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Feedly and Evernote Go Down As Attackers Demand Ransom

Update 16:31 GMT: Feedly has updated its blog and said that normal service will be restored in a “few more hours”. Full post: “We’re making some changes to our infrastructure that will allow us to bring feedly back online. However, these things take some time to put into place and it may still be a few more hours before service is restored. Thank you so much for your patience and for sticking with us. Remember, none of your data was compromised or lost in this attack.”

Original story

Feedly is currently suffering a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack, it announced earlier this morning on its blog.

You may have noticed that you can’t access the website or load any of your feeds via the app. Feedly explained in a short message two hours ago that the DDoS perpetrator is holding Feedly to ransom and asking for money to stop the attack, Feedly has refused to comply.

CEO of Feedly, Edwin Khodabakchian, said in a short statement: “Criminals are attacking feedly with a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). The attacker is trying to extort us money to make it stop. We refused to give in and are working with our network providers to mitigate the attack as best as we can.”

Khodabakchian went on to explain that users’ data is safe and that you will be “able to re-access your Feedly as soon as the attack is neutralized.” He continued: “We are working in parallel with other victims of the same group and with law enforcement.”

Evernote, which integrates with Feedly, also suffered a similar attack early this morning, although service was quickly restored.

evernote down

Updates will be posted here should the situation change.

 

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The Drunken Downfall of Evangelical America’s Favorite Painter

Thomas Kinkade’s death shocked his legions of fans—not only had the Painter of Light died at 54, but the cause was alcohol and Valium. How did the evangelical darling fall so far?

The Painter of Light was pissed off.

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It was November 20, 2010, less than two years before he died, and Thomas Kinkade was at the Denver Broncos’ stadium to unveil Mile High Thunder, his painting for the Tim Tebow Foundation. At 52, he was America’s most popular—and the art establishment’s most hated—living artist. Esteemed art critic Jerry Saltz once wrote that “Kinkade’s paintings are worthless schmaltz, and the lamestream media that love him are wrong.” But to his fans, Kinkade was everything.

Evangelical Christians snapped up his bucolic garden scenes and cozy cottages with windows that glowed so much they seemed, as Joan Didion once wrote, “as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.” Kinkade painted “John 3:16,” along with the sign of the fish, the traditional Christian symbol for Jesus, in the signature of each of his sentimental works that now hang in around 20 million homes globally. He also published books and calendars that paired his paintings with verses from the Bible or inspirational aphorisms attributed to the artist himself: “The best things in life are yours for the choosing”; “Creativity has everything to do with the way you live”; “Your life has meaning and beauty, and you are not alone.”

Fans in Denver had been promised “a 30 minute inspirational presentation.” But what they got was an un-groomed, underdressed speaker who was none too pleased with the media’s coverage of his recent arrest for drunk driving.

“I sneeze in public, and I make a headline,” he sneered.

Then he complained about the media’s lack of attention to his charitable works: “America’s most-known, most-beloved artist shows up at Orange County Hospital. We threw an all-day kids event, we hosted art contests, we gave art packages to all the kids…I talked to them about journaling their life, about creating something every day that makes a statement…and we sent word out to every newspaper: ‘Come down! See this day of joy! This day of celebration!’ No one showed.  But make one wrong step in public and they put it on the front page.”

When he was finished, Kinkade asked the organizers to make sure that his hotel room was alcohol-free, and then he kept the owner of Colorado’s Kinkade gallery up late into the night reminiscing about his pre-estrangement life with Nanette, his wife of 30 years. In happier times, they’d written The Many Loves of Marriage together, and Kinkade was still hiding “N’s” in his paintings as a tribute to her, even though they’d been separated for close to a year. “I was in my Carmel house, just medicated with alcohol,” he’d told a longtime friend of the weeks following the split.

A month after the event, Kinkade was sentenced to 10 days in jail on the DUI charge. Sixteen months later, he was found unconscious and spent days in a coma. Doctors told him that if he didn’t get help, he would die. And two months after that, he did— on April 6, 2012, at the age of 54.

The family released a statement attributing his death to natural causes, and fans gathered at the 50 or so independently-owned Thomas Kinkade galleries nationwide to celebrate his career. Sales skyrocketed. Marty Brown, who owns a gallery in Lake Forest, California, said he sold a million dollars’ worth of Kinkade product in the two months following the artist’s death—about five times as much as he’d sold in the entire previous year.

