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The Success of Your Business Starts with You!

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Let’s be honest. Being a great leader isn’t easy. As in an effective, inspiring, well-respected leader for your company.

The good news is that we’ve compiled this list of awesome, actionable leadership tips that will have you running your business…like a boss — a good one. Some are relatively basic but are important reminders. Others, well, perhaps you’ve never considered before.

Consider these tips when upping your leadership game:

1. Lead by example.
Leaders need to show, not just tell. If you want your employees to be punctual, make sure you’re there on time — or even early. If professionalism is a priority, make sure you’re dressed for success, and treat everyone you interact with (both in-person and online) with courtesy. Set the tone and your employees will follow it.

 

2. A little humility goes a long way.
There’s a difference between a leader and a boss. While both are in charge, a leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Your employees will appreciate it, and your clients will, too.

 

3. Communicate effectively.
Effective communication is imperative, both in the office and in life. Great leaders make sure they are heard and understood, but they also know the importance of listening. Communication is a two-way street, and making the most of it will have your company zooming forward instead of pumping the breaks.

 

4. Keep meetings productive.
As the saying goes, time is money. So, of course, you should want to limit tangents and other time wasters during meetings. If you trust your team to do their job, there should be no need for micromanaging, and meetings can run swiftly.

 

5. Know your limits.
Even the kindest, most caring leader has limits. Set your boundaries and stick to them. Knowing what you will not tolerate can save everyone in the office a lot of frustration, and keeping boundaries clear means there’s no confusion.

 

6. Find a mentor.
No man is an island, as they say. The best leaders out there know when they need help, and they know where to turn to in order to get it. Nobody can know everything, so finding someone you trust for advice when things get tough can make all of the difference.

 

7. Be emotionally aware.
While many people advise keeping emotions separate from matters of business, business is ultimately about relationships between people. To make these relationships last, you need to be emotionally intelligent — to be sensitive to different points of view and different backgrounds. When using your head to do what’s best for your company, don’t forget to have a heart.

8. Watch out for (and avoid) common pitfalls of leadership.
Everyone makes mistakes, but some of them are avoidable. Being aware of common mistakes, while not focusing on them to the point that they become self-fulfilling prophecies, can be the first step toward not repeating them.

 

9. Learn from the past.
To once again quote an adage, those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. History, recent and otherwise, is filled with examples of successful business models and spectacular business failures. Think about what the people you admire do well, and consider what went wrong for those who end their careers mired in scandal or disgrace. Lessons can be found everywhere.

 

10. Never stop improving.
Great leaders — indeed, great people — are constantly learning and always trying to improve themselves. There’s always something that you can work on or a new skill to master. Be sure to keep your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.

 

Have you tried any of these? What was the outcome? What is the best leadership advice you can share? Feel free to comment them below!

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Avoid these scams to trade safely with Bitcoin

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Bitcoin – the possible Pandora’s Box of the currency world – has never been short of controversy. Whether it be aiding the black market or scamming users out of millions, bitcoin is no stranger to the front page.

Still, the jury is out on the legality and usefulness of bitcoin – leaving it in a proverbial grey area. However, there have been several legitimate bitcoin scams that have become infamous – but, what are the top 7 bitcoin scams? And how can you avoid them?

What Is a Bitcoin Scam?

For most cases, it may be pretty obvious what a scam is – but with bitcoin, things become murkier. Bitcoin itself is an unregulated form of currency that essentially is a mere number that is only given value because of an agreement. It’s basically like a moneybag with a lock on it – the code of which is given to the recipient of the bitcoin (an analogy drawn by Forbes in 2017).

Bitcoin scams have been famously criminal and public in nature. With no bank as a middleman in exchange, things become more complicated; so hackers and con men have had a heyday.

Top 7 Bitcoin Scams

There have been (and undoubtedly will be) nearly countless bitcoin scams, but these frauds make the list of the top 7 worst bitcoin scams to date. Take note.

1. Malware Scams

Malware has long been the hallmark of many online scams. But with cryptocurrency, it poses an increased threat given the nature of the currency in and of itself.

Recently, a tech support site called Bleeping Computer issued a warning about cryptocurrency-targeting malware in hopes of saving customers from sending cryptocoins via transactions, reported Yahoo Finance.

“This type of malware, called CryptoCurrency Clipboard Hijackers, works by monitoring the Windows clipboard for cryptocurrency addresses, and if one is detected, will swap it out with an address that they control,” wrote Lawrence Abrahams, computer forensics and creator of Bleeping Computer.

The malware, CryptoCurrency Clipboard Hijackers (which reportedly manages 2.3 million bitcoin addresses) switches addresses used to transfer cryptocoin with ones the malware controls – thus transferring the coins to the scammers instead. And, according to Asia Times, even MacOS malware has been connected to malware scams involving cryptocurrency investors using trusted sites like Slack and Discord chats – coined “OSX.Dummy.”

2. Fake Bitcoin Exchanges – BitKRX

Surely one of the easiest ways to scam investors is to pose as an affiliate branch of a respectable and legitimate organization. Well, that’s exactly what scammers in the bitcoin field are doing.

South Korean scam BitKRX presented itself as a place to exchange and trade bitcoin, but was ultimately fraudulent. The fake exchange took on part of the name of the real Korean Exchange (KRX), and scammed people out of their money by posing as a respectable and legitimate cryptocurrency exchange.

BitKRX claimed to be a branch of the KRX, a creation of KOSDAQ, South Korean Futures Exchange, and South Korean Stock Exchange, according to Coin Telegraph.

BitKRX used this faux-affiliation to ensnare people to use their system. The scam was exposed in 2017.

3. Ponzi Scheme – MiningMax

“Ponzi bitcoin scam” has got to be the worst combination of words imaginable for financial gurus. And, the reality is just as bad.

Several organizations have scammed people out of millions with Ponzi schemes using bitcoins, including South Korean website MiningMax. The site, which was not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, promised to provide investors with daily ROI’s in exchange for an original investment and commission from getting others to invest (basically, a Ponzi scheme). Apparently, the site was asking people to invest $3,200 for daily ROI’s over two years, and a $200 referral commission for every personally recruited investor, reports claim.

