Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday Night Classic Music Video

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Shyness isn't a life sentence

When I was in high school, I disguised my shy side by focusing on my outrageous side.

After school, when I was in the work world, I could continue to disguise my shy side as a radio disc jockey, working in a studio by myself with a microphone, music and commercials. However after a few years, as my career advanced, I found myself facing about 1200 students at a high school assembly as a representative of the radio station.

My nerves were shot the first time. A couple days later, I was in front of another 1000+ students at another high school and it dawned on me, that I could tell the same silly jokes and one liners as I did before, and slowly my nerves calmed down and I had fun.

I conquered my fear of public speaking at the age of 21.

Shyness can be overcome.

Hear are some hints from the DLM Blog:

8 Simple Steps To Overcome Shyness

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 06:30 AM PDT

Are you a shy person? Shyness is simply a feeling of nervousness or awkwardness when around other people. No matter who you are, each of us have our times when we feel shy. For example, when you're new on your first day at work, when you're at a party and everyone is a complete stranger, when you're with someone you are attracted to, when you're asked to speak in front of a huge audience, etc. When we're caught in a state of shyness, most of us will take on certain actions to "protect" ourselves. Some of us become reclusive. Some of us turn into introverts. And some of us try to evade the situation altogether. While these actions make you feel "safe", doing them aren't exactly constructive. For example, you can hide from an awkward situation, but you gain nothing out of it except for self-perceived safety. While you can keep turning down social invitations and avoid strangers, at the end of the day you'll still be the same person. You'll not be able to grow as a person nor build new social connections. So rather than avoid such situations, why not work on addressing your shyness instead? There are times when I feel shy, and when that happens I confront the feeling, address it and move boldly inline with my desires. I find that whenever I do that, the experience is so much more fruitful. Instead of being dictated by your shyness, you can now be empowered to make your own decisions, to say what's on your mind, and to be who you really are. Overcoming your shyness isn't impossible - it's really all a matter of taking the right steps. Here, I'll share with you 8 simple steps to overcome your shyness and emerge an empowered self:
  1. Know what's causing the shyness
    What are the situations that trigger your shyness? Despite what you may think, you're not shy all the time. For example, when you're with your best friend, you're probably very open and comfortable being yourself. Your shyness only emerges when you're in certain situations.

    Start off by being aware of what's causing the shyness. Identify 5 incidences from the past where you felt shy. It can be when you're alone with a stranger, whenever a certain topic is being discussed, when you're with a large crowd, and so on. Then, analyze these situations. What is it about these situations that's causing you to feel shy? Realize that shyness is the effect of feeling insecure. If you can identify what you're feeling insecure about, you can then take action on it.

  2. Improve on your areas of insecurity
    After identifying your areas of insecurity, the next step is to take action on them. For example, perhaps you are shy when it comes to presentations at work. If that's the case, then work on improving your presentation skills! Practice doing it again and again. Invest your 10,000 hours of hard work - it's been said that 10,000 hours is the average time experts spend to be the best at their skills. As you spend more time on areas you're insecure about, your shyness will naturally dissipate.

    Taking myself as an example, I used to be fearful of public speaking when I was young. However when I went into university, I gained more experience in public speaking through class presentations. Later on when I went to corporate work, I was doing it on weekly basis. As I did it more regularly, I became better in presenting, and the fear just disappeared. Today, I conduct training workshops at least once a month for my personal development business, and it's already part of my routine. While I definitely have not spent 10,000 hours speaking to date, it's clear that the time I spent speaking from before has made me more proficient in speaking, which in turn addressed my shyness in the area.

  3. Identify your strengths
    Many of us tend to focus on what we're not good at, rather than recognize what we are good at. As a result, we feel awkward around others, because we feel there's nothing to impressive about ourselves. It's time to stop selling yourself short and start focusing on your strengths.

    What are you good at? What are your past achievements? What are things you've done that you are really proud of? Spend some time to recognize them. You'll be surprised to see the huge list of things you are good at. There are so many great things about yourself that you've become blind to because you're took them for granted. Knowing your strengths helps you to be more confident of yourself. Remember, all of us are true winners in our own right.

  4. Objectify the situation
    Many people worry too much about what others think about them. Whenever I work with clients on building their self-confidence, it's always invariably linked with being afraid of what someone else thinks of them or will think of them. They don't want to do X because they're afraid what person Y will say. They are at a loss of words with Y because they're afraid what Y will think of their thoughts.

