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.

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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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How to Keep Motivation High in the Era of Office Shutdowns

As people are preparing for their third month of work-from-home, the office is beginning to seem like a more attractive place. Struggling to balance work with the other priorities like the virtual education of children, staying healthy, and other personal commitments has left many employees feeling burnt out and drained.

Few thought it would come to this, but a growing number of people are missing their physical place of work. The office, a subject of countless TV shows, movies, and other media depicting it as a mundane necessity in modern life, is increasingly missed by workers. The disconnect between colleagues, the lack of a clear boundary between work and home, and the feeling of isolation are challenging individual motivation and team spirit.

For those who are experienced in remote work, these aren’t necessarily new difficulties. However, in the novel reality brought on by the pandemic, the challenges of remote work are amplified. So what can be done to raise motivation levels and team spirit in these days of the home office? Read on to find out.

Eliminate the technical glitches

As a first priority, it’s important to eliminate the challenges that are in your direct control, namely your technical set up. Whether it’s your internet crashing, being forced to use an inconvenient teamwork app, or issues with hardware, technical issues can make an already challenging situation all the more difficult.

Investing time, and potentially money, in making sure that you have the right set up will save you countless future frustrations. This could mean a number of fixes and improvements to your remote office, including:

While you may be telling yourself that you can just push through technical difficulties for a couple more weeks until your office reopens, that quick return might not be in the cards. It’s difficult to tell what will happen in the coming months. However, it’s best to be prepared for an extended shutdown or even a second shutdown at some point in the future.

Connect with your team

stay motivated while working from home

Months ago you may not have looked at your office relationships in the same way you do now. Before the shutdown, many people dreaded going to the office and having the same boilerplate conversations. Many of these same people are now craving any type of social interaction.

The desire to connect with colleagues isn’t a surprise. In fact, there’s a strong link between having friendships at work and the level of employee engagement. So recreating social interactions while working remotely is crucial.

Working remotely doesn’t mean that you can’t create opportunities to catch up and spend time with colleagues. Many businesses are turning to virtual happy hours in order to create space for social interactions.

One good practice is to schedule a recurring happy hour a couple times a week at the end of the work day. Each team member can take a turn leading the team in an activity – cooking, exercise, drawing, or anything else that comes to mind. In this way you’ll be able to spend time together doing something outside of the normal work routine.

Set clear boundaries

One of the most challenging things about the remote home office is the lack of clear boundaries between your work and your personal life. Whereas, previously, you needed to get in your car or hop on public transport to travel to a completely separate work environment, now you’re living in it.

This can easily lead to overdoing it- rolling out of bed and jumping on the computer to start work. Then working throughout your waking hours without a clear endpoint. This situation can easily demotivate you and lead to a feeling of burnout.

In order to maintain the right balance, it’s important to set clear boundaries. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should be available 24/7. Try the following approaches in order to clearly divide your personal life from your work:

  • Share your working times with your colleagues, and ask that they do the same with you. In this way, you’ll hold each other accountable.
  • Start your day as you would if you were going to the office. Wake up, stretch, exercise, read the news, have breakfast, or whatever other routine you’d normally have.
  • Get dressed for work, and change clothes for your downtime. It may not seem like much, but these small external changes can set the right tone for your day.
  • Don’t try to work 8 hours straight and take breaks when necessary. In the office you’d likely have normal interruptions in your day – chatting with a colleague, going out for lunch, buying a coffee, etc. Try to replicate some of these by setting standard break times.
  • If possible, separate your working space from the space you normally spend your time. In this way, you’ll be able to more easily transition from work to downtime.

Creating the right balance takes some trial and error, so give yourself time to experiment.

Take care of your health

working from home motivation

It’s no news for anyone that mental health and physical health are directly related. Despite this fact, many people are still deprioritizing their physical well-being. This is particularly easy to do during the present crisis when social distancing measures have you locked up at home.

Taking care of your health through proper diet and exercise is more important than ever. While you may have had some physical activity each day in your daily routine (for example, walking to the office), working from home eliminates much of this.

Be realistic and try to create a routine that you’ll enjoy and follow. When it comes to healthy living, you’re more likely to fail if you set goals that are too ambitious. Start off with something small, like a daily walk and one more piece of fruit a day, and build from there.

Building healthy habits is difficult to do on your own. Try to form a workplace support group with your colleagues. In this way, you’ll be able to motivate each other and create a feeling of accountability.

Final thoughts

As with any larger transition, the current switch to remote work has left many people feeling lost. At a time when so many things are out of our control, it’s important to take proactive action where we can.

By taking steps to create a comfortable remote work set up, connect with your colleagues, set clear boundaries, and maintain your health, you’ll be well on your way to transitioning from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving.’

The post How to Keep Motivation High in the Era of Office Shutdowns appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

6 Tips to Stay Sane During Quarantine

An unprecedented global health crisis has forced many countries to implement quarantine and lockdown protocols to contain its spread. Because of this, people are left to stay at home for longer periods of time than they could ever imagine.

Being stuck inside your home doing the same things every day, staring at the same wall day in and day out, can be suffocating. The threat of the virus outside makes you feel anxious and terrified, but the new normal is also causing you immense boredom.

That’s okay, and it’s understandable. Know that feeling bored is a luxury in this trying time. Being bored at home means you’re safe. It’s the best thing you can hope for when millions of people are being affected by the virus outside.

Now, what you can do to curb this boredom, and all the other pressures you feel while isolated at home, is to adapt. Find useful things to make yourself productive, boost your mental health, and help you stay sane, such as the ones below.

Break a sweat

It’s important to remain physically active for metabolic purposes and better mental health. If you used to go to the gym before the virus swept your country, this shouldn’t be a reason for you to stop working on your physique—you can still work out at home.

You can check YouTube for different at-home workout exercises. You can find workouts that don’t require equipment, low impact for beginners, and various activities (e.g., HIIT, barre, yoga, etc.) you can choose from. Alternatively, you can try fitness apps. Staying active not only helps you keep up with your fitness, but it also makes you feel better.

Find a new hobby or expand your interests

to stay sane during quarantine

If your hobbies involve going outside, you might want to check out other pursuits you could do at home. Below are some ideas you can try and see if you’ll get hooked yourself:

  • Coffee home brewing
  • Gardening
  • Sewing
  • Painting
  • Embroidery
  • Repurposing or revamping furniture pieces

On the other hand, you can also expand your interests and skills. Since you have more time to kill at home, you can consider learning a new language, exercising your cooking skills, and upskilling or cross-skilling for your career growth.

Pick up some books

One of the best ways to ease your mind and focus on your time with yourself is by reading. If you still have a few untouched books lying around the house, it’s the perfect time to dust them off and start reading. On the other hand, you can ask your friends or family to hand you a couple of books to read at home.

You can make reading a part of your routine by allotting a couple of hours daily for it. If you want to talk about the books you’ve read, join online book clubs. If there’s none you find interesting, you can always start your own!

Stick to your routine as close as possible

staying sane during quarantine

To help you get a sense of normalcy, try to keep and do your routine pre-pandemic days. Staying at home doing nothing can make you feel lethargic. If you now work from home, get up at the same time pre-quarantine, and take time to get ready for work. If you used to grab some coffee before heading to the office, brew your own cup at home.

Clean up your space

Clutter and unnecessary knick-knacks often cause stress; you just don’t realize it. Keeping things tidy is especially important for your workspace, as it helps boost your productivity and lets you focus better. The last thing you need during this time is more stress at home. Make sure to declutter and keep your place neat as much as possible.

Reframe your mindset

Instead of thinking, “I am stuck at home,” shift your mindset and think about how much time you now have for yourself: “I can finally focus on myself.” Doing something you’ve always wanted to try (e.g., starting a podcast) or you’ve always needed to do but never had the time (e.g., decluttering your wardrobe) during this time can be productive.

This can also lead to shaping a more positive attitude and outlook for the future.

Wrapping it up

Until the world manages to fight the virus and reach a point where it’s safe to gradually go back to normal, the best you can do is make the most of your time at home. Hopefully, the tips above can help you start to organize your day-to-day for the better and inspire you to discover more about yourself.

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11 Tips For Truly Memorable And Unforgettable Gifts

How do you give someone an unforgettable gift? We all have that one person on our list who seems impossible to buy for, but you want to give them something memorable and hopefully even useful. Many people think this is easier said than done, but there are actually several things you can do to make your gift really count. We’ll outline several ways that you can try at your next gift-giving event.

Connect to Hobbies

memorable gifts

Connect your next gift to the recipient’s hobbies. If they love their job and going to work, get a gift related to their job.

Maybe they’re a classic film buff, hunting enthusiast, season-pass holder for local games, or they love to crochet. Find a funny t-shirt, a glossy coffee book related to their line of work, or an accessory they can use with their hobby. They’ll think if you every time they pull it out.

Evoke a Fond Memory

Bring back a fun shared memory with your gift recipient. If it’s for your significant other, it could be something more high-end, like a trip back to a special place you stayed when your relationship was new. For long-time friends, maybe it’s a shared guilty pleasure from when you were younger, like a favorite food, restaurant, dessert, trip, or movie theater. You could even get a group of friends in on it if they shared in the experience.

Customize It

There are dozens of things you can customize via embroidery, engraving, or embossing. You can customize aprons, bibles, whiskey barrels, shirts, bookmarks and even bottle openers. You can even get a nice photo of your giftee and have it printed onto your present just like these crystal sets from ArtPix3D.

Just make sure that whatever you decide on fits the recipient’s personality or interests so that if they’re the type of things to be used, they will be used frequently. And, if they’re the ornamental type, then your gift would be proudly displayed prominently in the den or living room and become a conversation piece for visiting friends and family.

Gift Experiences

memorable and unforgettable gifts

A traditional gift is one thing, but gifting someone an experience is a great way to form a solid connection. It also gives you something to remember and talk about for years to come. Maybe it’s concert tickets to a favorite band, a reservation at a hard-to-book restaurant, or a zoo pass for a year. Think about what your recipient likes and find an experience to match. This is even better if you don’t know the person super well because there is a good chance that they’ll be satisfied with whatever you give them.

Donate to a Cause They Support in Their Name

Did you know that giving gifts to a charity in your friend’s name has links to happiness? You could wait and gift in your friend or family member’s name around the holidays to someone in need. If they have a charity they support, make a donation, and put your friend’s name on it. Many times, the charities will send a short thank you note that you can give to your gift recipient.

Put Together a Gift Basket

Putting together a well-thought-out gift basket is a hybrid of giving a traditional gift and an experience. You want to create a collection of things the person likes to give them an experience. Say you have a music enthusiast in your life. Instead of going with a CD or vinyl as many traditionally would, go digital. Get a basket and some wine glasses. Add their favorite bottle of wine, earbuds, a Symphony chocolate bar, and other fun items like a soft throw blanket or scented candles. You could also toss in a Spotify or iTunes gift card.

DIY It

diy gifts

Food items count as DIY gifts. Everyone loves getting festive baked items, a mouth-watering dessert, or a home-cooked meal. There are literally millions of tutorials on YouTube and around the internet for DIY wall decor, t-shirts, coasters, candles, bath bombs, lotions, scrubs, beard oil, succulent planters, and more. Get creative and give an unforgettable gift that is personalized and practical.

Gift Time

This one may seem odd, but it can come in handy with close friends. Offer to walk the dog if your recipient is a pet owner or pet sit. Read to your grandparents or offer to babysit your friend’s kid(s) so they can take a night out and relax. You could make them coupons and slip it into a card to give to them. They can redeem it whenever they want. You could even add a few certificates if you have time on your hands.

Fill the Gift with Memories

unforgettable gifts

You can easily take great memories and turn it into a gorgeous gift. If they like crossword puzzles, make a few customized ones with memory-related answers. You could put together a well-curated photo album, or you could make a jar of memorabilia you’ve slowly collected over the years. As long as you make it meaningful, your recipient will cherish it for years to come.

Take Time to Present It

There are dozens of channels on YouTube dedicated to watching people unwrap things. Wrapping things and creating a lovely presentation makes the gift so much more thoughtful than it would be if you tossed it into a gift bag with a few pieces of tissue paper. It shows the person that you really care about their gift and them.

Gift Your Skills

gift of skills

There are at least one or two things you’re good at. Maybe you create graphics, sew, crochet, write, or paint. Maybe your skills lean more toward things like car detailing, baking, cooking, or translating. Whatever your skills are, you can turn them into a thoughtful gift. Offer to bake or cook something. If you’re fluent in another language, offer lessons.

Bottom Line

These unforgettable gift ideas are perfect for that person you have trouble gifting in your life. Try one or try a few and see the reaction you get. The recipient will love it, and you’ll get the knowledge that you’ve finally nailed down exactly how to gift them with something they will treasure for years to come.

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Connecting with Customers During a Crisis – Notes for the Tech Industry

Since foot traffic has dropped dramatically due to the pandemic, the corporate arena is facing a great setback. Social distancing, which is beneficial for health safety, has brought many negative impacts for businesses globally. Among several other factors, customer interaction tops the list. When clients are socially isolated, engagement becomes challenging.

Though some industries catering to the basic needs of clients are doing exceptionally well, others like the technology sector are going through a tough time. If you also belong to the technology industry, and are struggling to break-even, stay connected with your customers.

Irrespective of social distancing, there are endless ways to interact and please your clients. Let us shed some light on these strategies:

Video Chatting and Streaming – Going Digital

connect with customers during a crisis

The time users spend on social media has increased dramatically; utilize this opportunity, and go live with your products. Here are a few ways how:

Show Your Products on Live Videos

If not now, potential clients may buy the product after things get back to normal. For instance, if you sell smartphones, make up an exciting deal for customers. Though people might not have the resources right now, they have ample time to listen to you. Use your convincing skills to make your product their next gadget this year.

Focus more on things that are in demand these days. Since remote working is the new normal, laptops, coaxial cable wires, USBs, chargers, and routers are high in demand. Give discounts, offer installment plans, and ask former customers to review your products.

Share Stories

Use short videos to deliver a big message. Show some behind the scenes and also interact directly with your users to increase satisfaction. Empathize with your users and make the clients realize that you care.

Arrange an Online Event

As the pandemic hit the world, thousands of events got canceled, and hundreds of them are still in the pipeline. However, holding events is still possible. You might need to change your advertising strategy, but you will get a good audience. Whether it is your product anniversary or a new launch, you can always have a digital event and grab the attention of a huge audience.

Many technology companies have introduced new apps, products, and gadgets to stay alive in the eyes of customers besides keeping their business running. You can also come up with an innovative digital product and hold a launch event online. For instance, Tik Tok introduced a new app on Amazon Fire recently through an online event.

Tip:

Offer an exclusive discount on products for the first 50 people attending your event.

Bring a Smile on Others’ Faces

connecting with customers

Getting confined in a home is not an easy job. In this scenario, when you have financial burdens and health concerns, frustration rises at its peak. Many companies are standing firm with their clients at this crucial time.

For example, telcos are delighting their existing customers by giving free data. Similarly, many entertainment companies have released movies and TV shows earlier than the scheduled dates. Disney Channel understood the demand of this time and released its blockbuster family movie, Frozen 2, even though releasing a movie on streaming is less profitable than a cinema release.

Likewise, some technology companies are taking an active part in helping their consumers by offering free or discounted meditation and yoga classes. Free subscriptions are being offered, and online education institutes are even offering free online technological courses to help people learn technical skills in their spare time.

Thus, technological companies can also pair up with other companies to provide entertainment to their clients. At a time when people are losing their jobs, sales are near to zero, and the life of every other person at risk, sharing something that can help alleviate mental stress is noble and inspiring.

Most importantly, this gesture of kindness by companies will be remembered even long after the pandemic is over. Many brands that are unable to stay directly connected with their customers have taken the entertainment route to avoid the flak.

Shifting Customers to Online Channels

Though most technology companies have an active website or an online store, some are still facing difficulty managing this shift. This digital shift is a new experience for many brands. Businesses have no other choice than to provide online services and engage customers through digital means. For instance, Cisco’s WebEx is now offering free technical tools for teachers and students to facilitate remote learning.

Technological companies offering healthcare products can grab this opportunity as well. People do not want to step outside, but still, they have health needs. Therefore, they are ready to invest in smart healthcare gadgets that can keep them healthy while at home.

Similarly, hospitals are ready to embrace the best technology for health care. It is imperative to create awareness regarding healthcare gadgets in this difficult time. People are ready to learn new things at this time. Thus, companies are likely to get a good response from potential clients.

Online channels, like social media presence, blogs, websites, and e-stores, are vital today. These channels are essential to keep the sales running and continue engaging with present clients. For shifting customers to the online platform, the following actions can be taken:

  • Blog
  • YouTube channel
  • Paid advertisement
  • Website
  • Social media campaigns

It’s time to revamp all the marketing strategies and shift entirely to the digital landscape. Offline marketing strategies are the only way to connect with customers and maintain relationships. Since every other business is actively implementing online tactics, there are high chances of losing loyal customers if a coherent connection is not maintained.

Conclusion

The technological sector can play a vital role in this unprecedented situation. The digital shift in business operations, remote learning, and virtual meet-ups have opened new doors of opportunities for various companies. However, this has amplified the competition, making it difficult for other brands to stay connected with former clients.

Though the resources are limited and the times are difficult, you may adopt various ways to connect with potential clients. Virtual meet-ups, video streaming, social media campaigns, blogs, and offline marketing tactics are some useful means for maintaining good relationships with customers. Even if sales are zero, never give up. Keep your bond strong, and don’t let your customers forget you.

The post Connecting with Customers During a Crisis – Notes for the Tech Industry appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Modern Online Dating

Hi there! Have you been giving serious thought to online dating and all that comes with it? Decades ago, you had to rely on a friend’s introduction or bump into a potential partner in a grocery store aisle to meet your perfect match. The other option was to walk the journey into marriage with your high school sweetheart.

Nowadays, things have changed. There are many online dating apps available, and people spend a lot of their time on video calls, phone calls, and text messages. But, even with all these opportunities available, a physical meeting is necessary.

Nevertheless, if you do choose to date virtually, how do you ensure that you’re protecting yourself online? What are the intricacies involved in online dating, and how do you jump over hurdles? If you want to date successfully now, here are some do’s and don’ts you should consider.

The Do’s

online dating tips

1. Be Honest About Yourself

Please, don’t lie about yourself on your online dating profile. If you choose online dating for marriage, you expect your partner to be as honest about themselves as they can. If both of you are true about yourself, it becomes easier to tell whether your relationship can go further.

Remember, online dating is not the end of a real relationship. It’s only the beginning of something new. When online dating partners meet offline, they want to associate what they know with their partners. So, if you make a false claim on your profile, you could be wasting someone’s time, and even worse, hurt their feelings.

Online dating to marriage statistics says that the most irritating behavior on dating apps is people lying about themselves on their profile. So if you’re serious about what you want to get from online dating, don’t lie about yourself.

2. Speak to Your Close Friends or Family about Your Online Dating Interactions

Just like offline, online dating can get involved. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t get emotionally invested. We’re saying that you need to protect yourself while online dating. One of the best ways to do this is to speak about your interactions with a friend or family member.

They can give you an outside perspective about some conversations. Besides, it’ll be easier for them to inform you of anything suspicious you should be aware of.

3. Beware of Requests for Money

Unfortunately, not everyone is on a site to find the partner of their dreams. That’s why many people ask the question, “are online dating sites real” because they’ve heard about cases of fraud associated with online dating.

To protect yourself from fraudsters, keep an eye out for people who ask you for personal information such as your bank details. Also, cease contact if someone starts asking you for money.

There’s no reason why someone should ask to borrow money from you while you’re online dating. To be on the safe side, only register on reputable sites and keep your private info private. No matter how comfortable you feel around the other person, protect yourself first.

The Don’ts

online dating donts and dos

1. Stop “Type-casting”

Can online dating be successful if you expand your boundaries? Definitely yes! But only if you do not type-cast. Type-casting is a new online dating term. It refers to only wanting to date based on someone’s star sign compatibility or eye color, for example.

You might want to delete the “no Libras” rule from your profile. The more open-minded you are about other people’s interests, the more exciting your online dating life will be. Step outside your comfort zone and embrace open-mindedness.

2. Don’t Overdo Anything

If you’ve been wondering how online dating affects communication, look at this scenario:

For the most part, when it comes to communication, men think that women love getting bombarded by romantic text messages. Even if your feelings are sincere, sending your partner the same message ten times a day may feel overwhelming.

If you notice your partner withdrawing from the conversation, it could be that she doesn’t want to bait you into overwhelming her with your sentiments. Also, don’t spy on your partners’ social media accounts looking for fodder.

You will end up spoiling the suspense of the relationship. Your date may also not like that you went around fishing for information they weren’t ready to give to you.

Conclusion

Online dating isn’t easy for everyone. But, even if you’re not successful the first few times, hang in there. It gets better with time. Have you tried any dating apps? How was the experience? What would you tell someone who is just starting? We’d love to know!

The post The Do’s and Don’ts of Modern Online Dating appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

6 College Courses That Can Get You High Salaries

LinkedIn analysts in the new 2020 Emerging Jobs Report presented the current list of jobs that are considered the most promising. It was originally reported by CNBC. Thus, on the portal for finding jobs and employees, they have studied for five years the dynamics of the demand for professions and the growth of salaries, creating a rating of the most paid professions in 2020.

As it turned out, the field of artificial intelligence is one of the greatest career opportunities of our time – the average salary of specialists in this field is $136,000 per year, and the demand is increasing by 74% per year. Jobs are mainly concentrated in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles.

Those involved in higher technical education in the United States are not lagging behind in terms of salaries as well – the report says that such a high level of salaries is due to a shortage of talented specialists and a small number of those who are ready to teach students new technologies.

Nevertheless, narrowly focused IT specialists are still leading in terms of earnings. Let’s find out what professions can get you higher-than-average salaries, and where you can get them.

Robotics

college courses for most well paid jobs robotics

Robotics is proving to be one of the fastest growing industries today. It’s not surprising that engineers creating both virtual and mechanical robots will be able to find high-paying jobs. Demand for robotics engineers has grown by 40% annually for the last 5 years.

The average annual salary is $85,000, and the course is provided by the University of Pennsylvania. It will help you to gain experience in robotic programming. You will learn how robots move and fly, perceive their environment, and implement movement to dodge obstacles.

Applied Data Science

Applied Data Science specialists have been the most promising professions for the third year already. In the past five years, the demand for them has been growing annually by 37%. The average annual salary is $143,000. According to analysts, this is from widespread usage of statistical data and large amounts of information in academic research.

The course is provided by the University of Michigan School of Informatics. If you are an aspiring data scientist who wants to learn and apply skills in practical projects, then this course is for you. To learn how to use data for improving results and achieving ambitious goals, this course is an excellent choice.

Full-Stack Web Development

In the labor market, specialists who are able to take an active part in all stages of web application development have been in demand for years. The demand for them is growing by 35% annually, and the average annual salary is $82,000. Finding a job with such a profession is easiest in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology offers an extensive course in this field. This offers students their needed education to develop their expertise in front-end and hybrid mobile development. Apart from this, students will also learn about server-side support for the application of multi-platform solutions.

Customer Success Management

Demand for customer success specialists grows by 34% per year, and average annual salary is $90,000. The course is provided by the University of San Francisco, and the program is focused on the CSM profession. The Career Accelerator Platform teaches students a variety of customer-centric roles in the technology industry through coursework, workshops, company visits, etc.

Behavioral Health Technician

behavioral health technician

Demand for behavioral health technicians grows by 32% per year, and the average annual salary is $33,000. The course is provided by the Hollywood Career Institute, which provides online classes. You will complete this course in 30 hours. The biggest benefits are having great teachers and flexible class hours.

Cybersecurity Specialist

Demand for cybersecurity specialists grows by 30% per year, and the average salary for the year is $103,000. The course is provided by the Vancouver Career College. It teaches students to access and implement strategies of cybersecurity defense. In 76 weeks, you will learn to plan, administer, maintain, and protect networked computer systems.

Choosing the right career is an important act in everyone’s life. It needs to be approached as responsibly as possible because it is important to find a profession that is not only interesting and well paid, but also in demand on the labor market.

Today, the labor market is going through a period of global change. The professions and specialties that were highly sought after many years ago may become completely obsolete in the future in terms of demand. It seems that such jobs are now being substituted by new roles that are still unfamiliar to us. Moreover, students attending college will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to prepare for the surge of new professions.

The post 6 College Courses That Can Get You High Salaries appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Stop Being Offended by Everyone (in just 13 steps)

It seems like you can’t do or say anything nowadays without someone being offended by it. It’s gotten out of hand, and I want to help.

Are you sick of getting your “feathers ruffled” every time you go on social media, talk to a certain relative, or hear some BS on Zoom? Do you want to maximize the amount of time in your life that you’re filled with joy rather than rage? Then this article is for you.

I’ve found that the easiest way to stop doing something, is to start doing something else. So bookmark this page and begin reading it the minute you feel yourself getting “offended.”

These insights take less than 3 minutes to digest, and will help you transmute the emotional energy of offense, to attract more positivity into your life and radiate it in the world around you.

So, someone said or did something that “offended” you…

1. First, recognize that your being offended is your choice. And just because you are offended, does not mean you are right.

