Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Posted: 17 Oct 2009 08:11 AM PDTDid you know that a recent Stanford University study conducted by cellular biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton concluded that “over 95% of all illnesses occur because of stress in the body’s autonomic nervous system”?
Did you also know that stress can seriously accelerate the rate at which you age because of the incredible strain it puts on your body?
Stress was already at alarming levels before these past few months, but it’s now at critical levels for so many of us. There is no escaping the media coverage of the planet's recent economical debacles and everyone, at some point, will feel some pain in their pocketbook.
So many people have lost the value of their homes, or they’ve lost their homes due to hurricanes, fires or bankruptcy, they’ve lost the value of their life savings and in some cases they’ve even lost their jobs to recent cutbacks. It’s quite unsettling to hear financial experts compare this period to the crisis of 1929 and it’s equally scary to hear the head of the most powerful country in the world sound the alarm on the current financial situation.
Most of us have never (EVER) thought about how dangerous stress can be to our health and very few of us make the conscious effort to manage stress so it doesn’t take over our lives.
Normal levels of stress won’t harm you, but high levels of stress can lead to these negative health conditions:
- Heart palpitations
- Panic/anxiety attacks
- Chest pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Spastic colon
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Chronic fatigue (constant tiredness)
- Chronic headaches
- PMS - Premenstrual tension
When stress gets out of hand, it’s time to find practical ways to slow down and lower your stress levels.
I know that money is tight for a lot of us, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 easy and free stress-reducing activities you can do right now to help lower your negative stress levels:
- Turn off the TV: This might sound obvious but watching the financial news channels all day long will only increase your stress level since they report on the latest downs in the stock market on a minute-by-minute base.
- Go for a walk: This time of the year is so precious, especially if you live in an area with tons of trees. Take time to reconnect with Mother Nature and take time to escape from all the bad news.
- Call up a friend: Sometimes, just the fact of spending time with a friend over a cup of coffee or a walk can make a huge difference to the way you feel. Don’t underestimate the power of human contact and friendship when times are difficult.
- Take advantage of free events: Each city has a list of weekly free activities that are open to the public. Grab a newspaper and find out which ones might interest you and go out there and discover something new!
- Hang out at your favorite bookstore: This is an activity I’ve always enjoyed so much. You can spend hours just browsing and looking at the latest books. Who knows, this might spark your creative juices!
- De-clutter your home: Most North Americans have closets and even garages filled with products that they’ve bought and never used. In many cases, a lot of us still have sales tags on items that are just sitting there. This might be the perfect time to clean up your home and organize a garage sale or you take your clothing to secondhand stores. Remember that someone’s junk is someone else’s treasure. Also, because times are tougher, many people will turn to secondhand stores and garage sales to find affordable items for themselves or to give as gifts during the Holidays.
- Treat yourself to a hot bubble bath by candlelight: This is such a relaxing activity. If you take as little as thirty minutes to soak away your worries, you’ll feel like a new person.
- Bake your favorite cookies or your favorite cake: Nothing is more comforting than homemade desserts and cookies. Why not take time to make some and take the time to enjoy them. The activity of baking will get your mind off of things and your hands working. Now, you might have to buy a few extra ingredients that you don’t usually store in your pantry, but this stress-reducing activity should not cost you much.
Note: If you are stresses everyday, please don't eat a cake everyday. This is for occasional use only!
- Brew a special cup of tea or coffee and sit down in your favorite chair: Grab a book or your favorite hobby magazine and take some “me” time. Even if you’re able to take 30 minutes of “me” time while the kids are away at their piano lessons … this will do you a world of good.
- Update your photo album: We usually take photos of the happy times we want to remember. By updating your photo album and putting in recent photos you’ve not had the time to file yet, you can be transported to those times where you were happy and smiling. The feeling from this activity will surely lift your spirits and lower your stress levels.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Must-Have Google Search Skills
Most everyone uses Google search these days, but most people never get beyond the basic technique of putting words in the text box and pressing the search button. While this search method will usually find the result you need, it may require a time-wasting journey through page after page of results to actually track down the specific information you had in mind.
The goal with a Google search is to find the link you want on the very first page of results. If it isn't there, then you need to narrow your search parameters. Don't go through the time consuming task of searching page after page of search results. Instead, laser your search criteria and let Google do the hard work for you.
So how do you do that? Below are some simple tips that will help you find specific information more efficiently.
