Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

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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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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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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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.”

 

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

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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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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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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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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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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:

What is Typosquatting? When Misspelling is an Expensive Mistake

 

Typosquatting occurs when a website is created to prey on people who may have inadvertently typed in the wrong web address.  An example would be arifrance instead of airfrance.  Typosquatting is also referred to as URL hijacking, cybersquatting or brandjacking.

The registration of misspelled domain names is illegal. Sites like Wikapedia and Twtter have been shut down and fined $156,000 each.  Mashable reported that sites like these “are popping up on the web to trick unsuspecting web users into clicking on fake ads that claim the user has won a prize. In the case of these two sites, to receive a prize, like an iPad, people were asked for their cellphone number. The site sent a text with a pin and more texts with survey questions. Each time a person responded to the survey questions via texts he or she was charged.”

Alexa reported that some of the web’s most popular sites were typosquatted. Scambusters.org lists some helpful tips to identify typosquatting.  Some of the main uses for these sites include:

  • Revenue Generating
  • Transfer of Virus and/or Malware
  • Phishing Scams
  • Advertising Pay Per Click Scam

USA Today reported that, “most typosquatting domains lead to a bot network, used to steal passwords and obtain personal information such as financial or banking records. Bot networks aren’t obvious and can involve millions of computers.”  According to TGdaily.com, it is a good idea to get into the habit of bookmarking your favorite sites to be sure that you are landing on the correct page. Sixty Four percent of the typosquatted sites are US-based.  Bendelman.org compiled a list of popular domains and their typosquatted sites to compare number of daily visitors.  Click here for that report.

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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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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.

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.”

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.

Where Your College Tuition is Spent

 

Many people are going back to school to further their education in the hope of being more marketable in the workplace. As tuition increases, students may be wondering where their money is being used.

Onlinecolleges.net reported 10 Telling Stats on Where Your Tuition Money Goes. It is interesting to note that the professor’s pay is not a big factor in these increases. It may be surprising how much goes to construction and renovations. Also of note is how much is being spent on entertainment. “Travel and entertainment are major expenses for universities. For example, Kansas State University spent $9 million in travel and entertainment related expenses in 2010.” For the complete list explaining where your funds are being spent, click here.

Fear of Past Dot Com Crash: Venture Capitalists Only Interested in Consumer-Targeted Companies like Facebook or Groupon

 

The dot com crash has had a big impact on how venture capitalists invest in the current market. To understand why, it is important to know a little history about the impact of the Internet and why these investors are leery.

The Internet became commercially popular in the mid-1990s.  By 1995, there was an estimated 18 million users on the net.  This led to the creation of online businesses which led to speculation about how big these companies could grow.  The problem came with how much these companies were actually worth vs. how much they were perceived to be worth. 

What causes a bubble and eventual crash?  When people get excited about a company stock, it can drive the price up but if it inflates to an unrealistic point where investors get wise to the fact that the company can’t be worth as much as they hoped, people bail, sell the stocks, the price drops, and the company crashes. 

The pain of those dot com crashes are still felt today.  Venture capitalists now may be more hesitant to invest.  Tom Abate with SFGate.com said that venture capitalists in 2000 made about 8000 investments valued at $100.5 million.  “In 1999 and 2000, Wall Street invested in 534 venture-backed initial public offerings.” Those, who cashed in early, made a lot of money.  As large amounts of money were being put into the market and speculation was growing, the bubble was forming.  NASDAQ hit its peak on March 10, 2000 at 513252, only to lose 78% of its value by October, 2002 when it dropped to 11411.

In 2001-2002 while a lot of companies were over-valued and going bankrupt, people found their stock purchases were not such a great investment.  So now when Facebook and Twitter are considering going IPO it has some potential investors concerned.  This is especially true in the case of Twitter that has yet to publically show their business plan. 

What has the effect been on venture capitalists investing?  An article in Investopedia stated, “In the year 1999, there were 457 IPOs, most of which were internet and technology related. Of those 457 IPOs, 117 doubled in price on the first day of trading. In 2001 the number of IPOs dwindled to 76, and none of them doubled on the first day of trading.” SFGate.com reported, “In 2008 and 2009, a total of just 18 venture-backed companies went public.”