Then the autopsy came.

Kinkade had died of “acute ethanol and diazepam intoxication”—alcohol and Valium. Drinking had also led to a slew of chronic ailments: hypertension, an enlarged heart and fatty liver, along with numerous blunt force injuries probably caused by frequent drunken falls. His toenails had been painted a glittery gold color, and there was also green paint under his fingernails.

Grieving over his death quickly gave way to a highly public legal war between his widow, Nanette, and his girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh. Pinto-Walsh produced letters written in Kinkade’s blurry, alcohol-fueled scrawl that promised her his home, his paintings, and $10 million to establish a museum of his works. The estate requested a gag order to prevent Pinto-Walsh from releasing photos and information damaging to the Painter of Light’s brand, and the matter was quickly settled out of court.

But the damage was done: Thomas Kinkade, America’s most inspirational painter, had been exposed in death as a man who had lived a life wildly at odds with the values he espoused. Kinkade’s wife and children had inherited his business, but the company’s value was an extremely open question. Driving to work on her first day back in the office,Kristen Barthelman, the Thomas Kinkade Co.’s head of licensing, was worried. “I did not have any sense of optimism,” she remembers. The company’s revenues depended on licensing deals with companies like Disney and Hallmark, and Edstrom wondered whether they’d stay with the brand given the headlines swirling about Kinkade’s life. Then there was the question of the painter’s fans: Would his mostly conservative following stay loyal, or would the degeneracy of Kinkade’s last years mean the end of the art empire that had been his American Dream?

* * * *

Before Thomas Kinkade was evangelical America’s favorite painter or 2012’s most high-profile case study on the dangers of alcohol abuse, he was a poor kid with a single mom in Placerville, California—a Rockwell-esque town, population 10,000, 40 miles east of Sacramento. Kinkade and his brother, Dr. Patrick Kinkade, now the head of the criminal justice department at Texas Christian University, called their home “the slum of Placerville.” Patrick remembers the tubs of peanut butter stamped “Property of El Dorado County” that their mother told them were gifts from a friend. But he also remembers the sense of optimism she provided. When the pre-teen boys returned home from school to find their furniture repossessed, she told them she’d gotten rid of it because she thought it would be more fun to “camp out” in their house. They believed her, and thought she was the coolest mom ever.

Their interactions with their father, an alcoholic who scraped by with odd jobs doing janitorial work and driving rental cars between airports, were mostly limited to occasional road trips.

“He was a loveable sad sack,” Patrick remembers. “For a lot of years he was sort of this character in our lives. Thom and I both certainly felt that we were more sophisticated than he was. He’d go off on these tangents, these flights of fancy about what he was going to do with his life—these bouts of expertise that he really had no expertise about. He’d be so into it, and Thom and I would just sit there and smile and nod knowing that all this was nonsense and that my dad really didn’t have the capacity to carry out that plan. He wanted to sail around the Sea of Cortez; he had this weird little boat that in no way was ready nor was he a sailor. He had a hat and a map.”

As an adult, Kinkade blended his father’s grandiosity with his own herculean work ethic and clarity of purpose. He was perpetually broke while he studied at UC Berkeley and Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, but he’d still find $400 to drop in a single trip to Moe’s, a popular Berkeley used bookstore. He studied the master painters obsessively but never graduated from either school.

“In art school I was told so many times ‘Your art is all about you,’” he later remembered. “And something about that didn’t sit well with me. I began to realize my art’s not about me, it’s about you. It’s about that other person. It’s about letting something within you pour out in love to other people.”

In the 1980s, Kinkade thought the art world had become detached from the public—and he saw himself as the person to return it to an artist-as-servant model, where painters affirmed rather than challenged social values. His hero was Andy Warhol, who, he felt, had rescued art from insularity and infused it with iconography that meant something to ordinary people; what Warhol did with soup cans and Marilyn Monroe, Kinkade thought he could do with Eden-inspired garden scenes and Cotswolds cottages.

“The tragedy of my brother is he eventually fell to his own humanity. The triumph of my brother is that his art was never touched by that tragedy.”

A post-college road trip led to the publication of The Artist’s Guide to Sketching, which helped him land work painting backgrounds for an animated movie, 1983’s Fire and Ice. After that, he focused on his own studio pieces—large-scale, Bierstadt-inspired panoramas of the American West that found an audience among California collectors.