When searching for terms that are conveyed with multiple words, put them in quotations. If you search for information on the movie Princess Diaries, you will get results for every princess who ever traipsed through a child's storybook, and every personal diary that was ever posted on the web. Include quotes around "Princess Diaries" and it will exclude entries that do not have those two words appearing right next to each other.
This is especially helpful when searching for quotes from other people. Do you have a few words from a quote in your head but you aren't sure of the context or who said it? Put "four score and seven years ago" in quotes and the Gettysburg address appears right at the top of the search list. Entries that include a football score, the Four Seasons hotel and The Wonder Years will be excluded.
2) Negative keywords
Put a minus symbol in front of a word to exclude it from the search results.
Let's say you are searching for information on "Barney Fife" from the Andy Griffith show. Google will go out and find every occurrence of both the word "Barney" and "Fife." This means you'll get results about that famous purple dinosaur and the musical instrument used in marching bands. To exclude these results your search should include:
Barney Fife -dinosaur -music
This will exclude entries that have these two words on the page. It is important that the negative sign be right next to the word. Make sure there are no spaces. Use as many negative keywords as you like. This is especially helpful when searching for people's names on Google. For example, there is a real estate professor at the University of Sydney with my identical name. When I search for hits on my name, I include the negative keywords:
"Graeme Newell" -Sydney -"Real Estate."
3) Positive Keywords
By putting a plus sign in front of a word, you're telling Google to give that word extra importance. Let's say you live in Cleveland and you're doing a search for daycare in your area. You really want something close by. Your search might include: daycare, Cleveland, and your zip code. By putting a plus sign in front of your zip code, Google will give that term more weight. So the search would look like:
Daycare Cleveland +44104
This will bring up entries that move results with this zip code to the top of the list. Again, make sure that plus sign is tucked up right next to the word that requires added attention.
4) Combine these techniques to create search criteria that use many words
Don't waste your time going through page after page of search results. Weed out the garbage by spending a few extra seconds composing a laser search criteria. You will make up the time on the back end. Google's search box can handle up to 32 words and it automatically ignores common words like "and, the, a, to." Let's say you're looking for information on a 2004 Ford Taurus. Your search should be long and detailed:
+Taurus Ford 2004 -Henry -"Model T" -"Model A" -bull -astrology -sign +car
Remember, if you don't find what you want on the first page of search results, don't go to page two. Instead, narrow your search and try again.-- Graeme Newell, President of 602 Communications, is a broadcast and web marketing specialist. He guarantees that his teasing seminar will immediately increase your news ratings or his workshop is free. email@example.com
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Posted: 06 Oct 2009 05:00 AM PDTOur society places a premium on intelligence. While we’re in school, we have it drummed into our heads that book learning and a high IQ are the necessary tools for success. Honors and attention are bestowed on the academic achievers while the majority of the people are relegated to the ever inflating 'average' tag. When we finally get out into the real world, it doesn’t take long to notice that being an academic high flyer doesn’t necessarily guarantee a successful or happy life.
So fine, grades and diplomas don't guarantee success and we all know other people who weren’t the best students in school but who have found great success in their chosen career and have a wide circle of valued friends and acquaintances. We’ve all met highly intelligent people who have limited social skills. Why is this? Is something else at play?
Researchers have studied this paradox and in the past decade have begun to question the correlation between IQ, success, and happiness. They’ve found another type of intelligence, one that has to do with emotions, may be a more important determiner of overall success in life.
IQ vs. EQ
The term “emotional intelligence” first received widespread attention in a 1995 best-selling book by psychologist Daniel Goldman titled Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize, understand and manage your emotions and the emotions of others.
Researchers have coined the term “EQ” to describe an individual’s level of emotional intelligence. People with high levels of EQ are those who enjoy more self-esteem, have more compassion and empathy for others, maintain closer relationships and adapt more easily to life’s ups and downs.
These four competencies are recognized as key components of a high EQ level:
- Self-awareness, meaning that you know yourself and understand your emotions. This includes being able to assess your strengths and weaknesses accurately. It also includes having a healthy amount of self-confidence.
- Self-management, meaning you have control of your emotions, act rationally and react to change in a positive manner. This also includes being trustworthy, conscientious, committed and optimistic.
- Social awareness, meaning you have an understanding of the emotions of others and know how to effectively react to these emotions. This includes having empathy and compassion for others, recognizing their unique talents and qualities, and having excellent communication skills. It also includes being comfortable in many types of social situations.