Investments have picked up for the consumer-oriented companies like Facebook and Groupon.  However there has been a venture squeeze for companies with business products.  Wall Street Journal reported, “In the first three months of this year, venture-capital investment in consumer tech companies nearly tripled to $874 million from $310 million a year earlier. Meanwhile, investments in tech firms with business products rose at a slower rate to $2.3 billion from $1.9 billion a year earlier.  The shift away from business-oriented technology start-ups has been gathering steam over the past few years. Venture investment into such companies was $11.9 billion in 2010, down 35% from $18.4 billion in 2006, according to VentureSource. The overall number of financing rounds these companies received also dropped 18% to 1,261 during that time.”

Inspired by One Tweet: Quakebook’s Creation is Helping Japan Raise Money

An expatriate in Japan, Our Man in Abiko, sent out a call with a single Tweet to social media contributors that eventually led to the creation of an e-book called Quakebook.  “The idea was to share the stories and experiences of people actually on the ground during the earthquake,” claims Quakebook.org. “In just four weeks, the 2:46 Quakebook project has turned an idea first voiced in a single tweet, into a rich collection of essays, artwork and photographs submitted by individuals around the world, including people who endured the disaster and journalists who covered it.”

Quakebook is available on Amazon for $9.99.  Amazon stated the intentions of the editor who created the book, “is to record the moment, and in doing so raise money for the Japanese Red Cross Society to help the thousands of homeless, hungry and cold survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the price you pay (net of VAT, sales and other taxes) goes to the Japanese Red Cross Society to aid the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. ”

The book has the title 2:46 Quakebook because it begins by showing the effects at 2 minutes and 46 seconds after the quake hit.  There are over 30,000 words of accounts and over 200 people who have chipped in for this project.  This whole project was completely volunteer-oriented and the e-book became available in only one month after the disaster.  Quakebookorg stated, “The contributions in 2:46 Aftershocks have come from a wide variety of sources, and include photographs, personal accounts, drawings; each telling their own tale.”

Click here to read some excerpts from 2:46 Quakebook:  Aftershocks Stories from the Japan Earthquake. To follow on Twitter, check out #Quakebook.

Facebook and Twitter Getting Free Advertising through Redirection

Have you noticed lately how many companies post somewhere in their advertisement that they have a Facebook or Twitter page?  Perhaps you have seen wording like:  “Follow Us on Facebook” or “Follow Us on Twitter”.  Imagine if your company was mentioned like that on everyone else’s advertisements and you didn’t have to pay for that.

This is something that is new in the advertising world.  In the past, you would see companies listing their websites to direct their business to their own companies.  They still do this, of course, but now they are also directing business to Facebook and Twitter to get people to come to their website indirectly. This redirection may have implications on web analytics, making it more difficult to know how many customers are seeing the company’s message.  However, the advantages for using sites like Facebook for advertising can be significant.  Tnooz.com reported, “With one in every 13 people on the planet using Facebook, the potential exposure that Facebook advertising offers can be massive, costing a fraction of what a TV advertising campaign might cost.”

This redirection of business is something that is growing.  It can be easier to get people to go to Facebook or Twitter initially due to their popularity.  Sites like bit.ly allow links to be shortened and more information to be included in a tweeted message.  This can also be useful for redirection to mobile devices.  Webupon.com reported, “Facebook and Twitter are two of the most user-friendly sites on the mobile web – and that’s great news for those who are going mobile with their websites, because it means people can right-click on bit.ly links in Twitter – and be automatically taken to a mobile version of your site, if they’re accessing it from Twitter.”

Sites like Facebook are helping increase what used to be called word of mouth advertising by allowing people to pick “I like” on a product page.  Trendwatching.com refers to the F-Factor involved here, meaning Friends, Fans and Followers on Facebook who can influence purchasing decisions. Check out an article by Converge2003.com that suggests there are 10 tactics to increase your number of Facebook likes.   For more information about adding a Facebook Like Button to your site, click here.

Japan Breach Danger Increases: Explanation of What This Means

There is a lot of fear of radiation due to the nuclear reactor damage in Japan’s recent earthquake.  Many people fear what could happen should the facility not be able to be kept under control.  AOLNews reported an update today claiming, “Two weeks after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a crisis at a nuclear plant, the facility is still not under control, and the government said Friday there is a suspected breach at a reactor. That means radioactive contamination at the plant is more serious than once thought.”

