5 Trends That Will Change How You Use Social Media in 2015 Thursday, Dec 4 2014 


This post originally appeared in Time.

Big changes are afoot for the likes of Twitter, Facebook and others.

This year started with a death sentence for Facebook. In January, a research company called Global Web Index published a study showing that Facebook had lost nearly one-third of its U.S. teen users in the last year. Headlines pronounced the network “dead and buried.”

Fast forward to the present and Facebook is reporting record growth. The company earned $2.96 billion in ad revenue in the third quarter of 2013, up 64 percent from just a year ago. More impressively, the network has added more than 100 million monthly active users in the last year.

All of which goes to show how difficult it can be to predict the future of social media. With that caveat in mind, here’s a look into the crystal ball at five ways social media will (likely) evolve in 2015.

Your social network wants to be your wallet

Hacks released in October show a hidden payment feature deep inside Facebook’s popular Messenger app. If activated by the company, it will allow the app’s 200 million users to send money to each other using just debit card information, free of charge. Meanwhile, the network has also already rolled out a new Autofill feature (a kind of Facebook Connect for credit cards), which allows users who save their credit card info on Facebook to check out with 450,000 e-commerce merchants across the web.

So why does Facebook want to handle your money in 2015? Right now, some of tech’s biggest players are battling it out in the mobile payments space, including Apple with its new Apple Pay app, upstarts like Square and Stripe and even online payments veterans like PayPal. The endgame at this stage isn’t exactly clear. Facebook may eventually charge for its money transfer services, leverage customer purchasing data to pull in more advertisers or even try to rival traditional credit cards like Visa and Mastercard (which make billions on fees). One thing’s for sure: You can expect to see major social networks jockeying more aggressively to handle your transactions in 2015.

New networks proliferate, but will they last?

2014 saw the rise of a number of niche social networks, many built specifically in response to the perceived failings of the big boys: the lack of privacy, the collection of demographic and psychographic data, the increasingly pervasive advertising. Newcomers range from Ello, which launched in March with promises to never sell user data, to Yik Yak, which allows users to exchange fully anonymous posts with people who are physically nearby, and tsu, which has promised to share ad revenue with users based on the popularity of their posts.

Will these networks grow and stick around? New social platforms that try to replicate the Facebook experience while promising, for instance, fewer ads or more privacy, have the odds seriously stacked against them. The biggest challenge – one that even Google+ has struggled with – is attracting a sufficient userbase so the network doesn’t feel like a ghost town compared to Facebook’s thriving 1.3-billion-user global community.

On the other hand, new networks that map onto strong existing communities or interests (interest-based networks, as opposed to Facebook-style people-based networks) have a much better chance. In fact, thousands of these networks are already thriving below the radar, from dedicated sites for cooks and chefs like Foodie to sites for fitness junkies like Fitocracy.

Shopping finally comes to social media

Earlier this year, both Twitter and Facebook began beta-testing “buy” buttons, which appear alongside certain tweets and posts and allows users to make purchases with just a click or two, without ever leaving the network. Expect e-commerce and social media integrations to deepen in 2015. In fact, it’s a little surprising it’s taken so long.

For starters, this approach eliminates one key dilemma all merchants face – how to get customers in the door (or to your website). On Facebook and Twitter, you’ve already got a receptive audience, happily chatting with friends, browsing the latest trends, sharing photos and videos, etc. Once their payment details are on file, purchases are a tap or two away. Then it’s back to cat GIFs and updates on weekend plans.

In addition, since Facebook and especially Twitter are real-time media, they’re perfect for short-term deals tied in with fleeting trends. With time-sensitive offers literally streaming by, consumers may well be inclined to act quickly and seal the deal, forgoing the obsessive comparison shopping that characterizes lots of Internet transactions.

Finally, there are major benefits to advertisers. Connecting individual Tweets and Facebook posts with actual purchases has thus far proved a huge analytical challenge. But with the advent of buy buttons, concrete revenue figures can be attached to specific social media messages in a way that hasn’t been possible until now.


