4 web design trends for 2015 that will change your job forever Wednesday, Oct 29 2014 

Our day-to-day jobs are soon going to be very different, predicts Paul Boag.

Paul Boag

As web professionals we often look at other industries with disbelief at their failure to adapt to digital. The downfall of music retailing, the demise of companies like Kodak and the challenges faced by newspapers.

But are we aware of the changes happening in our own sector? The web is now over 25 years old. Are we beginning to get set in our ways? Are we just as blind to changes as other industries?

I am aware I maybe sounding melodramatic and I don’t mean to be. We are not about to see our roles disappear. We may not see many travel agents or encyclopaedia salesmen around these days because of digital. But that doesn’t mean we are in immediate danger.

That said, there are certain trends that are worthy of our attention. These are trends that might not make us obsolete, but they will change what we do from day-to-day.

The four trends I’m talking about are:

  • The move towards in-house teams
  • The automation of code
  • The rise of software as a service
  • The decline of the website

01. The move towards in-house teams

The way businesses perceive the web has changed a lot in recent years. Once seen as another marketing channel, it is now perceived as business critical for a lot of organisations.

Many companies have decided it is unwise to rely on an outside suppliers for business critical operations. Instead they are building internal teams to take on the role. This is strategically wise, but also provides significant cost savings over the longer term.

We are beginning to see this impact our sector as agencies compete for a shrinking number of opportunities at the top end of the market. Some agencies such as Adaptive Path and Mark Boulton Design have sold to their clients. Effectively they have become in-house teams. Others are being forced to downsize.

Of course no in-house team is going to have every skill they need to operate. There will still be work for the specialist. But, whether specialist agencies are sustainable is hard to tell. Instead we might see the growth of specialist contractors who work on short term contracts with in-house teams.

This means that those of us working in high-end agencies need to think about our long term position. The chances are we will see a growing number of agencies close their doors over the coming years. Those of us who work for those agencies may well find ourselves joining in-house teams. That or becoming much more specialised in our role.

But it is not just those working at the top end of the market who will experience change.

02. The rise of software as a service

The rise of software as a service is threatening the lower end of all kinds of sectors. For example, services like FreeAgent are replacing traditional book keepers. In fact SaaS is eroding traditional models in everything from recruitment to customer management.

Unfortunately for some, web design is no exception. There was a time when self employed web designers could produce cheap websites from home and make a reasonable income. Today that is becoming hard with services like Squarespace allowing people to build their own website.

But this doesn’t just apply to ‘build your own website’ services. It would now be insanity to build a custom content management system in the vast majority of cases. Once this was big business for many developers. The same is true for ecommerce platforms. Services like Shopify means the days of building shopping carts for most are over.

What this does is push those low end web designers up market at exactly the same time as the high end agencies are lowering their prices. This squeezes the middle.

Software as a service is commoditising much of what use to be bespoke work. But even bespoke design is becoming easier than ever before.

03. The automation of coding

There was a time when being able to code good quality HTML and CSS was enough. That is no longer the case. Not only is there a surplus of people able to do this, the need to code is waning.

Tools like Macaw and Adobe Reflow are enabling designers to do much of the work of front-end coders. Now I know what you are thinking — these tools create terrible CSS. You are right, but they are a sign of things to come. Over time these tools will become more sophisticated. It wouldn’t surprise me if eventually hand coding HTML and CSS becomes a skill few still need.

Although these tools will never produce code as good as a person, it will be good enough. In the end it will come down to return on investment. For many ‘quick to market code’ that is ‘good enough’ will be a better investment than hand-coded.

But even if that does not happen, these tools are already having an impact. Creating working prototypes has become much easier. A job that used to keep a front end coder busy for days if not weeks.

It’s easy to dismiss the impact of these tools. They don’t replace a good coder. But, I remember graphic designers saying the same thing about desktop publishing. DTP didn’t replace the graphic designer but it did thin the herd.

If you are a designer, you might be feeling a little smug at this point. After all we will always need people to design websites no matter how we code our sites. But perhaps longer term even that will change.

04. The decline of the website

Have you noticed the gradual decline in the role of the website? Take for example going to see a movie. You know what you want to see, but you don’t know where it is showing.

In the past you would have visited each movie theatre website one at a time to see if they were showing the film you wanted. Each website was different, crafted by a busy team of web designers.

