15 Business Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock

The biggest problem founders and small business owners have is that they’re experts in their field and novices in what it really takes to effectively run a business. That’s what usually trips them up, sooner or later.

Don’t let that happen to you. Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know about business, starting with these 15 tips guaranteed to help keep you and your company out of hot water. Some are straightforward, others are counterintuitive, but they’re all true. And some day they’ll save your butt.

Always make sure there is and will be enough cash in the bank.
Period. The most common business-failure mode, hands down, is running out of cash. If you know you’ve got a cash flow or liquidity problem coming up, fix it now.

You can’t fire bad employees fast enough.
You just can’t. Just make sure you know they’re the problem, not you (see next tip).

The problem is probably you.
When I was a young manager, my company sent us all to a week of quality training where the most important concept we learned was that 90 percent of all problems are management problems. When things aren’t going well, the first place to look for answers is in the mirror.

Take care of your stars.
This goes for every company, big and small. The cost of losing a star employee is enormous, yet business leaders rarely take the time to ensure their top performers are properly motivated, challenged, and compensated.

Your people are not your kids, your personal assistants, or your shrink.
If you use and abuse them that way, you will come to regret it. Capiche?

Learn to say “yes” and “no” a lot.
The two most important words business owners and founders have at their disposal are “yes” and “no.” Learn to say them a lot. And that means being decisive. The most important reason to focus – to be clear on what your company does – is to be clear on all the things it doesn’t do.

Listen to your customers.
It boggles my mind how little most entrepreneurs value their customers when, not only are their feedback and input among the most critical information they will ever learn, but their repeat business is the easiest business to get.

Learn two words: meritocracy and nepotism.
The first is how you run an organization – by recognizing, rewarding, and compensating based solely on ability and achievement. The second is how you don’t run an organization – by playing favorites and being biased.

Know when and when not to be transparent.
Transparency is as detrimental at some times as it is beneficial at others. There are times to share openly and times to zip it. You need to know when and with whom to do one versus the other. It comes with experience.

Trust your gut.
This phrase is often repeated but rarely understood. It means that your own instincts are an extremely valuable decision-making tool. Too often we end up saying in retrospect and with regret, “Damn, I knew that was a bad idea.” But the key is to know how to access your instincts. Just sit, be quiet, and listen to yourself.

Protect and defend your intellectual property.
Most of you don’t know the difference between a copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent. That’s not acceptable. If you don’t protect and defend your IP, you will lose your only competitive advantage.

Learn to read and write effective agreements.
You know the expression “good fences make good neighbors?” It’s the same in business. The more effective your agreements are, the better your business relationships will be.

Run your business like a business.
Far too many entrepreneurs run their business like an extension of their personal finances. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Construct the right business entity and keep it separate from your personal life.

Know your finances inside and out.
If you don’t know your revenues, expenses, capital requirements, profits (gross and net), debt, cash flow, and effective tax rate – among other things – you’re asking for trouble. Big trouble.

You don’t know what you don’t know.
Humility is a powerful trait for leaders, and that goes for new business owners, veteran CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between. More times than not, you will come to regret thinking you knew all the answers.

Behind every failed company are dysfunctional, delusional, or incompetent business leaders. The irony is, none of them had the slightest idea that was true at the time. Even sadder, most of them still don’t. Don’t end up like one of them.


11 Secrets to Staying Productive and in Control

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). The hallmark of emotional intelligence is self-control — a skill that unleashes massive productivity by keeping you focused and on track.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock

Unfortunately, self-control is a difficult skill to rely on. Self-control is so fleeting for most people that when Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania surveyed two million people and asked them to rank order their strengths in 24 different skills, self-control ended up in the very bottom slot.

And when your self-control leaves something to be desired, so does your productivity.

When it comes to self-control, it is so easy to focus on your failures that your successes tend to pale in comparison. And why shouldn’t they? Self-control is an effort that’s intended to help achieve a goal. Failing to control yourself is just that — a failure. If you’re trying to avoid digging into that bag of chips after dinner because you want to lose a few pounds and you succeed Monday and Tuesday nights only to succumb to temptation on Wednesday by eating four servings’ worth of the empty calories, your failure outweighs your success. You’ve taken two steps forward and four steps back.

