Dumb Little Man

How Society Helps Entrepreneurs Succeed

Today, many people want to be like entrepreneurs. Relatively few are willing to face the risks business owners do, but everyone can admire the rewards some manage to earn. Glowing accounts of how companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google began are the epic tales of a modern fairy tale story.

how do entrepreneurs succeed

But what made Bill Gates’s success possible? Biographical and business literature consider the individual, evaluating conditions such as mindset, personal network, background, and awareness of market characteristics. Necessities that get treated as a guarantee include open and competitive markets, widely respected property rights, and a favorable legal system to businesses.

Literature evaluating those considerations is more commonly found elsewhere in a library. While the factors listed above can appear to be permanent fixtures, they’re recent phenomena in the historical context. They require consistent maintenance if they are to stick around for future generations.

The free market system Americans currently take for granted emerged in Europe during the early modern period. One by one, Western society rejected the aristocratic deal (summarized as “do what I say and I’ll let you work”) in favor of the bourgeois deal (which can be thought of as “leave me alone and I’ll make you rich”). To make this possible, a great deal of blood and ink spilled within and between the forming nations of the time.

Numerous revolutions, revolts, and reformations over a span of centuries were required for this reevaluation of Western values to stick. When the dust settles, the bourgeois social class perception changed from immoral characters to directors of progress. Working in one’s personal interest was in bad taste no more. Rather, it was a common expectation held of anybody who wanted to make it commercially.

Society creates entrepreneurs by embracing those motivated by self-interest. According to groundbreaking economist Adam Smith, “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

Thanks to these developments, global wealth exploded in ways never previously witnessed. 85% of the globe lived on less than $2 per day in 1800, but only 9% did in 2017. That change comes despite the global population increasing over 650% in the same two centuries. In the United States more recently, the population living below the national poverty line cut in half from 1959 to 2019. Living standards reflect the change; 9 in 10 of American households have air conditioners today. The mean household owns 1.88 cars.

Things that would have once been produced exclusively for the rich are commonplace today. Twenty-first century examples of this phenomenon may include items like smartphones and wireless internet service. Entrepreneurs are to thank for this change. While true that the most successful entrepreneurs explicitly seek to increase personal prosperity, they often improve general social welfare along the way.

how entrepreneurs succeed through society

The “Great Enrichment” of our modern age doesn’t solely rely on modern science and strong work ethic, despite their utmost significance. It is the liberty and dignity of entrepreneurs that greatly contributes to the world’s continuous flourishing.

When individuals from different sections of society look at entrepreneurship as a potential course of action, incomes increase and poverty is mitigated. People wouldn’t consider embracing innovation, and the successes and failures that come with it, if there was no way for them to retain the profits they worked very hard for.

Centrally directed economies permit monopolies to grow, regulate market extent, and suppress innovation. This only creates impediments to entrepreneurs and their innovative endeavors. Strict control on the free market can cause a reversal in the direction that the society is heading for, taking entire countries back to the aristocratic ways of things. Taking America’s history into account, immigrants originally wanted an escape to aristocracy, but not an embrace of it.

Free markets are necessary conditions for national prosperity, but they are insufficient alone. Recognizing the individual right to self-author requires society to extend liberty and dignity to everyone. Prosperity can’t reach all people until everyone, particularly women and minorities, is empowered to view innovation as an available career path.

The ideal world is one in which anyone can be a merchant. A world where it is possible for women and minorities to embrace the entrepreneurial maxim (“we are rich because we are free”), just like their white male peers have for centuries.

Becoming An Entrepreneur
Source: EdSmart.org

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How Increases In Remote Work Will Affect The Wage Gap

The past year has led to an unprecedented increase in employees working from home. Just under 90% of global organizations either mandated or requested their workers to do their jobs remotely last year. Of the companies who made that transition, two thirds of them believe remote work will continue for the foreseeable future. 2020 was a year of many temporary changes, but working from home is destined to become a permanent fixture of the American workforce.

Given this information, many workers are not wondering what the change will mean for them. What trends in business operations are at play? How will the dynamics that traditionally shaped the workplace be altered? On the subject of persistent problems like pay inequity, will remote work improve or worsen the matter?

Every update to a new system of work includes a period of confusion. When the dust clears on the teleworking trend, winners and losers will become more apparent. While both employer and employee have something to gain from remote work, the benefits still exclude certain marginalized groups.

What are the benefits of remote work for businesses? By having fewer employees make use of the company’s office, companies no longer need to own or rent as large a complex. They can downsize on both property and overhead by reducing the number of workers on location. Because employees can work from anywhere, businesses are free to relocate to lower cost markets.

Certain tech companies were already leaving built-up industry hubs like Silicon Valley in favor of other locations (namely Texas), but the shift to remote work has accelerated the move. Already, American employers as a whole can save up to $30 billion a day from offering remote work to employees.

remote work salary gap

On the side of workers, employees also save money by eliminating their daily commute. Along with eating up a great deal of a worker’s time, commutes incurred regular transportation expenses such as gas and maintenance. Being able to work from anywhere also leaves the worker free to relocate. Already, between 14 and 23 million American workers may move for this reason. That’s up to 12% of American households!

The most likely group to relocate are city dwellers who want to find affordable housing. In major metropolitan areas like New York City, San Francisco, and Washington DC, average housing costs can easily outpace average income. Moving from Palo Alto, CA to Denver, CO can bring about an 18% decrease in the cost of living. The main budget item that changes in the move is housing.

remote work

Does this mean remote workers might get paid less? While it depends on the company, remote workers can see a drop in pay if they move to a less expensive area. For example, Stripe has offered its workers $20,000 to cover moving expenses followed by a 10% salary cut. The reason for this phenomenon is that part of their annual salary was designed to be able to support them in the area surrounding company headquarters.

With remote work, that is no longer necessary. If the decrease in annual expenses is greater in proportion to a drop in earnings, the employee can still come out ahead. American workers still stand to save between $2,500 and $4,000 by working from home. Pay differences based on location is a variation of the wage gap, but in this case, it’s one where everyone can benefit.

The forecast is not as optimistic when it comes to the more well-known forms of wage gaps. Even in 2020, women still made 82% as much as men while black men made 87% as white men according to the AAUW. Uneven compensation on the basis of gender and race continues in the new decade. While remote work may make it easier for women and racial minorities to get hired and decrease management bias against them, these factors alone are not enough to fix the problem.

Women in remote jobs still earn less than their male counterparts. Making matters worse is the fact that women and racial minorities are less likely to have the option of telework in their jobs, meaning they can’t reap any of the benefits discussed previously. As with any change, remote work is a mixed blessing.

Remote work and the modern wage gap - TrackTime24.com
Source: TrackTime24.com

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A Look At The Healthcare Jobs Of The Future

With each passing year comes a whole new series of ingenious innovations, especially in STEM fields. During this past year, a majority of the leading edge developments revolved around finding ways to improve upon the traditional standard of medical care by integrating more technology into the field of healthcare.

As we enter the first few months of the new year, companies all over the globe have found themselves in a mad dash to create 2021’s next big thing. As reported in the Apploi 2021 healthcare trends report, governments and private equity firms around the globe have finally begun to realize just how important holistic healthcare is.

Private equity firms alone have already invested a record of $1.37B this year and with the funds that governments have set aside for mental health initiatives – community care, a new approach to mental and physical health, appears to be this year’s next frontier.

The concept of community care is built on the idea of increasing the amount of interpersonal acts of compassion in order to provide a more well-rounded approach to medical care, but what does that actually look like?

The Impact of Community Care

future healthcare jobs

The community care approach to physical health would actually be based on a concept documented in a recent Lancet article that depicts an increase of monitoring devices installed in homes, on smartphones, in public places, and healthcare facilities that would have the ability to routinely record and upload patient data in real time.

This may raise some red flags as far as privacy is considered. Having access to raw, biometric, and physical data on patients would go a long way towards decoding the effects that a person’s social determinants can have on their health. Understanding those links would go a long way in being able to treat the whole patient rather than just their symptoms.

Now as the community care approach relates to improving mental healthcare, Apploi offers several solutions in their 2021 report. Last year’s big push to improve the standard of medical care has caused countless insurers and employers to re-examine their own care policies, which revealed several glaring gaps in protocol as it relates to gaining access to care.

Many have opted to rely on peer support in order to fill said gaps, causing peer support to become monetized in ways it’s never been. Several educational institutes have also agreed to adopt the community care technique, mainly by increasing their efforts to attract more underrepresented minority groups in the hopes that the psychiatric field will one day include a more diverse workforce.

The Future of Mental Healthcare

healthcare jobs of the future for mental health

Universal mental health screenings will soon become a routine, societal norm within primary, community, and long-term care in order to help identify if someone is feeling symptoms and intervene as early as possible. Increasing the public visibility when dealing with mental health will significantly contribute to reducing societal stigmas while simultaneously increasing the access to care, another important factor in being able to treat the patient as a whole.

It wasn’t until very recently that projects like this one wouldn’t have been immediately labeled as excessive or too cost-prohibitive to sustain. Luckily, Apploi didn’t waste any time in advocating for better. For far too long patient healthcare has been viewed in how many zeros it could generate at the end of a check rather than how much good it could do.

The community care approach may prove to be more expensive than other methods in the beginning; however, the light it shines on traditionally taboo aspects of the field is invaluable. Hopefully widespread implementation, especially as it applies to the mental health aspect of the plan, will eventually lead to the end of the societal stigma and ability to finally give mental healthcare “the attention and the funding it deserves”.

Achieving that would be momentous as studies show that with heightened awareness and enough funding, the market size for behavioral health is projected to reach USD $350B by 2025 alone. The medical advances of 2020 have certainly proved to advance the standard of medical care up to a certain point, but it is Apploi’s community care proposal that is going to take up all the way. What do you think the healthcare jobs of the future will look like?

Please include attribution to https://apploi.com/ with this graphic.

Apploi’s 2021 Healthcare Trends Report

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7 Smart Strategies To Deal With Unemployment

Having been retrenched in 2018 after being with a company for 17 years was quite frightening. I have just turned forty-nine, which have put me in the age bracket where finding employment is exceedingly difficult. Being hard of hearing has also limited me with regards to the positions I can apply for.

Coping was extremely hard, especially as time wears on. Because you do not receive any feedback on your applications, you quickly start losing confidence in your abilities and struggle to stay positive.

In 2020, millions lost their jobs due to the pandemic and the lockdowns enforced worldwide. The resulting economic downturn made it even more difficult to find employment or generate an income working for yourself.

How do you cope with this situation that is so stressful and emotionally draining?

Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise

deal with unemployment

This is a time that you need to take care of yourself.

Now more than ever, it is essential to get enough sleep. Matt Walker states in his Ted Talk Sleep is your superpower, that sleep is essential for many reasons like learning and memory, cardiovascular health, immunity, and your overall wellness.

That said, the stress of your situation and an overactive mind could make it hard to fall asleep. If this continues for too long, it may severely impact your ability to function. To help you to fall asleep, create a bedtime routine: set a specific time to go to bed and to rise in the morning. Avoid using your digital devices an hour before bed.

Have a hot bath to help you relax and engage in calming activities like listening to music. For some people reading in bed might help to fall asleep, but only hard copies. You can also opt to use a digital device that does not emit blue lights.

You should also consider natural solutions like chamomile or rooibos tea, and meditation. Another natural remedy is journaling, which helps by getting all your thoughts down on paper.

As a last resort, consider asking your doctor for medication to relax you and help you to sleep. But use it only when necessary to avoid the danger of becoming dependent on it.
Also, eat healthy and nutritious food. Fruits and vegetables provide you with essential vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy. For example, vitamin B helps to combat depression, while vitamin C and zinc strengthen the immune system.

Regular exercise is essential to deal with feelings of depression, anxiety, and frustration. It helps to get all the stress hormones out of your body and calm your mind. Cycling is a good option to consider. The repetitive action of pedalling helps to organise your mind, for which you will often discover innovative ideas and insights while out riding.

Upgrade your knowledge and skills

Even if finances are tough, try to upgrade your knowledge and skills and learn as much as possible. The internet contains a wealth of information about various subjects and you will be able to learn a lot from just accessing free material like blog posts, free eBooks, webinars, etc.

If you subscribe to receive a free eBook and you do not like the newsletter, it is easy to unsubscribe. But sometimes the information in these emails might be useful, especially the ones relating to self-help and self-improvement.

As far as courses go, Udemy has many different courses, which is often discounted to as little as R180 (about $12) per course. It gives a detailed breakdown of the course content and most courses have plenty of reviews to help you decide if a course is worth taking.

Also, look out for the LinkedIn trial offer – a free month to access many useful courses offered on LinkedIn Learning. Just remember to cancel the subscription before the first billing takes place. You will lose access to all the material after cancelling, so make sure to make notes of valuable information.

Budget and Finances

Financially you need to look at your budget with a sharp eye and see if there are any items that you could save on. Cut all luxury items like subscription services, DSTV, etc. But ensure that you do have a reasonable amount of data available every month as a lot of job hunting can be accomplished online.

Also, look at entertainment expenses like eating out or going to the movies. Buy good, healthy food and prepare it yourself. If the family joins in with the cooking, it may become a precious and long-remembered family time.

Confide in somebody you trust

It is important to find a person you trust to share your feelings with, somebody who will be prepared to listen without judgment. It’s important to have someone who’ll listen and understand, especially when the emotional part becomes extremely difficult to deal with.

This can possibly lead to having very dark and negative thoughts, which is not easy to control. This person must not be scared to listen to this. It is not so much about getting advice but having someone who will listen when you need to talk.

Family, Friends, and Hobbies

how to deal with unemployment

Spend enough time with your family and friends as they are your biggest support group. Look for activities that do not cost a lot of money. A daily walk gives you some precious talking time and much-needed exercise. Preparing meals together is a fun activity. Pack it all in a basket and have a picnic in the backyard under the stars.

Many a winter night may be whiled away with games like Scrabble, chess and many more. Building puzzles and doing crosswords is a challenge and helps to keep your brain sharp!
Find time for hobbies and do things that you enjoy.

To break the monotony of job hunting or working on your own business, set aside some time for that hobby that you always wanted to start but never had the time. The possibilities are endless: photography, writing (start a blog or write a book if you dare), scrapbooking, woodwork, knitting or crocheting. It may very well become your next career.

Join support groups

Joining support groups on Facebook and WhatsApp is also beneficial. It helps to know that you are not the only one in this situation, and others are also experiencing the same challenges and fears that you are facing.

Because you are all in the same situation, it is easier to share your feelings and get encouragement. These groups assist by sharing information and referring people in the group to their different networks.

Network

Networking is critical. Attend as many social events and group meetings as possible in your area. It does not necessarily have to be a professional group. It is important to get your name out there, talking to many people as possible. They might just know of or hear about a potential opportunity or job opening and refer you as a candidate.

Finding a job is hard, but perseverance does pay off in the end. You can give up or you can keep striving. Add all your new-found skills and knowledge to your CV, optimize your LinkedIn profile, keep it updated, and network with as many people as possible.

Keep active on social media to ensure that you stay visible since prospective employers look at candidates’ profiles these days. Make sure that your social media activities display you as the type of person that an employer would love to have as part of their team.

I hope things will go well for you and you find your dream job soon!

In the meantime – look after yourself, keep on looking for opportunities, and remember to spend enough time relaxing with your loved ones and doing the things you love!

Which one of these tips will you do today to help you cope until you find your next opportunity?

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These Upgrades Will Make Your Home Eco-Friendly Instantly

Your home is where you feel the safest and most comfortable. It’s your very own sanctuary. Big investments or purchases like a house require upkeep and regular maintenance to ensure everything is in good condition.

If you’re taking steps to reduce your impact on the environment, whether by eliminating single-use plastics or opting for reusable cotton rounds, then you can go a step further and convert your home into a green space.

Building an eco-friendly home brings about many advantages for the environment and your own (e.g., increases your property’s resale value, less maintenance over time, and reduces house bills). With the wealth of resources you can find online, it’s easier to create a more efficient and greener home now more than ever.

If you’re planning to get started with this sustainable home journey, we’ve got you covered. Below are some cost-efficient tips for an eco-friendly home that will instantly upgrade your space. Let’s dive into it!

Consider shopping for pre-owned items

Conserving energy and water isn’t the only way to be environmentally-friendly. Purchasing pre-owned home items instead of new ones is also an excellent way to save Earth.

New products use virgin materials and consume more energy to build. Additionally, you’re keeping the secondhand or used items from going to the landfill. You can also ask your relatives or friends to let you know if they’re going to replace a piece of furniture to see if they could hand them down to you instead of throwing them away.

Catch rainwater for gardening

If you have a home garden and lawn, then you’ll probably agree that your water bill wouldn’t cost as much if you didn’t have one. Plants need regular watering, which requires you to use a lot of water to keep them alive. Thankfully, collecting rainwater solves this predicament.

You can get a rainwater barrel to harvest water. Leave it out when it’s about to rain, then use the collected water for your garden and lawn. Not only does this help you conserve water and reduce your bill, but it also makes your plants happy.

Invest in solar panels

make your home eco-friendly through solar panels

One of the best ways to make your home eco-friendly is by using renewable energy like solar power through solar panel technology. In a nutshell, this technology captures sunlight and converts it into electricity.

Solar energy is free, except for the installation and purchasing of solar panels. While the initial upfront costs of installing solar panels run expensive, it can save you a significant amount of cash on your electricity bill in the long run, especially if you will rely on it one hundred percent.

Opt for environmentally-friendly appliances

If you have the money and think it’s time, swap your old home appliances with eco-friendly upgrades. Choosing energy-saving appliances may seem like an expensive move, but it will make more financial sense over time.

Energy-efficient home appliances operate and perform just as well as standard models, but they consume less energy. This green change will help lower your carbon footprint while also saving you big bucks.

Replace regular light bulbs with LED bulbs

Something as simple as switching your light bulbs with LED light bulbs will make a massive difference in the green home you’re creating. With energy-efficient light bulbs, you use less electricity and replace it less frequently since LED light bulbs last longer than your traditional bulbs. Talk about saving more money while saving mother Earth.

Plant your own herbs

make your home eco-friendly through planting herbs

Growing your own herbs is worth a try, whether you already have a garden or not. Herbs don’t take a lot of space and can survive in small pots. They are also relatively low maintenance since you can place them inside the house by a sunny window.

With this, you can make your favorite dishes tastier with fresh herbs. They smell heavenly as well, making it a big plus if you plan to grow them inside the house.

Get a recycling bin and compost bin

This upgrade doesn’t cost much, and you’ve probably started recycling already if you have long begun switching to a sustainable lifestyle. Recycling glass bottles, papers, jars, and other household items prevent these things from adding to the landfill. You can repurpose bottles for your propagations, reuse jars as containers, and turn paper into wrappers.

On the other hand, a compost bin allows you to eliminate leftovers and turn them into fertilizers for your plants. You can find compost bins designed to be neat and odor-free. It’s a fantastic way to reduce household waste.

Wrapping it up

No matter how big or small steps you take turning your home into a more eco-friendly space, your contribution will bring drastic changes to the environment and make the world a better place for future generations. Imagine if there are hundreds of people like you with the same mindset. A small upgrade like using rainwater for watering plants already makes a big difference for the environment.

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5 Easy & Healthy Tips to Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Anti-smoking advertisements first started in the late 1960s and have been a significant global campaign ever since. Whether it is a motion picture or an advertisement; cigarette smoking scenes always come with a statutory warning that it is cancerous.

There are multiple health risks involved due to cigarette smoking and it has been proven numerous times. Despite public awareness, it is difficult to suddenly wake up one day and stop. Smoking is mostly done to cope with anxiety, stress, boredom, and even depression. To stop a daily habit is tough, but to stop an addiction is challenging. Sudden withdrawal leads to craving, weakness, mood swings, sweats, etc.

The battle against cigarette smoking is won halfway when you decide to quit and work on your routine and habits. Take a look at the following easy tips to follow to quit smoking.

Involve your family and friends

The best way to initiate this journey is to intimate your friends, family, colleagues, etc. Most of the time, it is due to your social circle that influences you to smoke. It is important to address daily habits and routines but more importantly, you must make a declaration so that they can support you through this journey.

Firstly, your peers who smoke would not offer or invite you to smoke. Secondly, your family members would stop you from smoking or distract you from craving for it. The journey is challenging. However, constant support and encouragement from people around you will make all the difference.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine is the core addictive agent in cigarettes. This is the reason behind the shocking and discomforting withdrawal symptoms after you quit. With NRT, you are provided a small quantity of nicotine sans the toxic agents that are found in tobacco cigarettes.

Symptoms like nausea, insomnia, cravings, mood swings, etc., can be regulated and controlled through Nicotine Replacement Therapy. It is available in the form of lozenges, patches, inhalers, sprays, and gums.

Patches work slower compared to lozenges, gum, inhalers, and sprays. However, the effect lasts for a longer time. Mostly, the latter is recommended for intense cravings. Instead of using a single NRT product, a combination of NRT products is mostly advised.

Dietary changes

tips on how to stop smoking

Every addiction withdrawal syndrome has an indirect connection with your diet. The same is the case with smoking. A study revealed that most people like to smoke a cigarette after a heavy meaty meal. On the other hand, foods like vegetables, fruits, and cheese do not make you crave a cigarette.

Another study revealed that smoking after a meal increases the risks of lung and bowel cancer. Therefore, swap your filet mignon with a fresh veggie pizza.

Also, regulate the consumption of fizzy drinks, alcohol, and caffeine-rich beverages like coffee or tea. These drinks enhance the flavor of cigarette smoking. Therefore, opt for fresh juices or water while you are out clubbing or meeting friends for meals.

Another habit to adopt should be to engage immediately after your meals. You could either sit with your family to talk or do the dishes. Anything to distract you from craving for an after-meal puff.

Therapies & Support Groups

There are a number of things you could rely on to distract and heal yourself. Indulge in therapies like acupuncture that is known to release endorphins that relax the body. This would help in controlling withdrawal symptoms.

Another great tip is behavioral therapy, which helps an individual adopt a new lifestyle and learn new habits and skills. Good habits come from adopting a healthy lifestyle and ritual every single day.

Hypnosis is another great way to have you relaxed and determined to quit smoking. Consult expert hypnotists who have experience in a similar case like yours.

Nothing is better than spending time with people who are sailing on the same boat as you. Join a support group that would help you quit smoking and stay motivated to stick to this new journey.

Make a list of reasons to quit

tip on how to stop smoking

The life expectancy of a smoker cuts down ten years shorter than non-smokers. So, motivate yourself to stay determined by listing reasons that would make you give up smoking, whether that’s starting a family, becoming an athlete, or both. List them as reminders to keep going.

All in all, the above tips would help you give up smoking once and for all. Remember to stay positive throughout the journey. It would be best if you stay determined and go slow and not go cold turkey.

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How Advances in Medical Technology Will Improve Nursing Homes

As America marches further into the twenty-first century, the nation’s population continues to get older. By 2030, the first of the 77 million baby boomers will reach the age of 85. In 2034, seniors will outnumber children for the first time in the nation’s history. Of this growing group of senior citizens, 3 in 4 of them will require high-level, long term care. This likely means they will need a nursing home.

Despite the continuous upward trajectory of demand, nursing homes are unpopular among Americans. Only 19% of those polled think that nursing homes make seniors better off. So how do people end up in nursing homes? It happens because seniors can no longer care for themselves. Most don’t possess the resources to pursue other alternatives.

The average nursing home resident needs 4 hours of personalized nursing care every day due to diseases like dementia or arthritis. For most nursing home residents, 2 or more daily tasks are impossible for them to accomplish alone. Care like that is hard to achieve outside of a nursing home.

how do technology affect elderly

Unfortunately, meeting senior’s medical needs currently isolates them socially. Moving away from friends, familiar places, and well-established routines causes depression in 40% of seniors. 55% of residents said they didn’t see enough of their families, something that generates a sense of loss and abandonment in nursing home populations.

These social woes don’t just leave emotional wounds; they worsen individuals’ physical health as well. Loneliness has been linked to a 400% increase in mortality, 68% increase in hospitalization, and 50% increased chance of developing dementia.

18% of all suicide deaths come from senior citizens, a greater proportion than any other age group. For senior citizens to make it through so much life only to end it in a state of misery is a tragedy that both can and should be prevented.

It is vital for nursing homes to change their ways. They have to find methods to either increase social outcomes for residents or give seniors the tools they need to maintain old routines and live outside nursing homes.

As Rosalie Kane, Ph.D. professor at the University of Minnesota, said, “nursing homes are places to live… Health care needs might be met at the expense of drastically changing someone’s daily life and routines for the worse. The challenge is to pay attention to quality of life as an outcome in itself, and see how health care may be related to quality of life.”

Advances in medical technology are improving nursing home care quality all across the board. Some of these innovations can even help seniors regain independence and return home. Technology that is available today includes Aiva voice assistant, which gives seniors an easier way to communicate with other residents, family members, and caregivers without physical proximity.

Nothing beats in-person gathering, but helping seniors stay in touch with the people they left behind in their move to a nursing home is one way to improve emotional and mental health outcomes. Another new innovation that is currently available is Solo-Step, a rehabilitation harness that prevents fall-related injuries, letting users walk without the assistance of another person. These devices are available for installation already, and the longer they’re on the market, the more chances they’ll have to spread to nursing homes across the country.

solo step rehabilitation harness
Via solostep.com

Other innovations that are still in development include The Kidney Project, an artificial kidney that would remove the need for dialysis at one third the cost, and Neuro Rehab VR, which uses cutting edge VR (virtual reality) tech to help individuals recover from stroke and brain injuries.

Neuro Rehab will incorporate physical therapy programs customizable to each patient’s need and operate with a video game-like interface to motivate a speedier recovery. New inventions have the potential to give aging people a chance at a brighter future in spite of the difficulties they currently face.

As Elaine Ryan, Vice President of Government Affairs for State Advocacy at AARP, says, “[current events have] made us painfully aware that we can’t ignore our most vulnerable people. Americans always respond to a crisis. And there is hope that, with innovative ideas and bold action, they will again.”

Source

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Ensuring A Great Onboarding Experience For Your Remote Employees With Disabilities

Most companies have gone remote post-pandemic, and onboarding has been a challenge for many. If you are onboarding employees with disabilities, then the challenge is magnified multiple fold.

One of the biggest things that the pandemic has taught us is having empathy and compassion for others. Nurturing a workplace environment where inclusivity and accessibility are prioritized is of utmost importance, now more than ever.

If you have been struggling with onboarding remote employees with disabilities and ensuring that they have a great onboarding experience, then this guide is just for you. Let’s look at some of the ways to have a smooth onboarding process for remote employees with disabilities.

Educate Yourself and Others About Inclusion

Inclusion is a massive area to be explored by most people and organizations. Unless you or your employees have firsthand experiences with people with disabilities or have taken an interest in learning about it, you wouldn’t be aware of inclusion.

Our ignorance is appalling considering the fact that 1 in every 4 Americans is disabled in some way. It is important to understand the meaning of inclusion, what it means to be inclusive, and how you conduct yourself around people with disabilities, even while working remotely.

You can do this by hiring experts to create exclusive training on inclusion. This will help you create a more comfortable and welcoming environment for onboarding your remote employees with disabilities.

Ensure your Company Website’s Accessibility

onboarding with remote employees with disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA was passed in 1990. This is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disabilities. Ensuring website accessibility is an important part of the ADA, and you might be facing potential lawsuits if you do not adhere to this law.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG are a set of web accessibility guidelines followed worldwide. Currently, your company’s website may not be entirely accessible for people with disabilities.

While onboarding disabled employees, it is essential to adhere to these web accessibility guidelines. This is essentially true when you are onboarding remote employees as their training, and day-to-day work would involve assessing your organization’s websites. While doing so, they shouldn’t face any difficulties accessing all the features.

You can use accessiBe’s web accessibility platform for this purpose. Such software will scan your website for all the ADA and WCAG violations, and fix all the accessibility issues with ease. You just have to install a single line of code, and the tool will take care of the rest.

Provide Access to Assistive Technologies if Necessary

As you might already be aware, people with hearing impairments, motor impairments, or visual disabilities may need assistive devices to access things around the internet. They may need these devices to complete their day-to-day tasks.