My betting is that is not how you look up movies anymore. The chances are you have a single app on your mobile that aggregates movie listings from many sources. Perhaps you even ask Siri or just Google it.


This creates a much better experience as users don’t have to deal with different interfaces. Unfortunately it does start to undermine the role of the designer crafting these different sites.

I am sure it won’t be long before you ask Siri and she tells you when and where your film is on. The whole thing done by voice command, no user interface at all.

Content is being set free from design. Instead we are sharing content via APIs between applications and sites. Sometimes business owners are choosing to put their content on Facebook, Yelp or Foursquare. They are abandoning the idea of having their own site. This is something that is particularly prevalent in China.

Don’t panic!

This might leave you feeling despondent about your future prospects. It shouldn’t. As somebody who has worked in the web over 20 years, I can tell you that as long as you are able to adapt then none of this will be an issue. Sure, your role will change but you won’t find yourself homeless.

The danger is that the transition could prove painful if you are not aware that change is coming. Whether I am right in my predictions or not you can be sure of one thing — the web will continue to evolve. As Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Words: Paul Boag

Co-Founder of Headscape and host of the Boagworld Podcast, Paul Boag has spent more than 20 years of helping organisations manage digital change.


7 Daily Promises That Create Sales Success Wednesday, Oct 29 2014 


Success in sales, life, and business depends upon your ability to cultivate and grow these seven key emotions.

 If you have the world’s best sales process, technology, worksheets, playbooks, sales scripts, and marketing collateral, you will still fail if you don’t have the emotional strength it takes to sell.

A while back, I had a conversation with Jeff Keller, author of the bestseller Attitude Is Everything. He described the seven emotions that top salespeople must cultivate, which I’ve presented here as a set of daily promises:

  1. I will be patient.

Customers make decisions at their own speed. Pushing customers to buy is like pulling on seedlings to make them grow. While I am always ready to help a customer, I refuse to become frustrated when they don’t buy as quickly as I’d like.

  1. I will be committed.

Customers respect that I’m willing to do whatever it takes (legally and ethically) to make both my customers and myself successful. I will follow through on every commitment I make, large or small. I will not give up until it’s clear that I cannot help my customer.

  1. I will be enthusiastic.

Because enthusiasm is contagious, I will be enthusiastic about myself, my firm, my product, and my customers. To remain enthusiastic I will draw on my desire to help people improve their lives and thereby create greater wealth and success for everyone.

  1. I will be curious.

Selling means being alive to the mysteries and puzzles of life. Every customer and every situation is different and has something important to teach me. I will keep my ears and eyes open to any knowledge that can help me better serve my customers.

  1. I will be brave.

I will have the courage take the risks necessary to expand myself and my business, even in the face of enormous odds. I will not sacrifice my ambition to achieve a false sense of security. I will not take the easy path when I know that the thorny path will take me to my goal.

  1. I will be forthright.

I will not have a hidden agenda that separates my stated purpose from my true motivations. I will be honest with my customers and colleagues, even when it’s to my disadvantage. I will never use manipulative tactics to trick customers into buying.

  1. I will be flexible.

Life is all about change; nothing stays the same. I will be flexible so that I can observe what’s working and what’s not. I will change my approach to match changing circumstances. I will adapt so that I can better meet my customer’s need.


Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he’s interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is “Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts that You Need to Know.”


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How to Stay Focused in the Most Boring Work Situations Ever Wednesday, Oct 29 2014 

Anne Niederkorn

By Anne Niederkorn, October 24, 2014

Workdays can be unpredictable. Some days effortlessly fly by, while others seem to drag on and on.

The same can be said of your focus. While some days you are laser-focused on your tasks, others you’ll find yourself, well, a bit distracted. Let’s face it: Not everything we do at work is fun, and sometimes it’s just easier to tune out (or tune into that YouTube video).

So, how do you reel yourself back in—especially when you know you need to get down to business?

For one thing, it’s always a good idea to clear your plate of any small nagging tasks. This way, your mind won’t be bothered by anything you should have already done. I also know that my noon workout helps raise my focus level for the rest of the afternoon.

But what else can you do, especially when faced with the most challenging days? Not to worry: I looked at four common work scenarios and came up with some tips on how to get yourself back on track.