Since self-control is something we could all use a little help with, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people do to keep themselves productive and in control. They consciously apply these behaviors because they know they work. Some are obvious, others counter-intuitive, but all will help you minimize those pesky failures to boost your productivity.

1. They focus on solutions. Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions which hinder self-control. When you focus on the actions you’ll take to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.

2. They eat. File this one in the counter-intuitive category, especially if you’re having trouble controlling your eating. Your brain burns heavily into your stores of glucose when attempting to exert self-control. If your blood sugar is low, you are far more likely to succumb to destructive impulses. Sugary foods spike your sugar levels quickly and leave you drained and vulnerable to impulsive behavior shortly thereafter. Eating something that provides a slow burn for your body, such as whole grain rice or meat, will give you a longer window of self-control. So, if you’re having trouble keeping yourself out of the company candy bin when you’re hungry, make sure you eat something else if you want to have a fighting chance.

3. They forgive themselves. A vicious cycle of failing to control oneself followed by feeling intense self-hatred and disgust is common in attempts at self-control. These emotions typically lead to over-indulging in the offending behavior. When you slip up, it is critical that you forgive yourself and move on. Don’t ignore how the mistake makes you feel; just don’t wallow in it. Instead, shift your attention to what you’re going to do to improve yourself in the future.

Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

4. They don’t say yes unless they really want to. Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression, all of which erode self-control. Saying no is indeed a major self-control challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them. Just remind yourself that saying no is an act of self-control now that will increase your future self-control by preventing the negative effects of over commitment.

5. They don’t seek perfection. Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of moving forward excited about what you’ve achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.

6. They stay positive. Positive thoughts help you exercise self-control by focusing your brain’s attention onto the rewards you will receive for your effort. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well and your mood is good, self-control is relatively easy. When things are going poorly and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, self-control is a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, or will happen, no matter how small. If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the past and look to the future. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative, so that you don’t lose focus.

7. They avoid asking “What if?” “What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry, which are detrimental to self-control. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend taking action and staying productive (staying productive also happens to calm you down and keep you focused). Productive people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want — or need — to go. Of course, scenario planning is a necessary and effective strategic planning technique. The key distinction here is to recognize the difference between worry and strategic thinking.

8. They sleep. I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and maintaining your focus and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough — or the right kind — of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present, which are a major productivity killer. Being busy often makes you feel as if you must sacrifice sleep to stay productive, but sleep deprivation diminishes your productivity so much throughout the day that you’re better off sleeping.

When you’re tired, your brain’s ability to absorb glucose is greatly diminished. This makes it difficult to control the impulses that derail your focus. What’s more, without enough sleep you are more likely to crave sugary snacks to compensate for low glucose levels. So, if you’re trying to exert self-control over your eating, getting a good night’s sleep — every night — is one of the best moves you can make.

9. They exercise. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. If you’re having trouble resisting the impulse to walk over to the office next door to let somebody have it, just keep on walking. You should have the impulse under control by the time you get back.

10. They meditate. Meditation actually trains your brain to become a self-control machine. Even simple techniques like mindfulness, which involves taking as little as five minutes a day to focus on nothing more than your breathing and your senses, improves your self-awareness and your brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses. Buddhist monks appear calm and in control for a reason. Give it a try.

11. They ride the wave. Desire and distraction have the tendency to ebb and flow like the tide. When the impulse you need to control is strong, waiting out this wave of desire is usually enough to keep yourself in control. When you feel as if you must give in, the rule of thumb here is to wait at least 10 minutes before succumbing to temptation. You’ll often find that the great wave of desire is now little more than a ripple that you have the power to step right over.
Bringing It All Together

The important thing to remember is you have to give these strategies the opportunity to work. This means recognizing the moments where you are struggling with self-control and, rather than giving in to impulse, taking a look at these strategies and giving them a go before you give in.

Source : 11 Secrets to Staying Productive and in Control

4 Better Ways to Say “Thank You”

Want a better way to express your gratitude? Give one of these options a try.



Numerous situations arise every single day that warrant our genuine appreciation and gratitude. But, most times, we allow a quick and standard “thanks” that’s mumbled in passing to fit the bill.

Of course, a “thank you” is always appreciated — but, we’ve all become so used to hearing those two little words, they’ve all but lost their meaning in many cases.

When someone does something that inspires you to offer an expression that seems even more heartfelt and sincere, you might find yourself struggling to demonstrate your thankfulness — without relying on those oft-repeated words.