2. Take several deep breaths, and allow yourself to feel any emotion that arises, processing it internally without reacting just yet. Every emotion is a valid one, if you are feeling it. Then choose to be “the boss” of your emotions by silently repeating this mantra: “I am calm when wronged.”

avoiding taking things personally

3. Stop and consider the source. Is this coming from a human being with whom you are generally aligned or not?

4. Discern, as best you can, whether what was said or done was on purpose (with malice or ill intent) or unintentional (accidental or as a result of lack of knowledge).

5. Hover above the situation, see yourself getting triggered and ask yourself, “Why am I offended?” Is it because I’m “supposed to be”, or because I actually am?”

6. Locate the part of you that feels victimized. Recognize that this is where a wound exists, and this is why you’re more vulnerable there.

7. Instead of “going off” on someone, send loving energy to where you are broken. Be compassionate with yourself that there is obviously more healing to do on that subject.

8. Listen to the opposing perspective; you will either learn something new that enlightens you to take a step in the direction of their view, or the contrast may further deepen your commitment to your own belief. Both have a great outcome.

9. Drop your ego or desire to direct, control, or change other’s beliefs. Release the need to gain a specific outcome. Then, laugh at how ridiculous it is to waste another precious moment of your life policing someone else’s thoughts.

10. If you can, wait at least 24 hours before responding. And when you do, use “I feel” statements like, “I feel hurt that you said…” as opposed to “You hurt me when you said…” with your focus being peace and understanding. If peace and understanding is not being reached, and the other person challenges back demanding more explanation, you are not required to further defend or explain. You are allowed to say, “It’s just how I feel,” and leave it at that.

avoid taking things personally

11. Remind yourself that we are a collective, and that the person that “wronged” you is from the same Source as you. We all have the same “cosmic DNA”. So hating them is hating you.

12. See the lesson brought to you from this resistance as a gift, and be grateful that it came to you, because it revealed a deeper truth within you. Vow to move towards love and acceptance on this and all future “offenses.”

13. Remember that sitting in the energy of offense does not feel good, and you love yourself enough to choose to feel good as much as possible in your life. You get to decide.

Notice how none of these steps involve you making the other person change?

Why?

Because we can only control the space within us and 3 feet around us – how we react, how we accept, and how we choose to deal with perceived adversity.

I’m not saying that the other person isn’t wrong as hell. They probably are in your humble opinion, but it’s not your job to change someone else. It’s your job to be the happiest, most loving version of you possible, for as much time as possible. And walking around with disdain for everyone that is not in agreement with you has gotta be getting old by now, hasn’t it?

…There, I said it. I hope this was helpful, and I hope you’re not offended.

But then again, if you are? Remember, that’s on you.

The post How to Stop Being Offended by Everyone (in just 13 steps) appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

The Hidden Cost of Social Distancing

I’ll admit it, when COVID-19 came to town this past March I was secretly excited that we were ordered to quarantine. Finally, I thought, a legitimate excuse to hunker down at home and stop the hustle!

Work slowed down. I embraced my role as chief laundry-doer-dinner-maker-house keeper. I created a cleaning schedule, tackling one section of the house each weekday. I planned all the meals. Once a week I put on my mask and headed to the grocery store to stand in line and wait for my turn to head inside.

With my freshly wiped down cart, I social-distance-shopped while dozens of personal shoppers walked through the aisles, glancing at their phones and filling shopping carts with someone else’s grocery list.

Life felt simple. Every day felt like a staycation. As someone who regularly practiced yoga at a local studio, I was thrilled to be able to rotate through a roster of classes with my favorite instructors, all in the comfort of my own home.

I was so happy and content—until I wasn’t.

Over the last six months of self-imposed quarantine I have gone from feeling secretly validated as a closet introvert, to feeling trapped, aimless, purposeless, disconnected and depressed.

social distancing effects

I know that I am not the only one.

We’ve been asked to stay home in order to stay healthy and to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But a healthy society requires more than the physical health of its members. A healthy society requires its members to be healthy in body, mind and spirit.

Tragically, our collective society is experiencing an erosion of mental and emotional health, because isolating ourselves, or limiting healthy social interaction, has negative consequences, including the manner in which it impacts our neurobiology.

Research shows that social isolation and perceived loneliness are associated with activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), otherwise known as the stress response (fight/flight/freeze). This response is designed to provide us with the ability to quickly defend ourselves from harm (fight), or to help us escape danger (flight).

In moments of perceived danger, our brains and bodies are turbo charged with hormones and biochemicals that are very useful in times of threat or danger. But when this system is chronically activated, as a result of social isolation, it turns from helpful to harmful.

The global pandemic brings no shortage of stressful realities and has impacted every one of us. Loss of jobs and incomes are creating financial stresses. Those who are employed as essential workers are facing health risk stressors. Those who have been impacted by the virus experience the stress of illness and loss.

And all of us are (ideally) practicing social distancing as the new public health initiative, which means that we are all at risk of experiencing the negative impact of the associated chronic stress. These impacts can be felt in a variety of ways, ranging from constant fear or anxiety, to general malaise, to depression, which can cause us to feel constantly exhausted, stuck, unmotivated or immobile (freeze).

Engaging in healthy social interactions does much more for us than we might think. When we have meaningful connections with others, we experience important human emotions like empathy and compassion (which we do when we reach out to someone for support, or lend an ear to someone we care about during a hard time).

These social/emotional experiences stimulate the production of important hormones and biochemicals like oxytocin and vasopressin, which can be mitigators to the development of stress and stress-related issues like depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, the fewer healthy social interactions that we have, the less our brain is able to produce these “feel good” hormones, further heightening our risk or of developing depression and anxiety.

As our mental health erodes, we become susceptible to developing social anxiety or social dysfunction, leading us to isolate further. This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that feeds itself. Over time we feel like our feet are stuck in quicksand. Reaching out for connection feels impossible, even if we know it’s the helpful thing to do.

If all these weren’t concerning enough, continued isolation and the associated continuous activation of the HPA axis (stress) creates inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is the source of many autoimmune and physical ailments ranging from arthritis to cancer. The negative health implications of prolonged social isolation could be very dire, and won’t be fully recognized for years to come.

What to do?

It’s important to recognize how you are feeling (in your body), even if you don’t necessarily know what you are feeling (in your mind). To become aware of the physiological effects of the chronic stress associated with long-term social isolation, it helps to turn your awareness inward—to your body.

Distressing sensations in your body are the visceral impact of all those toxic stress hormones and can be felt in any number of ways, including a heavy feeling in your chest, sick feeling in the pit of your stomach or tightness in your throat. You might also notice you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Racing heart
  • Jittery legs
  • A general feeling of being trapped or confined

These sensations underpin emotions like fear, anger, irritation, resentment and so on. They are also a good indication that you’re experiencing a feedback loop of stress.

Practicing a variety of simple stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, and even dancing can interrupt this feedback loop. But if you feel unable to proactively engage in these types of activities (remember that quicksand feeling), simple breathing exercises (like the one described below) can be just as effective.

Breathing can be used anytime and if done correctly, your nervous system will shift from the high rev SNS to the calming and relaxing parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). It’s like turning the flame on a stove from all the way high, to a manageable simmer. If done regularly, your body will eventually learn how to stay calm and relaxed on its own.

Balloon Breath

balloon breathing

Sit or lay down. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Inhale and inflate your belly and chest like a balloon (feel your hands moving as your body inflates). Exhale and let your belly and chest relax. Repeat at least ten times.

Breath and mindfulness practices are a good start for calming your body’s stress response. But to reverse the long-term negative impacts of social isolation, authentic connection with other human beings is a must.

Socializing (as we knew it) is still tightly regulated, but we can find opportunities for authentic connection with friends and family via apps like Facetime, House Party, or the video chat option on Facebook. Support groups like AA, Alanon, cancer support groups and others have all shifted to Zoom, allowing us access from anywhere in the world.

These are some ways in which we can connect with other humans, express care, empathy and compassion, and feel the benefit of all those good biochemicals.

As for me, I’ve been facilitating online TIMBo (trauma informed mind body) groups for women since mid-March. The connection I feel with these women is surprising and remarkable. We may not be in the same room, but over an online platform we share our thoughts, feelings, and struggles.

We connect, resonate, feel compassion, empathy, joy and, sometimes, grief. I thank technology, this program, and these women every day because without the opportunity to connect in such a meaningful way, I’m quite sure the world we’re living in would get the best of me.

So if you’re feeling off, increased social isolation might be at the root. Be proactive, see what’s available, find something that resonates, and start connecting.

We all need each other right now to help us get through these uncertain times. Our health, and the health of our society really does depend on it.

To learn more about TIMBo, go to www.timbocollective.org. Suzanne’s award-winning book, There is Nothing to Fix: Becoming Whole through Radical Self-Acceptance, is available in paperback, kindle, and audiobook.

The post The Hidden Cost of Social Distancing appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

10 Biggest Moving Mistakes You’ll Want To Avoid

Moving can be a stressful time because there is an overwhelming amount of things that need to be done. You have to find a new place, pack up all your things, haul them, put them in your new home, arrange utilities, and more. It’s easy to forget something, and mistakes can be very costly.

For the best moving tips, we are sharing with you the most common mistakes people make when moving from one home to another.

Not Getting Estimates

avoiding moving mistakes

Unless you’re doing all of the moving yourself, getting estimates is essential. You want to call up several different moving companies in your area well before your move date. Ask them about truck sizes, how much they charge by the hour, how many people they send, insurance, and mileage. Ask if you can get a quote in writing before comparing multiple quotes from the moving companies. This will help ensure you get the best rate possible for your move.

Not Making a Moving Checklist

Many people think they can simply remember everything they have to do before their big move. However, it’s easy to forget small things. For example, did you remember to call the utility companies and tell them your move date? Did you pick up enough packing supplies? Do you remember which moving company offered which quote? As hectic as moving it, it’s easy to let things slip through the cracks. This is where a moving checklist comes in. It’ll group things you should do by importance and date to make sure you remember everything.

Ignoring Moving Insurance

No one ever wants anything to go wrong in their move, and many people consider moving insurance an expense they don’t need. However, this is something important to have. What if the movers accidentally dropped your antique mirror? Maybe a piece of furniture or expensive electronics didn’t make it to your home unscathed. Whatever happens, moving insurance can help cover the cost to replace it. In turn, you won’t be out this money on top of everything else.

Not Taking Measurements

You may assume that all of your furniture will fit smoothly through your doorways or up the stairs in your new home, but this can be a huge mistake. You could end up paying to move items that simply won’t fit into your new home. Before you move, go to your new home and measure the doorways and stairs. Take your measurements back and measure your larger pieces of furniture. Do they fit? If not, you may have to sell them off before you move.

Putting Your Valuables in the Moving Truck

Did you know that many moving companies refuse to deal with valuable items like jewelry? If it gets lost in the move, you could be out these pieces. This is why you want to carefully pack your valuables, label them, and transport them yourself. Expensive technology, collectibles, or important documents should also go with you in your vehicle where you or a family member can keep a close eye on them. Read your moving contract and see if the company can move things like firearms, grills, or alcohol.

Forgetting to Prep for the Pets

If you’re just moving across town, this won’t be as big of an issue. However, if you’re moving hours away, you want to prep for your pet. Make sure all of your pet’s shots are updated. Get any certificates, copies of medical records, and paperwork you need for your new vet. Your pet should have the proper tags and identification with them, and you’ll have to plan how to transport them. Ask about motion sickness medications and portable kennels for the ride.

No Personal Survival Kit

Everyone in the family should have a small personal survival kit to ensure the move goes as smoothly as possible. It could include must-have items like a screwdriver, address book, map, flashlight, toiletries, can opener, dog food, any item your child can’t sleep without, coffee, soap, toilet paper, medications, and cash. This kit will get you through the first few hours of the move before you have a chance to unpack. It should go in the car with you and be ready to grab when you get to the house.

Failing to Switch Important Addresses

Credit card bureaus, insurance agencies, banks, fitness centers, utilities, and subscription-based services are entities you’ll have to contact to switch your address. Forward your mail at the post office. Talk to your primary care doctor and get referrals to a new clinic and arrange to have your records transferred over. Get veterinarian paperwork and school records together and make sure you change your voting address before the next election.

Not Leaving Time to Clean

You don’t want to neglect your current home in favor of your new one. You should set aside time to deep clean your old home and make any repairs necessary to get it ready for the next buyers or tenants. Get any deposits back and cancel any services you have like lawn care. Call your local utility company and give them your move date to transfer it over. You may have to pay off any bills at this time.

Not Labeling the Boxes

moving mistakes to avoid

You want to clearly label all of your moving boxes and organize them by room. This will remove a lot of the stress and guesswork that comes with unpacking. It’ll also help the movers put your boxes in the correct space in your new home. Label the room, what’s in the box, and any special instructions for the movers on the side or top of the box.

BONUS: Trying to Do Everything Yourself

Moving is superlatively taxing emotionally and physically. Get your family members or friends you are moving with involved in the whole process by delegating tasks. For example, the kids can take care of pets or fragile electronic items. They can also be tasked with categorizing items and labeling boxes. By sharing these tasks, you can focus on getting everything done.

Use These 10 Best Moving Tips for Moving Success

While it’s true that no one likes to move, these 10 best moving tips can help ensure the process is as stress-free as possible. You should start preparing for your move well in advance to give yourself time to pack and organize everything. If you do, you’ll be able to enjoy your new home sooner and relax.

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How To Successfully Pay Back Your Online Installment Loan

In these uncertain times, sudden unavoidable expense or financial emergencies are the stuff of nightmares. Instead of having zero options, installment loans help tide you over and allow you to make payments over time.

According to Leap Credit, online installment loans are, ‘a specific amount of money you borrow and then pay back within a certain time frame with a fixed payment every week, two weeks, or month.’

Now, while receiving a lump sum is always relieving and gratifying, some borrowers struggle to finish payments on their installment loans. To help you get set up for success, we are sharing these effective tips on how to successfully pay back your online installment loan. After all, the faster you are out of debt, the better.

Double Your Payments

The longer you have your loan, the more you’ll pay in interest fees. You want to minimize this, and doubling up on payments can help. Pay more than your lender requires you to. For example, say your loan terms require you make a single monthly payment. Instead, you could give them a payment every two weeks. If your loan requires two payments a month, pay them every week. Contact your lender and confirm that they’ll apply the payments to your loan without penalizing you before you do this. This is very important because some lenders don’t allow you to make extra payments without penalties.

Make Extra Money

online installment loan payment make extra money

If you’re worried about having enough money to pay back your loan, start trying to make extra cash. You can put any extra money you make toward this loan. Start by seeing if there is anything you can sell online, or you could take a jump into the gig economy. Services like Uber, DoorDash, and Lyft are thriving. What’s even better, you can work at your own pace on your own time without any pressure to meet a set amount of hours. As your money starts to stack up, send it straight to your loan company to pay down your balance quicker.

Ask About Discounts

Did you know that some lenders will give you discounts on your interest rate for different reasons? If this isn’t the first loan you’ve taken out with a company, you could get a discount for being a repeat customer. Automatic debit signup is another way to get a discount, or you could go paperless. Although this discount most likely won’t be huge, anything can help. You may have to contact customer service to get these discounts, but they can add up over the life of the loan.

Create a Payoff Plan

When you first get the loan, you should create a realistic payoff plan. Write it down or put it in a digital format. Write in when you have to start repaying your loan and when the payment is due. Set reminders in your digital calendars. This will help ensure that you don’t miss a payment, and it’ll also ensure that you don’t overdraw your account because you forgot about it. Stick as close to this payout plan as possible. This could mean you cut out a few frivolous expenses until you pay it off. However, it’ll be worth it.

Know Your Loan Terms

You should have absolutely no doubts when it comes to your loan’s terms. You have to have a good understanding of what the lender expects in terms of payments. Know when you have to pay back the loan by, how much interest the loan carries, and whether or not the lender will let you extend a payment deadline if something comes up. If there’s a grace period, you want to know what it is. These loan terms shouldn’t change throughout the life of your loan.

Round Up Your Payments

online installment loan payment

If you can’t afford to double your payments every month, make a point to round up your payments. For example, say your loan has a payment of $275 per month. You could pay $300 instead. This isn’t a lot of extra money, but it’ll add up over the life of your loan. If you have a year loan period, that extra $25 can shave a month off your loan term with $25 leftover. This will be really helpful if you make two payments a month because you’ll pay it off much quicker.

Set up Automatic Withdrawals

The last thing you want to do is forget your payments. Even one missed payment can have a negative impact on your credit score. You can avoid this by setting up automatic withdrawals from your checking account. You do want to make sure you have enough money in there to cover the cost of the loan payment, so you don’t overdraw yourself and incur more fees.

Cut Back on Luxuries

Most people have subscription services that they can pause or cancel for a few months. If you can, you can take the money you’d normally spend on these services and use it to pay off your loan quicker. Even a few dollars will really help you chip away at the balance until you pay it off. Once you pay it off, you can easily resume your services without an issue.

Go With a Reputable Company

You want to get your installment loan through a reputable company that has no hidden fees and straightforward terms. This can help ensure that you pay off your debt with as minimal fuss as possible, and it also improves your chances of having a responsive customer service team in place if anything should come up. Do your research when you start shopping around for companies and comparing reviews. You can use the Better Business Bureau to check a company’s reputation. This will help you find companies that offer competitive rates.

Bottom Line

Now you know several tricks how to pay installment loans. You can use this information to decide whether or not this type of loan is right for you or not. These tips will help you maximize your savings while getting your finances on track while paying back your loan. Pay it off as soon as you can to help offset the higher interest rates. Save up for an emergency fund, and improve your financial health with smart money decisions.

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Are Press Releases Worth The Big Bucks?

The fact that press releases and their newswire services are still around should pretty much answer the question. No clue? Well, let’s look at it this way. Press releases have come a long way and have changed at least three mediums; newspapers, social media, and now dedicated PR platforms.

And to give you an idea of a press release’s resilience, how’s the fact that newspaper is still a medium used today to disseminate information through releases, despite print media shrinking both in visibility and relevance. Still asking if a press release is worth the spend?

However, resilience isn’t a trait looked for by businesses and corporations when shopping for a press release marketing service. It’s the ROI they want, and boy, do press releases give them the ROI. Plus, bigger corporations (especially multinationals) are still very adept at press releases, just not the way it works now in marketing.

Corporations like IBM or Pepsico use press releases as a way to keep both the customers and media updated about events, launches or news regarding the company. In short, press releases have carved out their place in the modern business sector and remain as relevant as they were back in the 1950s or 60s. And with relevance comes big business, which a press release can only serve to complement (if used properly).

But to actually gauge if press releases are worth the spending, let’s look at what they provide and claim to actually do for your business.

Press release – what it does

press releases worth it

Press releases, as stated beforehand, can convey news of a corporation to the relevant media sectors and also act as a marketing tool for products or services looking to expand their footprint in the digital marketing sector. As such, it lays claims to both mediums; print media and social media. Let’s take the purposes of the press release and understand them from the ground up.

As a news service:

Every business, from corporations to enterprises, regularly use press releases as their primary method of dispensing information or news regarding company launches or events. For example, whenever you go to Apple’s site or any other site for that matter, you can always find a dedicated corner for press releases that contains a ton of stuff meant as news items. Journalists, whenever in need of a story or filler material, regularly scour these parts of websites to find news that could fill in the blanks, thereby, guaranteeing press coverage of an event or a product about to be launched.

Similarly, whenever a legal matter is at hand for a major corporation, it is usually addressed and notified to the general public through a press release, which can be further utilized by news outlets as a way to gather aspects of a legal battle (i.e stance of the company or the proceedings of the case). To summarise, press releases double as news agents for corporations looking to release news about particular events or product launches.

As a marketing tool:

Now we come to the crux of the article. If your business utilises press releases, will it pay off? Are press releases worth the spending? As a marketing tool, press releases are a pretty potent method of getting your message across the board. And when it comes to answering the aforementioned question, it would be a big YES.

Press release marketing is considered one of the most cost-efficient methods of marketing there is. This is compared to regular advertisement campaigns, which promise the same amount of coverage as a press release but at a Herculean amount. Let’s look at a few ways press releases differ from a regular media campaign.

  • Dedicated releases to business hotspots like Silicon Valley, Wall Street, etc.
  • Releases to capital cities and metropolitans worldwide (London, Munich, etc.)
  • Inclusion of Virtual Digital Assistants (VDA’s) like Siri, Alexa or Bixby to increase spread and suggestions
  • Multilingual translations of press releases (for varying audiences and regions)
  • Distribution using RSS feeds

This is just the tip of the iceberg that is press release marketing. It contains several other targeting methods that are way better than a regular media campaign that focuses on TV and the internet. When a press release is marketed through services like ReleaseLive, it utilises every software and service at its disposal and makes it work to the tune of the press release, letting the algorithm work its magic and flood the internet with the release.

How much is it cost-effective?

are press releases really worth it

To get an idea of how much cost-effective a press release marketing strategy is, compare the numbers of a licensing and merchandising deal with a celebrity (like Travis Scott’s deal with McDonald’s) to the Super Premium plan of iCrowdNewswire, and you can immediately see why it is claimed to be the most cost-effective and is worth whatever bucks you can shell out.

The effects of both the campaigns are pretty much the same: they target a certain market, a certain audience, and bombard them with the relevant press release. The difference is the price and that difference is huge. As you might have guessed, yes, press releases are definitely worth whatever you spend on them. Maybe even more than what you spend. You could call press releases ‘criminally underrated’.

In a nutshell

Press releases are one of the uncut gems of the advertisement and marketing sector that are used widely, but have yet to be known by the general public as a viable method of marketing. While companies utilise it as a news distribution method and as a marketing method, it remains to be seen how much of its price effectiveness can be put to use by other businesses looking to expand their social media footprint.

As of now, press release marketing is up and coming and will be here to stay, all thanks to its one big pro: being cheap to run.

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Understanding How To Use Mobile Communication For Business

Mobile devices are a lifeline for most people right now, but even under normal circumstances people rely on their mobile devices for all kinds of information. Last year, 69% of people looked up information about products and services while they were inside of stores rather than asking a store associate. Using mobile devices to get information has become commonplace, and businesses that don’t communicate with customers the way they want are likely to be left in the dust.

Consumers Use Mobile Devices For Just About Everything

mobile communications in businesses

From managing finances to accessing government services, consumers are really fond of their electronic devices. But, increasingly, those smartphone owners are wanting to communicate via text messaging. In fact, 85% of smartphone owners prefer text messages to calls or emails. More than half of smartphone owners ignore emails completely because their inboxes are overloaded. What’s more, almost a third never listen to voicemail messages.

Text Messages Are What Customers Use And Want

SMS messages are just simpler for a lot of people. 90% of people say they open text messages within three minutes, making this an optimal way for a business to communicate with consumers. SMS text messages have a 98% open rate, as opposed to a 20% rate for email. Response rates are five times higher for text messages than they are for emails, 45% and 6%, respectively.

The response time is even more staggering for SMS messages. The typical response rate for a text message is 90 seconds, whereas the typical response rate for an email is 90 minutes. Response rates for text messages are 60 times higher than that of emails.

In 2019, 68% of businesses used some kind of messaging to keep connected with customers, and now they are relying on this type of communication more than ever.

How Businesses Are Using Mobile Messaging

mobile communications in restaurant takeout business

In retail, mobile messaging is used for a variety of purposes, including sending coupons and sale notifications to customers. Mobile messaging is a crucial part of curbside pickup, which has grown significantly in popularity. Mobile messages are used to confirm an order was received, tell a customer when an order is ready, and for a customer to tell the store they have arrived to pick up their order.

Mobile messaging is used in medical offices to remind patients of appointments, check in for appointments, and remind patients of upcoming tests and more. Some offices are also using mobile messaging for prescription refills and physician questions between visits, which has shown to increase patient satisfaction with their medical providers.

For restaurants, mobile messaging is crucial for a growing takeout business, allowing business and customers to communicate quickly and efficiently. Small order changes and communication about order status can be easily communicated through a quick message rather than taking up the time and resources for cumbersome phone calls.

Consumers Want Mobile Messaging

One in three consumers have sent a mobile message to a business and not received a response, and most of the time it was because the business simply hasn’t activated two-way messaging capabilities.

The fact of the matter is that customers feel better about a business that uses mobile messaging. 65% of consumers say they feel more positive toward a business after a mobile messaging exchange because of a number of factors.

Mobile messaging shows consumers that a company values their time – there’s nothing worse than waiting around for the phone to ring or sitting on hold waiting for someone to help you. The ability to communicate with a business via SMS messages makes customers more likely to choose that business, and it increases the chances of recommending that business to their friends and family.

Communication Is Key

In order for businesses to be successful, communication should take place wherever a customer wants it to, and, increasingly, customers are feeling comfortable messaging instead of making phone calls or talking to people in person. Mobile communication also gives businesses the power to reach customers who aren’t physically showing up in stores with specials to lure them back in or to get them to use curbside pickup services.

Businesses that don’t use mobile communication are going to be left behind. Learn more about the power of mobile communication in business from the infographic below.