When You’re in a Meeting

Shorter meetings equal better attention spans, but unfortunately, not all meetings are short and sweet. If you know a meeting might take a while, try to think of some proactive ways to end it a little sooner while still accomplishing everything. Does the meeting have an agenda and a designated timekeeper? If not, consider volunteering to draft one up or be the person who keeps everyone on track.

If there’s no way to shorten things up, ask to help the meeting facilitator take notes, which is bound to keep you actively listening. You might also want to sit up front or near the presenter—if more eyes are on you, the less likely you will be to drift off.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to speak up if you think the group needs a break. If it’s been 90 minutes straight without a breather and you find yourself getting restless, chances are everyone else will appreciate the chance to regroup as well.

When You Need to Complete a Difficult Task

Difficult tasks often require concentration and quiet. Unfortunately, you likely dwell in a cubicle farm full of loud co-workers and constant activity. Plus, there’s always the internet, primed and ready to lure you into news stories, funny videos, and social media.

If you know you’re easily distracted by all these things, it’s time to take action. Can you book a small conference room? Are you able to work at the local library? If you can’t change your environment, try earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Can’t work in complete silence? Create a playlist of relaxing music or sounds that help you concentrate. Apps such as Noisli or Coffitivity can provide different white noise sounds, like falling rain or even a busy coffee shop.

While you’re at it, close your browser (or use an app like Self-Control or Freedom, which kicks you out for a set period of time), change your instant messenger settings to “Do Not Disturb,” and alert your neighbors you are working onsomething that requires focus. If they are decent folks, they’ll respect your time and leave you alone (and hopefully keep the volume down on their conversations).

When You’re Working on a Routine Task

While some tasks require a lot of attention to detail, there are others that are sometimes so routine that we instantly grow bored—and then we either start getting sloppy or get distracted by our smartphone, our neighbors, or our manicure.

These are the times when my iPod is my best friend. Just as a few great songs help me get through a grueling run, the right tunes also help perk me up and keep me (somewhat) happy as I finish that tedious task. If the work is also time-consuming, be sure to set small goals for yourself, along with rewards. If that doesn’t motivate you to buckle down, then get tougher with yourself: Tell a buddy about your goal and place a bet. For example, if you don’t meet your goal, then you owe your colleague lunch—or maybe even a donation to her favorite charity.

When You’re in Training

Training can really test your focus and concentration, especially if it lasts all day or even over several. And nowadays, many trainings are delivered virtually, making it even more difficult to focus. It’s hard to stay excited about learning when you’re cooped up in a room all day, starting at a computer screen.

The best advice I ever got regarding training was this: After you’re finished, send an email to your boss, telling her what you’ve learned and how you’re specifically going to use these things. The first time I did this, my boss loved it. This in itself is a great reason to pay attention and take good notes. Besides writing down what the instructor says, keep your brain active by asking yourself how you could apply the knowledge in your job. Challenge yourself to make a list of at least two good questions for the instructor. And, of course, keep your caffeinated beverage of choice close by at all times.

Tell us! What do you do to focus?

5 Things People Reading Your Resume Wish You Knew (Abbreviated version) Tuesday, Oct 28 2014 

Lily ZhangBy Lily Zhang, October 21, 2014

I think this is some very good information!


1. If your relevant experience, education, or skills are hard to find at a glance, your resume might as well be blank.

2. If it’s not immediately clear from your experience why you’re applying, no one will connect the dots for you.

3. If your resume is difficult to skim, it probably won’t be read at all.

4. If you expect to get your resume in front of a hiring manager, you need to first make sure you get through HR.

5. If your contact info isn’t correct, nothing else matters.

The Best Ways to be Productive When Your Energy is Gone Monday, Oct 27 2014 

About The Author

Inc.com is where you can find everything you need to know to start and grow your business now. Inc.com is replete with small business ideas, information, and inspiration, as well as practical advice from those who have done it before.

Why do we have to learn this? Monday, Oct 27 2014 

Originally published in the Los Angeles Times  December 26, 2004 by Arthur Michelson

Good afternoon! I got this from my college math ed advisor, and I thought it was great

American middle school students don’t much care that they’re worse at math than their counterparts in Hong Kong or Finland. “I don’t need it,” my students say. “I’m gonna be a basketball star.” Or a beautician, or a car mechanic, or a singer.

