Thursday

Passive Income: My tips on How to Earn More and Work Less


I am always thinking about business and my goals.

There's a saying in the corporate world: "Don't make yourself irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted." As an entrepreneur, this is still true in its own way. Let's think of "being promoted" as earning more and working less. You can raise your prices, but until you can remove yourself from being directly involved in doing the work that generates the income, there's always going to be a limit to how much you can earn, and it can only increase very slowly.
Passive income, on the other hand, is income that does not require your direct involvement. Some kinds of passive income you may be familiar with include owning rental property, royalties on an invention or creative work, and network marketing. If you want to earn more, work less, and have a decent retirement, you're going to have to start creating income streams that do not require your direct involvement. Whether you're just starting your business, or you've been running it a while, the sooner you start thinking about how you are going to shift your business model to create more passive income, the sooner you can achieve personal and financial freedom.
Let's look at two basic types of passive income, and a third type of income that, while technically not passive, is a key strategy for earning more and working less.
Residual Income
Residual income is revenue that occurs over time from work done one time. Some examples include:
  • An insurance agent who gets commission every year when a customer renews his policy
  • A network marketing or direct sales rep's income from her direct customers when they reorder product every month
  • An aerobics instructor who produces a video and sells it at the gyms where she teaches
  • A marketing consultant who creates a workbook and sells it in e-book format on the Internet
  • A photographer who makes his photos available through a stock photography clearinghouse and gets paid a royalty whenever someone buys one of his images
  • A restaurant or retail owner who has grown to the point of hiring a trustworthy manager
As you can see, there are many different ways to generate residual income across a wide variety of businesses. It may be recurring income from the same customers, or the sales of a product to new customers. It may require no personal involvement whatsoever, such as an e-book sold on a web site, or it may require some personal interaction, such as the insurance agent calling the customer to remind them about their renewal and ask them if they want to change any of their coverage. Often, it's something that you can delegate to an assistant.
Note that this is different from merely recurring income. Recurring income may still require your involvement to earn the income, e.g., a coach or consultant on a monthly retainer, or a caterer who delivers lunch every Monday to the local school board. While this "active recurring income" offers welcome stability, it also tends to tie you down, and you still have limits on your earning capacity based on your own personal production capacity.
Leveraged Income
Leveraged income leverages the work of other people to create income for you. Some examples of leveraged income include:
  • An e-book author selling her e-book through affiliates who promote the product
  • A network marketer who builds a downline and receives commissions on the sales made by people in his downline
  • A general contractor who makes a profit margin on the work done by sub-contractors
  • Franchising your business model to other entrepreneurs (the ultimate leveraged income)
Again, there are many different models in many different businesses. The key is that you are making money off of other people's labor, rather than primarily your own. Note that leveraged income may or may not also be residual income. When you combine them, that's even better.
Active Leveraged Income
This is a term I use to describe income that requires your direct participation, but that you can make more money by having more people involved. This generally involves a one-time event, such as:
  • A seminar or class
  • A conference or convention
  • Concerts and dance recitals
  • Raves and other parties
Although these require your direct participation, your earning potential is much higher than if someone were just paying you a direct hourly rate. Fill a room with 1,000 people paying $50 each and you can cover your facility cost, promotional cost, and staffing fees and still have a nice chunk of change left over.
Applying It
Now is the time to think about how to apply this in your business. Can you create a product that people will buy over and over again? Can you engage others to sell your product? How could you make money off the work of others?

Tuesday

My 6 tips - Strategy Without Change Is Pointless



Next week my staff and I will hole up for an entire day of planning. We do this quarterly, but once a year, we “really” do this. This is our chance to step away from all of those seemingly meaningless little things and think bigger. It’s our day to say what if and why not. It’s the time to set the course for next year and perhaps realign with the vision for the next three to five years.
It’s a day to ask tough questions, explore new opportunities and embrace changes we need to make in order to realize our growth strategy. For me it’s one of the most exciting and exhausting days of the year, but it’s a practice that I would not do without and one that I suggest every business, no matter the size, commit to doing.
Below are five outcomes and benefits from holding our annual growth strategy planning day.
Fewer Priorities
By thinking bigger and then thinking realistically about what it might take to overcome the things in our way, we naturally start eliminating things we should not focus on in an effort to make room for only the highest priorities. Our goal is to identify no more than three priority objectives for the year that make us aim higher and stop doing low priority things.
Embrace Results
One of the ways we get to our short list of priorities is by identifying the results of achieving an objective. By creating a list of “what we gain” if we win and by contrast “what is costs” if we lose, we create the motivation to overcome constraints and stay focused on results as a team. In most cases our stated ideal results become the goals by which we measure our priority objectives.
Commit to Change
Here’s the thing I know for sure. Strategy without change is worthless. If your stated objectives for the year don’t have you asking – “what needs to change in order for us to actually do this?” – then you are thinking way too small. All growth involves change and you have to commit to how that’s going to happen or your objectives will dissolve into frustrating reminders of failure.
Create Owners
Every objective will naturally spin off a list of projects: The things that need to be done, the new products, the new positions, or the new processes. It’s essential that part of your planning day include identifying these projects and assigning an owner to each. That doesn’t mean this person is going to do all the work, they are simply going to be the one that cares the most about the project and carries the responsibility of moving it forward.
Focus on High Payoff
The final step and benefit involved is to identify the highest payoff work for everyone in the organization. This is how you properly assign tasks and stay focused on what matters most. The three or four high payoff tasks will differ for everyone in the organization, but they become a “go to” as you plan your week. For me, the execution of these stated high payoff tasks becomes the basis of two entire days of focused activity each and every week.
The One Page Plan
Finally, we take our goals and projects and align them on one page each in support of the proper topline objective. We assign each project an owner and charge that person with assembling the team, resources and plan for tackling the project related tasks.
When it comes to keeping our entire business focused on what matters most this is the most important day our organization has in search of day-to-day alignment and focus.