MiningMax’s domain was privately registered in mid-2016, and had a binary compensation structure. The fraudulent crypto-currency scam was reported by affiliates, resulting in 14 arrests in Korea in December of 2017.

Korea has long been a leader in technological developments – bitcoin is no exception. However, after recent controversy, it seems as though this is changing.

“But a lot of governments are looking at this very carefully,” Yoo Byung-joon, business administration professor at Seoul National University and co-author of the 2015 research paper “Is Bitcoin a Viable E-Business?: Empirical Analysis of the Digital Currency’s Speculative Nature,” told South China Morning Post in January. “Some are even considering putting their currencies on the blockchain system. The biggest challenge facing bitcoin now is the potential for misuse, but that’s true of any new technology.”

4. Fake Bitcoin Scam – My Big Coin

A classic (but no less dubious) scam involving bitcoin and cryptocurrency is simply, well, fake currency. One such arbiter of this faux bitcoin was My Big Coin. Essentially, the site sold fake bitcoin. Plain and simple.

In early 2018, My Big Coin, a cryptocurrency scam that lured investors into sinking an alleged $6 million, was sued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, according to a CFTC case filed in late January.

The CFTC case further details that the suit was due to “commodity fraud and misappropriation related to the ongoing solicitation of customers for a virtual currency known as My Big Coin (MBC),” further charging the scam with “misappropriating over $6 million from customers by, among other things, transferring customer funds into personal bank accounts, and using those funds for personal expenses and the purchase of luxury goods.”

Among other things, the site fraudulently claimed that the coin was being actively traded on several platforms, and even mislead investors by claiming it was also partnered with MasterCard, according to the CFTC case.

Those sued included Randall Carter, Mark Gillespie and the My Big Coin Pay, Inc.

5. ICO Scam – Bitcoin Savings and Trust and Centra Tech

Still other scammers have used ICO’s – initial coin offerings – to dupe users out of their money.

Along with the rise in blockchain-backed companies, fake ICOs became popular as a way to back these new companies. However, given the unregulated nature of bitcoin itself, the door has been wide open for fraud.

Most ICO frauds have taken place through getting investors to invest in or through fake ICO websites using faulty wallets, or by posing as real cryptocurrency-based companies.

Notably, $32 million Centra Tech garnered celebrity support (most famously from DJ Khaled), but was exposed for ICO fraud back in April of 2018, according to Fortune. The company was sued for misleading investors and lying about products, among other fraudulent activities.

The famous DJ wrote his support in a caption on Instagram back in 2017.

“I just received my titanium centra debit card. The Centra Card & Centra Wallet app is the ultimate winner in Cryptocurrency debit cards powered by CTR tokens!” Khaled wrote.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission even issued a warning in 2017 about ICO scams and faux investment opportunities, brought on by a slew of celebrities who promoted certain ICOs (like Paris Hilton and Floyd Mayweather Jr. to name a few).

“Any celebrity or other individual who promotes a virtual token or coin that is a security must disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion,” the SEC wrote in an Investor Alert in 2017. “A failure to disclose this information is a violation of the anti-touting provisions of the federal securities laws.”

Another example is Bitcoin Savings and Trust, which was fined $40.7 million in 2014 by the SEC for creating fake investments and using a Ponzi scheme to scam investors. According to Coin Telegraph, Trenton Shavers, the organization’s leader, allegedly scammed investors into giving him 720,000 bitcoins promising a 7% weekly interest on investments – which he then used to pay back old investors and even fill his personal bank accounts.

6. Bitcoin Gold Scam – mybtgwallet.com

Nothing catches the eye of the naïve quite like the promise of gold – bitcoin gold, of course.

That is exactly what mybtgwallet.com did to unsuspecting bitcoin investors.

According to CNN, the bitcoin gold (BTG) wallet duped investors out of $3.2 million in 2017 by promising to allow them to claim their bitcoin gold. The website allegedly used links on a legitimate website (Bitcoin Gold) to get investors to share their private keys or seeds with the scam, as this old screenshot from the website shows.

Before the scam was done, the website managers (slash scammers) was able to get their hands on $107,000 worth of bitcoin gold, $72,000 of litecoin, $30,000 of ethereum, and $3 million of bitcoin, according to CNN.

Bitcoin Gold, the site’s wallet used in the scam, began investigating shortly after, but the site remains controversial. Still, firm released a warning to bitcoin investors.

“It’s worth reminding everyone that it will never be truly safe to enter your private key or mnemonic phrase for a pre-existing wallet into any online website,” Bitcoin Gold wrote. “When you want to sweep new coins from a pre-fork wallet address, best practice is the same as after other forks: Send your old coins to a new wallet first, before you expose the private keys of the original wallet. Following this basic rule of private key management greatly reduces your risk of theft.”

7. Pump and Dump Scam

While this type of scam is certainly not relegated to just bitcoin (thank you for the education, “The Wolf of Wall Street”), a pump-and-dump scam is especially dangerous in the internet space.

The basic idea is that investors hype up (or “pump up”) a certain bitcoin – that is usually an alternative coin that is very cheap but high risk – via investor’s websites, blogs, or even Reddit, according to The Daily Dot. Once the scammers pump up a certain bitcoin enough, skyrocketing its value, they cash out and “dump” their bitcoin onto the naïve investors who bought into the bitcoin thinking it was the next big thing.

Bittrex, a popular bitcoin exchange site, released a set of guidelines to avoid bitcoin pump-and-dump scams.

While “stackin’ penny stocks” may sound like an appealing way to earn an extra buck (thanks to its glamorization by Jordan Belfort), messing in bitcoin scams is nothing to smirk at.

How to Avoid Bitcoin Scams

With the inevitable rise of bitcoin in current and coming years, it is becoming increasingly important to understand and be on the lookout for bitcoin scams that could cost you thousands.