It’s also hard to get much of a rise out of adults over the fact, released earlier this year, that the United States ranked 28th out of 41 countries whose middle school students’ math skills were tested by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. So what if we’re tied with Latvia, while nations like Japan and South Korea leave us in the dust? After all, when was the last time you used algebra?  (Martin’s comment: We use calculus every time we drive a car or walk across a busy street!)


But math is not just about computing quadratic equations, knowing geometric proofs or balancing a checkbook. And it’s not just about training Americans to become scientists.

It has implicit value. It is about discipline, precision, thoroughness and meticulous analysis. It helps you see patterns, develops your logic skills, teaches you to concentrate and to separate truth from falsehood. These are abilities and qualities that distinguish successful people.

Math helps you make wise financial decisions, but also informs you so you can avoid false claims from advertisers, politicians and others. It helps you determine risk. Some examples:

* If a fair coin is tossed and eight heads come up in a row, most adults would gamble that the next toss would come up tails. But a coin has no memory. There is always a 50-50 chance.

Be rational and real

See you at the casino?

* If you have no sense of big numbers, you can’t evaluate the consequences of how government spends your money. Why should we worry? Let our kids deal with it….

* Enormous amounts of money are spent on quack medicine. Many people will reject sound scientific studies on drugs or nutrition if the results don’t fit their preconceived notions, yet they might leap to action after reading news stories on the results of small, inconclusive or poorly run studies.

* After an airplane crash, studies show that people are more likely to drive than take a plane despite the fact that they are much more likely to be killed or injured while driving. Planes are not like copycat criminals. A plane is not more likely to crash just because another recently did. In fact, the most dangerous time to drive is probably right after a plane crash because so many more people are on the road.

The precision of math, like poetry, gets to the heart of things. It can increase our awareness.

Consider the Fibonacci series, in which each number is the sum of the preceding two, (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 … ). Comparing each successive pair yields a relationship known as the Golden Ratio, which often shows up in nature and art. It’s the mathematical underpinning of what we consider beautiful. You’ll find it in the design of the Parthenon and the Mona Lisa, as well as in human proportion; for instance, in the size of the hand compared to the forearm and the forearm to the entire arm. Stephen Hawking’s editor warned him that for every mathematical formula he wrote in a book, he would lose a big part of his audience. Yet more than a little is lost by dumbing things down.

Fibonacci squaresNAUTILUS

It is not possible to really understand science and the scientific method without understanding math. A rainbow is even more beautiful and amazing when we understand it. So is a lightning bolt, an ant or ourselves.

Math gives us a powerful tool to understand our universe. I don’t wish to overstate: Poetry, music, literature and the fine and performing arts are also gateways to beauty. Nothing we study is a waste. But the precision of math helps refine how we think in a very special way.

How do we revitalize the learning of math? I don’t have the big answer. I teach middle school and try to find an answer one child at a time. When I can get one to say, “Wow, that’s tight,” I feel the joy of a small victory.

Arthur Michelson teaches at the Beechwood School in Menlo Park, Calif.   This commentary was written for the Los Angeles Times.

7 Best Practices for Being a Successful Remote Developer Wednesday, Oct 22 2014 

By , October 21, 2014


Working remotely requires special discipline and unique habits. Learn them to really contribute to the project.

Although working with distributed team members is gaining traction at companies, most people have never worked with a remote programmer. If you’re working remotely, don’t assume that your client or employer knows best — in fact, you likely have more experience with how to work this way than they do. Because of this, you will excel if you proactively offer guidance and set best practices in working together. My company specializes in placing remote workers and, in the process, we have come to recognize that freelance developers who achieve the best results typically follow these best practices.

Get Your Hands on the Right Tools

As a remote team member, you’ll probably be working with a team of other people who are either onsite internally, or spread around the world. Regardless, you’ll want to be plugged into their workflow and communications grids as soon as possible. If you don’t have a thorough sense of their organization, ask for a list of all the platforms that your fellow programmers use — for example, Slack, HipChat, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Download them right away and learn to use them well. Or, if you need to rely on internal tracking systems like JIRA, request access if it hasn’t already been set up for you. By paying close attention to tools and having them ready to go, you’ll increase your value.


The best remote programmers on my team provide progress updates (daily and sometimes twice a day). That’s because, unlike in a traditional office setting, team members can’t simply walk over to see what you’re working on. By providing regular updates, you explicitly define your value to the organization and build trust with your team members because they know you’re reliable, thorough, and a good communicator.