The Power of Mobile Messaging
Source: SopranoDesign.com

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5 Tips To Build Your Team’s Productivity

When it comes to managing a team, whether in a corporate setting or as part of your business, productivity is one of the most important parameters of success. It’s also something that we all want, although it’s a little tricky to figure out how to get there.

Building your team’s productivity should be a priority for you as a manager, mainly because when productivity goes up, it implies that your business is functioning at optimal efficiency. Here we’re going to talk about a few tips and hacks that you must consider adding to your arsenal for boosting productivity among your employees. Let’s take a look at what these are.

Sense Of Ownership

As a good leader, it is imperative to understand the value of ownership. Ownership is all about allowing your team members to take their decisions and be accountable for the same. This inculcates a sense of responsibility in them towards their job.

It changes their outlook towards the task at hand and ensures that their decisions positively impact the performance of the whole team. You can give ownership in different ways – by asking someone to lead a particular project, handling more responsibilities, etc. It builds their self-esteem as they feel assured that you trust their capabilities.

Open Communication

boosting your teams productivity

Encouraging open avenues of communication between your team members and yourself is something you must ensure from the outset. It makes businesses thrive and fosters healthy dynamics in the workplace. In the absence of communication, there arise unwanted and completely avoidable misunderstandings and trivial errors that waste time, effort, and money.

Instead, if you can take the extra step to articulate and convey your ideas and expectations effectively, it makes matters easier for everyone on board. Sometimes a team member may shy away from clarifying doubts and asking questions during team meetings. As a team leader, you should sense this and try facilitating better communication in other ways, such as through private conversations and one-on-one interactions.

Collaboration

If your team members gel together and get along well with each other, they’re sure to be happier. It goes without saying that their performance will also be better in such cases. Encouraging collaboration among team members can help you maximize your team’s productivity.

No matter how large or small your team is, there is sure to be a fair amount of diversity in terms of the skills that each team member brings to the table. The best way to utilize these varying skills is by making sure the entire team knows about current projects. It will encourage them to volunteer to collaborate if they feel they can add value to a specific task.

Constructive Feedback

An ideal way to help your employees grow personally and professionally is by providing them with feedback about their performance. It should be your aim to guide your team members to figure out what they can do to keep growing in their careers. If there’s room for improvement, share constructive feedback that shows them how to be more successful at what they are doing.

You can hold regular touch-base meetings to monitor progress and advise the team members on their performance. These meetings can also be an opportunity for the team members to voice their professional concerns to you. Giving feedback may make you feel uncomfortable, but it plays an essential part in your team/company’s success.

Healthy Boundaries

boost your teams productivity

The last thing you want to do as a good team leader is to overwork your employees or cause burnout. Use your position to set healthy boundaries that encourage a harmonious work-life balance. Team leaders and managers can set precedents like not checking emails after working hours. It signals to the team the importance of switching off from work and keeps them motivated for the next day.

It might be tricky to manage this in an environment where flexible work hours prevail, and people start early or work late, depending on their preferences. But if you, as a team leader, can encourage them to set healthy work limits, prioritise their sleep, and avoid burnout, it will lead to better productivity and more success in the long run.

Leading a team isn’t the most straightforward job in the world, which is why great leaders are few and so revered. A good leader understands the techniques, as well as the significance of boosting productivity in the workplace. They value skills like time management, collaboration, and organisation. They also display keen insight into delivering what is asked.

These skills trickle down to the respective team members and make them more efficient at their tasks. A well-supported team is always motivated to bring their best to the table every day, making things smoother for everyone involved. Use the tips mentioned above and see your team achieve better levels of productivity than ever before!

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How Personal Injury Attorneys Fight for Rights of Injury Victims

If you are involved in an accident that results in injury, you may want to consider hiring a personal injury attorney. Contacting an attorney may be the last thing on your mind immediately after an accident. However, the reality is that the right personal injury attorney can often be a great benefit to you and your recovery. Thus, it is never too early to start thinking about how a personal injury attorney may be able to help you.

Personal injury accidents can occur in the workplace, on the road, or even while you are at the store getting groceries. Regardless of where your personal injury occurs, an attorney may be able to help.

You might be thinking you can handle the aftermath of your accident on your own without the assistance of an attorney. While this may be the case, let’s take a closer look at how a personal injury attorney fights for the rights of injury victims and how that may ultimately lead to a better outcome for you.

What Qualifies as a Personal Injury Claim That an Attorney Can Assist with

personal injury

At its core, a personal injury claim is a legal dispute that arises when one person’s actions result in harm or injury to another. This definition is admittedly broad. Examples of situations that may result in a personal injury claim include:

  • Slip and fall accidents,
  • Motor vehicle accidents,
  • Medical malpractice, and
  • Assault

Because personal injury claims can arise in so many different scenarios, it can often be difficult to know whether you have a valid personal injury claim.

One Dallas personal injury lawyer uses what he calls the I.D.R. method, which stands for Injury, Duty, and Remedy. Essentially, if you are involved in an accident, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was there an injury?
  • Did anyone involved have a duty to keep the injury from occurring?
  • Does the law allow for a remedy?

While you can probably tell easily if there was an injury, the other two questions may be more difficult to answer on your own. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you answer these questions and more.

Ways Personal Injury Attorneys Fight for Injury Victims’ Rights

Attorneys can be a great benefit to personal injury victims who need help answering preliminary questions to determine whether they may have a case. However, there are many other ways in which personal injury attorneys help fight for the rights of injured victims.

Connecting Victims with Medical Providers

personal injury attorney rights of injury victims

If you have sustained injuries in a personal injury accident, you should seek medical attention as soon as practicable. Not only will this help you work toward a speedy recovery, but it may also help you ultimately maximize your potential monetary recovery. Thus, getting connected with the right provider can be an important step. But where should you go for your medical care?

Fortunately, many personal injury attorneys may have close relationships with medical professionals. Often, they can point you in the direction of a medical care provider who may be better equipped to assist with your particular injuries.

Assessing Damages

A crucial part of a personal injury case is the assessment of damages. Legal damages comprise the monetary compensation you seek to help you recover from your injuries after an accident. Thus, it is essential that you know what to seek.

Damages you may be able to receive compensation for in a personal injury case include:

  • Past and future medical expenses;
  • Loss of income and future earning capacity;
  • Property damages;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress; and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

If you are not familiar with the allowable damages in a personal injury case, you may not know the full amount you may actually be entitled to. An experienced personal injury attorney, however, will be able to help you better assess the damages in your case. This will allow you to maximize your potential recovery.

Negotiating with Opposing Parties and Insurers

Personal injury attorneys are known for being great advocates for their clients. But that advocacy starts long before reaching a trial. One of the most common ways a personal injury attorney fights for the rights of injured victims is through negotiations.

In a personal injury case, there will be a long process of negotiations to reach a potential settlement. In fact, it is estimated that up to 97% of civil cases will be resolved before reaching a trial, most often in some form of a settlement.

Using the specific facts in your case, an attorney will aggressively negotiate with opposing parties and insurers on your behalf to get you the best result possible. Negotiating with these types of parties can be intimidating and overwhelming, but a personal injury lawyer who does this for a living can be a great asset.

Being an Advocate at Trial, If Necessary

Lastly, a personal injury attorney fights for the rights of injury victims by being their advocate at trial.

If you are unable to settle your case through negotiations, sometimes your only remaining option is to go to trial. Unfortunately, however, the trial process is long and complicated. Steps in a court trial include:

  • Filing the complaint,
  • Discovery,
  • Filing and responding to pretrial motions,
  • Selecting the jury,
  • Making opening statements,
  • Presenting evidence,
  • Examining witnesses, and
  • Making closing arguments.

While you may not know how to handle a full court trial, experienced trial attorneys know very well how to navigate the court system. Further, they know what arguments to make on your behalf and how to present the facts in a way that will give you the strongest case possible.

The post How Personal Injury Attorneys Fight for Rights of Injury Victims appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Could You Have Imposter Syndrome?

We’ve all heard the term “fake it until you make it,” which refers to the idea that by acting confident and, as though you know what you’re doing, you will eventually make that a reality. But, what if that reality never comes and you feel like you’re faking it all the time?

Everyone occasionally feels like they’re just winging it. We hope no one notices that we don’t really know what we’re doing. But when you live constantly feeling like a fraud and worry about being exposed you may have what is called imposter syndrome.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome refers to the persistent feeling that you aren’t actually responsible for your own achievements or success. People with imposter syndrome often feel like they’ve been lucky, in the right place at the right time, or that others are really the source of their success and feel guilty because of the praise that they’re receiving.

These feelings are often found in high achievers but can affect anyone in any walk of life, and both men and women can experience them. And it’s not just in the workplace.

Imposter syndrome can affect any positive area in your life – relationships, school, money, or family. Feeling that you don’t really deserve any of the good things in your life and are completely unworthy of what you have is a primary characteristic of imposter syndrome.

Feeling this way causes stress, anxiety, depression, and can make even the most successful people afraid to take on new challenges and unable to live with the worry of being exposed.

If this sounds familiar but you’re still unsure, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you consider yourself a high achiever?
  • Do you feel you’re lucky and worry your luck will run out?
  • Do you worry your achievements will make people expect too much of you and you’ll ultimately disappoint them?
  • Do you often feel like you’re mediocre or incompetent?
  • Does a new situation make you desperate to feel prepared, cause you to obsess over the details, or feel like nothing can be left to chance?
  • Are you controlling when it comes to events, projects, or anything else with which you are associated?
  • Do you experience constant self-doubt?
  • Are you worried that if people look too hard they’ll find flaws in your work?
  • Are you concerned that people will find out you’re not as smart or as good as you seem?

If you answered, “yes” to most or all of these, you are likely dealing with imposter syndrome. And while we can all experience these feelings occasionally, when they become persistent and get in the way of your happiness and ability to enjoy your success, they become a problem.

How To Get Over Feeling Like A Fraud

having imposter syndrome

One of the biggest problems with imposter syndrome is that no amount of success and happy achievements make it go away. In fact, it’s often the case that the greater the success, the more intense the feelings of being a fraud and being found out can become.

For some people these feelings can serve as motivation. They work harder, do more, triple and quadruple check everything just to validate themselves and increase their feelings of worthiness. But is that a healthy motivation? Not really. Using feelings of fear and self-doubt to motivate yourself is draining and costly to your mental health and overall happiness.

Finding a way to overcome imposter syndrome and feel secure in your achievements isn’t easy, however. If you suffer with this, it likely has deep roots. So to get past it you will have to truly examine your past experiences and beliefs about yourself and your abilities.

To do that consider some of the following truths:

  1. While others may have helped, you had a major role in your own success.
  2. Hard work pays off. If you have worked hard you have earned the right to be proud of what you’ve achieved.
  3. Positive or negative, other people’s opinions aren’t as important to your own mental health and happiness as yours is.
  4. You belong as much as anyone around you.
  5. Everyone around you has insecurities and feels like a fraud sometimes too. You’re not alone.
  6. Failure doesn’t make you a phony.

Although these are all true and need to be remembered, accepting them as truth can be tough. You may need work to believe them, and to that end consider using the tips below to assist you:

  • Keep a notebook of praise and compliments paid to you. Reviewing these can help you feel more secure and counter your negative self-talk.
  • Stop thinking about yourself and focus on adding value to those around you – but not in an obsessive way. The point here is to eliminate the, “What will they think of me?” train of thoughts and negative self-talk. Helping, pitching in, and doing things for others will not only make others appreciate you, it breaks down walls, brings you closer to other people, and will make you feel good about yourself.
  • Make a list of the things you’re afraid people will find out about you. Then review them and find the reasons they aren’t that bad or unique and recognize that others have the same or worse concerns about themselves.
  • Talk to someone and tell them how you feel. Doing this will take some of the fear away, allow that person to reassure you, and you may discover they have had very similar feelings.

If none of these helps and you still find that you feel like a fraud, it may be time to talk to a counselor. As I mentioned earlier, these thoughts and feelings are usually deep-seated. Getting past them will mean that you need to address their source and work through those issues before you can really move on and find the happiness and self-confidence you need.

The post Could You Have Imposter Syndrome? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Calculate and Reduce Your Customer Churn Rate

Regardless of what business you are in and by whatever name you call it – attrition, defection, or anything – customer churn is real. Every business has to deal with loss of customers and lose some revenue. Understanding what causes this customer churn is important. When a client or customer chooses to stop doing business with your company or stop using your brand products or services, it is called customer churn.

Customer churn depends on the type and nature of business or company. Some of the various ways it can be called in parlance include:

  • Cancellation of product or service subscription
  • Closure of customer account
  • Non-renewal of service agreement or contract
  • Cancellation of user agreement
  • Switching to a competitor program or offering

How to Measure Customer Churn Rate

Customer churn rate can be measured in these following ways.

  • Total number of customers lost in a specific period of time
  • Total percentage of customers lost in a specific period
  • Percentage of recurring business value lost
  • Business value lost

It is also necessary to note here that churn is inevitable. No matter how amazing your service is or useful your products or how great your marketing strategy is, you will have to face customers who want to leave. But this doesn’t mean you can’t prevent churn. Maintaining a good churn rate is possible and that is what is recommended.

Customer Churn Rates as per Industry basis

  • American card companies churn around 20 percent per annum
  • 5-7 percent customer churn rates are reported for software-as-a-service companies

While some customer churn rates are great for one business, they are terrible for another.

3 Ways to Reduce Customer Churn

Customer Onboarding

how to reduce customer churn rate thru customer onboarding

Customers will look for better options if they do not understand the product too well. Any questions in the initial introduction can blow them away. The most important being the customer’s first experience and when that is good, they will want to continue with the business. A clear onboarding process is necessary to better a customer experience and reduce customer churn. The onboarding is the most important step in the process. Customers think of leaving only when they are unsatisfied from the beginning.

Meet Customers’ Expectations

Promising a lot of things to a customer and failing to deliver is one of the quickest ways to lose one. Close to 35 percent of customers stop doing businesses after a single negative experience. Unmet expectations and dissatisfaction are big reasons for customer churn. Consistently meeting customer expectations is important. Being honest to your customer about what they can expect is necessary.

Listening to what customers have to say about the product is also crucial. If they have any suggestions or improvements, finding out the same from customers is just as essential. 16 percent of customers post on social media when they face a negative interaction with a brand. And close to 60 percent of customers are heavily influenced by social media comments on brands and companies.

Provide Awesome Customer Service

how to reduce customer churn rate thru customer service

A survey by Zendesk revealed that 42 percent of respondents found that they had a major frustration with customer service departments. Customer service is one of the major reasons why customer churn happens. Listening carefully to customers’ feedback is one of the best ways to retain customers.

When customers voice their complaints, listen to their exact problems, and find solutions. Even loyal customers can defect if the service is bad and they are being taken for granted. No one likes it when we must wait on a customer desk call for more than 20 minutes to clarify a simple doubt. Sometimes, customers face technical issues which can be sorted through an awesome customer service.

Bottom Line: Maximise Profits by Reducing Churn

A lot of businesses fail because customers are not happy with the customer service. If a customer threatens to close business, then it means the product needs to be explored to the full potential. A call with the customer success manager can make it simpler to resolve issues. Great customer success education should be the beginning of the customer journey.

From customer onboarding, it is important to maintain a great rapport with them. Through the right customer engagement tactics, customers can understand how the product fits into their success strategy.

The post How to Calculate and Reduce Your Customer Churn Rate appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

10 Best Chrome Extensions for Keeping Organized

Though it was necessity that caused most people to move to a remote workplace due to the restrictions put in place by the pandemic, many experts predict that remote work will continue long after a vaccine is created and we, as a whole, can go back to what was normal before quarantine. With that, staying organized at home can be more difficult than in an office, but technology is aplenty when it comes to helping you do so.

Here are 10 extensions that Chrome offers to help you keep your home office organized and secure.

Win the Day

Though admittedly not the most powerful tool on this list, starting said list with “Win the Day” seemed appropriate. This extension allows users to set goals and deadlines and keeps them organized on your desktop. You can sectionalize your goals with sub-goals, as well.

Google Keep

chrome extensions for productivity google keep
Via chrome.google.com

Google Keep is an extension for the organization of data. Data used to be utilized, primarily, by a data analyst at a given company, but now everyone should have a firm grasp of how to collect and manage data feedback.

Papier

This extension is to help organize your brainstorm sessions, even the ones with just you as the participant. It’s very easy to use, and with machine learning it can organize all of your brainstorming thoughts just how you like them, after a few weeks of you doing it manually.

LastPass

LastPass is a password manager extension that securely saves your login credentials across all of your devices. Rather than having a folder on your desktop that can be easily hacked, LastPass advertises itself as a “password vault” that only you can access when you need to quickly reference you means of accessing a website.

Productivity Tracker

Another encompassing extension, this helps users track their work, their financial plans, and even their personal goals outside of work, like walking every day, or keeping tabs on caloric intakes. It also tracks all of your clicks and scrolls in Chrome, so you can evaluate what you’ve been wasting your time on.

Save to Pocket

This nifty extension helps you organize your time and information by allowing you to quickly save something that you want to read right from your desktop to your phone. With this, you can make sure your time spent at the desktop involves actual work, and then when you’re in transit you can “check your pocket” for the story you want to get wise to.

Clockify

chrome extensions for productivity clockify
Via clockify.me

Clockify leans a little more towards time-management than physical organization, but organizing your time is as important as organizing your “stuff.” Clockify can be programmed to make sure you don’t get lost in a wormhole of a website like social media, that can not only waste time, but also cause security issues if logged in for too long.

TodoBook

With some similarities to Clockify, TodoBook is a way to self-inflict focus on your wondering mind. When you use this extension, it automatically shows you your to-do list every time you login to facebook or another social media site in order to keep you on task and mentally organized.

Diigo

This one is more geared towards those who need to organize and recall large amounts of research. Called a “web collector,” Diigo makes it extremely easy to collect, site, and even make notes directly on web pages that you can reference later.

Just Read

Last but not least, is more for in-the-moment organization, and that is the Just Read extension that allows users to block out everything on a page that isn’t the meat and potatoes. Ads, links, etc. are “muted,” allowing users to focus on what they came to the page to see.

Happy Chroming!

The post 10 Best Chrome Extensions for Keeping Organized appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

10 Things Not to Say to Someone with Breast (Or Any Other) Cancer

Welcome to October. The leaves are showing their vibrant fall colors. Pumpkin spice everything can be found everywhere, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month is underway.
Learning that a friend, family member, or coworker has breast (or any other) cancer is hard. Figuring out what to say next is harder. As a two-time cancer survivor, I know that there are plenty of things not to say to a cancer patient because I’ve heard most of them.

I’ve written my experiences and learnings down in my book Again: Surviving Cancer Twice With Love And Lists and I will share with you here important questions, phrases, or topics to avoid.

At least you have a good cancer.

No cancer is a “good” cancer. This is a backhanded way of asking about the patient’s prognosis. Rather than asking for such information, let the individual know that you’re there to listen and let her share what she’s comfortable sharing.

Cancer isn’t as hard as it used to be.

When I was fourteen years old in 1981 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer was really hard, especially when I threw up day after day from radiation treatment and couldn’t go to high school. Thirty-five years later when I was forty-nine—a wife, mom of three, and professional—with breast cancer, cancer still was really hard, especially after I lost my hair, had agonizing bone pain, and diarrhea during months of chemotherapy. While advances in cancer treatment have improved over the years, any treatment stinks. It’s okay to say, “This really sucks.” Because it does and thanks for noticing.

Are you getting the boob job with the tummy tuck?

A lumpectomy or a single or bilateral mastectomy is not a “boob job.” It’s the amputation of some or all of the breast tissue, possibly including nipples, and often resulting in the complete loss of sensation in the chest. Reconstruction, if chosen, may be done with implants or with some form of flap reconstruction where the surgeon may use tissue from other body parts to reconstruct the breasts. These are painful surgeries with fairly long recoveries and leave individuals profoundly changed in their self-identities and in their sex lives. So, not a tummy tuck.

Does it run in your family? Maybe you should have worked out more.

No one asks for a cancer diagnosis. It’s not anyone’s fault if they get one. Please leave the “should have” lectures at home and avoid attributing an individual’s cancer diagnosis to something they may or may not have done, such as the food they ate, their exercise habits, or family history.

My mother, sister, friend, grandma . . . had cancer. She died.

Individuals’ cancer experiences and outcomes are different, and these stories may not always be helpful or comforting, particularly if death is involved. Put yourself in the patient’s shoes, would you want someone to say that to you?

Have you heard about [this new treatment, supplement, anti-cancer diet]?

When I was in treatment, I received much unsolicited advice. I had a great team of medical professionals whom I trusted, and I didn’t want to hear about the latest Internet “cures,” ginger chews for nausea, or turmeric tea’s anti-inflammatory properties. Respect the patient – and her choices.

I Know How You Feel.

No, you don’t. But, you can ask her how she’s feeling.

You’re so brave, strong, an inspiration . . .

do not to say to a cancer patient

While not unkind, these expressions discount how individuals with cancer may feel, which, more often than not, may be sad, angry, terrified, and anxious.

You look great.

Cancer may come with hair loss, weight loss or gain, changes in skin tone, etc. Trust me, the patient knows she doesn’t look great and is probably upset about it. Instead, simply tell the individual how great it is to see her.

Nothing.

not to say to a cancer patient

If you’re not sure what to say, then say so. Don’t ghost your friend, family member, or coworker due to your fear or unease. It’s about her, not you.

So what can you do?

Remember that the person with whom you’re speaking is the same person she always has been. Listen or offer words of encouragement and support. Ask what you can do to help them in practical, concrete ways, such as making meals, taking them to appointments, or picking up children from school. Finally, talk to them about something, anything, other than cancer.

If you would like to learn more, read about my journey in my new book

The post 10 Things Not to Say to Someone with Breast (Or Any Other) Cancer appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Can AI Be the Solution to the Much-Debated Climate Change Issue

How ironic is it that the species considered as the most intelligent in the entire universe is on the verge of destroying its only home. Last month several teenagers, among other people took to the streets to protest about the lack of action by political leaders on the issue of climate change. Whether people may choose to believe it or not, climate change is happening for real and is a more complex problem than it seems.

We can understand some part of the problem from the fact that a mere 16-year-old Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg had to come to the UN and enlighten the world leaders about the seriousness of the issue.

According to recent research by NASA, the leading cause of rapid change in the climate is the emission of greenhouse gases that lead to the phenomenon of global warming. As we try to look behind its roots, we find that there is a 95 percent probability that human actions in the past 50 years have warmed the planet.

This and more recent cases have shaken the world and made us realize the importance of stern measures that must be taken to combat the challenge. The climate change issue is an existential crisis, and the sooner everyone realizes it, the better it would be.

But, it’s not just strict policies that can cause an impact and save our only home. We are far more advanced than we were decades back. Thanks to all the technology that we’ve developed, we can now look beyond our planet to conduct research and study the solar system.

This technology can also be utilized to tackle the issues of climate change. One such cutting edge technology that has penetrated every sector of the economy and every other walk of life is Artificial Intelligence.

A research paper that proves this theory came into the limelight this year. Titled Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning, the paper is written by some of the pioneers of artificial intelligence and machine learning. It highlights the utility of machine learning and AI for battling the climate change crisis.

Understanding the impact of AI-powered niches like neural networks, GANs, image processing, computer vision, etc. have caused around the world, it’s a great idea to use them and find solutions for situations like global warming.

Why Not AI for Climate Change?

Until now, we have limitedly used AI’s potential to drive business growth, aid doctors in the healthcare sector or reform the travel experience. However, since the climate change issue has escalated beyond the point that we can solve it through the political wand, we need AI’s intervention to take charge. Because if we can use technology for almost everything, why can’t we use it to fight one of the scariest battles the world is witnessing?

One of the authors of the paper, David Rolnick, who is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, highlighted the fact that the research paper was a ‘call to arms’. The motive of the article was to bring researchers together and give a thought to the climate change problems that machine learning can contribute to.

Although physics-based models have been used in climate change predictions, they are bottom-up approaches and forecast only based on physical boundary conditions. General circular models or GCMs were developed by the numerical representation of atmospheric physical conditions.

Similarly, Earth System Models (ECMs) consider features like biochemical cycling and atmospheric chemistry. They are advanced GCM models used for current climatic studies. However, these models suffer from significant forecast uncertainties, which is why researchers began exploring neural networks and other advanced algorithms for the job.

But, those who see the disciplines of AI as a silver bullet might also be heading in the wrong direction. Artificial intelligence and machine learning need not necessarily provide an ultimate solution to the problem. But they help us see beyond the issue by offering valuable insights. Once we have the ideas at hand, both the government and the private sector can deploy cutting-edge technology and policies to drive the battle against climate change.

AI-Powered Devices

Artificial intelligence through ML techniques and powered devices help in the scenarios where we are uncertain and want to start a chain reaction that will approach the climate change issue in two ways. In one way, it will reduce any further deterioration of the environment.

While in the other way, it will provide futuristic solutions to improve the conditions and maybe even restore the ecosystem to a certain extent. A learning-based AI could do much more than crunching CO2 emission numbers. It could record those numbers, study causes and solutions, and ultimately recommend the best fitting solution.