- Relationship management, which is the ability to maintain all types of relationships, to avoid unnecessary conflict, and to work through conflict successfully when it does arise. This includes building a sphere of influence and taking leadership when needed.
Letting your emotions control you can have other negative impacts on your life. It’s hard to be open to other people when you’re emotionally stressed, so relationships suffer. Being on an emotional roller coaster over a long period can lead to physical problems like hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Out of control emotions can also cause depression and severe anxiety. A high EQ level is therefore an important component of good health.
How can you raise your EQ?
A person’s EQ level is determined by many factors including genetic makeup and childhood experiences. We can change how we react to our emotions, but like all transformational changes it requires more than just the desire to change. We may understand on an intellectual level what needs to be done, but gaining mastery over emotions requires practice and interaction with others.
Psychologist Jeanne Segal, author of The Language of Emotional Intelligence, describes some key skills that can help increase emotional intelligence.
- Control stress as it occurs.
Runaway stress can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to be emotionally in control when stress takes over. By learning to control stress as it occurs, you can stay balanced and focused. The first step in controlling stress is recognizing your emotional response to it. Some people become anxious, others withdraw or lose focus. Once you recognize your response to stress, discover how to quickly neutralize it. Learn how to soothe yourself in a healthy way.
- Connect with your emotions.
Become aware of your emotional state from moment to moment. Gain an understanding of what triggers different emotions. Do you experience strong emotions that are accompanied by physical sensations such as headaches or a tightening in the chest? Perhaps you have a lack of emotion, or your emotions are suppressed. Learn to connect to your core emotions and to understand them.
- Face the day with humor.
Maintaining a sense of humor can relieve day-to-day annoyances and make hard times more bearable. Keeping things light is a good way to avoid conflict and to work things out when conflict arises. A good sense of humor can also help relieve stress and bring you closer to other people.
Magnetic is an apt term for this type of person, since they naturally draw other people into their sphere of influence, trust and friendship. If you’d like to improve your people skills and tap into this magnetic power, take some time to develop your emotional intelligence.
"There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving...
and that's your own self." Aldous Huxley
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Posted: 05 Oct 2009 07:09 PM PDTSetting your rates as an entrepreneur is often one of the hardest aspects of a business. The main reason for this is that we don't learn these things in school. While we learn to calculate 1+1= 2, nobody prepares us for life school as an entrepreneur.
So what most of us do when we get to the rate setting part is to go out in search of what others do in the industry and then copy them.
Why is copying the rates of other entrepreneurs not a good idea?
Simple. You're not the same person, your experience is not the same, you're not providing an identical service, and if you're serious about your business, your going to insist on having a better total output and quality. So to sum that up, 3 reasons:
Despite the fact that you are in the same industry you must never forget that you are just starting out. Therefore you lack 'experience' in the sense of lacking online exposure. Even if you have been doing your line of work for years and decide to move online, you need to consider the effects of setting rates on potential clients.
Generally speaking, if you are new at this, start lower to get work fast(er).
Having your own brand is equal to demanding the rates you want. But before this happens you need to backtrack and start from the beginning.
It takes months or even years to build a reliable online brand. Those that stick around and are known to deliver reliable, consistent work will be rewarded in the end. The Internet is a very fast-paced medium; stick around and you can benefit too.
Your reach is directly influenced by your brand. When you first start out nobody will know you, nor will they care to work with you. It is up to you to turn this lack of exposure around into something tangible in demand.
The more people who knock on your website's door, the higher you can set your rates.
A simple example to rate setting for new entrepreneurs:
- You need to find the industry average and start out by setting your rates in the pool of those of your competition. This means not too low (unless you are a newbie to the industry and totally lack experience,) and not too high. Opt for the comfortable middle ground instead.
- Calculate your desired income by working out your billable hours: Let's say your target yearly income is $40,000. Now for the purpose of this calculation let's also assume that your total billable hours each week are 20. This means you physically work 20 hours/week on income producing tasks. The rest of your time is taken up with non-paying tasks such as marketing, email communication and invoicing.
- With 20 billable hours a week you need to bill a total of 1040 hours in 52 weeks (52*20= 1040.) Naturally most of us want to go on a holiday at some stage so you need to factor this into your calculation too by increasing your hourly target rate to the percentage of weeks you plan to be away.
- In this instance I'm planning to take two weeks off during the year so I will subtract 40 hours from the total which leaves me with 1,000 billable hours.