There is no one formula to avoiding being scammed, but reading up on the latest bitcoin red flags, keeping information private, and double checking sources before investing in anything are good standard procedures that may help save you from being duped. After all, knowledge is power.

 

Have you ever encountered one of these lately? Let us know your stories by commenting below.

Bank Admits Cryptocurrency May be a Threat to their Industry

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Cryptocurrencies pose a competitive threat to Bank of America’s business, the company said in a regulatory filing Thursday.

“Clients may choose to conduct business with other market participants who engage in business or offer products in areas we deem speculative or risky, such as cryptocurrencies,” the bank said. Such increased competition may “negatively affect our earnings” or affect “the willingness of our clients to do business with us.”

The comments were part of an annual 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about the bank’s operations and business risks. The bank said it had no further comment.

Bank of America’s filing added that widespread adoption of new technologies in financial services, including cryptocurrencies, “could require substantial expenditures” in order to adapt to evolving industry standards and consumer preferences.

Popular interest in digital currencies has taken off in the last several months, helping send bitcoin from less than $1,000 at the beginning of 2017 to a high above $19,000 in mid-December. The surge of interest led to the launch of bitcoin futures by CME, the largest futures exchange, and its competitor, Cboe, in December as well. Bitcoin was trading well off its record highs Friday, at around $10,000.

However, Bank of America has not embraced the rise of interest in cryptocurrencies. The firm’s Merrill Lynch wealth management arm banned its roughly 17,000 financial advisors from buying bitcoin-related investments for clients. The bank also said earlier this month that customers cannot use its credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies.

The SEC filing also noted that digital currencies limit the bank’s ability to track movement of funds and comply with laws such as anti-money laundering regulation.

Theoretically, the blockchain technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is a threat to the existence of major financial firms. Blockchain eliminates the need for a third-party intermediary like a bank by creating an instant, permanent and secure record of transactions.

The development of cryptocurrency trading so far has seen the emergence of a new industry with rapidly growing businesses such as exchanges like Coinbase and bitcoin “mining” companies like Bitmain.

Meanwhile, Bank of America has been quietly researching blockchain technology, as are other major banks.

The company has more than 70 patents that can incorporate applications of blockchain, and several dozen other patents for “digital wallets,” means of authentication and other processes needed to apply the technology in banking and commerce, according to David Pratt, managing director at Mcam-International. The firm maintains an archive of patent-related documents in 160 countries.

 

Do you agree that cryptocurrency is a threat to the banking industry? Share us your thoughts by commenting below! 

Social Media CEO Reverses Decision On Website Ban

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Facebook is reversing its ban on cryptocurrency advertisements and will now allow some preapproved advertisers to promote crypto businesses and services, like exchanges.

Facebook banned all crypto ads on the service back in January, around the height of the bitcoin price surge, to prevent people from promoting “financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”

Now, advertisers that are approved by Facebook through an application process can promote crypto products, though ads promoting binary options and ICOs, initial coin offerings, are still banned. Interested advertisers may have to show Facebook “licenses they have obtained, whether they are traded on a public stock exchange, and other relevant public background on their business” in order to receive permission to run crypto ads.

The crypto bubble has declined considerably since late 2017, when the price of bitcoin was close to $20,000. (This morning, it’s just above $6,000 per coin.) That sudden rise in crypto created a mad dash by consumers who wanted in on the craze, and some shady businesses were trying to capitalize by promoting scams, hence the ban by Facebook. Others like Google, Twitter and Snapchat also banned crypto ads.

But crypto still has a lot of believers, and it easy to see why Facebook wants to sell crypto ads: It’s a growing, exciting industry with a lot of potential advertisers. So long as Facebook’s users aren’t getting scammed, the company would certainly love to take on the extra ad revenue.

Plus, Facebook seems to think the crypto craze is at least somewhat legit. The company started its own internal blockchain team earlier this year to explore the technology that’s used as the foundation for all cryptocurrencies. It seems likely that Facebook will take a hard look at cryptocurrencies in the process.

 

Which do you think is better: allowing or banning Cryptocurrency from social media? We would love to know what you think, so comment below!

How to be Successful

If you want to achieve a higher level of success in life, you need to be intentional–it’s not just going to happen. Start by taking advice from more than two dozen executives who credit simple daily routines for helping them rise to the top.

 The Worlds Most Successful Leaders Share These 10 Traits-v2

  1. Start your day with what matters most.

“I have made it a daily practice to eat breakfast with my son. Landon and I wake up early each weekday to cook and eat breakfast together. This time together has become a favorite way to connect daily. Sometimes my son won’t stop talking. Sometimes we eat in silence. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes I set off the smoke alarm. No matter the drama, I cherish this daily ritual. This high-quality interaction grounds me to what matters most in my life, helps me snack less, and supports better decision making throughout my day by keeping my family front and center in my mind. [Also,] don’t let road trips stop you–Facetime can help keep your commitment alive and well.”

 

–Aaron Meyers, president and CCO of Hammer and Nails, a grooming shop for men with the brand having awarded licenses for nearly 300 shops and is working to have 250 locations open and operating by 2022

 

  1. Look for ways to be 1 percent better every day.

“The key to building a better business or becoming a better version of yourself rests in making small, continuous improvements every single day. Instead of incorporating drastic changes in a short amount of time, focus on making something 1 percent better from the day before. That’s it, just 1 percent. It doesn’t sound like much, but those small improvements will start compounding, and that will gradually lead to the change you want. In time, you will start to see improvements in your business and in your life, and all it takes is a commitment to become just a little bit better every day.”

 

–Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, North America’s largest retail travel agency franchise, which opened 25 new franchise locations with 1,773 new vacation consultants in 2017

 

  1. Run and work your brain.

“I start each morning with a run. Running activates a specific mindset and connects ideas in a sequential flow. It helps me dial in and focus my thoughts. You can’t establish this mentality in the office. Sitting at a desk with a pen and paper pad can only provide you with so much clarity. I’ve found that journaling a stream of unrelated thoughts does not aid problem-solving efforts. My best advice: run to uncover the best solution.”