Smart Thermostats

With climate change happening all across the world, more and more heating and cooling systems are being put to use. They demand a ton of energy and account for half of a residential’s energy requirements. However, with smart AI-based thermostats in the picture, this issue could be approached in a better manner.

Smart thermostats automatically adjust the indoor temperature setting by analyzing external temperatures and humidity settings. Nest’s learning thermostat is an example of an AI-powered device that works on a Wi-Fi connection. The smart thermostat also uses fans whenever necessary and automatically adjust the temperature of your home depending on whether you’re at home or not.

It also tracks user behavior and learns from manual adjustments so that it’s better able to adjust temperatures. Research indicates that using smart thermostats for the home can lower energy consumption by up to 15 percent annually.

Irrigation Systems

A lot of American households have large landscapes around them. In other instance, agriculture is extensively practiced in various parts of the world. All of this leads to a massive amount of water consumption. While agriculture is fundamental to life, green landscapes have their own perks.

Statistics suggest that American households use about 320 gallons of water per day, out of which 30 percent is used for maintaining these landscapes. Meanwhile, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the world’s freshwater withdrawals.

Using a smart AI-backed irrigation system can save a significant amount of water and help conserve a part of the environment. Like other devices, they work on a wireless internet connection and stay up to date with the local weather of the area.

These devices understand when to not irrigate the lands during a downpour or after a storm. Based on the manual irrigation pattern of a user, these devices learn and suggest a schedule for optimal water usage. It can be used to maintain the desired level of moisture in the soil and help an individual conserve water to a great extent.

Pest Control

Pesticides not only harm the soil but also deplete it of certain essential nutrients. Moreover, the crops harnessed from such soil lacks nutrients. Artificial intelligence can be put to use in such a scenario to identify and fight specific insects without harming the others. The technology that is being commercially used in some parts of the world, uses image recognition to identify and treat harmful pests without harming the natural environment around it.

Smart Pest Controls can significantly lower the costs for a farmer and prevent the collapse of a useful colony of insects that are fundamental to the food chain and environment. Similarly, using this device can enable farmers or other concerned technicians to click a picture of a pest and upload it to find out the best treatment methods against it.

IoT Energy Meter

Energy conservation is a must for the conversation of the environment. The IoT energy meters can help track energy consumption with its smart sensors. They just need to be clamped into electrical circuits to start tracking the amount of energy being consumed.

It is easy and convenient to install in households and sends data securely over the Wi-Fi. They charge directly from circuit panels and do not require a battery. One such system is developed by Verdigris technologies.

Leading Organizations Developing AI-based Systems

Health of Forests

silviaterra
Via microsoft.com

Forests are the most important parts of our planet, which is why their conservation is our utmost priority. SilviaTerra, an AI-powered tool developed by Microsoft, uses satellite images to predict the sizes, species, and the health of forests. This is helping to save countless hours of manual fieldwork, which now researchers can put in improving the quality of green cover on the planet.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Data Centres

No matter how powerful we consider the company Google to be, it could seldom do anything to reduce its carbon footprint. The point is that Google’s widespread services across the world call for a large number of data centers. These data centers take up a lot of energy for their cooling process, leaving a massive amount of carbon footprint in the environment.

To address this issue, Google recently collaborated with a company called DeepMind to build an AI-powered system. This new neural network-based tool could teach itself to use a bare minimum amount of energy to cool down Google’s data centers.

As a result, the tech titan was able to cut down their emissions by 40 percent. Moreover, there was also a 15 percent reduction in total power saving. Due to the general approach of the algorithm, the two companies also plan to work together on building more energy-saving applications in the future.

Self-configuring Pollution Forecasts

Unless we measure the impact of climate change, it is difficult to understand whether we’re impacting anything. A plethora of cities fail to measure their emissions, and as a result, fail to take measures to reduce them. Having said this, another tech giant IBM laid the foundation of the Green Horizon Project.

The Green Horizon Project is an artificial intelligence-based system that creates self-configuring weather and pollution forecasts. It was created with the vision to help cities become more efficient in terms of energy in today’s generation. The project found ground truth through its implementation in China, where it helped the city of Beijing reduce their average smog levels by 35 percent.

Images of Weather Events

Researchers at Cornell University created an artificial intelligence-based system to produce images before and after an extreme weather event takes place. Even though it might not sound like a problem-solving technology on its own, it is very helpful when it comes to studying the impact of climate change.

Researchers can use these images to predict the impact of certain climate changes, therefore, helping prioritize efforts towards adequate measures. The research used a niche of AI known as General Adversarial Networks (GANs) for the job. GANs are basically network-based algorithms that help in generating statistics or new pieces of information.

Energy Consumption of Commercial Buildings

Among the world’s top carbon emission contributors are commercial and industrial buildings. But with AI-based remedies, energy savings mode can be utilized. Verdigris Technologies, which developed numerous award-winning AI systems, joined forces with global electrification leader ABB. This combined Verdigris’ machine learning solution with ABB’s connected low-voltage switching fabric products.

In its entirety, the goal here was to foresee unexpected surges in power consumption for commercial buildings. It is ABB’s first energy forecasting and intelligent alerts app for building a sustainable environment that aims at reducing the energy consumption of commercial buildings between 10-20 percent.

Earth Science AI

Earth’s climate change is not just impacting the atmosphere. It is also deciding the fate of several businesses, societies, and countries. The London-based tech firm Cervest has designed an AI platform called Earth Science AI to predict the impact of climate change. The platform analyzes billions of data points to forecast how changes in the climate will impact the future of countries and individual landscapes, anywhere across the world.

The three years of research combines AI, machine learning, and statistics with modeling techniques from Earth sciences such as meteorology, hydrology, and atmosphere science. The beta version of the platform is expected to launch next year.

AI Technologies with the Potential to Fight Climate Change

Machine Learning

Machine Learning is one of the most popular technologies under the umbrella of artificial intelligence solutions that can be used to combat climate change. It can help draw conclusions based on a plethora of data one throws at it.

Having said this, predictive analysis is one of the fundamental elements that can help in learning the existing data and forecasting results based on it. Machine learning can help generate statistical models such as regression analysis for climate change forecasting.

GANs

General Adversarial networks are gaining popularity these days. Thanks to their statistics and new information generative capabilities, they can now be used to look at what houses appear before and after a weather event takes place.

GANs can be used to generate images that depict accurate, vivid, and personalized outcomes of climate change. A better version called Cyclic GANs collects the training data to extract the mapping function in order to generate realistic images.

Neural Networks

Neural networks are one of the best technologies that have emerged out of machine learning. They take the training data as input, whether or not they are labeled, only to learn from them and process a series of output known as trends. For example, neural networks can take the temperature data of 30 years and predict the rise and fall for the next ten years.

Deep Neural Networks or DNNs can be used for a time series analysis along with detection and rigorous classification. In spite of their great potential, DNNs have been seldom used for climate change issues. The accuracy of the best global model is found to be 97 percent using LeNet for the convolution neural networks.

Computer Vision

Computer vision is the discipline of AI which helps computers gain a high-level understanding from digital images and videos. It automates the task performed by human vision. Computer vision can be used to analyze images obtained from satellites and send signals about any alarming situations to researchers. For example, they can look at satellite images of forests and investigate whether there is a possibility of a fire within a short time.

BIM and Parametric Estimation Algorithms

Building Information Modelling or BIMs have existed for years but are seldom used to design energy-efficient architectural marvels. Parametric design and building information modeling go hand in hand when designing buildings.

Parametric design is basically a process based on the ML algorithm that allows specific variables to be manipulated to alter the outcomes of an equation. The three-dimensional model-based technology, when powered with parametric estimation algorithms, can help build cost and energy-saving architectures.

The Two Approaches to AI

But solving any problem takes time. The insights and knowledge that we now have about climate change took more than 40 years of rigorous study. In such a long time, the human race has at least been possible to study the climate and deduce that climate change exists.

If humans put another forty or fifty years of research, who knows, we might come up with nature-friendly solutions that require less energy and resources. But the question is, with the ongoing crisis, do we have this much time left? The answer is obvious, and that’s why we need machines to do this job much faster and more accurately.

As we proceed to harness the potential of artificial intelligence for climate change, we find two different approaches that can be utilized. While one is the rules-based approach to artificial intelligence, the other is based on learning. The rules-based approach is more focused on quantitative results. For example, it can help scientists compile specific data analytics, crunch numbers, etc.

The motto of this approach is to solve simple problems with if-then statements in their code. For climate change, it can help scientists find answers to complex issues within a short span of time.

The learning-based approach is a more qualitative approach to solving a problem. It is unlike the rules-based approach that has no memory capabilities and solves problems defined by humans. Instead, the learning-based method diagnoses a problem by interacting with it.

For example, if you ask the rules-based AI for a garment, it will help you find one based on the size and preference you’ve mentioned. On the other hand, when you assign the same task to a learning-based AI, it would instead study your past purchasing patterns to find out the correct size, color, or nature of the garment you are probable to like.

For climate change, both the approaches of Artificial intelligence can serve as saviors. One can tell you about the number of carbon footprints you’ve left in a day, week, month, or a lifetime, while the other can study these to find its sources and suggest ways in which you can reduce them.

AI-Powered Initiatives for the Future

In the practical scenario, there are presently only a handful of ways where machine learning and artificial intelligence can be applied.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Predictions of Electricity Consumption

Electricity is one of the primary renewable resources of society. But, since we’re going to need even more of it with growing time, AI algorithms must be able to predict our requirements. Although some of the algorithms already exist that can forecast the electricity demand, we need improved versions of them that can help operators schedule the resources. These must be able to predict the electricity demand in real-time by taking the local weather, household behavior, etc. into account.

Finding More Sustainable Materials

There is a need to find materials that can store, harvest, and utilize energy more efficiently. When done manually, the process of finding such materials is laborious and time-consuming. However, with machine learning to the rescue, it can be accelerated and new materials with desirable designs, structure, properties, etc. can be discovered or created. For example, we could find a material that can absorb excess carbon dioxide emissions or the one that can store solar energy more efficiently.

Optimizing Transportation and Freight

Transportation and freight require a significant chunk of energy, in terms of fuel, etc. With the ever-changing destinations across the world, transportation must be able to cater to them. With machine learning, we could develop a model that studies the freight trends and find ways to bundle shipments. This can help in minimizing the overall trips and demonstrating resilience when transportation is disrupted.

Promote Electric-Vehicle Adoption

We find a lot of electric vehicles existing today than they were decades ago. But, their adoption is still a matter of concern. One of the issues that hamper adoption is battery usage. AI-based algorithms can help in increasing adoption by improving the battery management so that the vehicles can last for a longer duration with one successful charging. They can also predict overall charging behavior so that grid operators can make decisions and manage load more appropriately.

More Environment-Friendly Buildings

With intelligent control systems in the picture, we can help make the energy consumption by buildings even more efficient. For example, a smart system could analyze weather conditions, occupancy, etc. to adjust heating, cooling, ventilation etc. needed in an enclosed space. AI could also communicate with the power grid and control the supply of power depending upon the requirements. One such example of this use case is the AI platform developed by Verdigris technologies.

Better Estimates of Energy Consumption

Very few people today have an idea about their carbon footprint. When it comes to buildings, this number is close to none. Artificial intelligence-based algorithms can help estimate the energy consumption of buildings from satellite imagery, etc. and determine it for an entire town or city.

With this information, it would be more convenient to develop effective mitigation strategies and reduce greenhouse emissions on a city’s level. Moreover, with the assistance of computer vision, this method can also be utilized to maximize the efficiency of energy consumption and find out the precise footprint of a building.

Enhance Tracking of Deforestation

Deforestation results in nearly 24 percent of greenhouse emissions today. It is one of the reasons that our planet is getting warmer and warmer with each passing year. But, tackling and preventing it can be a real hassle when it is done manually. Satellite images and computer vision algorithms can together work and find out any illegal encroachment at the earliest.

The loss of tree cover can also be identified by fitting sensors in the ground that can warn the authorities of any chainsaw sounds, etc. Moreover, we can also extend this idea to drones that can monitor extensive forests or green areas and send any warning signs before something like a fire breaks out.

Wildfire Detection

chooch wildfire alert
Via chooch.ai

One of the best things about artificial intelligence is that it can help refine images and reconstruct meaning out of it. AI-backed image processing helps in finding meaningful information in images that might not be visible to the naked eye.

This approach can be extensively applied to the detection of wildfires in forest areas. Chooch AI, a San Francisco-based technology company, is currently working on the development of an artificial intelligence-based system that could decrease the time between fire upsurge and the moment it is first spotted.

The platform uses hyper-detailed imagery obtained from satellites for evidence of wildfires. These images, when refined using AI, could lead to earlier fire detection and conservation of lives and green cover.

Encourage the Idea of Precision Agriculture

No matter where you go around the globe, all you can find in terms of agriculture is one crop dominating and growing on a swath of land. Also known as a monoculture, this practice has been helping farmers exercise more control over their fields with tractors and other necessary tools.

However, monoculture is also responsible for depleting the soil of its essential nutrients and leaving it less fertile. To combat this problem, farmers use nitrogen-based fertilizers that only add to the existing carbon emissions. AI-based models can, on the other hand, help farmers identify and manage a mix of crops that regenerate the soil and reduce the need for any fertilizers.

Conclusion

The purpose of artificial intelligence remains to assist the human race in combating the climate change crisis. We cannot leave it on machines to come up with an all-encompassing solution to a particular problem. But, with their intervention in the existing problem, we can hope for a positive future outlook.

The only idea is to start right away and not wait for the next Amazon fire to break out or the next city to suffer from water scarcity. The sooner we realize that we might be nearing the doomsday, the faster it is for us to build models and deploy artificial intelligence disciplines to fight the battle. Maybe, we could even use AI to predict the doomsday? Only if this is what it takes to drive a response from us.

The post Can AI Be the Solution to the Much-Debated Climate Change Issue appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

7 Podcasts that You Need in Your Life

Whether we are traveling back from the office, cleaning our house, or standing in a queue, time stands still, and boredom is at peak. However, we can make the most of this time by gaining knowledge. Gone are the days when we were bound to sit on a desk for learning. Today, technology has gifted us so many options for learning and entertainment on the go, and podcasts are one of them.

Podcasts are digital audio files that come in various topics and can be downloaded from the internet. If you are an Apple user, you will find the podcast app pre-downloaded. However, Android users have to download it from Spotify or Google Podcasts.

Last year, Serial got me hooked on podcasts, and now I always have one or two podcasts on my phone as I commute to work, get my chores done, or when I am waiting for the falafel guy to make my order.

With podcasts, you can learn a ton of new things and keep yourself entertained while getting tedious stuff done. Let me share some podcasts with you, which I think can change your life.

Here goes:

A Slob Comes Clean

If you are a slob and cleaning is a challenge, then this podcast is perfect for you. In this Podcast, Dana K. White, a cleaning expert, shares some exceptional cleaning, organizing, and decluttering tips to keep the home in a tip-top condition. She says that doorbells should not be the only motivation for us to clean. Cleaning schedules are mandatory for every house, irrespective of guests and parties.

With the belief that cleaning should be for the residents of the house, she motivates everyone to maintain a clean house 24/7. She encourages people to clean without getting scared of the required efforts. For this, she suggests various strategies that make cleaning a piece of cake. Cleaning itself is not a big deal; it is the cluttered room that makes cleaning look like a mess, she says. Loved by many homeowners and students, the podcast has bought a significant change in several homes.

In her podcast, White gives tips for:

  • Developing a cleaning schedule
  • Tips and tricks to make cleaning easy
  • Easy deep cleaning hacks such as for carpet cleaning
  • Homemade cleaning solutions, and more

How to Be A Better Person

kate hanley podcast

If you are feeling demotivated, sad, guilty, or depressed, give this podcast a try. Kate Hanley, the author, shares exceptional tips to bring a positive change in life. The small doses of guidance are ideal in improving relationships, helping others, and relaxing.

By spending just five minutes a day, you can easily learn the tactics and embrace positivity. Try listening to the episode “Forgive Your Mistakes” in your first attempt. Within a few seconds, Hanley will make you realize that mistakes are common in everyone’s life. The episode is great to forget your former mistakes and focus on the future.

Hidden Brain

If you love to learn science-based facts, give Hidden Brain a try. Shankar Vedantam, the host of the podcast, gets inside the unconscious ways that affect our minds. He gives scientific reasoning on the way our minds think. The podcast is ideal for people suffering from mental health issues, such as OCD.

The podcast is a life-changing tool for families that have someone with OCD as it helps them understand the issue and makes them better equipped to help that family member. Additionally, leaders and managerial level employees should also give it a try. Knowing the science behind how a human thinks helps in dealing effectively with the team and getting desired outcomes.

Sleep with Me

Are depression, anxiety, and stress becoming a hurdle in your sleep? Productivity becomes a big question when we do not get at least 8 hours of sleep a day. Do not worry, try this podcast by Drew Ackerman to get your sleep on.

The author tells boring bedtime stories that fight against your thoughts and put you to sleep. This podcast is a hit with hundreds of people as it has bought an excellent change in their sleeping schedules. Whether you are a teenager or an adult, these stories will put you right to sleep within minutes.

TED Talks Health

As the name suggests, the podcast focuses on health issues. From routine health problems to maintaining perfect health, the podcast provides insights into every issue. Though there are many health podcasts available, to overly focus on a single topic makes it boring.

TED Talks helps you in selecting your health issues and even selecting the medical experts that suits you. For instance, Mariano Sigman, a neuroscientist, has discussed the role of words in describing our mental health. The podcast is also helpful for health experts who have just started their careers and are in their training phase.

10% Happier

ten percent happier podcast

Dan Harris, a news anchor at ABC, started this podcast after the success of his book of the same name. The incident of having a panic attack and its impact on his life led him to work on this topic. The podcast sheds light on dealing with stress and using mediation techniques to resolve mental issues.

He has tried a couple of mediation tactics and now wants others to try them as well. If you are depressed and stress is becoming a hindrance in your routine activities, give it a try to bring a good change in your life.

Secrets of Productive People

This podcast by Fast Company is ideal for those struggling with productivity. Kate Davis, the author, declares that people get scared about the quality when huge quantity is required, and thus productivity becomes impossible. She highlights how top-notch entrepreneurs are managing both quality and quantity and what are the tactics behind it.

Besides, the podcast also covers some issues related to career growth, including getting a handsome salary in your first job, standing out from the mob of employees, and so on. So, if you have just started your career and want to give your best shot, get some expert advice from this podcast.

Wrapping It Up

Podcasts are making a big contribution to changing lives. Whether you are dealing with a mental health issue or struggling with your career, facing relationship problems, or tired of managing daily chores, podcasts can be a life-saving option. When you get expert guidance, tips, and strategies to cope up with the struggles and hardships of life, positive change becomes inevitable.

Try using the above podcasts and experience a noticeable change in your life. If you are already using some podcasts and finding them useful, do not forget to share it with us.

The post 7 Podcasts that You Need in Your Life appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Real Estate SEO Tips: How to Maximize Your Google Visibility

Like other sectors, real estate is increasingly grabbing customers’ attention by coming up with ideal websites that run with proper SEO strategies. SEO has emerged as a successful way to boost your site’s ranking on Google and earn more leads and conversions in your online real estate business.

Today, the majority of buyers rely on Google searches to buy properties. If you want your CRE website to reach the top on the searches, you should leverage the effective marketing strategies. SEO is one of the best digital marketing concepts that can assist your real estate business to gain more benefits and lead online competition ahead. Because SEO matters a lot in hitting your business goals, you must try it in your real estate business.

Best Ways to Optimize Your CRE Website to Boost Google Visibility

Nowadays, the business has the boast of achieving the top position in the search results, which led them to develop an effective SEO strategy to earn the best results. But the question arises from where you should start? How to come up with the best SEO strategy? Here we have come up with a few tips that will assist you in optimizing your site and maximizing its visibility on Google.

#1: Kick-Off the Keyword Strategy

real estate seo keyword tips

Let’s start with the basics. The keyword strategy is the first step for effective SEO. There are a few things that you should consider while strategizing your move. Here, we have mentioned a few essential points of any keyword research and strategy.

Head keywords: When it comes to keywords strategy, the head keywords should be a priority. Generic competitive terms push your website on the Google search and help it to rank high for a specific keyword. For instance, you can consider the “1031 exchange” to “Miami office” and other possible variations that a user usually searches for.

Higher Valuable Terms: Such keywords include your company or brand name. These keywords also play a significant role in helping your site to rank higher.

Long-Tail Keywords: It includes the keywords that relate to a particular category of CRE company. Long-tail keywords include more characters than other keywords—for example, Washington DC Office space for rent, etc.

#2: High-Quality Content

There is no doubt that high-quality content is the core part of SEO, without which you can’t fulfill your dream to rank your site high on Google or other search engines. Therefore, we would highly recommend you to check out the health and wealth of your web content; after all, they are essential for the implementation of SEO strategies that are considered as the smart move towards the success of your real-estate business.

Content is not only limited to text. It also includes images, videos, and graphics. So, it would be best if you prioritize them. If we say clearly, the thing you should focus on for your CRE website is mentioned below. Check it out.

  • Proper company overview
  • Full-fledged property descriptions
  • Only add the original content to your site
  • Content should be relevant to your industry
  • Original news articles
  • Company’s latest updates and news

#3: Optimization of On-Page Elements

CRE website involves several SEO elements that one should always consider. If we say clearly, then on-page elements like the meta titles and meta descriptions of CRE websites are essential to be optimized so that Google can easily understand the page’s content. SEO optimization of on-page elements is necessary as it helps Google to place your site on the relevant searches and further improves the ranking.

Meta Title: In this field, you can describe your company and what you do. The thing which you need to remember is that the meta titles should be around 50-60 characters. Google displays the meta title of up to a maximum of 65 characters. Meta title example: Commercial Real Estate | Company Name | State or City

Meta Description: It allows you to elaborate on the description of your page and the company. The maximum meta description length is 50-160 characters. Along with this, another thing which you should focus on is the geographical area from where your real estate business operates and serves that rendered as target keywords.

Optimized Images: When it comes to SEO optimization, then it is essential to optimize your images correctly using correct file names and ALT tags. But why is it necessary? According to a study, it is mentioned that 63 percent of the people who look at Google images visit the host website, whereas 17 percent of that traffic belongs to the first image. Because website images have a higher CTR, they are also optimized correctly to earn more points in SEO rankings and Google visibility.

#4: Focus on Quality Backlinks

Another CRE SEO tip on our list is to focus on quality backlinks. It is the best way to boost the site ranking on search engines. In this method, you can get other websites to link back to you. Backlinking is considered a part of traditional SEO, but it still works great with today’s websites. But when it comes to quality backlinks, there is a need to develop engaging content that should include something relevant. If your content is not attractive, then people will not provide a link to your site, and your chances for improving ranking will decline.

Why SEO?

real estate seo google tips

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a popular and widely used practice of improving your site’s ranking in Google search results and other search engines. If we say in simple words, then SEO maximizes your business’ visibility on Google and other search engines.

SEO involves several strategies that digital marketers or business owners implement to gain the best results. But at the same time, the process can take months or over a year to offer the desired results. Although it takes a couple of months, if the strategy is implemented properly, it can bring you powerful results, including increased website traffic and Google visibility.

Significance of SEO in Real Estate

“Is SEO important for your real estate business?” Let’s take a look.

  • Google statistics clearly show that around 63K searches are performed on Google every year
  • 33 percent of people click on the first results, and hence businesses always strive to reach on top of the Google search results
  • 75 percent of people never scroll past the first page of search engines

With the above statistics, one can easily conclude how essential SEO is in maximizing business visibility on Google. All these data show that if your business website ranks on top position, then you can easily earn more points in conversions, leads, and sales.

In simple words, you have to focus on several ranking factors that include choosing the right keywords for the meaningful impact and bringing more traffic of property buyers to your platforms. It can make you a better competitor in the online world.

Final Thoughts

The blog has covered everything you need to know about maximizing the Google visibility of your website. So, what are you waiting for? If you are also on the way to boost the ranking of your CRE (Commercial Real Estate) website, then this blog is for you. We hope that you find this helpful enough to learn more about SEO.

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7 Signs You Need to Hire A Plumber ASAP

A house is like a working factory. It may not resemble one but if you look closely you can relate to it. There are so many systems working together to keep it a functional house.
Let us have a look in the kitchen.

There are several appliances for heating, cooling, and brewing your food and drinks. Most of these appliances are either connected to water pipes, gas lines, or electricity. Then there is a sink, plumbing fixtures, and its garbage disposal.

A lot of pipes and wires can be seen while others are fixed in the walls. The same is the case with your bathroom and other parts of your home.

It is easy to tell that the plumbing is the central system of your home. You can’t imagine a happy and healthy day without a working plumbing system. If you want to keep your daily routine on its track, it is important to know the warnings signs.

Here is a list of 7 signs you need to hire a plumber as soon as possible.

Burst Or Leaky Pipes

leaking pipes

A burst pipe can flood your house within a few minutes. It can incur water damages worth thousands of dollars. The first step is to find the main water valve and shut it down. Once you have stopped the water flow successfully, it is best to call your nearest plumber to fix it. Smart homeowners understand the importance of immediate action in case of burst pipes or you will be dealing with a mold problem in your house very soon.