Monday

MY 10 TIPS THAT HELPED ME REACH MY FITNESS GOALS



1. Set specific goals- make a list of long-term goals and a separate list of short term goals. Each week choose 2 short-term goals to focus on.

2. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a specific amount of time.

3. Take baseline measurements- if your working with a trainer have them take your body-fat measurements otherwise a few girth measurements with help you track progress.

4. Change up your routine as often as you can. Try out a new workout class, switch up your cardio… variety will keep your body from hitting a plateau.

5. Plan your workouts ahead of time to keep you focused once you hit the gym.

6. Keep a “wellness log”- write down what you eat and when, your workout times and whether you did cardio or weights, how many hours of sleep you got, level of stress, etc… make it as detailed as you can.

7. Find a workout buddy that will be a positive influence, rid yourself of those workout partners that bring you down.

8. Listen to your body- if its telling you it needs a day off from working out then take a day off and let your muscles recover!

9. If your confused about what to do in the gym or have hit a plateau don’t hesitate to hire a personal trainer or nutritionist. Just make sure to do a little research to find the right match for you…

10. Most importantly, have fun with your workouts… some days will always be better than others but a good attitude goes a long way.

JustPlay

Thursday

There's only ONE exchange rate. Any others are just works of fiction.


What makes the great exchange rate scam truly frustrating is how it catches out even the savviest of customers. It's really little more than an old boys network of banks and brokers hiding behind spurious marketing guff. "Zero Fees", "0% commission". Lies.

Even though you may feel you've paid no ostensible transaction fee, you’re still getting thoroughly ripped off on the exchange rate. Why? The ‘competitive rate’ you’re being quoted isn’t the mid-market rate. It’s simply not real.
 
It’s a work of fiction, no more real than Harry Potter’s left elbow, and created to pay for your bank's christmas party. But ask them about this and they’ll make some awkward noises, change the subject, or even deny all knowledge.
 
TransferWise 1 - 0 Banks 
I phoned my bank yesterday to check out how they dealt with my 'innocent' questioning. I won’t name names, but let’s call them Floyds Bank.
 
Me: So if I send £1000 to France, what would I get in Euros?
Floyds: The rate would be 1.234 so you would get €1,234.
Me: And how much of that is your profit?
Floyds: None. We don’t take a fee at all.
Me: But the Mid-Market rate is around 1.29 today. So I should get €1,290
Floyds: We set our rates at the start of the day, and we don’t take a profit.
Me: You “set” your rate? What does that mean? Do you just make it up?
Floyds: No, but we only set them once a day, based on the mid-market rate at the time.
Me: Right. But you are making a profit margin on a rate of 1.234. At no point today has the interbank been 1.234.
Floyds: I don’t have access to that data. I’m just given the daily rate.
Me: Right. Ok. So what if I were to send £100,000 instead.
Floyds: You would get a rate of 1.256, so €125,600. Again, there’s no fee.
Me: But that’s a different rate to the one you gave me to £1,000…. I thought you said there was one rate for the day, based on the real interbank rate.
Floyds: There’s one rate for each size band. And larger sizes have a better rate.
Me: So let’s just get this straight. You aren’t making any profit on the rate of 1.234, correct?
Floyds. Correct.
Me: But you are able to give me a better rate of 1.256 if I transfer more.
Floyds: Correct.
Me: But how can 2 different rates be making you no profit and be based on the interbank rate, there’s only one interbank rate at any point in time.
Floyds: I’m not sure I understand. Could you repeat the question?
Me: I’m not at all surprised. Thanks for your time.
 
No further comment needed on this I feel.
 
 
Demand Real Rates, and Real Fees.
There's only one REAL exchange rate, and that's the mid-market rate, which is tweaked and bumped up by banks and brokers to suit their purposes. Until now, consumers had very little say in the matter, as the real exchange rate was never available. But thanks to companies like us, all that is changing. Not only do we exchange your currency using none other than the mid-market exchange rate, we also tell you upfront what our transaction fee is. Transparent and fair. As it should be! Yes of course, there are still fees, but overall you’ll get more foreign currency and pay less for the privilege. 
 