Just the words Nuclear Meltdown can bring panic.  The podcast “Stuff You Should Know” with Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant includes an excellent explanation of how nuclear meltdowns work.  An interesting thing they point out in that podcast is that the earthquake was not as damaging as the tsunami that followed.  For a written explanation of How Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Works, click here.

The Human Brain: Gender Differences in Intelligence and Maturity

Experts continue to research what makes individuals unique.  Is there a difference between human intelligence in males vs. females?  Ask a woman and you might get a different answer than if you ask a man?  According to Hedges, ” IQ tests, regarded by psychometricians as measures of intelligence, have shown that differences between men and women are minimal or negligible, but men are often overrepresented at extreme scores, both very high and very low.”

Rueven Bar-On, a leading expert in emotional intelligence, reported that “no differences appeared between males and females regarding overall emotional and social competence.”  That is not to say that both sexes were identical.  “Females appear to have stronger interpersonal skills than males, but the later have a higher intrapersonal capacity, are better at stress management, and are more adaptable.”

Scientists have now looked at the brains of both sexes at the age of 10, 16 and 20 to see if there truly are differences in maturity levels between the two.  WJSOnline reported “Although boys’ and girls’ brains show differences around age 10, during puberty key parts of their brains become more similar.”  By measuring the brain’s cortex and how it may change as boys and girls age, the National Institute of Mental Health Child’s Psychiatric Branch studied 284 people and found “boys’ and girls’ brains, on average, differ significantly at age 9, but by the time the participants reached 22, the brains of the two sexes grew more alike in many areas critical for learning.”

Some interesting differences in Gender Development noted in the article included:

Gender Development

Some typical milestones and when boys and girls tend to hit them:

At birth: Girls are a few weeks more mature neurologically and have more advanced hearing. Boys on average weigh half a pound more.

First words: Girls typically utter their first word at 11 or 12 months, one month ahead of boys.

Vocabulary: At 18 months, girls on average know 86.8 words, more than double boys’ 41.8 words. By 30 months, boys’ and girls’ language skills have converged, at about 500 words.

Walking: Caucasian girls and boys tend to walk around 12 months. African-Americans walk sooner, at nine to 10 months.

Potty training: Girls are fully trained by 36 months, according to one study. Boys took a bit longer, training by 38 months.

Onset of puberty: For girls, the process can start at age 9 to 10. For boys, it’s closer to 11 to 12.

Source: WSJ research

Retired for Hire: More Seniors Working, Shopping, Donating and Spending

 

A report released last week from Scarborough.com showed in 2010 that 6.2 million people over 65 are working. This group has been referred to as the Retired for Hire. Many of these workers are not in dire financial straits either. In fact this report showed, “Adults over the age of 65 who are still working full-time or part-time are slightly more likely than the average adult to have an annual household income of $150K or more.”

This report has some interesting profile information about this group including:

  • They were financially in good shape with an average income over $150K
  • Of those working, 57% worked part time and 43% worked full time
  • 22% of them shopped at Wal-Mart in past 3 months
  • They were 30% more likely to donate to green causes
  • They were avid patrons of the arts
  • They were 92% more likely to have donated to political organizations
  • They were just as likely as the normal population to go to the gym
  • 48% of them were into gardening
  • Their use of HDTV’s is up 150%
  • 80% had desktop computers
  • They were more likely to spend money on home improvements
  • 41% made a purchase at Home Depot in the last year

Scarborough concluded, “The 6.2 million adults working past retirement age in America tend to be financially sound, with robust investment portfolios and higher than average incomes. This suggests that financial service providers such as banks, investment firms and personal services such as accounting firms and financial planners have a robust marketing target in Retired for Hire.”

Google, Twitter and YouTube Helping Japanese Earthquake Survivors Find Loved Ones and Shelter

Google’s person find is an online tool dedicated to helping Japanese earthquake survivors find their loved ones.  This tool was developed after the 2010 earthquake in Chile and was used in the New Zealand earthquake as well. Bloomberg reported, “The Google Person Finder service, which collects information about people’s locations and their safety status, is intended to help users find out if their friends and families are safe,” Visit the Google Person Finder 2011 Earthquake site here.

Google reported, “Searching the Internet on sites such as Google, Twitter and their local variants has become more effective in finding loved ones than sifting through wreckage following Japan’s devastating tsunami.”

Youtube has also set up a channel to help victims communicate.  This channel contains messages to help survivors find shelters and others affected by the earthquake. 

Blog Overload: Who Has Time to Read it All?