Failed Water Heater

Opening your tap to unwind under a hot shower is a moment of relaxation. What if you are hit with stone-cold water? This is a sign of water heater failure. Check the thermostat of the water heater. Is it adjusted at the right temperature setting? Is the water heater working? DIY repair of a water heater is a major risk. Hiring a professional plumber is the safest approach.

No Water In Your House

when to call a plumber no water

Well, having no water in your house is a little less annoying than water flooding your home but you can’t continue to live like that. You have to hire a plumber to check the main water supply. You can check on your water utility for reporting the issue if the plumber is unable to fix the issue.

Water Pressure Is Non-Existent

Low or non-existent water pressure in your house indicates an underlying problem in your plumbing system. It may be a clogged or leaky pipe. If water pressure has declined in a single faucet, simple cleaning of the pipe can fix the issue. Most of the homeowners need professional assistance to fix the issue.

If you have pressure problems in all of your plumbing fixtures, it probably indicates a major leak or clogs. It is important to find a master plumber to fix it because clogs can often lead to burst pipes.

Slow Draining Sinks

The slow draining sink is one of the ugliest sights. You have to look at the toothpaste remains and soap bubbles in your sink long after you are done with brushing your teeth. It is gross.

Simple DIY drain cleaning tricks can be very helpful in removing the drain clogs but, at times, you need professional plumbers to get it running. Make sure to check the competence and reliability of a plumber before letting them in your house.

A Serious Back Flow Issue

Backflow issues are some of the worst plumbing issues. The water going down the drains is not that smelly but when it returns from the main drain, it can be pretty disgusting, not to mention the contamination.

The backflow can soak your investments on the floor furnishings within a few hours. Whether you have carpets, expensive hardwood, or both of them, water can ruin them. Hiring a plumber is the most efficient way to get it over with.

Soggy Basement

What if you find your basement a bit soggy on your last trip? The water in your basement is not something you should ignore. Hire the best plumbing services to get it checked.

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Two Reasons to Stop Striving Towards Perfection and Instead Be More Creative

“I need to be the perfect student”. “I must be the perfect employee”. “I have to be the perfect parent”. Many people with high anxiety strive towards perfection. I have been known to be a perfectionist in school, always trying to get straight A’s and being disappointed with any grade lower. You know a perfectionist when you see them and you might be one yourself.

Being detail-oriented and super organized can be helpful in getting good grades, meeting work expectations, and raising children. However, striving towards this idea of perfection is only hindering you. Worrying and walking a path towards being perfect has two main downsides.

The high bar ignores many accomplishments

overcome perfectionism

Perfection is a ridiculously high bar and you would have to go through many obstacles to get there. This can take years and the obstacles include making sacrifices such as your time and energy. Every time you have an accomplishment, you are comparing it to the high bar you have set for yourself. At that point, any success is not as significant and does not bring you as much joy and pride as it should.

The student who strives to be extra excellent often misses out on fully celebrating their good report card. Some perfectionists do not take the chance to jump up and down with joy after graduating with a degree. We ignore these accomplishments because our ‘perfect’ plan is not yet complete. It can be scary to realize there are still years to go for that certificate, degree, license, etc. I mean, does it ever end? If your journey in academics is long, you might as well enjoy it.

Perfection makes you stuck

The other downside is that you might reach perfection and then get stuck in, what I like to call, a snow globe. If you become the perfect employee, you often become stuck in that position because you are perfectly filling the role. You are doing what the boss wants you to do and why would they want to move you from a position that you fill perfectly? It is easier for the powers that be to watch you in your snow globe, performing a set of tasks consistently. They will put the globe up on the shelf and that is where you will sit, likely beginning to collect dust.

When you reach perfection, you prevent yourself from becoming the most creative version of yourself. We can only become more creative by brainstorming, taking risks, and failing. The word ‘fail’ is making all perfectionists cover their ears and close their eyes because it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. I beg you to please hear me out. Everyone fails and failing helps us learn how to do something better than the last time.

Every time we look at something from a different angle, try a new approach, and fail, we learn something about ourselves. What we learn then helps us grow. People who are entrepreneurs, trailblazers, and super creative take risks and have failed. Although these people can reach great success in their career and relationships, they still are not perfect.

Be more creative

how to overcome perfectionism be creative

So how do you slip out from underneath the heavy pressure of perfectionism? Allow yourself to create, even if you need to push yourself to do so! Write down your hopes, interests, and dreams to help you contribute something unique to the world. Design a new system, invent a new product, compose a song, or write an article about what you know to be true.

If it is hard to create out of thin air, focus on something that you already like and change it. Add your flair to the dress, mix beats in the song, or deconstruct the model to reassemble it into something new. You might like what you created or you might hate it. Either way, you took a risk and absolutely learned something. Some lessons are small, tiny even, but they all add up to making big changes in our life. These changes make you a more unique person and not a perfect one.

Perfection can seem great, but remember that there are downsides. Consider ending your path towards perfection in order to grow beyond it. Instead, grow into someone who is more creative.

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How To Launch And Optimize A Corporate Blog Generating Leads

Blogging became one of the most powerful tools for leads generation. Today, content plays a big part not only in entertaining but also in making sales. Though, there is a long way between just a reader, aka follower, and a qualified lead. How to make that way shorter? Read on to find out more about optimizing corporate blogs for generating inbound leads.

Keep Readers Interested

lead generation blogging

Modern readers are demanding and unforgiving of lapses. Your texts have to be informative, provide value, and be catchy at the same time. No matter what you need to tell your potential customers about, make it interesting. Think on how to present information in an easy and captivating way.

It can be a good idea to lead the narration by using a specially created character or even just one of the members of your team. It all depends on the field of your business, a platform you use for blogging, and purposes you want to reach.

Veterinarian communities can speak through a cat or a dog character who knows about pets’ needs and speak to people in order to explain the animals’ needs. Use your imagination and try to create a friendly atmosphere inside your blog.

Make A Content Strategy

To keep followers active and convert them into customers, you need a content strategy. It should include different types of posts including entertaining, advertising, and informative ones. The blog becomes popular when followers associate themselves with themes you explore. Try to understand what worries your customer and answer those requests in your blog.

If you can’t do it on your own, organize a poll and ask people what kind of content they would like to see in your blog. This way you would kill two birds with one stone. The polls not only push you in the right direction but also increase activity, and show readers you care about their opinion.

Also, content has to be added in your blog on a regular basis. Make a schedule and stick to it because regularity keeps readers involved and interested. What about style? You can tell stories and communicate in any manner you like, but most readers usually like a soft and unostentatious style of narration.

Encourage people to communicate and share opinions more, ask what they think about your latest article, and that will bring results. Communication is key to generating leads.

Let People Communicate

blogging lead generation

How to make followers communicate more? It depends on the services or products you offer to the clients. The following techniques are universal and work well for any area. We talk about useful advices, discussions, and answers to frequently asked customers’ questions.

If people see feedback and feel like their needs are important to blog creators they may become your inbound leads. Make sure your blog has all options for active readers to communicate with you. There have to be options for leaving contact details, which you can use for marketing goals. To generate leads, ascertain that your site makes it possible to:

  • order a call;
  • register a trial account;
  • sign up for updates or webinars;
  • join live chats service;
  • download interesting and useful materials in exchange for contact details.

You can also organize contests with valuable prizes and use chatbots to get more leads. Read on to know more about this method of leads generation.

Contests

Contests are maybe one of the best methods to turn readers into customers and get new leads. If you sell goods, make your followers vote for one of three products, and then offer a discount on “a winner”. Do you want to invite more potential clients into messengers?

You can use chat bots for that purpose. In order to participate in such contests and win the prize, users have to answer a few questions and click the messenger button. The type of contest has to match your platform, goals, and interests of the audience. Photo caption, giveaways, and “comment to win” contests are multi-purpose solutions.

Analyze Leads Behavior

Even if you are satisfied with the number of qualified leads and the followers’ activity, it’s important to analyze users’ behavior. View stats, analyze it, and change a strategy according to that data. It’s the only way you will be able to improve the results of leads generation and achieve greater success.

Author’s Bio

Karl Murphy is a professional journalist from Des Moines, Iowa. After obtaining his Master’s degree, he’s launched his career and over its course, Karl was contributing to the popular publications for men. He’s passionate about eSports, so now he develops his blog, csgo-bettingsites.com.

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5 Invaluable Tips To Help You Improve Your Self-Confidence

A good number of people go through life having doubts about who they are and what they can achieve. Many fail to believe in themselves, and in the long run, this affects their productivity and achievement.

One constant attribute of highly successful people is great self-confidence, and this article is going to give you simple tips on how to improve your self-confidence so you’ll become more successful and productive in what you do.

Understand your strengths

The first and most important thing to do if you want to grow your self confidence is to understand what you are good at. It may be a piece of cake for some, but for others it may be a great deal to figure that out.

I once asked someone what he was good and he told me he couldn’t think of anything. That made me realize it could be really hard for some people to find out what exactly they are good at. But, as hard as it may be for many, it’s still a very simple thing to do if you relax and take your time to do it.

You are a unique individual. The question is not whether you can fly a chopper, or read complex coordinates. The thing is; what is it you do effortlessly? Single it out! Those around you can also help you figure it out. It can even be things like the ability to make people laugh, or the ability to offer good counsel.

The reason we are not talking about the areas you are not good at is because focusing on them will be anti-productive. But, knowing the thing(s) you are good at gets you started in the self-confidence journey.

You know you’re important. You realize there is something you have, something you can contribute to your world, and something you can change.

When you get hold of what you are great at, it gives you a sense of identity and improves the way you feel about yourself and what you do.

Take your time; take yourself out. Ask yourself the things you have a flair for. Put down areas you’re passionate about, and areas friends have pointed out you do greatly. Those will help you decide about your strengths.

Accept yourself: Stop unnecessary comparison

self acceptance

Every person with great self-confidence has mastered the art of accepting themselves. After knowing who you are, and understanding your strengths, the next and most reasonable response is to accept who and what you are.

“I am a jazz singer,”, “I am a fiction writer,”, “I thrive at counseling people,”, “I am a stand-up comedian,”, “I am a serious-minded thinker,”, “I am an academic nerd.” These are just a few of those things people realize about themselves.

Many realize these things, but some never accept who they are. They are attracted to who they are not and want to be jacks of many trades. People who always think there is something better about what someone else is, often look down on themselves and, as a result, lose confidence in themselves.

Self-acceptance is indispensable in the school of self-confidence. It doesn’t mean to stop making progress at what you do. But it means to accept who you primarily are and allow it to create your mental, then physical identity.

Stay on your strengths

Your strengths are those areas you are expert at. They are those things you’re talented at, or have a flair for.

Focus on them. Invest in them! Become a pro in those areas. Let them define who you are. This way you become a pro at what you do and gain others’ respect.

When you become a pro at what you do, you naturally have a sense of responsibility and importance that adds a long chip to your self-confidence.

Take on new, tougher assignments

improve your self confidence

Sometimes, you need to prove yourself and achieve new things as a way of building your confidence. Go for new things. Try to reach new milestones that people think are difficult or impossible.

Stand up from where you’ve been, reach for something higher. Aim to break a record – to push beyond your limits. It will require a lot of sacrifice and commitment, but it will yield a fantastic result, building your confidence.

You can prepare to break a sports record, an academic record, or a health record. It may be finishing your first book as a writer or making your professional career debut.

New achievements create a level of fulfillment. When you are fulfilled on the inside, it makes you feel great about yourself and trust yourself. By doing so, you improve your self-confidence admirably.

Don’t bite yourself; know that you’re in a process

A lesson everyone should learn is that of not staying on and taking their mistakes too personally. It’s easier for many people to forgive others than to forgive themselves.

You are in a process, whatever you do. It’s okay to make mistakes, and everyone should make room for mistakes in their lives. That you realized you made a mistake means you are a smart person. Instead of staying where you fell, the wisest thing to do is stand up, dust the mistake off your mind and body, and head towards greatness.

For most people in the prime of their career, their greatest confidence sapper is their mistakes. The right mental attitude that should follow a mistake is, “I accept I’ve made this mistake; it’s just a blip in my career, I’m going to figure out how to make amends and perform better, and I move on, and refuse to stay my mind on my mistake.”

One must never allow a mistake to define them. Every great person you can think about once made a mistake somewhere along their career. What defined them was not their mistake, but the attitude they put on after such a mistake. A winner forges ahead, but a loser stays where he fell, and I’d rather you be a winner.

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Best Personal Development Goals To Add Productivity To Life

Personal development goals are mainly aimed at making your life better. These goals may help you to improve yourself as a person and will also make you aware of your talents and skills. They also have a role to play in making you productive and happy. Personal development goals will impact both personal and professional life. So, here we are with a few important personal development goals that will make your life super productive and efficient.

Focus on your time management skills

Life is all about meeting deadlines. So, you must be extremely focused on accomplishing your daily tasks on time. Proper time management skills will increase your efficiency and productivity. You must maintain a specific schedule so that you never lose track of time. Before going to sleep at night, you should prepare a to-do list for the following day. A variety of apps are also available to help you manage time effectively. Also, your schedule must be a realistic one so that you do not go too hard on yourself.

Try to be an optimist

You must always try to develop an optimistic mindset and get rid of all your negativities. An optimistic approach will help you to overcome all your difficulties and lead your life in a much better way. It will also help you to accept new challenges in life. An optimistic person is also loved by the people around them. They are more confident about themselves and they also find it easier to progress in their work life.

Meditate

best personal development goal

Meditation plays a great role in increasing your concentration level. You will be able to put more focus on your work and achieve a lot of success in your work life. Meditation also has a huge role to play in improving your life. Regular meditation acts as a source of inspiration in your life. You will find an overall improvement in your health and your general habits. Moreover, meditation will help you to overcome all your anxieties and your negative thoughts. You will be able to make your days productive and lead a stress-free life.

Always speak up

If you are someone who likes to hide in the crowd, then the time has come for you to think of ways to increase your visibility. This is especially important for people who have to attend meetings. You must plan your agenda well in advance. Think about the topics that you wish to speak about in the meeting. Until and unless you speak out, you will never get noticed and your work will also not get appreciated.

Improve your listening skills

Another very important personality development goal is to improve your listening skills. A lot of lessons can be learned in life simply by listening carefully. You will be able to see things from another’s point of view and also consider their ideas. Most of us are always so eager to place our own point that we stop listening to what others have to say. This should not be the case. Listening to someone carefully will make him/her feel important and that person will immediately start liking you.

Start networking

Networking is extremely important, especially for a successful career. It is needed for both career development, as well as personal development. Always try to meet new people and start a conversation with them. Another great place to enhance your network is to take the help of social networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Besides, networking helps to create long-term relationships which might be of great importance to you in your work life. It even makes you noticeable and creates new opportunities for you.

Set up new challenges for yourself

Every single day must be a challenge for you. This will make your life more interesting and you will become a happier individual. Challenges will make you more ambitious. Set up both long-term and short-term goals for yourself and try to accomplish them to the best of your abilities. Setting up new challenges will also enhance your leadership skills. The challenge might not always be an elaborate one. A simple resolution to wake up early in the morning can also be a challenge for you.

Maintain a proper work-life balance

If you wish to maintain a healthy lifestyle, then a proper work-life balance is a must for you. It will help you to lead a happy life and stimulate your mental growth. A proper work-life balance will have a positive effect on your life. It will also improve your performance at work. There must be a distinct boundary between your personal life and your professional life. Make sure that your work life does not leave a bad effect on your personal life. Otherwise, it will impact both your personal and professional life.

Work on your weaknesses

Most of us are unaware of our weaknesses. If you wish to succeed in life, then you must work on your weaknesses and convert them to your strengths. The best way to know your weaknesses is to involve yourself in self-awareness activities. This will not only boost your self-confidence, but will also give you an idea about your weaknesses. Also, you can ask for help from someone you trust. That person might be able to provide you with ideas about those segments of your life that require improvement.

Reserve some time for self-care

personal development goals

We must all indulge ourselves in self-care activities. Most of us are so busy that we tend to ignore our basic needs. This can have a negative impact in the quality of our lives. You must at least keep 30 minutes each day for self-care practices. Until and unless you learn to take care of yourself, you will never be able to take care of people around you. Manage time for your hobbies and create a personal space. This will definitely add productivity to your life.

So, these are some of the best personal development goals for you. Try to implement them in your life and you will be surprised to see the impact they have on your career and your personality.

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Is Your Exercise Causing Good or Bad Pain?

“No pain, no gain” is a famous mantra in the fitness community, but it’s important to know where to draw the line. A little soreness usually means that you’re pushing yourself and building muscle, but not all pain comes with positive results. In fact, if you don’t know how to recognize bad pain, you could be causing potentially serious injuries.

Read on to learn the difference between good and bad pain so you can feel empowered to push yourself to the limit, without crossing the threshold into harmful territories.

Why Do You Get Sore During and After Exercise?

In order to recognize good pain, you need to know why it happens in the first place. Soreness is usually caused by delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This phenomenon is completely normal and usually occurs between 24 and 48 hours after strenuous physical activity, according to WebMD.

While you exercise, your muscles contract, causing microscopic tears in your muscles, as well as inflammation associated with these minor injuries. The soreness you feel after an intense workout is actually your muscles being repaired and growing back even stronger. However, if the pain is severe or lasts for more than a few days, there may be a more serious underlying injury.

How to Recognize Bad Pain

pain and exercise

It’s important that you’re able to recognize when bad pain occurs. That way you can seek treatment, adjust your workout routine, and consider pre-and-post workout supplements that empower your body to heal faster. As a general rule of thumb, when you feel pain, it’s a good idea to back off and allow yourself to heal. This is especially important if the pain is caused by an injury.

Typically, good pain isn’t focused in one specific area, but spread out. For example, it’s normal for your legs to be aching after climbing a large flight of stairs, but if just your right ankle is in pain, that’s a sign of a strain or other injury. An immediate jolt of pain is also a bad sign, as good pain tends to manifest slowly over time. If you feel sudden pain, you should stop what you’re doing immediately.

Good pain can be unpleasant, but it’s usually fairly mild and tolerable. If the pain is overwhelming, it’s probably not caused by delayed onset muscle soreness. Shooting pain and numbness may also be signs of an injury. You should also pay especially close attention to pain in the joints, especially the shoulders, knees, and ankles.

Embrace Proper Techniques

No matter how much exercise you do in a week, it’s crucial that you take the time to learn proper techniques. Once you develop bad habits, it’s difficult to break them, so be vigilant. Make sure you always stretch and warm up before a session, and then give yourself plenty of time to cool down and rest afterward. Nourishing your body with proper nutrition between your workouts will also help in muscle recovery and reducing discomfort.

If you feel like you’re performing exercises correctly, you may want to talk to a professional trainer for advice and guidance. The potential risks just aren’t worth the rewards. Once you know that you’re exercising properly, you’ll feel much more confident and inspired to push yourself.

How to Treat Bad Pain

exercise pain

There’s no single best method for treating a sports injury. Everyone’s body is unique, and injuries can take countless forms. In most cases of mild injuries, simply taking a break for a few days and resting up should have you feeling better. That said, even a minor injury can lead to complications, so be sure to speak to your healthcare provider if you’re concerned.

If simply relaxing isn’t cutting it, you may want to try the PRICE method:

  • Protection
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

PRICE is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll want to protect the injury with a bandage, cast, or splint, stop using it, apply ice every few hours, wrap it (snug but not too tight), and keep the injured area lifted, if possible. Be sure to talk to your doctor about pain relief options if you’re struggling with pain management.

Once the injury has subsided, you may require rehabilitation. Harvard Health Publishing recommends two days of rehab for each day of inactivity due to injury. During the rehabilitation phase, your injury may be vulnerable, so it’s critical that you only perform the proper rehab exercises recommended by a qualified professional.

Prevention Is the Key to Sustainable Exercise

There’s no denying the many physical and mental health benefits of exercise. At the same time, even a minor injury can cause major complications. One injury can lead to another, causing a snowball effect that can be tough to overcome. The best approach is to prevent injuries from happening in the first place.

Be mindful before, during, and after each session. Over time, you’ll become more in tune with your body and how it reacts to various levels and styles of exercise. When in doubt, tap out! An extra five minutes isn’t worth months or even years of pain. Work smart so you can work hard. That’s how you keep your active lifestyle sustainable.

If you have ongoing joint pain or are dealing with arthritis, osteoporosis or other health concerns, be sure to check with your primary care doctor with any concerns prior to starting a new workout routine.

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The Mistakes Smart Guys Make With Women

There are a lot of smart guys out there. They’re successful with good educations and stable jobs, and they also respect women. They’re just overall good guys. Yet even these men seem to be able to mess up relationships with women repeatedly and with such ease that it makes it almost seem deliberate. Why is that?

It seems like an age-old story, right? Guy meets girl, guy and girl have a connection, guy immediately (and then ever after) puts his foot in his mouth, does something insensitive, or any number of other things that suddenly makes the connection tenuous and creates strife. As it turns out, there are some specific reasons for this and very common mistakes that even the smartest men tend to make.

Why Men Make Mistakes So Often

mistakes in relationships by men

Men and women are different. Duh, right? I mean, that’s why relationships are fun and exciting – while also confusing and frustrating. One of the biggest differences between men and women, however, is their emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). Women simply tend to score higher.

Emotional intelligence is not synonymous with being emotional. What it is, really, is how we  manage our relationships with others and relate with them. EQ, in its actual definition, refers to emotional and social capacities that cumulatively demonstrate how efficient we’re able to:

  • Perceive and convey our feelings
  • Grow and sustain our social connections
  • Deal with hardships, stress, and make decisions
  • Utilize emotional information in an effectual and relevant manner

What this means is that someone with a high EQ is not only in-tune with their own emotions, but can recognize and effectively respond to the emotional state of others. This is an area where women typically outdo men.

Having a higher EQ can be a benefit in many areas, not just relationships. But when it comes to relationships, being able to see, understand, and respond to emotions and the non-verbal cues related to emotion can prove to be crucial. Without this skill (ahem…guys are you listening?) you can make big, insensitive mistakes and mess up a good thing.

The Big Five

mistakes in relationships

Okay, we know even smart guys make dumb mistakes with women. And not all of these mistakes are the same, but here are a few that seem to be fairly universal.

Trying to control everything

This is a big one and most of us have been guilty of it. We can blame society, stereotypes, or our parents, but men are generally taught they need to be strong and in charge. Control issues for men can show up anywhere from making plans for the two of you without consulting her, to trying to “fix” every problem or dilemma she encounters.

Women aren’t fond of being treated like subordinates, which is what you may be unconsciously doing if you try to take charge of everything. Remember, she’s your equal; she may even be smarter than you, and a relationship is a partnership.

You fail to consider her feelings (or simply ignore them)

If you pay attention and listen, most women will tell you (or show you) how they feel. Not acknowledging these feelings and responding appropriately can leave you in a bad spot. Because women are generally more in-tune with emotions they want them to be recognized and understood. It makes them feel closer to you and safe in your relationship. And guess what? It’s good for you too.

You don’t express your own feelings

Yep, she expresses hers and she wants to hear yours too. The tendencies toward one-word answers, holding things in, and trying to be “strong” that many men do can leave your lady feeling uncared for and in the dark. Just like Billy Joel advises, “tell her about it, let her know just how you feel.” This includes when you’re feeling hurt, scared, or insecure.

You ASSume

This may rival being controlling as one of the largest mistakes. Never assume anything (pretty good advice in general). You can’t read her mind and she can’t read yours. You must establish good communication if you want things to be strong and healthy between the two of you.

You don’t make her feel valued

Although the need to feel valued isn’t just a girl thing (we need it too), typically, women are much better at making us feel valued than we are at making them feel valued. Men are notorious for taking the love, affection, and small things that the women we love do for us for granted. Find a way on a regular basis to let her know how much you appreciate her.

While smart men do often make dumb mistakes with women and their relationships, it should be noted that women can be equally as guilty at times. I, by no means, don’t want to insinuate that men are knuckle-dragging morons that can’t treat women properly. Or that women are universally angelic and never at fault.

The fact is that relationships are tough at times and both genders are capable of making dumb mistakes. The blunders of men often just happen sooner and are more immediately obvious.

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10 Tips to Use YouTube to Market Your Business

Since its introduction in 2005, YouTube has become an indispensable marketing tool for every business. With more than one billion users, YouTube is definitely not a platform to ignore if you want to grow your business.

It has enabled more than 50 million content creators to showcase their content through interesting videos everyday and reach a global audience. YouTube supports video marketing, therefore, expands social reach of your business, builds traffic and enhances your online existence.

Entertaining your viewers while promoting your brand might sound challenging, but with the right approach it is totally doable. Creating intriguing videos with valuable content can keep your viewers engaged. Get your YouTube channel noticed with fascinating images and interesting titles. Remember, symbols can establish your channel’s identity.

Creating an alluring YouTube logo is essential to express your brand’s personality and attract viewers. A highly creative logo maker is the right person to contact to add charm to your YouTube channel and make it stand out from the crowd.

By the time you finish this 10 step-by-step guide to market your business on YouTube, you’ll surely have a clear idea and detailed understanding of the facts you need to know to reflect your brand on YouTube. Let’s get started.