So if someone tells you in future that they have the ‘best rate’, or ‘no fees’, just ask them what the ‘real fee’ is and prepare to watch them squirm.
 
By Taavet Hinrikus
TransferWise Co-Founder

Tuesday

5 tips for Pinterest Marketing: Pinning With a Purpose


In her book Pinfluence: The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest, author Beth Hayden gives step-by-step advice on using Pinterest to engage and connect with current and potential customers. In this edited excerpt, Hayden explains how to create a Pinterest marketing strategy.

Welcome to also connect with me on Pinterest at https://pinterest.com/willemtait/

If you don't think about strategy before you dive intoPinterest marketing, your pinning efforts are very likely to be a giant waste of time.

1. Define your ideal client.
The critical first step in defining your online strategy is to identify your ideal client and create descriptive profiles of the kind of client you're trying to reach.

One of the best ways to create detailed, useful profiles is to interview people. Ask some of your favorite clients as many questions as you can. How old are they? Do they have children? What specific problems do they wake up thinking about? What words do they use in describing themselves and the issues they are facing? What do they do for fun? What websites and social media tools do they use?

Use the answers to create a detailed profile on each type of client you are trying to attract. Write down the profile's description, add a photo and hang it in a prominent place in your office as a reminder to everyone on your staff. You can even give each profile a nickname, like "Sally the Bride-to-Be" or "John the Coach."

The more you know about the customers you're trying to reach on Pinterest, the more successful you'll be in connecting with them via your marketing efforts.

2. Know what your client wants.
Your next step is to define what your ideal client wants. Your pins and boards will be much more appealing to your target audience if you focus on your ideal client while you're pinning. Think about these various buyer personas when you're deciding whether to pin an image or video.

Related: The 10 Commandments of Using Pinterest for Business (Infographic)

AARP, for example, is using smart Pinterest strategy. It cleverly-named boards that reach out to their target audience, like "50-Plus Technology" and "Movies for Grownups." Senior members on Pinterest know that this content is just for them, because it's personalized specifically for the needs and desires of the 50-plus crowd. And when customers know that you've taken the time to figure out what they want, they'll keep coming back for more.

3. Figure out where Pinterest fits into your overall marketing strategy.
Building relationships is great -- but you want to do so in a way that helps you meet your larger objectives. Keep in mind that Pinterest is just a part of your online marketing strategy. Your goals are simple: Drive traffic back to your website, add people to your mailing list and turn those visitors into buyers.

Picture your marketing strategy as the wheel of a bicycle. Your content-rich website or blog is the hub of that wheel, and social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are the spokes. And while they are very important spokes, they are nonetheless merely spokes. Social media tools should act as distribution and traffic-building mechanisms for your website's top-quality content. Building relationships and trust on social media is incredibly important, as well. However, if the people with whom you're building these connections never leave your Pinterest profile or Facebook page, then you are spinning your wheels. If your Pinterest efforts aren't helping bring people to your business's door, you need to change the way you are using the site.

4. Let your personality shine.
Before you start pinning, you should also think about things that you are passionate about that you can use as springboards for content. The word "interest" is built right into Pinterest's brand name, so don't commit the cardinal sin of being boring when you pin.

Related: The Do's and Don'ts for Marketing With Pinterest

Bethany Salvon of the travel blog BeersandBeans.com lets her brand's personality shine on herPinterest profile. Some of her boards are what you would expect from a travel blogger, but she also has collections on quirkier topics, like her "VW and Tiny Homes" board, which is dedicated to minimalist living spaces. People will remember it, pass it on via social media and connect with Salvon through this quirky content.

Also remember that you can use images and videos to promote the idea behind your brand. What does your company stand for? What kind of lifestyle does it try to promote, and why does that lifestyle appeal to your ideal client?

If you pin things that you feel passionate about and showcase your personality, you will create compelling content that your followers will love.

5. Offer valuable information.
Pinterest gives you the opportunity to become a valued source of information to the folks you're trying to reach. And if you view yourself as a source of information and ideas, rather than as someone hawking their wares, you will be far more successful on Pinterest than if you focus only on promoting and pinning your own products and services.

Yogurt maker Chobani maintains several boards that feature recipes from many different websites and blogs. And while many of the recipes include yogurt, not all do. The yogurt company knows that their target audience, women, are always on the lookout for delicious and simple recipes. So instead of just pinning links from its website, Chobani is in the business of solving problems for followers.

People want to solve their problems, and that's what they need or want your products and services for.