You’ll probably receive updates from others on your team, as well as from your client or manager. If you need to provide feedback, be as clear as possible and do so in a timely fashion, so if things aren’t going well, people are aware of speedbumps and can identify why objectives were missed. Also be sure to communicate in multiple formats. A good rule of thumb is to use two different media for each communication, rather than relying solely on email. If you give feedback during a video chat, summarize what you said in an email. This creates a streamlined feedback loop so communications are accurate, continuous, and relevant.

Finally, help guide efforts forward by scheduling real-time conversations. Talking works wonders when something complicated needs to be cleared up — email often just won’t cut it. While Google Hangouts and Skype feature talk-only functions, use video as much as possible. Seeing someone’s face helps build trust and a smooth professional relationship with your team.

Get to Know the Culture of the Organization

After you’re hired, it doesn’t mean all that’s left is heads-down programming. You should continue learning as much as you can about the organization. This will help you work smarter as well as build trust with your counterparts. Most importantly, be proactive in figuring out how your client or manager operates and build off of their style of communication.

That goes for non-verbal communication, too. If team members are expected to be available via video during their shift, make sure you’re available during yours. If they sing happy birthday to each other via Google Chat, then join in! If they send e-cards, do the same.

Be Complete When Asking or Answering Questions

Many times, I see emails or hear about issues where the deliverer fails to provide complete context. Without enough background, issues simply can’t be acted on. When you’re a remote freelancer, you can create considerable goodwill by being complete, especially if you’re working a schedule that is different from HQ’s or other programmers’. That way, your contacts will always have the information they need and can address things in a timely fashion, even if you’re not online.

Whenever possible, include screenshots, documents, and message threads. Err on the side of over-communication rather than assuming that recipients have all the information they need.



Be Comfortable Escalating Issues You Think Are Important

Many people aren’t comfortable escalating issues. They’re worried that others may see their escalations as blame or pointing fingers. To be successful, you’ll need to get over this fear.

Make a point of getting used to escalating things, but also go a step further. Think about potential issues in advance and flag them to your manager — it makes everyone’s life a lot easier.

Also, communicate rapidly: Don’t let issues linger. Escalate immediately and be direct with your team members if it’s important. This is especially important if you are working at different times than your colleagues, timeliness keeps conversations moving as people go on and offline.

Be Reliable

Consider carefully what hours will allow you to work with your colleagues most effectively. As a freelancer, you’ll enjoy more freedom as to when and where you work — but some schedules may be better than others. For example, it’s best to maintain at least a few hours of overlap with your client so you can take advantage of synchronous communication like telephone, chat, Skype, and Google Hangouts. The same goes for vacation. You may already be an expert at managing your own time, but consider how your availability will affect your client.

When you’ve set expectations as to your typical hours, show that you’re responsive during them. When you’re not in the same place, your responsiveness and patterns of availability are what foster trust. The more proactive and responsible you are on this front, the more you’ll stand out. Be available via email and at least one other platform (such as Skype) and respond quickly, even if it’s simply to let colleagues know you can’t talk but will connect later.

Since you’re likely to work with team members in different time zones, find a time zone clock likeEvery Time Zone to make sure you schedule meetings correctly and aren’t late (or worse, forget a meeting altogether).

Create a Dedicated Workspace

When you’re online working, help ensure you’re in the mood to be engaged by setting up a routine and a dedicated workspace. Some of our team members have shared with me that they run errands and get coffee, then stay dressed up and work through their shift. Some have home offices or go to co-working spaces so they can concentrate. Regardless of what works best for you, create a routine and find a workplace that helps you be most productive.

Stephane Kasriel is the Senior Vice President, Product and Engineering at Elance-oDesk. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ecole Polytechnique (France), a Master of Science in Computer Science from Stanford University, and an MBA from INSEAD.

25 ways to make networking less dreadful Tuesday, Oct 21 2014 

Stuck moment: I know this so-called networking event tonight is important for my career, but I’m not going to get anything out of it. I never meet the right people. And it always seems like everyone knows people there already — what am I suppose to do, just barge into a conversation with strangers? I hate this.

*  *  *

There’s no shortage of people who detest networking, and no shortage of reasons why: It feels artificial. I have better things to do with my time. I never know what to say. It’s boring. It’s exhausting. There’s nothing in it for me.