Just like you would provide laptops or other equipment while onboarding your remote employees, you should also consider providing these assistive devices for your disabled employees. The training that you underwent for inclusion would come in handy here.

Today, there are lots of advanced technologies and mobile applications available that can be used as assistive devices for your remote disabled employees. Ensure that you invest in these and create an inclusive environment. This will help to have an immensely positive impact on the growth of your organization.

Ask for Feedback from Disabled Employees

You may have created training on inclusions, provided assistive devices, and ensured accessibility of your website. But all these are not enough. You should also gather feedback from your disabled employees and understand whether they feel comfortable working in your organization.

You can do this by having one-on-one sessions with your disabled employees and talking to them about this. You should first make them feel comfortable to open up about anything that they would want to discuss, and then you can gather feedback about your onboarding, as well as your day-to-day workplace.

Once you have gathered all the feedback, the next step is to start acting on it. You should have such one-on-one meetings regularly with your disabled employees to ensure that they feel comfortable and open up about any issues they are facing in your remote workspace.

Have a Checklist Specific for Remote Onboarding of Disabled Employees

onboard remote employees with disabilities

Lastly, having a checklist specific for remote onboarding of employees with disabilities can be of immense help. You can set a checklist and SOPs to ensure that you welcome every disabled employee into your organization with the same process, and you don’t leave out anything important.

This will save you time and resources each time, and thus, help your organization function more efficiently, even while working remotely. This will also save you from expensive ADA lawsuits that might leave your company bankrupt and damage your reputation for a long time.

Final Thoughts

Remote onboarding of employees with disabilities can be tricky and challenging. You want to make them feel inclusive while ensuring that the onboarding process is effective.

The tips provided in this guide will help you have a smooth onboarding experience for remote, disabled employees. This will help you grow as an organization and improve your company’s reputation as well. So, start working on these tips right away, and you’ll see an immense difference soon.

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5 Ways To Manage Money When You’re Broke

Having financial stability can be empowering—you can get your needs and indulge your wants without anxiously waiting for the next paycheck. It also allows you to prepare for emergencies and other unexpected circumstances. With the pandemic affecting the livelihoods of many, it is critical to stay on top of your finances to remain secure in these uncertain times.

As the old saying goes, better late than never. Taking charge of your finances today is a step towards a more financially secure tomorrow. Here are five easy ways you can effectively manage your money.

Make a savings plan

Many people are overwhelmed with the idea of how to start saving up. A savings plan helps break down the process, making it easier to commit to actually doing it. Decide on your overall saving goals, and then figure out ways to work towards those. Make sure to note down any milestones to help track your progress.

Once you’ve established a savings plan, open a savings account with a reputable bank to keep your money safe as you save up. Review your progress each month. If there were instances where you weren’t able to stick to the plan, try to make small adjustments to make it easier for you to meet your goals.

Stick to a budget

budget when you're broke

One of the biggest reasons why people end up broke is that their expenses end up exceeding the capacity of their means. To avoid falling into the trap of overspending, create a monthly budget for yourself.

Take note of your monthly income, and then list all your expenses within a month: groceries, utility bills, transportation, and the like. From there, decide on how to portion your paycheck. As the month passes, remember to stay within your allotted budget. Unless there is a sudden and urgent need, other expenses should be deferred.

Track your spending

Picture this: you check your bank account and find that your funds are dangerously low. However, when you think about where you spent your last paycheck, your mind draws a blank. Reckless spending can leave you broke without an exact reason as to why you are.

The best way to avoid this is to track your spending dutifully. It can be as simple as a money tracker in your planner or a spending app on your smartphone. By regularly recording your expenses, you’ll have a better idea of where your money is going and how to keep your spending in check.

Map out your purchases

budgeting when you're broke

An effective way to stay on budget is to plan all your purchases. Small but frequent shopping trips can add up, and big-ticket items can drain your savings in one go. At the beginning of each month, make a note of the purchases you’re anticipating in the coming weeks.

Additionally, consider paying in installments for more expensive purchases. Installments are helpful for budgeting as they spread out large payments into smaller, more manageable sums over a longer period of time. These sums are paid off regularly, making them easier to plan for in your monthly budget.

Lessen “vampire” expenses

Vampire expenses are recurring fees that end up consuming the bulk of your savings. These can include subscriptions to streaming services, gym memberships, and postpaid phone plans.

Revisit your recurring expenses and ask yourself if you really need these services. If so, are there any cheaper or free alternatives? Can you downgrade your plan to one that better fits your budget and consumption? By pruning your recurring expenses down, you’ll end up with more money for essentials or to add to your savings.

Never End Up Broke

Making the right decisions with your money now can make all the difference later on, especially if you find yourself in a pinch. With commitment and dedication, these tips can help you break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and bring you closer to your financial goals.

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How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing – Follow These Simple Tips

In any search engine optimization package, keyword stuffing is very important. However, it can also harm a website when not controlled properly. Not only will you see a huge drop in your already ranking website, there will be an interest rate drop among your readers or visitors as well. Search engine crawlers will see your website as a spammy one.

But what can one do to avoid the overuse of keyword stuffing? Here, we provide some very simple but useful tips to keep stuffing of keywords under control. While we benefit from keyword stuffing, we also have to make sure that we use it carefully. This is where it becomes more difficult for some SEO analysts. So, let’s get started with these SEO tips to avoid overstuffing of keywords.

Understand A Few Terms

understanding keyword terms

Before we go ahead with the tips and tricks to avoid keywords stuffing, we need to know a little bit about this topic. If you already know these terms, you can skip this section and jump to the next one. But if you are not familiar with these yet, read on.

Keyword Stuffing

When we use our focus or primary keyword repeatedly in our content, it is known as keyword stuffing.

Keyword Density

The percentage of our content that consists the keyword is known as keyword density. Like if you are using a keyword 10 times in a 1000 word post. Then it will mean that you have a keyword density of 1%.

Keyword cannibalization

When we use the same focus keywords on our different web pages or posts, then it will be known as keyword cannibalization. It is a very common issue in keyword stuffing.

Tips To Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Here are a few tips to avoid keyword stuffing. If you follow these tips, you will never face issues with overstuffing.

#1. Focus On Focus Keyword

You have to focus on a single keyword for a single page. Avoid using the same focus keyword for different pages because both pages will try to rank on the same search query and it will lead you towards keyword cannibalization. So, if you want good keyword stuffing, then you must focus on a focus keyword in a single web page or web post.

#2. Keep Density Under Control

You have to keep keyword density under control. Most of the time the preferred keyword density is around 1% to 2%. If you are using more than this recommended density, it will be called overstuffing.

#3. Get Help From Secondary Keywords

Focus keywords are important but secondary keywords are also useful. It will be of great help if you use secondary keywords in your content. You will require less usage of focus keywords, so there will be less keyword stuffing. In the end, it will be a great way to get a good search engine result page ranking with fewer keywords used.

#4. Use Keywords Smartly

What do you mean by using keywords smartly? Using keywords smartly means using a variety of keywords. Rather than just using a few keywords, try to use LSI keywords and secondary keywords. If you want to be a smart keyword user, then you have to use different keywords with different properties. Keywords with “near me” or location will help you a lot. You will get a good ranking without even using overused keyword stuffing.

#5. Write As Long As Readers Want

avoiding keyword stuffing

Long content will help you engage the audience in a better way. Almost everyone knows this trick. But do you know that long content will help you avoid keyword stuffing as well? So if you also want to overcome the issue of keyword overstuffing, then you should definitely write long content. It is valuable in terms of user experience, too.

Google has announced that user experience will be considered more seriously while ranking websites on search engine result pages. With this, you can get your website ranked higher with long content and genuine keyword stuffing.

#6. Use Text Optimization Tools

We are not here to discuss keywords research or keyword density checking tools. This guide is about text optimization with related words to the keywords. Fortunately, there are many related words to your focus keywords. Using these related words and optimizing your text is very important. Hence, you must use some text optimization tools to figure out some related words.

Keyword stuffing is one of the major concerns in search engine optimization that every SEO individual needs to focus on. You can use it for a good ranking on any SERPs. But if you overuse it then it will just kill traffic on your website and search engines might also flag the site. Nonetheless, keywords are still relevant and helpful to increase visibility. That is why we have provided you with these keyword stuffing tips to avoid overuse.

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Anxiety Buster: A Three-Step System To Help You Get Rid of Panic Attacks

Have you been struggling with anxiety? Then tell me if this sounds familiar:

  • You’re on edge – and on the verge of tears – almost all the time and you don’t know why.
  • Sometimes, you get really jittery and lose focus, even if you’re in the middle of a task at work
  • You’ve had times where you thought you had no control over your body. You had a bubbly feeling in your stomach, and you were gasping for air with every breath. And maybe you even got so nervous, you worried you were going to die.

If you’re suffering from panic attacks, these sensations might seem incredibly familiar to you… but when you really think about it, they just don’t make any sense.

In your mind, you know you are safe – and yet you feel like your life is in danger. Your anxiety levels skyrocket and you see it coming: your next panic attack. You hope it wouldn’t be in public and that people wouldn’t notice… but they might. You panic even more, your mind racing and you’re out of breath.

I can totally relate to how you are feeling.

Having dealt with anxiety before, I know it’s not an easy feeling. But in the past two years, I’ve discovered a three-step process that has helped me bust my anxiety and get rid of panic attacks for good. Today, I’d like to share this system with you.

Step 1: Allow yourself to feel the fear

Panic attacks are a clear sign that you’ve been suppressing fearful emotions in your day-to-day life. Instead of allowing yourself to feel the fear when it hits, you try to hide it and as your mountain of fear grows, it becomes harder and harder to suppress – until it eventually triggers severe anxiety or panic attacks.

During a panic attack, you lose control of your emotions and all that built-fear is finally released. As such, you can think of panic attacks as a cleansing mechanism of your body to get rid of excess fear.

Now, of course, panic attacks are not a particularly pleasant experience – and I can imagine that you want to find less stressful, healthier ways to deal with your emotions.

That’s why, the next time you feel on edge (or have a full-blown panic attack), try to lean in to the fear.

If you’ve never let yourself feel your fear before, it can be scary. You might even start shaking or hyperventilating, and you might worry that your life is going to end. I’ve been in that mind-space before, and I can tell you: a panic attack won’t kill you.

No need to obsess about your health, just try to breathe as calmly as possible, and let whatever happens happen.

Step 2: Let your anxiety spread through your entire body

getting rid of panic attacks

Your anxiety, no matter how bad it seems, is only a temporary state. You might feel like your panic is endless, and you might be so trapped in your emotions that you lose track of time and feel threatened in the present.

But even during a panic attack, you might be able to remember that you once felt differently, whether you were happy or angry. And to get out of your present, uncomfortable state as quickly as possible, you need to let your anxiety spread through your entire body.

You can also turn this into a game: see if you can feel your anxiety in your hands, wrists, and elbows. See if you can make it spread up all the way up to your shoulders, to your heart and chest and into your stomach. Take it from your stomach through your liver and kidneys to your pelvis. Gently shift your fear from your pelvis to your thighs and down your legs – all the way to your feet and into the ground.

Keep focusing on your breath as you relive all the thoughts that contributed to your fear, and you’ll soon notice that your panic begins to fade.

Step 3: Let go of your panic and open up to the next emotion that comes your way

It’s important to avoid staying trapped in your panic and fearful thoughts. Therefore, once you have fully felt all the negative emotions, mentally prepare to let go of your fear. You can visualise your panic dissipating, with the waves of fear gently moving on and away from your body.

Extend a warm welcome to the next sensations that come your way – whether they’re a feeling of relief, exhaustion or happiness.

You’ll feel much better afterwards – and gradually your panic attacks will become less and less frequent until they disappear altogether (at least that’s what happened for me).

Final thoughts

get rid of panic attacks

This simple system has changed my life – through it, I’ve been able to overcome my anxiety without medication and I’ve been panic-free for the past six months. I am sure you can get similar results if you apply this anxiety-busting system regularly. But if you are having a rough time, or if you struggle with severe anxiety and depression, do reach out to doctors, counsellors or therapists in your area to get professional help.

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The Seven Steps to Finding Self-Acceptance

According to Wikipedia: “Self-esteem is an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs about oneself as well as an emotional state such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame.”

I believe all of us, as human beings, have experienced self-esteem struggles. They can show up in our daily lives, whether we do anything about them or not. You may experience those feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy in one or more areas of your life. That’s OK. I’ve been there many times myself. Those feelings were ingrained early on in my childhood.

I am here to tell you this: I understand that what you’re going through is not easy, and believe me, you are not alone on this road. However, the truth I would like to share with you today is that if you show up to your life every day facing your struggles, hardships, and failures; putting in the time and hard work knowing yourself; bringing awareness to yourself, and being honest with your limitations, you will be taking a vital and much-needed step towards progression, character building, and self-growth. I promise by the end of it, you will have become a better version of yourself than when you have started initially.

How do you find self-acceptance and awaken inner strength? There are a few necessary steps to take that can help you through your discovery, starting with:

Defining Self-Esteem

Ask yourself: How do you define your self-esteem? How much do you value yourself? How worthy and capable are you?

How Self-Esteem Develops

developing self esteem

Where do those opinions about ourselves come from? They are formed by various factors, like our achievements, relationships, and connection to a larger purpose. Most of these opinions we form about ourselves, however, are developed in our formative years.

Challenging Our Core Beliefs

The number one factor that is responsible for diminishing our self-esteem is our thoughts. It’s not external situations that create our self-esteem. When it comes down to it, it’s what we tell ourselves. How we speak to ourselves is directly linked to what we believe about ourselves.

When our thoughts are critical, self-defeating, and negative, they have the power to diminish our self-esteem significantly. Without challenging our thoughts, we have grown accustomed to hearing them. These thoughts may not be accurate, and out of habit, we repeat them. We must challenge our thoughts, reframe them, and question their validity.

Self-Acceptance

One of the key ingredients to healthy self-esteem is to practice self-acceptance. Self-acceptance helps us feel good about ourselves and independent from our flaws, mistakes, and failures. It helps us release judgment and embrace all facets of who we are.

Self-acceptance is unconditional; we are not reliant on our achievements to build our self-worth. We begin to reaffirm our qualities and attributes, accepting non-judgmentally our weakness and strength. It’s liberating to experience a kind of happiness that is not dependent on goal-oriented thoughts.

Self-Compassion

In a nutshell, self-compassion is being kind and loving toward the self. We practice it when we are going through a difficult time or recognizing qualities about ourselves that we dislike, rather than judging and criticizing ourselves. We offer patience and kindness toward ourselves instead of berating ourselves for all of our mistakes. It is practicing forgiveness, knowing we don’t have to be perfect to have high self-worth.

There are three components of self-compassion:

  • Extending kindness to ourselves just as we treat others.
  • Common humanity, instead of focusing on how we are different from others. Self-compassion helps us view our similarities. We recognize that inadequacy, perfections, and challenges are part of our shared human experience, not something that happens to us alone. It lessens our self-judgment and connects us with others.
  • Mindfulness offers us a balanced perspective and allows us to observe our experiences with openness and clarity, helping us face and accept life without judgment.

Combined, these three aspects of self-compassion provide refuge to our overly critical minds and enhance our overall acceptance of ourselves.

Dropping Comparisons

To increase our self-esteem, society taught us to compare ourselves to others to prove that we are better. We became competitive. That falsely heightened self-esteem is contingent on our most recent successes or failures.

Therefore, our self-worth is dependent on our circumstances. Self-compassion is unconditional, and when we are caught in the game of comparison, not only do we thrive on being better than others, but our perspective is distorted; it’s impossible to see the whole picture.

We don’t always see underlying struggles, burnout, or depression. We observe people gain accolades and success without being privy to their hardships. With a competitive mind, the more successful people are around us, the lower our self-esteem falls. We begin dismissing and devaluing our own self-worth. Therefore, we should drop our comparisons and practice self-compassion.

Letting Go of Perfectionism

letting go perfectionism

At a young age, most of us are put on a quest to be perfect in all aspects of life. As we work toward achieving our perfect self, much of our attention is spent focusing on our flaws. Often, we get mad at ourselves for not meeting our own expectations, and at the same time, putting quite a bit of pressure on achievement.

As for making mistakes, we are unable to let them go, and our relentless internal critic won’t grant us the ability to experience satisfaction and happiness. Whenever we reach a goal, it seems our best is seemingly never quite good enough for ourselves.

This always elusive quest for perfection chips away at our self-esteem because it does not allow us to accept who we are. Many of us have this idea that striving for perfection and criticizing ourselves will eventually lead us towards greater success.

In conclusion, beating ourselves up does not get us anywhere positive or further in life. It holds us back from taking risks. If happiness is what we want, and growing our self-esteem is our desire, we must let go of our tendencies to be a perfectionist. We have to understand that what we achieve in life does not equate to our feelings of self-worth and that the process of doing things is equally as critical as the targets we set for ourselves.

Increasing our self-esteem also involves gratitude in that we accept and appreciate all that we can do while simultaneously honoring all that we cannot. It is simply acknowledging that we recognize that our best is not only acceptable but also good enough.

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How To Prepare Your Data For Industry 4.0

A new industrial revolution is coming, and no, it won’t look the way it did 100 years ago. Industry 4.0 is on the way, and at breakneck speed.

Industry 4.0 is set to completely remake the way that products and inventory are created. Big Data programs, advanced machine learning, and reliance on IoT (the internet of things) will push manufacturers and distribution warehouses into the next area of development for the business world. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will dramatically decrease the amount of time spent between development, production, and shipments while introducing efficient, low cost, and high-quality products to the global market.

As the newest stage of the industrial revolution, the effects of Industry 4.0 are anticipated to take the world by storm. In less than 5 years, the market for Big Data and IoT is expected to grow to a whopping $25 billion. But the industry did not become what it is today without foundational building blocks from the past.

The first industrial revolution (also known as Industry 1.0) took place between 1760 and 1830. This time period was known as the Mechanization era as communities began to experience rapid growth from automated machines and tools, steam and internal combustion engines, and the refinement of iron and steel metals.

first industrial revolution
Via medium.com

Industry 2.0, called the Mass Production era by some, was a time period between 1870 and 1914. Occurring just before the first World War, this season of development focused on efficiency and productivity more than ever before. The assembly line was developed and carefully refined. Railroads and telegraph lines enhanced shipping and communication. The age of steel and iron began to give way to stainless steel and early plastics.

Our most recent stage of development in Industry 3.0 took place between 1950 and 2002. This era is called the Digitalization age for many reasons, but specifically because of unique integrations between IT and manufacturing processes. Computers, nuclear power, and other advances made it easier than ever to develop and ship inventory.

Today, Industry 4.0 is taking a step further by integrating data into the Interconnectivity Era. The goal of this rapidly developing technology is to fully automate warehouses and assembly lines by feeding machine learning programs an enormous amount of Big Data. This will cause a boom in both production and shipment, and will increase communications with Smart technology.

preparing for the fourth industrial revolution

There are three basic requirements to ensure successful integration with Industry 4.0: Smart communication, Smart devices, and high-quality Big Data. Not having the right information on hand will cripple the development process, and prevent businesses from utilizing their full potential.

Leveraging the benefits of Industry 4.0 must always begin with good data management, both inside and outside of a company. Business leaders should prepare their data to adapt to the many changes of the Interconnectivity area with solid strategy.

Begin the data preparation process by using the following steps.

Prepare an effective data structure

Evaluate your current structure, and look for ways to optimize while moving ahead. Investigate types of data structures such as:

  • Stacks
  • Queues
  • Linked Lists
  • Trees
  • Graphs
  • Tries
  • Hash Tables

Focus on reliable and credible data flow

Spend the extra time and money to complete an extensive data audit. What data is going where, and to whom? Optimize the flow and reception of information as necessary.

Upgrade your products and your processes with the future in mind

Purchasing Smart products for implementation in manufacturing processes can gently ease the requirements of Industry 4.0 into budding companies.

Connect all departments in the company with some form of data

Ensuring that data between departments is clear, open, and error-free will support a healthier environment for Industry 4.0 transitions.

Require that Industry 4.0 data be provided from all suppliers

A single missing link between internal data fidelity and external company partners greatly devalues the many benefits of Industry 4.0.

The Interconnectivity Revolution may still be in a nascent state, but the future is rapidly approaching. Start preparing your Big Data to take advantage of Industry 4.0 and all its benefits.

Source: Part Solutions – What is Industry 4.0?

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Exercise Equipment Review: Best Stuff for Effective Home Training

The recent world pandemic is a threat to your fitness too. People worldwide are worried that staying leisurely at home will add to the excess calories in the body. We know that the gyms are closed, hence, you cannot depend on the gym equipment for an efficient workout. But have you ever given a thought to home training? If not, then do think of the facilities provided by home training.

Firstly, you don’t have to pay any membership fees in your own home. Secondly, you can exercise freely away from people’s eyes, and thirdly, you don’t have to depend on the gym time table for a workout session. You just need to spend a moderate amount of money to buy the best equipment to set your own home gym.

If you are worried about space consumption by the home training equipment, then the good news is that many gym equipment companies manufacture small, space-friendly equipment. Read on to know more about such equipment.

Dumbbells

If you have less space, dumbbells are going to be of great help to you for maintaining your arms, abs, and back. They are the best home strength training equipment that can be kept anywhere and do not demand much maintenance. Dumbbells come in different sizes. We suggest you to invest in the size that you are most comfortable with.

Do not pick one that’s too heavy if you are just a beginner. Start with the lighter ones and then target for the heavier ones. Weight training at home with dumbbells will help you maintain your body shape perfectly.

We also recommend you buy brands that manufacture dumbbells made of cast iron and are coated with neoprene. The neoprene coating makes the dumbbell durable and non-slippery. The non-slippery texture will help you exercise effectively, even when sweating profusely.

A Yoga Mat

exercise equipment yoga mat review

The benefits of yoga are widely known. Therefore, yoga is an essential part of home training. But to ensure an effective yoga session, you will have to invest in a good yoga mat that will help you exercise with comfort.

A yoga mat is highly suggested for home training because performing yoga on the floor can hurt your back. If you are planning to use a towel or a carpet instead, then know that the postures you can perform are limited. Hence, it is always advisable to buy a yoga mat.

Invest in a yoga mat that has a non-slippery surface on both tides. This will help you avoid falling while doing hard yoga postures. We also suggest you invest in a yoga mat with moisture-control technology that will ensure the mat’s easy maintenance. Certain yoga postures will also help you in strength training at home without equipment.

A Jumping Rope

A jumping rope is one of the best cardio equipment. It is also proven that around 10 minutes of workout using a jumping rope is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging. Therefore, it is a must for your home training equipment collection.

A jumping rope is a great burnout equipment to use to strengthen the intensity of other exercises. You can use it for a two-minute burnout while performing squats, push-ups, bicycle kicks, and so on. For a more intense result, we suggest you use a weighted jumping rope. A weighted jumping rope is an amazing equipment for weight training for women at home. Also, invest in a rope whose size is adjustable as per your convenience.

Kettlebells

If you have always wondered how to do strength training at home, then kettlebells answer that. Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells do not have the weight proportionately divided throughout. We do not recommend kettlebells for strength training for beginners at home because they require more skill and strength. Beginners can stick to dumbbells.

Kettlebells help you strengthen your core, back, arms, and also legs. Therefore, it helps you to keep your entire body healthy. Kettlebell as a home training equipment provides a lot of freedom as it comes in different weights. Therefore, you must own kettlebells for effective weight training at home.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands might look negligible in front of dumbbells or kettlebells, but trust us, they are one of the best equipment for strength training at home. These bands add resistance to workouts like donkey kicks, jumping squats, hip bridges, and so on.

Resistance bands stimulate the workouts by pushing the muscles to work harder. You must invest in these bands for powerful resistance training at home. They come in three different resistance levels: light, medium, and heavy. Most of the bands are made of plastic, but the problem with plastic bands is that they affect the workout by rolling up the thighs.

Therefore, we recommend you invest in wider cotton bands since they remain fixed throughout the home training session.

Medicine Balls

Medicine balls are highly recommended for strength training for weight loss at home. With these, you can do a lot of abdominal workouts to lose belly fat. Thus, medicine balls are perfect home training equipment for a full body workout.

Moreover, you can perform different high-intensity interval workouts using the equipment. It also does not require much space in your home and is easy to maintain. Therefore, squeeze out the benefits of a medicine ball at its best during home training.

Treadmill

Treadmill, undoubtedly, is the best training equipment for high-intensity interval training workouts at home. You can perform robust cardio by running indoors on a treadmill, which will help you to keep your heart healthy and build your core.

We suggest you invest in a treadmill with back wheels so that you can move it easily whenever and wherever required. Also, it will be better if you can find a brand that offers a foldable treadmill. A foldable treadmill is easy to store and is more convenient.

Ankle and Wrist Weights

Every part of your body deserves equal attention in a workout session. Therefore, you must also invest in ankle and wrist weights. This helps you to gain the benefits of home health aide training. When you have strong wrists and ankles, you can perform a lot of other exercises smoothly.

They help gain a free range of motion and create a more challenging home training session. You can wear these weights while doing any leg and arm exercises. When you use them, you increase the load against gravity, which helps you increase your body strength.

A Stationary Bike

exercise equipment stationary bike review

Cycling is known to be an effective workout for years. We know that the pandemic might have curbed your movements outside the house. So to continue enjoying the benefits of cycling, it will be beneficial to install a stationary bike in your home training area. A stationary bike helps to strengthen your arms and legs. It also helps your body build resistance at different levels.

We suggest you invest in a bike that has an LCD showing the time spent and the number of calories burnt in every cycling session. Make sure that you add cycling to your fitness regime to keep your whole body fit and strong.

Massage Rollers

Massage rollers help you plan a post-workout routine that can make your body overcome soreness due to the overworking of muscles. You can use a massage roller in almost every part like your legs, quads, and stomach. Massage rollers are also decent equipment for a waist training exercise at home.

A roller helps your body to relieve the stress after a workout. You can also use it to alleviate stress and make your day less tiring. It does so by increasing the ease of blood flow in the body. When your body gets more blood supply, it relieves you and helps increase your energy levels. Therefore, you must buy a roller for its post-workout benefits during home training.

Conclusion

We hope that you have learned about the right equipment you need to build a perfect home training set-up for yourself. Always remember that you have one body, and that body is your most important asset for the entirety of your life. Therefore, it is very important to spend time and a little part of your income to care for yourself.

Working out also helps in building a stronger immune system, and we all know how important it is to have strong immunity, especially these days. When are you planning to build a home training environment for yourself and which equipment will you install? Do keep us updated!

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How To Boost Your Personal and Professional Spirits During the Pandemic Crisis?

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

These are tough times, aren’t they? The pandemic has shaken the world, no one is spared. It has revolutionized the way the globe was operating, prior. All of us, in our personal and professional lives, are living a life never experienced before. But do we have a choice? No, we do not. For us to keep safe and alive, we will have to live the ‘new normal’.

That is where keeping our spirits high comes into picture. Since the new normal is hampering our lives, it does take its toll on our mental and physical health. Let us not let the pandemic lower our spirits. We have a precious life to enjoy and we shall do so! There is a lot of capability within us that we, sometimes, do not even know. It is just a matter of reinventing our inner self to fight against the outer worldly crisis.

How is the Pandemic Affecting Our Lives?

The pandemic is having different kinds of knock-on effects on our lives. The implication that it is showcasing range from being physical to emotional to financial to social. There is a lot of turmoil going around in different ways, some of which are mentioned below:

On a Personal Level

  • Feeling isolated as not being able to socialize and move around freely
  • Lower business returns and more of financial hassles
  • Economic setback with unavailability of all desired items
  • Poor cash flow on a personal level
  • Illness and loss of dear ones

On a Professional Level

  • Work from Home (WFH) regime is a different way of working
  • Unable to meet team members/seniors regularly and have more interaction
  • Less availability of guidance and more of self-work and independent functioning
  • A cultural shift in the mindset
  • Unavailability of seamless internet connectivity

And there could be more…

However big the number of issues is, it is up to us not to let ourselves down and keep our spirits strong, happy, and positive. Though everyone has their own way of dealing with these concerns, here are some tips that can help a great deal in elevating your spirits.