See you at https://pinterest.com/willemtait/

Pinterest Power: How to Use the Third Largest Social Media Site to Promote Yourself and your Business


A recent report by Experian revealed that Pinterest is now the third largest social media site based on the number of site visits in March 2012. Facebook maintains its mammoth lead with 7 billion visits, Twitter received 182 million, Pinterest received 104 million, and LinkedIn received 86 million. Considering Pinterest launched in 2010 with a small beta test, its growth has been remarkable.
A social media site built around the concept of sharing photos, Pinterest users can “pin” photos to their boards for sharing with other users. With a predominantly female audience, Pinterest is a popular place to share photos for wedding planning, home redecorating, recipes, vacation destinations, and books. However, despite popular belief, your business doesn’t need to be product-based in order take advantage of the benefits that Pinterest offers.
# Welcome to also follow me on Pinterest and see how I use the platform
Here’s how to get started with Pinterest:
1. Apply for an account. Pinterest still operates under invitation only, though this is a minor technicality and after you submit your request for an account, you can expect confirmation within a day or two. Note that though you can login to Pinterest with your Twitter or Facebook account, it is beneficial to set up your account with an email address and password since Pinterest doesn’t yet integrate with Facebook business pages.
2. Create your pin boards. When defining your boards, consider what would be of interest to your target audience. You can and should have multiple boards with various themes such as books you love, photos from events, featured products, inspiring places you want to visit, products you love, client success stories, etc. For ideas, surf around the Pinterest site to see what others are doing with their boards. You can search by keywords to find boards related to your topics of interest.
3. Name your boards. You don’t have to use the default board titles that Pinterest suggests. Instead, rename your boards with descriptive, keyword-rich titles that will help Pinterest users find your content.
4. Download the Pin It button. Pinterest makes it easy to share content by allowing you to download a handy button to add to the toolbar on your web browser. This makes it easy to get in the habit of pinning interesting content to your boards.
5. Start pinning content. One of the great benefits of pinning photos to Pinterest is that a link is automatically included back to the source of the pinned photo. So if you pin a book from Amazon, a link will be added back to the book’s page on Amazon. The same is true when you pin photos from your own website or blog—and you should do so regularly. By pinning each new blog post, you add links back to your blog, which can lead to increased traffic. Note that you can also add descriptions to each photo that you pin to your board so be sure to include a descriptive title. You can even include an additional website link if you want to, which can also contribute to improved search engine optimization for your website since Pinterest currently allowsGoogle to follow those links.
6. Build your audience. You can cross-promote your Pinterest presence with other social networks by periodically sharing links to your boards. You can also integrate Pinterest with your Twitter and personal Facebook accounts to automatically share your new pins there—just be careful not to share too often or you could risk annoying your followers. Also, be sure to add a link to your Pinterest profile from your website alongside your other social media site links.
7. Engage on Pinterest. Spend some time visiting Pinterest boards by other users where you can choose to follow a user, leave a comment on a photo, like their pinned photo, or repin their photo to one of your boards. As with all of the other social networks, the more you participate, the better results you will see as other Pinterest users begin to return the favor.
8. Add a Pin it button to your site. To encourage website visitors to share your content on Pinterest, install a Pin it button across all pages and blog posts on your website. WordPress users can easily install the Pinterest Pin It button plug-in.
9. Get creative with your pins. Start paying attention to the content you come across online and pin interesting articles, news, info graphics, or products to a board on your site (you can always create a new board if needed). As long as the content appeals to your target audience, anything goes. You might be surprised to discover how many others will begin to engage with you, visit your website, and repin your content as a result.
10. Mix up your strategy.  Avoid making Pinterest all about selling your products or services. Make sure to include interesting content that provides value for your target audience.
Some Final Pinterest Tips
  • Pinterest isn’t just limited to photos. You can pin videos too!
  • If you want to monitor who has pinned content from your website onto Pinterest, use this link format: pinterest.com/source/<your website.com>.
    Here’s an example for pins of Forbes content:http://pinterest.com/source/forbes.com/.
  • Engage your customers by asking them to share photos of themselves using your products or services.
  • Send out a link to your Pinterest account in your next e-newsletter and ask readers to leave comments.
  • Use boards to emphasize what your brand represents. For example, you might have a board featuring favorite charitable causes or one featuring articles on recycling.
  • Make sure you aren’t infringing on copyrights. Pinterest is facing some legal trouble due to concerns about copyright infringement and photos being shared illegally. Never add a photo to your website without having permission to do so.Just because a photo is available on Google, it does not mean you have the right to use it for commercial purposes. To be safe, invest in a royalty-free image service such as Clipart.com.