Networking 1

All of these reasons are valid — and if we peek under the covers we’ll find the singular core: We’re afraid. Of being rejected, of failing, of not being up to snuff. Everyone feels it, even those super-smiley glad-handers we know we’ll never be. On top of that,research shows that the insincerity of networking can literally give us the heebie-jeebies. The tempting choice is to reject networking (It’s just not for me). The courageous choice is to try to push through the fear.

Don’t worry, we’re not about to spend hundreds of words saying “just do it” because we know you won’t. Neither would we. Instead, we’ve rustled up an assortment of tactics so you can pick the ones that best suit your style. But first…

Why network?
Banish thoughts of deal-making and job-finding. The primary point of networking is mutual problem-solving. People come bearing all kinds of needs (as do you). Those same people also hold within them inspiration and ideas and support that may not exist in your circle of contacts (and vice versa). When you connect with someone new, you begin a relationship that, if nurtured, can be fruitful for both sides.

Okay, we admit that doesn’t always happen. We all have to kiss our fair share of frogs. But consider the alternative: No new relationships, no new ideas, same old problems. Let’s make sure that isn’t your future.

Change your mind
Consider one or more of these networking truths days before you go to an event. According to the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, this kind of self-talk can suppress fear. But if you do nothing else, stop imagining how things will go, good or bad.

1. People want to meet you. That’s why they’re there.

2. You don’t have to sparkle or make 20 or 10 or even five new acquaintances (one would be nice).

3. You have something to offer. A good joke. A sympathetic ear. Directions to the restroom. These all count.

4. You don’t have to talk business. It’s about meeting interesting people who might become a friend.

5. Not every conversation has to be meaningful. Small talk is a way of testing the waters to see if there is a deeper connection. Sometimes there isn’t.

6. You aren’t walking into a trap. This is a choice you are making to expand your world.

Select where and how you mingle
Networking doesn’t have to happen in a hotel ballroom with name tags and beverages in plastic cups. You can network anywhere there are other people. Take to heart the Free Trait Theory, which says that when we care deeply about something, we willingly act out of character in service of what we care about. In other words, pick something you’re passionate about and see how much easier it is to meet people. Here are some suggestions.

7. Meetup is a great way to do something you love with other people. Play soccer, go hiking, talk about cyber security. The choices seem infinite.

8. Join a carpool to get to know your coworkers better.

9. Volunteer at a networking event, which gives you purpose and a reason to engage with people.

10. Take a class or workshop. The camaraderie of being in it together makes it easier to bond with others.

11. Volunteer for a cause you care about. Volunteermatch.org puts people and nonprofits together in 100 U.S. cities.

12. Join a sports league or book club or quilting circle. After the initial meeting, you’ll be a recognized member of the group.

13. Take your dog (or a friend’s) to the local dog park. There’s something about pet-ownership that brings out the friendliness in people.

14. Strike up a conversation with people you don’t know well at the office birthday and holiday parties. You already have a common topic: work.

15. Reconnect with former colleagues you’ve lost touch with. You never know what you’ll learn while catching up.

16. Ask a well-connected friend to introduce you to someone you’d like to meet or invite you to an event he’s attending.

Prepare to engage
Before you head out to turn a few strangers into friends, get yourself ready. There are known tactics that help us make a good first impression, as well as pointers on what do after “hello.” The one unbendable rule: Smile (like you mean it).

17. If a crowd of strangers freaks you out, arrive on the early side before the whole crew gets there. If so inclined, offer to help the host with last-minute details and you’ll already have one new friend.

18. You arrive and things are in full swing. Don’t feel pressure to plunge in. Take a few deep breaths and give yourself time to assess the situation.

19. Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself. You’ll look and be more confident.

20. Mom was right: Stand up straight. Smile. Make eye contact.

21. Have a ready answer for the often-asked question: What do you do? You want to be articulate about who you are and what you’re passionate about — in 30 seconds or less.

22. Introduce yourself to other folks on their own. Smile, say “hi,” tell them your name, and ask if you can join them. Simple, genuine, and effective.

23. Here are a couple offbeat ways to make small talk more meaningful from Inc. magazine.

24. Show your generous side: Offer to help. Make an introduction. Give a (sincere) compliment. Actively listen.

25. Ask questions about the other person. Personal interests are fine. Think of them as a friend you’re getting to know, not a colleague you have to impress.