Key Tips to Lead a Happy and Satisfied Personal Life, Amidst the Pandemic

improving life satisfaction

  • Feel blessed that you have such a nice life. There are ups and downs in everyone’s lives and everyone must deal with that. But the very fact that God has given you a life to cherish demands our gratitude.
  • Look at people who are more troubled than you, who have lost their near and dear ones, are dealing with severe financial crisis, unable to feed their family, far away from their families. Such cases must make you feel that you are in a much happy space as compared to them. This should make you thankful in return.
  • Do these regularly – exercise, pray, meditate, eat good food, sleep well, spend quality time with family, perform your hobbies regularly, even if virtually. These regular activities shall keep boosting your inner self and keep you positive and strong.
  • Leverage the virtual world by regularly keeping in touch with family and friends all over the world. Everyone is in the same state of mind; hence, discussing and spending time shall surely help.
  • Keep telling yourself – ‘This too shall pass, ‘happy days are here again’, ‘every dark cloud comes with a silver lining’, and ‘think positive, be positive’, among others. The world out there is filled with such encouraging quotes. Though these may sound theoretical, embedding them in your mind shall work. Read good books, since no wonder why, they are our best friends.
  • Help others in need – be it by giving money, food, clothes, advice, or whichever way you can. Serving others will bring about a great sense of satisfaction, which will help you overcome your own set of worries/concerns/anxiety.
  • Keep in touch with what is going around in the world, but do not get too engrossed into it. Going deeper into what is happening around the world, especially in the pandemic may let you further down. Instead, watch happy and cheerful digital stuff that can lift you up.

Points to Ponder for a Successful and Stress-free Professional Life, in the Pandemic Times

  • Ensure a systematic internet connectivity plan in place so that you are continuously connected with your seniors and teammates.
  • Attend your virtual office as if you are present in person – dress well, get upright and smart, be confident, show your eagerness to work virtually.
  • Set up an area at home that will serve as your workplace daily. This makes you feel you are at your official location, giving a professional touch.
  • Ensure a healthy work-life balance. Keep focused hours for work and, at the same time, give time to yourself and your family.
  • Keep exercising, walking, and taking breaks in between. Sitting continuously in front of the digital media can cause harm.
  • Remain updated with what is happening on the professional front, in the organization. Keep in touch with your colleagues, even if it is not work specific. This way, you shall feel more connected and a part of the entire community that is living your life, work-wise.
  • Do not hesitate to contact the relevant person whenever you feel you are stuck. Working virtually does not mean you are disconnected. Keep a rapport with all. Wish your colleagues on their special days, congratulate them on their achievements, and just chit chat with your favourite people. These activities help you not to get grinded in the daily routines.
  • Take part in video conferencing calls and be heard. Show your opinion and clear all your doubts. Be interactive – this helps you feel as if you are a part of the office activities and there is a similar world that is working just like you.

Praying for a Pandemic-Free World

praying for the pandemic free world

As we keep ourselves up and running, the one thing that can help us all is to pray together to the Almighty to give us a pandemic-free globe soon. There is so much pain and worry that we have been witnessing; it is time God looks at us and bestows blessings in the world. Stay blessed, stay positive and be happy with what we have – life is too precious to be wasted!

The post How To Boost Your Personal and Professional Spirits During the Pandemic Crisis? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

6 Reasons to Get Certified as a Data Scientist

Data science is advancing rapidly. One major advantage that it has over other fields of computer science is that it is a very interdisciplinary field. This means that it involves concepts from a large number of other fields of computer science and even beyond.

They include statistics, computer science, mathematics, domain knowledge, and information science. This means that if there is a breakthrough or any kind of advancement in one of those fields, it means that data science itself can use that discovery or advancement to advance itself.

This is why data science, while still a relatively young field, has so many branches and areas of study such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, business intelligence, data examination, data mining, predictive analytics, etc.

data science

Another reason why data science is advancing rapidly is because of its widespread adoption by the industry. As the world becomes more and more revolutionized by technology, the number of innovations in the way businesses and organizations function significantly increase. They have realized that their most significant resource is the reams of data that they generate on a daily basis.

Now that they have recognized this fact, they are seeking to make use of this enormous resource and turn it into an asset for themselves. In order to do this, they need data scientists who will be able to handle their large data sets of structured and unstructured data. They will also convert all their physical data into electronic data and manipulate the unstructured data into a form that’s more suitable for data analysis and data warehousing.

There are many who have the opinion that data science is just a fad which will fade away with time. But nothing could be further from the truth. Data science is picking up steam at a fast pace and percolating down into many more industries as the awareness about the importance of data spreads.

With buzzwords such as ‘Big Data’ and ‘Machine Learning’ flying around in the discussions of anything technological, data science has already become a household word in the corporate world. Therefore, it is here to stay.

Why to Get a Data Science Certification?

One will be able to demonstrate a degree of interest and a self-driven learning mindset

With a data science certification, an individual will be able to demonstrate to the hiring managers that they are very serious about their career and job profile as a data scientist. The digital age is very fast moving and is progressing at a very fast rate. As a result, the value of the skills that an IT professional may have decreases at an alarming rate.

It is almost like a validity pack expiring. So a data scientist has to keep their knowledge and skills updated constantly. They should pursue a source of knowledge, which will give them the most up-to-date information about the field of data science. A data science certification course is an ideal source of such knowledge.

Provides a certain amount of credibility to the candidate

Today’s job market is full of many unscrupulous elements who try to trick the hiring managers in a variety of ways. They try to supply false and incorrect information about themselves on their resumes and during job interviews. They claim to have a list of qualifications which they don’t and list skills on their resumes which they have no experience with.

Sometimes they even produce fake references and letters of recommendations in hopes of getting past the screening process. So hiring managers are in a fix about how to select candidates who are actually qualified. When they see data science certification training listed on a candidate’s resume, they immediately feel great relief because it is a mark of credibility that authenticates an applicant.

Opens the gate to the highest paid data science roles in a company

As more and more businesses and organizations wake up to the fact that data is one of their most important resources, the demand for data scientists substantially rises as a result. Another thing to consider is that the demand for skilled and experienced data scientists far outstrips the supply for them.

This is the reason that the role of a data scientist is currently one of the highest paid job roles in the IT sector of professionals. So getting a data science certification course is a very good way to become qualified as a fully fledged data scientist. With this, you can gain access to data science job roles offering the most generous compensations.

One will find lucrative opportunities across various industries and domains

data scientist

Data science is a field of computer science and information technology which has applications in a number of different industries and domains. It has multifarious functions in retail, medicine, banking and finance, construction, transportation, communications, media and entertainment, education, manufacturing and natural resources, government, energy and utilities, and the outsourcing industry.

Cloud and distributed computing, in particular, is a domain which sees a large and intensive application of data science tools and techniques. Any industry which sees a lot of interactions with customers or is very customer-facing will definitely find a lot of uses for the technologies that data science provides.

Thus, a professional who undergoes data science training and obtains a data science certification will find it easier to getting hired in any business or organization that belongs to these industries and domains.

You will be able to take advantage of individual attention from the instructors

Any Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) or college usually contains thousands of students who are enrolled in it. Due to such large numbers of students, the instructors in the MOOC or college are not able to divide their time and attention among all of the students individually. They are forced to teach in a ‘single point to the masses’ approach. Therefore, the students do not get the personal attention and care that they can get in a data science certification course.

In a data science certification course, the instructors are easily able to provide each learner individual attention and care. They are able to hold special doubt clearing sessions and provide email, chat, and video support. They also grade each learner’s assignments individually and give them valuable critical advice on what their strengths are and where they made mistakes. This serves to make the learner’s learning experience that much more comprehensive and focused.

You will receive feedback on your GitHub projects

In an MOOC or a college, the instructors assign practical projects for the students. But a critical part of any project’s lifecycle is the feedback stage where it is evaluated by seniors and those who are experienced to point out the flaws and suggest improvements. This crucial element is missing from MOOCs and colleges but is present in data science certification courses.

In the certification course, end term capstone projects are assigned to the learners to work on. After completion and even during the process, instructors provide many helpful tips, pointers, suggestions, and advice on how to develop the project more proficiently. They even participate on the learner’s GitHub project page actively and help them learn how to accept feedback and collaborate on a project with others in a real-world environment.

The post 6 Reasons to Get Certified as a Data Scientist appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Why has Social Media Marketing Become Popular to Grow Your Business

Google is the undisputed master of the web markets and being indexed in a more favorable position than a competitor is essential to have a return in popularity (and therefore, also economic) and to make your website productive. Social media has become essential to increase this presence and strengthen search engine rankings.

Those who decide to be present on the web cannot exempt themselves from creating pages in the most popular social networks. Still, there is a distortion in the perception of these tools (which we consider harmful and dangerous) that makes most believe that the social network can replace the website: nothing could be more wrong!

The social network, due to its enormous diffusion, is an exceptional advertising vehicle. However, (just like traditional flyers) it must lead the user to deepen the subject dealt with in a more appropriate location. In the case of flyers it can be a shop; in the case of social networks it must necessarily be a website.

Too often I hear that: “I don’t need the site because I already have a Facebook page …”.

To answer the question: Social media is essential for the success of an advertising campaign, but for a company they should be satellites of a website and a means to bring users to their call to action page.

Many times we see local businesses with poorly managed or neglected social accounts.
For a social page to be effective, it should be in constant motion: thematic posts (or not), proper designing, calls to action, engagement with your audience, offers, discounts, and product showcases. It’s better if done several times a day.

Even if what is published is not strictly related to the topic covered in the page, if it creates an audience it is lawful (always within the boundaries of “netiquette”).

When you have a fairly large audience, then you can try to be more specific and, perhaps, less frequent. It is understood that the great value (and at the same time the great defect) of social networks is that there is a continuous interaction between those who publish a post and its audience. So, those who follow a page expect to have immediate answers to their questions.

Instagram For Example, What Do You Think?

social media important for business marketing

Indispensable? To be well placed on Google, which is the ultimate goal of every action on the web (those looking for a service or product start from the search engine, not from the social network), you should have them all, which is impossible to manage!

What is indispensable is undoubtedly Facebook, present in over 80% of Italian smartphones.

Then, Instagram is very popular, always at the level of interaction between users; however, I use it very little, and therefore, I don’t mind making comments.

I see Twitter as a bit overrated, in fact in Italy it is not particularly popular.

An underrated social media, on the other hand, is Youtube: this platform allows you to create a video channel with which you can “talk” with people, or show in detail something that would otherwise only be said. On the practical side, it is not that people immediately perceive the weight of this “social”, but having a Youtube channel exponentially amplifies the effect of any advertising practice and strengthens the presence and positioning in Google.

Are Hashtags Recommended? What Are They Good For?

social media is important for business marketing

The hashtags are a very effective way to group-specific topics. Their use is undoubtedly recommended to classify the topics covered in an advertising page. They are also increasingly widespread in social networks as a means of making the subject matter more direct. Personally I believe that, like all things, even this method will be too much inflated that it will lose its effectiveness.

I’ll give a practical example regarding this last statement: a couple of years ago, some of the highest exponents of the marketing world (Roberto Re and Marco Montemagno, to name a couple of Italians) started producing short monothematic videos which got published on Youtube and then circulated them through Instagram and Facebook.

It turned out to be an “overbearing” way to gain “likes” and exponentially increase followers. After a couple of years, this practice has been adopted by practically everyone who has something to say and the effectiveness of the method has since gone into free fall.

These people now have boundless popularity, but those who start only now wouldn’t be so lucky.

Conclusion

In reality, the only real recipe for the success of a company is the ability to renew itself and innovate. Those who do not possess this talent are destined to end up (or return) in the shadows.

The post Why has Social Media Marketing Become Popular to Grow Your Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Use Link Signals to Improve Search Engine Rankings

In the digital age, a business’ website is a treasured asset. But before customers can shop at a business online, they need to find it first. SEOs devote their career to making that happen, and here’s what they can tell you: while there are a large number of factors to consider when it comes to modern search engines, links continue to reign supreme.

SEMRush lists different link signals as 4 of the top 8 ranking factors in search results. Meanwhile, a study by Backlinko found that the average #1 Google Search has 3.8x more backlinks and 3.2x more referring domains than #2-#10. According to MOZ, links are credited for 28% of Google’s ranking factors when conducting local organic search. That’s greater than any other individual factor.

Many Sites Have no Links at All

Despite the importance of link signals to the visibility of a website, not every business is taking advantage of them. 94% of all web content lacks a single external backlink. These pages are like islands; isolated from the rest of the web. Your business needs to take action to be sure it isn’t part of that archipelago. Customers rarely want to traverse virtual oceans to find what they need. If you find that this is the case with your own website, don’t worry: you still have time to build inroads to the main continent.

Quality Over Quantity

improving your website ranking

As you build your external connections, proceed with caution. Increasing your number of link signals is important, but you should never leave quality off to the wayside. Not every link signal is a good one. Google penalizes websites who use doorway pages meant to funnel users to a different page than they clicked, thin affiliates that use content from another site without adding value, so-called “unnatural links” like text advertisements that are not tagged as sponsored, or other dishonest tricks that seek to increase their site’s ranking without also increasing its quality or relevance to a user.

Google does not want to allow spam to have a positive influence on rankings, and working with spam can bring down a good site’s reputation. Connecting your page to many poor-quality links places it in a “bad neighborhood” of the virtual world. If you set up shop in a rough part of town, don’t be surprised when potential customers are scared to walk in.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait – And Do it Right

improve your website ranking

Instead of resorting to deception, it’s better to increase your link signals’ quality and number simultaneously. These ways don’t all have to include putting more links on your site; some of them relate to the content of your website as well. For example, domain age works in a website’s favor; it shows that the website has stood the test of time. Content that answers questions is valuable; posts discussing the “what” or “why” of things get 26% more links than videos and how-tos. Long-form content tends to receive more shares than short articles do.

As for improvement methods tied more directly to links, there are a few different ones. The more likely a link is to be clicked by a user, the more value it has, so locate the best links in the body of your content instead of the footer. Consider what words people would use to search for your website: high-ranking sites require 4x the number of referring domains for popular keywords as they do for less common ones. Follow links always rank above Nofollow links because the former vouches for the linked site’s authority.

These are just a few places to get started. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to maintain a high-quality website and provide external backlinks to websites of equal or better quality. So long as your page and the external backlinks it attracts have good Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T), you will be able to climb in Google’s search rankings.

In the words of Ann Smarty, Brand/Community Manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com and MyBlogU.com, “Links help Google to associate your page (and your brand) with other concepts and entities in the niche…. So when building links, pick sites and context you want to be associated with.”

Source: dirjournal

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Ugh! One Man Asks, “Can’t I Just Be A Guy?”

I worked with a man recently whose wife had insisted they attend couples counseling. In her mind there were a number of issues to be worked through and they weren’t communicating about them. No surprise, he didn’t feel the same way and thought everything was basically fine. At one point during the first session he became exasperated with his wife and asked, “Ugh, can’t you leave me alone and let me just be a guy?”

Many men feel this way, especially when it comes to interacting within their relationships and the idea of counseling in particular. It doesn’t seem like a “guy thing” to be worried about communication, emotions, or the need for counseling. I am accustomed to working with men who truly need counseling but are resistant. And I know how to work with them in ways they can relate to and make them comfortable getting help.

But this guy’s question, “Can’t I just be a guy?”, resonated with me in a different way.

How “Guys” Typically Work

how guys typically work

When I asked him what he meant by “just being a guy”, he didn’t have a great answer. Basically, he said he didn’t like to talk, didn’t want to talk, and just wanted to ignore the problems he and his wife were facing. While this is a common “guy” sentiment, it really isn’t part of what defines being a guy.

Let’s first acknowledge that what it means to “be a man” or to “be a woman” is complicated. Uncountable words have been written, hours spent, and studies performed about how to define each sex.

That being said, there is no denying that men and women are different. This is not a better or worse thing, it’s just true. There are some fundamental differences rooted in biology and how each sex has learned to think, feel, and act. This doesn’t mean there aren’t varying degrees to these differences, just that they exist.

These differences mean that certain ways of thinking and communicating are also different. Women typically have a higher degree of emotional intelligence (EQ) than men and, therefore, tend to not only know themselves, but also to understand and read others better than men.

This ability to recognize their own emotions and emotions in others makes them more empathetic and more prone to communicating their feelings. This higher EQ, however, doesn’t often seem to get applied to the men in their lives and the way in which those men prefer to communicate and process their emotions.

Generally speaking, men are less aware of the nuances of their own emotions and of the emotions of others. Because they are less aware there is less for them to talk about. Men are also less inclined to look for the unspoken indicators of feelings.

Most men need things said directly and logically in order for them to respond. In other words, they aren’t mind readers. Sadly, many women fail to understand this and assume a man is being callus and insensitive when he’s just, well, being a “guy” and hasn’t realized that there’s anything wrong.

Guys also tend to take a “see a problem = fix a problem” approach to things, rather than a “see a problem, discuss a problem, untangle and analyze why the problem started, and then change the behavior that caused the problem” approach. And that’s if they recognize a problem at all.

Men and women often have different perceptions of what constitutes a problem. For instance, for some men having an affair is a problem, but recognizing other attractive women isn’t. While for most women both of these things are likely to be considered problems.

Because of how men have learned to think and act, they also can tend to be singularly focused as well. So, when there is a task that needs to be done or work is busy, that is where a man’s focus goes. Because women more naturally multi-task, they often don’t recognize that this myopic focus is a common “guy” thing and instead interpret it as evidence of problems in the relationship.

This can leave men feeling confused and frustrated, as though the women in their lives are seeing problems that don’t exist, which, as it turns out, they very well may be.

Healthy Guy Vs. Unhealthy Guy

healthy vs unhealthy guy

Rather than asking what it means to be a guy, the better question to consider is what it means to be a healthy guy vs. an unhealthy guy.

What it means to be a man has been heavily influenced over the years by societal stereotypes. Men are still told in many direct and indirect ways they have to be strong, aggressive, stoic, and the caretakers of women. We all know by now that those characterizations are unfair and largely untrue.

Nonetheless, there are still many men who feel pressured, confused, and stifled by what they think it means to be a guy. This means that there are men who deny certain feelings, bury their sadness, and ignore things within them that need to be expressed. Doing this is very unhealthy and can lead to relationship problems, anger issues, depression, and medical problems, just to name a few.

It is far less important to adhere to social, family, or self-imposed stereotypes than it is to be healthy. In fact, I would argue that part of what it means to “be a guy” includes being unapologetically honest and expressive about how you feel.

Blurring The Guy Lines

Perhaps one of the most important parts of “being a guy” is to recognize that as long you are being honest with yourself and those around you, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone’s definition can be slightly different because we are all different as individuals. This can be tough for men to wrap their minds around and also one of the reasons many men benefit from the guidance that comes from counseling.

So, it’s very possible that the “guy” lines need to blur for you too. And that’s perfectly fine. Understand that if you find yourself asking, “Can’t I just be a guy?”, what you really should be asking is, “Can’t I just be myself?” Of course, you’ll need to know what that means, too.

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DumbLittleMan’s Wellness and Productivity Gift Guide

Buying gifts this Christmas season isn’t as easy as you might think. With all the choices, you can easily end up spending hours and hours thinking about the perfect gift. And who has such free time?

To save you from the hard work of coming up with the right gifts for your friends, family, and co-workers, we’ve put together this list of great holiday gift ideas that won’t just make them healthy but productive, too. Our gift suggestions are divided into two categories so you can easily navigate through the products.

Wellness Gifts

Stress Balls: Teacher Peach Motivational Stress Balls for Kids and Adults

These stress balls are dual purpose. Not only do they help relieve stress through repetitive squishing, but the motivational quotes are also calming. These are great gifts to give to your colleagues at work, or if you’re a boss who’s looking to motivate and encourage staff.

These are also great gift ideas for kids who are stressing in school or in extra curricular activities.

Portable Massager: Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls

These massage balls are the perfect gift for anyone having a hard time with sore and tight muscles. Because the balls are small, they are extremely portable. Made with 100% solid rubber, they are quite durable, too.

Tea Set: BambooWorx Japanese Tea Set

Make tea preparation a lot easier with this really nice Japanese tea set. It has everything one needs to make the best tasting matcha tea without leaving home or the office.

Meditation Book: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

Meditation is one of the best ways to beat stress and this particular book is one of the most awesome books about it. Providing insights from two great spiritual leaders, it highlights several ways to add more joy, fulfillment, and purpose into life. It’s good medicine for anyone who wants to just be better and improve his life.

Healthy Eating Book: Never Binge Again: Reprogram Yourself To Think Like A Permanently Thin Person

There are many books out there that try to help “reform” your unhealthy eating habits. However, if they’re not working, what you need is an unorthodox approach like this book has. This book has helped many people already and it might just help somebody you know who needs it.

The best news is that it’s free on Kindle. If you need to gift it as a paperback though, it’s still at an affordable price point.

Knee Brace: CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace

cambivo knee brace

It’s hard to enjoy life with painful knees and joints. If a loved one is having a hard time doing daily activities because of that, getting this knee brace might help.

It has just the right amount of pressure to help manage knee pain. It can also help reduce swelling and inflammation, making it perfect for people with arthritis and sore muscles and joints.

Face & Body Care: New York Biology Dead Sea Mud Mask for Face & Body

This mineral mud mask is formulated with aloe vera, vitamin E, jojoba oil, and calendula oil. These ingredients are great for dry skin because of their potent moisturizing properties.

At the same time, the mask works well for acne-prone skin type, too. It can help clear blackheads and tighten pores. Most people who’ve used it noticed a noticeable difference in their skin.

Yoga Mat: ATIVAFIT Non Slip TPE Yoga Mat

ativafit yoga mat

This yoga mat is a bit different than others. For one, it’s made with eco-friendly materials. Plus, it has alignment marks to ensure safe practice.

The mat is thick which means it’s able to provide just the right cushion for the knees and joints. It’s non-slip, too.

Smoothie Cup: Beast 20oz Tumbler Insulated Stainless Steel Coffee Cup

Smoothies offer a convenient way of getting more of the nutrients one needs to stay healthy and fit. This smoothie cup makes drinking one more enjoyable.

With great insulation and temperature retention, there’s no need to worry about losing a drink’s taste or flavor. Plus, it comes with 2 unbreakable steel straws

Fitness Planner: BookFactory Food and Health Journal/Food Diary/Fitness Journal Notebook

bookfactory food journal

It’s hard not to fall in love with this journal. There’s plenty of room for tracking calories, proteins, and fats. There’s even a space for writing goals, allergies, and eating habits.

The only downside is its actual size. Some people find A6 quite small for jotting down notes.

Foam Roller: The Original Body Roller – High-Density Foam Roller Massager

the original body roller

This roller is firm and sturdy which makes it good for people who want to target specific knots. Plus, with its textured design, it’s feels great to use on pressure points, too.

Take note that this roller is smaller than others. If your loved one likes to travel or just doesn’t have enough space in her closet to store really long rollers, this will make a nice gift.

Essential Fragrance Oils: Lagunamoon Essential Oils Top 6 Set

lagunamoon essential oils

Lagunamoon Premium Essential Oils are therapeutic grade and 100% pure. Apart from aromatherapy and steam inhalation, they can also be used as an added ingredient to homemade skincare products like creams, soaps, and shampoos. They are suitable for massage use, too.

Bathroom Scale: Renpho Smart Digital Bathroom Weight Scale

This particular weight scale is way different from regular bathroom scales. It’s smart and it can take 11 of the body’s essential measurements, such as BMI and body fat percentage. And the best part? It comes with a friendly app which is available for free.

Bath Salts: Epsoak Epsom Salt

Made from pure Magnesium Sulfate, this product works really well in easing stiffness and relieving stress. It can also restore the skin’s natural softness. The secret is in mixing it with warm water and soaking one’s feet into the solution.

Facial Steamer: NanoSteamer PRO Professional

nanosteamer

Capable of generating nano-ionic steam, this steamer is 10x more effective in penetrating the skin to unclog pores and remove toxins. That’s in comparison with the original version.

Apart from that, the steamer can now be used for aromatherapy. It’s designed with a chamber that can hold and diffuse oils for different needs.

Lifting Cushion: Ergonomic Innovations Donut Tailbone Pillow

Ergonomic Innovations Donut Tailbone Pillow offers a natural, simple, and effective way of relieving pressure on the back and hip areas. It’s a good choice for people who spend hours sitting at work or traveling.

Heating Pad: Sunbeam Heating Pad for Pain Relief

sunbeam heating pad

Do you have friends who often complain about sore muscles or menstrual camps? If yes, then this is the perfect gift. This particular heating pad is made with thick but really soft micro-plush fibers which makes it comfortable to use on a daily basis. It works for both dry and moist heat therapy.

Therapy Lamp: Circadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp

For people who often have a hard time getting to sleep, this therapy lamp can spell good news. It’s designed to mimic natural sunlight, making it effective for people with circadian sleep disorders, winter blues, and fatigue. It’s fully adjustable, allowing its user to set it according to his sensitivity to light.

Pedometer: Omron HJ-112 Digital Pocket Pedometer

Being physically active has a huge impact to anyone’s health. With this Omron pedometer, you’ll be able to encourage anyone to get up and get moving. It features 6 tracking modes and keeps track of two types of steps, making it accurate and reliable in monitoring one’s progress.

Infrared Sauna: Radiant Saunas Rejuvinator Portable Personal Sauna

radiant sauna

Perfect gift for anyone wanting to relax anytime, anywhere! This portable personal sauna gives soothing warmth to help alleviate stress and fatigue. It’s easy to set up and it’s portable, too. The product comes with a foot heater for an extra layer of relief and comfort.

Productivity

Planner Pens: Ibayam Journal Planner Pens

Writing down goals increases motivation and this planner can help with that. In fact, it’s designed to make tasks a lot more exciting and enjoyable. The pen delivers smooth writing, making it perfect not just for writing but coloring and drawing, too. And the best part? The ink doesn’t bleed a lot even on thin paper.

Pen Holder: Groot Desk Pencil Holder

Guardians of the Galaxy enthusiasts will love this Groot pencil holder. It is designed and painted quite realistically. At the least, it will be a great conversation starter as it sits on your office desk.

Journal: Evernote Moleskin Classic Notebook

Planning goals in life or what to do in a day will be so much easier with this Moleskin notebook. Whether your loved one is into bullet journals or the habit of keeping to-do lists, this notebook will surely be handy.

Self Improvement Book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Having the right mindset is critical when it come to productivity and this book can help that. It’s great for coaches, parents, teachers- everyone!

Planner: My Law Of Attraction Project Planner

Do you have a friend who is a firm believer in the power of the Law of Attraction? If you do, then your friend will surely love this project planner. It’s designed to be a resource and tool to help create abundance, success, and joy – all the good things promised by the Law of Attraction.

The price is very affordable so you can easily buy this for any of your friends or colleagues.

Lap Desk: Honey-Can-Do TBL-03540 Portable Laptop Lap Desk

Honey-Can-Do TBL-03540 Portable Laptop Lap Desk makes a great gift for students, travelers, remote workers, and anyone who spends a lot of time with his laptop. It’s portable, lightweight, and compact which make it great for traveling. Plus, it’s designed with a solid surface material for easier cleaning and maintenance.

Smartphone Projector: Mini Video Projector For Home Theater

Enjoy videos on your phone with your office gang or your whole family with this super convenient mini video projector. Just plug in your phone and you’re good to go. It’s very easy to use.

Kids love seeing their favorite phone apps and shows all blown up while your hubby will find it convenient for viewing fantasy football scores on the wall next to the TV. There’s a lot you can do with this gadget.

Alarm Clock: AmazonBasics Small Digital Alarm Clock

amazon basics alarm clock

Anyone who wants a productive day should consider starting early and having an alarm clock that’s loud, easy to operate, and dimmable- like this AmazonBasics Small Digital Alarm Clock.

It features a nice, crisp display that’s bright enough to read whether it’s day or night. It also comes with backup batteries just in case of unexpected power outages.Apart from those features, it can also double as a nightlight.

Ground Coffee: Death Wish Ground Coffee

Caffeine provides an instant boost of energy so if you want someone to be productive, this bag of ground coffee shouldn’t be out of your list. Made with premium green coffee beans that are roasted to perfection, your giftee will surely adore you after receiving this.

Dry Erase Calendar: Magnetic Dry Erase Calendar Bundle for Fridge

magnetic dry erase calendar

Being productive means staying on top of things and this dry erase can help with that. This bundle includes 3 magnetic dry erase planners with more than enough space to write on and 6 magnetic markers with tip erasers.