Creation & Customization of Your YouTube Channel

Once you create a YouTube channel, customize the background banner and icon. Use high-resolution images that create a strong impact and convey the message to your audience. To ensure a good impression and global recognition of your brand, it’s essential to have a professional logo. You can either create your own brand logo using a logo creator or hire a professional who’ll do that for you.

Don’t shy away from writing a channel description in the ‘About’ section. It helps your audience understand your business, offerings, and mission. Don’t forget to include links of your company’s website and social media pages on the videos and in the descriptions, too. Also, invite new and potential viewers to follow you on social media platforms.

Uploading a Trailer

It’s worth spending some time in creating an impressive trailer for your YouTube channel. Because that gives you an opportunity to engage with your audience with superb content, convincing them to subscribe to your channel.

The ideal duration of a YouTube channel is 1-2 minutes. Hence, you need to ensure that the preview is short yet informative. It’s also important that it captivates your audience in the first five seconds. With the concept of ‘show, don’t tell’, you can encourage your audience to subscribe to your channel and leave comments.

Work with an Influencer

promote your business using youtube

You’ve created your YouTube channel and you’re done with the customization but your brand is still not getting the exposure it deserves? If this is so, working with an influencer is the best step to take for your brand to achieve global recognition.

Get in touch with an influencer relevant to your niche and send them some free samples so that they can try your products. Make sure that you let them know the pros of the products. This enables them share the information with their followers, who might be your relevant audience.

Ask the influencer to share images of the product and even highlight its benefits, which can help in catching the attention of social media followers. Working with an influencer can, therefore, engage new target audience, build trust, and improve search ranking of your channel.

Researching Keywords

Research, find, and implement the keywords relevant to your niche and reach your target audience with ease. Putting researched applicable keywords in your video title, as well as in the description and tags, is a smart approach towards enhancement of the channel’s visibility. Keywords in place tells the search engine what the content of the video is and lets people searching for videos related to your business find you.

Channel Optimization

Don’t hesitate to browse your competitor’s YouTube channels to find out what kind of titles and meta tags they are using. Now try and execute the researched keywords into Google AdWords. Choose the right video format and examine the results.

Integration of your YouTube Channel with Social Media

You have amazing content on your YouTube channel. But delivering it right to your potential subscribers might be difficult. But with social media you can do that easily. In today’s time, it’s an effective and a handy video marketing platform to help expand your reach, create brand awareness, and improve your ROI.

Above all, make sure you have an active presence on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Creating unique videos and posting them on social networking sites is the key to increase the number of subscribers of your YouTube channel. Moreover, encourage your viewers to share the published videos on social media.

Video Creation and Optimization

use youtube to promote your business

The best part about creating YouTube videos is that they don’t have to be expensive and also save the expense of hiring a professional. Having a smart phone is enough to film interesting videos and create sharable content. But make sure you have a good amount of lighting and better sound quality to leave your viewers with a pleasant experience.

After you have created and posted the video on your channel, then comes the optimization part for SEO ranking. To do so, select a catchy title (less than 70 words) and use keywords relevant for your business. This will help in getting more views for your content.

Have Testimonials

Remember YouTube is one of the most preferred platforms for marketing that’s visited by billions of people every day. And leaving a mark on the minds of the viewers becomes quite challenging in today’s competitive world. One of the effective tricks is to include testimonials from your existing customers on your YouTube channel to build a solid reputation and gain the confidence of viewers.

Include YouTube Advertising

YouTube advertising is the best platform to get connected with your audience. When you opt for this, you can expect to have an extra exposure of your brand that ensures personal brand building, customer retention, and more subscribers to your YouTube channel. Moreover, YouTube advertising keeps the video entertaining and hyper-targeted.

Understand Your Audience

If you have a business YouTube channel, you have access to the Analytics tab. It gives you a statistics of your channel’s insights and the behavior of your audience. Moreover, you can have the count of the viewers, average watch time, rate of videos and last but not least, generation of revenues. This step is a confidence-booster and definitely helps you reach the right audience.

To Sum Up

Marketing your business on YouTube is a learning process. The more you create videos, the more you’ll get better in content creation and filming. Analysis of the viewers can help you refine your style, improve keyword usage, and understand the left out points that might increase your subscribers, resulting in the growth of your business.

So, keep posting unique content and make visitors stay tuned to your channel!

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10 Must-Have WordPress Plugins for your Student Blog

If you are in the learning industry, you’re probably looking forward to using your website to organize your teaching materials. WordPress offers various plugins to assist you to build, sell subject lessons, or turn your page into an education hub.

The plugins help you customize multiple aspects of your website that are important in your lesson management. They can also be used to put in various elements on your webpage to improve its overall performance. Plugins can enhance your website’s operation usability and accessibility. Here are numerous WordPress plugins that you can use to enhance your student blog.

Learn Press

learn press
Via wordpress.org

Learn Press helps you to develop free or paid lessons through Stripe and WooCommerce incorporated. This plugin enables you to develop a powerful module administrative system with WordPress. Thus, you can access the details pertaining to how your users are utilizing your materials.

It allows you to outline various sections for questions and lessons for each segment. Furthermore, the full-screen editor can also help you set enrollment numbers, session duration, plan for retakes, and present the lesson prerequisite. The tool can also be used to upload student’s assignments for grading, bring in multiple instructions, and assign progress points for each and every task you have.

Learn Dash

This is another incredible all-around administrative plugin that can help you create various learning sessions and questions. This tool can help you produce mobile adaptive information so that students can access classes using their mobile phones. You can use it to create questions via videos, images, or audios. You can also schedule the course session’s time using this plugin.

It gives your users a chance to either pay per course or through subscription. The quizzes also have a built-in feature that gives certificates based on performance and even provides a scoreboard for top students. Its analytical feature gives you a breakdown of the individual student’s performance. Aside from that, this plugin also allows you to set prerequisite conditions for your students to be accomplished prior to proceeding to the next lesson.

Buddy Press

For those who wish to create a virtual community in their educational pages, they can opt for the Buddy Press plugin. This plugin enables WordPress site members to register, make social connections, create profiles, communicate, and interrelate with other members of the group.

If you are offering various courses, this plugin allows you to separate students belonging to different groups based on their levels. The students can, thus, easily access help from their peers if need be. Besides, it also adds interactivity to your website.

Badge OS

Do you wish to add some game mechanics in a classroom online journal to increase participation? The Badge OS is an ideal plugin that gives away award badges to your students after completing assignments successfully. It’s a great way to boost the learning process to motivate students to complete tasks on time.

This plugin can help you create assignments, award points, and display leaderboards for top students. The plugin also has additional features where you can create various learning groups or exhibit a visual progress map that indicates goals accomplishments. Furthermore, you can create a pop-up congratulation menu after the student achieved a set objective.

Sensei

sensei wp
Via wpmayor.com

Sensei enables you to register students, charge for lessons, and use your WordPress dash to set preliminary conditions. Additionally, it can also help you gauge your students’ individual performances as this plugin can give you an analysis of individuals undertaking your class based on their performance. You can even produce and sell your educational lessons as an independent contractor at WooCommerce incorporated.

You can use several extensions to enhance the overall plugin features like the ability to produce certificates upon course completion, attach files, or aid in scores sharing through social media platforms.

WP Courseware

It’s a complete education control system that can help you produce lessons, offer multimedia sessions or online quizzes, and conduct surveys. After students turn in their assignments, you can leave written feedback to help them improve their performance better. It has a drag-and-drop function to help you create logically engaging lessons. It can also help you create questions with limited retake chances and time deadlines.

With this tool, you can also make open-ended or multiple-choice questions and upload files to accompany your instructions. It also helps develop an educational program to help you switch between lessons swiftly and also enables you to monitor course progress. Furthermore, this plugin can help generate modules and course completion certificates.

Questions and Answers

This WordPress plugin can help you develop joint study conventions and knowledge base lessons to help your students interact better. It also allows you to create a single panel for each specific discipline and offers an excellent exam delivery where students can send in their private attachments.

It also comes with other excellent features such as personalized email notifications, student progress tracker, and educational programs. Furthermore, it helps you create varying question types, be it true and false, multiple-choice, or open-ended questions. This plugin also allows your students to upload a file as their answer.

LifterLMS

LifterLMS offers you an opportunity to produce, sell, and protect your lessons online. It helps develop media-enhanced content that contains audio, video, and texts to cater to a wider variety of learning styles.

Furthermore, this plugin features a shopping cart component that allows you to sell your courses. It also has gamification, which improves students’ engagement, automatic email integration, and analytics to track course progress.

StudyPress

StudyPress can help you produce an interactive media teaching blog that you can post in your WordPress site in slides form. It allows you to come up with unlimited lesson ideas. This plugin can also be used to integrate additional elements to help you add quizzes, access automatic grading, and student ratings in different tests or lessons.

CM Video Lesson Manager

The plugin helps manage YouTube or Vimeo video courses displayed on your WordPress site. With this plugin tool, you can be able to charge users viewership on various content in a limited time. Also, this plugin allows both users and administrators to take notes, mark favorites, and track progress. With the pro version, you can access additional features like students’ notes and payment options. You can also view the individual students’ progress reports and share their level of individual advancement to them.

Conclusion

You will find numerous WordPress plugins in the market today for anyone who wishes to create students’ blogs. Remember to do further research before choosing the WordPress plugins you will use to help meet your goals for your student blog. For greater functionality, you can opt for pro versions. You can try one or a few of the plugins mentioned above to enhance your site and engage your learners.

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How Much Screen Time is Enough?

In the 21st century, it’s unlikely you aren’t addicted to technology. Although our reliance on technology serves many benefits, it can also present risks. In the digital era, it’s no secret we need screens, but how much screen time is enough?

Are Kids More At Risk?

how screen time is too much

Too much screen time can collapse into developmental delays, depression, and prevent you from developing social skills.

For example, children under 2 years old who regularly watch at least 1 hour of television daily have been found to show an increased risk of cognitive, language, and motor delays. Additionally, children between 2 and 6 who commonly use screens may be more likely to develop emotional problems and experience family dysfunction. Even further, teens aged 13-18 and young adults aged 19-32 who spend long periods on social media exhibits higher rates of depression – and even a higher risk of suicide.

The Solution: Official Recommendations

As more knowledge on the dangers of prolonged screen time becomes available, the more parents worry. Today, 85% of parents are worried about the amount of time their kids spend online. To remedy, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), WHO, and CDC have all given insights.

For children under 6 years old, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a 1-hour limit. On the contrary, WHO and CDC give children under 18 years old more leeway, recommending 2 hours or less of screen time.

Many experts have weighed in on the matter as well. Jocelyn Brewer, a psychologist who specializes in the concept of digital nutrition, believes, “It’s not just about whether you consume any potential digital junk foods, but also your relationship to technology and the role it plays in your family life…. We want to avoid using screens to placate tantrums, just like we want to avoid eating ‘treats’ to calm emotional storms.” However, not all screens are all equal as they also provide a fleet of benefits.

The Need For Screens

too much screen time

As previously stated, screen time can create many positive outcomes. For example, technology can assist users in connecting with like-minded peers. Moreover, technology can help users explore their interests and hobbies on a wider scale. For example, kids can explore their passion for sports through use of video games. Furthermore, people can use technology to keep in touch with their family and friends.

The reason television has shown more negative effects than gaming or computer use is because children aren’t actively engaged. For the youngest children, sharing screen time with family members (and talking about what they see) is the key to making screen time more active.

Take it from Diana Graber, the Founder of Cyber Civics & Cyberwise, “One can either be ‘participant’ or ‘consumer’ when it comes to screen time… not all screen time is ‘bad.’” Graber is also the author of Raising Humans In A Digital World.

How To Get The Best Out Of Screen Time

From 2015 to 2019, children’s daily use of computers for homework nearly doubled. As a result, it’s crucial to steer children in the right direction when navigating the internet.

For starters, keep screens out of the bedroom. A private television can lead to more screen time and sleep problems. Keeping computers and televisions in shared spaces not only promotes communal living, but makes kids more likely to keep up safe habits – and parents more likely to notice negative interactions.

More along these lines, talk with your child about what’s on the internet. Even with parental controls, something will likely slip through the cracks. Setting up parental controls can help you control what your child has access to and monitor their activity. It is also easy to do as most technology has easy-to-use features that can help.

Simply directing your child’s devices to the kid-friendly version of popular sites can make a huge difference. Furthermore, talking with your child about what they see online, and why some of what they see may be wrong, can reduce the impact of negative content.

As Sherry Skyler Kelly, the founder of PositiviTeens, said, “You and your kids can access a variety of information, but you need to choose wisely and be a discerning and smart consumer of the online products and services.” Knowing this, consider designating screen-free times to your child – like meals, bedtime, and one night per week. You can also ensure time is set aside for exercise, family, and other valuable activities. This way, you can set expectations for screen time that fits your family’s needs.

Remember, not all screen time is equal. Growing evidence proves that how children use technology is far more important than how much time they spend on screens. As most things, screen time is most beneficial when used in moderation. For more information on getting the most out of screen time , take a look at the infographic below.

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

Reevaluating Screen Time in an Age of Social Distancing [infographic]

 

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The ABC’s of Debt Consolidation – What It Is And How To Do It Properly

People all around the globe are currently struggling to pay numerous loans. If you’ve heard of debt consolidation and would like to know if it’s a viable option for you, then it’s this is the perfect opportunity to learn the ins and outs of this debt refinancing.

What is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation involves taking out a new loan to help you pay off your other consumer debts and liabilities. It typically refers to unsecured debts. You combine all of your smaller debts into a single larger debt that usually comes with more favorable terms. This is most ideal for people who owe $10,000 or more.

You could get a lower payment each month, reduced interest rates, or a combination of both. You can use the money from this loan to pay your credit cards, student loans, and other assorted liabilities. This can reduce your stress levels because it’ll streamline everything into a single payment.

This type of debt refinancing has its pros and cons so make sure to get all the information you can before applying for a debt consolidation loan.

What requirements you need

debt consolidation requirements

Here is what you will need to prepare if you decide to go ahead:

  • Proof of income
  • Credit history
  • Creditworthiness or financial stability
  • Collateral or equity

Sample of documents you will need to prepare:

  • Proof of employment or letter from employer
  • Two months’ statements for every loan or credit card you want to pay
  • Letters from repayment agencies or creditors

Once everything is ready to go, you have to decide which one to pay first. The lender will decide this in a lot of instances. However, you should go for the one with the highest interest rate if you get a choice. When you pay this debt, you’ll move to the next one until you pay everything off. As long as you follow the plan, you can be debt-free in a few years.

Secured vs Unsecured Loans

When it comes to debt consolidation loans, there are two broad types available. You can choose a secured or unsecured loan.

• A secured loan uses your assets like a car or home as collateral. If you don’t pay your debt, you run the risk of losing whatever you put up for collateral.

• Unsecured loans do not have assets as collateral. This can be a relief, but it can also make them much more difficult to get. They come with lower qualifying amounts and higher interest rates to help minimize the risk.

Both types of loans usually come with lower interest rates than you’ll get with credit cards. A lot of these loans have fixed interest rates. This means that they won’t fluctuate over the time you repay them.

Your Most Common Options For Loan Consolidation

You have several options available when you consolidate loans into one larger payment. We picked out the most common ones for you below.

• Traditional Banks and Peer-to-Peer Lenders

The majority of traditional creditors like peer-to-peer lending platforms, credit unions, and banks offer debt consolidation loans. They’re great for borrowers who are having trouble managing the size of their debt or the number of monthly payments. If you want to pay down several high-interest debts, this is the option you want to choose because you get a lower rate and one payment per month.

• Balance Transfer Credit Cards

A second option you have is to take all of your current credit card debt and transfer it onto a new balance transfer card. This card usually gives you a set amount of months to pay down your balance with a 0% interest rate. Look for cards that come with promotional offers or bonuses. The goal is to pay down as much debt before the 0% APR stops.

• HELOC

Home equity lines of credit or home equity loans are another way you can consolidate your debts to make them easier to manage. As a bonus, you can typically deduct the interest on this loan from your taxes as long as you itemize all of your deductions come tax time. Your home is the collateral in this loan option, and this means you run the risk of losing it if you don’t or can’t pay it.

• Student Loans

debt consolidation student loan

You have several debt consolidation programs available for your student loan debt. The federal government sponsors many of these consolidation programs. You can use the Federal Direct Loan Program to consolidate any non-private loans you have into one easy payment with a lower interest rate. To get the interest rate on this new loan, the company will look at the weighted average of all of the previous loans’ interest rates.

You should note that opting in and getting debt consolidation services doesn’t erase your debt. All it does is transfer it to a different type of lender or loan. If you need debt relief and don’t qualify for a loan, debt settlement is a solid option. The goal of debt settlement is to reduce how much you owe instead of the number of creditors you owe. You’ll work with credit counseling services and debt settlement companies to try and negotiate your debts with the original lenders.

5 Steps To Getting A Loan Consolidation

Once you make up your mind, these are the steps you will be going through:

1. Get a good grasp of your expenses and income. List down your total monthly income alongside your total monthly expenses. This will allow you to get a good handle on how much you can afford to set aside for your debt consolidation payments.

2. Next, confirm your credit score. The higher your credit score, the likelier you are to get approved and even get lower interest rates. Remember that your goal is not just to consolidate your payables but also to get a lower interest rate in the process.

3. Make a list of all the debts you want to consolidate. Include your credit card balances and other high-rate debts.

4. Check out the different loans available to you whether they are from banks, credit unions or online lenders. Compare and contrast their charges and repayment schemes. Make sure that the latter fits in with your monthly income and expenditure.

5. Choose the best option for you and start the loan application process. Make sure to read all fine print including penalties.

Although your credit score may potentially suffer and your payment schedule may take longer, if it will help you clear all your debts in the long run, then you should come out on top.

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An Easy-To-Understand Guide To Car Insurance Coverage Options

If you have car insurance, you most likely know that there are several car insurance coverage options available. Understanding what they all mean can help you in the event of an accident. You’ll know exactly what your insurance company will and won’t cover, and this can remove any nasty surprises you could get if you don’t understand your insurance. We’ll quickly go over everything you need to know below.

Five Car Insurance Coverage Options

A lot of states require that you carry more than one of these coverage options or complete coverage, but it varies from state to state. You can contact your local insurance agency to see what your particular state requires you to have.

Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

guide to car insurance coverage

If you purchased a car and used a company to finance it or if you leased a vehicle, the lienholder will require you to have comprehensive and collision coverage. Once you pay your vehicle off, both of these coverage types usually become completely optional.

Collision coverage is exactly what it sounds like. If you damage your car by colliding with an object or another vehicle, this coverage will help you replace or repair it. Collision coverage will help cover the costs to protect your car. Still, property damage liability will help pay for any damage you cause the other person’s vehicle if you cause the accident.

If you have comprehensive coverage, you have insurance that will help pay to replace or repair your vehicle if someone steals it or it gets vandalized. It also covers animal damage and things like hail. Both types of coverage come with limits and deductibles. The limit will dictate the maximum amount of money your insurance company will payout in the event of an accident. The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay out of your pocket before your insurance benefits kick in and pay anything.

Liability

One of the most popular coverage options you have is liability. You can split it into property damage liability and bodily injury liability. If you get into an accident, bodily injury liability will help cover the medical costs for the other person. If you damage another person’s property during an accident, property damage liability will help pay for it.

Every state will set limits on the liability coverage your insurance must offer. The insurance coverage will outline the maximum amount they’ll pay for property damage, bodily injury per person, and bodily injury per accident. You can go above and beyond these requirements and buy an insurance policy that offers higher liability coverage maximum caps. You’ll pay higher premiums doing this, but it’ll offer you more protection in the event of an accident.

Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payment Coverage

guide to car insurance coverage option

Having coverage for any medical payments are optional, but many insurance companies will recommend it. Medical payment coverage will help to pay for the cost of your or any passenger’s medical expenses they incur after an accident like emergency room visits, x-rays, or surgery. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident with this coverage option.

Another coverage option you have is personal injury protection. This isn’t available in every state, but some states do require that you carry it. This coverage works very similarly to medical coverage. As long as you have a covered loss and need medical treatment, this coverage can kick in and help pay for the medical costs. It can also potentially cover other expenses you have while you recuperate from the accident like lost income or childcare expenses.

Rental Reimbursement

This is optional insurance coverage. If you choose to have this coverage, your insurance company will help to pay for the cost of renting a vehicle while a shop fixes yours after a covered event. Check with your insurance company’s limits with rental reimbursement coverage. It usually comes with a set number of days and a specific dollar amount they’ll payout per day.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance will protect you if you get into an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance. Normally if you sustain injuries in an accident that the other person causes, their liability insurance will help to pay for any medical expenses you incur. However, this won’t happen if the driver that caused the accident doesn’t have auto liability coverage. If this happens, your uninsured motorist coverage would kick in and help pay for any medical expenses you rack up in response to the accident.

If you have underinsured motorist coverage, it works the same way. If the other driver causes the accident has insurance with liability coverage that has lower limits than will trigger your state’s underinsured motorist coverage to kick in and pay, your coverage will pick up the costs. You do want to check with your state’s limits and insurance requirements about this coverage, so you’re not stuck with huge medical bills.

Car Insurance Coverage – Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is there a such thing as full coverage?

Technically, there is no such thing as getting full coverage with your car insurance. However, you can customize your policy by picking and choosing which coverage options you want to have to help protect yourself and your passengers in the event of an accident.

2. What is a car insurance deductible?

The deductible is the set amount you have to pay out of your pocket before your insurance company will pay for a covered accident or loss. Popular deductible amounts range from $500 to $1,000. The higher your deductible is, the lower your premium will be.

3. Can you change your coverage?

Yes. Many insurance companies allow you to change your coverage options any time you like before an accident. You can contact an agent or log into your account and look at your policy. You’ll see an option to make changes and pick the date you’d like the changes to go into effect.

The post An Easy-To-Understand Guide To Car Insurance Coverage Options appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Fall in Love the Second (or Fifth) Time Around

We were two mature adults in our mid-60’s, both grandparents, both with divorces behind us. We’d met through a dating website, and this was just our third date, each an innocent daytime picnic or lunch. I saw a spark dance in her eyes and asked, “What are you thinking?” And she startled me with this: “I’m thinking … this is what love feels like.” Huh? How does that happen? And how can you experience that yourself?

It’s Never Too Late

My experience doesn’t just pertain to Baby Boomers. The lessons I painfully learned can be embraced by anybody at any age. I’m sharing my revelations in hopes that you might avoid the kind of heart-breaking mistakes I made throughout my life.

And here is the bottom line, right near the top: Keep an open mind!

I know! That’s so easy, right? Everybody knows that. Sorry, but no, they don’t. Especially males, although females aren’t immune to shallow thinking, either. Here’s what happened to me.

The Problem

to love again

I grew up in Southern California in the Sixties, land of the Beach Boys, sunshine, and millions of blue-eyed blonde girls with beautiful tans and tiny bikinis. Yes, please, I’ll take one of those, and could you throw in pink lips and long eyelashes? What’s not to love?

The problem is, when it came to love, all my choices were based on these parameters, in exactly this order:

  1. Hair color (blonde)
  2. Eye color (blue)
  3. Body shape (voluptuous)
  4. Face shape (roundish)
  5. Content of her character (she likes me)

I was not unusual in this approach, given that it was Southern California and I was young. And I think I can safely say that women at that time and place weren’t all that different, although their desired qualities in a potential mate might vary slightly.

The bottom line (we might have several bottom lines in this story) is that our priorities were all wrong, and it took me 65 years to figure that out. What really matters is the person on the inside … their brain, heart, emotions, likes, dislikes, personality and, most important of all, at least from my point of view, their integrity.

That woman in the first paragraph of this story turned out to be the finest human being I have ever met. And how lucky am I that she loves me?

How the Problem Wreaks Havoc

I’m not happy to be disclosing some of the following, because it doesn’t reflect well on my decision-making, or intelligence, for that matter. But for the reader’s sake, I will admit that I made the same mistake over and over and over again. I added various twists to my mistakes, but they were all basically the same mistake. I chose romantic partners for all the wrong reasons.

My first choice was a woman who loved physical intimacy all the time, anytime, anywhere. Unfortunately, I later learned she also loved it with anybody. My second choice was based on my desire to have a family, so I chose a woman for whom that also was a priority. It seemed like a sound decision, but I realized much later that a healthy couple needs something much stronger to bind them together than just the children.

Rebounding from that divorce, I foolishly went back to my primitive urges and chose a younger, beautiful, and intelligent woman. That blinded me to the obvious fact that she was a diseased alcoholic. And my fourth choice was even more “retro” – a blue-eyed blonde with money. To my great surprise, that didn’t work out either.

The Solution

I would love to tell you that after a series of heartbreaking experiences in romance, I suddenly came to my senses and had an epiphany that led me to finally get it right. I’d also like to say that it’s possible for anyone to find the perfect romantic partner who’s capable of changing your life forever. But those would be lies.

The bottom line (that’s three so far) is that I got lucky. I stumbled upon a perfect woman who doesn’t even know that she is perfect. But I will take credit for one tiny little moment that led me to what now feels like eternal happiness.