So, here are four better ways to thank someone (that don’t involve those two little words you hear so often).

1. “I really appreciate that.”

Yes, this is essentially what the phrase “thank you” means. But, explicitly saying it to someone who helped you out can have a much greater impact than relying on that phrase that’s uttered over and over again.

You can also alter this phrase to say, “I really appreciate you,” to further demonstrate that you not only recognize that person’s efforts to help you out, but that you’re also extremely grateful for his or her assistance. You’re not only appreciative of what was done — you’re appreciative of who did it.

2. “You’re a lifesaver.”

Recognizing results is another great way to sincerely show your gratitude. What’s an easy way to accomplish that? Explaining how that person helped you out is the best place to start.

Perhaps a teammate grabbed the reins for a part of a project you kept pushing to the back burner. A simple statement like, “You’re a lifesaver! My plate has been so full, and having that off my hands helps so much,” shows your appreciation — while also adequately highlighting the impact that person’s help had on you.

3. “How can I repay you?”

There’s no better way to show your gratitude than by being willing to return the favor when the opportunity arises. So, posing this question is an immediate way to show that you’re more than ready act on your appreciation — rather than just talk about it.

In most cases, people will respond to this with something like, “Don’t worry about it!” But, that doesn’t mean asking it is a total waste. Again, it’s an effective way to make that person feel especially recognized and valued.

4. Actions speak louder than words.

Alright, perhaps you’ll consider this last point a bit of a cheater — after all, it’s not an actual phrase that you can use to replace that classic “thank you”. However, this tip has a huge impact, making it worthy of mention regardless.

As you already know, saying and showing are two very different things. So, if you feel the need to go the extra mile with your level of appreciation, consider acting on it. Write a handwritten note or call out that person’s contributions in a meeting with your team.

Do what you need to do to not only say you’re grateful — but show it.

There are plenty of times you want to express heartfelt appreciation. But, sometimes a standard “thank you” doesn’t seem like quite enough.

In those cases, use one of the above four options, and you’re sure to get your gratitude across in a way that’s effective and genuine.

Source : 4 Better Ways to Say “Thank You”

5 Ways Busy Business Owners Beat the Blues



You love what you do…but not because of the constant chase for customers and clients, the loneliness that comes with being at the top of your field, the never ending to do list.

The dream you once had for a tremendous impact, seven figures and a boat is starting to feel more like a job you sometimes wish you could quit.

This was not why you went into business. I mean, what really happened to that raving tribe of people who were supposed to love you for what you built?

Well, it happens to the best of us… and most importantly, it happens to the best of the best in business.

So, how do you shed the blues you might wonder. Right now, you can’t desire anything more but to finally start to love your life again.

Here are five major steps that you can take today to get through the storm.

1. Get out of the weeds and delegate what you can.
The art of delegation is a necessary trait for every kind of leader on every level. You cannot do it all, and quite frankly when done right “leading” is a job unto itself. Small tasks that take up massive and tedious amounts of time should be assigned to your support team so that you can focus on high level areas, partnerships, organizational growth, leadership and strategy. Getting caught in the details when you have more than capable people around you is not the best use of your time. Make a list of everything for the day that needs to get done and highlight the things that your team can take care of. (If you don’t have a team yet this is the perfect time to bring on an hourly virtual assistant (VA) to lend a helping hand).

Another strategy is to look at your list and ask yourself, “What are the key decisions that I can make today that will either make everything on this list irrelevant or no longer my immediate concern.” A high level analysis of your to-do’s will keep you focused on looking at the bigger strategic picture making your life much easier, and your organization a well oiled machine.

2. Build your support team.
Having a coach or mentor is part of your own self care. We all need someone, and human connection with someone who is there just for us is what takes ordinary leaders from ordinary to phenomenal and highly effective leaders. Start to grow your support system and use a part of your coaching sessions for a clearing — a time for you to really get some things off of your chest. It works wonders.

3. Exercise daily.
There is something about moving that just makes everything better. Don’t believe me — do some research. It has now been proven that exercise is a natural stress reliever. The blood pumping quickly through your body in a workout can increase your clarity, help you let off some necessary “steam” and improves your breathing.

