend reports to help with predictions. For those interested in getting ahead of the game, check out some of the top articles on business and career trends for 2013:

  1. Top 4 Career Trends for 2013
  2. Consumer Trends for 2013
  3. Top HR Trends for 2013
  4. 2013 Trend Customers Will Be In Your Face
  5. Mobile Payments Trends for 2013
  6. Mobile Trends 2013
  7. 2013 Trends Affecting Businesses
  8. Biggest Trends in Business 2013
  9. Lean Start-Ups and Connected Economy Trends 2013
  10. 5 Business Trends to Ignore in 2013

The last article is an interesting one, because sometimes people look at trends as positive things.  That may not always be true.  An important point was made in that article.  Bringing value to customers should be a primary goal.

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Generation Ali Passes the Torch to Millennial Generation

 

Muhammad Ali has been called the most recognizable man on earth. While he is still considered the champ from his boxing days, he has continued to inspire people around the world.  His belief that others can achieve greatness led to his most recent venture the Generation Ali Global Citizenship Scholarship Program.  This program, due to launch December 7, 2012, is aimed at the millennial generation. According to the Generation Ali site, the program is about “Fostering tomorrow’s leaders to achieve personal greatness, contribute positively to their communities, and change the world for the better.”

According to Alltech, Donald Lassere, president of the Muhammad Ali Center stated, “Muhammad Ali has proven that one person can be a spark that lights the flame of inspiration and change the world. Generation Ali will take up the torch and continue Muhammad’s legacy by inspiring a new generation of leaders to create better lives, better nations, and a better world.”

In order to apply for this program, applicants must

  • Be a high school senior or graduate or post-secondary undergraduate.
  • Plan to enroll or are currently enrolled in full-time undergraduate study at an accredited United States two- or four-year college, university or vocational technical school.
  • U.S. and international students encouraged to apply.

Ali’s Facebook site shows a graphic that mentions $10,000 scholarships. Ali stated, “This is it! The Greatest Scholarship of All Time is here! Start spreading the word. Online application starts December 7th! U.S. and international students encouraged to apply.”

 

When Employers Utilize Employee Background Checks

 

Employers have no shortage of prospective employees in this economy.  In order to determine the best candidates, it is not uncommon for employers to run background checks.   Employeescreen.com reported that there may be some debate over the impact of these checks:  “it’s argued by employers that conducting criminal background checks assists in ultimately ensuring a safer work environment for everyone, reducing negligent hiring and criminal activity in the workplace. From the EEOC’s perspective the increase in criminal background checks for employment could cause discrimination in the hiring process.”

Background checks are in the news right now due to The Supreme Court Case of Vance v. Ball State University.

According to the EEOC, the following shows the likelihood of a job candidate to receive a background check:

  • 91% of financial jobs (banking, etc.) with fiduciary responsibility
  • 46% of senior executive positions
  • 34% of positions that require accessing confidential information (medical, salary, etc.)
  • 30% of positions where there is access to property
  • 11% of positions where state law requires it (day care, medical practitioner)
  • 9% of positions with security responsibilities (security guards)
  • 8% of positions involving national defense
  • 5% of positions that involve safety (transportation operation)
  • 3% of positions that involve contact with children and elderly

When Michael Eastman, (Executive Director of the Labor Law Policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) was asked about when credit checks were performed, he explained, “Different components of applicant background checks occur at different stages in the hiring process. Some employers may check references before an initial interview, some may do so afterward but before creating a final list of candidates. However, as I understand, most employers do not request credit history until the last stage of the hiring process. In other words, employers are not using credit history to compare the credit worthiness of several possible applicants. Instead, they are requesting credit history and potentially other information, on individuals that they are otherwise prepared to hire.”

For more information check out Michael Eastman’s Statement that includes the following issues regarding background checks:

  • Frequency in Use
  • Credit Scores and Information Utilized
  • Dialogue with Applicants
  • Can Credit History Ever be Job Related

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Einstein’s Brain Reveals New Clues to Intelligence

 

In an attempt to understand intelligence, researchers have once again focused their attention on Albert Einstein’s brain.  A study published in a recent issue in the Journal Brain disclosed some new insight as to what made Einstein so intelligent.  In the Red Orbit article Photos of Einstein’s Brain Reveal Areas That May Have Made Him A Genius, Anthropologist Dean Falk from the Florida State University explained, “The overall size and asymmetrical shape of Einstein’s brain were normal. [But] the prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital cortices were extraordinary. These may have provided the neurological underpinnings for some of his visuospatial and mathematical abilities, for instance.”

There have been 14 new photos found of Einstein’s brain that have been evaluated.  The USA Today article Einstein’s Brain: It Was Better Than Yours, explained, “After the photos were taken, the brain itself was cut into 240 separate blocks for analysis, most of which remain at the University Medical Center in Princeton, N.J., where Einstein’s brain was taken after he died.”

In 2009, Odyssey reported that the reason for Einstein’s intelligence may be due to an increase in glia cells.  “Glia help neurons by giving them nutrients and by cleaning up after the mess neurons make when they do their work. Neurons can make electrical signals because they are tiny batteries. Just as in a flashlight battery, the voltage in a neuron is generated by a special salt solution. When a neuron fires an electric pulse, sodium, which is the positively charged partner of the salt known as sodium chloride, flows into the neuron.”

Einstein died from a ruptured aneurism in 1955. He was 76.  An autopsy was performed in Princeton Hospital. According to the Einstein Quarterly article A Brief History of Einstein’s Brain, “Einstein’s brain weighed 1230 grams, well within the range of 1200-1600 grams that is normal for a human male.” Einstein never gave approval to study his brain. Permission came from his family once they were made aware that his brain had been removed and preserved.

The brain is often described in sections, referred to as Brodmann’s areas.  Einstein’s Brodmann area 39 (part of the parietal lobe) showed a statistically significant difference from the average brain.  The parietal lobe may be an important indicator of  intelligence. The latest research has discovered some differences in Einstein’s frontal lobe as well. To find out more about the importance of this lobe, check out the Nova video at the end of this article.

 

Some interesting things about Einstein include:  He had dyslexia as a child; he figured out the theory of relativity in his 20s, he played the violin, and  Einstein had an IQ of 160.

To find out what happened to Einstein’s brain, check out Nova’s video:  How Smart Can We Get

Related Article:

Marketing Based on Personality Type

 

QuantMethod is a site that offers ways to help companies market to customers based upon understanding their personality type.  The Quant Method assessment puts people into 1 out of 4 categories.  According to their site, these types include:

  1. Thinker – “The Thinker likes facts, details, proven examples and is highly organized. Their approach to business is thoughtful, logical and analytical.”
  2. Mastermind – “Masterminds are characterized by a more assertive approach to business. They tend to be fast-paced, results-oriented and get right to the point. They are efficient, logical and task-oriented.”
  3. Olympian – “The Olympian personality type is characterized by an expressive, aggressive approach to business, and aspires to great heights because “everything is possible.” They are emotive and have an easy-going” love of life” approach in her personal dealings.”
  4. Diplomat – “Diplomats are friendly, compassionate, “feeling” people that desire to contribute goodness to the lives of others. They are effective at doing this through their nurturing, insightful and encouraging nature.”

I took the test and I came out as a thinker. I assumed I’d either be that or a mastermind.  The results don’t tell you how close you are to another personality type. The site claims that my results puts me into the same category as George Washington, Michael Caine, Donald Duck, Eliot Ness, and Johnny Carson.  Hmmm … interesting group … especially Donald Duck.  Apparently half of U.S. presidents are “thinkers”.

In the results, it listed tactics about how to appeal to this type of personality in terms of suggested sales tactics.

This company surveys customers to find out their personality type. They claim their instrument is similar to Myers-Briggs MBTI but with 1/6 the size.  The thought process behind this business is that people like to deal with others that are on their same level of thinking.

Time Magazine article Get Personal with Marketing and Net More Sales reported that this Quant Method may be helpful because, “Knowing more about personality types can help you optimize email messages and websites to include specific landing pages with information that the four different personality types like in order increase conversion rates.”

While I find this to be an interesting way to market, it may be difficult to get people to respond to these assessments.  When marketing to a large database, it is not feasible.  I like the concept of targeting to the individual’s needs.  The real trick would be to get people to actually take the assessment.

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Reverse Image Search with Google

 

There is a unique way to look for meanings behind pictures on the Internet.  By simply uploading an image into Images.google.com, the search engine can provide a list of places where that image was obtained.  There are several other ways to find out more about images if you don’t want to upload the file.  You can drag and drop an image into the search box, you can copy and paste the URL of an image and then click the camera icon on the Google images search line, or you can download the Chrome or Firefox extension and right-click an image to search for that image.

Think about going on a vacation, taking a picture and then uploading that image to find out more about the image.  That is one of the things that this site claims can be accomplished. When I put in my Gravitar image, it worked well. However, I uploaded several vacation pictures to see what it would display.  It did not give accurate information.

 

IQ and the Flynn Affect

 

Professor James Flynn is a New Zealand researcher who is known for studying intelligence.  The Flynn Affect refers to, “the substantial and long-sustained increase in intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day. When intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are initially standardized using a sample of test-takers, by convention the average of the test results is set to 100 and their standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. When IQ tests are revised, they are again standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first. Again, the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100.”

There is a debate about whether IQ scores are improving without a corresponding rise in intelligence. There is even conflicting reports that IQ scores are dropping. If they are actually rising, some speculate that there are a number of contributing factors including: education, technology, nutrition, and removal of toxins from the environment.

While countries have made gains of up to 25 points in intelligence, there may be difficulty making comparisons due to testing measures. Some tests are based on fluid intelligence, while others are based on crystalized intelligence.  For explanations about these intelligence tests, check out: The Flynn Affect

David Shenk, author of the article The Truth About IQ explained, “IQ tests measure current academic abilities — not any sort of fixed, innate intelligence. More specifically, the best-known IQ battery, “Stanford-Binet 5,” measures Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory. Collectively, these skills are known as “symbolic logic.” Among other things, IQ tests do not measure creativity; they do not measure “practical intelligence” (otherwise known as “street smarts”); and they do not measure what some psychologists call “emotional intelligence.”

Flynn’s most recent research had some important findings for women.  In the ABC News article Women Beat Men on IQ Tests for the First Time, author Carrie Gann explained, “James Flynn, a New Zealand-based researcher known as an IQ testing expert, said that over the past century, women have lagged slightly behind men in IQ testing scores, at times by as much as five points. But now, Flynn said women have closed the gap and even inched ahead in this battle of the intelligent sexes.”

To find out more information about factors that affect IQ, check out the following articles:

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The Reluctant Extravert

 

The Myers-Briggs MBTI assessment claims it can help determine whether a person is an introvert or an extravert.  According to the official Myers-Briggs site, people know they are an extravert if they think things like, “I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.”

I have received the training to be a qualified Myers-Briggs instructor.  Whenever I have taken the MBTI assessment, my score or preference for extraversion is very high.  According to these results, “I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”  I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.  I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.  I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over. Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.”

Lately I’ve considered that I may be a bit of a reluctant extravert.  Many of these points just do not fit me. I would say that most people that meet me would consider me outgoing.  I do like to talk.  I have a hard time handling “dead air”. I also like to have a lot to do. These are definitely extraverted traits.  However, usually I prefer to avoid being around a lot of people.  Many of the above-listed points do not really describe me at all.  For example, I don’t jump into things without a great deal of thought.

Why would my score come out as having a high preference for extraversion?  In my training, they explained that we can act more introverted or extraverted based on a situation.  I think it can be difficult to lump people into categories or types.  I think Myers-Briggs does it as well as any assessment can.  However, even in the training I received, they acknowledged that we are all different.  No one is always one way or another.  It is about preferences.  Our preference for introversion or extraversion is similar in how we prefer to be right-handed or left-handed.  We might be able to write with both, but we prefer one over the other.  We may be able to be outgoing or not, but we prefer one over the other.

One of the reasons I co-wrote the book It’s Not You It’s Your Personality is because I don’t think any “one” personality assessment can truly explain people.  There are many theories about personality that need exploration. I felt that the Big Five, Management by Strengths, DISC, and other assessments offered some valid insight into people’s personalities. While I highly recommend learning about Myers-Briggs and the MBTI, I also think some of the other assessments are worth researching as well.

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Companies Interested in Supertemps

 

Welcome to the ever-changing corporate environment.  As virtual jobs become popular, so have other non-traditional job types.  The supertemp is gaining popularity in the business world.  What is a supertemp? According to The Harvard Business Review article The Rise of the Supertemp, “Supertemps are top managers and professionals—from lawyers to CFOs to consultants—who’ve been trained at top schools and companies and choose to pursue project-based careers independent of any major firm.”

Entrepreneurial people may find the life of a supertemp to be appealing.  The author of the Forbes article Are You Ready for the Supertemp, explained that Supertemps may “now pick and choose from among many cool, well-paying projects, sometimes obtained through agencies that work with these high-end independents.

What type of people become supertemps? According to the Darton Equation article What is a Supertemp and Why Should You Care , “Supertemps are refugees from big corporations, law firms and consulting firms. Supertemps value the autonomy and flexibility of project-based work. Supertemps find that the compensation is comparable to what they earned in full-time jobs (sometimes even better). Supertemps leave behind endless internal meetings and corporate politics. Supertemps find any stigma on temporary jobs, and the people who chose them, as laughably dated.”

For those interested in becoming a supertemp, check out the CBS article: How to Become a $600K Per Year Supertemp.

Some job sites are now listing Supertemp in their job descriptions.  Check out this University of Virginia Supertemp opening.

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Glass Ceiling Under Magnifying Lens

 

The recent presidential debate brought attention to women in the business world.  The phrase glass ceiling is often used to describe the unofficial barrier to advancement that women may face in the working world.

In the Business Insider article Companies Really Lose Out When They Don’t Promote Women, author Max Nisen explained “Women are still vastly underrepresented at the top of companies. Only 20 percent of private companies have one or more women in the C-suite and only 6.5 percent have a female CEO.”

This information comes from a new study from Dow Jones Venture Source.  The data from this study showed that only “1.3% of privately held companies have a female founder.”  The good news was that “a company’s odds for success (versus unsuccess) increase with more female executives at the VP and director levels.  For start-ups with five or more females, 61% were successful and only 39% failed.” This data brings forth the question of whether companies could benefit from more female executives.

In the article Women Becoming More Successful than Men, it was noted that women are becoming better educated than men. Women are becoming stronger entrepreneurs as well. Forbes recently reported: “As of 2011, it is estimated that there are over 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Overall, women-owned firms have done better than their male counterparts over the past 14 years. The number of men-owned firms (which represent 51% of all U.S. firms) grew by only 25% between 1997 and 2011—half the rate of women-owned firms.”

The Washington Post explained that women’s issues helped shape the debate. Both candidates tried to show their support for women in business.

Business News reported that there are cracks in the glass ceiling as women gain boardroom seats. Though few women occupy boardroom seats, “Overall, growth equaled 1 percentage point in the past year among Fortune 1000 companies, but was larger among companies listed between 501 and 1000 by Fortune. Women made up 13.6 percent of board members at those companies, up 1.2 percentage points in the past year.”

The debates may bring more attention to women in the workplace, create more discussion and cause more than just cracks in the ceiling.

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Do Job Candidates Lie on Personality Tests?

 

Companies often use personality tests like the Myers Briggs MBTI, emotional intelligence EQ-i, or others like the DISC to determine if potential employees’ personalities are a good fit for jobs.  I noticed a conversation about whether companies should use personality tests for screening employees. It seemed that many of the responses indicated that people will just lie to get the job.

There is the possibility that any subjective, self-administered test could be manipulated.  However, many of the tests have built-in detectors that try to catch inconsistent responses.  For those of you who have taken these tests, you may have noticed that it seemed like they asked the same kind of questions more than once.  Many of these tests reword things several different ways to determine consistency.

I took a personality test for a job as a pharmaceutical representative in the early 80’s.  Because it was a sales job, I knew that they were looking for sales-related qualities.  It was common sense to figure out that since I was applying for a sales position, I should use appropriate adjectives like motivated or driven to describe my personality.

The problem with lying on the personality tests is that in the end, you will end up with a job that does not really fit with what makes you happy.  Also the company will end up with an employee that is not the best match for the job.  In this economy, many people are willing to do whatever it takes to get any job.  However, the experienced HR professional should do more than just use a personality test to determine a good candidate.  These tests can be useful tools if used correctly.  However, they are just one of many tools.

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Apple and Other Top 10 Company Financial Statements

 

With all of the reports about the successes and failures of IPOs in 2012, there may be renewed interest in deciphering financial reports.  The follow are explanations of the four major financial statements.

  1. Income Statement:  One of the most important reports for a company is their Income Statement.  This may be referred to as the Statement of Income or the Profit and Loss Statement. This report shows profits and losses over a specific period of time.
  2. Balance Sheet:  The balance sheet is also referred to as the Statement of Financial Position. The balance sheet displays a company’s position at a single moment in time.
  3. Cash Flow Statement:  This may also be referred to as the Statement of Cash Flows. The Cash Flow Statement shows information about how money flows in and out of a business.  This may be helpful in determining the viability of a company.
  4. Statement of Retained Earnings:  This may also be referred to as e Statement of Changes in Equity.  This statement explains the company’s retained earnings over a period of time.  This will be reported under shareholder’s equity on the balance sheet.

The following are examples of the top 10 company financial statements:

Income Statements:

Balance Sheets:

Cash Flow Statements:

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Boomer Entrepreneurs Can’t Retire

 

One of the things entrepreneurs plan for is the time that they will eventually sell their company.  Currently many older business owners have found it difficult to reap the anticipated rewards of retirement. As the author of the Entrepreneur Exit Strategies for your Business pointed out, “it’s not enough to build a business worth a fortune; you have to make sure you have an exit strategy, a way to get the money back out.” If businesses were once very successful, the economy may have impacted their current worth.  Even with what may once have been considered a strong exit strategy, plans may have been affected by the economic downturn.

Boomers trying to sell their businesses are receiving offers that are not enough to finance their retirement.  In the Wall Street Journal article The Economy Stole My Retirement, it noted that one small business owner expected to sell for $2 million but recent losses from the recession has made that impossible.  She now has seen offers as low as $250,000.

Business owners who had planned to travel and relax in their golden years are now spending 10-12 hours a day or more working to salvage companies.  Some have no foreseeable chance of selling in the future.  Many have put all of their money into their businesses and would have to live only on social security if they let the businesses fail.

While it is admirable to have high expectations for an entrepreneurial venture, it is the wise business owner who does not keep all of his or her eggs in one basket.  Just as Enron employees learned the hard way, it is not a good idea to have all of your money invested in the company in which you work.  If the company goes under, people not only lose their jobs but their life savings as well.

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Companies Jump through Hoops to Please Millennials

Sixty Minutes did a great show on the millennial generation titled The Millennials Are Coming.  In that report, they explained how Generation Y or millennials are unique in their expectations at work.

The Wall Street Journal’s article Firms Bow to Generation Y’s Demands continues to explore how companies are offering incentives and jumping through hoops to keep millennials happy.  This has become a problem for older employees who feel this is inappropriate.

Companies are bowing to younger generations’ needs because, “they bring fresh skills to the workplace: they’re tech-savvy, racially diverse, socially interconnected, and collaborative. Moreover, companies need to keep employee pipelines full as baby boomers entire retirement.”

Companies like Aprimo are dangling the carrot of the probability of a one-year promotion to attract talent.  Their OnTrack program, launched in 2005, has had 100% of participates receive promotions and increased salaries within a year.

Companies are witnessing personality conflicts within the workplace because boomers may view that millennials receive special treatment.  “Boomers often gripe about their younger colleagues as arrogant kids who don’t know how to dress appropriately, deal with customers or close deals.”

The key to handling multiple generations within the workplace may revolve around understanding individual personality preferences. To find out more about personality types in the workplace check out:  It’s Not You It’s Your Personality:  Skills to Survive and Thrive in the Modern Workplace.

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Entrepreneurs Finding Unique Ways to Create Business Plans

 

Entrepreneurs are faced with many challenges when creating a new business.  One of those challenges is to create a feasibility study and business plan.  Entrepreneur.com had a very interesting article about how businesses could utilize some unique ways to help create a business plan.  In the article Should You Create Your Business Plan on Pinterest, author Tim Berry created a sample Pinterest business plan based on a bicycle shop business.  He used charts created by LivePlan.

Berry admits, “The images don’t really tie together, but if this were an actual business plan, they would.”  The point is to show that a plan could be created with the help of a site like Pinterest. He explained, “The complete plan should be a collection of interrelated modules that lay out the goals of the business, the steps to achieve those goals, specific tasks and responsibilities, important milestones and dates, and basic metrics, including projected sales, costs, expenses, profits and cash flow. The business plan’s function is to help entrepreneurs manage better, optimize resources and steer the business into the future. Its form is supposed to follow function, so if you’re looking for a collection of visual images that summarize the plan, Pinterest is a perfectly reasonable platform to use.”

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Texting Offers Latest Marketing Opportunity

As mobile phones have taken over the way people communicate, it is a natural progression for texting to become a marketing opportunity.  In the Wall Street Journal article Teen Stores Try Texts as Gr8 Nu Way to Reach Out, author Christina Binkley explained, “Like many parents who have turned to texting to reach their teens, some youth-oriented fashion brands like Charlotte Russe, Claire’s Boutique and Vans are finding that young people are most accessible by text.”

Texting now can include more rich content, pictures and video.  Marketers can send shopping passes, discounts, and offers.  Rather than merely being a vehicle for chat, texting now offers a way to get customers to opt in and avoid illegal lists or spam.  Customers can selectively pick who they would like to receive offers from, which leads to a higher chance of the sales message being received.  The article stated, “People are five times more likely to open a text than an email.  Five billion people text on mobile phones, while about two billion people use the Internet.”

This new form of communication has increased the speed of receiving offers and acting upon them.  There is immediacy due to the ability to send messages that state things like “get 10% off if purchased within the next 3 hours.”

One of the hardest parts is to get people to opt in to receive the texts.  Retails often post signs to ask customers to opt in by texting short codes.  For more information, check out Top Links Explaining SMS and Short Codes.

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The Ethics of Google

“Don’t Be Evil” is Google’s informal corporate slogan. The founders of Google claimed that this motto explained their culture that “prohibited conflicts of interest, and required objectivity and an absence of bias.” According to Google’s code of conduct page this slogan is, “about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it’s also about doing the right thing more generally – following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect.”

Can Google do business in an ethical manner if they allow for people to search for unethical content? Laws may decide what is legal, but who decides what is unethical or evil?

Every day someone searches for how to do something illegal and/or unethical through utilizing Google’s search engine. How much content should Google censor?  The following articles address Google censorship issues:

U.S. News reported, “The company is based in the United States, and thus must comply with U.S. laws. As a part of its policy, Google already censors things like child pornography, and complies with copyright infringement requests (a heavy volume of which come from videos uploaded on YouTube). Yet because services such as YouTube and Blogger are popular around the world, the company must decide to what extent it will remove content deemed illegal or offensive to foreign governments.”

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Sheldon Cooper is in an EQ Stupor

 

The Big Bang Theories’ Sheldon Cooper is a classic example of why it is important to have a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). In the TV sitcom, Sheldon demonstrates what it is like to have a high IQ without a corresponding high EQ.  Daniel Goleman wrote about why this may be problematic in his book Emotional Intelligence:  Why it can Matter More than IQ.

Sheldon is a very intelligent human being. This is something that he constantly points out to nearly everyone he meets.  However, his high IQ is not tempered with interpersonal skills. Having strong intrapersonal and interpersonal skills are an important part of having a well-developed EQ.   Sheldon may be an over-exaggeration of someone that lacks these skills, but we have all met book-smart people who just do not seem to understand how to interact with others.

Some companies’ yearly performance reviews may consider how employees demonstrate  “concern for impact”.  In other words, the company want employees to be aware of how they came across to other people.  Any employee that has to deal with other people on a daily basis must learn to see themselves as other see them. What may seem as perfectly acceptable behavior to an individual may come across as offensive to someone else.  Companies are placing more importance on developing individuals’ EQ levels and hiring people that have already developed interpersonal skills.

Sheldon is almost robotic in his lack of people skills.  He does things because he has been taught that “it is the social convention” to do so.  For people who see any part of their personality in the Sheldon character, I recommend reading Goleman’s book.  I also think that it is important to read books about how to improve EQ levels.  There are some sites on the Internet that help people improve emotional intelligence.  Check out the following links:

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Patients Unknowingly Risk Their Lives with Fake Meds from Canada

 

Patients who obtain medications from Canadian-based suppliers may be risking their lives. Avastin is a legitimate drug used for cancer patients. Some fake Avastin drug has been discovered in the U.S.  It made its way here from Canada.  Although it originated from Turkey, it traveled through several middlemen.  U.S. citizens bought it from a Canadian pharmaceutical supplier. According to the Wall Street Journal article How Fake Cancer Drugs Entered the U.S., Kris Thorkelson’s Canada Drugs Group of Cos sold two batches of fake Avastin to doctors in the United States.