This woman and I were exchanging messages on a dating website, and we still hadn’t met. She eventually sent me a photo, and that’s where my lifelong mindsets surfaced once again. After looking at her photo, I responded honestly that she really wasn’t “my type.” I then proceeded to foolishly explain my type as blonde, blue-eyed, and a moon-shaped face (none of which described her).

how to love again online dating

She should have dropped me right there and then. In point of fact, she did write, “I think you’re dumb,” but we continued to write to each other anyway. She later shared that she simply enjoyed writing to me, although she felt (correctly) that I had a lot to learn about women.

Here’s the tiny part I take credit for: When I sensed she was about to permanently sign off, I wrote to tell her that I would like to meet her. I didn’t realize until later that I was at a turning point in my life. My priorities were beginning to shift.

And that led to what has become, truly, the love of my life.

It can happen to you, no matter your age or gender.

The bottom line (yes, that’s number four) is that you need to get out of your own way. Don’t be stuck in a mindset that probably hasn’t changed much since your high school days. Getting to know someone involves far more than swiping right or left or quickly looking at a photo. You might be surprised by what you learn about yourself and the person you are getting to know.

What does love feel like? I just used a bunch of words to scrape away at these amazing feelings deep inside of me, hoping the collective sentences would offer a glimpse, a taste of this epiphany.

But maybe my Lady Love said it best when she told me simply: “Love feels like a warm blanket wrapped all around you.”

The post How to Fall in Love the Second (or Fifth) Time Around appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

7 Reasons Why You Should Invest In Wristwatches As An Entrepreneur

Watches are a timeless symbol of class and sophistication. Even in this age of smartphones, wristwatches offer a more convenient way to check the time. They also act as tasteful statement pieces and can bring together an entire outfit. In this article, we will discuss the versatility and enduring nature of the wristwatch industry, and why men’s and women’s watches are a good investment opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Reasons to Invest in Wristwatches

While some people may argue that wristwatches are a symbol of a bygone era, wristwatches remain a symbol of class, professionalism, and taste – depending on the watch and the setting in which they wear it. Read on to find out the different types and uses of wristwatches, and how there are many niches in the watch industry that entrepreneurs can invest in.

Watches are a Booming Industry

With wristwatches becoming more accessible and with the increasing variety of designs on the market, the wristwatch industry is experiencing a boom. In 2018, the international luxury watch market had a reported value of roughly 6.93 billion. It is even estimated to increase to 9.3 billion USD by 2025.

Apart from the luxury watch business, there are numerous new brands coming up every year that offer watches of distinct qualities at different price ranges, signifying the fact that many people from all walks of life are taking part in the wristwatch industry.

Keeping this trend in mind, a lot of wristwatch companies are appealing to the working class and student market. That is by creating low-cost models and offering incentives such as discounts on their items.

Impact of Technology on Modern Watches

watches a good investment

Modern technology has had a big impact on the watch industry by incorporating additional features and turning a wristwatch into more than just a tool to tell the time.

These range from simple digital watches to highly advanced models which include a variety of other features. The most famous example of this would be the Apple Watch, a smartwatch released in 2015. It is designed to act as a fitness tracker and can also be paired to the wearer’s iPhone. The success of the Apple Watch has incentivized other watch manufacturers to create similar models with more useful and unique features.

Symbol of Quality Craftsmanship

Both watch enthusiasts and even laymen to some extent can appreciate the quality and finesse of a luxury wristwatch. There are several established brands that have been crafting high-quality watches for decades.

Other than the longevity and quality offered by a quality wristwatch, watches are also a collector’s item. Some watch enthusiasts take great pride in their collections of novel models and quality wristwatches from established manufacturers.

Signifiers of Professionalism

Watches are an essential feature of many workplaces. Even with the presence of smartphones, wristwatches provide a discreet way to check the time. Watches can also add covey an air of professionalism to the wearer. A wristwatch is an infinitely better way of checking the time than your smartphone, especially in professional settings such as meetings, where looking at your smartphone can seem like you’re not paying attention.

A wristwatch can also signify that you are serious about being punctual and that you value discipline, qualities that will allow you to make a good impression on your colleagues and superiors, and therefore help you advance in your professional life.

Watches as Accessories

watches as good investment

With the explosive growth of the fashion industry, brands have created a variety of strikingly different wristwatches, which act more than accessories and statement pieces than just a functional wristwatch.

Wristwatches that are meant to be used as accessories are especially popular among women’s fashion. These differ in style, with many different faces, embellishments, strap colors, and materials.

These kinds of wristwatches are also available at different levels of quality and price, and cheaper and discounted models are most prevalent in this category of watches. To give an extra advantage to customers, there are some discounts and offer such as stylogear.com that helps your customers to become your potential consumers

Watches as Signals of Class

Quality watches are an established symbol of wealth and class, harkening back to the days when watches were an exclusive luxury item. Even though watches are a ubiquitous item these days, a quality wristwatch will still stand out because of its fine craftsmanship and the high quality of the materials used to construct it.

A quality wristwatch can, therefore, be a worthy investment, depending on the wearer’s social status and what they want to convey through wearing it.

Specialized Watches

An oft-forgotten aspect of watches is how certain professions require specialized wristwatches. Advances in watch mechanics and technology have led to the production of a wide variety of watches for different purposes and for different professions.

For example, such advances now specifically make diving watches for divers and swimmers to be waterproof and to also withstand the high pressures faced by divers underwater.

Triathletes also require watches that are designed to both withstand and track the different aspects of running, swimming, and cycling.

Other professions that require watches include medical professionals, both for noting the time for medical records and for recording a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate, etc. Watches for medical professionals often include another smaller face which can act as a stopwatch. They also require a watch that is easy to clean and disinfect, for obvious reasons.

Conclusion

Wristwatches have strengthened over time to serve a variety of different purposes and to communicate different styles. As the watch industry grows, both in physical outlets and in the e-commerce industry, it provides an opportunity for investors to take part in the market and grow their business.

The post 7 Reasons Why You Should Invest In Wristwatches As An Entrepreneur appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

5 Steps for Managing Your IT Audit & Security Career In Strange Times

No one figured that this would be the year of uncertainty when we were making those ‘Mission 2020’ statements. For individuals, professionals, businesses, and humanity at large – these are trying times. Now, the question is, amid crisis how should we be thinking about our career management?

Constant surveys and key findings are pointing to what the future might hold for tech professionals. Interestingly, observing all such findings, one can infer that IT Audit, cyber, and information security jobs are more stable than other domains.

For now, this may be good news; however, how long can the center hold the things from falling apart is still a mystery.

Experts also found that challenges are not limited to job losses, insecurity, pay cuts, or furloughs, it goes beyond that. We, as a generation, are facing trouble in managing and balancing work and family, managing stress, and continuously staying connected with co-workers and remote teams in this era of ‘new normal’.

Tech community and IT professionals, considered as the most innovative people, are trying new and innovative ways to cope up with these blues and implementing new strategies for building connections and getting work done every day.

Career planning for 2020 and beyond, is still a daunting challenge. However, it need not be stressful, with some strategic and well-laid career planning methods in place.

Offered below are five impeccable and actionable steps that each IT Audit & Security professional can take to safeguard their career progress and prepare for the post-pandemic changes:

First and foremost, Update Your Profile for the Era

information technology career resume

Simply updating your profile with the latest job role and responsibilities is not enough in these times. Frankly, loading up your resume with self-descriptive adjectives such as  ‘accomplished security professional’ and ‘exceptional leader’ is passé.

No one is believing in these terms anymore. The most crucial contents that we can add to our profile in these times are our contributions in figures and facts, the value that we bring to the table, and the problems we can handle or solve beyond our regular KRAs. It’s also important that we describing them in a clear, factual manner. Demonstrate your skills, recent contributions, and major projects concisely to draw more attention.

Being an IT Audit and security professional, clearly mentioning your CISA certification or related credentials are highly appreciated among the fraternity.

Second, Keep a Record of Your Recent Projects

Nothing can be more helpful than maintaining an updated record of your yesteryear work projects. Create a journal [spreadsheet or document] for each year recording your projects. Identify who, what, when, how, tools implemented, duration, challenges and learning, and foremost the value it added to your journey.

Start from the present year and group them one-by-one chronologically. This will give you a clear picture of your growth and better perspective when you would be required to present yourself somewhere, for example, at performance reviews or future employment or simply for communication purposes with bosses and seniors.

Third, Make an Enticing Professional Community Profile

It is wise to update and create an intriguing profile on that popular professional community platform. Let the hiring managers headhunt you for the top-notch positions in your domain. Update your most valued projects.

It is also important that you mention your newly gained CISA certification credential on your profile as an IT Audit and Security expert. Ask your past seniors to drop by and give you a good recommendation.

Remember these recommendations are immensely helpful and reflect your credibility. Remember, that along with hiring managers, your past and present colleagues, bosses, and clients also get to look for your skills there.

It helps in your brand building and personal marketing as well. It is the best practice to work on your profile display. Make a periodic audit and review it accordingly.

Fourth, Stay Connected, Keep Your Network Updated

information technology career networking

In this era of online social networking, people may not drop by often and get to meet you or vice versa, but you can always stay connected with your best career references.

Keep a track of your networking activities, take time out to chat with your past colleagues, and drop a line to greet and video call your former boss. It is important to let them know about your new achievements and industry takeaways and share an interesting article with a note of your insight on it. Make them refresh their knowledge on your latest endeavors by sharing information on your latest certifications achieved.

Remember – ‘Inspiration is Contagious’. Constant strive for betterment might as well motivate others to take career progression seriously, even in these trying times, and focus on the future beyond this pandemic.

Fifth, Evaluate, Learn, and Gain those pending Certifications and Training

Professionals, especially in top management, experts, and leadership roles are preferably offered to those who have certifications that are globally recognized to validate top-level expertise. So, earning those industry-recognized certifications in IS Audit and Security domain, such as CISA certification, is significant to demonstrate your knowledge and your willingness to do whatever it takes to reach your goals. Beside, CISA certification guides your next move in your career.

Most importantly, even the certification bodies, like ISACA, has made changes in their exam pattern as part of today’s ‘new normal’. Now, the aspirants can take the ‘Online Remote Proctored Exam’.

This clearly indicates how committed ISACA and aspired professionals are towards career progress in the face of the pandemic. Even certification bodies address the need for uninterrupted access to their resources even when we all are restricted at our homes and making exams available with an online remote proctored option.

To enable aspirants to continue their learning and upskilling process, many training providers aligned their objectives and started promoting the CISA Online training via Instructor-led mode for equipping learners with knowledge and skills to pass the CISA Exam.

By applying these strategic ways in your career progress path, you will be ready for what comes next. Besides, being ready for future roles, you will gain more clarity on your current credentials, making job search and internal growth more effective.

As leaders of tomorrow, you will have done your job well!

The post 5 Steps for Managing Your IT Audit & Security Career In Strange Times appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Prepare for a Successful Zoom Interview

Live video interviews are becoming increasingly common in a job search today. Whether it takes over Skype or Zoom, don’t be surprised if you are invited in a live video interview. It lets the employer see how you interact on screen, and it also simulates those live in-person interviews.

As today’s pandemic has hit, remote job interviews are becoming a trend. And Zoom is one of the most used technology around the globe for job interviews, webinars, and video conferencing.

So, if you have a live video call interview, follow my top Zoom interview tips to nail it.

Crush Your Zoom Interview With These Tips

Prepare yourself to ace the interview with these tips on interviewing by Zoom and get ready to start a new job.

Get familiar with Zoom

You can’t give your best in the interview if you don’t know how to use the app, as these minor details also count. Don’t let the employer think that you are unfamiliar with the latest technologies.

Before the interview, download the app in your computer or mobile and check your meeting link and access code from the employer.

Learn everything about Zoom, check the destination of interview emails, where you receive them, in junk or spam. It will give you an idea about the future emails.

Also, check your webcam or microphone if they are working properly or not to avoid any last-minute issues.

Don’t let a bad connection ruin your first impression

Having on a bad Zoom call is frustrating when you can’t connect to the employer due to some connection lags or glitch in the software app.

Technical issues are inevitable as they are part of the software. But you can tackle the terrible connection problem ten minutes before your interview.

You can’t afford a bad first impression with a frozen image or a “can you hear me?” query.

Make sure to power up your internet connection before your interview begins and keep your cell phone around to call in if required.

Why not practice with your friend?

preparing for a zoom interview

Tackle some behavioral and traditional interview questions by practicing with a friend. Zoom allows you to record your video interview so use the technology to your benefit.

By examining the recording, you can find all the areas where you need to improve so you can enhance your interview performance.

You can observe the lighting, if you are fidgeting too much or not, smiling enough, video and audio quality and your eyeline.

Practicing will not only hone your skills, but it also enhances your confidence and lead to a performance on the “hot seat” without feeling nervous.

Eradicate distractions from the interview area

Imagine your dog barking or a kid crawling on your lap during your interview. You can’t afford to have even a minor distraction like a text message at this time.

In a Zoom interview, the hiring manager won’t know if an email notification pops up or someone knocks on the door. But to avoid distraction, turn off the notifications and pick a quiet spot.

Also, shut your windows, and ask your family to stay quiet during your interview.

Choose your interview outfit

Dressing is an integral part of an interview. It adds some bonus points in your hiring. So, try to dress professionally as you do in live in-person interviews.

Iron your outfit, make sure it looks clean and sophisticated.

Dress to impress even if you are wearing just your top half. Try smaller prints, bold colors, wear a tie, and avoid stripes.

You can also compliment your look with accessories but don’t wear noisy earrings and bracelets as if you are attending a wedding. Keep it decent and elegant.

Observe your body language

prepare for a zoom interview

Make sure you don’t look confused or nervous with your body language. Hiring managers watch your hand movement and eye contact to figure out your confidence level.

Avoid clenching your jaws, tapping your hands, moving your chair, or doing anything that will make you appear uneasy or nervous.

Show confidence with eye contact by looking into your webcam rather than at your video on the screen. It will feel more like a real conversation.

Also, create a good atmosphere and reduce the stress with a smile.

Be on time

Employers always note the punctuality, whether it is a remote or an in-person interview. Make sure to enter your Zoom meeting 2-3 minutes earlier the scheduled time.

Final Note

I hope that the above Zoom video interview tips will be valuable to you and help you rock your interview. So, give your best every time and become a Zoom interview ninja.

Best of luck!

The post How to Prepare for a Successful Zoom Interview appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

5 Places in New Zealand for a Thrilling Casino Trip

Even though it may be one of the more remote countries in the world, New Zealand is also one of the most highly visited. In fact, tourism is its biggest industry by a considerable margin, bringing in a total revenue of over $40 billion a year and employing over 14% of the population. Every year around 4 million people visit – that’s quite an achievement in a country whose population is only 4.8 million.

There are many aspects that bring the visitors flocking to New Zealand, from the stunning scenery to the cosmopolitan cities. The two islands also have so much to explore that tourists tend to travel around visiting many different places on the trip – a sensible idea given that so many have traveled so far to visit.

A considerable number of these travelers also want to include a visit to a casino or two during their stay and they’re in luck here as well. Ever since the Gambling Act of 2003, casinos have been permitted, provided that they are authorized by the government.
This means that you’ll find them in or near all of the major population centres as you travel around, and they are just as popular and welcoming when it comes to catering for New Zealanders who want to visit.

The online casinos option is also available

There’s more good news for visitors who would prefer to play from the comfort of their holiday accommodation – there’s also a wide choice of online casinos to choose from. In the recent years there have a plethora of them, so it can be helpful to visit trusted online casino sites in New Zealand. In such a platform, you’ll be able to find the best online casinos making the most generous offers for new players. The site also includes plenty of other useful information for New Zealand players.

But, for those who can’t resist the allure of the “bricks and mortar” experience, there are some great options available in New Zealand too.

SkyCity Auckland

skycity auckland
Via aucklandnz.com

As the country’s largest and most diverse city, Auckland is somewhere most visitors want to spend a lot of time. With places to visit like the National Maritime Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, which holds the country’s most extensive collection of national and international art, it offers plenty for culture vultures. Thrill-seekers are also catered for with bungee-jumping from the landmark Sky Tower which is also part of the complex housing the Sky City Auckland Casino. Opened in 1996, this is a very popular venue offering a full range of games and superb hospitality.

Christchurch Casino

The biggest city on the South Island has earned itself the nickname “The Garden City”, thanks to the many parks and wide-open spaces to explore and welcomes many tourists. These include Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens which are especially spectacular in the Spring. Christchurch has also always been a base for Antarctic explorations, and you’ll find many artefacts from these at the International Antarctic Centre. The city’s casino is a huge 44,000 sq. ft. gaming space with over 500 slots to play and 34 gaming tables. It’s also gained quite a reputation as a leading poker venue hosting regular, weekly tournaments.

Dunedin Casino

dunedin casino
Via dunedincasino.co.nz

As you might expect from a university city, Dunedin is lively, creative and more than a little quirky. For example, walk around and you can’t help but be amazed at the amount of street art. There’s also a very lively food scene and, for nature lovers, a visit to the nearby Otago Peninsular is a must. The Dunedin Casino may not be the biggest in the country, but it’s certainly one of the friendliest and most welcoming. It opened in 1999 and today, also offers a great rewards programme for all players with discounts on food and drink and the chance to collect points that you can convert into casino chips.

SkyCity Hamilton

Situated in the heart of the North Island, Hamilton is New Zealand’s biggest inland city and is famous for a thriving cultural scene, as well as its stunning outdoor spaces. A big favourite amongst all visitors is taking a river trip along the Waikato. The Hobbiton Movie Set is also nearby so you can even take an evening dinner tour. The casino is large, employing over 350 staff and is part of an even bigger leisure centre with a 10 pin bowling and a golf simulator.

SkyCity Queenstown

Right in the heart of Lord of the Rings country, the scenery around Queenstown is just as amazing as you might imagine. It also means that it’s a real honeypot destination for lovers of the big outdoors, whether that means mountain biking, hiking or looking for the rich local wildlife. Queenstown casino is another in the Sky City family and, with just 12 gaming tables and 150 slots, it’s also the most intimate, but none the worse for that.

So there you have them, 5 great casinos, and many more tourist experiences in “the Land of the Long White Cloud” – plus all you need to know if you want to enjoy a first rate online casino experience as well.

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How Adult Daycare Is Fighting The Loneliness Problem

Would it surprise you to learn that chronic loneliness can decrease your lifespan as much as 26%? That works out to two decades less to live your life, which is a bigger decrease than alcoholism or obesity. This is a uniquely western problem — success is measured in the ability to afford to live alone or as a nuclear family, which is actually worse for our health in the long run. There is a real and measurable deleterious effect on health and life expectancy from loneliness, and that also results in higher healthcare and end of life care costs in the long run.

The American Loneliness Problem

In 2018, 54% of Americans said they felt lonely all or some of the time. By 2019 that figure had risen to 61%. These people often report that no one around them shares their interests, that no one really knows them very well, or that no one respects their abilities.

By generation, the younger generations are by far the loneliest. GenZ, Millennials, and GenX are the most lonely generations overall, but loneliness has more dire consequences for the older generations. 18% of suicide deaths are senior citizens, the highest percentage for any age group

77% of those who feel lonely say they lack a social support system. People need friends and neighbors they can depend on for help when they need it, advice they consider trustworthy, and someone to share activities with them.

Unfortunately the American ideal of success often works against this. The cost of living is high, but expectations for a big house, a small family, and two cars is at an all-time high. There are fewer people living in larger houses that necessitate more income, which means less time to spend together as a family, let alone with friends. Multigenerational homes where families would share expenses and be in closer quarters are seen as a failure.

How Health Impacts Loneliness

adult daycare is fighting the loneliness problem

People who have health conditions, physical disabilities, mental illness, and others are more prone to becoming lonely. These conditions already make it more challenging to maintain friendships, and they can often complicate even the simplest act of getting out of the house to enjoy an activity.

There is a 374% higher instance of both depression and psychological distress among people who are in poor health, and people who are lonely are 278% more likely to have chronic health problems. It’s difficult to tell which is causing which, but the correlation is far too strong to ignore.

People with substance abuse problems, chronic physical illnesses, and dementia or Alzheimer’s are more likely to feel lonely. What’s more, people who feel lonely are more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, and substance abuse disorders.

Physically, loneliness leads to an increase in norepinephrine levels which can cause spikes in white blood cell counts that leads to inflammation. This can also decrease immunity, leading to still more health problems.

In seniors, increased loneliness can increase the risk of death by 14%.

Adult Daycare To The Rescue

adult daycare

In many communities, community centers provide seniors with access to daytime care. These are places where people can get meals, meet new friends and socialize, have opportunities for exercise that meets their physical needs, and more.

Staving off loneliness can add years to life and life to years. It also has a measurable impact on healthcare and end of life care spending. People who attend adult daycare facilities experience fewer ER visits and hospital admissions, and when they do have to be admitted to the hospital they spend less time there on average. For dementia patients, attending adult daycare staves off cognitive decline.

After a stroke, patients are likely to suffer greater loneliness and feelings they can’t participate in activities like they used to. Unfortunately when patients give into this loneliness it can result in a greater risk of depression and less ability to fully recover. People need others to help with their recovery, and adult daycare centers provide this to people who don’t have communities that can help them.

Loneliness costs us all in terms of health and healthcare costs. Providing seniors and those living with disabilities the opportunity to have their physical and social needs met prevents many preventable problems. Learn more about challenging the loneliness epidemic with adult daycare below.

Please include attribution to with this graphic.

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How The Biggest Gamblers Became Rich

Casino culture has a term for non-professional big-time gamblers who spend shocking amounts of money at the tables. These are known as high rollers or whales. These fabulously wealthy players are some of the biggest gamblers in the world but whose fortunes were made with different kinds of wagers.

For these kinds of gamblers, casinos will bend over backward to welcome them in, offering them VIP exclusivity and instant, million-dollar credit lines. You’ll usually find whales around a blackjack, baccarat, or poker table, a roulette wheel, or even a craps table. These games tend to offer a lower house edge, which is why you’ll hardly ever see one near a slot machine.

But these high rollers didn’t make their millions (or billions) inside of a casino or even gambling online. Let’s look at a few of the biggest (and most fearless) gamblers out there that brought their fortunes to the gaming tables.

Akio Kashiwagi

With a reported income of a hundred million dollars a year and a billion dollars in assets, Akio Kashiwagi was a Japanese real estate investor who made a name for himself both in the global real estate market and with his astronomical bets in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Akio Kashiwagi was one of the biggest gamblers of the last few decades, even having a character based on him in the movie Casino (K.K. Ichikawa played by Nobu Matsuhisa). His favorite game was baccarat, sometimes betting more than $100,000 on a single hand.

Terrance Watanabe

terrance watanabe
Via statisticbrain.com

Some high-rolling gamblers didn’t make their money at all. Some of them inherited it. Let’s take a look at Terrance Watanabe, an American businessman who acquired his father’s company, the Oriental Trading Company, in 1977.

In 2000, Watanabe sold his entire share of the company to a private firm and resigned as president and CEO. He had made millions in his family business and planned to enjoy it. He was known for living a lavish lifestyle and wagering millions on bets at the casino.

On one of his most notorious gambling excursions, Watanabe reportedly lost $127 million in 2009 alone, securing him the record for the biggest losing streak in Las Vegas history. Currently entangled in a lawsuit with Harrah’s over $14 million, Watanabe claims the casino kept him overly intoxicated with booze and pills to keep him gambling (and losing millions).

Fouad al-Zayat

A super-secretive, Syrian businessman, Fouad al-Zayat was the founder of many companies, including Mortimer Off-Shore Services Ltd. His wealth sprang from the oil industry in the Middle East and he used it to diversify into many organizations.

Fouad al-Zayat was a high-roller in London’s Mayfair club, Aspinall’s, wagering £91.5 million and losing £23.2 million ($37.5 million) over a 12 year period. He was ordered to pay £2 million to the casino but somehow won his appeal and escaped prosecution, claiming the credit line he received was unlawful under the Gaming Act.

Kerry Packer

kerry packer
Via famous-entrepreneurs.com

Perhaps the biggest whale of them all, Kerry Packer was an Australian media tycoon, considered by many to be one of Australia’s most powerful media proprietors of the last century.

Packer’s father’s media company (the Packer Empire) owned a controlling interest in both the Australian Consolidated Press and the Nine Network, both of which were later consolidated into Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL). Also known outside Australia for founding World Series Cricket, at the time of his death in 2005, Kerry Packer had a net worth of roughly $6.5 billion.

Playing big and losing big were part of Packer’s business life and personal life. In his free time, he routinely gambled in both Vegas and the UK, placing astronomical bets of hundreds of thousands of dollars on one hand of blackjack. He would also reportedly leave casino waitresses 7-figure tips when his luck was good.

In 1999, his luck turned bad and Packer went on a 3-week losing streak, losing approximately $27 million in bets spread across four roulette tables. Packer still holds the record for the biggest reported gambling loss in British history.

Play big, lose bigger

Yes, people have won some very large jackpots playing at an online casino, but those winnings pale in comparison to the wealth of the biggest gamblers. These are very rare people, usually only making the news when they lose big. These prominent gamblers are both a blessing and a curse for casinos, bringing in massive amounts of money, but usually dogged by lawsuits and scandals.