4 Sustainable growth tips for you and your business


Sustainable growth comes from doing more of what really creates growth and less of what you get pulled into in the name of growth.
Your business doesn’t care how you spend your day – only you can determine the most profitable use of the only unrenewable resource available – your time.
But the incredibly tricky part is determining what should and what should not get your attention. There are many things that seem important, feel important, and look important that simply shield you from what is important.
If you are ever going to grow your business beyond what you can contain in the grasp of your outstretched arms, you’ll have to let go of a great deal of what you do to fill each day.
Take a mental trip back over the last few days at your business. Or better yet, create an hour-by-hour time sheet and recount the activities that consumed your day. If you can’t remember what you did, other than the fact that you were busy, start today and jot down notes about the activities you engage in over the span of the next few days.
Now for the fun part. Try to assign a dollar value to the work you did. In other words, what would it cost if you had to pay someone else to do the work. Experience suggests that your list contains plenty of $10, $20 and $30 an hour work.
The problem with this reality is that to make a decent living you need to earn about $125 an hour for every hour you put in.
So, if you are making a decent living from your business then what’s really going on is you are doing a bunch of $10/hr work mixed in with the occasional $500/hr payoff.
I know this is pretty simple math and I also know that all this stuff you’re doing needs to get done. But, it also robs you from doing more of the highest payoff work.
The equation for true growth is pretty darn simple. Do more high payoff work and less low payoff work.
The path to adopting a high payoff mindset is understanding and creating the priorities for your work, defining the highest payoff activities and then letting go and allowing yourself to focus on them.
Define your activities
Sit for a while and sift through everything you do in your business and see if you can highlight the three of four highest payoff activities that you do. You know, the place where make your money. Think about what it would mean to your business if you focused on little else in your business but those activities. It doesn’t mean you know right now how you could free up the time to them, but acknowledging them is the first step.
Every business is different, but generally the highest payoff activities are things that fall into the strategic work in categories such as selling, creating new products and services, and marketing.
Note the word strategic above – mining LinkedIn for leads, proofreading copy for the new service agreement and designing ads all fit into the categories above, but as tasks better handled as low payoff work.
Create your list of three of four activities and lock down your commitment to find a way to focus more time on those activities while delegating or outsourcing everything that frees you to do this.
Get serious about getting free
As you make your to do list today mentally make note of this question and pose it each and everyday. Could I get someone else to do this task?
Once you get serious about this mindset you’ll start seeking ways to get it done. There so many ways to get tasks accomplished by people more proficient and less costly than you that it’s almost a crime not to do it.
Find virtual assistants experienced in proofreading, bookkeeping, social media management, blogging and research and get these things off your plate. Explore project based services like Fiverr and Fancy Hands to do those things you’ve been meaning to get around to.
Create and protect space
The final step in your high payoff transition is to take your priority list and, well, make it a priority. The best way to do this is carve out a day or two each week and make those your “high payoff activity only” days.
That means during those days you map out a plan to work on the highest payoff work and leave the rest alone. No email, no tweaking your website, no meetings – unless these are truly high payoff.
For some, two entire days for this might seem like more than they can afford, so start with two afternoons. The point is if you don’t create a protect time for this, it won’t happen.
What you work on during your high payoff days will change based on what’s going on, but when you identify the priorities you can plan each week with these days and priorities in mind and know that you are growing your highest payoff work space and ultimately growing your business with a high payoff mindset.

Sunday

Why You Should Use LinkedIn More Than Facebook or Twitter


One of the most misunderstood and underused social media networks today is LinkedIn. I consider myself something of a social media early adopter. I’ve had a Facebook account since its first year. I was on Twitter before anyone knew what a tweet was. And I’ve had a LinkedIn account for more than five years. However, I will be the first to admit I check LinkedIn and am active on Linked far less often than I am on Facebook or Twitter, when in reality, the opposite should be true.

Welcome to click here and also connect with me on LinkedIn

Most people think I’m pulling numbers out of my, well, other end when I tell them LinkedIn is older than Facebook. However, it is. LinkedIn will be 9 years old May 5. By comparison, Facebook just turned 7 (and has only been open to everyone for five). Twitter will turn 6 in March.

When it comes to users, Facebook, of course, leaves everyone in the dust. Facebook claims 750 million active users. Twitter claims 100 million active users as of September, while LinkedIn hasn’t been so keen to publicly declare its membership. However, as of August, the site stated it had 116 million members. You will note the absence of the word “active” in that claim. While there may be 116 million or more LinkedIn accounts, site statistics, anecdotes and word of mouth indicate the number of active users is probably closer to 60 million. So, while it may be the oldest of the three, it’s by far the least used. Or is it?

In terms of raw numbers and daily traffic, yes, LinkedIn trails far behind Facebook and Twitter. And when you read stories about job seekers needing to clean up their social media feeds, LinkedIn is never mentioned, while discussion of horror stories about incriminating and damaging posts on Twitter and Facebook torpedoing a job candidate’s search abound, you never read any such stories about LinkedIn. And that’s primarily because it’s not really a social media tool at all. It’s a professional media tool set in a social media format, and that makes a good deal of difference.

While I am on Twitter an unhealthy several hours a day (partly to manage my professional feed @comminternships), and probably spend one or two hours a day connecting with Facebook in one way or another, I tend to spend only one or two hours a week total on LinkedIn. Yet, I find that my time on LinkedIn is far more gratifying — and educational — than my time on Facebook or Twitter. I find this to be true for multiple reasons.