- This means I will be actively working my business 50 weeks @20 hours each during the year. Or 1,000 hours in all I can bill to clients. So how can you make the connection to your rates?
- It's simple really: Divide your yearly target income ($40,000) by the billable hours (1,000) to get your target hourly rate ($40.) With a target of $40 per hour and 20 hours a week I know for a fact now that I need to earn $800 for a week's work. If I choose to work 5 days a week this means that I will have to bank $160 a day to reach my target. If I want to cut back and only work 4 days a week the target income each day is $200.
- Can you see how quickly you are able to look past rates and see whether you are actually on track with your income?
- The most obvious is that when you first start out you probably won't be earning $40/hour. But this is when setting rates becomes fun because by having these simple demographics you can get really creative by changing the amount of hours you work to make your target or else rise your hourly income and work less hours.
- By keeping an eye on your basic calculations you can always tell if you are on the right track with your rates or if you need to adjust them accordingly.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I never heard my Mom use the F word until a few months before she passed away. I'm sure she used it, but she had the common sense to hold her tongue in most situations.
The one time I heard her use it, she was very, very frustrated and upset and I was the only one in the car when she said it.
Harvey Mackay who was born the year before my Mom, shares this wisdom:
Maintain a civil tongue
Rudeness rules the headlines these days—seems we can't escape it no matter where we go. Crudeness is the norm rather than the exception. Can we even call ourselves a civilized society anymore?
From the hallowed halls of Congress to the usually civilized tennis world to television talk shows to music awards: what are these people thinking? That no one will notice? That they are exempt from the rules? That their behavior won't have a profound effect on their futures?
I would refer all these offenders to a few hours of Disney movies, where the Golden Rule prevails without fail and conversation is G-rated and uplifting. Bambi's little friend Thumper could teach them all a lesson: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."
This is not just kid stuff. Knowing that few of us would take Thumper's advice literally, I'll rephrase: If you can't say something nicely, don't say anything at all.
There is always a dignified way to get your point across, and you won't end up having to apologize or explain your actions. Believe it or not, people actually listen to reasoned arguments. They don't give much credence to hotheads.
We all know how damaging and hurtful an outburst can be in our personal lives, and often we assume our family and friends will forgive our bad behavior and overlook our lapses.
But in a business setting, where those we deal with don't necessarily have to deal with us again, rudeness or disrespectful behavior is never a good option. A lapse in judgment can easily translate to a collapse in business. Word travels fast—and your reputation is at stake. Your future is at stake.
Walk away, count to ten, bite your tongue, whatever works for you. Practice self-control at every opportunity. You may not have much control over a situation, but you can control how you respond to it.
A Carnegie Foundation study once found that only fifteen percent of a businessperson's success could be attributed to job knowledge and technical skills—which were considered to be an essential element but overall, a small contribution. A whopping eighty-five percent of one's success could be determined by the "ability to deal with people" and "attitude."
The lesson for anyone wanting to get ahead and still get a point across is that self-control and consideration are critical ingredients that supersede even a superior product or top knowledge. The "scorekeepers" in business are not so very different from the line judges and umpires in tennis: you will lose points if you lose control.
As my friend motivation guru Zig Ziglar says, "You are free to choose, but the choices you make today will determine what you will have, be, and do in the tomorrow of your life."
"No one characteristic will help one to advance, whether in business or society, as politeness," said B. C. Forbes, founder of Forbes Magazine. "Competition is so keen today, there is so much standardized merchandise, there are so many places where one's wants can be satisfied, that the success or failure of a business can depend on the ability to please customers or clients. Courtesy—another name for politeness—costs nothing, but can gain much both for an individual and for an organization." It is interesting to note that Forbes made those comments more than 50 years ago. Clearly, some things never change.
As Mark Twain observed: "Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity—these are strictly confined to man; he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them. They hide nothing; they are not ashamed. Man, with his soiled mind, covers himself. He will not even enter a drawing room with his breast and back naked, so alive are he and his mates to indecent suggestion ... Man is the Animal That Blushes. He is the only one that does it—or has occasion to."
Dear readers, what do you say we try to reverse this trend?
It is perfectly acceptable—even occasionally necessary—to disagree with those around you. But you needn't be disagreeable. It's okay to make waves; it isn't necessary to drown the other person. But lose your cool, lose your temper, lose control, and you'll find you are the one who's all wet.
Mackay's Moral: Giving someone a piece of your mind rarely gives you peace of mind.