 

–Shane Dunn, chief development officer of party bike brand Pedal Pub, which has over 40 licensed locations open and operating throughout the United States and aims to have 1,200 bikes operating by 2023

 

  1. Keep your friends close and your pets closer.

“The day-to-day of an office can be stressful and taxing. One way I combat that is by bringing my [dog] with me to work each day. Studies have shown that hosting your furry friends in the work space, reduces stress levels and creates a more positive environment. Your company’s perception is also boosted, softening its image and presenting as progressive, lively and forward-thinking. While business is serious, I feel sorry for those who don’t get to have fun at work.”

 

–Mike Whalen, founder of Heart of American Group which employs more than 3,500 people across more than 40 restaurants, hotels and other retail; and CEO of Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, an expanding restaurant franchise with 15 locations across nine states

 

  1. Minimize distractions.

“Start your day by setting clear priorities for yourself and then make a conscientious effort to minimize distractions. With leadership comes immense responsibility where the stress of not having enough hours in the day can become burdensome. With a few productivity hacks you can get creative to minimize distractions and maximize production. Limit the amount of small talk and conversations about current affairs, only check your email twice a day during scheduled times, screen your calls, and don’t be in a response mode all the time. Minor adjustments can help enhance your overall efficiency and benefit the entire team.”

 

–Mark Crossett, founder of Bin There Dump That, a residential friendly dumpster rental service that has reached 100 territories in the United States in less than ten years with plans to operate in 300 more territories in both the United States and Canada by 2028

 

  1. Leverage the knowledge of your team.

“To harness a diverse set of viewpoints and ideas, I always seek the input of employees to develop new initiatives or solve an issue. No matter what level an employee is at, listen to their ideas and ask for their opinion–their knowledge is our company’s most valuable asset. Hearing fresh perspectives and a variety of inputs is a great way to combat having a stale brand and leads to success in innovation and finding cutting-edge solutions. This also shows employees that they have a voice that is heard and matters, which elevates moral and gives them a true purpose within the workplace.”

 

–Dara Maleki, founder and CEO of The Pizza Press, a fast-casual, build-your-own pizza franchise with 17 locations in Southern California, Texas and Florida, with plans to have 30 restaurants opened by mid-2018

 

  1. Begin the day with a specific purpose.

“I’ve found that being busy all day doesn’t necessarily equate to getting things done. It’s easy to get caught up in the fire drills, meetings, and typical busy work that rule our professional lives, but the drawback is that at the end of the day, rather than feeling accomplished, we end up just feeling exhausted–and maybe a little frustrated that our to-do list went unchecked–again. Something I try to do every morning is begin the day with a specific purpose. When I have a clear vision of what I want to accomplish, I’m more likely to be able to cross at least one item off my list at the end of the day. And chances are good that I’ll stay on track with other priorities, as well. One of Stephen Covey’s seven habits is to ‘begin with the end in mind.’ That’s great advice for anyone who wants to remain focused despite daily obstacles.”

 

–Brad Hillier, CEO of Re-Bath, the largest complete bathroom remodeling franchise in the U.S. and named number six on Qualified Remodeler’s 2017 Top 500 list

 

  1. Recognize important moments in the lives of employees.

“Whether someone has a loved one who is sick or passed away, had a child graduate from high school or college, is celebrating the birth of a child or grandchild, or is getting married or remarried, I try to write a short personal handwritten note recognizing and expressing my sentiments–hopefully congratulations but sometimes sorrow and condolences–about what’s going on in their lives. I certainly don’t do this every day, but you need to have an everyday mindset about this if you are genuinely committed to it and if you want it to become part of your management style. As much as monetary recognition is meaningful to people, these personal notes are also very meaningful and greatly appreciated, and I think this has helped us develop the caring culture we have in our organization today.”

 

–Dan Tarantin, president and CEO of Harris Research, Inc., (HRI), the parent company of home service franchise brands Chem-Dry Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning and N-Hance Wood Renewal, with the former having added more than 80 units a year for six consecutive years and has averaged more than 100 per year over the past three years and the latter having averaged close to 90 units a year over the past five years, more than doubling its system size during that time period

 

  1. Commit to 30 minutes of exercise a day, no excuses.

“Whether it is in the morning to energize my day or at night to clear my head, I rely on this time as a mental reset. If I feel the need to jump start my day, a 30-minute workout gives me a feeling of accomplishment and puts me on the road to a productive day. If I need to reset my brain at the end of busy day a 30-minute walk or run allows me to relax my brain and think clearly on what I need to accomplish. I am a firm believer that the body fuels the mind.”

 

–Andrew Diamond, CFO and president of Angry Crab Shack, a full-service Cajun seafood restaurant brand which began franchising in 2017 and currently operates six corporate locations with one franchise location, with the goal of having 100 locations open and operating by 2023

 

  1. Start your day alone without distractions.

“It seems selfish but you have to start the day solo without distractions, meetings or phone calls which means the first couple hours of your day are all about you. This allows you to tackle key items that unlock accomplishment and opportunity for you and your team, as well as maximize what is usually the most potent decision-making time of the day–the morning. This allows you to guide the day, rather than it being taken over by random distractions. It’s all about focus.”

 

–Michael Abramson, president and co-owner of D1 Training, a company focused on creating, equipping and unleashing the next generation of athletes across the country, with system revenue increasing  more than 120 percent during the last annual fiscal cycle

 

  1. Feed your curiosity.

“Set aside some of your prime work time every day to read and learn about anything that interests you. Innovation comes from making connections other people don’t see. Some of Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic genius was the result of his study of anatomy, mechanics, and engineering–fields that aren’t often linked to art. I couldn’t have predicted how useful my background in cognitive psychology and behaviorism would be in my current work creating learning software, but almost anything I read can lead me to a new way of thinking about our business. Whether it’s books about presenting, negotiating, making war, influencing, statistics, language, history, or anything else, there’s something there to learn about how to work differently and make connections other people don’t see.”