It’s a lot better than other brands since it doesn’t get stained easily. There are no ghosting stains left behind, either, so it always looks spotless.

Water Bottle:: Hydro Flask Water Bottle

hydro flask water bottle

This metal water bottle can keep beverages hot or cold for hours, making it a great item to have in the office or at home. It’s also one of the best gifts you can give to people who are always on-the-go.

Its pro-grade stainless steel quality also ensures pure taste with no mixtures of flavors. It’s dishwasher-safe, too.

Smart Speaker: All-New Echo (4th Gen)

all new echo 4th gen

Want something extremely nice? The All-New Echo Dot (4th Gen) is a must-have for anyone this season. Ask it to play your favorite songs for working out, have it read the latest news to you, or tell it to set your alarms.

And the best thing about it? It can actually be used to control a smart home. With a new look and a new sound, seriously, is there anything better than this?

Gadget Charging Station: Hercules Tuff Charging Station for Multiple Devices

hercules tuff charging station

This particular product can charge up to 6 devices simultaneously- without the clutter. Its fast-charging dock can power up devices 80% faster than other devices.

Solar Charger: BigBlue 3 USB Ports 28W Solar Charger

bigblue usb port

The BigBlue Solar Charger can charge up to 3 USB devices simultaneously. Its smart charging technology enables it to recognize devices and provide the optimal charging speed that they require.

It’s also compact and lightweight, making it super practical to take anywhere.

Ergonomic Office Chair: Dragonn Ergonomic Kneeling Chair

This ergonomic office chair is the perfect gift for anyone who suffers from bad posture while working. With its tilted seat, it’ll stop slouching or sitting with uneven weight on the buttocks.

Despite how it looks, it’s really comfortable to sit on. Your loved one wouldn’t even notice that he’s sitting on a kneeling chair!

Computer Workstation: FEZIBO Standing Desk with Height Adjustable

fezibo standing workstation

Sitting for long hours can have a huge impact on productivity. So, instead of letting your loved one sit on his desk all day, why not get him a standing desk? This particular product offers so much space that it can actually fit in a couple of monitors and laptops.

Plus, it’s really easy to assemble even without complicated tools. It also features an ergonomic design which is super important not just for productivity but safety, too.

Give A Gift to Someone Else!

The Christmas season isn’t always about giving extravagant gifts to your family or friends or treating yourself with the latest devices. If you are thinking of doing something different this year, consider joining the Red Cross Holiday Giving Campaign.

You can donate gifts that will help disaster victims, members of the military or the children all around the world.

The post DumbLittleMan’s Wellness and Productivity Gift Guide appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Use Viral Marketing to Make Your Blog Viral

You probably know that a lot of examples of viral content comes from social media. One of them is this world-famous tweet by Ellen DeGeneres:

oscars viral selfie
Via Twitter

This photo got so famous that it was revamped by many mainstream media outlets. Even the creators of The Simpsons made their own version of this tweet:

oscars viral selfie simpsonized
Via Twitter

From these two examples, it’s easy to see why social media content has more viral potential. Social media platforms have the necessary tools to share and spread information, which sometimes helps content go viral even within a few hours.

But what about blogs? Does blog content have viral potential?

Let’s try to answer this question with an example.

You’ve probably heard about BuzzFeed – one of the biggest internet media companies. Its website is essentially a big blog broken down into multiple topics, including politics and entertainment.

If we take a look at the performance of the articles on the BuzzFeed website, we’ll see that most of them have absolutely great engagement rates, although most of them are simply blog posts:

buzzfeed article performance

So, how do blogs like this make it to the top and acquire viral potential?

What should you do to achieve results like this?

Let’s take a look.

Diversify Your Blog with Different Types of Content

Of course, if you only put articles with plain text on your blog, it won’t go viral any time soon. This is because the content preferences of the internet audience have changed over the years, and now they prefer more dynamic types of content.

For example, you might have noticed the rapid growth of video content over the past few years. And today, 72% of consumers say they prefer watching a video over text when it comes to receiving information from brands.

Since we’re talking about blogs, you cannot give up on text articles completely, but you can make them more engaging by adding videos.

Neil Patel’s website is the perfect example of how a blog that’s using this strategy can achieve viral success. His article that contains only one video is already performing better than the one that just has text in it:

neil patal website performance

neil patal performance website

Video content is versatile and can suit any blog. For example, if you have a website about learning English, apart from educational articles, you can upload podcasts for learning English, as well as training videos.

Apart from videos, you can also diversify your blog with interactive content. For example, BuzzFeed is using quizzes, which are mostly responsible for the website’s success.

So, to increase your blog’s viral potential, you can combine text and interactive content in one article. For example, you could start your blog post with a short quiz, which would considerably increase interest in your content and engage your audience right from the start. Besides, because of the uniqueness of interactive content, more people will be interested to share it, contributing to your blog’s virality.

Keep Track of the Viral Trends

The viral potential of your blog also depends a lot on the topics that you choose for your articles. Every industry has its viral trends, and it’s important to stick to them if your goal is to make your blog viral.

Which viral marketing tricks can you use to stay in line with current popular trends in your industry?

  • Set up notifications for industry-specific keywords. Go to Google Alerts and create an RSS feed aimed at a certain keyword. As a result, you’ll get email notifications of a story related to this keyword. You can also benefit from this strategy to optimize your content for SEO because it will help you get the list of the top-performing keywords in your industry.

digital marketing

  • Check trending sections on social media. For example, on Twitter, the list of trending topics is updated every day, and you can pick the topics that have been trending for a while and include them in your blog content plan:

social media trending posts

  • Follow trendy blogs and news outlets. You can also subscribe to them and receive daily newsletters about the hottest topics in different industries. For example, theSkimm sends its subscribers newsletters about the key events that happened in the last 24 hours across different areas of social life:

daily skimm

On social media, you can also follow different hashtags to see which content people have been sharing over the past few days, so that you can determine current viral topics and use them in your blog.

Listen to Your Social Media Followers

If you often post on social accounts about the updates on your blog, then your social media also has the potential to increase your blog’s virality.

However, you need to remember that the blog post’s potential to go viral will depend on your social media followers, since they’ll be the first to share it. If the topic of the blog post is interesting to them, it will be more likely for the post to go viral.

You can predict your audience’s interest by using social data – the information that your followers share on social media about their content preferences and interests.

For example, if you go to the Twitter Analytics tab, you’ll see your audience’s interests right away:

twitter tab

Tapping into these interests and using them when writing your blog posts can significantly increase your audience’s interest in them and make your followers want to share them with others, potentially increasing the virality of your blog.

Over to You

Viral marketing is a popular strategy, but it doesn’t guarantee you instant popularity. Not only does viral marketing require constant data mining and analysis, but it also takes time before all your efforts become fruitful.

Nevertheless, it’s worth giving it a try if you want to improve your blog’s visibility. Hopefully, our tips will help you prepare a more consistent viral marketing strategy that will bring your blog the popularity it deserves.

The post How to Use Viral Marketing to Make Your Blog Viral appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

5 Social Listening Tactics to Generate New Customers

Social media is an integral part of your brand’s life. Along with it, the essence of the term social listening is also increasing. Due to intense competition and the high stakes of survival, in today’s time, social listening is an art one must master and a skill one must acquire.

Brands should focus on knowing and implementing the right social listening tactics to focus on the important interactions amongst the billions of messages exchanged every day. Active social listening is about reaching the right people at the right time with the right message.

Use social listening strategy to grow your business, but how do you implement it to maximize its outcome? The confusion of what you should focus on and what you should ignore might arise. Read this article further, as we delve into what social listening is and enlist its various tactics to generate new customers.

What is social listening?

Social listening is using social media to listen to the needs of the market. We use this method to gather insights and solve problems through customized solutions. It is executed in order to attract potential customers. Therefore, brands are recommended to stay active on social media platforms always. This will enable you to be aware of your brand, competitors, and the whole industry’s mentions. In addition to that, you can get to know the relevant keywords associated with your product or service.

One must not confuse social monitoring with social listening. While it does reflect certain similarities, social listening is more about taking proactive steps against insights from the data gathered. It includes measuring both qualitative and quantitative data. It is vital to segment the data according to various factors such as industry, geography, competition, and language and culture to capture meaningful inferences.

Listening and responding in real-time is crucial to sustaining your leads. Hence, take the insights from the data gathered to optimize your position in the market and/or to respond to your customers to improve their loyalty.

Importantly, it is about doing a deep analysis of the conversations which should lead to eventual conversions.

Social listening strategies

Below are the 5 tactics to improve your brand’s social listening and to interact with the customers in a way that will generate new leads and benefit your business.

Optimize your marketing message

social listening marketing research

Align the demographic and psychographic profiles of your audience with your marketing campaign. Talk about your product/service in a way that will appeal to your target audience. Start with figuring out your audience’s interest through detailed market research including social listening.

Analyze the voice of customer data to get insights. Consider these basic points when learning more about your audience:

  • Know the values that they care or do not care about
  • Seek for their pain points
  • Check how they describe your brand and products
  • Consider the cultural differences

Mainly, it is essential to leverage the data gathered from social listening to stand out from your competitors.

Know customer pain points

Social media is the new platform for people these days to vent out their frustration. However, for brands, it is a plus point as well.

Listen and note down your audiences’ frustrations or complaints. When doing this, ensure to check the tone of the customer. You will get to know whether there is a sense of urgency or not something to be done in priority.

The key is to understand the context of the pain point first before reacting to it. Once you do this, you will be able to give it the attention needed and show customer empathy. If it is a minor concern, you can just react to it and not give it much importance later. Creating a whole new campaign or editing an existing one just because of a small concern is not required.

However, do consider the reaction of your audience to each of your marketing campaigns. Listen to whether they liked it or not and rebrand accordingly. Social listening is the best method to get feedback.

Recognize customer sentiment

Social monitoring enables you to measure the number of times a brand or a specific keyword is getting mentioned. For example, you may know that your competitor is getting 3 times more mentions in comparison to you. Just knowing this is only going to upset you. Therefore, it is essential to focus on how people feel about the topic.

You might get a different perspective when you see the sentiment behind the conversations. For instance, your competitors might have 40% positive mentions and 30% negative mentions, whereas, you might have 70% positive and 15% negative mentions. Through this, you know that your customer is satisfied and that you are meeting their needs.

When you track keywords or brand mentions, keep a note of the sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) attached to it. If the percentage of negative mentions is high, you might want to take a step back and reconsider. While, if the positive mentions are high, you know you are going on the right track.

Empower your advocates

social listening influencers

Know the people who are fans of your brand. Check if there are any famous personalities following your brand or if there are any influencers mentioning you on their social media. If yes, listen to what they are talking about your brand or how they are reacting to your campaigns.

In public conversations, you will be able to figure out who mentioned you and what they genuinely feel about your brand. Once you get to know these influencers, ask them to be ambassadors for your brand. Having them associated with your brand will make them feel empowered.

Another thing that can be done is to check the audience of these advocates and target your advertisements to them. As the influencer has already mentioned you before, the audience might be aware of your brand, which increases the chances of them favoring you.

Convert dissatisfied customers

A negative word spreads way faster than a positive one. Seek out the negative customer feedback in priority as it will hamper your brand image quickly. With people these days posting opinions online, the chance of a new audience using it as a basis to frame an opinion about your brand is high.

People trust online reviews at the same level as in-person recommendations. However, a positive review is more likely to make people trust your brand, and a negative review is equally likely to push people away from it. Once a person reads a negative review or has had a poor experience of the brand, they are likely to have formed a negative impression. This might lead them to switch to another brand. Therefore, taking a quick measure to mend this is crucial.

Offer to do better for people who have had a bad experience with your brand. This way, you can start a conversation with them and eventually might form a strong, long-term relationship. Don’t start a sales pitch conversation. Initially, keep it relevant to the issue they are facing. The key is to be a good listener and offer solutions.

Being an active social listener has its own perks. Along with generating valuable leads with the above-mentioned tactics, you will be able to create content that your audience will love and, eventually, improve the whole customer experience.

Social listening is important for all brands. Gain insights and take action. Out of all the strategies, focus on the ones that currently suit your brand, and start working on them. Eventually, implement more strategies and with patience, you will start generating more clients.

The post 5 Social Listening Tactics to Generate New Customers appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Hearing Aids: Expectations vs Reality

“A hearing aid is an ultra-miniature electro-acoustical device that is always too large. It must amplify sound a million times but bring in no noise. It must operate, without failure, in a sea of perspiration, a cloud of talcum powder, or both. It is a product that one puts off buying for ten years after he needs it but cannot do without it for thirty minutes when it has to be serviced.” – Attributed to Samuel Lybarger. Modified by Wayne Staab with Sam’s approval, for Audiotone in 1979.

It seems like a tall order, doesn’t it? Although we are living in an era with many advancements in hearing aids, it still is not perfect and has many drawbacks.

I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss at the age of ten. This means that my hearing loss is caused by nerve damage, something for which there is no cure.

Hearing loss is a complex issue with various causes, and not all children are lucky enough to be able to manage in a mainstream school. Many must go through special education channels, often severely limiting their career opportunities.

What is the difference between being deaf and being Hard of Hearing (HOH)?

hearing loss

According to the article “Deafness and Hearing Loss” by the World Health Organization (WHO), deafness implies profound hearing loss. This means that you have little or no hearing, and you use sign language for communication.

Hearing loss covers a spectrum from mild to severe. This means you do still have a certain degree of hearing and can communicate through the spoken word. You benefit from assistive devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants for improved hearing.

How do hearing aids help the Hard of Hearing (HOH)?

Hearing aids improve hearing and enable better communication. Therefore, I could attend a mainstream school, go to college, and have a fulfilling career.

But, most importantly, it saves you from a life lived in silence – it enables you to communicate or participate in social interactions.

For many years I have worn analogue hearing aids and was only fitted with my first set of digital hearing aids in my early forties.

What is the difference between analogue and digital hearing aids?

Analogue Hearing Aids

analogue hearing aid

Analogue hearing aids assist with hearing by increasing the volume of sounds. This process is not selective. It means that all sounds are enhanced – those we can hear, as well as the sounds we cannot hear.

Imagine trying to listen to a voice against this backdrop of enhanced noise.
A drawback of analogue hearing aids is acoustic feedback. This whistling sound is not only irritating but also interferes with communication, affecting our ability to hear.

Feedback is caused by several factors like:

  • When the earpiece is not inserted properly.
  • Another object comes too close to the hearing aid. For example, when talking on the phone.
  • The movement of muscles around the ears when laughing or eating.
  • Increasing the volume in challenging situations to try and hear better.

There is no easy solution: turning the volume down can help but defeats the purpose. In certain situations, there are simply no alternatives and you must just make the best of it.
Telephone conversations are hard enough, without the ability to read lip or body language.

But imagine you are having a telephonic conversation and suddenly there is nothing! Only silence… Without warning your battery has just died, all you can do is to interrupt, telling the other person your dilemma and promise to call them back.

Due to the limited range of analogue hearing aids, it means that it needs to be replaced once your hearing loss falls outside that range. The average is every five years, and together with the batteries, is an expense that needs to be budgeted for.

Digital Hearing Aids

digital hearing aid

Getting digital hearing aids can be a life changer! Instead of increasing volume, it is designed to make sound clearer. It creates a completely different type of sound. It is like comparing analogue radio to stereo.

This can be best described by several memories after I have been fitted with my first pair of digital hearing aids.

I turned it on as an ambulance went past. Where analogue hearing aids would have increased the volume to an unbearable level, now it was just a noise outside.

Imagine going for lunch with your husband in a busy shopping mall. Where previously you could not talk much – because all the noise drowned out your companion’s voice – this time will be completely different. Thanks to the noise-reduction feature of the digital hearing aid, you can hear him talk to you. Not only that, but you can also actually hear people talking at nearby tables. Even though you cannot follow their conversation, you can hear them. Much better than just being bombarded by constant noise!

At home, you keep on asking about little noises that you cannot identify. All the noises that previously you could not hear. Simple things like a dripping tap or hearing your dog when walking on the tiles.

Feedback is also greatly reduced, and only becomes a problem if you must increase the volume.

Digital hearing aids create a better hearing experience because it can be fine-tuned to your exact hearing profile. It is also possible to create different profiles, for example, a general profile for everyday use or a profile for noisy environments with enhanced noise reduction. And you can even have a profile for watching TV or going to a concert, resulting in a more stereo-like experience.

Another important profile is for using the phone. The telecoil feature will increase the volume in the one ear you use on the phone and reduce the volume in the other.

Unfortunately, this feature did not work so well for me, so I must switch over to this profile manually.

A huge benefit is that digital hearing aids give you a warning (about twenty minutes) when the battery is going low. This is enough for most situations, like ending your phone call. Or, excusing yourself from your present company.

Digital hearing aids have a much bigger range. So, unless something drastic happens, it will always be able to accommodate your hearing profile. That is, for as long as the physical components last.

Therefore, you would expect to be able to wear your digital hearing aids for a longer time. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Since parts are only available for a limited time, hearing aids cannot be repaired indefinitely.

Digital hearing aids are costly! This means that you need to immediately start saving for your next set. However, considering how it improves your quality of life, it is worth every cent.

Although robust, they still do not fit the bill 100%. They need to be cleaned regularly to avoid damage from moisture (perspiration) and no swimming or showering with it! Also, the ingredients of the disinfectant we constantly use because of the pandemic clogs up the speakers on the hearing aids. And talcum powder – not even close!

Do you find that that you often struggle to hear? Have a hearing test as soon as possible. If hearing aids are recommended for you, do not hesitate for a moment. With the current advances in technology, your digital hearing aids will not only help you to hear better, but will also improve your overall quality of life!

The post Hearing Aids: Expectations vs Reality appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Beat Your Competitors by Using TikTok

The popular teen dance and lip-sync social media platform is becoming something bigger.

With millennials making up a greater share of the social media platform’s user base, marketers and business owners are suddenly looking at TikTok from a fresh perspective.

But why should your business care?

Here’s what Satish Kanwar, Vice President of Products at Shopify has to say: “TikTok is currently one of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment platforms with over 100 million highly engaged users in the US alone.”

TikTok offers businesses looking to reach customers with a stronger purchasing power an attractive platform for reaching their target audience.

How can TikTok help you beat your competitors?

using tiktok for marketing

With over 800 million active users, TikTok might be your best shot at getting ahead of your competitors. With its enviable user base that has over 24% of the platform’s user base aged between 25 -34, the platform has become one of the best platforms brands that can leverage to reach customers with the strongest purchasing power.

Previously known mostly for viral teen dance, challenges and lip-sync videos, the platform now has videos spanning every niche possible. DIY videos, beauty tutorials, styling, and fitness videos are now popular on the platform.

Another great advantage of the platform is its unique algorithm that allows users with low follower count to achieve viral status on the app, which is something other social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram do not offer.

Aside from providing a huge opportunity for brands and businesses to increase awareness and reach for free, TikTok also offers other ways for brands to drive traffic from the platform.

Below are five ways to get ahead of your competitors by driving traffic from TikTok:

Add a Clickable Link in Your Bio

Adding a link in your TikTok bio is a great way to convert users who find your current content interesting to leads. You can, with the link in your bio, drive traffic to your website or landing page. You can add a call-to-action in your product post captions to direct followers to the link in your bio. This is a great way to turn your TikTok viewers into leads.

However, only selected TikTok accounts have access to the link in the bio feature by default at the moment because the feature is still undergoing beta testing.

To confirm if you’re among the selected, click on the “Edit Profile” on your profile page. If you find a “Website” field, then you’re good to go.

Can’t find the “Website” field? You might get the feature if you join the TikTok testers program. Here’s how to join:

  1. Go to your TikTok Profile
  2. Tap the three dots in the top right corner
  3. Click on “Join TikTok Testers”
  4. A new window will open and you’ll be asked to sign in with your email address
  5. After successfully signing in, you’ll receive an update on your TikTok app
  6. Update the app and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to add a link in your bio

Still can’t find the website feature after joining the testers program? This could be due to the country you’re in or your follower count. You’ll get it soon as TikTok is gradually rolling out the feature to all its users.

Craft a TikTok Content Strategy

To grow and nurture customer engagement with your brand, you need a custom content strategy as great content can help attract leads for your business.

Choosing your core topics, establishing a posting schedule, using TikTok Live and engaging with your audience are some of the best practices when it comes to content strategy.

Work with TikTok Influencers

tiktok for marketing

Just like influencer marketing on any other social media platform, working with TikTok influencers can help get your brand’s message in front of your target audience to generate leads and increase the return on investment (ROI) on your marketing efforts.

Take advantage of TikTok Challenge

TikTok challenges can be organic or sponsored and they provide a great opportunity for you to increase your brand awareness and lead generation on the platform.

Taking part in a viral challenge can put your business in front of thousands of your potential customers. Your business needs to add TikTok challenges to your lead generation tools to appeal to younger audiences.

You can get started with TikTok challenges by participating in already popular challenges or by launching your own TikTok Branded Challenge.

And finally,

Use TikTok Ads

The easiest way to generate leads on TikTok is by using the official paid ads. The platform’s ads are designed to help businesses reach their target audience with ease.

You can take advantage of TikTok ads to increase your brand awareness, collect customer insights, and drive traffic to your landing pages.

TikTok continues to be one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world. With the right strategy, the platform can be used to increase brand awareness and for generating tons of leads for your business, which can help you stay ahead of your competitors.

You can use any of the above-listed tips, from adding a clickable link in your bio to using TikTok ads, to get ahead of your competitors.

And remember (awesome) content is KING. Capture the attention of your target audience and you’re set to reap massive returns.

In closing, here’s a reminder of the five ways to get ahead of your competitors by using TikTok.

  1. Add a Clickable Link in Your Bio
  2. Craft a TikTok Content Strategy
  3. Work with TikTok Influencers
  4. Take advantage of TikTok Challenge
  5. Use TikTok Ads

There you have it: How to Beat Your Competitors by Using TikTok.

What are your thoughts on driving traffic from TikTok?

The post How to Beat Your Competitors by Using TikTok appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How Can Public Transportation Be Made Safe for the Public Post-Pandemic?

The pandemic has adversely affected public transport. Many countries had to shut down public transport services in light of the global crisis. More recently, many of these countries have started restoring public transport services, but things are far from normal.

The high risk of transmission has contributed to low ridership, and public transport vehicles are hardly managing to achieve half of the total occupancy.

Contactless technology has emerged as a solution.

Let’s look at how contactless technologies are helping in the revival of public transport.

Global Pandemic and Public Transport

qr codes for public transport for post pandemic

Public transport is one of the worst-affected industries worldwide. As cases continue to rise, the ridership remains to be low in developing cities. As a result, public transport operators are incurring hefty losses.

The public transport sector is a billion-dollar industry and serves as the primary source of income for the government of various countries. Now, with more people avoiding public transport, the industry is under crisis.

The reason for this curb in ridership is the increased risk of transmission. Back in the initial months of 2020, when the virus was in its early stage of contagion, public transport served as the major cause of transmission in several developed countries.

In response, many nations decided to completely shut down public transport until the situation got better.

Public Transport Challenges in the Post-Pandemic Era

As the effects of the pandemic seem to subside, several countries have reopened public transport services. But despite the reopening, the ridership remains low, and rightly so.

Although the graph has begun to flatten, the risk of transmission remains high. More than 500,000 active cases per day have been reported continuously for more than a month.

So with the coronavirus in hindsight, people will try to avoid public transport.

Another reason why people may avoid public transport is excessive human contact. A passenger has to go through several points of contact, with each point having the risk of transmission.

Most public transport systems still use cash and paper-based tickets. And the WHO has already confirmed that cards and currencies can contribute to the virus’ spread.

Besides being unhygienic, this process is also inefficient. Manual ticketing takes more time and makes the engine procedure time-consuming and less productive.

Contactless Is the New Normal

In light of the coronavirus, countries are adopting contactless public transport. The purpose is to minimize the points of contact and make the process touch-free.

As we all know, touching random surfaces can be deadly. You never know where the virus particles may be lurking.

Contactless technology helps make public transport contact-free.

The main benefit of this system is contactless payments. The traditional public transport system looks something like this. A passenger arrives at the bus station and asks for a ticket at the ticket window. Here, he comes in contact with a ticket window professional, a point of contact.

Then, the passenger will board the bus, where the conductor will check the ticket – another point of contact.

Some modern public transportation facilities have machines for generating tickets. Passengers can use the touch screen panel to create tickets.

But even this isn’t entirely risk-free. Many passengers will use the machine, making it a potential transmitter of the virus.

Contactless ticketing and payments can resolve this issue. In contactless ticketing, passengers don’t need to use cash or paper tickets. They can make a payment online with NFC or by scanning a QR code and receive the ticket on their mobile device.

The conductor can also check the tickets without any human contact. He can scan the ticket code with his smartphone without touching any surface.

This leads to a truly touchless experience and reduces the risk of transmission. Other than touch-free payments, contactless technology also ensures transparency in the transport system.

Technologies in Contactless Transportation

Which technologies are used in contactless transport? For payments, NFC and QR codes are the most popular. Passengers can use “tap and go” functionality and make payments without touching any surfaces. Similarly, they can scan QR codes using their smartphones to make payments.

QR codes, in addition to payments, also offer an additional benefit – sharing of information. Authorities can put up QR codes and link them to information like time tables, schedules, and expected delays.

Creating QR codes are also seamless. You can easily develop a QR code with a QR Code generator with logo.

QR Codes in Post-Pandemic Public Transport

We need to give credit to QR codes for making contactless transport a reality. When the wave of the virus hit and the world underwent a lockdown, no one thought how things would revive. This is especially true for public transport, considering the fact that it was a major contributor to the escalated spread.

But thankfully, the pandemic came to the world at a time when we had the resources to reduce its wrath. Imagine it ten years ago when QR codes were not well-known outside China and Japan.

While the current medical crisis has also done substantial damage, we have a blueprint for bouncing back. Here’s how QR codes are helping public transport authorities stay afloat in the post-pandemic era.

Faster Payments and Boarding

As discussed, the traditional ticketing and payment process is tedious. Several countries have adopted a QR-code based ticketing system to overcome this hurdle. Here’s how it works:

A passenger needs to install the public transport app. The app has a wallet feature, so the passenger can add funds to it. Once the passengers complete the payment, they receive a QR code as a virtual ticket. Near the boarding terminal, a QR code scanner is implemented. Passengers can scan their code to confirm their booking and then board the bus.

This process doesn’t require any cash transaction, paper tickets, or human contact. The entire procedure becomes self-serving, as passengers generate the tickets and confirm their bookings by themselves.

Tracking Schedules and Time Tables

There’s hardly any human who hasn’t missed his or her bus due to wrong information. It happens all the time. You reach the bus station with the expectation to catch a bus, but end up discovering that the bus had already departed 30 minutes ago.

Some countries have resolved this challenge, thanks to QR codes. Some countries like Belgium have even put up QR codes across the cities. These dynamic QR codes contain real-time information about the bus or tram schedule of the entire city.

Passengers can scan the code and find the status of the bus or tram they want to board. This eliminates the guessing element of the trip as passengers would have precise information about their ride.

While this concept is still in its primordial stage, the people in Belgium are thrilled with the idea. It has since become an instant success in the country, and sooner or later, it will reach other countries, too.

Passenger Safety

qr codes for public transportation

Passenger safety has been a point of concern for public transport authorities. Several incidents of mishappenings in public transport vehicles have been reported, especially in buses functioning in rural areas and city outskirts.

QR codes can help transport authorities enhance security. One way is to put up QR codes in the buses, usually on the windows and behind the seats. If the passengers feel threatened, they can scan the code and alert the authorities. Same way, these codes can be scanned to alert the authorities in case of an accident or if the bus stops working.

Marketing and Advertising

Many businesses use public transport buses for advertising. You must have seen posters of companies on the windows of buses.

Companies can use QR codes to enhance their marketing efforts in public transport buses. They can put up a QR code that people can scan to know more about the company and its products. And since the QR code cost is low, QR codes offer an economical opportunity for marketing.

Conclusion

Countries may have lifted lockdowns, but the risk of spread persists. People are still practicing social distancing, and public transport is the last option in their minds. But with QR codes and other contactless technologies, transport authorities are looking forward to reviving public transport in the post-pandemic era.