Smart devices get more social

Cheap sensors have led to an explosion of smart devices. Everything from home appliances like thermostats, bathroom scales and refrigerators towearables like fitness bracelets and smart watches are now collecting data and zapping it off wirelessly to the Internet. Lots of these devices are also pushing notifications to Facebook, Twitter and other networks, a trend that will continue in 2015. The question is: Is that a good thing? The prospect of growing legions of washing machines, smoke alarms and Nike FuelBands spitting out Facebook posts isn’t exactly something to get excited about.

The challenge in 2015 becomes how to more intelligently integrate the fast-growing Internet of Things with social media. In short, smart devices need to improve their social intelligence. This might start with tapping users’ social graph – their unique network of friends and followers – in better ways. A very simple example: a smart fridge that tracks your Facebook Events, sees you’re planning a party and how many people have RSVP’d and alerts you to make a beer run. By listening to social media in more sophisticated ways – tracking users’ activities and interactions with friends and followers, then responding accordingly – smart devices stand to get even smarter in the year ahead.

The illusion of social media privacy gives way to the real thing

2014 saw a number of anonymous and ephemeral social networks – Snapchat, Secret, Whisper, Yik Yak and Telegram, to name a few – surge in popularity. Not everyone wants every conversation over social media broadcast to the world, after all. At the same time, savvy users are increasingly aware – and concerned – about ways personal data is being collected and later sold to advertisers, manipulated in tests or accessed by government agencies.

The problem is that few of these “private” networks fulfill their mandates.Snapchat has been hacked, repeatedly, with hundreds of thousands of sensitive – supposedly disappearing – user photos posted on the Internet. And in October, it was revealed that the anonymous network Whisper wasactually saving users’ posts and locations and compiling this information in a searchable database. As Venture Beat points out, real anonymity and privacy on the Internet is extremely difficult to achieve. While it’s easy to make promises, it’s nearly impossible to deliver.

But demand for anonymous social media will only get bigger in 2015. In fact, there are signs that even the major players are beginning to acknowledge the issue. In October, Facebook rolled out its new chat app Rooms, which allows users to create chat rooms around shared interests, with no requirement to reveal name or location. Meanwhile in November, Facebook became the first Silicon Valley tech giant to provide official support for Tor, the powerful, open-source anonymizing service – popular among journalists, political dissidents and law enforcement – that allows users to conceal their identity, location and browsing history.

  Ryan Holmes   Ryan HolmesRyan is Hootsuite’s CEO. He is a regular contributor to outlets such as Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and LinkedIn’s Influencer. He writes about social      media, technology trends, and entrepreneurialism.

What’s in a Name? Monday, Nov 17 2014 

Secrets of Crafting Memorable Brand Names
Brand naming expert David Placek reveals how he helps companies around the world select their one-of-a-kind monikers.

A Reposting of a GREAT Article!

Intel’s Pentium processor was brilliant. So was the Swiffer mop. Crafting those memorable names is all in a day’s work for David Placek, founder and president ofLexicon Branding, a Sausalito, California, firm that develops and evaluates brand names for companies around the world. He’s been at it for 32 years, and though he admits the business has gotten tougher, he never tires of working with brands.

Like many who master their craft, Placek has boiled his process down to a formula. It always starts with discussing the company’s goals and ends with a list of about 10 names that have been crafted, tested, and vetted by a small team of researchers.


I first heard about Lexicon on StartUp podcast, a show that chronicles the startup experience of Alex Blumberg as he tries to build a podcasting network. Lexicon came up with the company’s new name, Gimlet Media, and it was the one that made Blumberg finally feel official. The naming process intrigued me so much, I decided to learn what happens when a company asks Placek for help. Here’s what he said, which was nothing I would have expected.

Telegraphing an Attitude

When a client comes to Placek, he starts by asking what the company hopes to achieve. “And that’s where we’ll typically get into their beliefs and their attitudes,” he explains, “which is really important when creating a product name or when you’re creating a corporate name.”