In my 15 years as a pharmaceutical sales representative, I sat through a number of speeches from company leaders regarding the dangers of obtaining medications from outside of the U.S.  My Arizona territory was close to Mexico. Therefore, I heard a lot of stories about patients going across the border to get cheaper medications.  Mexico seemed a little scary to some people due to the economy and developing nature of the country.  Therefore, later, Canada seemed to be the place people went to get a “good deal” on pricing.

Canada used to be able to obtain good medications more easily.  However the Wall Street Journal explained that, “by 2003, big drug makers seeking to protect their U.S. sales shut online pharmacies out of the Canadian supply chain, forcing them to seek supplies elsewhere.” It was at that point that pharmacies like Canada Drugs Group started looking to foreign countries to obtain medications.  Some of these countries do not have the strict guidelines that we have here in the U.S.

The sad thing about this particular case is that many cancer patients may have received fake medications that could cost them serious health issues.  The fake medication contained no active ingredient to help fight patients’ cancer.  The Wall Street Journal article cited a New York oncologist who claimed, “People who receive a fake medication instead of Avastin could have lost several months of their lives.”

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Marketers Use Retina-Tracking and Facial-Scanning Devices

 

The latest technological advances have allowed for marketers to perform experiments that used to be the things only considered in science fiction.   Shoppers may soon have their retinas and facial expressions scanned to determine their product preferences.  Although these scans are not available on the grocery store shelf, they have been used in product research.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Kimberly-Clark’s researchers used computer screens outfitted with retina-tracking cameras when testing the newest packaging for its Viva paper towels in 2009. Their goal was to find which designs got noticed in the first 10 seconds a shopper looked at a shelf—a crucial window when products are recognized and placed in the shopping cart. They also wanted to know if the preferences held up on different count packages, from single rolls to multipacks.”

Researchers have found that they may obtain more accurate data this way than through the use of traditional surveys.  The retina-tracking devices are useful because the human eye can detect information very quickly.  It’s not just our eyes that can give marketers important information.  Some companies have used brain scans to determine product preferences.  Now with facial recognition software, even more customer data can be compiled as companies can “track involuntary facial expressions to gauge true emotional reaction.”

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10 Top Links to Explain Social CRM

 

Organizations use technology to keep track of customers’ information.  The hope is to build relationships with current and potential customers.  This is referred to as customer relationship management or CRM.  Social media has changed the way companies handle customer relationships.  The following is a compilation of some of the top sources that I have found regarding how social media has impacted CRM:

  1. How Social Media CRM Affects ROI
  2. Don’t Cold Call – Social Call
  3. Facebook is the Future of CRM
  4. Search Engine Marketing:  Effects on CRM and Online Exposure
  5. How Social Media is Changing CRM
  6. Connection Between Social Networks and Cloud Computing
  7. The Impact of Social Media on CRM
  8. Social Network Management Enhances Customer Relationship
  9. How QR Codes Affect Cloud CRM
  10. Empirical Study of Social Network Effects on CRM

As social networking changes and grows, organizations must keep up with those changes in order to remain competitive.  The company that does not create a Facebook page or is not on Twitter, may lose out to companies that have taken advantage of these sites.  There are unique ways to utilize these social networks.  British Airways uses online surveys for customer satisfaction.  Burberry launched a fragrance with Facebook, Salesforce.com and Twitter.

To find out more about social networking and CRM, check out a video by Salesforce.com titled:   What is Social CRM.  Paul Greenberg defines Social CRM as, “a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, process, and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment.  Social CRM is the company’s response to customers’ ownership of the conversation.”

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Basics Every New Home Buyer Should Know

 

It may not be as easy to purchase a new home in today’s real estate market.  I teach real estate courses, I have a real estate license, and I spent years working in the lending industry.  Because of that, people often ask me about what a home buyer should know about the process.

When I was a loan officer, the market was considerably better.  First time home buyers had more options.  Currently banks are hesitant to lend and buyers need to come up with more funds on their own.  In the past, it wasn’t unusual for banks to lend at least 95% of the cost of the home. Now it isn’t unusual for banks to only cover 80% of the cost.  FHA loans offer higher percentages but the amount you can borrow is limited.

Getting the Loan

As a loan officer, I did a lot of first time home buyer seminars.  At those seminars, people had a lot of questions about the home-buying process.  A big part of what they wanted to know was how their credit score affected their ability to get a loan.

A person’s credit score is extremely important in the loan process.  The score alone does not dictate whether you will get the loan, but it is a big piece of the puzzle.  Banks will also look at your work history, income and how much money you have for the down payment.

If you have a poor credit history, it doesn’t mean that will hurt you forever.  As time goes by, your poor credit history fades if you do the right things and is replaced with good payment history.  Your credit score should not vary that much from month to month.  However, if you have had late house payments in the past or a bankruptcy, it can drop your score more quickly than other things.  Improving your score takes longer than hurting your score.  It isn’t common under normal circumstances for a score to change 20 points in a few months’ time.

That is why it is important to periodically check your credit report and contact the credit agencies if there is incorrect information on it.  There are three main credit agencies:  Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

If you report an error to these agencies, they must investigate it and respond to you within 30 days.  Sometimes certain information will show up on one agency report and not on another.  In order to get information removed from all of them, you need to contact all of them.  Don’t assume that because you take care of contacting one agency, that the others will be corrected automatically.

Your score is sometimes referred to as a FICO score, which stands for Fair Isaac and Co., the software company that developed the score.  In order to have a FICO score, you must have at least one account that has been open for 6 months or longer.  Also, there has to be one account that has been updated in the past 6 months.  The higher your score, the better risk you are and the more likely a bank will lend you money.

There are 5 main categories of information that are taken into account in determining your FICO score:

•           Payment history accounts for about 35 percent of the score.  Do you pay your bills on time?  Are there any collections or bankruptcies? Bankruptcies will stay on a report for seven to ten years, depending on the type.

•           Amounts owed accounts for about 30% of the score.  How much do you pay on your accounts? How high of a balance do you have?  How much of the credit granted do you actually taken advantage of?

•           Length of credit history accounts for about 15%. How long have your credit accounts been established?

•           New credit accounts for about 10%.  How many recent requests for credit do you have?

•           Type of credit accounts for 10%.  What kind of credit mix do you have?  Do you have credit cards, retail cards, mortgages, etc?  You don’t have to have all types, and it isn’t a good idea to have accounts that you don’t use.  However, it is worse to close an account that you don’t use than to leave it.

Here are some tips you can use to raise your credit score:

•           Pay on time.

•           If you missed payments, get current.

•           Paying off a collection doesn’t remove it from your report, though it does improve your score.

•           Contact creditors if you are having trouble making payments to see if they can help you.

•           Don’t maximize how much you take out on your accounts. Keep balances as low as possible.

•           Don’t move debt around unless it means you’ll be getting a lower interest rate. You still owe the same amount of money.

•           Don’t think closing unused cards will raise your score.

•           Don’t open a lot of cards just to have available credit.

•           Don’t open too many new accounts too quickly.

•           If you have had problems, re-establish new credit history.

•           Check out your credit score from time to time.

•           Only get new credit cards as needed.

•           Manage the cards you have responsibly.

•           A closed account will still show up on your credit report.

When people came to me to apply for a loan, I would ask them if I could run their credit.  That is what you can expect a loan officer to do as well.  They have to know what your credit is in order to know if you will qualify for the loan.  Although many people are worried that their credit will affect their credit score, one inquiry will take less than 5 points off of their score.  Rate-sopping can cause multiple requests on a report, but as long as the inquiries are within a 14-da6 period, it will only count as one inquiry as far as points taken off.  Also the score ignores all inquiries made during the 30 days prior to scoring, so if you find a loan within 30 days, those inquiries will not affect your score while you are shopping.

What is a good score?  Traditionally lenders usually liked to see at least 620 to get better rates.  Scores over 700 sometimes can get even better rates.  If your score was under 620, you could still get a loan, but you would pay a higher interest rate.  The numbers change as programs change, but it is a good idea to try and keep scores as high as possible.

Once you get into a house and have house payments to make, whatever you do, do not be late on it.  That is one of the worst things you can do to your credit.  Should you be late with a house payment, the next time you go for a home loan, the bank is less likely to forget that tardiness than a late credit card payment.  Having one late house payment in the last 12 months prior to applying for a home loan can severely affect your ability to qualify for a home loan.  If you have a 30 day late payment in the last year, you will have to pay a higher interest rate on your new loan, which could cost you many thousands of dollars.  Many lenders offer automatic withdrawal from your checking account.  If you have problems remembering to pay your payments, I highly recommend calling your bank and signing up for that service.

Finding the Agent

The first part of the home-buying process is actually getting pre-approved for the home loan.  It is only after you have received that, that you can actually start looking for a home.  If you don’t have a real estate agent, you might ask your lender to recommend someone.

Another good place to find an agent is by asking friends and family.  If they haven’t really had a chance to use anyone yet, you might drive through neighborhoods where you are interested in buying and see if there are any signs up of agents in the area.  If you see several signs with a certain agents name on it, it probably means they know the area well and may be a good person to contact.

Remember you do not need to stay with a real estate agent or loan officer that you do not like.  You have the right to drop them.  They are working for you and if they make you feel uncomfortable or aren’t responsive, you should exercise your right to pick someone else.

The good news about being the home buyer is that the home seller is the one who pays the real estate agent.  Your agent will receive a commission for helping you but it will not have to come from you.

Protecting Yourself

There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself in the home-buying process.  Your agent should help you with home inspections and direct you to appropriate insurance agents if you don’t have one.

The Important Things to Remember

Here is the minimum you should know about Home Buying and Renting:

•           If you can afford to buy, there are tax advantages over renting.

•           Understand what constitutes a FICO score.

•           Fix any bad things you have on your FICO score by contacting all 3 credit agencies.

•           Get preapproved for a loan before ever looking at homes.

•           Find a real estate agent through referral or through checking out neighborhoods where you are interested in buying.

•           If you don’t feel comfortable with your agent, get a new one.

•           Remember the home buyer does not have to pay the real estate agent.

•           Protect yourself with home inspections and insurance.

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LinkedIn vs. Facebook IPO Success

 

LinkedIn’s recent IPO performance appears to have crushed the perception of big named company IPOs from Facebook, Yelp, Zynga, Groupon and Pandora. Based on their recent closing price, LinkedIn is up 141%. According to BusinessInsider Linkedin is, “the best-performing IPO this year by a huge margin. The next closest competitor, Bankrate, is up about 28 percent from its initial public offering.”

Timing may have been a factor for LinkedIn’s success. They have also seen consistent growth in unique visitors. Investors waiting for highly anticipated IPOs like Facebook may have helped increase the success of LinkedIn as well.

Although Facebook has had a lot of negative press regarding its IPO, CBS news reported that Facebook’s IPO was actually a success. CBS explained, “LinkedIn (LNKD) shares popped from the start in the professional networking company’s 2011 IPO and more than doubled in the first few days.”  Investment bankers made a bundle. This led people to think Facebook had been a flop. However, CBS author Allan Roth explained, “my definition of a successful launch of a new publicly traded stock doesn’t rest on how much money the investment bankers make. It rests on how close the offering price is to where the stock actually trades. The fact that Facebook shares closed at nearly their offering price tells me that that investors thought it was fairly priced. That’s pretty amazing, in my view, given all the hype over Facebook.”

Colin Lokey from SeekingAlpha explained that when comparing Facebook to Linkedin, fundamentals show that Linkedin is overvalued. Lokey warned, “Investors should of course, keep in mind that the fact that LinkedIn is far too expensive doesn’t mean Facebook is fairly valued at half of LinkedIn’s price.”  Prices have been affected by the recent Facebook IPO. Yahoo’s Finance writer Jeff Macke did not share Lokey’s opinion on pricing when he stated, “Linkedin stock has been dragged down over the last few weeks by the undercurrent of the Facebook Titanic.” He sees LinkedIn as a “screaming buy”.

Only time will tell how well LinkedIn and Facebook will perform. BizJournals recently quoted Linkedin’s CFO Steve Sordello about the importance of a company’s IPO results. “”An IPO is a one-time event, and what really matters is the long term. If it rains on your wedding day, you’re going to remember it rained but it’s not going to influence the marriage.”

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Self-Publishing with CreateSpace

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  I am interested in self-publishing a book.  Can you tell me about your experience with self-publishing and things you have done to market your books?

That is a good question and one that I often receive.  Check out my previous posting:  How to Publish or Self-Publish Your Book.  I used Createspace for self-publishing.  I had a great experience with them. They are affiliated with Amazon.  The site offers different options based on authors’ needs.  Some of those options included:

  • Do-it-yourself tools to design interiors and covers
  • Comprehensive design and editing
  • Expanded distribution options

I found that the company was very responsive to my questions.  They took my design ideas and gave me a couple of covers to choose from based on my input.

Createspace is not limited to book publishing. They also work with musicians and filmmakers.

Once your book is published, and available on Amazon, you will then have the ability to create an Amazon author page.  That author page can incorporate links from your blog. Authors also have the option of making their books available on Amazon’s Europe-based site.

There are plenty of books that can help increase your sales on Amazon’s site.  One book that I thought was pretty useful was: Aiming at Amazon.

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What You Should Know About Push Notifications

 

Anyone who has installed iPad or iPhone apps has probably seen the notification: “Would Like to Send You Push Notifications” (with the options of don’t allow or OK).  IpadAcademy.com explains, “Push notifications are a way for an app to send information to your iPad or iPhone even when you aren’t using the app.”  If you’ve noticed the number of email listed on your email icon, that is there due to a push notification.  That notification reminds you that you have mail without making you actually open up the application.

IOS (Apple’s system) is not the only one that utilizes push notifications.  Android and Windows smartphones also use them.  Check out:  Not all Push Created Equal.

Apple’s IOS system provides 3 types of push notifications.  To manage these notifications for an iPad or iPhone, you “Go to Settings > Notifications to choose the apps you want to receive notifications from. You can also select what form you’d like the notice to take – sound, badge, alert or banner, depending on the options the app includes.”  For more help, check out:  IOS:  Understanding Push Notifications.

Some push notifications may be very useful.  However, TheNextWeb explained push notifications need to be smarter.  Having the ability to adjust how they work may need to be adjusted.  Lifehacker explained that push notifications may not be the best thing.  In the article You Should Forget About Push Notifications for Your Email, author Adam Pash stated, “the vibrating pulse in your pocket indicating the arrival of a new email; the unpredictable “ding” from your desktop’s email notification; these things are killing your focus and destroying your ability to work to your capacity.”

Push notifications are an effective marketing tool. Check out the following video explaining why:

MobileMarketer warned that apps need to be pushy but not too pushy to be effective. “ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL is not an effective strategy in any marketing channel. An effective push notification strategy should maximize the likelihood of message relevance and a beneficial value exchange between brand and customer.”

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New Study Investigated if Shoes Reveal Personality Type

 

 

They say you can’t judge a book from its cover but can you judge someone’s personality by his or her shoes?  That is something that researchers considered in a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality.  “Participants provided photographs of their shoes, and during a separate session completed self-report measures. Coders rated the shoes on various dimensions, and these ratings were found to correlate with the owners’ personal characteristics. A new group of participants accurately judged the age, gender, income, and attachment anxiety of shoe owners based solely on the pictures. Shoes can indeed be used to evaluate others, at least in some domains.”

Boston.com reported, “researchers asked 63 undergraduate students to look at more than 200 photos of favorite shoes that were submitted by fellow students and to rate the wearers personalities, whether they were clingy or detached in their relationships, and whether their political ideology was liberal or conservative.” Although respondents guessed that liberals wore less attractive or less stylish shoes, that wasn’t the reality.  Another misconception was that attractive people with well-kept shoes were more conscientious.  Self-assessments proved otherwise.  “Some of the conclusions drawn, however, were fairly obvious: Attractive and stylish shoes were correctly correlated with a higher income.”

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Entrepreneurs: Crowdfunding Options from Fundable

 

Crowdfunding is the latest buzz word in entrepreneurial lending. Fundable is a new company that offers “crowdfunding for startup companies”.  Crowdfunding occurs when people network through the internet to raise money to support other people’s ideas or interests. Fundable’s site allows entrepreneurs to raise capital through crowdfunding activities.  Fundable’s site states, “Startups create a funding profile that provides an overview of their company, their fundraising goals, and the rewards they are willing to provide potential backers. Thereafter, they reach out to their personal networks as well as the broader Fundable community to enlist their support.”

 

Backers may pledge money and/or offer assistance.  Fundable mixes Kickstarter-style and equity-based crowdfunding.  Fundable shares similarities to Kickstarter, in that the process involves all-or-nothing funding.  Goals must be met in order to receive the funds and there is no limit to the amount of money that may be raised. Scribd.com explained that there are differences between Fundable and Kickstarter.  “Fundable will seek to fund for-profit companies, while Kickstarter is all about creative projects, like literature, movies and the like.”

 

With the recent push for Obama’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, Fundable may be able to take advantage of the crowdfunding law to solicit funds online from unaccredited investors.  However, Mashable explained, “Crowdfunding legislation is so new that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hasn’t set rules for it and Fundable needs to be approved by the SEC as a broker/dealer before it can handle investments. In the meantime, the company is focusing on offering rewards-based deals — which makes it look, for the time being, like a less-populated version of Kickstarter.”

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Using Giant QR Codes on Cars to Promote Business

 

QR codes may offer sales people a new way to advertise.  Real estate agents are known to put company and contact information on cars as a form of advertisement.  Agents have even begun using QR codes on the “for sale” signs. Interested buyers can scan information about the home instantaneously into his or her cell phone.

Now that QR codes are on just about everything, why not make them into a magnetic attachment for an automobile?  Chevy has already used QR codes on automobiles to promote car sales. “The vehicles are currently undergoing Southern California road testing, so the displayed QR codes will allow consumers to get a closer look at this vehicle even before it is available for sale.”

 

How big can a QR code be?  Check out the 10,000 square foot QR code made that can be viewed from 2 miles up in the sky.

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Difference between Feasibility Study and Business Plan

 

Entrepreneurs face many challenges when creating a new venture.  Although the business plan is one of the most well-known documents, the feasibility study may be just as important.  Before the entrepreneur can seek funding, he or she must demonstrate that the idea is truly a good one.

Rochester.edu explained that a feasibility study, “can be defined as a controlled process for identifying problems and opportunities, determining objectives, describing situations, defining successful outcomes, and assessing the range of costs and benefits associated with several alternatives for solving a problem.”

In order to create a feasibility study, entrepreneurs need to define dimensions of business viability including:  market viability, technical viability, business model viability, management model viability, economic and financial model viability, and exit strategy viability.

A good outline for a feasibility study includes:

  • Introduction
  • Product or Service
  • Technology
  • Market Environment
  • Competition
  • Industry
  • Business Model
  • Market and Sales Strategy
  • Production Operations Requirements
  • Management and Personnel Requirements
  • Regulations and Environmental Issues
  • Critical Risk Factors
  • Financial Predictions Including:  Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement, Break Even Analysis, and Capital Requirements
  • Conclusion

A feasibility study is not the same thing as a business plan.  The feasibility study would be completed prior to the business plan.  The feasibility study helps determine whether an idea or business is a viable option.  The business plan is developed after the business opportunity is created.  StrategicBusinessTeam.com explained, “A feasibility study is carried out with the aim of finding out the workability and profitability of a business venture. Before anything is invested in a new business venture, a feasibility study is carried out to know if the business venture is worth the time, effort and resources. A feasibility study is filled with calculations, analysis and estimated projections while a business plan is made up of mostly tactics and strategies to be implemented in other to grow the business.”

While it may seem the feasibility study is similar in many ways to the business plan, it is important to keep in mind that the feasibility study is developed prior to the venture.  StrategicBusinessStream pointed out that “a feasibility study can readily be converted to a business plan.”  It’s important to think of the business plan in terms of growth and sustainability and the feasibility study in terms of idea viability.

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Brain Implants: Is the Matrix Becoming Reality?

 

Intelligence has been defined by many, yet completely understood by few.  In Jeff Hawkin’s book On Intelligence, he explained that the way computers process information is not the same way a brain may process information.  This led to his life-long desire to better understand what he referred to as real intelligence.  He explained that human intelligence is far different from artificial intelligence.

The transfer of data from machine to man is not as easy as movies have led the public to believe. In the Matrix, megabytes of data were simply uploaded into the human brain.  This data then allowed for increased knowledge and abilities. In the past, this was just fun science fiction.

However, now neural implants linking our brains to machines have become a reality. In a study published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, microchips were inserted into rats’ brains with wires threaded to their hippocampus. This has been a major study in the area of artificial working memory.

 

Samsung has also been working on developing a technology that strategically implants electrodes into the human brain called Implantable Medical Devices (IMDs). IMDs could monitor a person’s psychological and pathological state. It may even be able to notify emergency personnel if necessary.

Researchers are gaining new insight as to how the brain processes language through the use of a new technology that translates brain activity into words. The Guardian reported that “devices could transform the lives of thousands of people who lose the ability to speak as a result of a stroke or other medical conditions.”

While humans have used their brains to control prosthetic robotic arms, new technology used on monkeys has focused on gaining even more dexterity down to the finer movements at the level of fingers.  Scientists hope that brain implants can eventually be of great help to people with paralysis. The Daily News reported that recent studies showed that monkeys with electrodes implanted in their brains and arms were able to grasp and move the ball despite having had their hand anaesthetised.

While science may not be at the Matrix level yet, there have been strides made in research.  Hawkins predicted in his 2004 book, that this decade could be the time that truly intelligent devices/machines are created that may make an important difference for mankind.

Samsung thinks up mind-reading brain implant(news.cnet.com)

Euphemisms, Metaphors, Clichés, Oxymorons and More

If you do not know the definition of some of the words in this title, you are not alone.  Although many of these things are used in every day conversation, many people may look puzzled if you ask them to define them.

 

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Today’s Organizations Embracing Virtual Business

 

Traditional brick and mortar businesses may become a thing of the past.  Today’s modern workplace has embraced the virtual environment.  In Managing Innovation by Tidd and Bessant (2009), the authors explained, “virtual organizations are increasingly a feature of the business landscape.”  In the article Virtual Organizations, the author noted, “The ultimate goal of the virtual organization is to provide innovative, high-quality products or services instantaneously in response to customer demands.”

Amazon is an excellent example of an organization that has pioneered virtual business.  Other successful organizations include:  e-Bay, Zappos, and Netflix.  There are some businesses that may not initially seem to be virtual organizations. Jet Blue is one of those companies.  In an article by Cisco Press titled, Defining the Virtual Business and Its Benefits, the authors explain how Jet Blue reduced inventory through standardization, reduced real estate expenses, and allowed employees to work from home.

In the book The Virtual Organization by Davidow, the author explained that virtual products may exist before it is even produced. “Its concept, design, and manufacture are stored in the minds of cooperating teams, in computers, and in flexible production lines.”

To find out more about virtual organizations’ background, characteristics, challenges, and future potential, check out Virtual Organizations.

 

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Facebook Recognizes Importance of E-Commerce

 

Companies are able to increase global reach through e-commerce (short for electric-commerce).  E-commerce occurs when products and/or services are sold over the Internet. Some examples of e-commerce include:  Online shopping, electronic payments, online auctions, internet banking, and online ticketing. E-commerce may be business-to-business, business-to-consumer, or consumer-to-consumer.

Facebook recently acquired Tagtile to grow e-commerce business. Tagtile is a company that is designed to keep customers engaged and motivated to continue to frequent a company’s website. This will help add to their strong advertising revenue. Zdnet stated, “Facebook needs to be able to bundle a solution to sell to brands who want to tap into Facebook’s store of data for closer customer connections. It needs to find an alternative revenue stream to keep its shareholders happy as it builds its e-commerce offerings post IPO.”

To find out more statistics about e-commerce, check out Statista’s site. Statista is a website that provides some important statistics available on the internet. Statista “provides business customers and academic institutions with an innovative and intuitive tool for the research of quantitative data, statistics, and facts.”

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Big Business Embracing Entrepreneurial Thinking

 

Wal-Mart recently inspired an unusual entrepreneurial competition. Inventors could submit product ideas, with the hope of having their product available on the stores’ shelves.  Wal-Mart is not the first company to recognize the importance of fostering creativity in unusual ways. In college-level innovation and entrepreneurship courses, one of the things students learn is that organizations place a high value on entrepreneurial thinking.

Wal-Mart initially created the entrepreneurial contest  to create buzz in social media.  The popularity of the promotion led to some creative ideas by inventors who sought attention for their creations. The Wall Street Journal reported that the winner would have the opportunity to sell on Wal-Mart.com as well as in the physical stores.

The idea of organizations recognizing the importance of entrepreneurial talents is becoming more popular.  Check out some of the following articles that demonstrate the value of entrepreneurship in the modern workplac

  1. Forbes: A Growing Startup Should Hire Only Entrepreneurs
  2. Bloomberg:  Need Innovation? Hire an Entrepreneur
  3. Economic Times:  Top IT Companies Hiring Failed Entrepreneurs
  4. Google Hires Digg Entrepreneur
  5. Andrew Hamilton: Large Companies and Entrepreneurs Can Work Well Together
  6. Companies Hiring Entrepreneurs for Innovation
  7. UC Will Hire Entrepreneur to Set up Companies
  8. Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Large Companies
  9. Leveraging Dynamics Between Large Companies and Entrepreneurs
  10. Entrepreneurs Organization

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Entrepreneurs: Funding Options from Kickstarter

 

Entrepreneurs often find that one of the hardest parts of realizing their dream is to obtain financing.  Some have tried microlending sites like Kiva.org.  Others have discovered a new lending platform called Kickstarter.  The site’s tagline is “a new way to fund and follow creativity.”