The post How Can Public Transportation Be Made Safe for the Public Post-Pandemic? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Sleepwalking: Causes, Treatments, and Common Myths

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about sleep? Chances are, it’s cozy beds, lazy mornings, and that pang of sadness at the thought that you’re not getting as much as you’d like.

But for so-called sleepwalkers, sleep is associated with entirely different feelings. These include mystery, adventure, and, sometimes, even danger.

Sleepwalking has been a fascinating phenomenon for centuries. Equally represented in classical art (Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Bellini’s La Sonnambula), pop culture, and thrilling news articles, it’s a captivating subject for both doctors and laymen.

But why do people sleepwalk? And is there anything you can do about it?

Somnambulism

people sleepwalk

According to its simplest definition, sleepwalking or somnambulism is “an abnormal condition of sleep in which motor acts (such as walking) are performed.” It affects 6.9% of the world’s population but it is prevalent among children, with adults suffering much less often.

The act of sleepwalking happens in the NREM (deep) phase of sleep, approximately two hours after falling asleep. Most people affected will sit up, walk around, or talk during a sleepwalking episode. Nonetheless, there have been reports of people doing more complex actions as well, like leaving their house or even driving.

Although the condition is still a relative mystery, we know that it’s most often caused by:

  • insufficient rest
  • stress and anxiety
  • fever
  • substance abuse
  • breathing issues such as sleep apnea
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • medications like Ambien

But wait, there’s more – patients rarely remember their actions during the night, but they will often feel the consequences of poor sleep the following day. Most often, they will feel exhausted, find it difficult to focus, and suffer from a bad mood.

Some research suggests that somnambulism in adulthood could cause health issues like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive deterioration. For this reason, it needs to be understood and treated – particularly if it still occurs regularly after childhood.

The Myths

Seeing that somnambulism is a strange occurrence and relatively rare after adolescence, there are many misconceptions about it.

Perhaps the most common one is that you should never wake up a sleepwalker, as it may cause them harm.

Now, while some sleepwalkers may become agitated or show resistance when you try to help them during the night, this is nothing but a myth. If a loved one is a somnambulist and they’re performing actions that may cause them or others harm, you should always try to get them to safety.

While waking them up may be the easiest solution, it could cause disorientation. So, gently guiding them back to bed is going to be your best course of action.

Another common misconception about the condition is that it’s harmless. And, yes, in most cases, this is true. However, some patients may suffer from more severe symptoms. These could require more elaborate precautions.

If you or a person in your household has a tendency to do more complex actions in their sleep, you will need to have a few safety rituals in place:

  • Make sure that you lock all doors and windows.
  • Hide keys and put dangerous items out of reach.
  • Finally, remove tripping hazards, and do your best to make the space as safe as possible.

This way, you’ll have done your best to prevent any accidents.

Sleepwalking Treatments

Unfortunately, there is still no such thing as a 100% effective treatment for sleepwalking. Instead, for most somnambulists, the goal will be to address any underlying causes and hope that sleep patterns will return to normal as a consequence. And the most obvious place to start is taking a closer look at sleeping habits and patterns.

For most people, the cause of sleepwalking is exhaustion or a breathing problem. In these cases, taking steps to fix these issues should decrease the chances of the episodes repeating themselves. Positive sleep hygiene has multiple benefits on overall health. Not only is it an effective self-care tactic, but it could also be the only treatment required for sleepwalking.

Stress can also increase the chances of somnambulist activity. So, addressing stress levels during the day and finding effective ways to relax before bedtime can lower the likelihood of sleepwalking. Overall, it’s not a bad idea to do some light exercise during the day, take a warm bath before bed, and do some reading. All these actions may help the body and mind wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep.

why people sleepwalk

Of course, the symptoms could be caused by medication, illness, or substance abuse. In these cases, you should consult with a medical professional. They will adjust drug dosage, prescribe medication, or introduce therapy such as anticipatory awakenings. These will help prevent unwanted nighttime activity and the chances of serious injury.

The Takeaway

As you can imagine, sleepwalking is a complicated occurrence. The medical community is still trying to figure out all the causes and best treatments. Notwithstanding, the consensus is that it tends to be a harmless habit.

If you’re a parent of a somnambulist child, start by paying closer attention to their sleeping habits and bedtime routine. Make small changes. Try to manage energy and stress levels and ensure they’re getting enough sleep during the night. This may be all the remedy they need.

If, however, the condition continues into adulthood, it’s not a bad idea to consult with a medical professional. Generally, a doctor will have a better way to diagnose and treat somnambulism. They will detect any underlying causes and prescribe the right therapy. This way, they’ll be able to keep you or your loved ones safe from unwanted nighttime adventures.

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8 Amazing Cleaning Hacks to Make Your Home Sparkle

For most of us, cleaning the home might be the most stressful and boring task in the world. After all, no one would like to go through those hard-to-reach areas, dirty sinks, stained toilets, stinky bathrooms, and large dirty floors. Many of us start doing the cleaning only at that moment when we realize that there is little to no clean spot in the whole house, each room portraying the picture of a battlefield covered in grime and dirt.

However, keeping your home neat and clean has become important more than ever. With the pandemic still posing a threat to our well-being and many people staying at home than ever before—giving your sweet home a deep clean has never been a pressing priority as it is now.

But cleaning your home shouldn’t be that stressful.

Here I have shared some tips that will save you time, money, and sanity down the road when it comes to cleaning your home. Let’s get started.

Lemon for Those Stubborn Water Spots

make house cleaning easier

Stubborn water spots on faucet handles and faucet are some of the culprits that often go unnoticed. Top of that, they don’t go away easily with frequent cleaning.

The remedy is super simple—cut a lemon wedge and rub it all over the faucets, shower handles, and shower heads. Let the solution sit for nearly 20 minutes, then wipe it with a damp cloth. Don’t throw away the remaining lemon. Place it in your trash can to get rid of bad smells.

Thank me later for your sparkling faucets and bath fixtures.

Tap into the Power of Baking Soda

Baking soda is a super cleaning agent and can be found easily at every home. From removing stains, driving away foul smell to cleaning your sinks, this “fizzy” solution works superbly to clean your home.

  • It can be used to remove stains from plastic food containers. All you need to do is wipe them with a clean sponge sprinkled with baking soda. Or, you can soak them in a solution of baking soda (4 tbsp of baking soda plus a quart of warm water.)
  • Put it in the fridge to remove strong food odors.
  • Put store-bought fruits and veggies in baking soda solution to remove waxy coating.
  • Combine it with water to clean stainless steel sinks, countertops, range hoods, cooking utensils, and microwaves.

Hydrogen Peroxide or Citric Acid for a Sparkling Bathtub

Want to make your bathtub look new again?

Enter hydrogen peroxide. It is an effective cleaning agent for lime scale, yellow spots, and calcium stains. Just put it into a spray bottle and spray it on the bathtub’s surface. Leave it for 30 minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water.

You can also use a solution made with citric acid to remove yellow stains. Just mix one package of citric acid with a cup of water. Apply the mixture with a sponge onto the bathtub and leave it for 20 minutes. Wash it off with warm water.

Mildew Spots in the Bathroom? Try Vodka

The bottle of vodka in your fridge is great for more than just accentuating the celebrations. It can also be used to remove mildew in the bathroom, too.

Just fill a spray with a 50-50 mix of vodka and water, spray it on the affected areas, and wait for nearly 10 minutes. Use a clean cloth to wipe it away. The alcohol in vodka will not only remove the mess, but will also kill the mildew.

Clean Left to Right, Top to Bottom

Don’t start a room by wiping the dining table, then clean the fan, and seeing the dust from the fan cover your newly clean dining table. Therefore, get started at the top of the room, such as cleaning the ceiling fan, and go down to the floor to remove redundant work.

Similarly, cleaning left to right helps you cover the entire area instead of rushing from place to place. This way, you work once instead of cleaning the things you have just cleaned, saving you time and hassles.

Learn the Art of Cleaning the Windows

making house cleaning easier

Cleaning the windows can be tricky as it leaves residues and streaks behind.

You can use a window squeegee that can cost you around $12. Mix a drop of dish soap in a gallon of water. Wipe it liberally on the window with a cloth, then squeegee it off. Make sure to clean from top to bottom and wipe the blade each time you are done with the bottom. This way, you get sparkling and streak-free windows. If you don’t want a squeegee, you can use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth instead.

Make sure to wash the window in horizontal strokes and get from top to bottom when wiping with the cloth. Avoid rubbing the window in circles as it can leave streaks. Don’t use paper towels and newspaper as they leave a residue.

Use Feather Dusters for Cleaning Blinds and Pictures

Feather dusters are effective for cleaning blinds, nooks, pictures, and other areas. They tackle the dust and the large quills don’t get out of their handle.

Keep Your Cleaning Tools Handy

Having all the tools and cleaning products you require at arm’s reach means you won’t waste time going back and forth to the ceiling fan or the cabinet under the sink. Otherwise, this just adds to the stress of the cleaning. You can also put your cleaning tools in a bucket or a caddy to stay organized.

So these are some amazing tips to make your home sparkle while keeping hassles and complications at bay. What do you think?

The post 8 Amazing Cleaning Hacks to Make Your Home Sparkle appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

10 Ways to Make Money Playing Video Games

Thanks to the young media today, the world of video games has taken the world by storm. Of course, gaming is something that has captured the minds and the hearts of people of all ages. The video gaming center has become so advanced that when coupled with the internet, it has actually become possible to earn some money.

You will find a lot of streaming options on popular platforms like Twitch and YouTube. There are also thousands of professional gaming tournaments that have huge payouts. Then, there are also gaming celebrities and legends.

The question here is – can you earn money by playing video games? The answer is yes, you can. Many options can help you make money from the video game industry like streaming, YouTube videos, and everything else in the middle. If you are a gaming fan and looking to earn some money out of it, there are some ways you can do to earn money with video games.

Create a Website Dedicated to Gaming

make money from gaming

Of course, it is never an easy job to create a website from scratch. However, a website that caters to gamers and games attracts the highest amount of traffic. You can review games like Sonic Playing video games on the website.

Once you have your target audience, you might even receive free games or any other type of sponsors. Of course, you do not have to become the next Games Radar overnight. Sites like these have been around for years, and you will not be able to compete against them immediately.

It is recommended to start small in a niche where you are an expert. For example, you love strategy titles; hence, start a Lego video games website to review such titles. Expand to other niches slowly.

Become a Quality Assurance Officer

It is the job of a programmer to bring video games to life. Companies tend to spend thousands of hours to ensure that their customers receive immersive titles. However, before a game is launched, companies rely on external testing panels to try the titles before they hit the market.

The quality assurance officer will play video games at the highest setting level and provide the required feedback. They also let the company/developer know what works and what doesn’t. If the officer has nothing to report, the company will know that the product is finished and ready for launch.

Video Game Tester

Similar to a QA officer, a video game tester’s job is to test the app. However, these individuals are in-house members of the gaming company and play the final rendition. The testers are established and successful gamers that have a foothold on the gaming industry.

On average, a tester may earn more than $70,000 per year. While becoming a video game tester might sound fun, it does entail a lot of work. You will have to sit in front of the monitor the entire day and play, even partially at night. Additionally, you will have to play a single game for at least a hundred times to look for any bugs or issues before the product is ready for its launch.

Become a YouTube Streamer

If you love to play video games when bored, then you can definitely look into becoming a professional YouTube streamer. If the number of subscribers on your YouTube channel crosses a specific limit, the video streaming platform will start paying you. A site is also a great option if you want to put in some commentary on games that are being played live.

For example, PewDiePie is one of the most successful streamers today. With more than 100 million subscribers, the number of views on his YouTube video can reach over 20 billion. Thanks to this, PewDiePie earns more than $500,000 per year from this ad revenue on his videos.

Stream Your Games like Wasteland 3 on Twitch

Twitch is yet another popular gaming community that was started by avid gamers. Similar to YouTube, Twitch allows you to monetize your streaming videos. Channels earn via advertising revenue by live-streaming their gaming sessions.

There are some requirements that you need to fulfill if you want to start earning on Twitch. Thankfully, these requirements are quite easy. Once done, you can expect the money within a month. One of the most popular Twitch streamers is ‘Ninja,’ who earned more than $10 billion in 2018. You will be able to provide something special like Wasteland 3 to all your viewers on Twitch.

You Can Start a Career as a Game Developer

If you are not much of a fan of live-streaming on social channels, you can consider starting your career as a game developer. If you love coding as much as gaming, you will earn a decent amount of money in the gaming industry. Many video game companies like Ubisoft and Blizzard offer an average salary of $83,000 to their game developers.

However, you should also know that being a game developer has its share of pressure. You will have to put in long hours of work, even on weekends. If you do not like the idea of working for someone else, you can also start your very own company.

Compete in Gaming Tournaments

making money from gaming

The world of gaming has become big today. You will find several tournaments taking place each month for titles like Wasteland 3, Call of Duty, PubG, and Fortnite. From Japan to the United States, these tournaments take place all over the world.

For instance, 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf won the grand prize of $3 million in the 2019 Fortnite Tournament hosted by Epic Games. Kyle’s gaming was witnessed by an audience of more than 2 million people around the world. Competing in gaming tournaments such as Wasteland 3 is one of the best ways to make money by playing video games, all while sitting at home.

Sign up for a Team on eSports

eSports are slowly becoming a huge deal in the world of online video gaming. The total revenue of eSports exceeded more than $850 million in 2018. If you love gaming, you can sign up with an eSports team and take part in competitions all around the world.

On average, eSports gamers can earn roughly about $3000 per month. You will also find regular tournaments taking place for titles like Fortnite, DOTA2, Counter-Strike, etc. The eSports sector will only grow in the future.

Write as a Professional Video Game Journalist

If you love journalism and gaming, you can think of becoming a game journalist. While the pay might not be so great, it can become your side hustle if you love writing reports and have a passion for gaming as well. You must have a journalism degree to start this career.

However, you can also submit your writings as a freelancer. All you need to do is have a good command of English and be able to engage the reader. You also do not need any formal education.

Designing Merch for Gaming Companies

When you are looking for gaming T-shirts online, you will find a lot of results. Similarly, you will find all types of merchandise when it comes to gaming. Some popular examples include cell phone cases, mousepads, coffee mugs, etc.

Many sites can help you sell T-shirts and other merchandise. Alternatively, you can also join a gaming company to sell the merch officially. Who knows, the company might even send over a game or two if you are great at your job.

Final Thoughts

The above are just some ways, among many others, to earn money if you love gaming. Of course, it might take some time for the revenue to become constant. On the same note, you can come up with other ideas and get started on them. But remember that hard work is the key. If you have any questions, you can drop them in the comment section below. If you have better ideas, please share them as well!

The post 10 Ways to Make Money Playing Video Games appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Tips for Finding a New Hobby to Relieve Stress

If you’re like most people, you’re probably feeling pretty stressed right now. A global pandemic, political unrest, and personal stressors are taking their toll on people all over the world. You might be juggling lots of responsibilities and just trying to keep your head above water.

At times like these, everybody needs a hobby. Having something you can do for fun is a great way to reduce stress and keep your mind occupied. If, like most people, you’re stuck at home right now, then finding something fun and relaxing to fill the hours is a must.
But what kind of hobby should you choose? There are so many options! Here are some suggestions if you’re not sure what to pick up next.

Writing is a Good Way to Decompress and Be Creative

Grabbing a notebook or laptop and writing is a great way to reduce your stress. You can write about anything you want! Why not get started on that novel idea? Or try your hand at a screenplay, perhaps? The only limit is your imagination.

Even journaling can be a great hobby. Writing can help you decompress and deal with stress or anxiety. Best of all, it’s basically free! Hobbies can get expensive quickly, but writing won’t cost more than a few notebooks and pens.

You don’t even have to share what you write if you don’t want to. But there are lots of opportunities online for sharing your work and connecting with like-minded people. Writing as a hobby can be a stepping stone to so much more!

Turn a Hobby Into a Side Gig to Earn Extra Cash

hobbies that reduce stress

Lots of people are struggling financially right now. It’s extremely stressful to be unemployed, underemployed, or receiving unemployment. If you’re having trouble making ends meet or you could just use some extra cash, you might want to consider turning one of your existing hobbies into a side gig.

Do you knit, bake, draw, or enjoy woodworking? If so, then you’re probably always thinking of what to do with your creations. You can’t keep them all and your family probably already has enough hats. Why not sell what you make? You’ll find good homes for these special items, make people happy, and cover your costs (and then some). It’s a win-win!

If you do decide to turn your hobbies into a side gig, just remember to stay organized. You’ll have to pay taxes on what you earn, and no one will be withholding it for you. Do a little research before you get started.

Learning an Instrument Is Another Great Stress Reducer

Listening to music is a great way to reduce stress—and so is playing it. Studies have shown that listening to music for half an hour per day can lower your blood pressure and help control anxiety and stress.

Learning to play an instrument is both challenging and fulfilling. You have so many options to pick from, from the tiny harmonica to the giant upright bass. Plus, you’ll be able to impress your friends and family someday with your musical talent.

Indoor or Outdoor Gardening Is Great Hobby for Stress Reduction

hobbies that reduces stress

One of the most satisfying things in life is helping something grow. Gardening is a great hobby that takes dedication but offers great rewards. Not only does it help to reduce stress, but you’ll be able to harvest what you grow, or at least enjoy the aesthetics.

You can garden in almost any space, as long as you choose the right plants. Indoor gardening might be more limited, but there are still lots of plants that thrive inside. Sometimes, the hardest part of gardening is choosing your plants! Start with something easy and work your way up to pickier plants.

Get Crafty and Channel Your Creativity

Do you like to work with your hands? Why not get crafty and create projects you can use in your everyday life? Hobbies like knitting, crocheting, sewing, and sculpting allow you to make something from scratch that you can use yourself or give as gifts.

Craft-based hobbies are great stress-busters and give you the satisfaction of making something with your own hands. Your friends and family will love thoughtful gifts you make just for them!

Try Out Different Things

Hobbies are deeply personal and everyone has different interests. It can take some time to find a hobby that clicks. Take some time to try different things out before you buy lots of materials or get too involved. There’s nothing worse than being stuck with canvases or yarn you’re never going to use.

And remember, your hobby should ease your stress, not cause more! Have fun with it. Explore. Create.

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6 Organizations You Can Join Remotely to Make a Difference

Unless you’ve been at a meditation retreat, you may have noticed that 2020 has been a disaster. I’d summarize what happened, but I don’t think anyone really needs—or wants—a reminder. But 2020’s turmoil might have inspired you to make a difference in the new year, so here are six organizations you can join to remotely nudge the world in the right direction—no matter how gradually.

Amnesty Decoders

amnesty international

Comprising a network of over 53,000 global volunteers, Decoders aggregate information from online sources to help Amnesty International advance its human rights advocacy. Volunteers contribute as much as they want, and liaise with each other via a collaborative discussion forum.

Between identifying Sudanese villages that are susceptible to attacks and analyzing misogynistic tweets about female politicians in India, Decoders have generated concrete, actionable results.

Smithsonian Transcription Center

This is a great opportunity if you want to learn more about African American and women’s history, mysteries of the universe, and astrophysics, among other subjects. Volunteers transcribe and review a vast array of historical documents and collections, increasing their accessibility by rendering them text-searchable in search engines.

This is a no-strings-attached endeavor and doesn’t even require account registration. Your transcriptions will help with scientific and humanities research, preserve materials for future generations, and ensure representation of marginalized communities.

Without Borders

You’ve likely heard of Doctors Without Borders, but there are many lesser known iterations tailored for photographers, teachers, lawyers, and virtually every occupation (there’s even a Clowns Without Borders if you want to refer your ex).

You can find remote opportunities on Charity Village or their respective websites. If you’re multilingual, make sure to check out Translators Without Borders, which is always seeking language support.

Be My Eyes

be my eyes

Be My Eyes is a free app that connects volunteers with visually impaired people who need help with daily tasks. For example, when someone with low vision can’t distinguish the cans in their cupboard, they’ll use the app to start a one-way video call, and the first volunteer to answer will help.

Winning a slew of Google Play awards, Be My Eyes is used by almost 230,000 visually impaired people in over 150 countries. Given its broad reach, you can also volunteer to translate the app.

Standby Task Force (SBTF)

The SBTF is a network of over 1,800 digital humanitarians who extract information from websites and social media to create interactive maps, allowing response agencies to understand the on-the-ground situation during a disaster or emergency.

The organization has participated in relief efforts all over the world, such as in the Philippines during Typhoon Haiyan and Europe when the refugee crisis occurred. You’d be a stellar fit if you’re familiar with geographic information systems or have general research and Internet skills.

Crisis Text Line

Volunteers, known as Crisis Counselors, answer texts from distressed people after undergoing 30 hours of free online training about active listening and problem management. The training costs the organization $1,008, so Counselors are expected to commit at least four hours weekly and are most needed between 10pm and 6am EST (7pm and 3am PST).

This is perfect if you’re a night owl who’s tired of ending up on “The Weird Side of the Internet” at 1am. If you’re outside the US, there are several international chapters as well.

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Ranking the Best Original RPG Soundtracks

When you’re playing a role-playing game, you often seek to be immersed in its world. Apart from seeing all the wonderful sights, one of the core elements in many RPGs is their soundtrack. To say that there have been tons of RPGs that have epic soundtracks on them is an understatement. We can fill this list with just JRPGs if that’s the case.

However, we’ll try to cast the net wider, so to speak, in order to cover a variety of musical gems in different titles within the gargantuan RPG genre. Here are the best original RPG soundtracks:

Final Fantasy X

The Final Fantasy franchise is synonymous with RPG and JRPGs. Ask any gamer what their favorite RPG is, and it’s likely that they would mention at least one Final Fantasy game in their top 3 or top 5. As for the original soundtrack, you can pick any one Final Fantasy game and there’s a high chance that one or many of their songs would get stuck in your head.

Final Fantasy X has one of the most memorable original soundtracks in any game, let alone an RPG. Legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu is known for his musical contributions to the Final Fantasy franchise, and Final Fantasy X is no exception. Uematsu masterfully orchestrates his wonderful sound of whimsy, adventure, danger, and hopefulness in every song in Final Fantasy X.

In terms of capturing the whole islandic and South Pacific vibe that Spira evoked, Final Fantasy X’s soundtrack reels you in – from the first time you hear To Zanarkand, to the moment when you reach the shores of Besaid and other locales, up to the epic random battles (and one particularly awesome boss battle), the songs and melodies of this world will surely remain with you even after you have finished the game.

Chrono Trigger

best rpg soundtrack chrono trigger
Via store.steampowered.com

While we’re here, we also need to include Chrono Trigger in the list of best original JRPG soundtracks. Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda combine their musical expertise in this game, resulting in a truly fantastic masterpiece.

Chrono Trigger is highly considered by many as one of the must-play classic JRPGs, and it’s not hard to see why. Chrono Trigger has one of the best gameplay, stories, and characters in the genre, and the soundtrack further enraptures players into its world.

From the songs Peaceful Days, Memories of Green, and to the iconic To Far Away Times, Mitsuda and Uematsu’s music exemplifies the sheer excitement you would feel as you control Chrono, Marle, and company to different dungeons, castles, and other fantastical worlds.

Persona 5

If you’re looking for a funkier and modern mesh of sonically catchy and toe-tapping music in your RPG, look no further than Persona 5. Composed by Shoji Meguro, ToshikiKonishi, Kenichi Tsuchiya, Atsushi Kitajoh, and RyotaKozuka, with vocals by Lyn Inaizumi, Persona 5’s soundtrack perfectly captures the setting of the game. Some of the memorable tunes of the game include Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There, Life Will Change, and Phantom. 

The game lets you control a wily group of high school students who set off on wild fantastical adventures. That’s why Persona 5’s original soundtrack feels exactly like what a teenager living in modern-day Tokyo who juggles exploring the Metaverse, ridding it of malevolent intent from the hearts of adults while trying to maintain a relationship with friends and keeping his grades up in school would listen to.

You feel like you are Joker, and as him, you can see yourself listening to these funky, upbeat, and highly stylish songs on your music player.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Now, you might wonder why we’ve listed Metal Gear Solid in this list. While we acknowledge that when you say RPG, you think of many JRPG titles, we also need to include western RPGs, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has to be part of games that have the best original soundtracks.

Set in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War, you play Naked Snake and are tasked to rescue a Russian rocket scientist who is creating a superweapon and thwarting the threat of the imposing and diabolical Cobra Unit from using the superweapon and starting World War 3.

Such a plot feels like a spy movie, and Metal Gear Solid 3’s soundtrack perfectly sets the tone. The game starts with the eponymous Snake Eater theme song, written by Norihiko Hibino and performed by Cynthia Harrell.

Its magnificent score sounds like the intro theme of a James Bond movie, and the succeeding soundtracks further enhance the sense of danger, and the corresponding stealth and cunning you need to complete your mission.

The pulse-pounding music that suddenly plays when you are spotted by enemies, the suspenseful boss fight themes, on top of the amazing ambient sounds of the Russian wilderness where you will spend a good portion of the game, further pulls you into the narrative that yes, you are Naked Snake, and you have to complete your mission in order to save countless lives.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

best rpg soundtrack the elder scrolls 5 skyrim
Via nintendo.com

Finally, we wrap this list with The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. As far as immersing yourself in a dynamic world of high fantasy, Skyrim has that covered and then some. When it comes to setting the tone for an epic story and adventure, few soundtracks can deliver in such a magnificent way than Skyrim’s original musical scores.

Composer Jeremy Soule masterfully crafted truly mesmerizing songs that beautifully capture the world of Skyrim.

As you go about in your adventures as the Dragonborn, each different track that plays when you enter a town and interact with its many denizens, explore ancient crypts, and defeat many Frostbite Spiders and Draugr, Skyrim’s soundtrack is right there with you and making you feel like you’re actually in that world. You feel the liveliness of towns, the creepy, damp crypts, and dungeons.

One of the best in-game fight themes always happens whenever you encounter a dragon. When a Dragon is near, whatever in-game song that’s been playing slowly fades, and it is replaced by the intro of war drums.

As you try to look around and finally see the Dragon soaring above you, or when it finally lands near you, the Dragonborn Song finally starts, signaling that an epic battle between Sword, Fangs, and Claws is about to happen. And once you finally vanquish the Dragon, the epic Dragonborn song also slowly fades, as if it’s declaring that you are victorious.

Such is the power of Skyrim’s soundtrack – it swells at just the right moments during your many adventures in the game to make it even more unforgettable.

And that’s the list of the five best original RPG soundtracks. There are many exciting and sonically-immersive RPG games you can download and play such as the ones listed above.

The post Ranking the Best Original RPG Soundtracks appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

15 Holiday Marketing Tips for Small and Big Businesses

How prepared are you for the holiday sales? Since October, holiday shopping has brought in billions after billions of dollars in revenue.

Just recently between Nov. 1 and Nov. 11, AliBaba Singles Day sales brought in a whopping $75 billion in sales with 800 million shoppers participating, according to reports.

Although the pandemic has affected the lives and livelihoods of billions, the holiday season is one many look forward to, to spend quality time with family and friends. Gifts play an important role in these exchanges. In fact, 25% of holiday shoppers will be buying gifts for others this season.

Similarly, 64% of people are as excited about holiday shopping this year as in previous years. Another report tells us that 75% of holiday shoppers will be conducting up to 50% of their holiday purchases online.

How prepared are you for this prepared set of shoppers this holiday season?

In this post, I’ll highlight 15 key things to include in your holiday sales preparedness checklist to help you maximize sales this season.

Dates

Holiday shopping typically starts in October with Thanksgiving and Halloween sales.

The holiday shopping calendar highlights major holiday shopping events throughout the year.

This should form a core part of your overall marketing strategy. By knowing the dates in advance, you can better strategize and prepare.

Deals

With the dates marked, you can plan out the type and number of deals available to your customers for each shopping event throughout the year.

Shoppers are usually looking out for the deal of a lifetime, especially during the holiday season. You should find out the best way to offer deals that won’t steal your profits.

You can keep an eye on your competitors. Find out what kinds of deals they’re offering their new and returning customers.

Discounts

holiday marketing tip

Prior to sales, some customers make it a point of duty to document the current prices of items in their shopping lists.