4. Meditate, reflect and/or pray daily.
The power of journaling, reflecting, strengthening your spirituality and meditating on a daily basis cannot be understated. This work helps you to become more self aware of your actions resulting in greater opportunities to generate positive relationships with those that you interact with in your daily work. It is not easy to get into this routine and stick with it, but scheduling it first thing in the morning or right before bed will ensure that you start your day strong and in a positive light.

5. Change your mindset.
Look for the positive in what you are faced with on a daily basis. If your website crashed, look at it as an opportunity to redesign better; your prime team member quit — look at it as an opportunity to finally restructure in a way that will tremendously improve your business.

Things will work out for your best interest — believe that and positivity and joy will follow.

Plus, the blues will move faster than you could say “boo!”

10 Businesses You Can Start From Your Dorm Room

What do Microsoft, Dell, Napster and Facebook all have in common? Aside from being among some of the most market-shaking companies of the last quarter century, they were all also created by college students.

Sure, not everyone can be the next Mark Zuckerberg, but starting a small business while in college is definitely possible. There are several options that require little to no startup capital and can be done without an office space. Entrepreneurship in college can help make valuable connections while also generating some income to cover tuition, meals and those very expensive textbooks.

Here are 10 ideas for starting a business from the comfort of your own dorm room.

1. Information technology (IT) consulting
Information technology is one field where having years of experience can actually work against you. College students typically have the freshest skills in this area and knowledge of the newest technologies. If you don’t feel confident promoting yourself as an IT consultant to businesses, put the word out on campus that you’re available to help the less tech-savvy majors with their computer issues, and build from there.

2. Social media consulting
College students are often on the cutting edge of social-media trends. Use this knowledge and experience to advise companies on their social-media strategy. Take them beyond Facebook and LinkedIn, and introduce them to new channels to get their messages out.

3. Graphic design
Graphic design consulting relies more on creativity and talent than years of experience. Design majors should grab a portfolio of their best projects from class, print off some impressive looking business cards or feature them on a website, and get started.

4. Website design
Students are much more exposed to designing websites than ever before. Many have done so for a campus group or club, a fellow student or just a personal blog. Those sites can be used as samples and leveraged in order to branch out to designing websites for a profit.

5. Photography
Thanks to platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, the world has become more accustomed to using images to communicate. With a rise in the need for visual content, there has also been growing sense of comfort with using amateur photographers. Due to advancements in technology, these amateurs have the ability to churn out high-quality work.

6. Event planning
College students have probably attended their fair share of parties, but putting that party experience to good use is another story. Event planning requires attention to detail, organization, the ability to multitask and creativity. If equipped to handle the job, start a business around campus and become the go-to source for planning campus group or club activities. It’s important to note that taking your business outside of school may require special certification.

7. Personal trainer
Personal trainers have flexible hours and can conduct workouts almost anywhere. Personal training can oftentimes require a certification through an organization such as ACE, but meeting the requirements, such as taking a certification exam and passing CPR/AED courses, may be easier than you think.

8. Cleaning services
Starting a cleaning business allows students to work flexible hours and doesn’t require an office. Not to mention, supplies needed for this business can be purchased at your local grocery store. Many people are willing to pay someone else to do a dirty job. A gold mine for the cleaning business lies within fraternity or sorority houses the day after a big game.

9. Freelance makeup artist
According to Federal data, women have outnumbered men in American colleges for nearly 35 years. This provides the perfect opportunity to start a small business geared towards the female demographic. Freelance makeup artists can generate revenue in the traditional sense of applying makeup to customers ahead of special occasions. Alternately, one of the newest ways to make money is by providing tutorial videos on social media. Great content that attracts a high number of viewers can turn into YouTube sponsorship dollars.

10. Landscaping / snow removal
Landscaping and snow removal services are great seasonal businesses that can carry over vacation breaks and throughout the semester. Armed with a shovel, garden store equipment and some sturdy boots, students living off-campus or local residents could become very lucrative clients.

Even if a business is started by a student while in college, it’s still a real business, with real rewards and risks. No matter what the business or size of the company, it’s important to have insurance protection. Things like specialized IT consultant insurance or a more general professional liability policy will help a company stay out of trouble if anything goes wrong. The bottom line is that college entrepreneurship can be a great way to earn some money as well as pave the way for continued career success after graduation.