Kickstarter describes its site as the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.  This unique site allows entrepreneurs to keep ownership and control over their work while tens of thousands of people pledge millions of dollars to help finance their creative ideas.  The idea must reach its funding goal or no money changes hands.  Entrepreneurs that receive their anticipated funds, can test concepts without risk.

Kickstarter’s Blog offers advice to those interested in creating a new project. The site allows for people to browse current ideas or to create their own.  To begin a new project dedicated to film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and more, creators can check out Kickstarter school.

Once a project is listed on the site, it displays timeline and pledge information including:  Percent Funded, Amount Pledged, Number of Days Left to Receive Funds.  The picture displayed below demonstrates some examples listed on Kickstarter’s site.  On the site’s curated page, it lists “projects curated by some of the world’s foremost creative communities.” The site also allows users to view projects by staff picks, most popular, recently launched, ending soon, small projects, most funded, as well as by category and location.

 

For additional help with the entrepreneurial process, check out the Top 30 Links for the Successful Entrepreneur.  

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Top Entrepreneurial Topics and Value of SBA

 

Are entrepreneurs made or born?  That is just one of the topics addressed in The Wall Street Journal’s report about Entrepreneurs and the Small Business Administration.  The Small Business Administration is one of the first sources my entrepreneurial students consider when asked where they would obtain funds for their venture. Check out some very interesting debates about six small-business issues:

The article about whether entrepreneurs are made or born is something that is discussed in several of my courses.  The above graphic demonstrates some of the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.  This discussion creates an interesting debate considering some very talented entrepreneurs dropped out of school.  However, as noted in this article, there is a lot to be gained from education as well as from real life experience.

For more comprehensive information about how to be a successful entrepreneur, check out:  Top 30 Links for the Successful Entrepreneur.

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A Day in the Life of an Online Professor

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane Question:  I noticed you work for a lot of universities.  I’m considering working for several universities as well and I am curious what is your typical day like?

Answer:  My days vary, based on how many classes I teach.  I like to teach between 10-15 courses at a time.  I also serve as chair for 10 doctoral students and work on 5-10 doctoral committees.  Additionally I take courses to keep up with technology, education, etc. A typical day usually includes about 8-9 hours of grading papers, providing feedback, responding to discussions/emails, guiding doctoral students with dissertations, and developing curriculum.

I usually look at one school’s information at a time. However, I may have several school sites open at once, if my computer or the site is running slowly.  It helps that schools have different due dates for assignments.  For example, one school may require a “deliverable” or an assignment to be due on Mondays.  Another may have assignments due on Fridays, etc.  Usually it works out that all of the big assignments are spread out over the week.  However, most of them have discussions going on that I respond to on a daily basis. I will go to a school’s site to handle all email, questions, discussion responses, and grade any submitted assignments.  I do the same for the next school, and so on, until I have responded to every single item.  I do not stop working until everything is graded.   Most schools allow instructors a week to grade papers. I do not like to make students wait. If someone has submitted an assignment, I grade it as soon as I log on that day.

On weekends, less homework seems to be assigned, so I work less hours.  I probably work around 3-4 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays.  I do not usually take any days off, but that is not required. Schools usually require 5 or 6 days of work per week.  The nice thing about working as an adjunct is that you can decide how many courses you can handle. You can start off  with just a few and add more if you find you have the time.

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Pharmaceutical Job Candidates: Stand Out With CMR

 

The pharmaceutical job market is extremely competitive.  One way for potential applicants to stand out from the crowd is to become a Certified Medical Representative (CMR).  The Certified Medical Representative Institute has recently launched a pre-hire program, designed for someone interested in entering the biopharmaceutical arena. The program is designed to provide basic knowledge that would help make someone a better candidate or provide deeper knowledge to enhance their abilities in a potential position.

When I obtained my CMR, I found that the training was excellent.  Adding the CMR designation to my business card also demonstrated that I had received training that went above and beyond the industry standard.

CMR’s latest program covers the following topics:

The Biopharmaceutical Industry

  • Overview of the Drug Development Process
  • Promotion and Advertising in Pharmaceuticals

The Sales Environment

  • The Evolution of Managed Care
  • Healthcare Insurance Plans and Healthcare Financiers

The Science of Medicine

  • Systems of the Body
  • Evaluation of Disease
  • Medical Terminology

The Science of Pharmacology

  • Basic Principles of Drug Actions
  • Classification of Pharmaceutical Products

The Biopharmaceutical Representative’s Job

  • The Role of the Biopharmaceutical Representative
  • Elements of Good Communication
  • The Business Planning Process

For more information, check out the CMR Institute.

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MOOCs: Top 10 Sites for Free Education With Elite Universities

 

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses.  Although there has been access to free online courses on the Internet for years, the quality and quantity of courses has changed. Access to free courses has allowed students to obtain a level of education that many only could dream of in the past.  This has changed the face of education.  In The New York Times article Instruction for Masses Knocked Down Campus Walls, author Tamar Lewin stated, “in the past few months hundreds of thousands of motivated students around the world who lack access to elite universities have been embracing them as a path toward sophisticated skills and high-paying jobs, without paying tuition or collecting a college degree.”

Although MOOCs are the latest trend, not everyone agrees that schools should offer them.  Joshua Kim Insight Higher Ed article Why Every University Does Not Need a MOOC noted that offering free material may not make sense for the individual university.  It may be more important to stand out in other ways.

There may also be some issues for students who lack motivation.  Since a MOOC is voluntary and there is no penalty for dropping the program or lagging behind, there may be issues with course completion.  Although a student may have received an excellent education, there will not be a corresponding diploma.

For those who desire a free education and have the motivation, the following includes the:  Top 10 Sites for Information about MOOCs:

  1. Udemy Free Courses – Udemy is an example of a site allows anyone to build or take online courses.  Udemy’s site exclaims, “Our goal is to disrupt and democratize education by enabling anyone to learn from the world’s experts.” The New York Times reported that Udemy, “recently announced a new Faculty Project, in which award-winning professors from universities like Dartmouth, the University of Virginia and Northwestern offer free online courses. Its co-founder, Gagen Biyani, said the site has more than 100,000 students enrolled in its courses, including several, outside the Faculty Project, that charge fees.”
  2. ITunesU Free Courses – Apple’s free app “gives students access to all the materials for courses in a single place. Right in the app, they can play video or audio lectures. Read books and view presentations.”
  3. Stanford Free Courses –  From Quantum Mechanics to The Future of the Internet, Stanford offers a variety of free courses.  Stanford’s – Introduction to Artificial Intelligence was highly successful. According to Pontydysgu.org, “160000 students from 190 countries signed up to Stanford’s Introduction to AI” course, with 23000 reportedly completing.”  Check out Stanford’s Engineering Everywhere link.
  4. UC Berkeley Free Courses – From General Biology to Human Emotion, Berkley offers a variety of courses.  Check out:  Berkeley Webcasts and Berkeley RSS Feeds.
  5. MIT Free Courses – Check out MIT’s RSS MOOC feed.  Also see:  MIT’s Open Courseware.
  6. Duke Free Courses – Duke offers a variety of courses on ITunesU.
  7. Harvard Free Courses – From Computer Science to Shakespeare, students may now get a free Harvard education. “Take a class for professional development, enrichment, and degree credit. Courses run in the fall, spring, or intensive January session. No application is required.”
  8. UCLA Free Courses – Check out free courses such as their writing program that offers over 220 online writing courses each year.
  9. Yale Free Courses – At Open Yale, the school offers “free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.”
  10. Carnegie Mellon Free Courses – Carnegie Mellon boosts “No instructors, no credits, no charge.”

 

For younger students, check out the 60 Minutes video about Khan Academy and KhanAcademy.org.  Also check out Ted Ed.

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What is a Meme?

 

There may be some confusion as to the meaning of the word meme (rhymes with dream).  John Gunders and Damon Brown, authors of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Memes, define it as, “A cultural unit of measure.  It can be a thought, a phrase, a style, or any other cultural expression that can be imitated by individuals.  More important, a meme is a replicator; that is, a particle of culture that strives to get itself copied as many times as possible.”

Basically it is an idea that is replicated through imitation.  There is a lot of that going around on the Internet.  If an idea catches on there, it may be referred to as “going viral”.  There is much more than just Internet messages that are memes.  Gunders and Brown explain that things like philosophy, sex, religion and politics also exhibit meme qualities.

It is a unit of culture such as a tune, idea, habit, that makes its way from person to person. It must be short enough to catch on and easily understood.  There are a lot of versions of the following meme that are based on different job occupations.  The template of what others think that the job entails is the same.  People have had some fun putting in their own ideas of the different perspectives of a job.  Here is one for a sales professional:

 

Examples of Memes:

  • Technological:  Rick Rolling – Promising one web site but redirecting to Rick Astley’s music video.
  • Musical:  The opening five bars of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
  • Marketing:  Slogans like “Where’s the Beef?”  The trick is to have something be catchy, memorable and desirable.

The Players and How it Works:

  • The Creator:  Creates the Meme
  • The Hook:  The Enticement to Remember the Idea; Example:  Belief That Others Will Enjoy Idea or That Others Need to Experience the Idea
  • The Bait:  The Desired Result; Example: Positive Benefit of Meme is Realized
  • The Vector:  The Medium that Transports the Idea.  Example:  E-mail, Facebook, Youtube
  • The Host:  The Carrier of the Idea Who Initiates Delivery

Popular Internet Memes:

Popular Concept Memes:

Popular Video Memes:

Popular Picture Memes:

The following list are some websites that explain more about memes:

How to Write a Perfect College Paper: Video Tutorial

The following is a video presentation that explains how to write the perfect college paper.  For a written version with more complete information, check out:  Checklist for Writing the Perfect College Paper.  There are some sources referred to in this video presentation.  Here are those sources and the links:

Click here for doctoral dissertation writing help.

Top 30 Links for the Successful Entrepreneur

 

The following list contains the most popular articles used as supplements in my entrepreneurial courses.  Click on the title name to be directed to the article.

  1. Ten Entrepreneurs Who Hit It Big Before Turning 35
  2. Top 10 Companies Code of Ethics and Conduct
  3. Top 10 Company Mission Statements
  4. Famous Entrepreneurs Who Hit it Big With Humble Beginnings
  5. Researching Apple: Top 10 Most Useful Links
  6. Value of Top Companies   
  7. The Top 10 Most Misunderstood Entrepreneurial Terms
  8. Top Five Things to Know to be a Successful Entrepreneur
  9. 50 Famous People Who Failed Before They Became Successful
  10. Top 50 Venture Funded Companies   
  11. Top 5 Networking Tips for Small Businesses
  12. Time for a New Career? Change the Daily Grind to a Job of Your Dreams
  13. 50 Excellent Lectures for the Small Business Owner
  14. An Entrepreneur’s Startup Business Model Checklist
  15. Importance of Being Proactive vs. Reactive
  16. Important Terminology for Entrepreneurs
  17. Chief Officer Acronyms Explained
  18. Top 20 TED Talks Not to be Missed
  19. Companies Rewarding Employees for Entrepreneurial Ideas
  20. Increasing Motivation:  Right Brain vs. Left Brain
  21. Women Becoming Successful Entrepreneurs
  22. Most Inspiring Entrepreneurial Women
  23. Capitalizing on Manic Depression
  24. What Happens When Genius Leaders Pass the Torch
  25. New Businesses Not Getting Loan Approval
  26. Serial Entrepreneurs Share Words of Wisdom
  27. 10 Famous Product Failures
  28. Microlending:  Funds for Small Businesses
  29. Brand Awareness:  The Importance of Facebook
  30. Top 25 Links to Change Your Body, Career and More

Brand Awareness: The Importance of Facebook

 

Youtube, Coca-Cola and Starbucks are just some of the most popular brands according to “fans” on Facebook.  Companies that have yet to embrace Facebook as an important marketing tool, are missing the boat.  Gourmet Marketing explained, “Businesses carve out an identity and following of customers through Social Media…none is more central than Facebook.”

Seattle Local Marketing’s article Tips on How to Find Fans for Facebook Fan Page stated, “Why is Facebook so useful? If you want to pull a lot of people to look and find out about your business then, the best way is Google since majority of these people use this search engines. However, Facebook comes almost as second in being one of the most accessed sites in the world.”

Social Media Today recently ran an article titled 15 Ways to Use Facebook for Business.  By creating a Facebook page, businesses can create a forum for discussion, facilitate word of mouth, research and test-market products, list press releases, and even hold contests.

Simply Zesty’s article Beer Company Generations $50.7 Million from 400,000 Facebook Fans demonstrates the impact on Facebook fan pages. New Belgium Brewing, “recently surveyed their Facebook fans and found that on average, their fans are spending $260 annually on the company’s products. This equates to $50.7 million in annual revenue, with 400,000 Facebook fans spread out across their products. Not a bad return on investment, given that the company had invested just $235,000 in 2011 in social media campaigns.”

 

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What is Socialnomics?

 

In Erik Qualman’s 2010 book Socialnomics, he described how socialnomics exists “where consumers and the societies they create online have a profound influence on our economy and the businesses that operate within it.”

Social media is the new word of mouth.  Now that individuals look online to find out information about products from their peers, marketing has taken a new turn. Companies must create a social networking presence in order to survive.

Click here to see some examples of socialnomics in action.

The following video gives some interesting statistics about the social media revolution.

 

Checklist for Writing the Perfect College Paper

Professors may assume that students understand the basics when it comes to writing college research papers. In reality, many students are frustrated by all of the requirements.  There are not a lot of easy checklists that put all of the requirements into one location. The following checklist should be used as a helpful guide to help college students write a well-researched and properly presented paper.

Write in introduction/body/conclusion format

  • Introduction – The first paragraph introduces what will be included in the paper.  It is a good idea to have the first sentence of the first paragraph include a hook to interest the reader.  Students should list a few sentences that summarize the main topics that will be addressed in the paper.  In this example, assume that three things will be covered based on the assignment requirements. End the introductory paragraph with the thesis statement.
  • Body – The body is where the three things, required for the assignment, are addressed. Students should start each paragraph with a topic sentence. Students should write a few sentences about that topic.  Students should end that paragraph with a transitional sentence that leads into the next topic that will be addressed in the following paragraph.  This process should be completed for all paragraphs until the last paragraph.
  • Conclusion – The last paragraph may begin with something like, “In conclusion”.  This last paragraph will sum up the three topics addressed. The last sentence should restate the thesis statement listed in the introduction, and end with some sort of final prediction or conclusion.

Write in complete paragraphs – Paragraphs should ideally contain between 4-8 sentences.  Students often make the mistake of writing in incomplete paragraphs or overly long paragraphs.  Click here for more information about paragraph structure.

Avoid run-on sentences – Sentences should not be overly complex.  Students should check how many times the word “and” is used.  This may signal a run-on sentence.

Write in APA format – Set up papers that include a title page, double-spacing, indented paragraphs, page numbers, correctly cited sources, etc. per APA.

Research the paper through the school’s library – Students often make the mistake of researching through the use of Google or other popular search engines.  Students may also make the mistake of relying on sources that are less than scholarly. Sites like Wikipedia may offer some good information but they are not considered reliable or scholarly sources for research papers.  Students should use the school’s search engine, located in the online library.  Students should click the box that searches for scholarly, peer-reviewed journals to ensure the sources are appropriate.

Cite consistently and correctly throughout the paper – Students often make the mistake of thinking they are story-telling when they should be demonstrating research.  Students should get into the habit of paraphrasing rather than listing direct quotations.  Students should avoid patchworking.  Students should not make the mistake of listing references without citations. This is a common mistake.  Research papers require both citations AND references.  Students should also not make the mistake of simply ending a paraphrased paragraph with (author last name, year) to cite all information covered in the paragraph. This is also a common mistake and can be considered plagiarism.  Every sentence of paraphrased work requires the author and year information.  Click here for information about how to cite.

Submit the paper to TurnItIn – Many schools offer TurnItIn’s plagiarism checker.  This is an excellent tool that is helpful to both the students and the schools. Students should get in the habit of submitting his or her papers through this software program to insure that they are not inadvertently plagiarizing information.

Check narrative mode – Many courses do not allow students to write in first person.  If this is the case, students should not refer to themselves.  Students should look for words like I, we, us, me.  These words should not be included if the paper does not allow first person.

Check Word document format – Students often overlook the settings in the Word document.  Students should be sure that the font, margins and settings are correctly set to APA requirements.

Check spelling and other miscellaneous issues – Students should read the final draft more than once. Even if everything seemed OK in the paper, it is a good idea, for students to read it several times to look for small errors.  Students should check for spacing issues.  Students should also check that there are two spaces after periods per APA.  Students should spell-check the document to be sure all spelling issues are resolved.

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Credit Score Savvy

With the New Year, people often make resolutions to fix problem financial situations.  Part of cleaning an individual’s financial house includes taking a hard look at his or her credit.  Credit Score Savvy (2003) was one of my earlier articles that I wrote for a local magazine. At that time, I was a loan officer and found that many people were confused by FICO scores and credit issues.  In the article I explained factors that affected scores and the ability to finance a home.  Although the market has changed since then, a lot has remained the same in terms of confusion about credit issues.  A more recent article titled Polish up Your Credit includes some information about things people can do to improve his or her credit score now.  What may be most useful from this article are some of the statistics. The following chart provides answers to some of the most basic credit-related questions.

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Doctoral Dissertation: Proposal Approval Checklist

 

In the years I have spent as a doctoral chair, I have read many excellent proposals and final dissertations.  Writing a dissertation takes a great deal of patience and time. Some students may become frustrated if he or she believes that the process takes longer than anticipated.  To avoid a lengthy proposal approval process, the student should spend time going over some common mistakes.  Although each school may have different requirements, the following checklist may be helpful to the doctoral learner prior to submitting his or her proposal for review.

Common Errors Place X to Signify Compliance
All Required Forms Are Included
Note That Data Will Be Saved 3 Years Then Destroyed
Paragraphs Must Contain At Least 3 Sentences
Any Defined Words Must Include A Citation
85% Of References Must Be Less Than 5 Years From Proposal Date
All Sections Are Listed In Proposal
References Are In APA Format
Submit to TurnItIn Or Plagiarism Checker
Submit To Editing Software Or Editor
Submit To Statistician If Necessary
Two Spaces Are Required After Periods
Design Is Carefully Described
Clarity – Person Reading Proposal Could Perform Study If Necessary
No Personal Opinions – All Conclusions Substantiated
The Word “Proposed” Is Listed Before Referring To Proposed Study
No Use Of The Wording “The Researcher” To Refer To Writer Of Proposal
No First Person References
No Fluff Words Including:  However, In Addition, Therefore, Etc.
Proposal In Future Tense; Will Change To Past Tense After Study
What Others Have Written In Past Tense
Long Tables Should Be In Appendix
Long Citations Cannot Be On Two Separate Pages – Must Be On One
No Slang Is Included
Use Words “Which and That” Correctly
There Should Not Be Any Tracking Changes Left In Document
Headings Must Be In APA 6th Format
Chapter 1 Must Start On Page 1
Proposal Author’s Name Must Be Listed And Current Month/Year
Watch Use Of The Word Randomly (Be Specific)
No Anthropomorphisms Should Be Used
Watch Implying Causal Relationship If None Exists
Do Not Make Predictions
Multiple Studies In Parentheses Require Names In Alphabetical Order
Avoid Vague Statements Like Something Was “Poor”
Articulate How Participants Were Selected
Articulate What Was Done To Reduce Researcher Bias
Do Not Use Vague Terminology Like “Others”
United States Is U.S. And Not US
1980s Should Be 1980s And Not 1980’s
Stick To One Subject Per Paragraph
Do Not Write In Contractions (Do Not Is Correct – Don’t Is Not)
Do Not Have Back to Back Charts With No Explanation
Use He or She Rather Than They To Define Subject
Be Sure All Chapters Include A Summary
Target Population And Sample Is Clearly Described
Hypotheses May Be Numbered And Supported By Narrative
Choice Of Method Is Clear And Substantive
Punctuation Should Be Inside Of Quotation Marks
Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Is Completed
Checklist Should Be Provided To Doctoral Chair
Application Should State If Exempt and Why

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Top Links Explaining Texting (SMS) and Short Codes

 

Just as Twitter has grown to be an important marketing tool, texting is not just for stating LOL anymore. There are some very important uses for texting, aka SMS (short messaging service). Check out some helpful links to explain texting terminology and uses:

  1. Donate to Charity – Pew Research recently reported that almost 1 in 10 Americans donate to charity through texting.
  2. Search Sites Like Google – By texting GOOGL (46645), you can search Google without opening your browser. Check out:  Six Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do. Word/number texts like GOOGL (46645) are called common short codes.  Check out:  Basics of CSCs to find out everything you need to know about common short codes.
  3. Send and Receive Email – To find out how to use SMS to access email, check out:  16 Things You  Can Do With SMS Text Messages.
  4. Check the Weather – By texting 4CAST (42278), you can access weather forecasts.  Check out:  Five Great Things You Can Do With a Text Message For Free.
  5. Check Calendar – By texting GEVENT (48368), you can access your Google calendar and schedule appointments.  Check out: Ten Terrific Things You Can Do With Text Messaging.
  6. Track Packages – Your SMS can track your UPS, Fed Ex, DHL and other packages through TrackThis.  Check out:  Run Your Life with SMS:  10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do Via Text.
  7. Learn Texting Abbreviations – You may know LOL, but there is an entire site of information dedicated to explaining what all of those text messaging and online chat abbreviations mean and text message abbreviations.
  8. Text From a Computer – If you have a computer and someone’s 10-digit phone number, you can text them without needing a phone.  The following explains how to text people based on their carrier (i.e., Verizon, AT&T, etc.):  Text from a Computer.
  9. Create a Common Short Code (CSC) – You can create your own CSC campaign by leasing a code.  Check out:  Obtaining a CSC.  Remember the CSC is like GOOGL or 4CAST noted above.  Keep in mind that leasing the code is the first step. You’ll still need to negotiate agreements with each of the wireless carriers to activate your short code. To be part of the CSCA directory listing, click here.
  10. Enhance Business – Business can utilize short codes for contests, lead capture and more.  Check out:  Top 10 Business Goals Enhanced by Short Codes.

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Importance of Being Proactive vs. Reactive

Many good foresight or business courses teach students to be proactive vs. reactive to change.  Anyone who has read The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People will tell you that the very first habit Covey lists is to be proactive. Covey explained that to be proactive “means more than merely taking initiative.  It means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives.  Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

When a person is in control of an expected or anticipated occurrence, they have taken proactive measures.  When a person is reactive, they are responding to something that they had yet to have anticipated.

In leadership courses, they often give examples of a proactive vs. a reactive leader.  The following chart gives an example of the different mindset of these two styles of leaders. Click on the picture for more information.

Carol Shultz’s article Proactive vs. Reactive Approaches to Your Business and Talent explained two cases that demonstrated how reactive companies lost employees for different reasons, and the associated costs.

There are a number of theoretical models for change that include the importance of being proactive.  Some of these include:

To read more about these and other models for change, click here.

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Is Your Personality Making You Fat?

 

The Wall Street Journal’s article Is Your Personality Making You Put on Pounds listed some personality traits that may affect weight gain.  Some of the links between personality and weight gain include weight gain in people who are:

  • Less Agreeable
  • Night Owls
  • Stress Junkies
  • Mindless Multitaskers
  • Givers
  • Perfectionists

The author of the article provides some fixes for people who exhibit these traits.

Impulsiveness has also been linked to weight gain.  The Huffington Post reported, “A 2006 study by Maastricht University of 26 obese children found that the most overweight children were also the most impulsive. Another study, published in 2008 by the University of Alabama, found that obese women had significantly lower impulse control than normal weight women, while a 1976 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition similarly found that obese women were more likely to be “non-conforming and impulsive” than their non-obese peers.”

Neurotic people also have issues with weight gain.  The National Institute of Aging studied nearly 2000 people and found that people with high levels of neuroticism and low levels of conscientiousness displayed more frequent weight increases and decreases.

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology released a study that studied participants based on the Big Five personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.  There were a total of 14,531 assessments across the 50 years of the study. Pyschcentral reported that the results showed, “greater weight gain among impulsive people; those who enjoy taking risks; and those who are antagonistic — especially those who are cynical, competitive and aggressive.”  ABCLocal reported that this study showed, “that people who are meaner are more likely to gain weight with age. Those considered more conscientious were likely to be leaner.”

A lead researcher from the Institute of Aging, Angelina Sutin, was interviewed by Boomer Health and Life.  Sutin stated, “We hope that by more clearly identifying the association between personality and obesity, more tailored treatments will be created. For example, lifestyle and exercise interventions that are done in a group setting may be more effective for extroverts than for introverts.”