What Placek hopes to discover, he continues, is “what roles the name has to play.” For a product, that might mean appealing to shoppers, while a corporate name is usually “multi-dimensional,” selling a product to consumers as well as investors.

Above all, Placek says, he wants to know how the name will play in the marketplace, or as he puts it, “what the future looks like from the client’s perspective.” Will it be disruptive, aggressive, or timid? This is what sets the agenda.

After gathering this info, Placek and his team begin tracking the competition to see “what territory on the map they have already occupied.” Such research also helps to “investigate the messaging around the competition” and how it’s perceived, since any hole in a strategy might be used in the client’s favor.

Of course there are times, like the case of Swiffer, when Lexicon works with companies who are developing an entirely new category. “Swiffer for Procter & Gamble wasn’t a mop, it was an emerging category of highly efficient cleaning tools,” says Placek. But he used mops and paper towels as a reference point.

Placek likens the research to putting together a landscape, or “mapping out the topography.” In knowing the competition, he says, he can brief the small creative teams who will take on the project and begin working toward his two principles:differentiation in the marketplace and “telegraphing an attitude.”

“If you’re not different, people aren’t going to take a look at you,” Placek says. “We’re all creatures of habit, we all have our own preferences.” The challenge is creating a habit for new products. If you’ve always used Johnson & Johnson sponge mops, for example, “we somehow have to do something that is different for you to conclude this [new thing] is something better,” Placek says, “and not just new, but better. We buy better around the world, even in very less industrialized countries.”

Staying Culturally Correct

Once the competitive layout is mapped, Placek begins briefing his creative teams, whose size depends on the project. But there’s a catch: “We don’t give all the same information to all the teams, because we’re after a richness” of ideas, he says. After running through several “creative cycles” internally, the teams examine the names they’ve come up with and whittle down lists using previous research with consumers across several categories. Linguists help research the names’ sound and structure.

After that, Placek has somewhere between 75 and 100 names, which go through legal clearance for trademark issues. “These days, with all the trademark clutter, we’ll put in 100 names and only get 20, argue about those, and end up with 10,” he says. “Those are the ones we take to the client and present to them, along with our rationale, which is about the creative goals, the ideal standards we set, then the legal report on those names.”

Usually, a name is selected, which will be vetted further from a language and a legal, or trademark, standpoint, he says. Rarely does a company settle on a name immediately.

Over the years, Placek has tweaked this approach to trends in the marketplace. “We live in a global world now because of the internet,” so “we added more linguists to our teams, and more of what we call a linguistic structure.” In fact, Placek has a network of linguists in 43 countries. “If we’re doing business, we care about the attitude toward that business,” he adds. If he’s working with a coffee client, he wants to know whether coffee is viewed as a luxury or a form of energy in the business’s country. “We get much more of a global perspective before we begin.”

Trademarks are also important, Placek says, noting he expanded his legal team years ago. Lexicon works with “millions of trademarks,” so it “started licensing search engines that have the right algorithms to find the right concepts; then we decided, ‘Well, let’s hire someone to do this.’ Then, along the way, we hired another person, then another. Now we have a department of people headed by a trademark attorney.”

Each year, Placek estimates, between 100 to 150,000 names are added to those databases, though he admits that number’s conservative. “We’re still staring at the same alphabet,” but when it comes to the name, “well, we want to be different and capture certain things about the company in the name, so it becomes very difficult,” he says.

Even letters must look distinctive. “Some are round and full; others are narrow and slim,” Placek offers. “For a weight-loss drug, I wouldn’t rely on big, full letters like Oand U. I’d think about slimmer letters–B rather a U; I or a T rather than an L or a U. We want to make sure that we start linguistically with something that’s lean and slim.” He adds, “getting at the cultural issues is harder.”

2 New Tricks for Hiring Tech Talent Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

There’s a war for tech talent. Here’s how you can get creative about finding and training coding ninjas.