The first is the quality of content is stronger and more dynamic than that of Facebook or Twitter. Rarely do I see users on LinkedIn posting what they just ate or drank, or how much they hate their professor who is lecturing right now (note: I follow you on Twitter and see that post after class). Instead, I typically find news and information of note in the topics to which I’ve subscribed. I follow groups that include professionals who are passionate about journalism, internships, careers and higher education, and I find those discussions to be more robust and contain greater depth than conversations on other social media accounts. (Quora also has good discussions, but service is another feed for another day).

The second are the people with whom I am connected. My LinkedIn contacts, while many do overlap with my Twitter and Facebook followers and friends, serve an entirely different purpose. These are professionals with whom I expect to develop a professional relationship, both for present needs, but also for future needs. If I need a reference, an expert recommendation, or job leads, I expect to find myself positioned through my contacts and my involvement in LinkedIn groups to get solid recommendations when needed. Yes, as a journalist I can send out a tweet and ask for recommendations on a topic, but LinkedIn’s nature pretty much ensures you not only know who gave you the advice, but gives you access to their resume, background and other recommendations by their own connections so you have some quality and accuracy check available at your fingertips.

The third is simply professional development. My LinkedIn contacts are frequently posting information about tools I can use to improve my knowledge in my field, nearby conferences I can attend to improve my knowledge (and where I can network with these users face-to-face, something even more valuable than my virtual networking) and access to webinars, databases and other forums of note.

It was just a year ago that Forbes reported that LinkedIn and other social media sites would eventually replace the traditional resume. And in January of this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that for some firms, the traditional resume was dead, and that LinkedIn was becoming the go-to source for those companies. It’s not too late to get on board and build a virtual resume, or, as one firm put it in the WSJ article, a “Web presence resume” that demonstrates your knowledge, abilities and life.

Norah Carroll, the social media specialist for @LavaRow, a Des Moines-based social media firm, recently spoke to a room full of college student journalists at the Iowa College Media Convention. She gave many of the tips we’ve all heard before about social media, many of which are listed in some form or another above. However, one she said that stuck out was to not sterilize your social media presence. Your future employers need to know that there is a person with a personality out there. They just don’t need to know — nor does anyone else — that a degenerate might be lurking in there somewhere. Keep your social media presence clean, but not so clean you look perfect. After all, the company wants to hire the human behind the web presence, not the web presence.

5Rooms

Monday

TaitBrands Annual online shopping survey reveals SA's festive wishes


The third annual survey has revealed that 92.4% of South Africa's connected shoppers will be doing their festive season shopping online this year. This is an increase of close to 5% from 2011.

RSA  increase in festive season shopping is in line with that of counterparts in the US. According to a Google Retail Survey released last month, US shoppers will be spending $900 on holiday shopping this year compared to $854 in 2011; with 80% of respondents indicating that they found going online as the most useful way to get information for holiday shopping.

Key results:
  • Growing number of shoppers planning to take to their iPads for online shopping this festive (17.9%); with majority opting for laptops (59.2%), followed by Desktop PCs at (49%)
  • 40.8% of shoppers have already started their festive season shopping, with 33.6% only planning to fill festive stockings during the first and second week of December
  • Tablets predicted to be the biggest seller this festive season (35.7%); followed by media items such as books, CDs, DVDs and games
  • Tablets still coveted gift for the second year in a row: Apple iPad still most wanted tablet (55%); followed by Samsung Galaxy Tablet (28%)
  • Samsung and Apple jostle for a spot on the Smartphone gifting wish list: 35.8% shoppers want iPhone 5; followed by 30.7% who want a Galaxy S3; whilst 19.6% want a BlackBerry 9900 
  • Jamie Oliver; Game of Thrones; Fifty Shades of Grey and JK Rowling battle it out as festive season literary favourites
  • Race still open for annually contested title for best-selling local book 
  • Of those buying toys for their kids, Lego is again the favourite

November sales up

The survey also reveals that just over 40% of South Africa's connected have already hit the e-Shelves to stock up on their festive season shopping with 33.6% of shoppers saying they intend to start their festive season shopping during the first and second weeks of December. "The trend to go shopping in November is congruous with Black Friday shopping in the late November, where shoppers officially kick off their festive season shopping in the US and more recently the UK," says Hillock. A study by IBM including 500 retailers reported that online Black Friday sales were up by 24.3% in 2011.

"We are certainly seeing more shoppers forgoing the busy rush of festive shopping malls for the convenience of online shopping. Last year the annual festive season shopping survey showed that only 13% of connected shoppers elected to hit the malls for their seasonal shopping, a number, which has decreased to 9.6% this year." 

However, this does not mean that South Africans are not excited about the festive season. "Festive cheer is certainly on the up, with only 7.6% of shoppers saying that they pretend that festive season happens in an alternative reality; this is compared to close to 14% of the respondents from the 2011 survey who had the same sentiment. This could be a sign of a fresh economic outlook or a bolstered disposal income for shoppers."