WebMD claims that if you know your diet personality, it can help you lose weight.  Weight loss plans should be based on whether you are a:

  • Support Seeker
  • Serial Snacker
  • Free Spirit
  • Sweet Tooth
  • Distracted Diner

To find ideal diet plans based on each of these types, click here.

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Top 5 Secrets for Online Student Success

Online education is growing at a pace that far exceeds general education enrollment.  Because of the popularity of online learning, many traditional universities are offering online courses.  Forbes recently reported that MIT will soon offer free education for everyone. With all of the online options available, students may be confused as to where to go for helpful information.  There are plenty of sites available to help online students find schools, locate loans and even determine majors.  What is not as readily available is information about how to be a successful online student once he or she is enrolled.

The following is the top 5 list of things that can help the new online student succeed once they have already chosen their school and major.  Click on the blue links for more information about each topic:

  1. Learn Goal Setting – Read about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.  The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant (sometimes also Results-Based), and Timely (or Time-Bound).  Students should set S.M.A.R.T. education goals. Those that neglect to do this may find that it takes them longer to graduate, while they waste time and money.
  2. Learn Tools Offered – Most online universities offer some extremely helpful writing, editing and plagiarism-checking tools.  The school’s online site may also have helpful tutorials to explain how to use the software (also known as the platform) that delivers the classroom information.  Learning how to navigate in the online classroom may take a little time.  However, after taking the first class, many students feel more confident in their navigating abilities.
  3. Use the School’s Library – Students may forget that their university has an online library.  It is important that students do not get in the habit of searching for information using Google, Yahoo! and other similar engines. A well-written paper is supported by peer-reviewed articles.  These may be easily found using the school’s search engines located in their online library.
  4. Learn APA – APA stands for American Psychological Association.  For college students, APA refers to the format in which papers should be written.  While APA may seem daunting to the new learner, there are some very useful examples of APA papers online that can help explain the requirements.
  5. Learn How to Cite – Professors often require students to cite research in his or her papers.  Most often they must cite in APA format.  There are some helpful sites to help students learn how to cite correctly.  Students must also learn how to paraphrase, include in-text citations and avoid plagiarism.

Click here for more useful tips about how to be a successful online college student.

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Words to Capitalize in a Title

 

Bloggers and other writers may experience confusion as to which words should be capitalized in a title of an article.  I sometimes capitalize all words so that I do not have to look up the rules.  But it is good form to learn how to write correctly.  The following rules apply to capitalizing titles:

  • Always capitalize the first as last words of the title as well as verbs, adverbs, adjectives, nouns and pronouns.
  • Consistently capitalize or do not capitalize conjunctions (examples:  but, for, and) or prepositions (examples: words that show a relationship between the noun/pronounce with another word – example:  from, over, around, about, before, behind) with five or more letters.  Older rules required no capitalization and newer rules require capitalization if words contain five letters or more. Exception: If the word is the last word or the first word in a title, then it should be capitalized.
  • Do not capitalize articles (example: a, an, the), prepositions (see examples above), conjunctions (see examples above) with four letters or fewer, and the particle “to” used with an infinitive (example: to do; to be).  Exception: If the word is the last word or the first word in a title, then it should be capitalized.

 

Never have your title all in CAPITALIZED LETTERS because this is not only incorrect, it is considered yelling.

 

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Top 18 Personality Theorists Including Freud and More

 

Freud, Jung, Adler and other famous theorists’ names are commonly mentioned, but many people do not know the basis of their important research. Theorists have grappled with understanding factors that may impact personality.  Many theorists have dedicated their lives to helping people deal with complex personality-based issues.

In the workplace, it is common to run into personality conflicts.  Many of these may be resolved by having a better understanding of personality preferences.  It’s Not You It’s Your Personality is a book that defines personality, gives detailed information about personality assessments, and explains how people can use this information to be more effective in the workplace. Personality assessments are based on the work of some very famous theorists. The following chart contains some of the top names in personality research. Click on links provided to find out more about these theorists and the importance of their research.

Top Personality Theorists Theory Top Points and Terminology
Sigmund Freud Psychodynamic Psychosexual DevelopmentId, Ego, Super-Ego
Carl Jung Psychodynamic Collective Unconscious, True Persona, Introvert-Extrovert
Alfred Adler Psychodynamic Social Urges, Conscious Thoughts, Compensation for Inferiorities, Birth Order
Karen Horney Psychodynamic Biological Influences on Personality Rather  Than Social Forces
Harry Stack Sullivan Psychodynamic Interpersonal Relationships, Social Acceptance and Self-Esteem
John Bowlby Attachment Parent Child Relationships, Social Acceptance and Self-Esteem
Mary Ainsworth Attachment Strange Situation Theory, Observation of Parents
Erik Erikson Psychosocial Child’s Trust Relationship With Mother, Early Development
Carl Rogers Psychosocial Humanistic Theory Based on Subjective Experiences, Self-Understanding
John Watson Behavioral Environmental Impact on Behavior
Ivan Pavlov Behavioral Pavlov’s Dog, Classical Conditioning, Temperament
B. F. Skinner Behavioral Operant Conditioning, Rewards and Punishments for Behaviors
George Kelly Cognitive Self-Reflection, Perception and Interpretation Impact on Behavior
Albert Bandura Social Learning Human Capabilities, Structural Framework, Thinking Processes
Walter Mischel Social Learning Social Variables Explain Human Complexities, Delayed Gratification
Gordon Allport Trait Focus on Positive, Traits are Permanent
Raymond Cattell Trait Factor Analytic Trait Theory, 16 Source Traits Including Temperament and Dynamic, State and Roles Determine Personality
Hans Eysenck Trait Three Factor Theory, Introversion-Extroversion, Neuroticism, Psychoticism

8 Important Business Ethics Cases

For those interested in researching some interesting ethical businesses cases, there are plenty from which to choose. Business leaders may feel squeezed by shareholders to produce profits.  Some have made some ethical blunders in an attempt to remain competitive. Others have used their size to squeeze out the competition.  The following includes some important business ethics cases based on well-known organizations:

  1. Enron – Questionable accounting practices and manipulation of the energy supply brought down this company. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is an excellent documentary movie that explains the scandal.  Check out an excerpt from Enron’s Code of Ethics.
  2. Monsanto – Monsanto has been criticized for its mega-size.  Critics fear they are taking over the food supply as well as creating negative environmental issues. Check out Monsanto’s Code of Ethics for Chief Executives and Senior Financial Officers.
  3. Arthur Andersen – Arthur Andersen is known for its unethical auditing practices. Check out The Fall of Arthur Andersen for more complete details.
  4. WalMart – Studies have shown that WalMart may save people money but they may also negatively impact communities.  Their low prices may also hurt suppliers. The company received criticism when leadership announced they wanted to hire healthier, more productive employees. WalMart has been accused of being anti-union and has survived sweatshop and discrimination scandals. Check out WalMart’s Statement Regarding Code of Ethics.
  5. Countrywide – The company offered subprime loans that later resulted in default.  Critics have claimed that Countrywide employees told clients that their properties would increase in value and that their loans would be able to be refinanced when market values rose.  The market values declined causing many to lose their homes.  Check out Countrywide’s Code of Ethics.
  6. Beechnut – Beechnut’s ethics came into question when it was discovered that they were selling “apple juice” to foreign countries that contained something less than apple juice.  For more information on this scandal, check out Beechnut’s History and Apple Juice Scandal.
  7. Starbucks – Clustering strategy may force smaller companies out of business. There were so many Starbucks on street corners that movies like Best In Show made fun of how there might be one Starbucks right across the street from another.  Check out Starbucks’ Code of Ethics for CEO and Financial Leaders.
  8. Nike – Manufacturing practices included producing shoes offshore to save money. Nike has used its share of sweatshops in manufacturing. They have come under fire for human rights violations. Check out Nike’s Code of Ethics.

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Successful Students Use Plagiarism and Editing Programs

 

Students who do not use their school’s library writing centers are missing important, helpful information, and their grades may be suffering because of this.  Online universities offer some very useful tools that can help students to edit their papers, locate scholarly journals, and even double-check for plagiarism issues.  Some of the programs available to students include professional editing software like WritePoint, a database search engine like Proquest, and a plagiarism checker like TurnItIn.  Some schools may use different programs other than WritePoint or TurnItIn, but the programs function similarly.  Students should check their online library for availability of specific writing tools.

The successful student will do their research through the school’s library database search engines.  Once they have written their paper, and have double-checked that they have met all of the teacher’s requirements, they will submit it to the editing software (if available) and the plagiarism checker (required by many schools).  The following gives an explanation of how these three programs work:

  • Professional Editing Software – Example: WritePoint is a program that inserts comments directly into the student’s paper just like a professional editor.  The program will highlight grammar and spelling issues as well as other formatting issues including:  Capitalization issues, clichés, wording choices, use of second person, subject/verb agreement, weak or redundant wording, improper punctuation or hyphenation, and subject/pronoun disagreement.  The student will receive their paper back with comments. At this point, the student can make the appropriate suggested changes and then submit their paper as assigned.  This helps teach the student how to edit their own papers and dramatically improves their ability to get a higher grade.  This also allows professors to focus on the student’s content.  Not all schools offer editing software.

 

  • Database Search Engine – Example: Proquest is a program that offers over 30 databases of information including:  Dissertations, Newspapers and scholarly journals.  For students doing research that requires peer-reviewed scholarly sources, this can be a very helpful tool.  Students should use their school’s library search engine rather than researching through sites like Google or Yahoo!

 

 

  • Plagiarism Checker – Example: TurnItIn is the leading program that checks for plagiarism issues.  The program carries over 150 million archived papers.  There are a variety of websites where students can purchase papers.  Schools are very aware of these sites and programs like TurnItIn will catch these papers.  Students should be aware that professors will submit their papers to TurnItIn and will catch them if they try to submit work that is not their own.

Students may have had some initial training regarding these programs when they first entered school.  However, with all of the other things they had to learn at the time, many may have forgotten the importance of these tools. Students with questions about what his or her school offers, should ask their guidance counselor.

The top articles on this site that are helpful to a student’s success include:

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How to Paraphrase and Avoid Using Direct Quotes

 

Some professors require that students avoid direct quotations within their writing.  One reason for this is that students may have a tendency to rely too much on what others have written.  They may take large amounts of directed quoted material and copy and paste it into their writing in order to meet page or word requirements.  This is not acceptable.

Students must still cite to explain where they obtained their research.  To cite correctly, students should get into the habit of paraphrasing. In this way, students give the original author credit for their work by citing the source of the information without quoting it word for word.  Citing means acknowledging where they obtained the information.  A student must be careful not to paraphrase everything they write.  The student should not neglect to include their own analysis.  Duke University provides useful information about avoiding patchworking and paraphrasing in APA style.

Paraphrasing occurs when the writer take someone else’s thoughts and information and restates it into his or her own words.  Think of it as more of a restatement than a summary. Owl Purdue explained that it is better than quoting word for word because it eliminates the temptation to cite too heavily.  Owl Purdue’s Paraphrase:  Write in Your Own Words is an excellent learning tool and it includes 6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing.

To learn how to cite correctly, check out a helpful link from plagiarism.com that explains how to paraphrase properly.  For more examples of how to paraphrase, check out:  Examples of how to paraphrase without plagiarizing.  The Writer’s Handbook also gives some helpful tips about methods of paraphrasing and how to paraphrase difficult texts.

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Could Augmented Reality Technology Inspire the Next Steve Jobs?

 

One of the biggest obstacles the new entrepreneur faces is coming up with a unique idea.  The Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world have raised the creativity bar.  By creating augmented reality phone apps, certain companies are getting attention.  Autonomy has developed a new technology called Arasmsa that may change how people interact with objects.  It works with a smart phone and can reveal some things that are not readily visible to the naked eye.  Check out the following video:

With the popularity of QR codes and now new technologies like Arasmsa, there is potential for some amazing app possibilities.  For example, you can now point your phone at a magazine and have an app translate the material from one language to another.  There are a variety of augmented reality apps already available on the market.  Check out 40 Best Augmented Reality Phone Apps and 2 Augmented Reality Technologies that are about to Change the World.

The question is who will be the next Zuckerberg or Jobs to create an idea that goes above and beyond what is already out there?  Perhaps they are listed in the article 8 Important Silicon Valley Innovators Not Named Steve Jobs.  Only time will tell.

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How to Get an A in Your College Courses

Some of the top reasons that students don’t pass courses, based on my experience as a professor, is that they do not read the requirements for the classes or they don’t turn in material on time.  If a student really wants to receive an “A”, there are some important things that they must do to achieve this.  The following list will help students improve their grades:

  1. Follow Instructions – Read the instructor’s materials for assignment requirements.   Print out a copy of the syllabus and any instructions on the first day of class. Some may post a rubric or a spreadsheet that lists the requirements and the number of possible points allocated for each part of the assignment.  Before turning in your assignment, go down the list of requirements and be sure that you have included all of them.
  2. Cite Correctly – It is best to paraphrase rather than to include large blocks of directly quoted material in your writing.  Some professors will not allow any direct quotations. An example of paraphrasing is:  Hamilton (2011) stated that paraphrasing was important.  An example of a direct quote is:  “It is better to paraphrase.” (Hamilton, 2011). 
  3. Submit Original Work – Schools have a tool called TurnItIn to check for plagiarism.  Be sure to run your paper through that system (or whatever plagiarism tool the school uses) before submitting papers, to ensure that your work is your own.  You can be sure professors will check it if you do not.  Keep in mind that citing incorrectly can be viewed as plagiarism. Plagiarism is grounds for being expelled.
  4. Write in APA – Professors can be very picky about formatting in APA.  Most schools use this formatting as compared to MLA or some other format.  Click here for some of the most important links to help with APA.  When writing in APA, students will need to have their paper include double-spacing, indented paragraphs, proper header information, proper page numbering, proper title and reference page, etc.
  5. Meet Discussion Requirements – Online colleges have specific writing and posting requirements for classroom discussions.  Students often disregard the minimum word count or the fact that the instructor requested cited materials.  It is not uncommon for a discussion question to require 150-500 word responses.  These responses may also require paraphrased information to show research to back up any points that the student makes. Students may also be required to respond to their fellow classmates’ postings as well.  There are usually minimum word count requirements for these responses as well. Discussions should be written in a formal manner.  Sentence and paragraph structure should be the same as if a student was writing an essay.  Simply agreeing with a fellow classmate’s points will not count for credit.
  6. Include Strong Sentences and Paragraphs – It is important to write correctly and in a formal manner in online discussions as well as in formal papers.  In higher-level courses, first person should not be used.  Unless it is an opinion paper and the professor has allowed it, do not refer to yourself in your writing.  Don’t write in run-on sentences.  Sentences vary in length but should average around 20 words.  Keep sentences between around 12-25 words.  Paragraphs should also contain complete information.  A paragraph should include between 4-8 sentences.  Remember to include an introduction and conclusion paragraph. 
  7. Plan Ahead – Many students post late due to not being prepared.  There may be an occasional emergency but in general most issues with late postings could be avoided.  Write papers early and back them up somewhere other than your main computer.  Some students send themselves a copy of their homework so that it is saved on their email server.  Computer issues are not considered a valid excuse for late assignments.
  8. Use Scholarly Sources – Professors often require that students include peer-reviewed scholarly journals as sources for their papers. To find out more about peer-reviewed journals, click here.  Students often confuse citations and references.  It is not correct to simply list a reference without having a corresponding citation.  For help with citations and references, click here.
  9. Never Copy and Paste – Students often try to copy and paste information into their papers.  Not only can this be plagiarism if not cited correctly, it can cause havoc with formatting. 
  10. Always Read Instructor Feedback – I see students submit the same mistakes every week because they will not read the feedback on their papers.  If a professor has taken the time to read your paper and give helpful advice, it is important to incorporate those suggestions into future assignments. 

For additional help, see The Top Ten Most Common Writing Mistakes and The Top Ten Sources for Help with APA.

Learn Terminology Before Changing Careers

In the current economy, many people have discovered that they must change careers or reinvent themselves in order to keep their current positions.  Some are entering into fields that contain jargon with which they are unfamiliar.  In the article 13 Words Every Sales Training Manager Should Know the author defined words and phrases like:  knowledge transfer, sales enablement, funnel, pipeline and more.  Those entering the field of sales and are unfamiliar with those terms, may feel frustrated and left out of the information loop. 

For those considering a new career, here are some important links to help learn terminology and avoid some embarrassing mistakes:

  1. Terminology Used in Sales
  2. Terminology Used in Business and Entrepreneurship
  3. Terminology Used in Technology
  4. Terminology Used in Online and Education
  5. Terminology Used in Social Networking Sites Like Twitter
  6. Vocabulary Words Adults Should Know
  7. Company Executive Title Explained
  8. Most Misunderstood Entrepreneurial Words
  9. Top Grammar Mistakes
  10. Social Media Writing Mistakes

To find out more about career reinvention click here.

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Chief Officer Abbreviations Explained: CEO, COO, CFO and More

 

There are a lot of abbreviations for top leadership positions that contain the words “Chief and Officer” in the title. It may be confusing to keep the players straight. It may help to explain that a corporate officer holds a management-level position, such as a President, Vice President, or General Manager. Other common positions include:

  • CEO – Chief Executive Officer – This person is the highest ranking corporate officer.  They are the head of management for an organization.  They report to the board of directors. They make high-level decisions about policy and strategy.  The people that report to the CEO include:  The CBDO (Chief Business Development Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), COO (Chief Operating Officer), CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), CIO (Chief Information Officer), CCO (Chief Communications Officer), CLO (Chief Legal Officer), CTO (Chief Technology Officer), CRO (Chief Risk Officer), CCO (Chief Creative Officer), CCO (Chief Compliance Officer), CAE (Chief Audit Executive), CDO (Chief Diversity Officer), and CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer).  Steve Jobs was an example of a top CEO.  To find out more about these other chief officer positions, click here.  Check out:  The Best Performing CEO’s in the World.
  • COO – Chief Operating Officer – This person is responsible for the day to day operations or an organization.  Not all companies have one.  In 2006 more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies did not have a COO.  This person may also be called the company’s President.  This person could be thought of as the second in command behind the Chairman or CEO.  An example of a top COO is:  Tim Cook was the COO for Apple before replacing Steve Jobs as CEO. Check out: List of Famous Chief Operating Officers.
  • CFO – Chief Financial Officer – This person manages the corporation’s financial risk.  They deal with data analysis, financial planning and record keeping.  Although they report to the CEO, they may also sit on the board of directors.  Peter Oppenheimer is Apple’s CFO.  Check out:  Bonus Babies . . . The Best Paid CFO’s.
  • CMO – Chief Marketing Officer – This person is the head of sales, product development and all things marketing-related.  The CMO can report to either the CEO or COO. Their job is to obtain growth through sales and marketing.  The CMO has become more commonly discussed in recent years.  Check out:  The Chief Marketing Officer . . . A new Boardroom Role.
  • CIO – Chief Information Officer – This person is the head of information technology.  They may report to the CEO, CFO or COO.  They must create strategic goals to increase information accessibility and manage integrated systems.  The CIO and CTO roles are often confused.  Check out:  What is the Difference Between CIO and CTO.

There may be other chief officers’ positions in other industries as well.  For example in hospitals there could be a CMO (Chief Medical Officer), a CNO (Chief Nursing Officer) and a CMIO (Chief Medical Informatics Officer).

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Impact of Boomers Working Past Retirement Years

 

As people are living longer and the age for receiving social security payments is extended, baby boomers have found that they are working well into what used to be considered retirement years.  USA Today reported, “The Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll found a baby boom generation planning to work into retirement years — with 73% planning to work past retirement, up from 67% this spring. The poll involved online interviews with 1,095 baby boomers.” According to the Examiner, “boomers are likely going to work five to 10 years longer before retiring.”

There are currently 77 million baby boomers.  This group has found it difficult to retire because “41% of boomers said they are expecting to have to scale back their lifestyle in some way in retirement and 31% believe they will struggle financially.”

Having a lot of baby boomers in the workplace has had an impact on the post-boomer generations.  In the article Millennials Hoping for Boomers to Retire, it was noted that many people who used to retire in their 60s are continuing to work, making it harder for Millennials to find employment.

There are currently four generations coexisting in the workplace. These 4 generations include:

World War II Generation (aka depression babies) – Those born prior to 1945

Baby Boomers – Those born 1946 to 1964

Generation X – Those born 1965 to 1982

Generation Y (aka the Millennials) – Those born after 1982

Baby Boomers represent the largest segment of the American work force.  However, millennials will be replacing the baby boomer group soon.  According to Harvard Business Review /HBR.org, “The makeup of the global workforce is undergoing a seismic shift: In four years Millennials—the people born between 1977 and 1997—will account for nearly half the employees in the world. In some companies, they already constitute a majority.”

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Top 10 Entrepreneurs Who Hit it Big Before Turning 35

 

There was a time when it was unusual to hear about an entrepreneur becoming successful at a very young age.  With the technology boom, the story is becoming more commonplace.  The following list contains the top 10 entrepreneurs whose dreams came to fruition and made them very rich before they hit the ripe old age of 35.

  1. Apple – Creators:  Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.  Apple was established in 1976, the year Steve Jobs turned 21 and Steve Wozniak turned 26.
  2. Amazon – Creator:  Jeff Bezos.  Amazon was founded in 1994, the year Jeff Bezos turned 30.
  3. Disney – Creator:  Walt Disney.  Disney was founded in 1923, the year Walt Disney turned 22.
  4. Facebook – Creators:  Mark Zuckerburg and his college roommates Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Facebook was launched in 2004, the year that Mark Zuckerburg turned 20.
  5. Google – Creators:  Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  Google was incorporated in 1998 the year that Larry Page and Sergey Brin turned 25.  Google’s IPO was in August of 2004, the year the men turned just 31.
  6. Groupon– Creator:  Andrew Mason.  Groupon was created in 2008, the year Mason turned 29.
  7. LinkedIn – Creators:  Reid Hoffman and founders from PayPal.  LinkedIn was founded in late 2002 the year that Hoffman turned 35.
  8. Microsoft – Creators:  Bill Gates and Paul Allen.  Microsoft was established in 1975, the year Bill Gates turned 20 and Paul Allen turned 22.
  9. Twitter – Creator:  Jack Dorsey.  Twitter was created in 2006, the year Dorsey turned 30.
  10. Yahoo! – Creators: Jerry Yang and David Filo.  Yahoo! was incorporated in 1995, the year that Jerry Yang turned 27 and David Filo turned 29.

Click on the company names above to find out more details and top stories about these unique companies.

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Things To Know Before Investing in an IPO

 

There is a lot of talk about IPOs lately.  IPO stands for initial public offering.  When a company decides to make shares of the company available to the public, it may sound like a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  However, it may not be easy or sometimes wise to buy into an IPO as soon as it is offered.

USA Today had an excellent article about Five Things You Should Know Before Investing in an IPO.  According to this article, some of these things include:

  1. Learn the Lingo – Do you know what a red herring is or an IPO offer price?
  2. It’s Difficult to Get In – It may not be impossible, but you may have to be a preferred client.
  3. First-Day Investing May Be Risky – If you like the thrill of rolling the dice, the first day can be a wild ride.
  4. Know the Sales Figures – Find out about the company’s annual sales performance.
  5. Know the Long-Term Outlook – “The Federal Reserve identified two characteristics of successful IPOs in a 2004 study: The companies have been around longer than other companies issuing stock for the first time, and they’re making a profit before they do so.

To learn more about each of these 5 areas, check out the article by clicking the link listed above.

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What is a Peer-Reviewed Journal?

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  My professor told me I have to cite using scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.  What does that mean?

College students are often asked to include scholarly peer-reviewed journals as sources for citations.  If the school offers an online library, it can be easy to search for these journals by simply marking the box under the search line that lists something like “search for peer-reviewed journals only” or “scholarly peer-reviewed”.  By marking this box, anything that comes up in the search should be appropriate to use for college-level assignments.

A peer-reviewed journal insures that the article is of the highest quality and reflects sound research.  Library.usm.main.edu does a nice job of explaining the peer review process:

  • Articles submitted by authors are evaluated by a group of peer experts in the field.
  • The reviewers recommend whether the submitted article be published, revised, or rejected.
  • This review process is often performed “blind”, meaning the reviewers do not know the names or academic affiliations of the authors, and the authors do not know who is reviewing their work.

Ulrich’s Periodical Directory Online is a link where the journals’ title can be submitted to get a report about whether the journal is actually peer-reviewed. 

What is meant by scholarly journals?  CalPoly explained, “Scholarly journals contain articles written by, and addressed to, experts in a discipline. They are concerned with academic study, especially research, and demonstrate the methods and concerns of scholars. The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report original research or experimentation and to communicate this information to the rest of the scholarly world. The language of scholarly journals reflects the discipline covered, as it assumes some knowledge or background on the part of the reader. Scholarly journals always rigorously cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. Many scholarly journals are published by professional organizations.”