Jessica Stillman


Talk to any entrepreneur looking to hire technical talent and they’ll tell you its insanely tough out there, with companies facing a dire shortage of trained engineering and design talent.

Sure, you could always steal the competition’s talent, or look abroad for salvation. But both approaches have obvious costs. So as we’ve reported here before some businesses are trying a third way: growing their own tech talent through apprentice style programs.

Video gaming-focused media company IGN, for instance, is augmenting its traditional recruiting for the second year in a row with a “no resumes allowed” alternative. Their Code-Foo program selects participants by setting hopefuls up with online coding challenges and asking for a statement of passion about the company. Those that succeed aren’t asked to produce diplomas and sit for endless interviews. Instead, IGN brings them to a six-week training boot camp. If an individual impresses, he or she gets a job—without ever having to say a word about their work history or educational background.

So how did that work out last year? “We ended up with 30 people,” Roy Bahat, the president of IGN, told Inc.com. “Our guys thought we were going to hire one or two—a third of them didn’t even go to college, a third had non-technical degrees. These were not the people you would have even interviewed on the basis of their resumes. And then lo and behold, a third of them were meeting our bar and the best of them were running laps around much more ‘qualified’ candidates. We were thrilled.” Ten were hired and Bahat says, “on average they’ve worked out better than hires from a traditional hiring process. The best few are among our highest potential talent.”


Code-Foo and other training schemes outside of the academy aren’t just a good bet for smaller companies looking to recruit, but also something Bahat sees as having larger social benefits. “One of my personal passions is teaching young people coding skills because I think that it is the fastest path towards not just economically rewarding work but creatively rewarding work. It’s not as hard as people make it out to be—it’s like being an auto mechanic of the 21st century,” he said. IGN is accepting applications for Code Foo until April 30.

Meanwhile, online marketplace Etsy isn’t just trying to nurture tech talent in general, but female tech talent in particular. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Marc Hedlund, Etsy’s vice president of engineering, noticed that in his career he’s hired men by the hundreds but only a handful of women. To even out the gender balance, the company is hosting the summer 2012 session of Hacker School at its New York City headquarters and offering women who want to participate $5,000 grants to help them support themselves while they learn to be code ninjas.

“Our goal is to bring 20 women to New York to participate, and we hope this will be the first of many steps to encourage more women into engineering at Etsy and across the industry,” Hedlund commented. Which is a good thing, as so far only one woman has participated in Hacker School since its founding last year.

7 Reasons to Start Something Really Audacious Today Wednesday, Nov 12 2014 

Today is a great day to begin working on something that will make a difference. Here are just the reasons you’ve been looking for.



This quote often attributed to Goethe (a statue of him is pictured above) has always been a key inspiration: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

I know you are already busy. And the idea of starting a big new project when you are near capacity seems foolish, especially with the holidays just around the corner. But sometimes the opportunity comes and you have to capitalize now–for tomorrow may not be an option.

I made just such a commitment today with this column. Instead of writing three times a week, I have committed to at least a column per day for the next year. I intend to create better, more interesting content–yes, I know you will be the judge–and lots more of it. I understand that writing roughly 20,000 words per month may not be audacious to some, but to achieve it without sacrificing my current responsibilities or lifestyle, I must change the way I do everything in my life.

If you have been thinking of an accomplishment or challenge that you know is important, today is as good a day as any to start. Here are the seven reasons that inspired me to do it. Maybe they will inspire you as well.

1. It will advance your preferred future.

The future will happen either with your input or without. Of course you can’t control what will happen, but you can have some influence. More writing is the path that will increase my engagement with the business community and ultimately result in a better lifestyle and impact.

Start a project today that gets you closer to your life goals.

2. It will help you prioritize.

There are many things you and I both do every day that are simply not important. I am not suggesting you eliminate necessary relaxing time or entertainment. Instead, the need to do something important will allow you to edit out only those activities that do not serve you best during the day.

Start a project today that gets you motivated to reduce meaningless activity.