What's under the tree

Electronics are still the most coveted gift by shoppers with the craze spearheaded by tablets (34.6%); followed by eReaders (13.8%) and the DStv HD PVR Decoder (13.1%). When asked which tablets they would want as a gift, shoppers gave a resounding nod to the Apple Ipad (55.5%) which was followed by the Samsung's Galaxy Tablet at 28%. "However, the bestselling device on kalahari.com remains the gobii 7"colour eReader, which plays music and video and retails at an affordable R799 with a free R160 eBook voucher," adds Hillock. 

Smartphones are also much desired this festive season, with the iPhone 5 being picked by the majority of shoppers (35.8%) as the hottest item they could be gifted with. Not far behind on the wish list with 30.7% is the Samsung Galaxy III, which is followed by Blackberry's 9900 with 19.6% of respondents hoping to get one for Christmas. 

When asked what they thought would be the best sellers for the season, the majority of respondents thought this would be tablets (35.7%), followed 30.7% saying a variety of media items such as CD's ; DVDs; Games; and books, would top the sales list. 

Stocking Fillers

  • Books: This year the titles vying for best holiday reads are Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals, (37.9%); fantasy drama came in second with 27% of consumers hoping to add royal betrayals and drama to their reading list with the complete box set of Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin. One of the year's most talked about books, Fifty Shades of Grey, is in third place (21.2%) as a desired read for the holidays; whilst JK Rowling's follow-up out of Hogwarts, Casual Vacancy, comes in fourth place (18.9%) as the season's literary favourite. "The difference in this year's top book favourites is that there are few local authors competing for the top position compared to last year and 2010. The local Afrikaans children's book Storieman Omnibus 1 & 2 is doing well. However, what we are not seeing is an outright winner as we did in previous years, which was driven predominantly from the sports biography genre."
  • Toys: 25.4% of shoppers that will be buying toys for kids are opting for the timeless classic, Lego, for their children. Close to 10% of shoppers said they would buy the educational LeapPad 2 and only 6.2% of shoppers saying they would buy Barbie Dolls.
  • DVDs: Batman beats the other action-filled titles as the most coveted holiday season DVD with The Dark Knight Rises (36.4%); followed by the cool Ice Age 4 (25.8%). The crash of superheroes in The Avengers takes third position (22.7%) as a holiday favourite followed by Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man in fourth place (15.9%).
  • CDs: With a collection of artists such as Toya Delazy, Prime Circle, Rihanna and PSY Now 62 emerged as the most desired CD with 27.1% of respondents hoping to be gifted with the album. Las Vegas rockers, The Killers, come in second (22%) with their fourth studio offering Battle Born. Sweeping into colourful third position is Taylor Swift's Red (14.7%), followed by Indie Rockers Mumford and Sons with their album Babel at 13.7%. "We will be keeping a close eye on what bestselling album for the summer will be, as over a quarter of the respondents indicated that they had 'Other' albums in mind, as the sound track this festive season." 
  • Games: Action is the name of the game this year with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 emerging as the gaming favourite (24.7%), followed by Assassins Creed 3 at (24.2%). Kicking into third place as a contender is FIFA 13 with close to 20% of respondents scoring it as a favourite. 
  • Home and Away: When asked what type of home appliance they would most want for the festive season, respondents gave 31.5% for a coffee maker, followed by a 22.8% of respondents who wanted an ice cream maker followed by the biltong maker (10%) also voted in as firm favourite. Braaing equipment (22.6%), picnic and beach gear (21.3%) and camping gear (19%) also made the gift wish list in the tools and outdoor category.
    "We have run the annual shopping survey for the third consecutive year and know that some of the shoppers' predictions are spot on while some, especially at the height of the festive season, come as a surprise even to us. 

    New categories including homeware, appliances and pets are doing exceptionally well and South Africans continue to take advantage of the wide range of products and cost-savings found online. 

    bizcommunity

  • 5Rooms

    Tuesday

    How France Built Inequality Into Its Cities and property market



    A year ago, I took a job as an English teacher in France. I was expecting to see the Old World. What I found instead was Val-de-Reuil, one of France’s New Towns. Val-de-Reuil was built from the ground up in the 1970s. At the time of construction, it was supposed to set the standard in urban planning.
    But things haven’t quite worked out that way. Today it’s one of the poorest cities in France. Rows of four and five-story, low-rent apartment complexes line the streets with balconies jutting out from their concrete facades. Val-de-Reuil has two middle schools, one high school, a movie theater and a shopping plaza like you might find in an American suburb. There is no discernible city center. The architecture of the buildings is modern, but not cutting edge and the city has a stark, uniform look to it. In a country that prides itself on history and tradition, Val-de-Reuil seems out of place – a town of boxy, geometric construction in the middle of the French countryside.
    •       •       •       •       •
    Val-de-Reuil is one of nine New Towns built in the 1960s and ‘70s to address overcrowding in France’s largest cities. The New Towns were also meant to be meticulously planned, self-sufficient communities in their own right. This was an appealing alternative to the tangled mess of the Paris suburbs, large areas of which had been overrun by towering blocks of low-income housing projects.