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Companies Rewarding Employees for Entrepreneurial Ideas

 

Gone are the old days of having a suggestion box at work.  Today’s modern company has set up some much more sophisticated ways of obtaining knowledge and creative ideas from their employees.  The following list contains some useful tools that employers have utilized that have even replaced their need to go to outside consulting firms:

  • Innovative Management Programs – Sites like Brainbank, InnoCentive and Spigit are just a few of the popular sites that companies use to allow employees to submit and vote on ideas.
  • Idea-Management Websites –  PriceWaterhouseCoopers created a company site to gather employees’ input about cost cutting, improving customer service and other ways to improve revenue.  These sites can be very successful.  IdeasAmerica, an association for suggestion administration, surveyed customers and found that ideas submitted by employees saved over $110 million or an average of $1256 per idea.
  • Set up KiosksBruce Power is one of many companies who have set up idea kiosks.  Resembling ATMs, these kiosks are easily accessible and allow employees to vote on ideas.
  • Create Financial IncentivesCompanies may give rewards for employees’ ideas that result in cost savings.  They may receive financial incentives or points to use toward rewards.
  • Set Up Idea ChallengesAllstate created an online challenge for its employees to come up with some good ideas about how to create their company app.

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Unusual Uses for QR Codes in the Classroom and Job Market

 

QR codes are those little barcode looking squares that are popping up everywhere.  They are an excellent marketing tool.  They have some unique applications as well.  The article 50 Great Ways to Use QR Codes in the College Classroom lists some unusual uses such as:

  • Using QR codes on name plates to find instructor office hours
  • Adding QR codes to the syllabus to link to classroom calendar
  • Adding to class announcements to create buzz for upcoming events
  • Linking QR codes to lectures, videos or answers to commonly asked questions
  • Linking QR codes to digital portfolios

These are just some of the unique classroom uses.  Click on the link above to read all 50 uses.

For more articles about using QR Codes check out:

Stand Out In Job Market with Mini Resume Cards

Combining a resume with a business card in a smart, easy to read fashion, is a great way to capture a future employer’s attention.  ResuMiniMe is a site that has done a nice job of creating such a card.  In just minutes, job-seekers can create a traditional-sized business card that promotes their strengths while serving as a nice ice-breaker for networking opportunities.  Prices start at $90 for 1000 cards.  Gift packages are available.  A free profile on LinkedIn is required. 

They offer two style choices for the back of the card.  A traditional standard style that lists education and experience is one option.  Also offered is the option to include a QR code on the back.  For more information about using QR codes to find a job, click here. 

The following are examples of the cards that can be created on this site.  The back of the card is shown vertically here for easy readability.

Front (although not listed here, a phone number may be included):

Back Traditional:

Back QR Code Version:

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Top 10 Most Misunderstood Entrepreneurial Start-up Words

 

Some of the most interesting companies right now are considering going IPO?  If you are confused about what that means, you are not alone.  I find that a lot of my students would enjoy reading articles about new start-up companies but avoid them due to the writer’s use of confusing terminology.  Having taught entrepreneurship for many years, I have come up with a list of some of the most misunderstood words that have to deal with entrepreneurs and start-up companies to make things a little easier to understand.  Click on the links provided below for more information about the definition of the term:

  1. Angel Investors – Investors getting startup from self-funded stage to obtaining venture capital.
  2. Bridge Loan – a short-term way to obtain a loan that meets immediate needs for capital.
  3. IPO – Initial Public Offering – when a private company offers stock and becomes a public company.
  4. Limit Liability Company or LLC – legal form of a company providing limited liability.
  5. Me-Too Product – when competitors’ products are basically indistinguishable for yours.
  6. Portfolio – Holdings of a private investor or institution.
  7. Seed-Funded – investment to start a business until the business can fund itself.
  8. Start-up – Differing opinions on this . . . Check out the article:  How do you define a startup?
  9. Valuation – Company’s market worth.
  10. Venture Capital – Money or capital provided to start a business.  Those providing money may be referred to as Venture Capitalists.

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Online Classes So Important: Mandatory for Graduation

Times have certainly changed for high school education.  Alabama, Florida and Michigan are just some of the states that now require students to take at least one online course to graduate.  According to the article 10 Online Ed Trends Coming to a High School Near You, “Administrators believe that getting students to take online courses will better prepare them to work with the technologies they’ll face in college and the workforce.”

In Memphis online classes were increased due to an upswing in the desire by students to take these courses.  Online courses are available for both high school and middle school students.  An advantage for the schools is that they are less expensive.  In the article Online Class Required for Graduation in Memphis, the author points out that there will be some stringent requirements.  “The structure calls for accountability requiring students to log on, finish assignments, and participate in hour-long live chat sessions with an instructor and classmates. Teachers speak with students after each module to verify their identity. Proctored semester exams are administered on school grounds.”

The number of states adding online requirements continues to grow.  Idaho has a tech-focused school reform program that will require students to take two online courses.  Indiana has also jumped on the technology bandwagon.  Indiana state superintendent, Tony Bennett, recently announced that students will be required to take at least one online course in order to graduate.  In the article United States High Schools Including Online Coursework as Graduation Requirement, the author stated, “Mr. Bennett explained his rationale for an online course requirement by stating that he felt like experiencing an online course would help to prepare Indiana students for the technology they will be using at colleges and universities, as well as in the workforce.”

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Women Becoming More Successful Than Men

 

Women are passing men in their abilities to get a degree, handle families and garner success at work.  As men are falling behind, women are making huge strides.  CNN reported that, “For the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men.”

Over half of college degrees are now being awarded to women. “In 1970, men earned 60% of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50%, by 2006 it was 43%. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women’s earnings grew 44% in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men.”

Women are becoming stronger entrepreneurs as well.  Forbes recently reported:  “As of 2011, it is estimated that there are over 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Overall, women-owned firms have done better than their male counterparts over the past 14 years. The number of men-owned firms (which represent 51% of all U.S. firms) grew by only 25% between 1997 and 2011—half the rate of women-owned firms.”

A study by Barclays Wealth and Ledbury Research may have some of the answers to why women are surpassing men.  One of the reasons they found is that women are less likely to take unnecessary risks or make rash decisions.  The Huffington Post backed up this point stating, “A 2005 study by Merrill Lynch found that 35% of women held an investment too long, compared with 47% of men. More recently, in 2009, a study by the mutual fund company Vanguard involving 2.7 million personal investors concluded that during the recent financial crisis, men were more likely than women to sell shares of stocks at all-time lows, leading to bigger losses among male traders.”

Women Dominating Sales Positions

 

Women are becoming a dominant force in sales positions.  In the article 10 Most Lucrative Industries for Women it was noted, “A recent study found that women are coming to dominate certain areas of sales, a traditionally lucrative field for those who excel. In fact, the study seemed to show that women tend to have better selling skills than men, translating into substantial earnings for saleswomen.”

When women were asked what their top 10 more desired sales careers would be, they chose:

1.    Pharmaceutical Sales

2.    Biotech Sales

3.    Dental Sales

4.    Insurance Sales

5.    Healthcare Sales

6.    IT Sales

7.    Medical Sales

8.    Advertising Sales

9.    Medical Equipment Sales

10.  Real Estate Sales

This is good news for women in the current questionable economy. Monster reported, “In 2010, more employers were willing to invest in their sales forces, having some faith that customers could be cajoled into buying. In October 2010 there were 145,000 more workers employed in sales and related occupations than a year earlier.”

For additional resources about women and sales positions, check out some of the following links:

Women Turning to Cosmetic Sales

Community of Women in Professional Sales

50 Best Careers of 2011

Sales Jobs for Women Search Site

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Using Personality Assessment to Ace the Job Interview

 

Showing up to a job interview without researching the company’s background, products and future potential is an error many job applicants make.  Even those who have properly researched the company may still make the mistake of not assessing the interviewer’s needs. There are some important tips that job-seekers can utilize to ace the interview even if they are not made aware of who will interview them ahead of time.

Job candidates need to keep in mind that people like to receive information based on their personality preferences.  In an interview situation, that means that the job-seeker needs to assess the interviewer’s personality to look for clues about these preferences.

Based on the following personality types, tailor how information is delivered in the following way:

Interviewer is an Introvert (they prefer to think about what they want to say before they say it):  They may not want a lot of chit chat. Allow them to have time to ask questions and don’t talk over them.

Interviewer is an Extrovert (they tend to say what they are thinking without processing first):  Realize they require information quickly and may talk over you or end sentences for you.  If they ask a question and you need more time, simply say something like, “That is a good question; let me think about that for a moment.”  That will buy you some time to formulate your answer.

Interviewer is Direct (they prefer to get to the point and may be abrasive): Don’t hem and haw around.  Get right to the bottom line information they require.

Interviewer is Structured (they like facts and figures):  If they have charts and graphs around and ask for statistics, give them data.  They like quantifiable answers.

One way to find out more about the person doing the interview is to look around the office for clues.  Try to find things that you have in common with them.  Show an interest in the things they showcase like pictures, plaques, awards, etc.  For more information about acing the interview, read 10 Most Important Steps to Obtain a Dream Job.

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SitePal and Voki: Add Pizzazz to Your Website or Classroom

There are some fun sites that can be used to animate pictures to add pizzazz to websites or online classrooms.  One of these sites, Voki, is free and is available for non-commercial use.  For commercial use, SitePal starts at just $9.95/month.

Are you looking for a way to create content for an online classroom?  Consider adding a link to Voki.  “Voki enables users to express themselves on the web in their own voice using a talking character. You can customize your Voki to look like you or take on the identity of lots of other types of characters… animals, monsters, anime etc. Your Voki can speak with your own voice which is added via microphone, upload, or phone. Voki lives on your blog, social network profile and will soon be integrated in various instant messaging platforms. You will also be able to download it to most video supported phones.”

Click on the picture below to see what happens if you add a link to your Voki-created file.   Be sure to hit the play button to hear the message once you get there.

 

If you are looking for a way to stand out on your website, resume, email signature line, or other form of social media, consider SitePal. “SitePal is an easy-to-use service that allows you to create a speaking avatar for your website and empower your online communication.” Click on the picture below to see that animation.

 

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Purchasers from Amazon Responsible for StateTaxes

 

Article first published as Purchasers from Amazon Responsible for StateTaxes on Technorati.

Amazon has enjoyed an advantage over their competition.  They have not had to add tax to the purchase amount in states where they don’t have a physical presence.  Slate reported, “According to Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, a 1992 Supreme Court ruling, companies are only required to collect sales taxes from their customers when they have a presence in the state in which they reside.”

This has been a sore spot for many of Amazon’s competitors.  Many of them feel that if they should have to handle the taxes for customers, so should Amazon.  This advantage has made them undersell big competitors like the Apple Store and Best Buy.

Purchasers from the Amazon site may think they are getting a better deal. In reality, there may be taxes owed, but it won’t be by Amazon.  What many people in certain states like Arizona don’t know about their purchases on Amazon, is that it is going to be up to them to keep financial records of what taxes are due.  At the end of the year, when they file their tax returns, these taxes should be included in any amount owed to the government.

According to the Arizona Republic, “If you buy something online from a retailer who doesn’t have a physical presence in Arizona and they don’t charge state tax or the tax from the state where they’re located, then you’re probably liable for the use tax – the 6.6 percent tax. The safest thing to do is if you buy something online and you get a receipt, save it. It’ll probably show if there was any sales tax from the state where it was charged. If there’s not and there is no Arizona tax, then you should think about paying the use tax on that.”

What if you haven’t kept all of your Amazon receipts?  Go to your account page on Amazon and under Order History, click on Download Order Reports.  This tool allows you to put in the date range of purchases to request a report of purchased items.

According to Amazon’s site, “Items sold by Amazon.com LLC, or its subsidiaries, and shipped to destinations in the states of Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, or Washington are subject to tax.”  It is wise to check with your state to see what your tax obligation is.  For more information from Amazon regarding taxes, click here.

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New Research Uses Imaging to Show Serotonin’s Link to Anger

 

Article first published as New Research Uses Imaging to Show Serotonin’s Link to Anger on Technorati.

The University of Cambridge recently published study in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry that provides insight into why some people are more aggressive. Scientists have known that when people haven’t eaten or are overly stressed, they have a harder time controlling their anger. Scientists now have the ability to use technology to scan the brain and visualize the connection between serotonin and the ability to handle emotions.

According to The University of Cambridge News, “Although reduced serotonin levels have previously been implicated in aggression, this is the first study which has shown how this chemical helps regulate behavior in the brain as well as why some individuals may be more prone to aggression.”

Healthy volunteers had their serotonin levels altered through diet manipulation. Their brains were then scanned with a function magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as researchers measured their reactions to images of faces showing anger, happiness or neutral expressions. The findings suggested that when the serotonin was low, the prefrontal cortex had a more difficult time controlling emotional responses.

According to author Dr. Molly Crockett, “We’ve known for decades that serotonin plays a key role in aggression, but it’s only very recently that we’ve had the technology to look into the brain and examine just how serotonin helps us regulate our emotional impulses. By combining a long tradition in behavioral research with new technology, we were finally able to uncover a mechanism for how serotonin might influence aggression.”

Serotonin has been the subject of many psychological studies.  In 2003 a popular study indicated that there was a gene responsible for people to be more receptive to becoming depressed.  However, in 2009, a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association that analyzed data from 14 studies found that this serotonin gene was not linked to depression.

How serotonin affects depression and aggression will continue to be studied. Currently, the most widely prescribed antidepressants are serotonin enhancers.  The researchers from the Cambridge study hope that this new discovery can help pave the way to new treatments of psychiatric disorders.

WebMD offers a 9-question quiz to help sufferers recognize the symptoms of depression caused by low serotonin.

Famous Computer Geniuses with Asperger’s

 

 

In a recent TED.com talk by Misha Glenny, titled Hire the Hackers,Glenny noted at the end of his talk that many famous computer hackers have characteristics that are consistent with Asperger’s Syndrome.  He mentioned he discussed this with Professor of Development Psychopathology at Cambridge, Simon Baron-Cohen, who “confirmed Gary McKinnon who is wanted by the United States for hacking into the Pentagon suffers from Asperger’s.  Cohen explained that certain disabilities can manifest themselves in the hacking computer world as tremendous skills.”

 

This is not the first time that there has been mention of famous hackers having this disorder.  Adrian Lamo, once hunted by the FBI, was institutionalized and diagnosed with Asperger’s.  Cnet News recently reported, “Ryan Cleary, the 19-year-old charged in the U.K. on five counts of computer hacking activity, has Asperger’s syndrome.”

According to Wired.com, “There are no reliable figures on how many people have Asperger’s, but anecdotally a lot of them are drawn into the computer field, particularly the logic-heavy world of coding. BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen has diagnosed himself with the disorder, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates is frequently speculated to have it.” According to Businessweek, Bram Cohen’s disorder is, “a condition that keeps him rooted in the world of objects and patterns, puzzles and computers, but leaves him floating, disoriented, in the everyday swirl of human interactions.” In the movie The Social Network, some of the mannerisms that the Mark Zuckerberg character displayed may have implied he had Asperger’s as well.

Some other famous minds that have been noted as having Asperger’s include Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.  The article, The Potential Genius of Asperger’s contains a long list of famous people who have been thought to have this disorder.

Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen developed an AQ test that measures the Autism Spectrum Quotient.  “In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger’s report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.” To take the Asperger’s test, click here.

The following is Misha Glenny’s talk from TED:

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Facebook Now Allows Subscriptions to Your Site

Facebook announced a new feature that will allow for people to expand their exposure on Facebook.  People can subscribe to your feed if you set it up for them to do so.  This is a useful tool for companies who have a profile but not a separate Facebook page to promote.  Without having a page set up, the profile site previously required an acceptance by the owner for people to view the content. 

With the new subscribe feature, all that has to be done to allow others to view the profile, is for the owner of the profile to look for the word subscriptions under their profile picture.  By clicking on that, they can enable others to see their updates.

 

This isn’t the only change announced by Facebook. According to TechCrunch, “In addition to Subscriptions, Facebook is also making it easier to tweak the amount and types of content that show up your News Feed. Now, when you’re viewing a user’s profile, you’ll be able to hit a button and choose from three subscription settings:

  • All updates: Everything your friend posts
  • Most updates: The amount you’d normally see
  • Important updates only: Just highlights, like a new job or move

You’ll also be able to choose what kinds of content you want to see (for example, you could opt to block all game-related updates from one of your friends, but keep their photo updates).”

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Top 10 Companies’ Code of Ethics and Conduct

Companies have something called a code of ethics that outlines how they will run their business.  Sometimes they refer to this as their code of conduct. There aren’t always laws to govern things like ethics.  Therefore, it is up to companies to define some of their ethical behavior.

 

via searchenginewatch.com – Google a Little Evil

According to the International Labor Organization, “Unlike labor law, corporate codes of conduct do not have any authorized definition. The concept “corporate code of conduct” refers to companies’ policy statements that define ethical standards for their conduct. There is a great variance in the ways these statements are drafted. Corporate codes of conduct are completely voluntary. They can take a number of formats and address any issue – workplace issues and workers’ rights being just one possible category. Also, their implementation depends totally on the company concerned.”

Click here for an article on the difference between laws and ethics.

The following is a list of some major companies and their code of ethics:

In researching these companies, it was interesting that Facebook didn’t have a clearly defined code of ethics listed in the same way other companies did.  For more about Facebook, check out the Wall Street Journal article:  Facebook Agrees to Work With Government on Germany Privacy Code.

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Scary Things Doctors Do: New Investigative Tool for Patients

 

Most doctors do wonderful things. They take care of their patients and work very hard. I’m married to a fantastic doctor, so I know they exist.  However, having spent 15 years as a pharmaceutical representative, I saw some scary things out there.  It’s important to keep in mind that someone had to graduate last in their class.  Here is a list of things that I actually saw occur in doctors’ offices while I was in the field.

  1. Illegal drug use in doctor’s office – There was one office where the receptionist actually had her boyfriend shoot something (I assume heroine) into her arm while I talked to her through the glass partition that separated the waiting room from the doctor’s area.  The reaction she got from the medication made it clear it was some form of illegal substance.  The doctor walked right by and had no reaction.
  2. Doctors popping pills – There was one doctor I called on who would take Prozac while he chatted, bragging, “I take these things to lose weight.”  This same guy was always popping some form of pill, usually for an off-label use.
  3. Doctors committing fraud – Another doctor in my territory was arrested for charging the government for testing blood that he never actually tested.
  4. Doctors not using best medications to save money – I called on a doctor who once told me that he would not prescribe a drug that he thought he was good for his patients because, as he put it, “that comes out of my budget  . . . if they go to the ER, someone else pays for it.”  He had no problem telling me that he didn’t mind if his patients suffered if it meant he could make a few more bucks from the HMO.
  5. Doctors getting paid by pharmaceutical companies – It is not unusual for a doctor to get paid to speak for certain pharmaceutical companies.  I remember calling on a particular doctor who made it very clear that he not only spoke for a particular company but also had a great deal of stock in that company. Because of this relationship, he had no intention of using competitive products even if they were better.

The good news is that the Internet allows for patients investigate issues with their doctors.  According to the article, How To Find Out if Your Doctor and Drugmakers Are In A Relationship, “The nonprofit investigative journalism outfit ProPublica has a tool you can use to see how much money your doctor has received from drug companies.”  To find out if your doctor is profiting from drug companies, click here to go to the ProPublica site.

 

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10 Most Important Steps to Obtain Dream Job

 

I often speak to students and career groups about how to obtain a dream job or reinvent a career.  I have listed some of the most important points from my lectures, with appropriate links to articles, to explain the process.  Be sure to click on the links listed under each step to watch videos and read the articles to get step by step instructions.

  1. Define Your Goals:  People fear making mistakes.  Although it can be argued there are no mistakes, only learning experiences, part of avoid mistakes is to have good goals.  The goals must be measurable with timeframes listed for when you wish to achieve those goals.
  2. Analyze “You” as the Product:  To get a job, you must showcase your talents by thinking of “you” as the product.  When you are networking and interviewing, you are “selling” a product and that product is you.   Be sure to analyze your online reputation.  You can be sure that companies will check on this.
  3. Create a Personal SWOT Analysis:  SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  By creating a personal SWOT analysis, you can work on capitalizing on your strengths and find solutions for any weaknesses or threats.
  4. Analyze Your Competition: When you are interviewing, you must remember there are a lot of others that are competing for the same job.  Think of those things that you bring to the table that your competition does not.  What do others have that you need to be working on in the meantime?  Have you done your research?  If an interviewer asks you the question: “Why did you pick our company?” . . . do you have a good answer?  Know the answers to difficult job interview questions.
  5. Capitalize on Personality Skills: Part of finding the right job is based on understanding your personality preferences.  Personality tests like Myers Briggs MBTI can be very helpful in leading you to the right job.  It is also important to work on developing emotional intelligence. Find out why employers are placing as much value on EQ as IQ.
  6. Analyze Jobs:  Find out what jobs pay:  One of the first steps is to find out what a job is worth.  Consider what types of jobs motivate you.  Check out top 10 ways to find a job or have a job find you.
  7. Showcase Your Talents:  Use social networking to get noticed.  Find out how you can use a simple PowerPoint presentation and Camtasia to showcase your abilities.  If you are not on LinkedIn, you should be.  Use Google Docs and LinkedIn to get noticed.  Rev up your business card by adding a QR code to it.  Avoid putting these top 10 wrong things on resumes.
  8. Ace the Interview:  Once you are able to obtain an interview, use personality skills to wow them.  Deliver information in the job interview based upon understanding introverts and extroverts.  Keep in mind the proper answer to tough interview questions.
  9. Follow up on the Interview:  Always follow up with a thank you note.  It is important to stand out from the crowd and having manners is very important.  It is important to realize that millennials have unique job expectations and may not come across as respectful at times.
  10. Use what You Have Learned to Succeed: Continue to use the things you have learned in order to obtain the job.  Don’t stop setting goals.  Stay connected through social networking in case the job doesn’t work out.

Researching Apple: Top 10 Most Useful Links

 

The following list was created to put all of the most useful information about Apple in one easy to find location:

  1. When Was Apple Incorporated?  “Apple was incorporated in the state of California on January 3, 1977.”
  2. When Apple Went IPO Apple’s initial public offering was on December 12, 1980 at $22 per share. “The stock has split three times since the IPO so on a split-adjusted basis the IPO share price was $2.75.”
  3. Apple’s Mission Statement:   Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.  The Apple website officially lists their mission statement as:  “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.”
  4. How to Find Up to the Minute Price on Apple Stock Apple’s ticker symbol is AAPL – click here for 20 minute delayed price.
  5. The First Apple Logo Featured Isaac Newton Newton was sitting under a tree with an apple about to fall on his head.
  6. The Name iPod Came From 2001: A Space Odyssey “As soon as I saw the white iPod, I thought 2001,” Chieco told Wired in 2006. “Open the pod bay door, Hal! Then it was just a matter of adding the ‘i’ prefix, as in ‘iMac.'”
  7. Apple Lists Detailed Information About their Environmental Footprint:  The Apple site lists their total footprint including information from manufacturing, transportation, product use, recycling and facilities.
  8. Apple’s Annual Report  “Apple does not produce a glossy annual report. Apple’s Form 10-K is available on our website. If you require a hard copy, go to the Request Information form and select the Form 10-K.”
  9. Apple’s Dividend History:  Find Apple dividend and stock split information.  Apple has had three 2- for-1 stock splits in 1987, 2000 and 2005.
  10. Apple Press Releases: This link includes all press releases, including Steve Jobs’ Retirement Letter to the Apple Board of Directors.

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Top 10 Sources for Help with APA 6th Edition

Students often find it challenging to write papers that meet APA guidelines.  The following table demonstrates how difficult it can be just to cite correctly.

The following is a list of some of the most useful resources to help write a paper that meets APA requirements.

  1. Purdue Online Writing Lab APA 6th Edition – One of the most excellent resources for all things APA, writing, punctuation, grammar, mechanics, MLA, and more . . . main Purdue site index.
  2. APA Style Lite for College Papers – Free style guide that gives excellent examples of how things should look in APA 6th edition.
  3. Sample APA Paper from Owl Purdue – Excellent example of a paper with arrows and text boxes pointing out each area of the paper and how it should look.
  4. APA 6th Edition Tutorial – Video demonstration of changes in most recent APA edition.
  5. APA 6th Edition Style Headings – Examples of the different levels of headings.
  6. Meeting APA 2 Spaces After Periods Requirement – Video of how to easily change from one space to two spaces after periods to meet 6th edition guidelines.
  7. Long Quotation Requirements – How to space longer quotations in APA 6th edition.
  8. Removing that Extra Space Between Paragraphs – Video demonstration of how to use the home tab in Word to find paragraph settings to remove any spaces from in between paragraphs.
  9. Accessing Headers and Page Numbers in Word – Video demonstration of how to set up headers and page numbers.
  10. Top 10 Most Common Writing Mistakes – Additional APA information, first person explanation, vocabulary, grammar, anthropomorphisms, Wikipedia, and more.

Famous People Capitalizing on Manic Depression

Manic depression or bipolar disorder is a mood disorder where people experience abnormal levels of high energy or depressive states. While generally thought of as a disorder, there are many examples of people who have this disorder and used it to their advantage.

In the article Manic Depression: The CEO’s Disease, the author points out that many leaders can be successful due to the mania involved.  They also may not even realize they have the disorder.  “On average, it takes 10 years from the onset of the illness for a manic depressive to receive a correct diagnosis. In the interim, some of them do very well in business. And as more and more such sufferers come forward, many psychiatrists are convinced that their good fortune is at least partly a result of their illness. Dr. Sagar Parikh, head of the Bipolar Clinic at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto, says 10% of those who have manic depression actually perform better in their jobs than a “healthy” individual. “[Manic depression] gives them that extra bit of panache to do the big deal,” says Parikh.”