 

–Hilary Scharton, VP of K-12 Product Strategy for Canvas by Instructure, an open online learning management system (LMS) which has connected millions of instructors and learners at more than 3,000 educational institutions and corporations throughout the world

 

  1. Only eat twice a day.

“The fewer small decisions I have to make, the more mental space I have for my business. This is why I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning at the same time. Instead of stressing daily about what to eat, I know exactly how my mornings will go because that decision has already been made. It’s one more thing off my busy plate. As an entrepreneur, I look for ways to systematize and optimize everything I do. Furthermore, when it comes to food, I only eat twice a day–in the mornings and evenings. Digestion takes energy, and the less energy I allocate to digestion the more mental energy I have for the rest of my day at work.”

 

–Francis Dinha, CEO of OpenVPN, a security-focused open source VPN protocol with over 50 million downloads since its inception

 

  1. Keep a handwritten to-do list.

“I’m sure lots of people do this, but I review and prioritize it daily, marking which items were important and in what order depending on time sensitivity. I have decided not to digitize my to-do list because the process of writing my list helped me think through each item’s relative importance and also committed them to memory. Having a physical notebook also allows me to review and adjust it anytime I’m waiting at an appointment or in between meetings easily. As I complete items, I get the satisfaction of crossing them out and seeing what had been accomplished. When there are more things to add or too many items crossed out, I rip out the old page and rewrite my to-list every few days, when I again assess the priority of the items I’m writing. If it’s been a few weeks or months when I see the same items, I drop them from the list because they clearly weren’t important enough relative to everything else. This habit helps keep me focused on what is truly needed for both short-term and long-term tasks and keeps me disciplined on ensuring items that don’t get my attention get handled another way or removed as a distraction.”

 

–Daisy Hernandez, global VP for SAP Labs (SAP Jam), who built an organization and team at SAP for a collaboration technology product with 51 million subscribers and over 2,600 customers, and has been recognized as SAP’s top talent for the last 10 years

 

  1. Take care of yourself.

“It’s not easy being a surgeon, as each day carries its different challenges. But having an amazing team filled with talented and effective individuals and making sure I take the time to take care of myself–these are the things that have led to my success. Maintaining a daily routine helps me balance my life. I wake up and go bed at decent hours, minimizing overall stress and the potential to overwork. I start my day off with a glass of grape juice, fruits and coffee, which give me the energy I need to stay alert throughout the day. On days I don’t have surgery, I’m training with my personal trainer at 5 a.m. before heading to the clinic. I work out three to five times per week, focusing on cardio, hot Pilates and weights (I always preach core training to my patients). Sometimes after work I attend business meetings, network, and spend time with my daughter, helping her with homework. While I’m always thinking of ways to keep myself as sharp as possible, I also recognize the importance of downtime, decompressing, and reflecting on all that I have already accomplished. Keeping a work-life balance can be difficult, but having a healthy mind and body makes it much easier. It has also undoubtedly made me more successful.”

 

–Dr. Raj, a Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine and joint replacement expert who has been featured on E!, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, BuzzFeed, TMZ and more for his medical commentary

 

  1. Make face-to-face connections.

“Always keep some time open on your calendar to connect with your team face to face. In my day-to-day, it is so easy to fill up every minute of my calendar given all the requests for my time. I think this is true for most executives. But I always keep a couple of open blocks to make sure I can respond quickly to items that need my attention on short notice. Those are also the times I use to recharge, connect with customers, or just walk around the office. I get a lot of energy from face-to-face engagement with our employees. There is a lot you can learn through ad-hoc check-ins that might not be revealed in scheduled meetings.”

 

–Mike Sullivan, CEO of Acquia, a digital experience company that was rated one of the hottest 100 private technology companies in cloud computing by Forbes Magazine and serves more than 3,500 customers globally

 

  1. Be a positive presence.

“Smile, say hello, and generally be a happy, friendly face. We’re all busy, stressed and focused on the task at hand. When it comes to making the most of meetings, I like to ensure my colleagues feel valued. I try to understand what they need, seek to be helpful, and, at all times, thank people for their time and effort. We always have enough time to say thank you. Remember that while we are all working hard, we’re all people. If in the course of a busy day someone needs a quick answer, or is stuck, making just five minutes of time can help another save hours. The gift of one person’s time can in turn help others give the gift of their time. So, take a moment and pay it forward.”

 

–Kevin Cochrane, CMO of SAP Customer Experience, a business unit of SAP which was named Germany’s most valuable brand in 2018

 

  1. Stay current on news, trends and tech developments.

“Every day for the last four decades, I’ve spent at least an hour scanning articles, ads, announcements, papers and videos, looking for new developments and improvements in hardware, software, algorithms, capacity, capability, and user experience. Getting in early on trends and new developments, in order take advantage of important technology changes, is a big part of entrepreneurial success. Advances in capacity, capability and speed, combined with rapidly improving economics, fuel my passion for building new products and companies.”

 

–Ken Gardner, founder and CEO of marketing analytics company conDati, and software industry veteran who has founded and led five analytics startups to successful exits

 

  1. Use psychological strength to succeed.

“Every day, I try my best to use psychological strength in order to succeed at my profession.This includes being tenacious, having a clear vision, identifying a niche and going all-in on an opportunity, creating a warm, family-like work atmosphere, eliminating negative self-talk, and always seeking that next challenge. I was fortunate to be raised by parents who made sure I understood that I was capable and intelligent enough to do anything I wanted, if I only put my mind to it. I always try and keep this in mind whenever I’m faced with a professional obstacle, whether that be trying to improve the business through marketing, new procedures, or restructuring and optimizing the flow systems of patient care.”

 

–Alexander Rivkin M.D., a Yale-trained facial cosmetic surgeon, an Assistant Clinical Professor at the David Geffen, UCLA School of Medicine, and the creator of Non-Surgical Rhinoplasty

 

  1. Leave your ego at the door.

“[My routine] starts with getting a good night’s sleep, seven to eight hours. I get up, work out for 15 minutes, meditate for 15 minutes, have a light, high-protein breakfast or smoothie, then go. This sets me up to come to work clear-minded and ready to support my teammates in our collective mission of alleviating suffering. When I get to my clinic, I leave my ego at the door. My central contribution to the achievement of our mission is not being too concerned about who gets the credit for our success. I want my teammates to shine. I offer support in all the ways that I can think of, and I ask for what support they would like. We support one another in identifying and letting go of whatever may get in the way of optimum performance. At the end of the day, we know we can accomplish anything with integrity and clear, honest communication.”