    But the funny thing is, it's just in your mind. Most people are actually too busy thinking about themselves to pay attention to what you're doing or not doing. While you're worrying about your behavior, others are actually too busy worrying about their behaviors and opinions of themselves to think about what you're doing! Hence, there's nothing to feel shy about. Your shyness is merely a result of over scrutinizing yourself - of which you're the only person who does that. When you take an objective viewpoint, it becomes clear your shyness is unfounded. Rather than focus on an disempowering emotion, you can now focus on what you want to achieve.

  5. Have a role model
    Can you think of someone you know (whether a friend or a famous person) who is very confident, assured and outgoing? Use the person as your role model. By identifying a real life person who is not bounded by shyness, it becomes easy for you to break through the confines of shyness, because there is a reference point. Whenever you feel shy, ask yourself what that person will do/say in this situation. Then, do that. Soon, it becomes second nature to you to behave in that manner.

  6. Ask questions
    Asking questions is a simple trick I discovered that works very well. Sometimes, you may feel awkward because you don't know what to say/do. If so, just ask a question to the other party. For example, it can be a simple question like "What do you think about this?" or "Why do you say that?" or "Can you tell me more about yourself?" In doing so, it immediately shifts the attention from you to the other party. As the other person gathers his/her thoughts and answers your question, you can take the time to regroup and compose yourself. By the time he/she finishes speaking, you'll be in a good position to continue the interaction.

  7. Observe how others interact
    A great way to overcome shyness is to observe how others around you act. Reduce the time you spend worrying about how others perceive you (again, remember it's all in your mind) and look outward at how others conduct themselves socially. What do they say? How do they act? What can you learn from them? How can you apply these learnings to your future interactions?

  8. Take the first step
    While it may seem counter-intuitive, taking the 1st step actually helps you overcome your shyness. Firstly, when you consciously take action, it's a personal testament that you have personal power over the situation. Secondly, by first taking action, you experience the positive benefits of your actions, which sets in place a forward momentum. For example when I run my workshops, I notice that the participants who are the 1st to introduce themselves end up being the most vocal and active participants for the whole workshop, even though I present everyone with the same opportunity to speak.

    Your first step needn't be complicated - it can just be going up and saying hi. Once you take the small step forward, the rest will follow in its stead.
How can you apply the 8 steps above to overcome your shyness? Feel free to share in the comments area.

Written on 8/30/2010 by Celestine Chua. Celestine writes at The Personal Excellence Blog, where she shares her best advice on how to achieve personal excellence and live your best life. Get her RSS feed directly and add her on Twitter @celestinechua. If you like this article, you will enjoy one of her top articles: 101 Things To Do Before You Die.Photo Credit: andriux-uk

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Are You Better Than Me?

At being a responsible consumer?

I know there are certain areas that I am better than my neighbors:

  1. I use the recycling bins. My neighbor to the north doesn't.
  2. I usually visit locally owned coffee shops and restaurants. And that includes local franchises instead of corporate owned stores.
  3. I could do better....
Our community now has several farm markets, and I haven't been to a single one this year.

I sometimes haven't bought anything from a garage sale or thrift store yet this year, but my wife has done enough for both of us!

The DLM Blog has more ideas:

Are You a Socially Responsible Consumer?

Posted: 31 Aug 2010 08:55 AM PDT

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ll have noticed how the global recession forced companies to try harder than ever to win your attention and your hard earned cash.

While tough economic times make us all very cautious of how we spend our money, it also offers the perfect ground for the bargain hunters amongst us.

But is a good deal the only deciding factor when you go shopping?

Do you know what lies behind that 5 buck t-shirt? Should you care?

Everything we buy has a social, economic or environmental impact, positive or negative. You could be inadvertently encouraging unnecessary animal testing by choosing a specific brand of cosmetics, for example. On the other hand, the cup of fair trade coffee you had this morning might be helping the development of sustainable business communities in Costa Rica.

Why do these choices matter? Because by considering the ethical value of your shopping, you will ultimately make the world a better place for yourself.

Not convinced? I’ll give you a cynical example:

Increase the value of your property: by abandoning your local, independent shops in favor of giant supermarkets, you may be killing local trade, diminishing the character of what may have been a bustling shopping street, eventually making the whole area less attractive in real estate terms.