In Joshua Walters’ Ted.com video, he points out the importance of being just crazy enough. He explains that as a performer, the crazier he is on stage, the more entertaining the audience finds his act.   He decided to embrace his illness and now walks the line between what he calls mental illness and mental skillness.  He points out that there is a movement to reframe the hypomanic part of the illness and to look at it is a positive.  He refers to John Gartner’s book The Hypomanic Edge where Gartner writes about how this edge allows people to compete.  Walters explains that being this way maybe doesn’t mean you are crazy, but that you are more sensitive to what others can’t see or feel. 

In the New York Times article Just Manic Enough:  Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs, author David Segal explained how people could take advantage of being in the bipolar spectrum.  Segal noted, “The attributes that make great entrepreneurs, the experts say, are common in certain manias, though in milder forms and harnessed in ways that are hugely productive. Instead of recklessness, the entrepreneur loves risk. Instead of delusions, the entrepreneur imagines a product that sounds so compelling that it inspires people to bet their careers, or a lot of money, on something that doesn’t exist and may never sell.”

Tom Wooten, author founder of the Bipolar Advantage, has made it his “mission to help people with mental conditions shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives.” He sees it as being bipolar without requiring the word disorder.

The following is a list of famous successful people who have been labeled as having manic depression:

Ted Turner Manic Depression

Jim Carey Manic Depression

Abraham Lincoln Manic Depression

Vincent Van Gogh Manic Depression

Christopher Columbus Manic Depression

Edgar Allen Poe Manic Depression

Steve Jobs Manic Depression

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Manic Depression

Ludwig van Beethoven Manic Depression

Robin Williams Manic Depression

For a more complete list of famous people with manic depression, click here.

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Adjunct Advantages: The Future of Education

 

Professors who work on a contracted, part-time basis are referred to as adjuncts.  There are advantages for universities that hire adjuncts rather than tenured faculty. However, many adjunct professors do not like this option.  Some refer to the way things have changed in the university system as adjunct purgatory, with low pay, few benefits and no security.

There is no shortage of articles that point out the problems with adjuncts.  In an article from MindingTheCampus, author Mark Bauerlein stated, “The practice creates a two-tier system, with tenured and tenure-track folks on one, adjuncts on the other.  Adjuncts take up most of the undergraduate teaching, enabling the others to conduct their research and handle upper-division and graduate courses, thus maintaining a grating hierarchy that damages group morale.  Also, because of their tenuous status, adjuncts can’t give students the attention they deserve and they can’t apply the rigor they should.”

These problems are more often associated with traditional campuses.  However, the future of education is headed toward more online learning.  In fact, according to Campustechnology.com, “Nearly 12 million post-secondary students in the United States take some or all of their classes online right now. But this will skyrocket to more than 22 million in the next five years.”  In private online institutions, adjunct positions can actually be more lucrative due to the ability that faculty may teach multiple classes for multiple universities.

 

The reason there are so many negative articles about adjuncts is that in the traditional setting, they have a completely different set of issues than those in the online setting.  There are many positives that should be noted for adjuncts in online learning. Some of the positives from the universities’ perspective (online or traditional) include: Not having to offer tenure, having flexibility in course offerings and paying less money per course.

There are even more advantages for online adjuncts from the faculty’s perspective:

  • Ability to work at multiple universities
  • No driving to campuses
  • Less meetings to attend
  • No need to publish research
  • Ability to work any time of the day in asynchronous courses
  • Ability to have other jobs at the same time
  • Ability to travel and still teach without taking time off
  • Option to have some of the same benefits with some universities offering 401k, insurance and reduced tuition costs for the adjunct and their family

For those considering an adjunct online position, a site like higheredjobsis a great place to find teaching opportunities. For more information about adjunct salaries, check out SalaryBlog.org.

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What is a Backronym or Bacronym?

 

People often use the word acronym but what is a backronym?  First it may help to explain an acronym. An acronym is formed from initial letters of several words to make a specific word.  A good example would be how FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions.

A backronym works backward. It is constructed so that an acronym can be formed into a specific word.  An example would be when Amber Hagerman was abducted, there was something created called an AMBER Alert.  In this case AMBER stands for America’s Missing:  Broadcast Emergency Response.

There are some more recent examples commonly used in the news.  Reporters have been using the TEA in Tea Party to stand for Taxed Enough Already.  Some older commonly used examples of using backronyms include:

Golf:  Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden

Bing:  Because It’s Not Google

AIG:  Arrogance Ignorance and Greed

One of the longest ones I’ve heard was OLDSMOBILE – Old Ladies Driving Slowly Making Others Behind Increasingly Late Everyday.

For an extensive list of backronyms, click here to check out a Businessballs article.

Anthropomorphisms: When Not to Use Them

There is a really big word that students should know, but may not.  That word is anthropomorphic.  Technically it means to give human form or attributes to something that is not human. It is popularly used in children’s books.  However, doctoral students often have their dissertations rejected for including anthropomorphisms.

Here are some examples of what an anthropomorphism looks like:

  • The study assumed that people would not be interested.
  • The computer program thinks that the results are accurate.

Both of these sentences should not be used.  The reason is that a person can “assume” but a study cannot. Animate nouns are things like a person, a researcher or a participant.  Animate nouns can make an assumption.  An inanimate noun, like a research study, cannot.  Just like an animate noun, a researcher can “think”, but an inanimate noun, a computer, cannot.

To put it more simply, think of it this way:

  • Person, Researcher, Participant = assume and think
  • Study, Computer, Inanimate Object ≠ assume and think

Social Media Presence Able to Continue Virtually After Death

Adam Astrow stated some interesting social media statistics in his recent TED.com presentation titled After Your Final Status Update. His talk was about what happens to your social media presence after you die and whether it can be saved in a virtual personality.

He cited some pretty interesting numbers for how much data is being uploaded to Youtube, Twitter and Facebook and claimed that that data could possibly be used to create a presence after one has passed away. 

He pointed out that there are already some sites and apps that can create postings for people post-mortem. There is an “If I Die” app can that can create video to be posted on Facebook after one’s death.  There is a site called 1000 Memories that states, “1000memories is a free site that celebrates the lives of people who matter most – our friends and family, past and present. We help bring the albums, scrapbooks, and photo-filled shoeboxes of our lives out of the closet and into an online, shareable space where they can be remembered and celebrated, together in one place.”

Although one may have passed on, their lives can be remembered indefinitely through the use of technology.

Have a Laugh from Site that Compiles Past Tweets

 

There is a fun little site called That Can Be My Next Tweet. It pulls information from your Twitter account and calculates what your possible next Tweet could include based on what you have Tweeted in the past.  Every time you push the “get your next Tweet” button, it comes up with a new jumble of words combined from your past postings.  I put in drdianehamilton and the first three times I pushed the button, I got the following responses:

  1. You are emotionally intelligent? 3 Answers: Consumer Trends to Target its 90 Million From Russian?
  2. Develop Socially You About Your Current Job Google and Psychological Bloggers and Business Review: How?
  3. Boomerang Generation: College Tuition Really Want This New Pew Is Your Current Job Google Using QR code!

It was fun for a few minutes.  I’m not sure it has lasting appeal, but it can be good for a few laughs. I put in a few personalities that can tend to be characters to see what their next Tweet might be.  Here is what it generated:

Charlie Sheen:  Sloppy TunaGet you’re going to Colombia, it’s my page & ! KH & RH RT!! Anger Management ANGER & coke round.

Ashton Kutcher:  I’m a joke. retweet to keep spending millions to people sounds funnier than astronauts.

Kanye West:  Chilling with my stress and I just threw some bassoon on Yeezy’s and the right thing but I know Howie?

BrianWilson (the closing pitcher for the San Francisco Giants):  Charlie Sheen is why. The Tux. Made of the Wharf. you enjoy choking on today’s run, upon reaching the 1st!

To check out: That Can Be My Next Tweet, click here.

How to Publish or Self-Publish Your Book

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  I am thinking about publishing a book.  What do I need to know about finding a publisher or trying to self-publish?

It can be quite challenging to get your first book published through a large publishing house.  Many new authors find that they must end up self-publishing.  Some are choosing to self-publish now because of the way that the industry is changing as well.

Seth Godin, is a well-established author who used to use the big publishing houses, recently decided to self-publish.  Godin decided to do this because he had enough customer relationships and felt he no longer needed the publisher.  Publishers can offer a lot of advantages for a new author.  However, once an author is established and has identified their audience, they may not be as necessary.  According to the Wall Street Journal Godin is quoted as saying, “Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don’t know who reads their books. What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers.”

If you decide to go the publisher house route, here are some things you must keep in mind.  There is a very high probability that publishers will turn down you book unless you have an agent, a strong proposal, a very unique book idea, and most importantly a strong platform.

The word platform gets tossed around quite a bit in the publishing world.  What they mean when they say they want you to have a strong platform is that they want you to have a “following” of people that will probably already want to buy your book once it comes out.  They would like to see you have a popular blog, a TV show, a radio show, are a celebrity or have written previous books, etc.  If you don’t have a platform, there is a good chance that they will turn you down.

If you do have a platform and want to use a publishing house, you will need to start the process by finding an agent.  To do this, you must develop a query letter.  Once you develop a good query letter, you will send this to agents that handle the type of writing that interests you.  I suggest reading Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents.

Once you send your query letters to agents, you may get some that respond.  If so, you must be prepared to have a strong book proposal to give them.  There are plenty of books about how to write a book proposal based on the type of book (fiction or nonfiction). There is a very specific format about how to write a proposal and it is important that you stick to that format.  The proposal will contain several things including some brief information about the proposed chapters.

Many people think they need to have written the complete book prior to finding an agent. This is not true.  It is good to have one solid chapter to send to the agent, though, in case they do like your proposal.  Do not send this chapter until it is requested though.  It is important to start with the query letter. If there is interest, then you would send the proposal.  If there is interest, then you would send the sample chapter.

 

If you cannot get a publishing house to publish your book, many people go the route of self-publishing.  There are some very simple ways to self-publish including using Amazon’s CreateSpace. Sites like this have made it easier and less expensive than ever before to get your book published.  The nice thing is that the days of having to print large amounts of books that require storage are gone.  With sites like Createspace, books are printed as they are ordered.

Self-publishing has changed the publishing industry.  Because of sites like Amazon, many stores like Borders have had to close their doors.  People have enjoyed the ability to have a variety of book choices and the ease of ordering online.

If you do decide to self-publish, be sure that you have a good editor and an indexer.  Createspace and others like them, offer help with a lot of things like cover design and more.  The more things that you need help with, the more it will cost.  However, these sites have made self-publishing a much easier and more realistic choice for authors than anything offered in the past.

Best Apps for Students and Everyone Else

It can be hard to keep up with all of the apps out there. There are over 425,000 apps on Itunes now and that number grows daily.

In the article 48 Apps That College Students Love, they have listed some very important apps.  The apps are broken down the into the following categories:  Essential Tools, Education, Communication, Entertainment, Information Management, Organization, Budget, and News.

This article listed some of my own very favorite apps, including TED, which includes some of the greatest talks from TED.com.

There are also some fun ones like Rate My Professor. Check out Posting Teacher Reviews Online – What is Rate My Professor.

There are a few that I would like to add to the list, though, that I think are awesome apps:

HowStuffWorks – This app has all of their great podcasts including my favorite from Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant of Stuff You Should Know fame.

StitcherRadio – Great way to access multiple ratio stations and more.

GoogleCalendar –  Google’s Calendar is a great way to keep things organized.

Words with Friends – I like this version better than Scrabble’s and it can connect to Facebook as well.

Increasing Motivation, Right vs. Left Brain, MBTI and Who Will Rule the World

Dan Pink, author of several books about motivation and left vs. right brain thinking, presented a very entertaining and informative talk at a TED.com conference called Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation. The premise of his presentation was that there is a mismatch between what science knows about, and what business does, in terms of motivating people.

He made a strong argument for the importance of how having autonomy may help creativity.  A famous example he used is how Google allows employees to spend 20% of their time working on any project they want.  He noted how ½ of all products developed at Google are created during this time.  He argued for something he called ROWE which stands for Results Only Work Environment.  This is when people don’t have to have schedules, attend meetings or do anything specific other than to be sure that they get their work done.  By following these guidelines studies have shown it will increase productivity and reduce turnover.

Two of Pink’s books include:  Drive . . . The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; and A Whole New Mind . . .Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World.  After looking through his book on “right-brainers”, I found a lot of what he had to say to be quite interesting.  He pointed out the importance of empathy which is a big part of emotional intelligence.  For my dissertation, I studied quite a bit about empathy and the part it plays in one’s emotional intelligence.  Researchers like Daniel Goleman, Ruevan Bar-On and others have shown that emotional intelligence can be developed.  In this respect, what Pink had to say is good news for everyone because we can all work on becoming more empathetic.

The part of Pink’s information that may not be such good news for me and others like me is that he thinks that, as you can see from the title of his book, right-brainers will rule the world.  Before reading any further, you might want to take this right or left brain quiz to find out your type.  I’ll let you know that I received a 2 which means I am strongly left-brained.  Not much right-brained thinking going on here!

 

To define the difference between left and right-brained, think of it this way:  Left-brainers are sequential, logical and analytical.  Right-brainers are non-linear, intuitive and holistic.

His theory supports that those with a high N or Intuitive personality type in the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) may be the ones who rule the world.  The N is the opposite of the S or Sensing personality who uses their senses rather than intuition in their processing of information.  In my training to become a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, I learned quite a bit about the differences between the personality types assigned by the MBTI. One of the main things researchers have found is that your MBTI results don’t change much over time.  It’s about preferences . . . .like whether you prefer to write with your right or your left hand. Think of the MBTI results as your preferences for how you obtain information and this won’t change.  So if you are an intuitive or an “N”, you will always be an intuitive and if you are a sensor or “S”, you will always be a sensor.  Some people may be very close to the middle of the scale between S and N and so their results won’t be as cut and dry as they may find their type changes slightly when they take the MBTI.

Dichotomies
Extraversion (E) – (I) Introversion
Sensing (S) – (N) Intuition
Thinking (T) – (F) Feeling
Judgment (J) – (P) Perception

In our book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, Toni Rothpletz and I gave several examples of famous people with different MBTI results.  The qualities of the right-brainer, as described by Pink, fall very much into the category of the “N” or intuitive personality portion of the 4 letter type given by MBTI. What is interesting to me is that less than half of people have an “N” or intuitive personality type according to Myers-Briggs MBTI which is close to the about 50% figure experts say are right-brained.

If our type is pretty much set in stone, then 50% of us aren’t going to rule the world!  I guess I am OK with that.  However, I do take solace in knowing that my MBTI personality type, ESTJ, accounts for l0-12% of the population and of that population some very big names also share that type including Sam Walton, creator of WalMart.  He may not have ruled the world, but he came pretty darn close.

How to Use QR Codes on Your Resume and Business Cards

QR codes are the latest thing in marketing.  They are in the newspapers, on billboards and on just about every kind of marketing material you can imagine. Now you can utilize this amazing new technology to make your business card and/or resume stand out from the rest.  This is an innovative way to show prospective employers that you are tech savvy.  It also can redirect them to important information on your website that you cannot include in your resume. 

Here is an example of how to put one on your business card. 

Anyone with a smartphone that has an app for reading QR codes can easily point their phone at your card and find out more information about you.  If you don’t have a QR reader app on your phone, they are easy to download from sites like iTunes and they are free.  I use QR Reader for iPhone.  Once you have the app on your phone, open it, and point the phone’s camera at the square on my card.  See how it directs you to a site. 

The QR codes are simple to create.  Check out this article:  how to create your own QR codes.

Here is an example of how to include them on your resume:

 
If you used your reader to scan these codes listed here, you can see they each will send you to a different site.  You may just want to send them to your LinkedIn page or some other website that showcases your abilities.  You could create a presentation in Google Docs or on YouTube that would make you stand out from the crowd.  If you have always felt that you could get that job if only they could see you, now is your chance.  Just be careful to create quality content on the site where you direct potential employers. 

To see QR codes in action, check out this video about how QR codes are changing the way people shop:

Neuromarketing: The Future of Advertising

In Morgan Spurlock’s movie, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, there is a scene where they discuss neuromarketing. Spurlock is put into an MRI machine and shown product images.  The information obtained showed dopamine was released when he looked at images of Coca Cola.  His desire for the product was actually visible on the brain scan. 

What is neuromarketing?  Tech.FAQ defines neuromarketing as, “a field of marketing that involves studying the way people react to marketing techniques and adjusting those techniques to maximize sales and inform the public about a specific product, idea, or campaign. Neuromarketing includes the use of biometric sensors, social studies, and subliminal messaging. While neuromarketing is a relatively new technique, it has been widely implemented in recent years and nearly every marketing agency and medium-large company in the world now uses it.”

Just less than a year ago the question was asked:  Is neuromarketing the future?  AdvertisingAge stated, “Neuromarketing offers a chance to get accurate, factual data about the buying habits of target markets.” However, they also pointed out that, “At the end of the day, neuromarketing is still in its infancy. A technology that is unproven outside of laboratory conditions, prohibitively expensive, and potentially a legal minefield is a technology that requires a lot of capital and a solid brand to experiment with.”

The future may be here sooner than anticipated.  Combining neuroscience and marketing may just be the next big thing available through the use of apps.  ThreeMinds reported, “large companies like Google, Disney, Microsoft and Chevron have already begun to dip their toes in the neuromarketing waters.  And research vendors have responded, recently announcing the availability of portable EEG devices that can wirelessly transmit brain scans to iPads, as well as “full-brain home panels” for original research studies.”

Marketing professionals may be able to use this technology prior to products coming onto market.  Currently researchers from Duke and Emery are studying how products appeal to the human brain

iTunes offers a free series of videos from the University of Warwick about neuromarketing. In these videos, find out how “Cognitive neuroscience has revolutionized our understanding of the consumer’s brain – a fact with huge implications for business and marketing…you will hear from practitioners, clients and academics at the forefront of neuromarketing. Hear how neuroscience is being applied commercially to research and develop new products and services, improve the effectiveness of communications and boost revenue.”

Facebook Making People More Empathetic

Several studies have shown that online communication has facilitated friendships, honesty and sense of belonging.  New research is showing that Facebook time may actually improve people’s empathy as well. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “The more time on Facebook subjects in a recent study spent, the more empathy they said they felt online and off.”

This information may come as a surprise with the number of reported cyber bullying cases. Internet Solutions for Kids reported that 17% of 13- to 18-year-olds were bullied online in the past year. However, this is low compared to the reported 40% in-person bullying.   

Fear of dealing with social settings has led many to online platforms like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Some newer studies have shown that this form of online communication can be helpful for those who are shy or introverted and who may normally find social settings stressful.  The WSJ article noted, “In a study of New York University students who described themselves as either socially anxious or non-anxious, participants were randomly assigned to interact in groups of three, either in-person or through an Internet chat room.  Anxious students reported greatest shyness and discomfort than non-anxious students in face-to-face groups.  In the chat room, however, they said they felt significantly less shy, more comfortable and better accepted by their peers.”

The American Psychological Association (APA) reported some results at a Washington, DC conference this year from 1,283 people aged 18-30.  This group was asked about their time spent online and its impact on how much empathy they felt toward their online and offline friends.  The participants reported “a significant amount of empathy online, and that the more time college students spent on Facebook, the more empathy they expressed online and in real life.”

Young Adults and Unique Identity Theft Issues

As more people have embraced technology, more opportunities for identity theft have been created.  PC Magazine author Larry Seltzer interviewed a cyber-crimes expert and found that there are some unique new ways that people have their identities stolen.  One of the things that may come as a surprise is that misconfigured peer-to-peer apps like Limewire can share information from your “My Documents” folder.

While you may be hip to the Nigerian scams, you may not be aware of skimmers on ATMs that can read your credit cards. Seltzer explains, “These are devices which install over the reader appear to be part of the machine. When you insert your card the skimmer reads it and records the information on it. They are often used in combination with surreptitious cameras to record the keys you press for the PIN. Skimmers are especially popular on gas pump, but they are also being used on the smaller point of sale readers found in stores.”

CNN Money reported that the top consumer complaint is identity fraud.  “The Federal Trade Commission counted 250,854 complaints about identity theft in 2010, according to a report issued Tuesday. That was 19% of the 1.3 million total complaints the agency received, putting it at the top of the consumer complaint list for the 11th year in a row. The most common form of identity theft was through fraudulent government documents. Credit card fraud garnered the second highest number of identity theft complaints, followed by phone and utilities fraud.”

Many young adults are going back to school soon.  College students may feel they are invincible and not notice identity theft as quickly as they should.  They are less likely to track their bank accounts and credit card statements.  Mainstreet.com reported, “Studies have shown that it takes 18- to 24-year-old Americans twice as long to find out they’ve been the victim of I.D. fraud – which is usually too late to do anything about it.”

Wells Fargo has come up with tips for college students to safeguard their financial information.

Fraudpreventionunit.org also has listed 10 Tips for an Identity-Theft Free 2011.

Doctors’ Time Running Out To Meet HIPAA 5010 Requirements

Effective January 1, 2012 there will be a new HIPAA 5010 version that will be a required for doctors to use for electronic filing.  If physicians don’t use version 5010 for all HIPAA electronic transactions by that date, their claims will be rejected and they won’t be paid.  Doctors are feeling the pressure to get their systems ready for this change.  Many physican practices have not embraced the electronic age as well as other businesses have and are now behind the eight ball, scrambling to meet these new standards.

Medcost.com reported, “The purpose of 5010 is to facilitate the country’s ongoing goal of transitioning to an electronic health care environment by updating the current standards for electronic health care and pharmacy transactions. The updated 5010 versions replace the current versions of the standards and will promote greater use of electronic transactions. This change has been driven by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).”

There are some helpful resources to show doctors how to prepare for this transition.  GetReady5010 offers free webinars.  The AMA also has some excellent resources. Despite all of these free offerings, many physicians are not prepared for this change. American Med News reported, “Many physicians have not even begun to see if they are compliant with what are known as HIPAA Version 5010 standards. According to a survey released in March by the Medical Group Management Assn., 56% of practices have not scheduled any internal testing for 5010, and 61% have not scheduled any testing with their major health plans. The survey covered 349 practices with 13,290 doctors.”

What’s new in the HIPAA 5010 version? Some of the changes include:

  • Physicians must submit a nine-digit, rather than a five-digit, ZIP code
  • Physicians may distinguish between principal diagnosis, admitting diagnosis, external cause of injury and patient reason for visit codes
  • 5010 set will allow for the inclusion of ICD-10 codes

Nextgen.com listed the following frequently asked questions relate to HIPAA 5010 to help understand requirements.  Click on the links for answers to each of the questions.

  1. What is HIPAA 5010?
  2. Who will need to upgrade to HIPAA 5010?
  3. Why must I upgrade to HIPAA 5010?
  4. How is HIPAA 5010 different from HIPAA 4010?
  5. What are the key dates for HIPAA 5010 and what is the deadline for HIPAA 5010 implementation?
  6. What happens if I’m not ready by the compliance deadline?
  7. Is there a chance for a delay in the compliance date?
  8. What do I need to do to prepare for the upgrade to 5010?
  9. If I finish all of this work before the compliance deadline, can I start to use the 5010 transactions?
  10. What provider transactions are implemented with HIPAA 5010?
  11. Where can you obtain the X12 Technical Reports?

College Students Beware of Financial Aid Scams

In the recent article 15 Common Financial Aid Scams to Watch Out For, the author points out that college students may be a vulnerable demographic.  So-called financial aid experts may be out to take advantage of those looking for legitimate ways to finance their education.  Watch out for some of the following wording:  Unclaimed Money, Buy Now, Application Fees, Free Seminar, and Guaranteed.  For the complete list of scams with explanations, click here

Finaid.org claims, “Every year, several hundred thousand students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. The victims of these scams lose more than $100 million annually.”  There is some protection against fraud.  The Scholarship Fraud Protection Act of 2000 has increased the penalties for this fraud, including a maximum fine of $500,000 and jail time. 

If you feel you have been scammed, you have recourse.  According to the Finaid.org site, “The following organizations can help you determine whether an offer is legitimate. They will tell you whether they have received any complaints about the company, or whether it’s currently under investigation. They can also provide you with additional information or assistance.

National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
In addition to providing helpful information, the NFIC will pass your complaints along to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state’s Attorney General’s Office. The NFIC also maintains a toll-free hotline at 1-800-876-7060.”

Who is Buying Stocks When Everyone Is Selling?

With the recent stock market drop, there was a mass sale off of stocks.  This may lead to the question:  If everyone is selling, is there a chance that there are stocks that no one wants to purchase?  The answer is technically no.  There are always as many buyers as there are sellers and that keeps the system going. 

If you are wondering who would want to buy stocks when the market is going down, the answer is:  a lot of people.  Some shares are picked up through options and some are picked up through money managers that have been waiting for a strike price. 