 

–Dr. Steven L. Mandel, a board-certified anesthesiologist with a master’s degree in psychology whose clinic–Ketamine Clinics of Los Angeles–specializes in the administration of ketamine to dramatically improve the quality of life of patients battling depression, suicidality, anxiety, other mood disorders, and chronic pain

 

  1. Juggle your business and personal priorities.

“To be successful in our always on-society, I advocate integrating work and life to ensure you are meeting your employer’s expectations as well as those from your family. My career (I love where I work and what I do) and my family (my wife and children are core to my success) are all very important to me. As a leader in the office and at home, this means that I may need to manage a personal matter in the middle of the day or navigate business-related activities in the evening. To make it all happen, I use my calendar extensively to prioritize commitments. As long as I don’t miss deadlines or important events–whether its quarterly company reporting or attending my son’s basketball game–I’m able to perform at my very best. This flexible approach to juggling business and personal priorities has been key to my success.”

 

–Eric Johnson, CEO of Nintex, an intelligent process automation company which recently announced Thoma Bravo as its new lead investor

 

  1. Take five minutes to reflect and build your mental muscles.

“Every evening, I reflect for five minutes before falling asleep. In my role, every day is busy but also completely different from the last. It’s important I take a step back and reflect on what was accomplished, what I learned from those new experiences, and what I can improve on next time. I encourage my team to do the same and take stock of what they were proud of that day or what they think could have gone better. Most importantly, this ritual is a chance to consider what we can do tomorrow to be a better person to others. Committing to this practice every day builds the muscle of calmness and gratefulness that positively impacts both your professional and personal lives.”

 

–Adnan Mahmud, founder and CEO of LiveStories, a platform that helps government agencies manage, visualize and publish data, a 2014 graduate of TechStars Seattle, and named to the GeekWire 200 as one of the fastest growing startups in the Pacific Northwest

 

  1. Plan tomorrow before going to bed tonight.

“Take the time at the end of the day to assimilate everything that happened that day, wrap up loose ends and have a clear game plan for the next day. This helps me sleep better and wake up ready to tackle the day right away. I was influenced early on by Stephen Covey’s classic ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ and per his advice, I try to have goals and daily plans for all my roles–at work, in the community and in my personal life.”

 

–Mary Pat Donnellon, CMO of CallRail, a provider of call tracking and analytics to more than 90,000 companies and marketing agencies in North America that received $75 million in funding last fall

 

  1. Block out time for your best thinking.

“Figure out what part of the day you are the most productive and block that time out for important work. During your less productive hours, you can use that time to read and respond to operational work and status reports. For me, my most productive hours are 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., so I often defensively schedule that time to work on tasks that require a high degree of concentration and do my best to ignore interruptions like emails and phone calls. I then spend mid-afternoon and my train-ride home on items that require attention or awareness on my part, but not my best thinking.”

 

–Nate Ulery, managing director at West Monroe Partners, a business/technology consulting firm which was recently named one of the country’s Best Workplaces in Consulting & Professional Services by consultancy Great Place to Work and Fortune

 

  1. Address issues as they happen.

“I always believe that it is best to deal with problems as they occur and not procrastinate through avoidance. An example would be issues that need to be corrected with team members. Deal with them professionally and rationally as they occur, use them as a learning experience and never surprise a team member in a quarterly or annual review. If there is a performance issue, it should have already been dealt with so that costly mistakes are not repeated.”

 

–Pete Baldine, president of Moran Family of Brands, a franchisor of general automotive repair, transmission repair, window tinting and driver safety products with more than 120 franchise locations across the country

 

  1. Record your top three most important tasks of the day.

“Many of us have commutes that take our thoughts in different directions, but sometimes we fail to capture or remember them. I find the early morning commute to be the best time to capture my most important to-dos for the day. When a business thought or task crosses my mind, I immediately record it no matter how trivial that it may be. Once I get to the office, I prioritize my most important to-dos into a top three and I do not leave until they are accomplished. Some of the bigger ideas go into another list that I work on as time allows.”

 

–Matt Phillips, president and CMO of AdvantaClean, a national franchised provider of light environmental services and ranked 85th on Entrepreneur Magazine’s fastest-growing-franchises list

 

What do you think of these tips? Have you tried any of them yet? We would love to know, so comment your thoughts below!

One of the Best Places to Live In The USA

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Every way you look at it, there are a lot of people moving to Texas.

Five of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the country between 2011 and 2012 were in Texas, according to new figures from the US Census Bureau. New York is way out in front in terms of added population, but Houston is second with San Antonio and Austin fourth and fifth.

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In terms of percentage growth, it’s even more Texas, Texas, Texas. Among the five cities that grew most, as a proportion of their size, between 2011 and 2012, three are Texan. San Marcos is out in front with the highest rate of growth among all US cities and towns – 4.9%.

Some of this Texan population boom is due to a natural increase – more births than deaths – but the numbers moving into the state from elsewhere in the US and from abroad far outstrip every other American state. Why?

1. Jobs

“I don’t think people go for the weather or topography,” says Joel Kotkin, professor of urban development at Chapman University in Orange, California. “The main reason people go is for employment. It’s pretty simple.

“The unconventional oil and gas boom has helped turn Texas into an economic juggernaut, particularly world energy capital Houston, but growth has also been strong in tech, manufacturing and business services.”

Critics have questioned whether the “Texas miracle” is a myth, based on cheap labour and poor regulation.

But Kotkin says Texas has plenty of high-wage, blue-collar jobs and jobs for university graduates, although people looking for very high-wage jobs would probably head to Seattle, San Francisco and New York.