The biggest whales are also the highest risk-takers, not afraid to lose millions on a roll of the dice or a hand of cards. With a keen intuition that brought them massive success in the business world, it’s not hard to see how that savvy would translate to the gaming table too.

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What Is Extended Reality?

Extended reality (XR) meshes all immersive technologies together, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). In its final product, XR is capable of making users feel they’re inside of its simulations, making them eager for more experiences. Traditionally, immersive technologies have been associated with entertainment, but emerging technology has widened its scope of benefits. As a result, more people than ever before are interested in immersive experiences, putting XR on the rise. Did you know virtual realities could improve your life?

How Extended Reality Works

how extended reality work

At its basics, XR combines emerging technologies to create a super product. More specifically, it takes a team of data scientists and software developers to design immersive algorithms. Together, data scientists and software developers use biomechanical modeling, motion tracking, and machine learning to make artificially intelligent programs for consumers.

Most commonly, consumers interact with XR programs via headset. For example, users may wear a lightweight head-mounted display to interact with an XR sports simulation. On top of that, the head-mount will monitor and record all body and equipment movements during an active simulation. In other words, users can interact with a virtual world through physical movement and the software’s high-level physics engine.

The Benefits of Extended Reality

Not only is immersive technology interesting, but it also provides people with a unique way of crossing items off of their to-do lists.

For example, sports players who use XR simulations can undergo physicals from their home rather than visiting a physician. The artificial intelligence used in XR algorithms makes analyzing these standard health parameters possible. By using high-speed cameras, sensors, and computer vision to measure every action taken by the human and XR gadget, artificial intelligence can predict the user’s chances of success for tactics based on real-time data collection.

In other words, artificial intelligence engages and stimulates players in ways that mimic the real world. Because of this, XR is powerful enough to help users do many things besides entertain. Now, XR can help users with their career, travel, and exercise regimes.

FrameVR.io is growing increasingly popular in the workforce as it creates virtual meetings that can “host” up to 20 participants, making remote colleagues feel they’re in their same setting. Oculus Quest offers virtual tours of historical locations across the globe, optimizing the way we approach traveling in the 21st century. The Pregame Golf Simulator is growing popular in the exercise community, packing downloadable images of specific holes for players to practice virtually.

Although many industries are benefiting from XR, the sports sector has seemed to run with immersive technology the best. Aaron Shapiro, the founder and CEO of Graff Golf believes, “Sports as a whole are turning toward an increased amount of technology to bring about a sense of normalcy in light of the current state of the world.” Are virtual sports the future?

How Athletes Benefit From Extended Reality

how does extended reality work on athletes

The future of sports is oddly technological. However, the amount of physical activity athletes receive will stay relatively the same. How so? Patrick Henry, the CPO of Cybersports explains, “As AI becomes more mainstream, video capture powered by machine learning analysis of the athlete’s biomechanical pattern will become commonplace… athletes will receive real-time actionable feedback and amplified post-game analysis.” In other words, XR is making sports more efficient, drawing in more athletes to its algorithms.

Programs such as the VR Tennis Trainer do a great job at demonstrating the capabilities of extended reality sports. In this program, training is embedded to be fun, yet competitive. During gameplay, players can learn and perfect their movements – all from the help of real-time artificial intelligence. On top of that, players can bring the technology to their home, which comes along with instructor assistance.

On the other hand, fans of esports will have their own sector of XR technologies to engage with. Currently under development, Sportstacular venues will offer up to 100 multi-sport simulators that are designed with socially distance pods for competitive and safe esports. Additionally, Sportstacular venues will be linked city-to-city for tournaments with sponsored prizes.

The Future of Extended Reality

Experts have predicted the market for XR to reach $18 billion by 2023. Why? Perhaps because Americans age 18-24 prefer to partake in activities and high tech amenities at home rather than in public. Many industry experts believe the future of extended reality will only grow stronger. What have your experiences with XR been like?

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7 Winter Foot Problems and Tips for Keeping Them At Bay

With winter just around the corner, most of us are already dreaming of long days spent on the slopes followed by leisurely evenings by the fireplace. Even if you aren’t planning to head off for a skiing or snowboarding weekend, there’s no denying the charm of watching snowflakes drift down from the sky while you’re toasty warm indoors!

Except, winter isn’t all cheer and joy. It brings its own fair share of trouble, especially for the feet. Practically everyone suffers some foot problem when the mercury drops, whether it’s a simple case of dry skin, or severe and painful chilblains, stiffness and even foot infections.

Why Are Foot Problems So Common In Winter?

Generally, we tend to take better care of our feet in summer because we’re walking around in open sandals or flip flops most of the time. When the weather gets colder, though, we slap on those heavy boots and forget all about how our feet look and feel. Out of sight, out of mind.

The trouble is, cold and dry weather aggravates your skin, and feet take the brunt of this change because they’re furthest from your core. They get less blood and oxygen than the rest of your body, and have no oil glands to keep skin moisturized. The skin on your feet is generally more prone to dryness, since it can only rely on sweat glands for moisture.

With dry skin and circulation problems come a host of foot-related issues such as inflammation, stiffness and neuropathy, which become even worse in cold weather. Wearing wet boots or the same pair of socks all day also raises the risk of infections such as Athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, unless you’re wearing antimicrobial copper socks.

Let’s look at common cold-weather foot complaints, as well as some of the most effective tips for relieving aches, boosting skin health and caring for your feet in winter.

Top 7 Foot Conditions People Face in Winter

foot problems during winter

Diabetics and the elderly usually suffer from foot issues in winter, but some complaints are common across all age groups and demographics. These include:

1. Dry Feet

Symptoms of dry feet include red, itchy, rough, flaky or peeling skin, as well as rashes, cracks and fissures. Dry feet may not seem like a serious problem, but leaving them untreated can cause numerous complications, including difficulty with movement or walking, pain, chronic burning or itching, and skin conditions such as psoriasis or dermatitis.

2. Chilblains

These itchy, red and swollen spots are a common complaint among people with circulation problems. They happen when your feet are exposed to sudden changes from cold to warm temperatures, which doesn’t allow blood vessels in the skin time to react. Chilblains usually show up on toes, and scratching them may cause cracks or ulcers.

3. Raynaud’s Phenomenon

This disorder of the blood vessels is very common in colder temperatures. The tightening of small blood vessels reduces blood and oxygen circulation in your extremities, leading to blisters, pain, discolored skin and even chilblains. The symptoms of Raynaud’s usually get worse when the temperature changes or drops suddenly.

4. Blisters

Friction from new or ill-fitting shoes often leads to blister development, even in summer. However, these irritating “bubbles” can also happen with comfortable footwear in winter, since you’re constantly wearing shoes and socks that rub against your skin. It’s also difficult to keep them from popping as a result of friction when you’re trying to stay warm!

5. Fungal/Bacterial Infections

When feet are enclosed in tight shoes or thick socks all day, they tend to get warm and sweaty. This creates the perfect environment for bacterial and fungal growth, especially between the toes and under toenails. If you’re heading to the gym instead of outdoors for exercise, you can also pick up germs from dirty floors.

6. Pinched Nerves/Neuromas

The nerve between your third and fourth toe can thicken due to excessive pressure from tight-fitting footwear, etc. It is usually treated with plenty of rest, foot elevation, ice packs, anti-inflammatory medication and a metatarsal pad placed beneath the ball of the foot. However, it also may require surgery or steroid injections in severe cases.

7. Bunions

Some people have a hereditary tendency to develop bunions, but these can also occur as a result of wearing shoes that are too tight, pointy or otherwise ill-fitting. Without proper care and padded footwear, bunions can become more severe and may even require surgical treatment. Chilblains are more common near bunions and calluses too.

Top 7 Tips for Preventing Winter Foot Problems

winter foot problems solutions

While regular foot care should be a part of your daily routine throughout the year, it’s even more important during the colder months. Here are 7 simple and effective ways to keep your feet healthy and prevent foot problems this winter:

1. Avoid sitting or standing too long

Long periods of sitting or standing are no good for your feet, and not only because they cause foot and ankle pain. Remaining in the same position for too long cuts off circulation to your legs and feet, which can lead to aches and pains, tired feet and legs, stiffness in the joints, edema or swelling in ankles and feet, as well as varicose veins and spider veins.

2. Wear copper compression socks

Wearing socks in winter is a good way to provide your feet with additional protection and warmth. Many people use compression wear to boost circulation in their legs, and copper compression socks are your best bet. In addition to graduated compression that enhances blood flow and keeps feet warm, copper infused compression socks also fight infection – and odor-causing bacteria, fungi and viruses, wick away extra sweat and boost skin health.

3. Keep your feet well-moisturized

Most winter foot problems occur due to dry skin, so it’s important to moisturize your feet regularly. After you bathe, shower or wash your feet, dry them thoroughly with a clean towel and use a thick, oil-based moisturizer to lock in moisture and keep the skin from drying out. Avoid using too much, or using harsh or scented products that can cause itching or inflammation, and don’t apply moisturizer between your toes.

4. Make sure you stay hydrated

We tend to drink less water in winter when we aren’t sweating in the heat. However, not drinking enough water is one of the main culprits behind skin dryness, in addition to numerous other health issues. Keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water every day, as well as clear soups or green tea, etc. Eating plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, and foods with omega-3s can also help skin hydration.

5. Don’t wear ill-fitting footwear

Always wear shoes that are comfortable, well-fitting and let your feet breathe, so your skin is not being rubbed raw when you walk around. Avoid footwear styles with a narrow or pointy front, which compresses your toes and increases the pressure on your feet while also reducing circulation. When you’re buying winter boots, try to find a pair that’s roomier than normal and you can wear thick socks without cutting off circulation.

6. Don’t rub or scratch your feet

If your feet and legs feel itchy, avoid scratching or rubbing them. This will only make the inflammation worse, and increase the risk of secondary infection by allowing dirt and germs to enter broken skin. Keep your skin moisturized and use an anti-itching lotion or ointment if necessary. Make sure to trim your toenails regularly after a bath or shower, since they can also damage your skin if they’re too long or sharp.

7. Try home remedies for problems

There are many ways to improve skin health at home, and even get relief from common foot problems. E.g., scrubbing your feet with a pumice stone after soaking them in warm water and Epsom salts can help relieve calluses and corns, while soaking them in water and baking soda can alleviate itchiness. Get a doctor’s opinion before trying any home remedies if you have serious skin conditions or other health issues such as diabetes.

Winter isn’t easy on your feet, but you can reduce the chances or severity of a problem with the right care. Make sure to get a checkup if you face serious or chronic issues, since timely treatment can keep them from getting worse!

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Fun Activities That Involve Your Children and Pets Together

Life isn’t easy, more so if you are a double parent (meaning you have kids as well as pets to take care of). It can get a lot hectic to balance and spend equal amounts of time with both of them. But fortunately, for all you multi-parents out there, there are ways to spend time with both your kids and pets and still have time to yourselves. That’s correct! There are numerous fun activities that can help you to involve both your human baby and furry buddy. They will not only have a great time, but you will too. So without stretching any further, let us dive straight into the list of activities.

Fun Activities For Children And Pets

We have come up with as many as five fun activities for your child and pet to enjoy. And we are pretty sure, at least one, if not all, will excite them both.

Fun Activities Involving Your Dog

pet activities for kids and dogs

Below are three fun activities you can perform with your child and canine buddy.

Fun Activity #1: Hide & Seek

The age-old game that we all have played in our childhood days can be brought to life once again. To play this game, hide your dog inside the house while your child finds a suitable spot outside to hide. Then release your four-legged pal and ask him to sniff his way out to find your child. This game can be played all year round, including the hot summer season as well.

Fun Activity #2: Dodging Obstacles

Make use of the scrappy old cardboard boxes and use them as obstacles. Place them haphazardly and tell your kid to dodge them all and reach the other end. While he performs the task, let your dog follow him behind in doing the same. Reward them both with tasty treats after their good performances.

Fun Activity #3: New Trick To Teach

It’s always amazing to teach your dog a new trick or two. This time, instead of you being the teacher let your child take over. Tell him to teach your little canine friend a new trick. It may take a while, but it will be worth it, wouldn’t it?

Fun Activities Involving Your Cat

pet activities for kids and cats

Below are a couple of fun activities you can perform with your child and feline friend.

Fun Activity #1: Teaching Fetch

Dogs sure love to fetch, but did you know that even cats like it too? Well, find a suitable thing to throw (like a squished up piece of paper or a tennis ball). Tell your kid to throw the object in the opposite direction and then summon your kitty to go get it for you. It might take a while for your cat to master it, but it will sure be fun. Reward them both with treats after each session.

Fun Activity #2: Build A Cat Castle

Use cardboard boxes to build the “purrfect” castle for your cat. Trim the edges, cut holes, and paint it with beautiful colors. Let your kid help you while you’re at it. Once done, watch how your cat slides through the maze that you and your kid created.

Pro Tip: While all these activities are fun, they more or less require outdoor interaction. So before you step outside, make sure you have your pet on a flea and tick schedule. If not, visit PetCareClub for incredible offers on pet supplies. Have fun with your pet and child!

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12 Frequently Asked Questions About Student Loan Debts

For millions of Americans, student loan debts are something that is always in the back of their minds. They can be very complicated, and this can lead to a lot of questions. We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about student loan debt to give you the answers you seek in one place below.

What types of student loans are available for college expenses?

You can break student loans down into three broad categories. There may be Federal Pell Grants available, but you can borrow from the government if you don’t qualify. Your choices are Direct Stafford loans, Perkins loans, or PLUS loans. Direct Stafford loans come in Subsidized and Unsubsidized forms, Perkins loans are for students in great financial need, and PLUS loans are for a college student’s parents to apply for to help fund their education.

What is the FAFSA?

student loan debts fafsa

FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application determines whether you can get grants you don’t have to pay back. It’ll also determine your eligibility for student loans through one of the three programs we mentioned earlier. You have to report all of your income and your parent’s income on the application, and they assign grants and loan amounts based on need.

Can you invest your excess student loan funds?

According to Best Student Loans, it depends on the type of loan you get whether or not you can legally invest your student loan funds. If you have private student loans, there aren’t many restrictions attached to them. However, investing any excess funds from a subsidized federal government loan could require you to face legal action or pay subsidized interest on the amount you invested.

Is it possible to cancel your loans when you’re in school?

Yes. You can cancel your loans even after you signed the promissory note. You can cancel a Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, or a PLUS Loan if you tell your school that you won’t accept the loan payment within 14 days of your school telling you the lender disbursed your loan. If it’s later, you can wait until the first day of the payment period and still cancel it. You can return the funds to the school and refuse them as well.

What repayment plans are available?

student loan repayment

If you want to make your payments more affordable, you have several repayment options available. Keep in mind that you will end up paying more in interest the longer you repay your loans. We listed the repayment options below.

  • Standard – You’ll pay a fixed amount every month for 10 years.
  • Extended – You’ll pay a fixed amount every month for 25 years.
  • Income-Based – You’ll pay a monthly payment amount capped at your income level and family size.
  • Graduated – You’ll pay smaller payments to start with, and they’ll gradually increase to standard payments over time.
  • Consolidation – You can consolidate your PLUS, Perkins, and Federal loans into a single loan with a fixed interest rate.

What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Under this program, you’ll make 120 qualifying payments using a qualifying repayment plan. You also have to work full-time for a qualifying employer and submit proof that you stayed employed with them throughout the payment process. When you make it to the 120 payments under these conditions, the government will forgive whatever balance you have left. If you miss a single payment, it starts over. Also, the IRS can tax you on any balance the government forgives. You can find out more by clicking here.

How do you find out which type of government loan you have?

Student loan debts can easily blur together, and it can be challenging to find out which type of government loan you have. However, the National Student Loan Data System on Studentaid.gov will tell you who holds your loans with your contact information.

What happens if you can’t make your payments?

If you’re struggling to pay your student loans, you can apply for deferment or forbearance for one year at a time. If you defer your loans, it freezes everything for a year. Forbearance also freezes your payments, but your interest still adds to your balance each month. You should contact your loan servicer and see which one they suggest.

Can student loans get canceled?

There are a few circumstances where the government could cancel your student loans. They include the borrower’s death, permanent or total disability based on a condition you didn’t have when you took out the loans, the school closed while you were going or 90 days after you withdrew, and false certification. False certification is where the school signed your name on a promissory note without your knowledge.

Does declaring bankruptcy means the government discharges your loans?

Rarely. For this to happen, the bankruptcy court has to believe that keeping your student loans would cause undue hardship. This is very rare, and you could still have loans in default after you declare bankruptcy.

What is loan rehabilitation?

Once you default on a student loan, the lender will give you one chance to rehabilitate it. You’ll have to make nine consecutive monthly payments that are affordable and reasonable to you. Once you do, the lender will put your loan back in good standing and remove it from the default status.

When do you start paying back your student loan debts?

You’ll start to repay your student loans after you drop below half time status or finish your schooling. Perkins loans have a nine-month grace period before you have to pay, and Stafford loans have a six-month grace period. Your loan lender will send you monthly payment notifications when your grace period ends. For PLUS loans, you start repaying it 60 days after the disbursement date, even if you’re in school. You must make each payment in full by the due date. The only exceptions are if you made a deal with the lender or signed up for forbearance or deferment.

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3 Ways to Reduce Your Anxiety Before Going to Sleep

Having a lot of stress and anxiety is harmful for anyone during the day. Having a whirlwind of negative thoughts when you lay down to sleep is even worse! These anxious thoughts make it so difficult to get the sleep that your body and mind desperately need. My past experiences with living in unsafe neighborhoods and moving multiple times after eviction, have caused me to have negative and anxious thoughts every time I lay down to sleep.
After working on reducing my own anxiety for many years, I have found these three strategies help me fall asleep when I am having anxiety before bed.

Take a warm bath or warm shower

calming my anxiety at night

It is ideal to take a warm bath, but not all of us have a bath tub. I surely have had apartments that do not have the option to soak your stress away. A warm shower would do the trick as well. The warm water helps you relieve tension in your muscles and leaves you feeling fresh.

Set yourself up to relax by making the environment calm and peaceful. Create dim lighting with candles or a lamp. The bright lights of a bathroom can be overwhelming and prevent you from truly taking time to rest. Reduce the noise and turn off your phone. It becomes too distracting when my phone keeps ringing or notifying me about emails and social media. Allow yourself during this time to disconnect from those distractions and, let’s be honest, worries.

Also, add some bubble bath, a bath bomb, or epsom salts for an aromatic bath experience. For a relaxing shower, use a fragrant soap or body wash. Take your pick from the variety of products that are meant to promote stress relief and good sleep.

Laugh

Find a way to add humor to your evening plans. Laughing has a similar effect as exercising. They both increase the flow of oxygen in your body and release endorphins to help your mind feel more relaxed. An activity that helps make me laugh is to watch a funny sitcom or one of my favorite stand-up comedy specials.

Another way to laugh is to call up a relative or good friend and remind them of a funny memory you two shared. It is so helpful to share a laugh with someone else. For instance, there are many memories from school years that my brother and I love to chat about.

If you prefer a non-screen option and do not want to pick up the phone, then dust off an old photo album and remind yourself of happy memories. Pay attention to the scenery and people in the pictures, trying to remember how you felt at that time. The hairstyles and fashion of your past will likely help you reminisce and laugh out loud.

Make a gratitude list

calm my anxiety at night

As you lay in bed, say the names of people and things you are grateful for out loud. It is helpful to close your eyes and visualize the faces of the people you are thankful for.

Imagine them feeling happy and fulfilled. Once you start with one person, it causes a waterfall effect and keeps going. You will find that it is easy to imagine many more people in your life that have been helpful to you.

Allow yourself to focus on these people and extend the list as far as you can go. Remember that all of these people and things that you are grateful for are real and true. Some of your anxious thoughts are not true but are actually worries about the unclear future. When stating this gratitude list out loud, you might notice that you start to smile and your anxious energy melts away.

In closing, those negative thoughts that come up at night might be for a good reason. However, anxious thoughts do not get to control how much you sleep. My sleeping patterns were impacted by worries and made me more tired and less focused at school and work. Reducing anxiety before bedtime can improve your sleep and increase your energy during the day. By releasing muscle tension, laughing, and reminding yourself of who you are thankful for, you can reduce your anxiety and enjoy your sleep just like I do!

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How to Keep Your Office Polite Even When Your Opinions are Radically Different

These are tough times. A pandemic is upon us; social issues are dividing us; and partisan politics is inescapable. Chances are that opinions on some of these problems may differ, extensively, within your workplace. Does that mean you can never have a casual lunch with colleagues in the break room again? Must we always avoid those who don’t share our perspectives to keep the peace?

Fortunately, the answer is no. If you’re willing to take the lead and model some patience, tolerance, and empathy, you could broker a successful and lasting truce among the people at your job. Here are a few suggestions to maintain a happier and more harmonious atmosphere when you’re on the clock.

Employ the “tell me more” technique

In Kelly Corrigan’s memoir, Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say, she suggests those three words to not only encourage the people in your life to open up, but to also give yourself the opportunity to listen. If someone brings up an upcoming election or a controversial article she read at the lunch table, instead of automatically shutting it down to prevent conflict or biting our tongues to avoid disagreement, we could just say “tell me more”.

It may be hard at first, especially if the person who is speaking is negative or irritable, but those simple words can really soften people up. Everyone likes to be heard; everyone appreciates respect. Prompting others to “tell me more” doesn’t mean you have to listen to a three-hour soliloquy; it just means that you’re willing to hear them out and that you’re interested.

When discussing differing opinions, find at least one thing to agree with

what do you do if you have a disagreement with someone at work

One of my pals at work is the polar opposite of me politically. The two of us have no problem discussing any topics, however, because we both know that nothing is all black or all white. We respect each other as intelligent, well informed people and often find ourselves saying things like, “well I’ll grant you that” or “that’s certainly true.” When practicing the “tell me more” technique, you can probably find at least one tiny thing your speaker says on which you could comment positively.

Is the topic climate change? Perhaps you could offer something as simple as, “Well the weather has been crazy this year.” Arguing about an election? Try offering, “It just seems like everyone running has something wrong with them.” Such statements, though not exactly worthy of a Nobel peace prize, are nonetheless bridges to those around us. Keep them generic, simple, and true and they’ll have remarkable results.

Model how to communicate and disagree professionally

People who work together usually mind their manners quite well when they are involved in their everyday tasks or teams. They are busy; there may be quotas; time is money. If you want to have friendly conversations with your coworkers at break or over lunch, you need to interact with consistent professionalism throughout the day. Show them how you can communicate a difference of opinion without judgment or rancor. Be aware of your tone. Assume the best about someone who might be making a mistake.

Instead of, “You’re doing that wrong,” try “We’ve found it usually works better like this.” Know that most people are just like you: doing their best and, sometimes, having a bad day or experiencing personal distractions that make their work a little less than optimal. When people know you are sensible and even-keeled they frequently offer you the same treatment. Such behavior is much more likely to extend to down time when it’s practiced all the time

Have a go-to phrase that changes the subject

Even when polarizing events aren’t in the news, conversations among coworkers can sometimes get heated. It may be a project that’s not going well or someone who is not pulling his weight. Whatever it is, however, people get ticked off about it. This is when investing in getting to know your colleagues pays off. In my work place we have numerous older employees who have grandchildren. Whenever words get raw in the break room, I just throw in something like, “So, Chris, how are those grandkids!” or “John, isn’t your daughter-in-law pregnant again?”

If you don’t know your coworkers very well, you could use another statement that is suitably neutral like, “Thank God the weekend’s coming up!” (even if it’s only Monday.) Or tap into everyone’s love of sports, “How ‘bout them Knicks?” The idea is to have some kind of bait ready; anything that will turn the conversation in a better direction. Others will almost always appreciate it and follow your lead.

Don’t be afraid to close down a conversation or excuse yourself assertively

disagree with someone at work

This goes along with (4) above. I’ve used my safe phrases (yes, I have several) numerous times early in conversations just to avoid the possibility that things might go south. There are certain people among my colleagues who just can’t resist the opportunity to bust one another’s chops and I refuse to be in the middle of that. Sometimes, however, the best played safe phrases fail.

When that happens I have literally said to people, “Hey, guys, it’s time to get back to work.” Or “Let’s not do this.” Pair those remarks with getting up to leave and throw in something like, “Hey, Bill, can you help me with something in my office?” Those tactics always work for me. If you’re not confident enough to execute them, however, simply excuse yourself. Don’t run away, but make sure people know you’re leaving. A simple and straightforward “I’m going to go” is enough. No one is allowed to intimidate or frighten you.

Over my numerous careers I have always found that everyone appreciates good manners, even the most curmudgeonly. You don’t have to be fake or a doormat to get along with your colleagues. You do, however, need to be aware that you’re not the only one on the job. That means you need to offer some consideration for others and not just vent about everything or everyone who irritates you. Practicing some patience and being polite is guaranteed to improve your productivity and work experience, whether in the break room or the board room. You will almost certainly find it does the same thing for everyone else.

The post How to Keep Your Office Polite Even When Your Opinions are Radically Different appeared first on Dumb Little Man.