This is because most retailers do not actually offer discounts, they simply mark-up the price and “slash” it again.

Ensure you’re giving real discounts. Promote it via your newsletter, social media handles, website, etc.

Paid Ads and Promotions

If you’re a dropshipper for instance, much of your marketing will be in the form of paid ads and promotions.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Google, etc., allow you to run paid ads to promote your business.

Test run them and stick with what works best for you. Also, hone your targeting and copywriting skills to reduce costs and improve effectiveness.

Website

This holiday season, your website can either make or mar your entire marketing efforts. Is it fast loading, easily navigable, searchable, and fast to checkout?

If your e-commerce website isn’t user-friendly, you will be losing customers in droves and leaving money on the table.

Conduct a detailed website audit with a view to optimizing every touchpoint along your customer journey map. This is very key to an enjoyable user experience.

SEO

SEO is all about search and discoverability, on-site and off-site. 87% of buyers start their online buying journey with research, using Amazon or Google.

To succeed with e-commerce SEO, you have to think like a typical shopper. Some shoppers conduct product-specific search, others prefer store-specific search.

Optimize for search on your website and for search engines like Google. Enable auto suggest/autocorrect features to help shoppers find what they’re looking for.

Social Media

Are your social media handles doing their bit? Have you designed banners or planned out posts to promote your upcoming deals, discounts, or sales?

Are you planning to use an influencer, run multiple social media ads, hire a new social media manager, or improve your LinkedIn marketing strategy?

Social media, with billions of daily active users, can play a major role in your holiday marketing drive. Do not ignore it.

Photography

Product presentation is also important in e-commerce. Shoppers cannot touch, feel or taste products in your webstore.

There are three simple ways to ace this. One, take professional product photographs with killer product descriptions.

Two, incorporate product videos for a more in-depth, 3-D experience. Three, use VR to let shoppers virtually try-on products before purchase. Shopify Plus has this capability.

Shopping

A smooth shopping experience will guarantee you happy customers and repeat purchases, which can increase customer average order value and lifetime value.

A fast loading, navigable, and searchable site with speedy checkout and multiple payment gateways, is a shopper’s delight.

A bad shopping experience, on the other hand, could lead to cart abandonment, high churn, and negative reviews.

Checkout

Sometimes, online shoppers abandon cart not necessarily because of a bad shopping experience. Maybe they’re just window shopping or checking out shipping cost.

They could also forget their shopping cart and get distracted by work, colleagues, a meeting, an appointment, etc. How do you plan to recover such abandoned carts?

Many shopping carts, e-commerce platforms, software, apps, or plugins can help you automate shopping cart recovery this holiday season.

Payments

holiday marketing payment tips

Payment problems are a pain in the neck when it comes to online shopping. It takes considerable time to search for different products, fill up your shopping cart, and complete checkout.

For the past three days I’ve been unable to make payment for items in my shopping cart due to issues with payment gateways. Some of these are holiday items.

Getting this far and not being able to complete an order can be frustrating. Ensure that you have multiple payment options available.

Packaging

Packaging is another key component of e-commerce sales, especially this holiday season. Pakible provides comprehensive packaging solutions for retailers of all sizes.

If you’re a dropshipper, you probably won’t see your product packaging before they’re shipped to your customers, but it is important that you do.

Product packaging can create a positive or negative first impression, so watch it. You can also brand your products with special packaging or printed labels.

Shipping

After you have packaged your customer orders, you would need to ship them. With e-commerce, you can ship products across the world to your customers wherever they are.

A trusted shipping carrier can help you get your orders to your customers as fast as possible, for as low as possible.

Long shipping times and high shipping fees are two of the biggest turn-offs for online shoppers. Ensure that you’re guilty of neither.

Delivery and Fulfillment

Your customers’ orders have arrived at your storing and sorting location. Now it is time for last mile logistics, and a lot can go wrong between your warehouse and your customer’s door.

For instance, a delivery truck with perishable groceries may break down for hours leading to delays and decomposition, which can lead to order cancellation.

Timely and professional delivery is one of the most important legs of your online shopper’s journey. Make it delightful, and your customers will reward you with even more business; awful and they’re gone.

Returns

Returns are almost avoidable but inevitable. If you sell fashion items or apparel, ensure that your size charts are comprehensive and detailed. Include in-depth product description and use professional photographs.

Over 50% of shoppers engage in bracketing, i.e. the act of buying all sizes, colors, etc., of an item with the intent to keep only the one that fits and return all the others.

This is a costly practice. On National Returns Day (Jan. 2, 2020), UPS returned 1.9 million holiday purchases. Returns cost billions of dollars. They also create extra greenhouse gas emissions (due to reverse logistics), and some of them end up in landfills.

Conclusion

This holiday sales preparedness checklist can help you plan your holiday marketing in advance, minimize losses, and maximize profits this season.

The post 15 Holiday Marketing Tips for Small and Big Businesses appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Learn to Say No to Alternatives

We all know about how a class of calligraphy became the ground of innovation for Steve Jobs, who introduced the ‘first computer with beautiful typography’ to humanity.

Or, how while walking, Nikola Tesla got the breakthrough idea of a brushless AC motor.
These were two remarkable gentlemen who lived centuries apart, but there was one thing common about them – they dreamt big!

Just like Jobs or Tesla, there are others with an entrepreneurial mind, ambitious and full of ideas. But the difference between someone who could materialize an idea, and one who couldn’t is the notion of ‘alternatives’.

Saying ‘NO’ to alternatives makes space for monomaniacal (obsessed with a single idea) focus, and focus as we know is the key to success.

“Build your life around the vital few. Distraction dilutes your genius.” – Robin Sharma

You may be a genius with many ideas, but the moment you start thinking on the lines of choices, your ideas lose potential.

How?

When we have multiple ideas, instinctively we start working on them. All at once. This creates restlessness within us. It clogs our thoughts, mars our actions, and instead pushes us towards reacting on unnecessary issues.

It’s the point where we get stuck in the myth of multitasking. We look busy working on multiple ideas but end up wasting a lot of time.

Hence, to save yourself from getting stuck, here are a few tricks:

Do the most difficult things first

how do you say no to alternative

Author Brian Tracey in his book, Eat the Frog, explained that when you jot down all your tasks, look at them, and pick the one that scares the most, it imbibes monomaniacal focus very easily, because once you take up the most difficult task, nothing else can shake you.

Probably a reason why it was Arjuna (one of the protagonists in the Indian epic Mahabharata) who could look at the fish’s reflection in the water and hit the arrow straight-up to strike the fish’s eye. His level of focus was such that nothing could shake him off of his goal of hitting the revolving fish’s eye.

Beware of the myth of multitasking

Multitasking means messing up several things, at once. More like sitting in a History class and thinking of Mathematics. Instead, when you dedicate more time to one task, it helps you hone your craft faster.

For the longest time in my life and career, I have been known as an efficient multitasker. But, all these experiences helped me realize that multi-tasking damages the quality quotient of any work, which is nothing but the ability to apply the power of intellect and emotions for producing anything.

And, all this does affect you adversely over years.

Regenerate and keep up your energy

saying no

You need to have a lot of energy to focus, and the best way to regenerate energy is by taking occasional breaks and spending some ‘me time’.

Being a forerunner of a global organization, a business advisor, and an entrepreneurial coach, I am always surrounded by people and meetings.

After the pandemic hit, my meetings never reduced but transferred their base to a virtual platform. This meant more time near the system, and with my phone. The process kind of drains me but instead of techlashing, I regenerate my energy by meditating early in the morning and then going on daily morning and evening walks with my wife. It’s soothing and keeps my spirits high the whole day, besides the usual rounds of espresso or two.

Constantly remind yourself of your ultimate goal

Getting diverted due to daily trivialities is obvious. Hence, set a regular reminder for yourself. Create deadlines for yourself, but also be humble with your deadlines, and meet them. This will boost your confidence and keep you centered.

In bygone days, Brahmin scholars (the working class of Hindu professors, teachers, priests) use to tie the tip of their hair to a nail on the wall. This is to ensure that they didn’t doze off while studying. They used to read the chapters aloud and that is how they could byheart entire books of shlokas.

There’s a saying that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’.

So, if you dare to think big, learn to make no room for alternatives, first.

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Communicating with the Hard of Hearing (HOH) Does Not Have To Be Hard. Read These 7 Tips!

Listening is demanding!

You might not agree with this statement unless you are part of the 466 million people in the world who are hard of hearing. And the WHO expects this number to rise to 630 million by 2030, and over 900 million in 2050!

Having been diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of ten, I have been wearing hearing aids for about forty years now. From personal experience, I’ve come up with tips to help you accommodate people who are hard of hearing so that they can enjoy social interactions.

By interacting with others, they’ll feel less isolated and that will encourage them to further socialize. Instead of hiding in a quiet corner, that person wearing the hearing aids can have fun mingling with others just as anyone else in the room.

Why is listening a challenge for the Hard of Hearing (HOH)?

Listening is a challenge because you miss so many words. This can create funny situations if your response is much different than what was expected. Because what you have heard is not at all the same as what was said!

Unfortunately, if you have only recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, you might not appreciate the humour, since you are still battling to come to terms with this new way of living. You will often withdraw and avoid social situations in order not to feel embarrassed. And, to avoid the fatigue from concentrating so hard to make sense of what is said.

The worst thing you can do to a person with hearing loss it to respond with “Never mind” when asked to repeat something they have missed. They experience it as an instant dismissal, showing a lack of respect, and making them feel as if they are not important.

Let us talk about how you can help to make social situations better for the HOH.

How can you effectively communicate with the Hard of Hearing?

When it comes to effective communication, all the 7 Little-Known Tips for Effective Communication applies. Still, there are some other tips to follow that will help when communicating with people with hearing loss.

Always get our attention before speaking to us

Remember that if we do not look at you, it is unlikely that we will hear you (or know that you are talking to us). We also find it hard to determine the direction sounds are coming from. This makes it difficult for us to focus on the sounds we hear.

Look at us while talking

Not only will this help us to hear more words, but we also use body language clues and lip-reading to assist with comprehending what we hear.

Give us context

Since we miss so many words or sometimes only hear parts of words, comprehension becomes difficult without any context to guide us. If during a conversation we hear “ot”, it may be pot, rot, or lot. The context will help us to figure out the right word and help us to correctly follow the conversation.

Do not cover your face or mouth when talking

communicate with a hearing impaired person

Not only does this dampens the sound, but it also robs us of a valuable aid (lip reading) that helps us to follow a conversation.

But what about masks?

Due to the pandemic, everybody must wear masks to protect themselves and others. Masks pose a serious challenge for the HOH. Not only does it dampen sound, but also lip-reading cannot be utilized to aid in comprehension.

To assist the hard of hearing, make sure that you face us when talking. Pull down your mask if it is safe to do so. For example, if you are also wearing a clear facial screen or working behind a protective screen.

If this is not possible, you can raise your voice and try to speak as clearly as possible, (but please, do not scream!) If all else fails, simply write down what you need to say.

Volume does not help

When you realize the person did not hear you, the instinct is to speak louder. But this does not help as it distorts the sound. And you form the words differently, which make it harder to lip-read. You should try and speak clearer, or re-phrase, rather than repeat.

Be aware of environmental factors

Even normal hearing people struggle in noisy environments. The older type analogue hearing aids increase volume on all sounds (voices and background noise). This makes it difficult for people with hearing loss to follow conversations in noisy environments as it is impossible to pick up voices against all the background noise.

The new digital hearing aids do a much better job of cutting out background noise but it is still not perfect.

Bad lighting can also be a hindrance since it makes lip-reading impossible if you cannot see people’s faces.

In this type of situation, allow the HOH person to choose the setting which is optimally suited for them to follow the conversation. Or, take the courtesy to have a conversation with them in a quiet corner.

Group conversations are a challenge

communicating with a hearing impaired person

People with hearing loss can only focus on one person at a time.

This means that, often, we will miss the first part of the sentence when a different speaker starts talking. And there is no way to predict who the next speaker will be. This is hard to overcome, but it helps if the person next to you can repeat things that you have missed, or fill you in if the topic of the conversation changes.

But most of all, it’s important that everyone in the group understands if the person with hearing loss does not participate that much in the conversation.

For most of you, hearing and listening are effortless. Something that just happens without you putting any effort into it. But not for people with hearing loss. Even though hearing aids help, it is not like glasses which take you from your blurred vision to perfect sight.

Which one of these tips will you put in practice today? Because some of these tips can also help to improve your communication in general!

The post Communicating with the Hard of Hearing (HOH) Does Not Have To Be Hard. Read These 7 Tips! appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

A Short and Illustrative Course on the Different Types of Wine

Discovering the wonders of wine can be daunting. Given that there are so many options available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed whenever you’re visiting a liquor store. While learning how to distinguish the difference between red and white wine can be useful, it doesn’t represent the whole picture.

If you want to take your wine appreciation up a notch, then the first thing you should do is to learn about the different types available. All wines are made from fermented grapes, but it’s important to know that each kind has its own distinct touch.

Regional influences, grape varieties, and the difference in the winemaking method can significantly affect a wine’s flavor, and knowing how to distinguish each will allow you to pick the right bottle. Before you start reading about amazing wine facts and figures, let’s have a quick overview of each variety.

Red Wine

red wine

Arguably the most popular kind, red wine is made out of dark-colored grapes. To make the drink, black grapes are fermented at high temperatures to extract their color, tannin, and aroma fully.

The color and taste of red wine can vary, from light to bold, and this level of concentration is defined by the brewer’s methods. However, all bottles share a similar trait of having a smooth and strong taste.

Red wines are best paired with big meals. This is why many fine dining establishments usually serve a tall glass for the main course. If you’re planning to buy some, popular bottles would be Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.

White wine

People fall into various misconceptions when it comes to white wine. Many think that the beverage is made out of white grapes alone, but it can actually be made out of red or black grapes, as well. The winemaking process is similar to its red counterpart; the main difference in production is that white wine does not ferment the skin of the fruit.

Compared to the strong and bold flavor of red wine, white wine is known for its lighter taste. It’s the perfect companion for light meals and appetizers such as salad, fish, and cold cuts. If you want to go on a light drinking session with your significant other, the varieties recommended are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Moscato.

Rose wine

Rose wine gives you the best of both worlds. Its flavor is closer to white wine, but it’s also reminiscent of red due to its exposure to grape skins. Rose wine can be made two ways: First, by fermenting red or black grapes for as quick as 12–36 hours. Second, by blending red and white wine into a single concoction.

The flavor and color of rose wine can vary according to the brewer. While its taste is more similar to white, there are also darker and stronger variations. Just remember to test out different kinds so you can eventually find the right blend for you. To get you started, the bottles good for both large and casual gatherings would be Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, and Sangiovese.

Sparkling wine

sparkling wine

When people think of sparkling wine, the first thing that comes to mind is a celebration. Whenever a sports team wins a championship, athletes pop some bottles of this kind and shower themselves with the drink as a sign of victory. But when it comes to casual drinking, sparkling wine is the go-to beverage for parties.

Sparkling wine is made in a variety of ways, but the common factor is that all fermentation methods add carbon dioxide into the process. This is why the drink bubbles like soda and explodes when shaken. Each region has its unique brew, and a famous example would be the Champagne from France.

If you want to experience the rich flavor of this wine, it is best enjoyed with cheese, salad, or fish.

Dessert wine

Dessert wines are the perfect finisher. The wine is named as such not only because it is the sweetest kind of them all, but also because it is usually consumed after a meal. It follows a similar fermentation to red and white wine, but brandy is added into the mix to retain the beverage’s natural sugars.

While dessert wine is intended to be taken after a big meal, it can also be consumed with a plate of appetizers or used as a palette cleanser before the main course. Popular bottles would be Sherry Marsala, Vermouth, and Madeira.

Know your wines

Wine is one of the world’s favorite drink for a reason—it tastes good, paves the way for a good time, and even comes with a ton of health benefits when consumed in right doses.

Luckily enough, you don’t have to be a connoisseur or an expert to appreciate and enjoy the drink fully. By simply knowing the different types available, it will be much easier for you to pick the right bottles depending on the need. Just remember to consume the drink in moderation and to eat healthily at home to maximize the beverage’s health benefits.

The post A Short and Illustrative Course on the Different Types of Wine appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

8 Quick Tips for Better Zoom Meetings

It’s been months since the lockdown that pushed a majority of workers to work from home. Employees bid farewell to face-to-face meetings and sought refuge in virtual conferences to collaborate. Most of us have learned how to use zoom by now. Which is why today, we are going to talk about how you can improve your experience by providing Zoom tips and tricks.

On average, we lose 10 minutes and 40 seconds of our time on meeting delays. According to Booqed, that’s an annual total of 3 days and 2 hours. This is a significant dip in productivity. Just imagine what you could have accomplished in that period.

The pointers on this list can help you accomplish more tasks in a better way. You’ll find handy Zoom meeting tips for attendees, admins, and teachers.

Automatically schedule meetings

There is a more efficient way for you to set your monthly or weekly calls. Zoom lets users set scheduled meetings and even link it to your Google and Microsoft calendar. This will help you remember important events and team huddles.

To do this, go to the Zoom web portal. From there, you can go to Room Management > Zoom Rooms before going to the Account Settings. Click the Meeting tab, press the switch for “Automatic start scheduled meeting,” and you’re all set.

The platform also gives you the option to create meeting alerts that will appear 10 minutes before the scheduled time.

Have an icebreaker handy

prepare for a zoom meeting

Whether you are experiencing delays or merely trying to catch up with your co-participants, it’s always a good idea to have a small activity ready. An icebreaker can help you forge stronger connections and energize the meeting room. It can even get your creative juices flowing!

Try games as I Spy or the mobile app Among Us, among others. If you’re not the video game type of team, you can fire up the team by simply asking each other questions. Ask them about what habits they’ve acquired, or Netflix shows that have been keeping them glued to their sofa.

Reduce noise

One of the most well-known Zoom etiquettes is keeping the noise on your end controlled. This helps maintain audio clarity and lessens distractions for everyone in the meeting.

Zoom already has a potent noise canceling feature. It reduces the noise of keyboards and even goes as far as adjusting volumes automatically when a person is speaking.

However, you can really kick it up a notch with online tools. You can find a variety of noise-canceling tools to help you drown the sounds of your rowdy neighbors or your dog’s barking. You can opt for Krisp or even Google’s Sound Amplifier.

Touch up with the help of the beauty feature

When it comes to the visual aspect of meetings, everyone has probably heard of Zoom backgrounds. But not everyone knows that Zoom has a Touch Up My Appearance feature.

It can blur out imperfections and make you seem like you put in a lot of effort to get ready for the meeting. This video enhancement is activated by going to Settings > Video tab > then checking the box for “Touch up my appearance.”

You can even adjust your camera for low light environments to go the extra mile.

Make use of waiting rooms

Internet trolls are a relenting force, and they are responsible for “Zoombombings,” where they invade meetings to cause a distraction. Typically, trolls insert obscene materials that may contain homophobic and racist content. People combat this by setting a password, but you can also use waiting rooms.

Zoom waiting rooms give the admin control on who can enter the room while providing the attendees with a holding area. Apart from security, you can also make the most of this feature by using it for interviews, recitations, and other purposes.

Use collaboration tools

The video conferencing tool has a collaborative annotation feature. It comes with tools for text, lines, and drawing to give the participants a chance to doodle on the shared screen. This is perfect if you are having a brainstorming session with your business team or even if you’re a teacher who wants a student to solve a problem on the screen.

Additionally, the platform also provides a whiteboard to give you a blank canvas to write on.

Record the meeting

preparing for a zoom meeting

Doing this will help you have a copy of the meeting, which will come in handy if you missed out on some parts for note-taking. Keeping a historical record of discussions will also come in handy when verifying information and documenting activities.

You can also send this resource to your teammates or classmates who weren’t able to attend the meeting.

Learn shortcuts

Did you know that you can mute and unmute yourself with the space bar? Zoom is bursting with keyboard shortcuts, allowing you to make commands in seconds. There are shortcuts for screen toggling, settings management, changing the layout, and more.

Here are some of the best shortcuts:

  • Alt+M: For the host only. Use this for muting and unmuting audio for everyone.
  • F6: Navigate Zoom popup windows.
  • Alt+Shift+T: Screenshot
  • Ctrl+T: Strike a chat with someone
  • Ctrl+Shift+A: Use this for accepting inbound calls.
  • Ctrl+Shift+E: Use this for ending the call you’re currently in.

Want more? You can check out the official website for a complete list of shortcuts and hotkeys.

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4 Learning Experiences That Can Redefine The Way Your Child Evolves

Raising a child is no easy game. Many struggling parents tend to look for parenting tips from external sources: parenting books, family and friends, psychologists, and a lot of the times, to no avail. Perhaps we should start looking inward: the answer might already be within ourselves and our journey into adulthood.

Your child will have a lot of experiences growing up, and these can shape up their future.

And as I write this, I’d like to tell you my story of how I evolved with a lot of learning based on stories I lived and the experiences I had. Here are the top 4 that matters.

Own Up To Your Mistake

It was the winter when I turned 10. My mom and I were shopping at a local supermarket when a pair of shiny ceramic wall hooks caught my eyes. Once mom agreed to include them in the bill, I put them in my jacket pocket, believing it to be a much more secure place than at the bottom of the shopping cart under piles of veggies.

Moments later, while we were walking toward the parking lot, somehow, we discovered that I forgot to give money to the cashier at the checkout. For a split second, the thought of continuing on our way home like nothing had happened crossed my mind. As if she could read my thoughts, mom firmly asked me: “Let’s go back inside and pay for them, shall we?”

I still remember how calm my mom apologized to the cashier for being so forgetful and telling me to apologize. Looking back, in a situation where many parents might resort to shaming their kids, it’s truly admirable how reasonably my mom handled the whole thing.

That incident might have shaped my entire outlook on owning up to your mistake: there’s no shame in making mistakes – it’s part of human nature, and when you do, you correct it, then you move on.

A Good Habit Goes a Long Way

My client-turned-friend Anna shared some useful parenting tips: “Like any other kid his age, my then 7-year-old son had a notoriously short attention span.

Once, he decided to be an engineer when he grew up and attempted to disassemble any electrical device he could find around the house. It ended after three days when he jumped to his next aspiration: an astronaut. Then a wizard, then an alchemist. The list goes on.

One weekend during his writing spree, I gave him a challenge: by the end of the coming week, whoever between us could record more journaling pages daily would win and get a reward of their choice.

how your child learns journaling

Needless to say, he got his Dragon Ball stickers after beating me by a landslide: 10+ pages vs. my 5-something (I swear I did my best!). I adopted the same approach and got him in other challenges: household chores, guitar lessons, etc.

Gradually, I noticed a change in his attitude: He has been more motivated to finish what he started and better manage time between school and playtime.

Keeping a journal is still a tradition in our family. We have shifted from the brick and mortar way of journaling with a notebook and pen to a smartphone app like Lugelo.

A few months ago, my son accidentally shared a picture of him drooling while sleeping in a class to the entire family via the app. It’s still a hot topic in every family gathering to this day.”

Cherish Relationships that Matter

Is the lesson my high school friend Grace has learned the hard way?

“She was my best friend back when we were both in 7th grade. We lived in the same apartment building, and our families knew each other. We stuck like glue. She was smart and always helped me with my homework. I was her unspoken bodyguard, always ready to knock down any boy picking on her.

It all came to a sudden stop one summer when we had a huge fallout, for reasons I can no longer remember. After six months of the cold war, she eventually offered me a token of truce in the form of an apology letter. Being an egocentric idiot that I was, I ignored her and her attempt completely.

In the years that follow, I occasionally found myself dwelling over what could be of us if I hadn’t been so stubborn that day. I never got the answer. But from then on, I always try my best to maintain a healthy relationship with people who truly matter to me, from frequently checking up on them to ‘bribing’ them with a boba teacup after a fallout as an apology.”

Take No Shit

“It happened during our playtime in kindergarten. It was my turn to go up the slide when another boy cut in line and shove me to the ground. I came home that day with bleeding scratches on both knees.

teaching kids about bullying

When my dad saw me like that, he just calmly told me: ‘Next time he repeats, you push him back,’” – said my colleague Minh when we stumbled upon the topic of childhood over a Zoom call during the lockdown.

“Your eyes are rolling hard” – he grinned – “Mind you, adult diplomacy doesn’t exist in kids’ world. Despite how nasty it sounds, the violence here is simply a means to an end, making a point that not anyone can mess with me.

And it worked. Just a few days after that incident, I met that kid again, and he did the same thing to me. But this time, I stood up from the ground and pushed him back just like I was told. That was the last time he ever got his finger on me.

Conclusion:

Eventually, that mindset has taught me how crucial it is to set the standard of how others should treat me. It has kept me intact, both literally and figuratively, through a couple of high school bullying incidents, lots of corporate conflicts, and earned me respect from friends, colleagues, and, most importantly, from myself.”

I am still learning. And I am sure your child too! Your actions will decide how your child learns. Be mindful of your words and your response to anything that happens. Remember, there’s someone always watching and learning from you.

The post 4 Learning Experiences That Can Redefine The Way Your Child Evolves appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

DNA Testing for a Healthier Diet

Have you ever felt frustrated by diets? Have you ever struggled with weight loss? Have you been discouraged by eating “healthy” food that made you feel bloated or have low energy?

Most people have run into issues with their diet at some point. While it’s true that just about nobody does well on a diet full of sugar, fried and fatty snacks, and processed foods, it’s also true that everyone’s body is totally unique. The diet that helps your friend or your sister feel their best might not work for you at all.

We’re learning more and more about how the body works all the time. DNA testing has given us a window into our unique genetic code, empowering us to learn more about our similarities and differences.

Now, we have the ability to use DNA testing to discover which food choices work best for individual people. Here’s what you need to know about this exciting new breakthrough and why turning to your DNA could be the answer to a healthier life.

There Is No Such Thing As “One Diet Fits All”

dna testing help with weight loss

We’re all humans, and we all have similar nutritional needs. But that doesn’t mean we should all be eating the same things. Research is showing that there’s no such thing as a diet that works for absolutely everyone.

We all have different dietary needs. Even identical twins respond differently to fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and other components in food due to differences in habits, stress, sleep, exercise, and gut microbes. Basically, depending on how you live your life, you will have different nutritional needs!

With that said, genetics do play a role in how we respond to food. Nutrigenomics is a term for using genetic testing to help individuals tailor a healthy diet that works for their body. DNA testing can help to give you a framework for a diet that you can tinker with as needed.

The Positives of Aligning Your Diet to Your DNA

Genetic testing is used in many applications, from prenatal testing to genealogy to crop development. The more we know about the genes of an organism, the more we understand the way it develops and behaves. DNA testing doesn’t take all the guesswork out of creating a personalized diet, but it can help you understand more about your body and what it needs.

There are several benefits to aligning your diet to your DNA. First, you might be able to learn more about what types of food help or harm your body. You might be able to cut out a lot of trial and error in the process of designing a healthy diet that will keep you operating at your peak. And finally, you could get a head start on optimizing your current and future health and weight.

Can Artificial Intelligence Help You Make Smarter Food Choices?

Without advanced technology and data processing, nutrigenomics wouldn’t be possible. Big data and artificial intelligence (AI) can make connections and spot patterns that are difficult, time-consuming, or even impossible for human researchers.

Artificial intelligence already has a range of applications in healthcare. But could it also be used to help people make smarter food choices? We already use AI to aid in diagnostics by allowing these systems to interpret and analyze patient data to find connections and risk factors.

It’s not much of a stretch to think that one day, we could input a person’s health data into the system and have the AI analyze it and provide dietary recommendations. Since we know that lots of different lifestyle factors have an impact on these recommendations, AI could create customized plans much more quickly.

Benefits of a More Personalized Diet

dna testing helping with weight loss

Maintaining a healthy diet is challenging for most people. It becomes even harder if the latest fad diet simply doesn’t agree with your body chemistry. That’s where personalized diets can make a huge difference—they take into account lots of different factors and set people up for success. They also make sticking to a healthy diet easier and more enjoyable!

Getting your DNA tested won’t automatically make you healthier. You still have to do the work and learn how to stick with healthy choices. With that said, nutrigenomics can be a useful tool in your journey to better health. It can give you the information you need to make positive changes in your life. Just remember: not one single approach works for everyone!