Sure, supermarkets are convenient and cheaper. But, remain loyal to smaller, non-chain shops and not only will you get more personal, knowledgeable service, find higher quality and more exclusive products, but it will also do no harm to the market value of your neighborhood.

Read on for 5 everyday choices you can make as an ethical consumer:
  1. Food
    • Look for fair trade brands. You’ll be surprised at how affordable prices are. The Fairtrade certification ensures sustainable livelihoods for producers and workers in developing countries, by negotiating better trading conditions.

    • When buying fresh ingredients, try sticking to seasonal ones. This ensures your food has been produced within reasonable distance and offers the best possible nutritional value. Is it really worth eating half ripe mangoes that had to fly thousand of carbon-emitting miles to reach your shopping basket?

    • Try having one meat-free day a week. According to a recent UN survey, meat production is responsible for one fifth of the world’s green gas emissions. Personally, I love my bacon too much to become a full-fledged vegetarian, but one out of seven days sounds like a happy compromise to me.

    • Consider composting: if you have even a small garden or backyard, start composting your food waste. It’s the ultimate saving tip: every single bit of food is used … and then re-used! If you don’t want to face the task yourself, check if there are local groups that will collect your food waste for composting.

  2. Clothes
    • If you’re shopping at big chains, check their website for a corporate responsibility page. This is becoming increasingly visible on companies’ websites and it will reassure you about the conditions under which their clothes were manufactured and traded.

    • Re-use: visit thrift shops and yard sales. Vintage really is the new black. What better way to create a unique style, save serious money and give the landfill a welcome break? Attend local Swishing parties and swap your unwanted clothes – they really are great fun.

  3. The boring stuff
    It pays to do some research on ethical utilities providers. Check for the ones using renewable sources of energy. Some are investing in wind farms or using part of their revenue on carbon offset programs. This isn’t done for purely selfless reasons. Companies investing in renewable energy show they have serious, long term growing plans and are worth sticking to.

  4. Good money
    Your financial adviser should know of available ethical investments. This could go from pension funds that avoid industries such as tobacco, pornography or gambling, to investment plans working strictly with companies associated with good labor standards, for example.

  5. Before you buy
    Consider how you are disposing of your old possessions. There are a number of recycling options available. Try Freecycle for passing on anything in good working order. Organize yard sales. Dispose of electronics responsibly: TVs, laptops, mobile phones, as well as batteries, CDs and DVDs contain hazardous material and must be disposed of accordingly. A lot of retailers offer drop-off points for phones and other small items. Next time you replace your washing machine, remember that some shops will collect your old one for free. Look for charities that are willing to take on and repair electronics, to sell it on.
You don’t need to take to the streets or make big loud statements to make a positive difference to the world. Lots of small steps add up to big changes. Who’d have thought 10 years ago that Starbucks and McDonald's would have fair trade coffee on their menus – and at decent prices? It was a move dictated by the power and choice of consumers.

Act with your wallet. Buy responsibly; recycle and re-use; buy second hand; save money.

I’d love to hear your tips on being an ethical shopper.

Written on 8/31/2010 by Renata Allamandi. Renata is the co-author of the Ethically Challenged blog that's following a year in the life of two novice ethical consumers. We’re still learning, so drop by and share your views on living sustainably.Photo Credit: brian glanz

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Video Time: Pool Dog

I think this is cheating...

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tech Tuesday Tip

Tech Tips for the non-techie:

Last week I was watching as the news broke about how Gmail was going to release a new Priority Inbox feature.

(Gmail is the free, almost never ending, email service that Google provides.)

I have a Gmail account, but I also have a Google Apps Account that I use to manage most of my ScLoHo Marketing Solutions business with. Friday, my Google Apps Gmail account gave me the option of adding the priority feature.

Of course I said yes, and here's the email they sent me:

Priority InboxBeta

Welcome to Priority Inbox! By automatically separating out your most important messages, Priority Inbox makes it easy for you to read and respond to the messages that matter.

Get through your email faster


Try reading and replying to the messages in the "Important and Unread" section first. Mark anything that requires follow-up with a star, then go through the "Everything Else" section. If you leave Priority Inbox, you can return to it by clicking the link next to Inbox on the side navigation of Gmail.

How it works

Gmail's servers look at several types of information to identify the email that's important to you, including who you email and chat with most, how often you email with these people, and which keywords appear frequently in the emails you read.