There are many people who set up stock limit orders so that when a stock hits a certain dollar amount, it is automatically purchased.  According to Money.cnn.com, “If you place a market order with your broker, then you are saying that you’re willing to buy at whatever happens to be the prevailing price for the stock. If you have a specific price in mind, you can set a limit order specifying the price you’re willing to pay. If the stock dips down to that level, your order will be automatically filled. Limit orders can be left open for a single day (a day order) or indefinitely (good until canceled). After you’ve bought a stock, you can instruct your broker to sell it if the price drops to a level you specify (a stop loss order). That’s a kind of insurance; it means that no matter what happens to a stock’s price you’ll never lose more than a specified amount.”

Some may look at this as legalized gambling.  A capitalist is always on the look out to get a better price or better dividend yield.  Dividend yields are based on the price of the stock.  If the stock goes down, the yield may go up.  For example since dividends are in dollar amounts and not percentages, if a $1 dividend is divided by a $20/share price then the dividend yields 5%.  If that $1 dividend is divided by an $18/share price then that dividend yields more at 5.5%.

The sheer volume of trading is staggering.  A local stock broker looked up today’s trade volume.  For August 9, 2011, 9 billion shares traded. 

How to Reinvent Your Career

Due to changes in the economy, many people have been forced to change jobs and learn how to reinvent themselves.  Sharon Simpson, aka The Reinvention Diva, contacted me recently to ask me if she could review my book How to Reinvent Your Career.  Sharon is a speaker, consultant and self-help guru who assists those that want to change habits and behaviors.  The following is the article she wrote about my book.  For more information about How to Reinvent Your Career, click here.  For The Reinvention Diva site, click here

How To Reinvent Your Career – Book Review

How to Reinvent Your Career – by Dr Diane Hamilton PhD

Dr Diane Hamilton’s book How to Reinvent Your Career is a holistic approach to finding and doing the job you love.

The first great thing I notice about this book is Dr Hamilton’s willingness to share personal experiences of how she reinvented herself (several times) to the position which she now holds.

Dr Diane Hamilton is a writer and a college professor teaching bachelor, master and doctoral-level business courses for six online universities. She kindly responded to my request to read and review her book in line with our focus here at The Reinvention Diva magazine on Career Reinvention.

The second great thing I found in her book is the systematic way she covers almost every aspect of change that would be involved in reinventing your career. There are ten chapters that cover everything from educating yourself to the right foods to eat to keep you healthy. From what to wear to your interview and taking a personality test. It is a well rounded 360º approach to the most important thing involved in change: YOU!

This book is about YOU, if you are serious about investing in your life, moving forward and learning whatever it is you need to live the life you want, I would suggest Dr Diane Hamilton’s book as an excellent place to start. And here’s why:

Dr Hamilton uses space at the end of each chapter to:

Loss Leaders and the Old Bait and Switch

Go Daddy is in the news right now due to their consideration of global expansion. One of the ways they have become so successful is that they utilized a marketing technique where they offered a “loss leader”.  For those who have not taken a business course, this term may not be familiar.  The Business Dictionary defines a loss leader as a, “Good or service advertised and sold at below cost price. Its purpose is to bring in (lead) customers in the retail store (usually a supermarket) on the assumption that, once inside the store, the customers will be stimulated to buy full priced items as well.”

In Go Daddy’s case, they charged customers only around $10 to register domains while their competition charged closer to $35.  The Arizona Republic reported, “Then, they were able to capitalize on that by figuring out that domain names are a loss leader or a low margin item, and the way you really make money in the business is not with the domain names, but it’s with everything else that people buy with them.”

How does a loss leader differ from what people refer to as the “old bait and switch”?  First of all, the old bait and switch is considered fraud.  “Customers are “baited” by advertising for a product or service at a low price; then customers discover that the advertised good is not available and are “switched” to a costlier product.”  This is considered false advertising.

The use of loss leaders is a smart marketing move because it gives customers what they want at a lower price and allows companies to make more money on any additional items purchased.  The old bait and switch is illegal and causes a loss of business in the end through word of mouth about shady practices.    

Importance of Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Anyone who has taken a business course has probably seen the acronym CRM. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and refers to ways of keeping track of interactions with customers.  However, it is much more than that.  Bain.com does a nice job of defining CRM:  “Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a process companies use to understand their customer groups and respond quickly—and at times, instantly—to shifting customer desires. CRM technology allows firms to collect and manage large amounts of customer data and then carry out strategies based on that information. Data collected through focused CRM initiatives help firms solve specific problems throughout their customer relationship cycle—the chain of activities from the initial targeting of customers to efforts to win them back for more. CRM data also provide companies with important new insights into customers’ needs and behaviors, allowing them to tailor products to targeted customer segments. Information gathered through CRM programs often generates solutions to problems outside a company’s marketing functions, such as supply chain management and new product development.”

Forward-thinking companies must learn to embrace CRM to remain competitive.  An article in BusinessBalls.com pointed out, “The ultimate purpose of CRM, like any organizational initiative, is to increase profit. In the case of CRM this is achieved mainly by providing a better service to your customers than your competitors. CRM not only improves the service to customers though; a good CRM capability will also reduce costs, wastage, and complaints.”

In the business world, Pareto’s Principle is often cited.   This principle states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes.   This has been translated to:  companies obtain 80% of their business from 20% of their clients.   As the BusinessBalls.com article pointed out this also means:

  • 20% of customers account for 80% of your turnover
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of your profits
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of your service and supply problems

In order to avoid wasting time and energy, relationship building is critical.  To develop these relationships, it is important to have a strong CRM system.  There are plenty of web-based CRMs.  A popular cloud-based CRM is available through Salesforce.com.  This popular system boasts ease of use stating, “Using Salesforce CRM is as easy as buying a book on Amazon.com. That means your employees will actually use it, so it will be a more effective tool for your business.”

Apps are popping up all over to help with CRM.  Salesforce.com has their own that is good for a sales-based industry.  SmallBusinessTrends.com did a nice review of some other top CRM apps that are useful for small businesses.

Female Career Choices That May Surprise You

On the first day of work as a pharmaceutical representative in the 80’s, I was struck by the similarity of my newly-hired peers.  There were about 10 of us that started at the same time.  Nine out of 10 of us were women.  I hadn’t given much thought as to whether women dominated in the pharmaceutical business at that time.  However, sitting at that long table full of women, most of whom had business degrees, made me realize that things were changing for women and their career choices.

Since I currently teach for many different online universities, a recent article about women and their online degree choices caught my eye.  In the article 10 Majors That Are No longer Male-Dominated, the author pointed out, “Historically, women have dominated majors like education, English and psychology, while men were more likely to study engineering, computer science or math. Although this may ring true at some schools, it isn’t the standard at every traditional or online college. More than ever, college women are opting to study traditionally male-dominated majors and are breaking enrollment records while they’re at it. As the line between male- and female-dominated academic fields continues to fade, there will be less segregation in the job market and more opportunities for both sexes.”

The article lists the following online majors as currently female-dominant:

Computer Science

Business

Engineering

Agriculture

Biological Science

Construction Management

Fire Science

Criminal Justice

Information Technology

Sports Management

For more information about the increase in women majoring in each of these areas, click here to read the full article.

Spot the Fake Smile: Fun Test That May Surprise You

Have you ever wondered if that smile someone flashed you is sincere?  You might want to check out some research on the BBC Science site.  “Their experiment is designed to test whether you can spot the difference between a fake smile and a real one.  It has 20 questions and should take you 10 minutes. It is based on research by Professor Paul Ekman, a psychologist at the University of California. Each video clip will take approximately 15 seconds to load on a 56k modem and you can only play each smile once.”

I took the test and only got 14 out of 20 correct.  According to this research, I am not alone in having difficulty spotting the fake smiles.  “Most people are surprisingly bad at spotting fake smiles. One possible explanation for this is that it may be easier for people to get along if they don’t always know what others are really feeling. Although fake smiles often look very similar to genuine smiles, they are actually slightly different, because they are brought about by different muscles, which are controlled by different parts of the brain.”

If that is the case, I guess getting a 70% is that bad.  I personally found one of the smiles to be a little disturbing.  I noticed that I did get that one correct.  Click here to take the Spot The Fake Smile Test.

Are Women Making Teams Smarter?

Harvard Business Review recently published an article about how having women on a team makes the team smarter.  Although they didn’t find a correlation between the collective intelligence of the group and the IQ of individuals within that group, they did find that if women were in the group, the collective intelligence was higher. 

The Female Factor:  The chart plots the collective intelligence scores of the 192 teams in the study against the percentage of women those teams contained. The red bars indicate the range of scores in the group of teams at each level, and the blue circles, the average. Teams with more women tended to fall above the average; teams with more men tended to fall below it.

Professors Anita Wooley (Carnegie Mellon) and Thomas Malone (MIT) gave “subjects aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks—including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles—and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Though the teams that had members with higher IQs didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did.”

Finding the right mix of people on a team has been a consideration many organizations have dealt with in the past.  These researchers hope to see how this information can help teams perform better in the future through changing members or incentives. 

In the past, I taught teams how to get along better through the use of the Myers Briggs MBTI personality assessment instrument.  Through understanding personalities, team members could learn about each other’s preferences for how they like to obtain information. This became more useful to the team as a whole.  In my training experience, I found that even if a team had members with high IQ’s, they needed to understand why other members of the teams did the things they did and required the information they required in the format that fit their needs.  It was important to understand the collective needs of the team in order for the team to be successful. 

With the study by Wooley and Malone, they bring up the use of their findings in understanding collective intelligence.  According to Malone, “Families, companies, and cities all have collective intelligence. But as face-to-face groups get bigger, they’re less able to take advantage of their members. That suggests size could diminish group intelligence. But we suspect that technology may allow a group to get smarter as it goes from 10 people to 50 to 500 or even 5,000. Google’s harvesting of knowledge, Wikipedia’s high-quality product with almost no centralized control—these are just the beginning. What we’re starting to ask is, How can you increase the collective intelligence of companies, or countries, or the whole world?”

Top 100 Vocabulary Words That Adults Should Know

Educators often use words with meanings that students may not fully understand.  Rather than looking foolish and asking for an explanation, students may go through years of schooling and not truly grasp the meaning of important terminology.

After consulting with a past English teacher, my sister, Lesley Hamilton, and a future English teacher, my daughter, Terra Rothpletz, we came up with a list of 100 words that are dispersed by educators but not necessarily understood by students.  Rather than list the definitions here, I thought it might be better to just include the link so that you could test yourself.  Look at the following words and see how well you do.  To find out the definitions, just click on the word. 

  1. Acquiesce
  2. Acronym
  3. Ambiguity
  4. Analogy
  5. Anachronism
  6. Andragogy
  7. Antithesis
  8. Antonym
  9. Articulate
  10. Assonance
  11. Benchmarking
  12. Brainstorming
  13. Circumspect
  14. Clandestine
  15. Cognition
  16. Collaborate
  17. Colloquial
  18. Connotation
  19. Contrived
  20. Conundrum
  21. Correlation
  22. Criterion
  23. Cumulative
  24. Curriculum
  25. Deference
  26. Developmental
  27. Dialect
  28. Diction
  29. Didactic
  30. Dissertation
  31. Divergent
  32. Egregious
  33. Eloquence
  34. Emergent
  35. Empathy
  36. Enigma
  37. Epitome
  38. Epiphany
  39. Epitaph
  40. Erudite
  41. Existential
  42. Exponential
  43. Formative
  44. Holistic
  45. Homonym
  46. Hubris
  47. Hyperbole
  48. Incongruous
  49. Infamy
  50. Initiation
  51. Innate
  52. Intellectual
  53. Interactive
  54. Irony
  55. Jargon
  56. Juxtaposition
  57. Malapropism
  58. Magnanimous
  59. Mentor
  60. Metaphor
  61. Meticulous
  62. Mnemonic
  63. Monologue
  64. Motif
  65. Myriad
  66. Nemesis
  67. Nominal
  68. Norms
  69. Obfuscate
  70. Obtuse
  71. Onomatopoeia
  72. Ostentatious
  73. Oxymoron
  74. Paradox
  75. Paraphrase
  76. Pedantic
  77. Pedagogy
  78. Perusal
  79. Phonemes
  80. Phonological
  81. Plagiarism
  82. Plethora
  83. Posthumously
  84. Preposition
  85. Pretentious
  86. Pseudonym
  87. References
  88. Reflection
  89. Rubric
  90. Sardonic
  91. Satire
  92. Simile
  93. Soliloquy
  94. Superfluous
  95. Syntax
  96. Thesis
  97. Validity
  98. Vernacular
  99. Virtual
  100. Vocational

Boomers Worry More about Their Brain than Their Body

Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, have long been associated with having rejected traditional values.  Their notions about what they value in terms of their mind and body may not fit the traditional outlook as well.  Although they fear cancer and heart disease, it may be a surprise to note that they list “fear of memory loss” as their second biggest concern.  Cancer is their first and heart disease their third.  This information was obtained from a Strong.com poll by Knowledge Networks of Menlo Park, conducted through interviewing 1078 Baby Boomers. 

As boomers age, they aren’t taking care of their health as well as they could.  In the article Boomers Losing the Battle of the Bulge, the Arizona Republic reported, “Boomers are more obese than other generations, a new poll says, setting them up for unhealthy senior years.  Only half of the obese Boomers say they are regularly exercising.”

Rather than focusing on having a healthy weight, Boomers are working on avoiding dementia.  In this same article it was noted, “More than half of Boomers polled say they regularly do mental exercises such as crossword puzzles.” 

Marilynn Mobley from Baby Boomer Insights reported, “We boomers live in fear of being diagnosed with Alzheimers. Too many of us have watched our grandparents die with it and some of us are already dealing with parents who are showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Now, there’s evidence that our fear is not unfounded. We boomers are actually now regarded as “Generation Alzheimers.” One out of every eight of us will die with or from the disease. And unlike other common boomer diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and heart conditions, there’s really nothing we can do about it. There’s no cure; in fact, there’s not even a known way to significantly slow the progression of the disease.”

Boomers are not the only ones that fear Alzheimer’s.  They may have good reason for this.  The Examiner.com recently reported statistics from: The Metlife Foundation survey, What America Thinks. “Recent estimates show more than 26 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s. The number of Americans aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.7 million in 2030 – a greater than 50 percent increase from today because of the aging Baby Boomer population.”

Value of Top Companies

The following is a list of the estimated value of some of the top companies in 2011.  They are listed in order of highest to lowest value.

Apple – TechCrunch recently reported that Apple’s value is now worth as much as Microsoft, HP and Dell combined.  Valued at over $300 billion, Apple continues to grow.  For more specifics, click here:  Apple Value

Microsoft – Recent estimates put Microsoft’s value at about $200 billion.  Skype – Microsoft’s recent purchase assessed Skype’s value at $8.5 billion.

GoogleGoogle’s value has been estimated to be $192 billion as of January, 2011.  For more specifics on this income including Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s net income, click here:  Google ValueYoutube – Recent estimates put Youtube’s value around $1.3 billion.  Google paid $1.6 billion for Youtube in 2006.

FacebookFacebook was valued at $82.9 billion in January and that number continues to grow.

Amazon – In January, it was reported that Facebook passed Amazon’s value.  Amazon still showed a $75.2 billion worth.  For more specifics, click here:  Amazon Value

HP – Recent estimates put HP’s value at about $72.8 billion.

Dell – Recent estimates put Dell’s value at about $29.3 billion.

Groupon – Recent estimates put Groupon’s Value at as much as $25 billion.

Twitter – It is suggested that Twitter’s value is around $7.7 billion.

Linkedin – Recent estimates put LinkedIn’s value at over $4 billion.

The Most Useful Articles about How to Use Twitter

As Twitter grows and develops, so does the need to understand how to use Twitter as an effective marketing tool.  Companies and individuals that still have confusion with understanding hashtags, obtaining followers or how to remove annoying followers, should check out this list of the top Twitter articles:

  • Best Twitter Articles of 2010 – Bloggodown.com gives an exhaustive list of everything you want to know about Twitter. 
  • How to Find Hashtags on Twitter – This article explain hashtags and joining conversations on Twitter.  Hashtags are a popular way to start up a conversation about a specific topic within Twitter.  By putting the # sign before a subject, it creates a conversation that others can join.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Getting Twitter Followers – Dave Larson from Tweetsmarter.com explains the 6 ways to get Twitter followers including how to build a reputation, self-promotion, becoming a reciprocator, understanding automation, joining following groups, and avoiding spamming.    
  • Deciphering Twitter:   Twictionary Terms can be Very Intwesting – As Twitter grows in popularity, so does the number of terms that are associated with the site. Check out some of the most popularly used Twitter terms.
  • How to Block People on Twitter – One big difference between being on Twitter as compared to being on Facebook is that people can follow you without your consent.  That may lead to some situations that you find to be bothersome, including unsolicited contact or having to sift through a bombardment of tweets on your homepage. 

     According to AssociatedContent.com you can block people on Twitter by:

    • “Log into your Twitter account using your unique username and password. If you use a public computer, do not forget to mark the ‘Do not remember me on this computer option’ to protect your personal info.
    • If the user you wish to block is already following you, go to your ‘Followers’ list. Browse among your connections and click on the personal profile of the unwanted contact. Alternatively, just type the person’s Twitter name on the search box and click on enter.
    • While on the person’s profile, you will see a gear icon on the top center of the screen (next to the ‘Message’ box). Once you click on it, a drop-down menu will reveal the options ‘Mention,’ ‘Block,’ or ‘Report for spam.’
    • Click on ‘Block’ and you have successfully blocked the spammer. Moreover, a box ‘Blocked’ with a red line will appear on the user’s profile replacing the ‘Following’ box.

   What happens later if you decide you blocked someone that you would rather not block?  Check out  how to unblock Twitter followers.  

 

Milgram’s Experiment, Horrible Bosses and Dwight Shrute Co-Workers

The recently released movie, Horrible Bosses, is about three friends who have three . . . you guessed it, horrible bosses.  While it might be fun to watch Jennifer Aniston play a bad character, the movie brings up some interesting issues about authority figures and their power to affect people’s lives.

In the early 60s, a guy named Stanley Milgram did some research into the willingness of people to follow directions given by those in authority. The question Milgram contemplated was:  If you were asked to shock someone with 400 volts of electricity, would you do it just because someone in a white lab coat told you to do it as part of an experiment? You may think not, but you may be surprised.

What Milgram was looking for was how authority leads to obedience. Isn’t that kind of what happens to you at work? You’re at the mercy of your leader or manager. You do what they tell you to do, because they are your superior, and you figure you should listen. Part of what makes up your personality is the part that is willing to obey commands that may not necessarily make sense to you.

There may be a few people you’d like to shock some sense into at work. We’d like to think we’d be the test subjects that wouldn’t have pushed the button to deliver the shock to the recipients. The thing was, though, although the people thought they were delivering a shock, they weren’t delivering any voltage at all. The people who were supposedly being shocked were actors who were just pretending to be shocked.

The people Dr. Milgram used as the “shockers” in his experiments were only paid $4.50, and were found through advertisements placed in newspapers. The reason Dr. Milgram wanted to do these experiments in the first place was what he’d seen the people in Germany doing in response to Hitler’s leadership. He was interested in answering a question that had haunted him from childhood: “What psychological mechanism transformed the average, and presumably normal, citizens of Germany and its allies into people who would carry out or tolerate unimaginable acts of cruelty against their fellow citizens who were Jewish, resulting in the death of six million of them?”(Blass, 2004).

His interest in this led him to conduct experiments into obedience, and he set up a simulated shock-generator box that had a label on it that read, “SHOCK GENERATOR , TYPE ZLB,

DYSON INSTRUMENT COMPAN Y, WALTHA M, MASS OUTPUT 15

VOLT S – 450 VOLT S” (Blass, 2004, p. 79). Initially, the “shocker” started giving a low voltage of what they believed was an actual shock, and they were then asked to gradually increase the voltage in response to suggestions from the experimenter, who would say things like:

1. Please continue.

2. The experiment requires that you continue.

3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.

4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

The experiment was intended to show just how far the “shocker” would go, based on receiving commands from someone in authority. This was all part of an experiment done at Yale. Predictions on how many people would be willing to continue to shock at high voltage levels were low … about 3%. In actuality, however, 65% were willing to give them the juice at the maximum level. Only 1% of the participants in the experiment, after having learned that it had been fake, were sorry they had participated.

Milgram had the following to say about the results: “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority” (Milgram, 1974). Milgram went out of his way to ensure that this simulation looked real. He wanted those doing the shocking to believe they had actually caused the person receiving the voltage pain. Those receiving the fake jolts would emit pitiful screams, begging the person to stop shocking them.

“The obedience experiments presented a disturbing view of human behavior. Milgram, his colleagues, and later the public were surprised by the sheer power of an authority to compel someone to hurt an innocent person, despite the absence of any coercive means to back up his commands” (Blass, 2004, p. 93).

What does this say about our personalities? Think about Dwight Shrute on the TV show The Office? Isn’t he willing to do just about anything that Michael tells him to do to please his boss or, in other words, a person of authority? We’ve all worked alongside the Dwights of the world. Is it Michael who is to blame for how Dwight acts because he takes advantage of his willingness to please? Possibly. How do you keep from turning into Dwight? How are you supposed to question your boss? In hard economic times such as we have experienced recently, many people find it difficult to turn down any request at work. Fear of losing one’s job is a big factor in what we will allow. Unfortunately, many may not feel as if they have a choice, and will comply with demands.

Is it OK to never question authority? There comes a point when employees feel psychologically abused, whether they recognize it or not. When someone is constantly a target of abuse of authority, they may not realize what’s happening right away. One instance of someone in authority making a negative comment may go unnoticed, however, should the comments continue, that can constitute an abuse of authority. This abuse can lead to poor work performance as the employee’s self-esteem drops.

This excerpt is from the book It’s Not You It’s Your Personality . . . Click here to read the rest of the book.

Defaulting on a Mortgage: How it Affects Your Credit Score

Many consumers have taken a financial hit with the recent economic climate.  As more people are defaulting on their home loans, it is interesting to see the impact on FICO scores. 

What may be a surprise is how many wealthy people with good credit are going into foreclosure.  A recent article by the Arizona Republic mentioned how affluent, savvy homeowners are choosing to default on their home loans based on weighing the pros and cons to such a decision.  “Recent research suggests that affluent people tend to be the main strategic defaulters, and these individuals are also the ones who would sustain more serious credit-score damage.  This chart shows the resulting credit scores for two hypothetical consumers – one with an average initial score of 680 on the FICO scale and another with a high initial score of 780.”

Situation Initial 680 Score Initial 780 Score
     
30 days late on mortgage 600-620 670-690
90 days late on mortgage 600-620 650-670
Short sale, no deficiency 610-630 655-675
Short sale with deficiency or foreclosure 575-595 620-640
Bankruptcy 530-550 540-560

The savvy homeowner that sees their home investment as a money pit, may go ahead and buy what they perceive as a better home  purchase, perhaps a short sale, before they default on their original investment.  In this way, they have good credit to purchase the new home before they take the hit to their credit score caused by the default of their original home purchase.

What to Know before Investing in IPOs like LinkedIn or Pandora

Is investing in an initial public offering (IPO) a good idea?  With the recent LinkedIn and Pandora IPOs and talk of future IPOs with Twitter and Facebook, this is a question that many investors may be considering.  Imagine getting in on the ground floor of a giant like Coca-Cola? It might have been a wild ride, but those that hung in there, had a nice payoff.  Joshua Kennon of About.com reported, “A single share of Coca-Cola purchased for $40 at the IPO in 1919, for example, crashed to $19 the following year. Yet, today, that one share, with dividends reinvested, is worth over $5 million.”

Kennon suggests that if you have the stomach for risking your investment, you might want to consider whether the company can grow at a rate high enough to justify its price, whether there are any patents or trademarks to protect the business, whether you’d want to hold onto this stock for 30 years and if it fell by 50% would you have the stomach to handle it?

DailyFinance reported some additional questions to ask before investing in an IPO: (1) Is there an attractive market for the product? (2) Does the company have a significant share of the market? (3) Is the company’s management team experienced? (4) Is the company growing and profitable?

The following list shows some more recent IPO original offering prices compared to their current price (as of July, 2011):

Google Initial Offering Price, 2004:  $85/share

Google Price July, 2011:  $530/share

Pandora Initial Offering Price, June, 2011:  $16/share

Pandora Price July, 2011:  $19/share

LinkedIn Initial Offering Price, May, 2011: $45/share

LinkedIn Price July, 2011:  $98/share

Many employees of companies like Google became wealthy overnight when their companies went IPO. The New York Times article Google’s IPO 5 Years Later stated, “When the offering finally happened, it turned an estimated 1,000 Google employees into millionaires, at least on paper. Since then, many more millionaires have been minted inside the Googleplex, the Web search company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.”

Not all startups have been this successful.  Businesspundit lists the 25 Internet Startups that Bombed Miserably. MSMoney also warned, “Many investors fret they’ll miss the next big thing because they have no access to the IPO market, but study after study has proven that IPOs historically underperform the broader markets.” FIGuide echoed that same sentiment in their article Should You Invest in IPOs, stating that there might be better options.  “A seminal paper published in The Journal of Finance looked at IPOs from 1970 to 1990. During the five years after issuance, investors in these IPOs got average annual returns of only 5%.(1) By contrast, the overall stock market’s average annual return from 1970 to 1990 was more than double that figure, at 10.8%. To put this in perspective, $1,000 invested at 5% for 20 years would have generated $2,653, while $1,000 invested at 10.8% would have generated $7,777, almost three times as much.”