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9 Things That Affect How Much You Pay for Car Insurance

We’ve all seen tons of commercials touting the lowest rates when it comes to car insurance. Then you get a quote and ask yourself, “why are my rates so high?”

It turns out, what you pay for car insurance is not the same for everyone. There are a lot of factors that go into what you pay — some of which are not under your control. We asked the experts at Freeway Insurance for their thoughts on what affects the price of car insurance. Here’s what they had to say:

You Have a Poor Driving Record

factor that affect your car insurance rates

If you have past accidents, tickets, and other violations on your record, your rates are likely to be higher. Other than driving slower and safer, you can see if your state uses a points system. If so, there are sometimes classes you can take to help reduce points. Beyond that, time will knock those bad marks off your driving record, so be sure to follow-up with your insurance company to adjust your rates as they do.

What Car You Drive & How Often

This factor can be a bit of a catch-22. A newer, more expensive car costs more to insure because of its value. However, an older, less expensive car poses more risks of damage in the event of an accident because it may be less safe. How often you drive your car, new or old, also makes a difference. The more you’re on the road, the more opportunity there is to be in an accident. If you are in the market for your next car, look for something with high safety ratings and a modest value.

Your Insurance History

Cancelling a past policy, even if it’s with a different insurance company, can make future policies be more expensive. When getting a new policy, explain to your agent the reasons you cancelled and see if they would be willing to negotiate a lower premium.

Where Your Vehicle Lives

Is your car parked in a secure garage, in a town with low crime rates, and a smaller population? Then you are likely to pay less than someone who is parked on the street in a big city that is prone to flooding. Things like crime rates, weather patterns, and number of accidents in the surrounding area can all affect your car insurance premium. If there’s less of a possibility that something could happen to your car, the lower the rate.

This is something to consider when moving or buying a home. Work with your insurance company to see if one location is considered more desirable than another when it comes to housing or garaging your car.

Your Current Age

Your age is definitely one of the things you can’t control. Drivers who are under 20 years old get the highest rates. CDC states that there’s a higher likelihood for teenagers in failing to determine danger. They’re also more prone to making grave mistakes, which can lead to fatal crashes. Once you reach your early 20s, the price starts to drop. The rates will then continue to decrease and will even bottom out around your 50s. Still, car insurance rates frequently increase again later in life.

While there is not much teens can do but to wait it out, some insurance companies will offer discounts if the teen is attached to their parent’s policy or if the parents have been longtime customers.

Your Other Insurance Policies

factors that affect your car insurance rate

Similar to internet providers, insurance companies love to bundle. If you have your homeowners or renters insurance, life insurance, or other property insurance with different companies, you could be missing out on some good deals. Shop around, but bundling policies is often going to be the best way to save on all of those policies.

Your Deductible

The lower the deductible, the higher the premium, and vice versa. If you are a relatively safe driver or don’t drive often, you can look at paying a higher deductible to help lower the premiums payments.

Your Marital Status

Should it matter if you’re married or not when it comes to your insurance rates? No, probably not. But insurance companies look at the numbers, and statistics show that married couples file fewer claims than their single, divorced, or widowed counterparts.

Since saving some money on car insurance is probably not the best reason to get married, you can look at adding another vehicle to your policy if you do have a significant other. You can also look at bundling your insurance with homeowners or renters insurance for a discount.

Your Credit Score

Poor credit reflects negatively to insurers. Luckily, in some states like California and Michigan, the use of credit information in determining auto insurance rates is either strictly limited or entirely prohibited. As you work to improve your credit, check with your insurer to see if rates can be adjusted.

The post 9 Things That Affect How Much You Pay for Car Insurance appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

A Guide in Picking The Best WordPress Host

According to Google’s Best Practices, a website should load in 3 seconds or less. Any longer, and visitors may click away from growing impatient. According to research, a 9-second increase in page load time increases mobile bounce rate by 123%. Now that we know that, it’s more important than ever to optimize your website.

This starts from the ground up when choosing your hosting provider. What’s more, it has never been more important than now to have a well-functioning website for your business. Here are a few ways you can give your website a boost in curb appeal.

The Types of WordPress Hosts

WordPress is the most popular open-source content management system available. With that comes many types of hosting.

Shared Hosting allows multiple websites to be stored and run on one server. This is done using the shared server resources, such as CPU and RAM. In contrast, Dedicated Server Hosting stores each site on its own server. In this type of hosting, site owners and administrators are able to control all aspects of their hosting.

With Cloud Hosting, resources are spread across multiple servers so that applications can use combined computing resources. However, the most complex form of WordPress hosting is Managed WordPress Hosting.

Managed WordPress Hosting is a concierge hosting service where all technical aspects of WordPress (speed, security, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, scalability) are managed by the host.

Technical aspects are so important because they speed up your website. As mentioned before, speeding up your website can improve your user experience. However, this isn’t the only benefit of a zippy landing page. High load speeds can increase your domain’s conversion rates, as well as improve its search ranking.

The Key Factors Contributing To Speed

site speed

External scripts are a primary influencer of reduced site speed. Removing ads, font leaders, and similar external scripts may help your site load faster. Furthermore, bad plugins – such as fragmented codes or expired plugins – can do a great amount of damage to the speed of your website. To prevent this, make sure your plugins are properly installed and optimized.

Also contributing to speed is how your WordPress website has been configured. For example, pages failing out to cache can go on to overload your servers. This may ultimately cause your website to run slow – or crash completely.

Similarly, page size can show effects on the speed of your website. Any busy, overcrowded pages – or pages with too many elements – are more prone to load slowly. As a precaution, remove any extra fat from your landing pages.

Finally, you’ll want to assess your web host itself. Generally speaking, shared hosting is optimal for allowing others to consume the resources your site needs.

Choosing The Right WordPress Host

As a rule of thumb, the key to a quick-loading WordPress website is to find the right host. To do so, you’ll first need to pinpoint the needs of your website. Every host will offer different features, so making a list of what your website needs will help you sort through the hay. However, there are a few basic features that every WordPress host should offer to keep your eye peeled out for.

For example, pre-installed WordPress software. This way, you can administrate your website regardless of the device. Additionally, automatic nightly backups are a common feature most WordPress hosts should offer, as well as automatic updates for WordPress. Other features to keep an eye out for are 24/7 security and tech support, expert support, and web services built specifically for websites hosted on WordPress.

In your search for a host, you’ll also want to compare the prices offered by each various provider, as well as take advantage of any free trial periods offered. This way, you can try the host out for a spin.

More commonly unbeknownst, but not to be confused with features, WordPress hosts typically offer many services. When you’re down your options, compare the subscription price in correspondence to the services the host is offering.

Examples of WordPress services include hardware and software setup and configuration, hardware maintenance and replacement, software patching (and updates), and technical support and monitoring. Services such as these can be helpful all around the board. In this day and age, it’s not only important to have an optimally running website, but also a secure one.

The Host of Your Choice

choosing the best wordpress hosting

At this point, you should have all you need to make a decision on a WordPress host. Once you’ve done so, as well as configured your plugins and themes, give your site a few speed tests. IsItWP, Pingdom, Google PageSpeed Insights, and Time To First Byte, to name a few, provide reliable results. Additionally, the quiz on WordPress Beginner can help you pick the best WordPress host.

Tip: Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to produce faster-loading images, and consider using AMP to optimize your mobile experience.

Websites are the new real estate. Has your site found a home?

Please include attribution to WPBeginner.com with this graphic.

How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting in 2020

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How to Set Up Your Digital Productivity Space – Top 10 Tips

When you work from home, it is important to set up your workstation properly to have the same convenient space that you would have at the office. But what about the digital space? This should be no less important to have your notifications under control, have regular breaks, and keep your documents organized in a way that does not require you to look for them for a long time.

That’s why we bring you 10 tips on how to organize your digital workspace, loaded with helpful productivity tools and suggestions that will serve you well even when this home-office era ends.

Keep your documents clean and organized

Do you have a system to organize your files in folders? If not, it is a good time to get one. Yes, no one wants to spend that much time moving files and inventing an organization system but when you finish, we believe that you will find everything in its place and that will help you to have all your thoughts in order as well.

If you can’t put aside time for that right now, here are some helpful habits for file management that you can apply right away:

  • Delete every file you receive as soon you don’t need it anymore.
  • Organize the files you create in folders right away, when you come back to the old file place it in the right folder as well. This will only take a second, but in a two-week period you will notice how systematic your order begins to run your documents.
  • Have an archive folder for old work. If you don’t like to delete the file right away, put in an archive folder, so that you can find it later.
  • Use numbers or symbols in the document names to keep important ones on the top.

When you do have some free time on your hands and want to dive into organizing, start by revising what you have (folders and documents) and archive everything you don’t need. Give your files and folders clear names.

Did you know that almost 42% of employees complain that they can’t find files quickly enough, due to incorrect naming? So, don’t be amongst them. You can also set your folders in an intuitive hierarchy to quickly find the path to the documents you need.

Unsubscribe from the documents in the cloud as you would from unwanted mail. If the document owner wants you to see this document again, they can re-send you the permission. Alternatively, when you work in the same office, share files with colleagues temporarily.

How’s that possible? Take a look at an innovative feature called ad-hoc introduced in the Collabio Spaces app. This technology allows to co-edit files, but keeps the original only on the owner’s device.

Dedicate certain time for document organization, if you do it regularly, for example on Monday morning or Friday evening, it will take you no more than 5 minutes!

Digitize everything

Now that you have a perfect system for digital document organization, why not add your paper documents to it? It can take a mind-blowing amount of time to find a paper document you need among others.

According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, employees spend 4.3 hours on average each week just searching for relevant papers and documents, which only adds to their stress. With this, it’s obvious that paper clutter is not as trivial as it seems.

Make sure you choose a right name for your documents when you scan them and you will never have to waste time going through piles of papers again. Many of us do not have a scanner at home but that is not a reason to stop digitizing your documents.

You can use mobile scanners that are so advanced and evolved by now. Moreover, you can even use text recognition, not just PDFs but text documents or specific fragments of them. See how OCR (optical character recognition) works in Scanner App, CamScanner or Collabio Spaces.

The good news is that with the invention of e-signature and digital signature, we will hardly have to print out paper documents anymore.

Back up your documents

digital workplace strategy tips

Have you ever been in a situation when your computer burns out and you hope to save all the data accumulated on it? Believe us, it is not pleasant, especially when a business is pending and your hard drive needs to be restored.

Modern technology is very powerful and quite reliable, but it still fails us regularly due to hardware or software issues, not mentioning the possibility of being hacked. It is a good idea to have a flash drive or an encrypted folder in a cloud or a company’s in-house server so that you can backup data regularly and make another useful habit of it.

Keep your digital desktop clean

Are you the type to have a minimalistic desktop space, clear of folders and documents?
Instead of saving every file to the desktop and having to stare at that mess, try to create shortcuts to your most used folders and refer to them once you need to find a document.
If you are the type to have all your go-to materials at sight, just make sure you delete or archive whatever you do not use anymore and make space for new files to come.

Technology helps you succeed in this! Some modern office suite apps completely manage your documents within itself, allowing better control over them and shedding you of that clutter on the desktop.

Don’t mix professional and personal files

Another good way to organize is by separating personal items from work. If you use the same device for your work and personal affairs, separate them properly. Make sure your shopping lists and family photos are in different folders from your work documents. Avoid any unpleasant surprises when you are presenting an assignment that instead of your highly professional presentation, it’s your photos from your vacation popping up.

Beyond creating different folders, your can use different software for your private life and your business life. For example, you open Mozilla Firefox only to take care of your domestic duties. When you have all your bookmarks, passwords and browser history exclusively there, it will make much easier to close one part of your life and concentrate on another when you need to make that switch.

Use gadgets only for your work!

By separating your personal and work gadgets, it will be even easier to “turn off” one part of your life and fully tend to another. If you use the same phone for both, try, for example, to use different messengers. It will become easier to manage notifications and stay focused.

If you’re afraid to miss an important call, while also being distracted by social media notifications, turn off the internet connection for a while and focus more on your job. By using off-line tools for collaboration, you can keep working together with your team.

The previously mentioned ad-hoc technology brings professional co-editing of documents to your phones as well. Now you can collaborate with your mates on the go, for example on the train, while you are traveling to meet a client.

Automate what you can and find shortcuts

Have you ever wondered why some of your colleagues are much more productive than others? Below we uncover some of their secrets:

  • Automate most parts of the job. Use tech tools to manage tasks and create alerts, for example, to send a follow up e-mail. Jira, Basecamp or Asana are the leaders in task tracking.
  • “Outsource” your work from the Internet. Do not try to reinvent a bicycle, you will only waste your time. Office suites provide helpful templates for different purposes, which can reduce the amount of work you’ll need to do dramatically. All major apps offering these are — Google Docs, Microsoft Office or Collabio Spaces.
  • Don’t ever do the same thing twice when it could have been done just once and copied infinitely. If you find yourself sending the same answer to different people, save its draft and just make adjustments.
  • Use technology to eliminate work. For example, you can use client management services to collect and keep clients’ contact information or use automated email marketing systems that send messages and collect statistics for you. Hubspot, Zoho, Salesforce or another CRM of your choice can help you to keep everything in one place.

Collaborate safely and conveniently

When it comes to collaboration, there are several aspects to consider. We already spoke about the confusion that can be created by sharing documents in cloud and how to deal with it, but there is more to know.

Stop putting documents you need to co-edit in mail attachments. It uses up space in your mailbox and then it occupies space on your computer when you save all the versions of the document. If you need to collaborate with someone, whom you can only reach online, put the document in cloud, in case you need more people to edit the same thing.

This way, you will not end up with multiple versions of the same thing. Also, use track changes, if your cloud editor allows it, so you will quickly know who made what changes and can ask them about it if necessary.

When you use cloud to collaborate, the whole team can only be as efficient as the strength of the internet connection of each member. Besides, when your upload your data to a commercial cloud, you have to trust the service to manage and protect it. That is why we recommend to consider other options as well.

For example, ad-hoc collaboration is conducted offline and you only need a hotspot to run it. Here is how it works: let’s say a team leader creates a document, for example, “Meeting Agenda”. He shares this document with the rest of the members so that everyone can make edits simultaneously. By the time the meeting is over, there will be just one version of it, saved to the team leader’s device.

Communicate fruitfully

Bad communication in the company can be a source of anxiety and may result in poor work conditions. Remote work can make it even harder to communicate with your colleagues. Thankfully, there are ways to overcome this difficulties:

  • Prefer video chats to phone calls and phone calls to text messages. Hearing the tone of the voice and seeing the face expressions will significantly decrease possibilities for miscommunication.
  • Use technology to transfer work processes you normally hold offline to an online space.
  • Presentation matters. Make sure you have your space in order, you’re presentable in your appearance, and there are no domestic noises to interrupt your video call.

Have a rest from your work!

digital workplace strategy tip

Finally, when your work digital space is sorted and functional, get some rest from it. It is good to set some regular alerts for breaks throughout the day, a regular 5-minute break to make a tea or meditate will go a long way. Make a ritual of having a cup of coffee with a friend or favorite colleague to chit-chat and talk about something besides business.

Try not to eat in front of your computer since it is not beneficial for your gut health. Lunch should be the time when you enjoy food and, preferably in the company of others. It’s definitely not that time when you spill soup on your keyboard.

If you can, make a habit of turning off notifications on your work phone after working hours and enjoy uninterrupted personal life. After all, we work to live, not the opposite!

Which of these recommendations did you find the most useful? Do you have tricks of your own that help you to organize and keep order of your digital space? Feel free to share in the comments below!

The post How to Set Up Your Digital Productivity Space – Top 10 Tips appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Diets & Modern Human: How Staying at Extremes of the Spectrum Ruins Lives

Why are modern humans obsessed with the idea of diets? Why is everybody having this undying desire to feel special? This obsession leads us to follow a diet or a certain health guru, convinced it would guarantee transformation of some sort. As such, we ignore our natural instincts and let an illusion of perfection corrupt our inherent self.

This fantasy, a chimera in your brain, affects both your reality and subconscious. The constant fear of eating the wrong food, anxiously checking labels, and always living on the edge – ask yourself, is this what you wanted out of your health journey?

A lot of young people with a quest to look a certain way, feel healthy, or even mask one of their many addictions, fall into the deep pothole of extreme diets and fad eating protocols. This appetite for health and attention is one of the biggest reasons why 70% of the youth is suffering from at least one form of an eating disorder or a mental health issue.

So, what awaits us at the end of this arduous pathway? Let’s dive deep:

The Fat Phobia

It was at the beginning of the early 1950s when commerce products were introduced to the consumers. And, one such product was the vegetable oil and margarine (hydrogenated fat), which marked the start of the “fall of the fats”.

Soon, people were fed with misleading information about the good fats, animal protein, and some cooked fats, such as butter and ghee. Even though companies had profit and health both in mind, this “shun fat” movement made people paranoid about their health.

They started taking their calories seriously, eating less fats, and dwindled between diets like a pendulum. It was a journey to find a diet that lets them incorporate no fats at all.

The Body Dysmorphia

body dysmorphia

Is the mirror in your room a foe? You may have borderline image dysmorphia. People are not aware of the fact that our brains are 48% cholesterol. There are numerous studies proving that lack of fats and cholesterol in the diet often leads to a condition called body image dysmorphia. An individual suffering from this condition has a distorted sense of existence and often projects their physical insecurities that do not even exist or are ideally not worth mentioning.

Physical attributes become an obsession and a person’s sanity may start to fall apart. For instance, a skinny girl might not feel highly of herself and strive to get even leaner, or an overweight individual thinks he is at a healthy weight. There are also instances when one obsesses over diets, diet plans, and fats in the food. Hence, this malfunction in the brain can warp reality that makes those who suffer from the condition struggle even more.

Disturbing Behavioral Patterns

Notice the youth. Do they seem strange? Ask about their daily calorie intake and the replies shall leave you baffled. The modern human is delusional, often reaching out for that illusion of perfect health. Switching from one diet to another, ridiculous fasting protocols, practices, such as keto, veganism, fruitarianism, and only-seeds diet have wreaked havoc on their bodies.

A study by Harvard University states that lack of certain nutrients like cholesterol causes fits of rage, extreme tattooing, anger issues, sexual abuse, drugs, and even depression. The biggest pharmaceutical weapon- the anti-cholesterol, is often regarded as the culprit behind these self-sabotage tendencies in elderly people or young adults on these medications.

Cognitive Distortion

Cognitive distortion impedes rational thinking and sabotages the doer mindset. A distorted sense of reality, unrealistic goal setting, and negative thought patterns are some of the visible symptoms. People with cognitive distortion find themselves trapped in their erroneous perception of reality.

Myelin, the intricate web of nerves coating the central nervous system, is a thick layer that protects the brain. Myelin needs fats and cholesterol to function properly. People who follow strict diets and focus on the exterior image lack dietary fats and HDL (good cholesterol) in their meals.

The prolonged absence of fats starves the myelin and this triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. Depression, anger issues, and irrational thinking start to unfold. For instance, observe long-term vegans and their speech issues.

Eating Disorders

eating disorders

The cataclysmic events, with their roots in one’s childhood, eventually results into some form of an eating disorder. Bulimia nervosa, anorexia, and behaviors to recoup the self-sabotage activities, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative overuse, social media, and sexual activities are the connotations that no one likes to talk about.

Past trauma and extreme diets are some of the detected prime culprits. Statistical data on bulimia nervosa shows that 1.7%-2.0% of adult women and 0.5-0.7% of men, globally, suffer from a lifetime eating disorder and visit rehabs to counter relapse. Moreover, the data also states that 17% of the recovered subjects are likely to relapse.

People who suffer from an eating disorder escape frontline diagnosis and are confused with people who are simply losing weight due to stress or some kind of workload. Psychotherapy and complete support from family members are some of the surefire ways to help the patients.

Amenorrhea & Body Hair Epidemic

As much as you would love to admit how social media created unusual gigs, it is equally disappointing to see that it glorifies absurdity as well. Some of the bizarre online activities that gradually became a trend are: fat acceptance (even if it kills you), body hair, acne acceptance, beauty DIYs, and loss of menstrual cycle. Yes, you read it right – loss of period.

A lot of influencers online take this as a normal biological process and regard it as a way to achieve greater consciousness. The medical journals diagnose this condition as amenorrhea. A condition, quite similar to anorexia, wherein the subject loses their period due to malnutrition, as well as malabsorption, and develop body hair. This condition reaches its severity when the individual is declared infertile or incapable to procreate.

There is a strange war between the obvious and some hoax, an altercation between the inner body signals and deep indoctrination. The modern human, unlike hominids in the paleolithic era who listened to their survival instincts, prefers listening to half-baked information.

The extreme diets, the severe health protocols, and all this for what? This is only to shed the skin we are supposed to be in and don something that is totally strange to our real self – both biologically and spiritually.

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8 Skin Care Tips for the Cold Weather

Seasonal changes, especially when transitioning from warmer to cooler months, can be a cause for skin worries. Decreasing temperatures mean a drop in humidity, taking much-needed moisture away from your skin. The cold weather can also leave your face looking duller, prone to cracking and flaking, and even cause acne flare-ups.

Minimizing time outdoors and staying hydrated are good habits to keep up, but they may not be enough to make a significant impact. Much like changing your clothes to suit the season, the best way to battle the cold and prevent dry skin is to make changes to your skincare routine. Here are some tips perfect for keeping your skin healthy in the cold weather.

Use a humidifier

Getting a humidifier can help return and retain the moisture in your skin. It’s recommended to set the humidity level between 45% and 55% to have a significant effect on your skin. Keep the humidifier in your room, office, or any space you spend a bulk of your time in. Luckily, there are different types and sizes of humidifier units that can best suit your space.

Avoid too much heat

While the weather may have you wanting to keep warm and toasty, exposing your skin to excessive heat can also be harmful. Things like turning up the thermostat and taking long hot showers may drive the chill away, but also drive what little moisture your skin has.

Resist the urge to use your heater excessively and opt to layer on clothes and blankets instead. It’s also recommended to limit your showers to 15 minutes or less with warm water rather than hot.

Moisturize well and often

take care of your skin in cold weather

Given that the cold weather can make your skin dry, investing in a good moisturizer is an absolute must. Ideally, your choice of moisturizer should contain ingredients like glycerin, which hydrates the skin, and ceramides, which provides hydration and creates a barrier to lock in the moisture.

When applying your moisturizer after a bath, make sure to pat your skin dry instead of rubbing. Your skin should still be slightly damp as you use the moisturizer on your face. A body moisturizer can address dry skin on other parts of your body exposed to the elements, like your hands.

Adding more moisturizing steps to your routine, such as masks and overnight creams, can help give your skin the boost of moisture it needs further.

Put on sunblock

This may sound counterintuitive during cold weather, especially if it’s cloudy and dark outside. While the sun may not be out, its harmful UV rays can still reach you, causing damage to your skin. On sunnier winter days, the snow can reflect the sun’s rays, increasing your UV exposure and putting your skin at risk.

Sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium oxide are very effective, as these ingredients create a layer that filters out the worst of the UV rays. Make sure to avoid sunscreens with comedogenic ingredients to prevent the chance of breakouts.

Lessen facial exfoliating

During colder months, take a step back from regular exfoliation in your skincare routine. With the weather drying out your skin, you won’t be doing it any favors by using facial scrubs or exfoliating toners. If you’re suffering from dehydrated skin, it’s better to cut it out of your routine entirely until the weather changes.

Go for gentler products

Given that your skin will be prone to drying and irritation in cold weather, you’ll need to switch to mild products. Choose cleansers and toners that don’t strip the natural moisture of your skin.

Astringents like alcohol can work against your efforts to keep the skin hydrated. It’s also advisable to use soaps made with natural oils in order to add another source of moisture for your skin.

Additionally, steer clear of skincare products that have synthetic fragrances and colors, which can aggravate any skin issues. It helps to keep in mind the difference between unscented and fragrance-free—the former makes use of a masking scent while the latter has no additional ingredients and feature the product’s natural smell.

Wear soft clothing

taking care of your skin in cold weather

You may be prioritizing warmth over comfort for your winter wardrobe, but common cold-weather fabrics can aggravate your skin, making it itchy and irritated on top of being dry. If you have to venture out into the cold, having abrasive fabrics like wool and polyester directly on your skin can cause further irritation, especially around the neck area.

Soft fabrics like cotton are a better choice for inner layers and undergarments. Heavier and warmer outerwear can be safely layered on top of these fabrics.

Make sure to keep your hands protected from the elements with gloves or mittens made from fabrics that aren’t abrasive on the skin. If needed, have cotton or silk glove liners handy to layer under wool or other similar fabric gloves.

Change out of wet clothes immediately

Wet clothes and shoes caused by treading through the snow can contribute to further skin irritation and itchiness. Additionally, going out into the cold with damp skin can cause it to get chapped more frequently. Make sure to remove wet clothing as soon as possible and avoid letting wet skin be exposed to the elements.

You can’t change the weather but you can change and adapt to it. By following these steps, your skin will thank you once you return to more fair-weathered months. Should you experience excessive dryness or irritation, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist for a more specialized solution.

The post 8 Skin Care Tips for the Cold Weather appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Google Search Engine Ranking Factors To Change Search In 2021: Core Web Vitals, E-A-T, or AMP?

By now, everyone must be aware that the most popular search engine available is Google. Even though there are different search engines such as Yahoo or Bing, Google stands on top. Moreover, not to forget, it is already stated that there exists over 200 Google ranking factors. But you see, every ranking factor is different.

That’s why you cannot use the same Search Engine Optimization methods or focus on only particular ranking factors. Since the Google algorithm is never static, so is the top ranking factors. One popular way to enhance the search result or enhance search engine optimization is through premium quality guest posting services.

An added benefit of guest post services is that you can do optimization as per the newest Google algorithms. You can also expand and improve your digital marketing services by getting more exposure, growth in networking, high opt-in rate, and building relationships.

Whatever or however the search optimization is, it’s a fact that those 200 ranking factors are not vague. They are used by Google to influence the rankings of organic search pages. Out of loads of ranking factors, the few important ones considered are related to Backlinks, Content, Speed, Keywords, Domain factors, Core Web Vitals, Website structure, and many more. But here, we will specifically talk about Core Web Vitals, E-A-T, and AMP.

Core Web Vitals

core web vitals
Via akshayranganath.github.io

To understand Core Web Vitals, first, you have to know about Web Vitals. In general, Web Vitals help guide quality signals on the web to provide the users with a great experience (Page Experience signals). Thus, Core Web Vitals are the subset of the Web Vitals.

Other general Web Vitals evaluate page experience through signals like safe browsing, HTTPS, mobile-friendliness, and intrusive interstitials. These are the traditional ranking signals. But the Core Web Vitals are evolving and now have three specific metrics for user interaction: loading, interactivity, and visual stability.

  • LCP/Largest Contentful Paint: It measures the loading performance of the webpage. LCP occurring within 2.5 seconds is considered as a good user experience.
  • FID/First Input Delay: It measures the interactivity of the webpage. Pages having an FID of not more than 100 milliseconds is considered a good user experience.
  • CLS/Cumulative Layout Shift: It measures the visual stability of the webpage. A page that has a CLS of not more than 0.1 is considered a good user experience.

Google has also set some specific guidelines of these metrics into Good, Needs Improvement, and Poor. Core Web Vitals are now going to be one of the top official ranking requirements. So, your webpage has to now reach the minimum threshold limit set by Core Web Vitals, since search engine rankings are one of the priorities for digital marketers.

E-A-T

google eat
Via blog.animonlive.com

E-A-T is the shorthand form of “Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness.” It is a set of quality standards set by Google to evaluate websites and review an individual. The evaluation is done offline, or to say, reviewed manually. E-A-T, each of them has a set of different criteria for evaluation.

  • Expertise: If you are to evaluate a guest post, here, the expertise will be to check the content-level related to the subject matter. And in the case of a website, it needs to have suitable credentials like recognition from an external party. To evaluate an individual, you can assess their relevant experience or degree in that field of work.
  • Authoritativeness: If you are to evaluate a website’s authority on a particular content, you can check the ratings and reviews given by the external sources and the rater. And in the case of an individual, you can assess the author’s number of citations, the content’s quality, and where they appear.
  • Trustworthiness: If you are in doubt and want to validate a website’s trustworthiness, you can simply have a look at the “About Us” page, the customer service information, or the site having a secure connection or not. And in the case of an individual, their authoritativeness will show their worthiness too.