Train Priority Inbox

If Priority Inbox makes a mistake, you can use the Mark important Mark not important buttons to correctly mark a conversation as important or not important, and Priority Inbox will quickly learn what you care about most.


And more...

  • Customize Priority Inbox: You can change what type of email you see in each section (like switching the "Important and Unread" section to just "Important"). Just click on the section headers or visit the Priority Inbox tab under Settings and choose to "customize inbox groups."
  • Use filters to guarantee importance: If you want to be absolutely sure that some messages are always marked as important (like email from your boss), you can set up a filter and choose "Always mark it as important."
  • Search by importance: If you want to see all the messages that have been marked as important, both read and unread, do a Gmail search for "is:important."
  • Switching back to your old inbox: If Priority Inbox isn't for you, you can easily switch back to your normal inbox by clicking "Inbox" on the left or hide Priority Inbox altogether from Gmail Settings.

To learn more about managing your email with Priority Inbox, check out the Gmail Help Center.

- The Gmail Team

Google, Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043 USA

For quite awhile, I've been urging friends and family to switch to Gmail. I switched from Yahoo and Hotmail to Gmail due to Gmail's spam filtering was so far superior. I now recieve about 300 spam messages a day and over the course of a week, maybe one or two (out of 2000) aren't caught by Gmail.

For the past 8 years, I've worked for a group of radio stations in Fort Wayne, Indiana and have used Microsoft Outlook to manage that particular email account.

Well a couple of years ago, I set up my Gmail so my radio station email would also show up in my Gmail account. This gives me multiple ways to check, respond and organize email, which is still a necessity these days.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Self Help?

I've been thinking that "Self-Help" books really aren't.

I mean if you were able to self-help, than why do you need the book?

Perhaps more specific titles are more appropriate.

Self-esteem is okay. Self-motivate is important.

Which brings me to this piece from the DLM Blog:

Simply Said...How to Motivate Yourself

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 07:58 AM PDT

There are a lot of times in our lives when we've got an external structure or impetus to stay motivated.

When you're in college, you generally don't cut your compulsory classes just because you're feel like goofing off – you don't want to get penalized, and you don't want to miss valuable content.

When you've got a job, you don't decide to have a long lie-in on Monday mornings. You get yourself into the office – and whether you feel "motivated" or not doesn't come into play.

If you're used to having a lot of external direction, it can be really tough to motivate yourself when you're totally in charge of your own time.

We all have goals and dreams – whether or not we ever talk about them, or write them down. Perhaps you want to lose weight, or start your own business, or carry out a home improvement project. In each case, you need a ton of motivation to get going – and to stay on track.

If you haven't got a boss or parent or teacher looking over your shoulder, here's how to get (and stay) motivated.

Get Support In Place

Although it might feel like you're out on your own, the reality is that millions of other people have the same goals as you.

If you're trying to lose weight, join a slimming club.

If you're starting your own business, find a local group of would-be entrepreneurs – or hang out with some online.

If you want to build a deck for your home, get a bunch of friends together who can help (and return the favor for them at a later point).

Be Organized With Your Time

In school, you had a timetable telling you what to do when. At work, you have meetings and appointments scheduled, deadlines and targets. Even if you're not a naturally organized person, you'll pretty quickly find yourself adapting to what you need to do.

When you're going after personal goals, though, it's very easy to get disorganized. Maybe you've got a big dream but you never seem to find the time to take the first steps towards it. Perhaps you always intend to exercise, but somehow you never get round to it.

We all like to organize ourselves slightly differently. See which of these tips works best for you:
  • Put your personal goals into your diary. E.g. "Thursday – 5pm – workout"

  • Find a regular time slot to use for working on your goal. E.g. Your lunch hour; every Saturday morning from 9am – 11am

  • At the end of each day, write down what you did to make progress towards your goal

  • Set a rule like "no TV until I've filled in my food diary" to help you stay on track with new habits
Set Yourself Milestones
One of the challenges with staying motivated on our big goals is that we tend to get overwhelmed. If you're trying to lose 100lbs, or repaint your entire house, you'll pretty quickly find yourself questioning whether it's worth the effort, and whether you'll ever reach your goal.

Instead of focusing on the finish line in the distance, break your goal into smaller steps.