3. It will refine your productivity.

I am as good as anybody at procrastination or constant distraction. This big writing commitment forces me to build better work habits so I can maximize my time and not be distracted. I now have to schedule everything and make choices, which shows me I had more time than I originally believed.

Start a project today that inspires you to organize and manage time better.

4. It will improve your efficiency.

There are many things I do during the day that take longer than they should. I now analyze every process to see how I can do it better and faster. It used to take me hours to write a meaningful column. With some advance planning and better work habits, I can now create something meaningful in much less time.

Start a project today that inspires you to examine how you can give yourself more time with greater output.

5. It will give you something new to talk about.

At nearly 50, even I get tired of telling the same stories, let alone hearing them. A big project like this helps you learn new ideas and share them with your friends. This decision has started a flurry of new conversation in my circle.

Start a project today that instigates new learning and conversation among your peers.

6. It will open new and exciting doors.

I am grateful for all of you, my loyal subscribers and readers. Producing more columns motivated me to engage more with my social media and followers. Already the conversations are yielding new and interesting discussions and opportunities.

Start a project today that creates new possibilities where few existed before.

7. It will inspire others.

Since I committed to this new objective, several people have told me they have also decided to do something bold and audacious. I am of course not responsible for their achievements, but I take great satisfaction in being the seed of thought that they will take forward. Who knows how they might actually better the world!

Start a project today that inspires others to follow their dreams and take action today.

From Garbage To Gourmet: Fixing SEO Content Strategies Friday, Nov 7 2014 

on April 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

photo of Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is Chief Marketing Curmudgeon and President at Portent, Inc, a firm he started in 1995. Portent is a full-service internet marketing company whose services include SEO, SEM and strategic consulting


Tell me if you’ve heard this one before:

Site Owner: I want to rank higher in the search engines!

SEO: OK, you’ll need to fix a few things…
produces a list

SEO: And you’ll need to start a content strategy. That means 10-20 pages of new content per month, minimum, plus work to promote it.

Site Owner: OKAY! I’m on it.
Site owner goes away.

Two months later:

Site Owner: SEO, you totally ripped me off. I haven’t seen any improvement in my rankings.

SEO: Did you make all the changes?

Site Owner: Yes.

SEO: Did you start work on the content?

Site Owner: Yes.

SEO: Can I see?

Site Owner shows SEO their site. It has 70 pages of new articles.

SEO: Wow, that’s great… Wait a minute. This article is only 150 words. And the author used the wrong ‘your’ five times. And this article is almost identical to these other five…

Site Owner: So?


SEO: Well, this isn’t exactly great content.

Site Owner: Hey, you told me to get new content. You didn’t say anything about great content!

Search Engines Aren’t Garbage Disposals

I suspect that most people see search engines as a sort of content garbage disposals. You feed them a random assortment of leftovers, hard-to-identify and vaguely smelly things, and the occasional rotten egg in one end, there are some grinding and crunching sounds, and you’re all set.

Well, they’re not garbage disposals.

Half of SEO is a long list of things you must do to make yourself visible, help search engines classify your content, etc..

But, in the pre- and now more importantly, post- Panda world, the other half of SEO is all about differentiating yourself from competitors with great, unique information.

You know… Marketing.

No More Garbage

You have to stop serving garbage to your visitors, and to search engines. Here’s a couple ideas to get you started:

  1. Write stuff that hasn’t been written before. There are already 999,999 articles about SEO and title tags. Try something else, or a new spin on your topic.
  2. Be interesting. Put some thought into how the article is put together. Use visuals where it helps. Use humor, even.
  3. Hire quality writers to write quality stuff.
  4. Ask your visitors and customers what they’d like to read. Then write it.
  5. Follow production best practices. Use good line spacing and typography. Place subheads to organize your story and make it easier to scan. A 500-word article vomited onto the page with zero formatting makes it look like you don’t care. If you don’t care, you don’t deserve to rank.
  6. Brainstorm and maintain a list of headlines you can assign to writers.
  7. Assign target topics and phrases to specific pages on your site. Think through how you’ll interlink new content with those pages to build authority.
  8. Integrate content into your site. You probably won’t make much progress if you hang a bunch of lousy articles off your site like some kind of growth. Content has to be in the flow of a normal visitor’s movement through the site.