Source: 10 Businesses You Can Start From Your Dorm Room

9 Things Highly Effective People Do on Mondays After They’ve Been Away on Vacation

You’ve had a great vacation but you’re not-so-ready to go back to work. Here’s how to handle it.
As an American, you legitimately could spend every day of your life on vacation–and still make a good living. But the truth is, few of us actually do this. Instead, we work hard, take time off when we can, and face the inevitable letdown when it’s time to get back to work.

I spent last week at the beach, and now I have to go back to work. So, while I was gone I asked entrepreneurs, business leaders, and others for their tips on how to get back to work productively after a great vacation.

Here’s the best advice they gave me.

1. Come back on a Wednesday or Thursday.

We’re starting with a suggestion that contradicts the headline here, but bear with me.

The number-one tip I heard from people was not to go back to work on the first day after vacation. However, Dr. Chris Allen, a psychologist and executive coach with Insight Business Works, takes it a step further.

“If possible, return to work on Wednesday or Thursday,” Allen says. “Then you only have to get through work for two or three days and you have the weekend off. It’s a good way to ease back into work. Airline travel is cheaper mid week too.”

2. Start the day before.

Caveat :not going to work the day after vacation doesn’t mean you don’t have to do any work before you return.

Jim Whitehurst is CEO of Red Hat, the world’s largest open source software company, and author of The Open Organization, and he suggests using the Sunday before you return to work to “lay out what you want to accomplish that first week back.

“Actually, I’d recommend doing this every Sunday,” Whitehurst says. “It only takes 15 or 20 minutes, but I find that a little bit of pre-planning drives much of how I spend my time during the week.”

3. Get up early. And maybe meditate.

Okay, you’re back. You go to bed and you set the alarm. What, if anything, should you do differently when you wake up, compared to what you do on regular work days?

Get up early, suggests Nik Ingersoll, co-founder and CMO of Barnana, and start the day out with between 30 and 60 minutes of meditation–“set your intention for the day/week/month at the end of the meditation. Then go out and kill it.”

4. Get your diet right.

Next up: food, and getting your meals on track right away–after whatever kind of dietary damage you did to yourself while you were away. (It happens to most of us!)

“Hit the grocery store either the day you get home or the very next, and cook up a batch of healthy, whole foods (without added sugar!) for your first few days,” suggests Diane Sanfilippo, author of the New York Times bestselling book, Practical Paleo. “This will ensure that your focus is on-point and keep your productivity from tanking.”

5. Take a few minutes to find out what happened.

Now we get to the office–or at least to Monday morning. Maybe you’ve been in touch with your colleagues the whole time; maybe you’re better at vacations than most of us and have actually unplugged.

Regardless, you’re probably a little bit out of the loop. How do you get up to speed quickly? Leon Rbibo, president of The Pearl Source, suggests doing so with a stopwatch.

“I sit down with each one of my key managers and put 60 seconds on the clock,” Rbibo says. “They provide me with the must-know highlights of what happened while I was out. … If it can’t be said in 60 seconds, it wasn’t … important enough in the first place.”

6. Delete a bunch of emails.

Chances are, you’re swamped with messages. When I came home Friday, I had more than 2,700 unread emails–and this despite the fact that I’d checked email at least a couple of times a day while I was gone.

How are you supposed to get through all of those?

Short answer: You’re not supposed to. Maybe you can just delete them.

Last vacation, Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, said he had 2,000 unread emails, but “instead of sorting through them all, I deleted everything that didn’t have an attachment and moved on. If it was really important, they emailed me again.”

7. If you must read emails, read them in last-to-first order.

Sometimes the best recipe for solving a problem is a reverse take on a famous saying: “Don’t just do something; stand there.”

That’s why Kate Gulliver, head of talent management at Wayfair, suggests that if you’re not just going to delete your emails like Caballero suggests, at the least review them using the “LIFO method: … the most recent emails first. …

“I find that many issues have already been resolved by the time I return to the office,” she says, “so checking the newest emails first is the most efficient way for me to get caught up.”

8. Focus on big projects

I heard from a lot of business people who suggested easing back into work. But I have to admit I like the related advice I heard from two people better: think big or swing for the fences. They had slightly different takes on the idea.

First, Spencer X. Smith, a consultant and former vice-president of Sales at a Fortune 100 company, who also teaches at the University of Wisconsin, suggests having “at least two high-priority business development opportunities scheduled for right when you get back.