You might go for equally-weighted chunks like:
  • Aiming to lose 10lbs, then another 10lbs, and so on

  • Painting the bedroom, then the bathroom, then the kitchen
Or you might start with smaller, easier tasks and slowly work your way up:
  • Learn five chords on the guitar, then learn a simple song, then a more complex song

  • Write a basic business plan, then do some pro bono (free) work, then find your first client
The exact approach you take will depend on your exact goal – but the important thing is that you break that goal into manageable pieces.

Celebrate Small Victories

Every time you achieve a chunk of your goal, celebrate! Depending on how big the chunk is, you might:
  • Tell a friend about your achievement

  • Write down your progress in a log or journal

  • Give yourself a reward, like buying that DVD you want

  • Go out for a special meal or open a nice bottle of wine to celebrate
It doesn't matter exactly what you do – the point is that you acknowledge your progress and feel good about what you've accomplished. It's much easier to stay motivated when you're being positive, rather than when you're beating yourself up for not getting more done.

What are your big goals at the moment? How can you keep up your motivation on them?

Written on 9/2/2010 by Ali Hale. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.Photo Credit: bortescristian

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Reputation Matters

Not only with people you know, but people you don't know.

This was one of the main points I made to a group of college students when I was invited to speak to a class earlier this year.

From the DLM Blog:

How To Effectively Manage Your Online Reputation

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 08:54 AM PDT

I have talked about the importance of monitoring your online reputation and the tools that help you do it effectively. The web 2.0 era demands that you keep a track of what's being said about you online. It's a part of what one might call "being informed."

Having said that, I think what's more important is what you say and do on the web and how you manage your online reputation. Managing online reputation, in my opinion, is a different than monitoring it; in fact, it's a completely different ballgame. It's the first stage of building your brand on the web and has to start even before you think about monitoring the brand.

If you aren't sure how to go about managing your online reputation, the following tips should help you get started. Check them out.

Think Before You Write
One important thing people don't understand is that when they email, tweet, or comment on blogs, is, that whatever they type is written record. In many cases, the comments can be held against you in a court of law any day. There are enough examples of celebrities landing in trouble due to their tweets, aren't there?

The bottom-line is this: just because you can type anything online doesn't mean you should type anything. Not only does it reflect on you as a person, but, an inappropriate sentence typed in haste could go a long way in damaging your brand. So, think before you write. Doesn't matter if it's a tweet, a blog comment, an email, anything...just take a step back for a second and take a careful look before you hit the send button.

Facebook Privacy Settings
Being the biggest online social network, it's imperative that we take our behavior on Facebook into consideration when we are talking about managing online reputation. The first step in this case would be to make yourself aware of Facebook's privacy settings. Ali did a nice roundup of them in one of her articles. You can also check out this guide to new Facebook privacy settings, and steps to disable Facebook places.

Once you are all set with privacy and other settings, the next step is to get your profile in order and remove unnecessary stuff. People often use Facebook to share very personal and private stuff which they should be ideally sharing face-to-face (or over email/phone). This is not recommended especially when there have been Facebook privacy disasters in the past.

Research Social Sites & Adapt Accordingly
Understand that just because everyone seems to be on that cool new social site doesn't mean you have to be there too. Don't join social sites impulsively. Think about the pros and cons first, and see if the site is actually helpful.

Some people spend their entire day on Digg while for some, there's hardly anything beyond Twitter. Hence see which site suits your needs and adapt accordingly.

Perform Ego Searches Often
Even though you might have been careful in your online interactions, things may not always go as smooth as you want them to. People might bad-mouth you on other sites or forums and try to damage your image. Hence it is recommended to perform ego searches i.e. searching for your name or brand on Google and checking the results that come up.

Build Trust and Get Followers
Finally, it all boils down to two things: trust and relationships. And they are valued in the online world as much as they are in the real world. At the end of the day, we are the same humans; it's the mode of interaction that is different.

So, try to build trust and develop long lasting relationships. This can be done by helping others, sharing your knowledge through a medium like a blog, providing incredible value through your services, doing something unique and different..there's no dearth of ways but as in the real world, building trust online also takes time and effort. But if you are patient and consistent, it isn't that difficult.



Written on 8/23/2010 by Abhijeet Mukherjee. Abhijeet is a blogger and web publisher from India. He loves all things tech as long as it aids in productivity. He edits Guiding Tech, a blog that publishes useful guides, tutorials and tools. Check it out and subscribe to its feed if you like the site. You can also find him on Twitter. Photo Credit: patparslow

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