Four of the top 10 metropolitan areas for job growth in 2013 are in Texas, according to Kotkin’s website, New Geography.

Texas also has a huge military presence, which grew as defence spending increased in the decade after 9/11. Many retired Texans first came to the state as service personnel.

2. It’s cheaper

Once employed, it’s hugely important that your pay cheque goes as far as possible, says Kotkin.

“New York, LA and the [San Francisco] Bay Area are too expensive for most people to live, but Houston has the highest ‘effective’ pay cheque in the country.”

Kotkin came to this conclusion after looking at the average incomes in the country’s 51 largest metro areas, and adjusting them for the cost of living. His results put three Texan areas in the top 10.

Houston is top because of the region’s relatively low cost of living, including consumer prices, utilities and transport costs and, most importantly, housing prices, he says.

“The ratio of the median home price to median annual household income in Houston is only 2.9. In San Francisco, it’s 6.7.

“In New York, San Francisco and LA, if you’re blue-collar you will be renting forever and struggling to make ends meet. But people in Texas have a better shot at getting some of the things associated with middle-class life.”

3. Homes

Land is cheaper than elsewhere and the process of land acquisition very efficient, says Dr Ali Anari, research economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

“From the time of getting a building permit right through to the construction of homes, Texas is much quicker than other states.

“There is an abundant supply of land and fewer regulations and more friendly government, generally a much better business attitude here than other states.”

This flexibility, plus strict lending rules, helped to shield the state from the recent housing market crash.

4. Low tax

Texas is one of only seven states where residents pay no personal state income tax, says Kay Bell, contributing tax editor at Bankrate and Texan native.

The state has a disproportionate take from property taxes, which has become a big complaint among homeowners, she adds. But overall, only five states had a lower individual tax burden than Texas, according to Tax Foundation research.

There are also tax incentives for businesses and this week legislators cut more than $1bn off proposed business taxes.

5Pick your own big city

Texas has six of the country’s 20 biggest cities, says Erica Grieder, author of Big, Hot, Cheap and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas.

Contrast this to, for example, Illinois, where if you want to live in a big city you can live in Chicago or you have to move out of state, she says.

But if you’re in Texas you can be in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, or El Paso.

6. Austin in particular

Restaurant manager Christopher Hislop, 33, moved in 2007 from Los Angeles to Austin, where he met his wife and they now have a nine-month-old boy.

“I came to Austin for a wedding and thought it was a really cool city and the people were nice – it was everything that LA wasn’t but still had that hip vibe without pretension. The nightlife is great and there’s an emphasis on getting out and about – they maintain trailways and nature.

“It’s not Texas at all and that’s what I liked about it. I don’t know Texas very well, I grew up in Chicago, but Austin is not Texas because you think of 10-gallon hats and guys on horseback. It’s a cliché but Austin isn’t like that, it’s hip and in the now. The rest of Texas is very conservative.”

People like to perpetuate a myth that Austin is still the Austin it once was, says Joshua Long, author of Weird City: Sense of Place and Creative Resistance in Austin, Texas. So as it’s become a big city, a movement has developed to “keep it cool, keep it weird and keep it environmentally friendly.”

7. Family-friendly

Because of its good-value housing, Texas has been particularly popular with families, and some of its cities now have an above-average number of children. San Antonio is home to the largest community of gay parents.

In Texas, you can have a reasonable mortgage and pretty good schools, says Grieder. And restaurants are invariably family-friendly.

“You hear about the high drop-out rate but Texas education scores pretty well at national tests for 4th and 8th graders in math, reading and science. The aggregate is about average.

“The perception is that Texas has poor schools but it’s not correct. Across the country in general, we don’t have schools as good as we would like them to be.”

In eighth-grade maths, for instance, Texas scored higher than the national average and outscored the three other big states of California, New York and Florida. On Sunday, an education budget was approved that restored cuts made in 2011.

8. Fewer rules

“Texas is liberal in the classic sense, it’s laissez-faire, so there’s a lack of regulations,” says Grieder, and this can apply to the obvious (business regulations) or the less obvious (city rules).

“The classic social contract is – we’re not going to do a ton to help you but we’re not going to get in your way. That’s not 100% true of the state but there’s that strand in the state.”

Mortgage lending is an obvious exception. But there has been strong opposition to banning texting while driving and a proposed tax on soda.

And Governor Rick Perry is poised to sign off the strongest email privacy laws in the US, which would require state law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before accessing emails.

9. Texans are cool people

The state likes to proclaim itself as an unpretentious, down-to-earth place where people are easy to get along with.

As John Steinbeck wrote: “Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America.”

And for people with conservative values, it could be a natural home, although demographic shifts have prompted speculation it will be a Democratic statein the future.

People dream about moving to California, but they don’t dream about moving to Texas, says Grieder, yet many of those reluctant to move there end up liking it.

She adds: “[They] realise that Texans aren’t all Bible thumping, gun-toting people. The job is the trigger to come but you find it’s pretty nice to live here.”

10. And they’re not going anywhere

All this doesn’t just bring in new arrivals – native Texans aren’t leaving the state either. It is the “stickiest” state in the country, according to the latest figures from the Pew Research Center, which suggest that more than three-quarters of adults born in Texas still live there. Alaska is the least sticky.

 

Do you agree that Texas is one of the best places to live in the USA? Comment below–we would love to hear what you think! 

Best Business and Career Advice From Top Leaders

New Legacy Wealth has compiled a list of the best advice that top leaders have shared that has helped them become better at their career and business:

 

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1. You get only what you settle for.