“Why? Instead of returning to work with a whimper, these meetings will both get you excited AND force you to step up your game immediately. That momentum will carry through the rest of the week,” he says.

And Jesse Gassis, who founded an electronic cigarette company in Brooklyn called Bedford Slims, suggests encouraging people on your team to get out of their comfort zone, and work on “forward thinking projects, sometimes outside of their expertise” when they come back to the office..

“It could be a new product design, or a Santa-themed photo shoot, setting up our CMJ fest party in October, etc.,” he says. “Truthfully, we will still be working on these projects all the way up to the deadline, so it doesn’t get us ahead, but it does make our concepts stronger. By doing so, I get people’s brain out of Summer 2016 and thinking about Winter 2016.”

9. Actually, maybe don’t stop working.

Finally, some truly American advice: Don’t take a real vacation in the first place.

As bad as this sounds, it’s what many of us are doing anyway. (And it’s the key to why I think we can paradoxically be on vacation everyday, as I describe in this article.)

But Michael Massari, senior vice president of national meetings and events for Caesars Entertainment, came out and said what I think a lot of us are thinking.

“Don’t be afraid to blend in work during your vacation. Take advantage of the technology we have available today such as Zoom, Skype and mobile email to stay productive,” he says. “This also allows you to go on more vacations for longer amounts of time while not jeopardizing your productivity.”

Source : 9 Things Highly Effective People Do on Mondays After They’ve Been Away on Vacation

9 Signs You’re the Team’s Weakest Link

Are you at risk of being let go? Here’s how to tell.
Studies suggest as much as 50 percent of our workforce will be contract workers by 2020. The pressure for companies to be profitable and stay competitive is forcing them to rethink the concept of full-time employment and who to keep on their teams. Today, every job is temporary. If you want to stay employable, you need to think like a business-of-one and become a specialist at what you do. Most important, you need to stay alert and make sure you’re never the weakest link. Even if you do a good job, companies are focused on hiring and retaining only the best workers. Everyone is graded. If your best is everyone else’s worst, you’re in trouble.

There are warnings that you’re seen as weaker than your teammates. I’ve coached thousands of professionals who unexpectedly lost their jobs. As we review what happened leading up to the firing or layoff, there are always telltale signs they failed to see. Usually, they’re tied to misguided work ethic. In fact, we’re specifically seeing Millennials and Baby Boomers viewed as the weakest links due to this.

Concerned this could be you? See if these sound familiar:

1. Your boss acts more serious around you than other teammates.

Does your boss smile and joke with co-workers, but act all-business with you? Translation: He or she isn’t comfortable with you. This usually stems from you not performing to your boss’ standards.

2. Teammates don’t ask for your advice or help.

Teammates must partner to deliver results. If nobody is asking for you to pitch in, they’re trying to demonstrate you aren’t needed.

3. Impromptu meetings are happening when you aren’t around.

Are mini-meetings happening where key decisions are made in your absence? That’s intentional. The team is purposely not seeking your input and letting you know they don’t want your ideas.

4. You haven’t been new assignments.

Getting new work implies you’ll be sticking around. If you aren’t getting any new work, it’s because they don’t want to add to the workload of someone who could not be here next week.

5. Your manager is increasingly micromanaging you.

Is your boss checking in on you daily? Does he or she want constant updates? That’s a sign you’re not trusted to get work done in a timely fashion. The more your boss checks, the more frustrated he or she becomes that you need babysitting.

6. Co-workers who started after you are getting promoted over you.

When people who’ve been there less time are getting moved up, you’re being sent a message that your performance isn’t valued as much.

7. New employees are getting projects that would normally go to you.

When the interesting new projects start going to more recent hires, you’re being told you don’t deserve them.

8. Your boss asks you for a list of your responsibilities and the step-by-step process you use to do each one.

Usually, this is a sign that your boss either A) thinks you don’t have enough to do and wonders how you stay busy all day, or B) wants a breakdown of your job so that when you get fired, there’s something to give your replacement.

9. Procedures are put in place to have your work checked.

If others have to check up on your work, it’s a sign you’re no longer trusted to do your job. This creates redundancy and team frustration over the added time and expense of checking up on you.

The above signs indicate you don’t have the trust and respect of your manager and teammates. Eventually, if they get frustrated enough, you could lose your job.’