In the end, there’s sweet relief — and maybe a confidence boost. You went, you met, you mingled. The only thing better is following up with anyone who you’d like to get to know within the next three days.

If you’re feeling stuck, use the free Unstuck web app here or download the iPad app from iTunes. 

12 Almost-Effortless Ways to Pick Up New Skills When You’re Busy Tuesday, Oct 21 2014 


By Aaron Skonnard of Inc., October 15, 2014

About The Author

Inc.com is where you can find everything you need to know to start and grow your business now. Inc.com is replete with small business ideas, information, and inspiration, as well as practical advice from those who have done it before.

FBI Director Calls On Congress To ‘Fix’ Phone Encryption By Apple, Google Friday, Oct 17 2014 

WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey called Thursday for “a regulatory or legislative fix” for technology companies’ expanding use of encryption to protect user privacy, arguing that without such a fix, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”

Comey said he understood the “justifiable surprise” many Americans felt after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures about mass government surveillance, but he contended that recent shifts by companies like Apple and Google to make data stored on cell phones inaccessible to law enforcement went too far.

“Perhaps it’s time to suggest that the post-Snowden pendulum has swung too far in one direction — in a direction of fear and mistrust,” said Comey, speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington in his first major policy speech since taking over the FBI 13 months ago.

FBI Director James Comey Speaks At Intelligence And National Security Summitt

Justice may be denied because of a locked phone or an encrypted hard drive,” he said.

The latest versions of smartphone operating systems from Apple and Google provide strong default encryption that cannot be broken even by the companies themselves — as long as users store data like photos only on their own devices and not in the cloud.

Law enforcement officials like Comey worry that as a result, some kinds of data will “go dark” to investigators who need forensic data to solve crimes. But the companies and tech experts both say strong default encryption is necessary to protect users from unwanted intrusions into their privacy by governments and freelance hackers.

Comey said the FBI was seeing “more and more cases” in which law enforcement officials believed there was significant evidence on a laptop or phone they couldn’t access due to encryption. It’s not clear, however, that any of the cases he specifically referenced — from a murder in Louisiana to a hit-and-run homicide in California — could not have been solved with a traditional warrant to cellular service providers.

“Law enforcement has access to more data than they’ve ever had access to,” Matthew Green, an assistant professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, told The Huffington Post. “We’re just finally as a society trying to get back to a point where it’s a little more in line with what law enforcement would have been able to get back in the ’80s.”

Snowden’s revelations have provoked a crisis abroad for major U.S. tech companies, which could lose billions as foreign customers leery of American software and devices compromised by the NSA turn to other providers. Comey said that he was “not trying to jump on the companies,” like Apple and Google, that implement encryption systems closed off to law enforcement and that he believed they were “responding to a marketing imperative.”

The FBI director didn’t propose any specific legislative solution, saying he simply hoped to begin a dialogue about the issue. He indicated that he wanted some way for manufacturers to provide law enforcement with access to their devices under a court order.


“We aren’t seeking a back-door approach,” Comey said. “We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law. We are completely comfortable with court orders and legal process — front doors that provide the evidence and information we need to investigate crime and prevent terrorist attacks.”

Green said that statement indicates Comey would be comfortable with either the government or tech companies themselves holding onto the tools necessary to decrypt messages and data.

But whether law enforcement has access to users’ information through a legally mandated front door or a covertly installed back door, others argue that intentionally giving electronic devices privacy vulnerabilities carries great risks.

“Sophisticated adversaries” could use the same holes to siphon off data, said Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, in a question posed to Comey during a questions-and-answers period Thursday. Many have warned that those adversaries could include foreign governments like China or freelance hackers.

“I don’t think that anybody with complete confidence can build an interception-proof system,” Comey acknowledged. But, he added, “when you aggregate various risks and tradeoffs, the alternative doesn’t make any sense to me.”

The Justice Department and FBI have been raising their increasing concern over criminals or terrorists “going dark” for years. Any push in Congress to provide the government with more tools to access user data, however, will likely face opposition from the tech companies and from privacy advocates.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a tech industry ally and NSA foe, tweeted in response to Comey’s speech that he opposes “requiring companies to build back doors into their products.”

“This Apple thing wasn’t done on a whim,” said Green. “I don’t think you’re going to see anyone back down right away.”

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