In short: think about it. Make content strategy part of your overall Internet marketing strategy and invest in it. You can’t outsource your writing to eLance for $5 per article and expect progress. Nor can you somehow automate or fake your way into the rankings. Yes, there are always the lucky few who manage it. But it’s not the norm.

But It’s Hard/Expensive/Time-Consuming!

I know, huh? If you want to gain a top ranking, you have to work for it, and invest, and really dedicate yourself to it.

But have some perspective: 20 years ago, the minimum required to reach a national audience was $250,000, a fantastic sales letter and a lot of luck. Now, you can reach a national audience with a well-coded website, one decent writer and a good idea. That’s nothing short of miraculous.

So switch your content strategy from garbage to gourmet. It’s worth the effort.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

5 things I learned from one of Portland’s most bustling startups Monday, Nov 3 2014 

Re-post from Staff Reporter-Portland Business JournalEmail  |  Twitter


Treehouse learning mission control, providing you with an overview of your current progress and total points earned at Treehouse.       https://teamtreehouse.com

Treehouse co-founder and CEO Ryan Carson spoke at the PDXedtech meetupTuesday night, and while we are pretty familiar with what the company is doing — particularly with its efforts with Code Oregon— there were still interesting takeaways.

The company is up to 75 employees, 20 of them are in its headquarters in northeast Portland, and it’s serving 91,000 students. Also, the company is profitable.

Treehouse sees itself as an online trade school. That means the company’s mission is to get students jobs.


Students are typically between 20 and 40 years old. Many are underemployed and view the Treehouse training as steps to a better job.

Carson highlighted a recent student who went from working retail in Portland to landing a job at the startup OpenSesame.

Here’s are some more pieces of knowledge that Carson dropped:

  1. Treehouse launched a beta program that aims to guarantee job placement for students who are deemed by the company to be job ready. Treehouse Careers has an online application where the company gets to know more a student and what kind of job they want. The student is then served with a dashboard with a to-do to put them on track for the job they want. Part of this process includes some written components, so Treehouse recruiting staff can determine a student’s communication abilities. There is also a project component to gauge how well a student works on a team. If everything is met and the student is deemed job ready, the company will work to place them in a job
  2. The company made headlines last year when it announced that it was removing managers from its organizational structure. There are the top level executives and then everyone else, Carson said. The move came when the company employed 50 people (it now employs 75), and it required a new way to communicate. “It was total chaos,” Carson said of the time immediately following the move. The current communications tools, mainly email didn’t work. So the company built an internal tool called Canopy, which operates like a public Gmail account that everyone can see and contribute. That way information isn’t siloed into any one person’s inbox. For its more private conversations, the team uses the messaging tool HipChat.
  3. Treehouse is closed on Fridays. The team works four, eight-hour days and all the work is able to get done. Carson said this can happen because the company has a culture of non-interruption. Conversations happen on HipChat and people can stay focused on what they do. He noted this tends to mean they have a pretty quiet office.
  4. For now the four-day work week and the no-manager policy works for the company, but Carson acknowledged that it might be that way forever.
  5. Luck has played a role in Treehouse’s development so far. Carson noted that he unknowingly built really strong network and became the center of a community of technologists with an earlier company. That company did code training workshops around the country and it was early on in the Web 2.0 movement, he noted at that point you could actually email Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and he would email back. Based on this community he was a part of, when it came time for Treehouse to raise money, he had the right contacts.

Why Baby Boomers aren’t fun! Monday, Nov 3 2014 

Fat wall stree banker being carried by Uncle Sam   B1iKL6yIgAAE_sk

Source: http://facthat.com/site/post/721/1

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.

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