Don’t give up — own up.

If you now think you’re the weakest link, please don’t throw in the towel and assume your days are numbered. You can turn this around. First, you’ll need to own up to the situation. I’d suggest setting a meeting with your boss and sharing your concerns about how much value you are adding, and express sincerely you want to increase your contributions. This can open up the conversation so you can get a clear list of things you need to be contributing in order to up your worth to the team and keep your job. Next, focus on better serving your teammates. Whatever you can do to make your co-workers’ jobs easier will help them see you in a new light. Finally, crank up the activity level — both in energy and time on the job. You need to show some hustle around your desire to improve. A visible effort to improve your game is what’s needed. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Focus on the fact you still have a job, and seize this as your chance to make a comeback!

P.S. the best defense is a good offense.

If you want to makes sure this doesn’t happen to you, you need to learn to be a better business-of-one. Most of us were trained to be employees and act like we have golden handcuffs. We work “or” the employer and feel helpless. Instead, we need to see ourselves as working “with” employers and build up our skills so we can partner with them and have relationships built on mutual respect. This is a very new career concept and requires a shift to your mindset and approach. But when you do it, you’ll be more empowered and confident in your ability to stay employable in today’s competitive workplace.

Source : 9 Signs You’re the Team’s Weakest Link

The 20 most common hobbies of the richest people in the world

When billionaires have free time, they have the means for extravagant hobbies, whether it’s collecting classic cars or jet-setting across the globe. But the most common hobby billionaires pursue isn’t a display of wealth – it’s philanthropy.
Wealth-X, a company that conducts research on the ultra-wealthy, recently released its annual billionaire census, which explores the trends and habits of the world’s richest people. The census tracked billionaires’ passions, interests, and hobbies, providing us with a peek into how the super wealthy spend their free time.

Philanthropy proved the most popular hobby, with more than half of all billionaires pursuing charitable activities. This generosity comes as no surprise, though, thanks to the rise in recognition of endeavors such as The Giving Pledge, a promise started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropic causes during their lifetime.

“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Giving Pledge have instilled a sense of humanitarian responsibility in billionaires to use their vast wealth to make a difference in the world,” Wealth-X notes.

From art and fashion to hunting and fishing, read on to see the 20 most common hobbies and passions of the world’s richest people, as well as the percentage of billionaires who participate in each.

20. Skiing — 7.2%

19. Watches — 7.7%

18. Fishing — 7.8%

17. Jewelry — 8.1%

16. Hunting — 8.8%

15. Dining — 10.9%

14. Golf — 11%

13. Cultural events — 12.1%

12. Reading — 12.3%

11. Football/soccer — 13.1%

10. Collectibles — 14.1%

9. Automobiles — 14.5%

8. Health and exercise — 14.8%

7. Boating — 14.9%

6. Wine and spirits — 15.9%

5. Politics — 22.2%

4. Fashion and style — 25.2%

3. Art — 28.7%

2. Travel — 31%

1. Philanthropy — 56.3%

Source : The 20 most common hobbies of the richest people in the world

8 Ways to Protect Yourself From Scams on Social Media

Here’s how to protect yourself against the many scammers who now target social media users.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

Here are eight ways to avoid scams on social media:

1. Watch out for scam giveaways, contests, and surveys.
Criminals sometimes offer “free gift cards” or “amazing discount coupons” under the guise of bringing business to a particular venue, or offer some reward in exchange for completing a survey. These are scams used to either gain access to your social media account information–if, for example, you need to authorize a Facebook app to access your account to win the prize–or to collect personal information, both of which will ultimately be used for nefarious purposes. One telltale sign of trouble is when a survey, contest, or giveaway is being advertised solely via social media posts, and does not appear on the website or social media account/page of the party associated with the reward, or on those of any other legitimate party. Don’t fall prey to these scams–and please don’t spread them by sharing such posts with others.

2. Beware of–make sure to not connect with–fake people.
Criminals often create accounts for nonexistent people in order to connect with real people and then exploit their contacts, or use the information in victims’ private posts to social engineer the victims’ co-workers or friends. For a full description on ways to detect fake LinkedIn accounts, please see the article “How to Protect Yourself From LinkedIn-Based Scams.” Many of the recommendations in that article apply to Facebook and other social media platforms as well. Of course, on Facebook it is also important not to accept friend requests from unknown parties.