It is safe to say that E-A-T is really effective in evaluating content related to Your Money or Your Life pages, which will be helpful for guest posting services. If you consider E-A-T as a ranking factor and wish to appear on top, then your attention should be specific toward the website’s content and its presentation.

According to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, websites that prioritize E-A-T should maintain a few guidelines like content quality, topical focus, brand strength, author’s name, and trust-building. E-A-T score can be improved by building more backlinks. In short, it might be crucial for guest posting services.

AMP

google accelerated mobile pages
Via digitalvidya.com

AMP is short for “Accelerated Mobile Pages.” Google described AMP as an open-source project designed to help the web publishers create optimized content that loads instantaneously on phones or any other device. It allows the user to access any page or website instantly on any device that is being used.

Google’s AMP product manager has stated that the duration of loading an AMP-coded content is just 0.7 seconds, and for a non-AMP page is 22 seconds. AMP HTML has also helped the site owners create light-weight web pages because AMP’s core is caching.

Nowadays, AMP has become a crucial part while forming a balanced marketing strategy because Google has been prioritizing AMPs in search results. In today’s competitive world, AMP is indirectly supporting the mobile users by enhancing the loading speed of the webpages in their search results.

But to be clear, it is not a search engine ranking factor. It is not designed to control the user’s data. Due to the fast load time of the page, the page views will also rise. There will be more ads too, which will result in a CTR increase.

The key advantage of AMP in the online marketing world or for digital marketing services is the speedier load time of the webpages. Thus, there may be a possible increase in the number of readers which may lead to higher rankings. Since Google has made AMP an open-source, developers get the opportunity to do additional developments too.

The post Google Search Engine Ranking Factors To Change Search In 2021: Core Web Vitals, E-A-T, or AMP? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Why TO-DO Lists Are Bad For Time Management And What To Do Instead

Being able to manage our time effectively is without a doubt one of the best “superpowers” we can possess. In fact, according to a recent study by IBM surveying over 2 million professionals, it was identified as the second most important skill to master in this new era of work.

Let’s be clear, time management is no easy task. However, I believe the main problem behind our poor relationship with it is our inability to look at it more holistically. We often consider it as a linear and isolated variable and, when in fact, there are at least two other factors profoundly impacting it the way we manage it: ourselves and unpredictability.

As we’ve all had the chance to experience directly, our mental and emotional states decide whether we’ll succeed in our best intentions or fall short in them. Moreover, while we’d love life events to be always straightforward, the reality is most times they’re not. As a result, what’s needed to develop greater time management is mental and emotional agility. Curious to know what the number 1 skill in the IBM study was? Adaptability to change!

THE PROBLEM WITH TO-DOs

why to do lists dont work

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to time management is believing a TO-DO list will do the trick for us. Nothing further from the truth! The problem with TO-DO lists is they are not time-bound as we are not assigning defined deadlines for each task: a rather poor approach considering time is the one element we are trying to master. No wonder studies show how bad we are at estimating how long it will take us to complete our tasks.

The second problem with TO-DO lists is they don’t tackle one of the most important aspects of time management: prioritisation.

Prioritisation is an art and while there is no one size fits all, it’s a necessary condition for greater productivity. It turns out, prioritising, according to science, is one of the hardest activities for our brain to perform. Therefore, having clear methodologies to help us make the most of our time is a great asset to own.

You might be familiar with the Eisenhower matrix where the idea is to categorise tasks by their level of urgency and importance in a two by two matrix. This is to identify and tackle the ones that score highest in urgency and importance. While this may be a useful approach, the problem is it doesn’t consider our mental and emotional relationship with those tasks, which inevitably impact our ability to be effective.

What to do INSTEAD

Despite the many great hacks out there, the most important aspect to cultivate for greater time management is self-awareness. Taking the time to understand when you are most energised in your day, knowing what comes easy to you vs what comes hard, and knowing what kind of work requires a different type of thinking are necessary conditions to operate efficiently as a professional.

Once you are clear on these aspects, applying different hacks and techniques to boost your productivity can indeed become fruitful. One useful framework to always keep in mind when thinking about time management is to view it as a combination of task-management with emotional and mental self-management.

Taking your TO DO list to the next level with 4 powerful tips

reasons why to do lists dont work

  1. Focus on time boxing. This means putting a deadline for each task as that forces you to be more accountable and accurate. While it might be tricky at first, over time, you will become much better at your predictions.
  2. Master time boxing. According to science, you can achieve the best results by using sprints: each task should not be longer than 60 to 90 minutes. This is because our brain energy is finite, and to keep sustainable productivity levels throughout our day, we must give our brain a break of about 5 to 10 min in between tasks so that it can regain its power and focus.
  3. Reimagine prioritisation. When doing this activity, make sure you are in the equation too. What does this mean? Consider your current energy levels and how inspiring or demanding your upcoming activities are. By taking this holistic approach, you’ll ensure not only to be more effective but also smarter in the way you tackle your day as you will have the motivation and energy needed to power through. No point in doing all the most important and urgent activities first if by midday you have no energy left to think straight!
  4. Reverse engineer your TO-DO. While knowing the things you need to achieve in your day is important, having a TO DON’T LIST is equally powerful. As we live in a world of constant distraction and temptation, listing out all the things you need to avoid what hinders your productivity and well-being can go a long way.

Time management is an ever-evolving process that goes hand in hand with your evolution and personal growth. Keep experimenting and have fun with it. You’ll learn things about yourself you never thought you would!

The post Why TO-DO Lists Are Bad For Time Management And What To Do Instead appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

8 Logical Reasons Why Failure is the Pillar of Success

We have all experienced failures, either big or small. They are life events that, admittedly, are not great experiences and can bring us a lot of negative thoughts.

When we fail at something, we generally have two choices to consider. Either we keep going to try succeeding in what we’ve failed at, or we quit and say goodbye to our goals and dreams.

Choosing the former means that failures won’t stop us and persisting is always a good choice. Why? Here are some logical reasons why failure is the pillar of success, something that’s even crucial if we want to achieve our goals in life.

Failure gives us lessons to succeed that other experiences can’t

As Bill Gates said, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” When we fail, we learn things such as what don’t work, possible mistakes, real risks, and others. We learn those that cannot be learned so clearly in other situations. This ability to see things more clearly is relevant for success.

Therefore, when failures happen, we should find the lessons that we can use as cautions in the future. They may become important notes to help us determine what next move to take.

Failure humbles us to think that nothing is easy to get

When we have the right mindset, we can acknowledge failures as signs that we must work harder. Nothing in life that is worth it comes easy and that is also true for the ultimate success that we’ve always dreamed of. Failures can remind us of that fact, making us more motivated to put in the effort.

Success, after all, is something that can only be achieved by working hard consistently.

Failure makes us fine-tune our work approach to perfection

reasons why failure is good for success

As failures help us realize our lapses, we will naturally learn what is right. It will force us to tweak the process and our approach of doing things in order to achieve progress.

Because of this, each point where we have failed should hone our work approach gradually. The new methods that will arise from our mistakes should be better compared to the initial ones we used when we were just starting.

Failure strengthens our mentality

A strong mentality is needed even after securing success. Many competitions and naysayers can knock us down if we don’t have the right mentality for maintaining our accomplishments. The journey that we take from the bottom to the position of success should prepare our mentality for that.

Each failure that we overcome during the journey rightfully strengthens our toughness. That should be a useful pillar for the mentality that we need to have when we achieve our goals.

Failure increases our appreciation of success

When we finally succeed after lots of failures on the way to the top, how do you think that feels? Immense satisfaction, right? Something that must be fought hard to get is much more valuable to us than the one that required less efforts.

The failures that we experienced on the road to success should make our achievements more valuable. This level of appreciation will also give us higher motivation to sustain our success or even improve it further to another level.

Failure sometimes creates valuable opportunities to succeed

Failures can also lead to other opportunities, which can be an important foundation for your success in the future.

To point out, let’s say that you are fired from your job. You may feel that you failed immensely because of this. However, this might also open the opportunity to start a business that you’ve always wanted. The time that you never had before is now at your disposal, allowing you to explore other possibilities.

When you fail, try to see it positively and carefully look at the opportunities that might be opened. They might become essential factors for you to succeed in the future.

Failure tests our resolve whether our goals are the right success for us or not

reasons failure is good for success

Do you have a strong resolve to something that you say you want to achieve? When your goals aren’t that meaningful, failures might be your wake-up call telling you that you’re supposed to do something else. It can also be the moment when you have to compare the efforts needed with the things you will get if you succeed.

If these goals are meaningful enough for you, then you should keep on pursuing them. If not, then you might want to think about your goals again and re-evaluate your definition of success. Hence, failures can also help you discover what your true aim in life is.

Failure is something that most successful people have experienced

It is always good to benchmark with those who have already made it before us. When we look at the success stories of successful people, most of them have experienced failures on their way to the top. Big or small, those experiences are important parts of the success that they now enjoy.

Do you want to succeed, too? Then there is little to suggest that you won’t go through struggles and setbacks like those before you have experienced.

The Takeaway

Failures make successful people who they are. They become the contributing factors that direct them to the top. Acknowledging this should make you believe more that failure is a crucial part of success. After all, this has been tested by those who have experienced success before us.

So, what do you think about the notion that failure is the pillar of success? Have you thought that, somehow, success is more attainable with lessons gained from failures?

Don’t let failures stop you in achieving the things that give your life joy, pride, and meaning. Instead, make them an essential part of your progress.

The post 8 Logical Reasons Why Failure is the Pillar of Success appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Why You Need To Grieve The Old Normal

There is no denying that things have changed a great deal lately, and most will agree it’s not been for the better. Regardless of your opinion about the whys behind the changes, we’ve all been thrust into what’s being called a “new normal.”

The unspoken consensus is that we need to carry on, keep moving forward, and try to stay as positive as possible. And, yes, we really do, but it’s also not that simple.

The many changes 2020 has brought about mean that most of us have had to make some abrupt alterations to the way we do things. Whether it’s school, work, worship, socializing, or shopping, almost nothing is the same.

Changing suddenly to a new way of doing things on such a large scale comes with some pain and not acknowledging that pain can lead to bigger problems down the road. So, in addition to maintaining a chin-up attitude, there are some very good reasons to grieve the old normal.

Your Feelings Are Valid – No Matter What Your Situation

feeling sad at the new normal

No matter what your circumstances are, it probably feels like your world’s been turned upside down. Nothing feels secure anymore and it may seem like everything you could count on before is now gone.

So, the routines, process, and people that used to provide a stable framework for everyday life are now scrambled – and it probably feels bad, uncomfortable, wrong, and you feel powerless to change it.

But you’re okay, right? You look around and know that there are others who have it so much worse. So, what business do you have feeling sad and complaining about the way things are? You’re making it work.

The problem with that thinking, however, is that feeling guilty about feeling sad, frustrated, and scared, and ignoring those feelings doesn’t help things. No matter how well you are coping, it’s alright to feel upset and even angry.

And you need to acknowledge these feelings in order to get through them and on to a healthy place in this new environment. Of course, being angry and moping around complaining won’t change the state of things, but these feelings also won’t go away on their own.

Bottling Up Emotions Does Not Eliminate Them

If you don’t face them, share them, and give them their moment to be expressed, they will fester and eventually bubble up to the surface in a more destructive way. This is especially true when it comes to our children and teaching them to handle their emotions.

In an effort to make things less scary and difficult for kids, adults often set a poor example when it comes to handling uncomfortable feelings. We smile, tell the kids it’s all fine, that they need to stay positive, and many other well-intentioned platitudes.

What we don’t do very well is help them face their own feelings of sadness and let them grieve for the old normal. School, friends, sports, and all of the routines that made them feel safe and helped them define themselves and understand their place in their own world are now gone (or at least wildly different).

Kids need to be able to talk about how they feel and know that their feelings are normal, that they’re okay to have, and then be taught (and shown) how to cope with them. A skill that many adults still struggle with themselves.

Consequences – Further On

The repercussions of not acknowledging negative feelings can be even harder to deal with. Anxiety and depression are on the rise right now for many reasons and pretending that you’re okay and everything is fine is partially to blame. Things aren’t normal – it’s okay to say it.

Think about it like losing a loved one. Saying you shouldn’t be sad because they’re in a better place doesn’t make the sadness go away. It just makes you feel like you need to hide it and suffer alone. Neither adults nor children should feel like that.

So, take the time to let yourself feel all of those things. They’re normal, understandable, and we are all feeling them. It doesn’t matter if you’re making it work and getting through things – let’s just say it – it still sucks.

I Admit It – I’m Sad. Now What?

the new normal

Now it’s time to focus on the good parts of what’s new in your world. Yes, if you’re making a list of bad versus good, the bad column is going to be a long one. That just means you have to look a bit harder to fill in the good one.

Your feelings of grief don’t change the reality of what we are all going through right now, so once you’ve acknowledged them you can’t allow them to become the only thing you feel. You can’t force them away either, but you can start to replace them by finding the positives. And you can also manage them by taking care of and being honest with yourself.

New routines come with new comforts. They may be hard to find at first, but they are there. Maybe it’s the pleasure of working in sweatpants, or an afternoon cup of tea or nap. I heard from one woman that her teenage daughter has now discovered the fun of talking on the phone – talking, not texting.

Finding The Silver Lining

Normal right now is a moving target, and there are likely to be several versions of it before we all feel connected to a secure and comfortable new routine. When and, if, we go back to some form of the “old normal”, there will be things we will miss about our current circumstances, too.

We may not grieve in the same way – political strife and pandemics won’t be missed – but we might look back and think it was good to have slowed down a bit, spent time with the family more, and to have found a little appreciation for being forced into reprioritizing and taking a new look at the old way of doing things.

The post Why You Need To Grieve The Old Normal appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Two Newcomers to the Milk Game: Flax and Pea Milk

There seem to be as many types of milk as there are letters in the alphabet these days, and two of the newer kinds are flax milk and pea milk. We’ll go over the pros and cons of each.

Flax Milk

flax milk

According to Jenna Gorham, a registered dietitian, flax milk can be slightly sweet and thicker than other milk alternatives. It can come unsweetened and in different flavors.

Flax milk contains less protein than cow’s milk but it has more fiber. Most of the fat in flax milk is unsaturated, healthy fats.

In addition, flax milk is safe for everyone to drink (unless you’re allergic to flax seeds, of course).

Flax milk also contains just 50 calories, unlike whole milk which contains 150 calories. Flax milk has less sugar, too, but that’s usually added, so unsweetened flax milk is better. Flax milk can also contain more calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin A than whole milk but might also contain more ingredients than whole milk like natural flavors, sea salt, gum, and more.

And, you don’t need to own a cow to make any of your own at home. You can make flax milk at home with flax seeds or flax oil and water. Allrecipes says you just blend flax seeds and water together a couple times, pour the mix through a nut bag or lined strainer, and then store it in the fridge.

By drinking homemade flax milk, you can get those beneficial nutrients like magnesium, fiber, and healthful fats without the additives.

One Green Planet author Caroline Lennon claims flax milk is also healthier for your heart because it doesn’t contain any cholesterol or lactose. Really, the only downside is the lack of fiber and maybe the taste, depending on your preferences.

Flax milk is high in omega-3 fatty acids, according to Food and Health. A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids could cause rough, scaly skin, and dermatitis. Omega-3s could be involved in cardiovascular health, infant health, neurodevelopment, cancer prevention, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cognitive function, age-related macular degeneration, dry eye disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and others.

The Nutrition Source provides that omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fats, for they play an important role in cell membranes and their function, as well as other bodily processes.

Pea Milk

pea milk

Pea milk certainly is one type of milk I’ve never heard of. And I have to be honest, I strongly dislike peas, so this does not sound appealing in the least. And no, I’m not five. I just really don’t like peas, the green kind (the black-eyed peas I’m okay with).

However, apparently pea milk doesn’t taste like peas. At least that’s what The Washington Post says. Reporter Maura Judkis says pea milk is better for the environment and more nutritious than other alternative milks.

Pea milk is also made differently than other plant milks. Peas are made into a flour that is processed to remove the pea protein. This is then blended with water and other ingredients.

As for its nutritional content, pea milk has less than 100 calories, 8 grams of protein, a high amount of calcium, and good amounts of vitamin D, protein, iron, and vitamin A. This can vary depending on the kind and brand.

According to Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, “peas are one of the best sources of plant-based protein you can eat.” She also claims that regularly consuming such protein can help regulate appetite and promote weight loss. Not to mention, pea protein contains branched-chain amino acids that encourage muscle growth and maintain blood sugar.

Kubala says pea milk is also creamier and richer than other plant-based milks. The best part? It’s dairy-free and hypoallergenic! Plus, unsweetened versions are low in calories and carbs and contain zero sugar.

Takeaways

If you’re up for trying something new, try dabbling in different milks, particularly the newer flax and pea milk. They each come with their own benefits and you might find you like their unique tastes and textures. While flax milk provides some extra fiber, healthy fats, and other minerals to your diet, pea milk can help both you and the environment by being an excellent source of protein and other nutrients.

The post Two Newcomers to the Milk Game: Flax and Pea Milk appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

10 Thing To Consider While Designing A Live Chatbot

The current business world is extremely contentious. Now, meeting your clients’ expectations is not enough. You need to exceed them to stand out in the crowd.

If your customers are surfing the web at 4 A.M. in the morning with a fiery issue regarding your company, they await you to respond to it.

Usual working hours don’t matter a lot in the online world. What matters a lot is the way you handle the queries of your clients regarding your business.

If you can’t provide the customer with the solutions they are looking for, someone else will!

However, before hiring staff to work in the graveyard shift, there is a simple and effective solution – Chatbots.

Designing a chatbot is like whipping coffee; it always requires the exact ingredients to prepare it, but slight variations to the method can change the entire outcome.

However, a recent study has revealed that 60% of participants state that bots are disappointing when it comes to solving their concerns, and that they prefer human support over bot to solve their queries. The concerns are genuine but, possibly, this judgment can be corrected.

We will show you a few things you need to consider while designing a chatbot for your organization, which can satisfy the needs of your business and clients.

Identify your bot’s goal

It’s very crucial to determine the ultimate goals of your chatbot before starting its designing process. And if you are not sure about your bot’s purpose, then you need to rethink if you actually need one.

Here are a few reasons to choose chatbots for your business:

  1. They save your time and effort, as well as human resources for qualitative jobs
  2. Automate your client support process for related inquiries
  3. Enhance your brand value with minimum effort
  4. Affordable development cost
  5. Better user interaction
  6. Easy to use

First, set the goals of your chatbot. Is it for generating leads for your logo design company? Possibly for scheduling appointments? Responding to commonly asked questions? There is no limit!

The more specific the goal, the clearer it will be to both design your bot and analyze its progress. Users are preferring your bot for only one purpose – to get a solution for their problems. Set your goals around the queries of your users, so it becomes easy for you to handle their needs.

Choose between a rule-based and NLP platform

After establishing the goals of your chatbot, it’s time to decide how to design your bot. Most of the chatbot platforms mark their bots with AI tags, regardless if they actually apply clever self-learning algorithms or just cling to normal IF-THEN metrics.

So, you will have two options while choosing a designing platform for your chatbots – “NLP” and “rule-based”. These define how adaptable and smart your chatbot works within a discussion.

A rule-based bot responds according to specified decision trees. Similar to a flowchart, discussions are planned out to predict what a client might request and how the bot should answer.

For example, if a customer input includes words like ‘shop’ or ‘buy’, then send them a message with a list of products.

NLP bots or Natural Language Processing bots are capable of assuming the context even when problems are more complicated. Moreover, their capability to learn from their mistakes help them to develop greater efficiency.

Presently, rule-based bots are a cheaper, quicker, and more efficient option. Furthermore, transparency regarding their function range encourages users to engage efficiently.

Understand your customers and their input

developing a chatbot

While designing a bot, it’s really important to keep your customers in mind. What type of technical skills do they hold? Do they have time to use self-help? What kind of conversation do they prefer?

Do they want to keep it sober or casual? User choices are one face of a coin. The other face is the real user input and facts. What type of information do you need to provide in chatbot conversation?

Will users need to type the query or just select from the available options? If they need to type the query, then which language do they use?

It’s completely up to you how you want your user to interact with bot. According to a survey conducted, people want to see a company’s logo as a bot icon. Now coming back to basics, your logo should be attractive so it can connect with users. AI-powered tools such as Designhill can generate a user-friendly logo within fraction of minutes.

Identify the limitations and drawbacks of your platform

After deciding the preferred platform for your bot, you need to figure out the drawbacks and limitations of your platform.

Most of the rule-based platforms are based on multiple choice, without the opportunity to write unique answers.

You can guide the conversation in a particular direction through this platform, but you can’t compose proper answers to problems that may be asked during the conversation.

Moreover, a few platforms require input questions and their responses in a coded form, which needs knowledge and interest in coding to enjoy using them.

So, it’s better to select a thoroughly-tested platform as it has come along with comprehensive documentation on facilities and tools.

Furthermore, you can join various online communities and forums to know more about your platform. These platforms will help you in troubleshooting your issues effectively and quickly.

Set the tone and personality

Your bot represents your organization and it’s usually the first one that interacts with your clients. Consequently, it’s essential to set the tone of communication that matches your brand value.

You can treat your bot as your digital employee and even enhance your brand image by providing it a friendly persona.

A recent study has revealed that users favor bots with human traits. A personalized and friendly answer by the bot can make your users’ chatting experience more positive.

Siri by Apple is one of the best examples of a humorous chatbot. It’s a sweet and friendly character initiated by the organization.

However, don’t impose humor unnecessarily to audiences that don’t want those features. A simplistic, helpful, and friendly bot is the best option for several brands.

Maintain a simple conversation flow

Bots can be used to perform repetitive tasks where a simple and specified flow has been established. If you are trying to design a self-learn or self-aware chatbot, then you are destined to fail as such advanced technology has not yet arrived.

So, it’s important to include very specific topics that relate to the goals you have established for your chatbot. The more complex and branched out the discussion is, the greater the risk that it will become grouchy.

Apply prompts

If a bot usually asks indefinite questions like “what do you want to search?”, such type of conversation can turn into a guessing game.

The customer will get confused in deciding what a bot can do, and the bot will also get confused in presuming what the user expected.

However, using prompts on your website can help showcase the abilities of your bot. You can set a clickable menu or present recommended solutions, so there will be no confusion or doubt.

Furthermore, the clickable menus or elements will save time, as well as the efforts of the users.

Allow an easy shift from chatbot to human assistance

develop a chatbot

A bot can’t handle every possible question, particularly when it comes to criticisms or unusual cases. That’s when a human assistant comes into the picture.

A frustrated user prefers human assistance to resolve the issue. So, while designing your bot, make it simple so it can switch from chatbot to human assistant.

The most sensible alternative is to combine the chatbot platform with your live chat platform to make conversation handovers quick, easy, and simple.

Perform quality checks at the early stage

No matter how hard you try, there are a lot of things that are impossible to predict during the planning or designing phase.

If you start testing in the early phase, you will notice the places where the chatbot is lacking, even before the launch of the bot.

Furthermore, you will need a Live testing feature to perform this test. You can test every conversation or story created in the chatbot internally before its launch.

You need to ensure that it works as expected before users can use it for queries.

Maintain a balance among reactive and proactive

Chatbots can work as smart promoters for your brand. They can encourage users to begin a conversation regarding promotions and deals.

For example, after a user stayed on a webpage for more than 30 seconds, a bot can proactively prompt a message for a user stating – “Hey, just want you to know that today we are offering free shipping to the users on every order. Want a promo code?”

Or, you can share special deals with them. For example, a bot can prompt “Hey, we have designer sarees on sale? Click here to see.”

However, if you are planning to apply a proactive approach, it’s ideal to place the pop up in an unobtrusive place. According to research, the bottom right corner is the best place for it.

Furthermore, a human brain browses a page from top left to bottom right. So, it’s a good chance to showcase your products and services after your user has approved your chatbot’s assistant.

Looks Salesy and Clingy, Right?

That’s why it’s important to maintain a balance between replying to a user’s requirements and providing a complete service experience.

For example, if a bot is helping a user to find a new study table, but then the bot starts promoting fancy furniture, then obviously a user gets frustrated. The products are relevant, but not helpful for users. As mentioned, there needs to be a balance to avoid this.

The post 10 Thing To Consider While Designing A Live Chatbot appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How Legendary Companies Fix Failed Payments

Most business owners know how much profit they’re raking in at the top of the funnel, but how many are aware of how much failed payments are holding them back?

The Cost of Failed Payments

Every year in America, customer churn costs businesses $136 billion. On top of that, 47% of companies lose auto-renewals due to changes in payment data. However, auto-renewals can be lost many other ways.

Customer churn is considered any instance in which customers, or subscribers, cease relations with a business or service. With that, reasons for cession may either be voluntary or involuntary.

Any instance in which a consumer, or subscriber, makes an intentional effort to leave a service is known as voluntary churn. On the other hand, involuntary churn refers to consumers who unintentionally leave a business or service.

What Causes Involuntary Churn?

failed payment

Most commonly, involuntary churn is caused by payment failure. In fact, payment failure is the #1 cause of involuntary churn.

That brings us to ask: what causes payments to fail? Most commonly, insufficient funds. 53% of failed payments link back to the consumer not having enough funds. However, not having enough money isn’t the only reason a payment may fail.

Submitting a payment with outdated card information (i.e. expiration date, zip code) can cause a payment to fail. This can easily happen with automatically renewing subscriptions. 35% of subscriptions automatically renew, but credit card changes account for 40% of payment failures.

However, payments may still fail for other reasons. For example, systemic errors. If a merchant’s system is down, it’s unlikely a transaction will succeed. Banks with autonomous firewalls can also cause any attempts over the customer’s daily limit to be blocked. Statistically, credit card limits account for 42% of payment failures.

Does Auto-New Increase Risk of Failed Payments?

From a business outlook, failed payments raise expenses.

For instance, 48% of businesses state that chargeback rates reduce their forecasted revenue. Comparably, there’s also an increased customer service contacts when payments don’t go through. Hence, it only makes it more expensive to retain customers, according to 43% of businesses.

Moreover, 35% of available subscriptions can be auto-renewed, and renewals constitute 62% of subscription-based revenue. Still, auto-renewals contribute to higher instances of failed payments. What’s more, 47% of businesses end up losing auto-renewals because of changes in payment information. What can businesses do to decrease this kind of involuntary churn?

Is Improving Customer Retention Effective in Reducing Involuntary Churn?

failed payment recovery customer service

65% of a company’s business comes from their existing customers, and 32% of people will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience.

Furthermore, 66% of consumers want companies to show they value their time, and 69% prefer shopping with merchants who offer consistent customer service. Still, only 15% of customers respond to emails seeking updated payment information.

With this information, businesses should work toward building trust while finding unique solutions to outstanding payments. These solutions, of course, will be contingent on each individual business’ weak areas.

Here are some facts to consider along the way:

  • Poor customer service experiences discourage manual renewal after a failed payment.
  • How do clients rate your brand’s customer service?
  • Many customers may only learn their payment has failed when their service stops.
  • How does your company contact customers regarding urgent account matters? If your typical approach is email, consider alternatives such as SMS or phone calls.
  • Creating on-platform software that can audibly or digitally interrupt clients concerning their subscription status may also improve communication.
  • Payment declines and fees create customer frustration.
  • Remember, the customer is always right. What tactics do your call representatives use to make administrative experience stress-free on the client?

Paying Attention To Failed Payments

Reducing card declines has proven potential to bring payment failure rates as low as 0.5%, which can produce a 70% reduction in involuntary churn. Knowing this, businesses using automated card updates, intelligent retry logic, and human personalization to dilute involuntary churn rates may find more financial relief than those who do not.

Research has also found it costs 6 times more to attract new customers than to keep existing ones. As a result, businesses actively working to reduce their involuntary churn rates will likely see more success than those strategizing methods to draw in replacement clients.

Every year, 34% of customer churn costs are due to involuntary churn and failed payments. By improving consumer retention, brands can save money on marketing expenses, increase profits, and improve their quality of service. What software to prevent failed payments are you using?

How Legendary Companies Make Money
Source: GravySolutions.io

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