Reality of Being Seen Live on Facebook, Google+ and Facetime

Today Facebook announced its new integration with Skype that will allow video calling and group chatting. Zuckerberg is touting “ease of use” as one of the key benefits of this system. Facebook can now compete with Google+ and their video chat service named Hangout.

The question now becomes, do you really want to have the capability of having people see you? Recently I was having a conversation with my husband on my iPhone using Apple’s Facetime application. As my husband took his iPhone around the office and said, “say hello to so and so”, I realized that as I could see them, they could also see me in my jammies with no makeup, hair up on top of my head and wearing my reading glasses. It wasn’t glamorous.

Many people use these video calling services when they are at home. Do we really want to see what everyone looks like when they first wake up in the morning? As we start opening up our homes to people with our video capabilities, we may also be showcasing things that may be better left unseen. Think about the dirty dishes in the sink or the unmade bed. Now more people than ever will know everyone’s dirty little secrets.

Plastic Surgeon of the Millennium D. Ralph Millard Dies at 92

Picture:  D. Ralph Millard, MD and Diane Hamilton, PhD

My cousin, D. Ralph Millard, once nominated as one of the 10 “plastic surgeons of the millenium” died recently of heart failure.  The Miami Herald included an article about this amazing man’s life.  According to that article, “He was best known for developing “rotation advancement’’ surgery in the ‘50s. The method conserves tissue that doctors had routinely removed when correcting a cleft lip, producing a natural-looking mouth in much less time. Before he developed it, surgical procedures were performed on patients into their late teens. With his method, most children are operated on by 4 or 5. Millard also made major advances in corrective rhinoplasty— nose surgery—for people disfigured by accidents, cancer, war wounds, even cocaine abuse. “His work is considered pure artistry,” Dr. Bernard Fogel, dean emeritus of the medical school, told The Miami Herald when Millard retired in 2000, three months before the death of his wife of 45 years, Barbara Smith Millard. “He’s a giant.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Ralph was an inspiration to me and so many others.  For information about Dr. Ralph Millard and the Millard Society, click here.

Cohabitating: Financial Reward Different for College Graduates

Just because two people live together doesn’t necessarily mean they will have a higher household income.  The Pew Research Center recently analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data and found that there are 7.5 million couples, in the 30-44 age range, that are cohabitating.  This analysis  indicated that an economic advantage was obtained for those that were college-educated and cohabiting but there wasn’t the same advantage for married couples or those without an opposite-sex cohabitant. 

Pew analyzed their economic well-being and that data was reported in  USAToday: “Median adjusted household incomes of college-educated couples were $106,400 for cohabitors, $101,160 for married couples and $90,067 for adults with no opposite-sex partners. But for less-educated couples, cohabiting is an arrangement that looks a lot like marriage and may well include kids: Incomes were $46,540 for cohabiters, $56,800 for married couples and $45,033 for adults without opposite-sex partners.” 

To read the USAToday article, click here.

Who’s living together?

Partnership status by education

All:
Married, 58%
Cohabitor, 7%
No partner, 35%

Not a college graduate:
Married, 54%
Cohabitor, 8%
No partner, 38%

College graduate:
Married, 68%
Cohabitors, 4%
No partner, 28%

Notes: Based on 30- to 44-year-olds. “No partner” includes those living without an opposite-sex partner or spouse.

Source: 2009 American Community Survey, Pew Research Center

Baby Boomers Keeping Plastic Surgeons Busy

The popularity of plastic surgery is undeniable.  What may be interesting to note is how much of an impact the Baby Boomer generation has on the number of plastic surgery procedures performed.  Baby Boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964.   Karen Zupko and Sheila Hall from the Aesthetic Society News magazine recently reported some interesting Baby Boomer, cosmetic and plastic surgery statistics:

  • 7,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 per day in 2011 – This will jump to 10,000 per day over the next 18 years according to Pew Research.
  • People age 51-64 account for 28% of total plastic surgery procedures
  • People over 65 account for 7.3% of total plastic surgery procedures
  • Baby Boomers make up 35% of plastic surgery patients
  • The rate of men age 50-64 who color their hair grew from 3-10% from 1999 to 2000
  • 2,437,165 Botox procedures were performed in 2010 (all age groups) – Non-invasive procedures are growing with men accounting for 15% of injectable market and 26% of skin rejuvenation market.

How can plastic surgeons capitalizing on this demographic?    The authors suggest a few ideas to appeal to this group:

  • Have marketing material in larger font for ease of reading
  • Offer a pampering environment
  • Don’t waste patients’ time by making them wait
  • Focus on men too as they are becoming more interested in plastic surgery
  • Don’t focus on age in marketing because according to Pew Research, this group feels 9 years younger than their true age
  • Make things convenient for them

For those targeting Baby Boomers in their marketing plan, they may want to consider television advertising as Boomers watch more television than any other generation.

For more information about plastic surgery and specific procedures, click here.

Important Facts about IQ Tests

In the old Bob Newhart Show where Newhart plays a psychologist, there is a great episode where his wife Emily takes an intelligence test and discovers she is smart enough to be included in Mensa Society.  Newhart’s score was not nearly as high as his wife’s which leads to his feeling of insecurity.  At a Mensa convention, this painful reality is driven even further home as he mingles with other Mensa members that show off how they can say their name backward.  When they all have an interesting way of announcing their reversed names, they ask him how to say his backward, where he disappointingly replies, “Bob”.

How important are IQ tests?  According to NursingDegree.com, “Even though its accuracy and reliability have been criticized over the past few decades, the IQ test continues to be the most widely used test for assessing mental ability.”  In their article 10 Interesting Facts about IQ Tests, the authors cover areas such as:  The difference between men and women’s intelligence; how IQ relates to breastfeeding; birth order and IQ; and much more.  To see this list, click here.

Prezi Presentation about Education That Blows PowerPoint Out of the Water

Prezi is a presentation software similar to Powerpoint.  Check out this very interesting use of Prezi “Future Proof Your Education” from Maria Andersen where she explains “How do you prepare for uncertain career paths where technical knowledge doubles every two years? You pay attention to the skills that surround the content: Interact, Flex, Learn, Explain, Analyze, and Focus.”

Andersen does a nice job of incorporating the “Did You Know?” video into her presentation while showing how to utilize Prezi to its fullest.  Click on the presentation below to find out more about choices and how knowledge and skills can affect career paths.   Particularly fun is the “Little Billy” video showing what happened to Billy and others when they entered the workforce and experienced information overload syndrome.

If you have ever wondered how to make the most out of using Prezi, this presentation can show how to do this.

 

Nepotism: Consequences Good and Bad

Nepotism may be frowned on in some companies, but that is not to say that some very famous people have been helped by it.  In Latin, nepotis means nephew.  Nepotism is now more broadly defined as:  When someone gives favoritism to a relative without necessarily basing it on their abilities or merit.

Accountingdegree.com had a very interesting article recently titled:  10 Famous Businesspeople Who Benefitted from Nepotism.  This list contained some very recognizable last names including:  Forbes, Trump, Hilfiger, Kraft and Walton.  The article pointed out the hypocrisy that may exist in terms of when nepotism is considered alright.  “At the blue collar level, when friends hire friends or a father expects his children to join the family business, we often believe it’s a sign of strong family values, not unethical or slimy business. But at the executive level — where millions and billions of dollars can be earned — favors are made in secret. It might be tempting to help your children or siblings get a great job, but in the public eye, it’s shameful.”

Viewshound recently wrote about whether nepotism is an unfair advantage or a sensible employment strategy.  Whether it was a sensible strategy or unfair practice is something that will be debated in the current lawsuit where Murdoch News Corporation is being sued by its shareholders for buying the chairman Rupert Murdoch’s daughter’s business for $675 million.  According to the Huffington Post, “The lawsuit seeks damages and a declaration the board breached their fiduciary duty to shareholders.”

New Study Shows Young Adults Find Power in Debt: Lack of Education to Blame

In recent research published in the journal Social Science Research, the data showed that young adults aged 18-27 actually felt empowered by having debt.  They felt that it increased their self-esteem and made them feel in control of their lives.  Because they were able to attain goals of buying things, they perceived this as a good thing.

ScienceDaily reported, “The study involved 3,079 young adults who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 — Young Adults sample. The NLSY interviews the same nationally representative group of Americans every two years. It is conducted by Ohio State’s Center for Human Resource Research on behalf of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

The young adults who had less money to begin with, felt more empowered by this new found ability to purchase things.  “Results showed that those in the bottom 25 percent in total family income got the largest boost from holding debt — the more debt they held, both education and credit card, the bigger the positive impact on their self-esteem and mastery.”

The study found that as young adults became older, they had a more realistic idea of what this debt was doing to their lives.  By age 28-34, the stress caused by the debt was starting to be felt.

The results of this study back up what has been called a movement toward an instant gratification society.  The Arizona Republic reported, “Many young adults might feel good about incurring debt because it lets them purchase desired items without having to delay gratification.  They are happy they can actually get credit and feel more like adults now.  .  .But they don’t actually understand what that entails.”

Eventually the bills start piling up and these young adults will have to face the consequences of paying off what they have charged.

How did this generation get to this point?  Lack of education may be to blame. Here is a reprint of an article I wrote several years ago that addressed this problem:

Lack of Education to Blame for Financial Crisis 

The current financial crisis is entirely our fault.  We are a nation of financially-ignorant people doing crazy things like buying a $450,000 home on a $40,000 a year salary with a 120% loan. How in the world did we think that this was OK?  What are we doing to be sure that this won’t happen again?  People are sick of reading about bad news and the economy. They’d rather just put their heads in the sand and hope Obama is here to save the day. Well I’m here to tell you, if we don’t change the way we teach personal finance to the youth in our country, we will have learned nothing from this economic disaster and future generations are doomed to repeat our mistakes.

FROM AN EDUCATOR’S PERSPECTIVE

Having taught college business students for many years, I am horrified by the lack of personal finance training our youth receives.  Should it be up to the young adult to learn this on their own? There are a lot of books on personal finance out there.  If you hang out at a bookstore and watch the type of people who are reading them, however, you will notice it is not the young generation purchasing them.  It is usually the 30 and older crowd that has now found themselves in financial straits and want to know how to get out of it.  The younger generation doesn’t realize that they need this knowledge yet.  Their parents probably never taught them because they probably have a limited understanding of personal finance themselves.  How can we expect parents to teach children something they never learned in the first place?

Shouldn’t personal finance be something we learn in high school and college to prepare us for our financial futures?  Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business has a good reputation.  I use that as an example because that is where I received my BS in Business.   Business Week lists ASU in its 2007 rankings as 66th out of the top 100 business schools.  I am not trying to pick on ASU because it is a wonderful school.  However, last semester they offered only one course that addressed personal finance and retirement planning.  Only three sections of this course were even offered.  For one of the largest business schools in the US, there was not much of a focus on educating our youth to be financially savvy.   ASU only required that business minors take this course.

I recently ordered the textbook that ASU uses for this course. I love to read all I can read about personal finance; I realize that I am not typical in that regard.  However, even with my keen interest in the subject, just looking through this text, I was so bored!  If I see the words “net present value of money” . . .  even I want to run.  I just don’t think that it teaches the types of things young people need to know in a way that would spark their interest.  This text is busy with charts, pictures, numbers and balance sheets.  A young adult that isn’t savvy in math might get immediately turned off by that.  To be fair, this course is offered to business majors who are probably decent in math.  However, what about the rest of the students who are not?  Why are we only teaching personal finance to business majors?  Granted, it is a class that is open to everyone, but it is not required.  To me, this text would be a “next level” type of teaching tool for those who understand the basics already.  Unfortunately if ASU is typical of what other schools offer, they are missing the boat of what it takes to reach the average student.

Even if some form of money management is taught before college, part of the problem stems with allowing kids to be able to advance through school without passing tests to prove their personal finance knowledge.  Dr. Danielle Babb, author, entrepreneur and professor who appears frequently on national television and radio claims, “Kids shouldn’t be allowed to move on if they haven’t mastered the basics.”  Unfortunately many are learning about finance the hard way.  Right now that may be through watching the collapse of the current economy. As Dr. Babb pointed out, “Right now an entire generation is learning about markets; that they don’t just go up – they can go down, too.”

Paula Zobisch, Ph.D., a well-respected professor who teaches business at ten online universities, agreed that this issue needs to be addressed.  When asked how she felt about the personal finance education that our youth is receiving she responded, “Sure, let us lean on the high educational institutions to teach financial management, but let us not also forget high school. And even more importantly, let us remember parents who could teach financial management by giving younger children an allowance and then guiding the management of that allowance. Financial management begins long before college.”

 

Fox News (2009) reported 48% of high school seniors correctly answered finance and economics questions.

This is not to say that more colleges and universities aren’t realizing the importance of teaching personal finance.  In fact, universities such as Lynn University, University of Cincinnati, Kent State, Fairfield University, Scripps College and Texas State all are among the colleges offering courses in personal finance and money-management.  However, some universities have had some convenient relationships with credit card companies which seem at odds with teaching fiscal responsibility.

New York Times recently featured a story about how colleges profit from marketing credit cards to their students.  Michigan State University came under fire as it was noted that they allowed Bank of America to offer advertising items to their students to sign up for banking and credit services.  In fact, according that the New York Times (2008) “Bank America’s relationship with the university extends well beyond marketing at sports events.  The bank has $8.4 million, seven-year contract with Michigan State giving it access to the students’ names and addresses and use of the university’s logo.  The more students who take the banks’ credit cards, the more money the university gets.  Under certain circumstances, Michigan State even stands to receive more money if students carry a balance on these cards.”

If we step back to look at our children’s personal finance education even before college, it is interesting to check out the National Standards (2007) in K-12 personal finance education.  The standards define financial literacy as “the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage one’s financial resources effectively for life time financial security”.  The standards include areas such as financial responsibility, planning and money management, credit card and debt, as well as saving and investing.  Some of the 12th grade goals include having the ability to “analyze how economic, social-cultural, and political conditions can affect income and career potential” as well as “explain the effect on take-home pay of changing the allowances claimed on an employee’s withholding allowance certificate (IRS form W-4).  What they don’t really cover is how much time they are devoting to these topics.

 

The National Standards are created by the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy in Washington, DC.

There are educators and organizations set up that are trying to do something about educating our youth.  The DuPont Fund is one of these organizations. In 2008 this organization created a presentation to increase awareness of the lack of financial literacy.  In that program, the author addressed the areas that required attention.  “There are three parts to a successful financial literacy education program. (1) Quality Financial Education Products (2) Qualified and Trained Financial Educators (3) Evaluation Program in Place to Measure Results” (Lindfield, 2009).  If we do not have quality financial education products, then we are limiting the educators’ ability to reach this group of students.

FROM A YOUTH’S PERSPECTIVE

Having two grown daughters and after teaching for 6 different universities online, I personally have not found too many students who can meet many of the required standards.  If we have set guidelines for what seems to be admirable goals in educating our youth, why haven’t the graduating high school and college seniors learned these important lessons?  There are several reasons.  These schools may only be devoting a small amount of time to very important topics.  It is also quite possible that personal finance is the last thing on their minds while attending school.  They can’t even relate to it yet.  Lastly, when and if they actually do receive personal finance training, it is usually in a format that is hard for them to digest.

Many financial websites like Charles Schwab’s have some interesting statistics on how our youth view the importance of personal finance training. “Among the ideas tested, young people believe providing incentives for states to mandate financial education in schools is the most important step the Obama Administration can take to improve financial literacy.” (Schwab, 2009).  In fact, studies are showing that facing future demands without a financial education is a source of serious concern for young adults.  “Seven in 10 (71%) are “very concerned” about the country’s economic future. More than half (53%) are “very concerned” about their personal financial future” (Schwab, 2009).

The US Census Bureau (2009) predicts there will be 18.4 million college students this fall.

Part of the problem with educating our youth about personal finance is that books on the subject are written in an unfriendly or boring manner.  Even the books that are aimed at a young audience can be in question and answer format or simply read like text books.  When something is so far-removed from what they deal with on a daily basis as personal finance is in those early years, it must be taught in a way that allows young people to picture themselves in situations that they could relate to. It’s critical to sell them on the idea of the importance of understanding personal finance.

Having been in sales for over 25 years, I learned many tricks for things to do to “sell my point” so that customers would want my solution.  When I was in pharmaceutical sales, part of my sales training was to paint a picture in the doctor’s mind. If our youth is taught personal finance through picture painting or storytelling, perhaps they will learn more. Techniques like placing images in their heads are important for the person to get the point you are trying to get across.  If I told the doctor to prescribe my drugs because they were good, I got nowhere (this is what the traditional personal finance book does).  If I told them that their patient would be calling them at midnight complaining about migraines or inability to breathe if he didn’t prescribe my drugs, then he had a picture and more reason to do it because he didn’t want to be disturbed in the middle of the night. We need to paint the picture of why personal finance is important in students’ minds.

It is important to get the message of personal finance responsibility in front of the next generation so that they don’t end up the way previous generations are now, having to file bankruptcy or losing their homes.  By targeting our high school and college students with education that delivers the message in a picture-painted storytelling format to explain the importance of personal finance, perhaps the next generation will avoid the tragedies that we are all dealing with now.  To do this, we need to focus on creating educational materials that are delivering the message in a way that allows us to meet the standards that we have set for our youth.

FROM A POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE

Every day there is another article or news story about families facing foreclosures or bankruptcy.  According to Realty Trac there were more than 3.1 million foreclosures filed in 2008.   Even if people were able to keep their homes, suddenly they are upside down, owing more than it is worth.  We have over 3.5 million homeless people in the US.  If we are fortunate enough to still have a job . . . that may be all we have.  Those of us who had our retirement savings in a 401k are now wondering what we will do when we retire.  As we watch our life savings dwindle away with the falling stock market, shouldn’t we be thinking about how we got here and how we could have avoided this in the first place?

 

RealtyTrac (2009) data shows a steep include in foreclosure activity.

There are foundations and coalitions that focus their attention on such issues.  The New America Foundation addresses challenges facing future generations. Their site has had articles addressing the importance of utilizing what we have learned throughout this crisis to teach our youth.  “Such moments of financial trouble are teachable opportunities for children and youth to learn about personal finance, and to improve their own money management skills.  However, comprehensive strategies for educating children and youth about personal finance so that they can successfully navigate a complex financial market place have not yet emerged.” (Lopez-Fernandini & Murrell, 2008).

The problem is that changing the education system is no easy task.  Proposals must be made.  Money must be spent.  I recently sent a letter to Arne Duncan with the U. S. Department of Education, explaining my concern about the current lack of personal finance education for our youth. I explained I would like to propose a solution.  What did I get back?  I received a form letter commending my interest in education but politely stating that I should check out the Excellence in Economic Education (EEC, 2009) program already in place.  At the site, you can download current information about national programs currently in place.  According to the EEC, there was $1,447,267 worth of appropriations available for 2008 allotted to personal finance education.  Making grants available is a good start. But what about addressing the problems in the school’s curriculum?

Obviously the current programs are not working.  If we are not open to looking at alternative solutions to our current lack of education our children are receiving, aren’t we doomed to repeat our past mistakes?  I realize the government has its hands full with the current crisis.  However, our government may need to learn from its past mistakes.  Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?  By not addressing the problems within our educational system, we are doomed to repeat our past mistakes.

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Considering Plastic Surgery? Site Lets Patients Share Stories

Visit Our Before After Photo Gallery

Sites like HysterSisters have been popular for women who want to get together and discuss their menopause and hysterectomy-related issues. Now there is a site for people to utilize who may be considering plastic surgery.  The site MakeMeHeal.com offers a variety of information including everything from post-surgical underwear choices to information about what products may be helpful to heal after specific surgeries. 

If a patient is considering eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) for example, they can go to the link specifically about that procedure to find out details about the surgery including how long it will take to recover, homeopathic remedies for pain relief, what other comfort products are available, and even what makeup works the best as camouflage.

Like the HysterSisters site, the MakeMeHeal site offers a message board.  According to their site, “Our plastic surgery message boards are for all of us who want to talk, listen, share, help, and support fellow women and men interested in cosmetic surgery and non-surgical procedures. You can read messages without logging in. To post a message, please log in or register. It’s free…and being a member gives you access to important information.”

The site even offers a directory of doctors.  Be aware that the doctors with a lot of information and recommendations may also be advertising on the site. It is important that you research any physician on additional sites.  Patients can rate their doctors and even upload their own before and after pictures.  There is a “create your photo album” option available for those interested in keeping track of several operations.   

I recently asked Dr. Robert Spies, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Arizona what he thought about this site. Dr. Spies stated, “It’s an informative, easy-to-navigate website that provides excellent up-to-date information on the latest plastic surgery procedures.” For additional information about specific operations, see the following links from Dr. Robert Spies, MD at Arizona Plastic Surgical Center:

Facelifts

Breast Augmentation

Liposuction

Tummy Tuck

Non-Surgical Procedures like Botox

Top 5 Things to Know to be a Successful Entrepreneur

The typical entrepreneurial personality has the drive and ambition for success.  Like anything in life, though, it is always harder to do something the very first time.  This can discourage many new entrepreneurs from taking that initial leap and to start their own business. 

I teach several entrepreneurial courses and have put together some important articles that I recommend to my students.  The following list contains many of these articles and some of the most important things that entrepreneurs should do in order to be successful:

  1. Read Success Stories and Attend Lectures:  An excellent way to be inspired and learn from other entrepreneurs is to read their success stories.  Onlineuniversities.com recently came up with a list of 20 Biographies Every Serious Entrepreneur Should Read.  These books include important success stories from Ben Franklin to Sam Walton.  Another very important article to read is:  50 Excellent Lectures for Small Business Owners.
  2. Learn the Truth About Failure:  Many entrepreneurs are stalled in their pursuit of success due to their fear of failure.  Even some of the most famous entrepreneurs met with failure before success.  To find out more about this, check out:  50 Famous People Who Failed Before Becoming Successful. Also see:  Famous Business Failures: Is it as Gloomy as it Sounds? Also see:  10 Famous Product Failures and the Advertisements That Did Not Sell Them.
  3. Learn the Truth About Finances Required:  Not all entrepreneurs come from wealthy families.  It can be challenging to come up with the funds required to begin a business.  Find out how some very famous entrepreneurs became successful in the article:  Famous Entrepreneurs Who Hit it Big With Humble Beginnings.
  4. Learn How Women Have Become Successful Entrepreneurs:  Some very successful entrepreneurs have been women.  Check out:  Most Inspiring Entrepreneurial Women.
  5. Learn How to Network:  One of the best ways to get a product or company known is through social media.  Part of an entrepreneur’s success is through finding their customers and their niche.  Check out:  5 Top Networking Tips for Small Businesses.

Once an entrepreneur has developed a strong idea of the direction they want to take, they need to work on their feasibility study.  Investors will want to see this to be sure that their idea is sound. Another important aspect of creating their new business is deciding on a vision and mission statement.  Check out The Top 10 Mission Statements in 2011. Once an entrepreneur has received enough funds to get their new business off the ground, they may want to consider whether or not to go IPO.  Many companies like Facebook have waited and not gone this traditional route.  Find out Why Companies Are Not Going IPO due to fear of the past dot com crash.

Top Universities Increasing Online Degrees Programs to Meet Needs of over 5 Million Learners

Arizona State University is just one of many major universities that have started to increase the number of online courses they offer.  Within the next decade, ASU expects that 25% of their students will be exclusively taking virtual classes.  ASU and other schools are keeping up with their learners’ desire to take online courses. 

The Sloan Consortium, also known as Sloan-C, is an institutional and professional organization integrating online education into mainstream education.   The consortium is committed to quality online education.  The Arizona Republic reported, “According to an annual Sloan Survey of Online Learning at 2,500 colleges and universities, 29 percent of students took at least one course online in fall 2009, up from nearly 12 percent in fall 2003.”

In a recent webinar I created and delivered for Sloan-C, there was strong interest by educators to learn how to deliver effective online courses. There is no mistaking the popularity of online education. Even Bill Gates praised online learning in his 2010 Annual Letter stating, “A lot of people, including me, think this is the next place where the internet will surprise people in how it can improve things.” According to a recent survey by the Sloan Consortium, more than 5.6 million students took an online class last fall, which translates to about 30 percent of college students.

The days of thinking that online education is somehow inferior is changing.  Arizona’s three main universities are all embracing online learning.  ASU is ramping up their online program. University of Arizona (U of A) has nearly 30 degree programs exclusively available online; many of these programs are graduate-level.  Northern Arizona University (NAU) has 63 exclusively online programs and anticipates a 10% growth increase per year.

Arizona universities are not the only major universities to get on board with online education. Some other very prominent universities that also offer online courses include:   

If you or someone you know is considering taking an online class, it is important to understand the terminology, the process and the tricks to being successful as an independent learner.  For help, check out:  The Online Student’s User Manual:  Everything You Need to Know to be a Successful Online Student