There is no question that the blogosphere is growing.  According to webdesignerdepot “WordPress has statistics for both WordPress.com (15.1 million blogs and counting) and self-hosted WordPress installations (17.4 million active installations), which gives part of the picture. There are more than 10 million tumblogs on Tumblr. Blogger doesn’t offer any public statistics on how many blogs they host. Technorati is currently tracking more than 1.2 million blogs. And there are likely millions of other blogs out there hosted on other services like Movable Type, TypePad, Expression Engine, and other CMSs.”

There is no shortage of blog search engines to find blogs that contain information of interest. There are also lots of articles by sites like Forbes and others who occasionally list their idea of top blogging sites.  Google and Google News features can be incorporated into an iGoogle page, and can be another way to keep up with topics to follow.

With all of this information out there, who has time to read it all?  Bloggers know it can be good form to make comments on others’ blogs.  However, finding the time to not only read these blogs but formulate insightful comments may be difficult. Even if people find a good blog to follow and subscribe to their RSS feed, as sites continue to be added to the feed, the feed reader may have more information than people have time to visit.

There has been speculation about when blogging popularity will die down.  The latest discussion is whether Facebook will replace blogging and company websites.  Cnet reported, “Even if Facebook doesn’t somehow supplant lots of Web sites, though, there’s no denying the social network is becoming more important to marketing, and it’s adapting to the idea.

 

InMaps from Linkedin: Map Your Social Connections If You Can Get It To Work

Have you ever wondered what your network actually looks like?  With Linkedin InMaps, they claim you can get a map of colors to show your connections and how they inter-relate.  Colors represent groups within your professional connections.  It’s a way to see how you know people and visualize relationships.

It sounded very interesting so I thought I’d check it out.  I was unable to view InMaps through Explorer or AOL.  It suggested using Google’s Chrome or Firefox but it never worked with those applications either.  It just gives a never-ending processing swirl on the page.  I was curious if it had to do with Windows 7 so I tried it on my Mac with no luck either. Granted, I have a lot of connections on Linkedin, but the processing swirl never stopped. 

Perhaps they are just having problems with the site that will resolve.  If anyone has had good or bad things to say about InMaps, I’d be curious to hear about it.

Gainful Employment Rule: Effect on For-Profit Schools and Graduation Rates

 

For-profit education is beginning to feel the squeeze.  July 2, 2012 marks the day that the U.S. Department of Education rule goes into effect.  This rule restricts students from using government aid to pay for schooling that doesn’t include occupations that have a strong entry-level salary.  

This isn’t the only issue that for-profits are facing.  A loophole has been close that would allow schools to financially reward admission counselors for enrolling students.  This is one of the reasons enrollment is down at some of the major for-profit universities.  This has also led these universities to increase tuition to cover their losses. 

The programs that are considered not high paying enough to meet the Gainful Employment rule will be shut down.  The New York Times reported that accounts for only about 5% of these schools’ programs. What happens to the students already enrolled in them? The Arizona Republic reported  that they are allowed to continue with the program under the “teach out” rule.

Many for-profit universities are implementing new programs to help face their new challenges including:  orientation programs to improve retention, trying to bolster brand awareness, and finding ways to comply with the July deadline to meet the Gainful Employment Rule. 

Many of the guidelines that are changing now are to protect students and to be sure that they are graduating with degrees that will be worth their expense. Politics Daily reported that a study completed by the Committee of Health Labor Education and Pensions found “94.4 percent of students attending for-profit schools take out loans, compared to 16.6 percent attending community college and 44.3 percent enrolled in traditional four-year public schools. Much of that money comes from federal Pell Grants, which help low-income applicants attend schools of higher education, but is often never returned if they don’t graduate.”

It is important that students are able to complete their programs, not only to pay back the loans, but to move ahead in their careers.  The New York Times claimed, The report, “Subprime Opportunity,” by the Education Trust, found that in 2008, only 22 percent of the first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree students at for-profit colleges over all graduate within six years, compared with 55 percent at public institutions and 65 percent at private nonprofit colleges.

For now, for-profit colleges are making some needed changes. The Arizona Republic reported that Peter Wahlstrom of Morningsar, who tracks major for-profit education companies, stated, “What you are trying to do is create a solid program based on academic quality, which, in turn, helps with student outcomes. That helps with retention, that helps with enrollment, and that eventually helps with financial results.”