    But though the city was built to correct for the deficiencies of suburban sprawl, Val-de-Reuil has replicated many of the problems it was intended to solve. Its clunky government-subsidized housing looks a lot like the tenements that dot the landscape of the Paris suburbs, albeit on a smaller scale. And the similarities don’t end there. Both the New Town and the Paris suburbs, particularly to the north and east of the city, are plagued by a high rate of unemployment.

    So, what went wrong?
    To start, the city's concentration of low-income housing has created a weak tax base incapable of adequately supporting the local school system or funding much-needed infrastructure projects. Another problem is that many of the available jobs are not matched to the skill set of the local workforce. A number of big name pharmaceutical companies have laboratories in Val-de-Reuil, including Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi Pasteur. But most residents lack the education or technical training needed to qualify for the positions doled out by these employers.  An article published in 2008 in the French newspaper Paris-Normandie put it this way:
    On the one hand, a fleet of leading industries, on the other, a population missing out on its piece of the pie.
    The two middle schools I worked at are designated "priority education zones" (zones d’education prioritaire) or ZEP. ZEP schools are typically underperforming and have a high dropout rate. They receive additional funding as a result of their status, but my students still struggled to afford school supplies. Many of them came from families that had immigrated to France within one or two generations, and a number of them had been born in countries like Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey. One 11-year old boy proudly told me he had French, Algerian and Turkish citizenship, then asked if I had ever been to Istanbul. "You should visit," he said. "It’s a beautiful city."
    •       •       •       •       •
    In Val-de-Reuil, tensions over immigration and nationality spill out into daily life. Immigration has long been a divisive issue in France, where immigrants must conform to a policy of "integration," which calls for assimilation into French society, in speech, dress, culture, and custom.

    Even second- and third-generation immigrants – people who were born in France – are routinely treated as "other." On my first day of work, an argument broke out between two students, a blonde-haired boy and a girl with olive skin and dark black hair. When the class was over, one of the teachers who had been in the room pulled me aside. "Did you hear what he said to her?" he asked, referring to the blonde-haired boy. I hadn’t. "He said: ‘go back to your own country, where you belong.'" Later I learned that the girl’s family was from Turkey, but that she had been born in France and had never left the country.
    Anger over perceived discrimination has become widespread among first-, second-, and third-generation immigrants in France. It has seeped into popular culture with movies like La Haine depicting the pent-up rage of immigrant youth confined to the Paris suburbs. It has also found expression in real life. In 2005, riots broke out in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois when two teenagers of foreign descent died while hiding from police in an electrical power station. Government officials promised to improve the quality of life for residents of the most run-down housing projects. But seven years later, not much has changed. This past summer violence erupted again in Amiens, a city in the North of France, when residents of the working-class suburbs clashed with police. Participants in both riots later cited government neglect and police brutality as driving factors behind the escalation of tensions.

    I saw the same sense of disillusionment in my own students. Halfway through the year, I asked my fifth-graders what they thought the main differences were between the U.S. and France. I expected them to talk about things they’d seen on TV and in movies, and for the most part they did. But one of my students, a 12-year old boy of Algerian-descent brought up the subject of race. "You’re lucky that you live in the U.S.," he said. "Don’t you like living in France?" I asked. "No," he replied with grim certainty. "People are racist here. They take one look and decide they don’t like you."
    •       •       •       •       •
    Val-de-Reuil isn’t a typical French town. To dismiss the city as an anomaly, however, would be a mistake. Val-de-Reuil embodies a central irony of French urban planning policy. City planners have built up isolated urban enclaves, like the Paris suburbs and the New Towns, which keep the country’s immigrant population separate from the rest of society, at the same time that the government calls for integration. In recent years, planners have invested energy and resources into redeveloping these socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, but France’s foreign-born population continues to face social exclusion.  
    Going forward, French politicians will either embrace a more inclusive vision of French nationality or cling to unrealistic hopes for integration. It’s unclear which course of action will win out. For now, however, support for integration remains widespread. In 2010, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the forced deportation of the country’s Roma, or gypsy, population after labeling them illegal immigrants. And, amidst controversy over freedom of expression, a law banning women from wearing the burqa in public went into effect the following year. Yet despite attempts to create a more uniform society, immigrants and French citizens of foreign descent are changing social and cultural norms. This is happening even in places like Rouen, a city twenty minutes away from Val-de-Reuil, with winding cobblestone streets, a soaring cathedral and cafes around every corner.

    One day while walking through Rouen, I heard people shouting. I turned and saw ten or twelve men getting out of their cars at a red light. They were dancing, yelling and singing – weaving wildly through the maze of traffic as passersby looked on in disbelief. In one of the cars, I saw a woman wearing a wedding dress. In the car behind her, a girl was standing out of the open sunroof, her face partially covered by a white headscarf. As the light turned green and the car lurched forward, she raised the Algerian flag in the air and began to wave it high above her head.
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