“The best business advice I ever got came from my dear old Dad. It’s quite simple and immeasurably powerful. It goes like this: ‘You, and only you, should set the value of your talents, ideas, services, and/or product. Don’t ever expect anyone to pay or give you more than they have to.’ As an entrepreneur, you have to get used to the fact that, quite often, you’ll be faced with an offer that seems less than the value of your talent, ideas, services, or product. That’s business. You are the sole arbiter of what you, your ideas, services, or product is worth. Therefore, what you get is what you are willing to settle for. You have to fight for what you feel you’re worth. Not that settling is necessarily a bad thing, but where you end up is what you settle for. Sage advice.” –Neil Powell, fine artist and co-founder of Mugnacious

2. Don’t lose sight.

“‘People who used to run car companies were really into cars. People who ran hotel chains loved hospitality. Now, everything is run by accountants, and you feel it as a consumer.’ This slightly grumpy rant from one of my mentors, the famed mad man Martin Puris, inspires me to stay focused on the purity and passion of a business pursuit.”  –Andrew Deitchman, co-founder of The New Stand

3. Be clear and transparent.

“I learned many things while working for Steve Jobs in the ’90s, including what not to do. While Steve was arguably the greatest marketer of our generation and gave some of the most inspirational speeches of our time, he wasn’t the best communicator when it came to individuals. Steve didn’t set defined expectations for me or other employees: he simply knew it when he saw it. Watching him operate made me recognize the importance of clarity and transparency with my team, and how imperative it is to set expectations and effectively communicate with them. The more transparent I am about where I want to take the company, the clearer my team is about how to get there. Making sure everyone is on board before you make business decisions will help ensure you won’t alienate people (sometimes your best ones) in the process.” –James Green, serial entrepreneur and CEO of technology company Magnetic

4. Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis.

“Work is never going to be as slow as it is today. The pace of business in general — and start-ups specifically — will only quicken in 2016. So, we have to make a lot of important decisions quickly. I got some great advice early in life, which was: ‘Sometimes you won’t know the right decision, so you have to make the decision right.’ In other words, when you lack perfect information and time, you have to be thoughtful about your process, be diligent in your analysis, then make the decision quickly. After that, it’s all about execution and putting all your energy into making it work.” –Don Smithmier, founder and CEO of The Big Know

5. Forget “having it all.”

“These days, there’s an ongoing debate about whether women can ‘have it all,’ and I’ve often been asked that question. I’m a person who likes to give 100 percent to everything I do. I want to be the best at my job and as a mother. But I realize I can only give 100 percent in the moment. If I’m at work, am I giving 100 percent to my kids? No. If I’m at home, am I giving 100 percent to my work? No. It’s a balancing act, but worthwhile as long as we don’t kid ourselves that we’re superwomen.”  –from the book Getting Real by Gretchen Carlson, host of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News, used by permission

6. Listening is very different from hearing.

“The best piece of advice ever imparted to me comes from my mom, who is fond of saying ‘What you say matters less than what people hear and understand.’  As a teacher, she was a brilliant listener, and she used what she heard to build a bridge between what she needed to teach and how the student needed to learn. From that, she taught me to focus my efforts on helping people understand rather than on what I wanted to tell them. She taught me how to hear, and it is the single most important skill in my professional success.” –Courtney Buechert, founder and CEO of creative marketing agency Eleven, Inc.

7. Put your weirdness into your work.

“These words were spoken to me by famed voice-over and recording artist Ken Nordine. This was many years ago, and I’ve carried these words with me ever since. He recognized that we all get a little weird from time to time, but it’s how we choose to channel our weirdness that’s key. To offset my very ordinary life, I infuse every project I touch with experimental and fluid creations. It’s what’s led to my best work and most successful endeavors. With weirdness and imaginative thinking embedded in all facets of your work, you are free to spend the rest of your time enjoying the little things in life, a balance that is delicate yet so profound.” –David Slayden, founder and executive director of designer-founder accelerator BDW

8. Action creates opportunity.

“There’s a variety of advice that has had lasting impact, but this is the one that I continue to return to on a weekly basis. It’s a quote from my former CEO. This phrase remains valuable in the big and small, in the tactical and the strategic. We are in an industry that requires the creation and fostering of constant change. We have to invent new ideas, create new services and capabilities, all while increasing the quality of our craft. So while we can all spend an endless amount of time contemplating and planning, there is one force that cannot be denied. Take action, as it will surely create and open up new opportunities.” –Ed Brojerdi, CEO of  KBS New York and co-founder of Spies & Assassins

9. No cohesion, no team.

“In creative industries especially, teams are central to the work. They are integral to collaborative cultures and, far more often than not, essential to innovation. What too many people fail to recognize, however, is that two or more people working together doesn’t automatically constitute a ‘team.’ These people may be partners and co-workers, but that’s not enough to effect the magic that genuine teamwork can produce. When I was running the brand-strategy practice for consultancy FutureBrand, we assembled teams to take on each assignment and were careful to include a diversity of skills and backgrounds in each. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that certain teams were far more effective than others. In a management meeting, we discussed the issue and then we each went off to gather more data. When we reconvened, the lesson became clear: No cohesion, no team. It turned out that the highest performing teams simply liked each other more. They would break for dinners. Go bowling. Share their weekend plans and recaps. They genuinely cared about one another. And that led to a level of performance that far outstripped anything that less cohesive teams could hope to achieve. I keep that lesson in mind, not just when I’m putting teams together but also when I’m hiring. However brilliant or accomplished a prospect is, I don’t want to hire that person if he or she can’t play well with others. I look for the right mix of skills and mindset, of course, but beyond that I want to know that the person will be worthy of colleagues’ trust and a positive presence within the company. If not, I’d prefer that person play on someone else’s team.” –Andrew Benett, Global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group

10. See the spaces, not the trees.

“This is a snowboarding reference. It can be daunting, standing at the top of the mountain readying yourself for the trip down, and seeing all the trees in your path. But the key is to see the space between the trees. This sort of mindset, seeing the opportunity and not the obstacles, is important as you start out on your next life chapter, both personally and professionally. When you’re deep into your work or facing a personal challenge, it’s easier to see the barriers, but don’t let them stop you from pursuing the opportunity that exists around them. Remember the business of your business. Many companies get caught up in the service they provide versus what actually drives their business. For example, Twitter is a micro-blogging service. But at the end of the day, what pays the bills is selling ads and sponsored tweets on the platform. Don’t lose sight of the actual economics of your business; it’s what keeps the lights on.

 

What’s the best advice you have ever received? Comment them below!