3. Beware of connection requests from impersonation accounts.
Before accepting a friend request on Facebook, or a connection request on LinkedIn, from someone you ostensibly know, check that the account actually belongs to that person. Criminals sometimes set up fake accounts using publicly available photos of people. I have, more than once, been impersonated in such a fashion on multiple social media platforms. To help determine if an account is real, see how many friends or contacts the person requesting the connection has in common with you and consider if that number makes sense, see how far back the posts in the account go, etc.

4. Watch out for posts from impersonation accounts.
Crooks have been known to join conversations on Facebook or Twitter by impersonating a party in the conversation. For example, on a business’s Facebook page on which someone has posted a question, a criminal may answer it using an account impersonating the business or one of its key employees. The same is true with tweets to customer service departments or the like. If a business or individual is Verified, all responses from a nonverified account should obviously be treated with suspicion. Be especially wary of links possibly posted by impersonation accounts–sometimes criminals will respond to a customer service request and advise the user to visit a particular website or download some program. Don’t fall prey to such a scam. More generally, never take a risky action on the basis of a social media post or comment–if you have a problem involving something sensitive, contact the business through a venue that others cannot easily listen in to or join; send an email, or even better, make a phone call.

5. Guard against fake live stream and movie offers.
Scammers sometimes offer fake live streams of popular events or movies. The links from these posts often go to websites that distribute malware; or that request a credit card, stating it won’t be charged until after a free trial (of course, there won’t be one–the crooks just want to steal your credit card details); or that ask for personal information, which will then be used either for identity theft or social engineering. Live streams of events should always be accessed on the pages of the events, and movies should always be accessed from parties that legitimately are authorized to provide them.

6. Avoid clickbait.
Whether claiming to offer a scoop about some breaking celebrity news, previously unseen salacious photos of some celebrity, or some secret information that can help you make quick money through some stock investment, criminals have been known to post links that attract attention; the links, of course, often direct to malicious websites similar to those used in the giveaway, contest, and survey scams.

7. Avoid oversharing.
Most people overshare. If in doubt, don’t post. Oversharing can give criminals the information they need to social engineer you into falling prey to one of the aforementioned six attacks, or assist criminals in tricking your co-workers or friends into falling victim to such scams. (Full disclosure: SecureMySocial, of which I am the CEO, offers technology that warns people if they are sharing information that may harm them or their employers.)

8. Secure your social media accounts.
If something does go wrong, you want to make sure that scammers cannot easily gain control of your social media accounts and use them to attack your friends and colleagues. A major social media account breach would be embarrassing, to say the least.

Source : 8 Ways to Protect Yourself From Scams on Social Media

There Are Only 6 Ways to Tell a Story. Are You Using the Best One at Work?

Use this universally proven approach to tell the most powerful stories at work.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

New research has found that the basic building blocks of every movie, book, and story can be distilled down to 6 emotional arcs. As reported by MIT Technology Review, a team of researchers used advanced data mining techniques to evaluate the arcs of over 1,700 plots. Amazingly, they found that all stories are foundationally based on just 6 types of narratives, or arcs.

1. “Rags to riches” (involves a steady rise)

2. “Tragedy”, or “Riches to rags” (involves a steady fall)

3. “Man in a hole” (a fall followed by a rise)

4. “Icarus” (a rise followed by a fall)

5. “Cinderella” (a rise, then a fall, then a rise)

6. “Oedipus” (a fall, then a rise, then a fall)

With each of these you can think of various stories and movies where the plot follows this flow. Quickly think of your favorite book or movie and you will likely find that it follows one of these patterns (or even multiple patterns based on the various plots).

More importantly, the researchers then assessed which of these arcs was the most effective. The emotional experience plays a large part in determining popularity and they found that the most effective way to make this connection is through using an emotional arc that involves a recovery. Thus, they found that stories that at a minimum included a fall and a rise were the best.

Consider this fact the next time you are searching for the best way to tell a story. If you are using a story at work to gain support, create inspiration, or anything else, you will want to bring both of these elements into the narrative. A steady rise or fall is interesting, but it’s only when a bouncing back or rising up against odds is introduced that you can really connect with others.

There Are Only 6 Ways to Tell a Story. Are You Using the Best One at Work?