Soon he approached Ken Raasch, a California entrepreneur, with the idea of setting up a printmaking business.  He was already selling $5,000 worth of prints a month, he lied to Raasch (he wasn’t selling any). Though fraudulent inducement does not ordinarily augur well, it worked. With Kinkade’s feel-good paintings and Raasch’s acumen and $35,000 in startup capital, the business took off.

Kinkade’s charisma made him a live event star, and he was the first limited-edition artist to popularize the idea of highlighting prints—having craftsmen retouch reproductions with oil paints to make them look like originals. He was also among the first to offer the same limited edition print in different sizes. Advisers warned this would make them seem cheap, but instead it increased sales dramatically. And then he came up with the idea for a chain of small, mall-based galleries that sold only his work.

By the mid-1990s, Kinkade had become to the evangelical movement what Peter Max was to the psychedelic Sixties. As American homes expanded in size and contracted in originality, Kinkade’s stated mission was to fill as many of their walls as possible—and in the process, he filled more than anyone else ever had.

“We saw the power of art in a world that was changing,” Raasch explains of their Silicon Valley-based company that was unlike anything else in town. “What we believed in was the power of a still image to bring power and joy into people’s lives. We felt that what hung on the walls of people’s homes mattered.”

Kinkade, who referred to his pieces as “silent messengers in the home,” was unapologetic about his almost clinical efforts to make his work uplifting. “Every element in my paintings, from the patch of sun in the foreground to the mists on a distant horizon, is an effort to summon back those perfect moments that hang in our minds as pictures of harmony,” he once wrote in Lightposts for Living. “My deepest desire is that my work will help people aspire to the life those kinds of images evoke.” In more private moments, according to one former employee, he sometimes referred to his paintings as “a 30-second vacation in a double-wide.”

The Thomas Kinkade Co. went public on the NASDAQ in 1994 and moved to the NYSE in 1998. In 2004, Kinkade borrowed money to take it private. A decline in sales, litigation over the failure of many of the independent galleries, and the bankruptcy of a subsidiary followed, but the company survived—and Kinkade remained, by far, America’s best-selling artist with a smaller, but still rabid, fan base.

The company persevered, but Kinkade himself did not fare as well. He controlled his fondness for alcohol and strip clubs adequately when his wife was with him, but things spiraled out of control when he was on the road. By the mid-2000s, Kinkade’s family was pushing him into inpatient rehab as stories about his alcoholism started to make the news. The last five years of his life were characterized by the pattern of ups and downs familiar to many addicts.

“Thom believed that he should be able to control it, and that contributed to his downfall,” his brother remembers. “He had six months of sobriety and he was doing all these wonderful things. He was calling me and telling me: ‘Feeling good! Losing weight! Doing great!’ And then suddenly, you get a message: ‘Thom’s had a beer.’ Two days later, he’s into vodka. Seven days later, he’d dead.”

 

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20 THINGS TO START DOING IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

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Family isn’t always blood.  They’re the people in your life who appreciate having you in theirs – the ones who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways, and who not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be.  These people – your real family – are the ones who truly matter.

Here are twenty tips to help you find and foster these special relationships.

 

1.  FREE YOURSELF FROM NEGATIVE PEOPLE.

Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded.  Relationships should help you, not hurt you.  Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be.  Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.  Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  When you free yourself from negative people, you free yourself to be YOU – and being YOU is the only way to truly live.

2.  LET GO OF THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY GONE.

The sad truth is that there are some people who will only be there for you as long as you have something they need.  When you no longer serve a purpose to them, they will leave.  The good news is, if you tough it out, you’ll eventually weed these people out of your life and be left with some great people you can count on.  We rarely lose friends and lovers, we just gradually figure out who our real ones are.  So when people walk away from you, let them go.   Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you.  It doesn’t mean they are bad people; it just means that their part in your story is over.

3.  GIVE PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW A FAIR CHANCE.

When you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has a story.  Everyone hasgone through something that has changed them, and forced them to grow.  Every passing face on the street represents a story every bit as compelling and complicated as yours.  We meet no ordinary people in our lives.  If you give them a chance, everyone has something amazing to offer.  So appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work.  Trust your judgment.  Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory.  Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.

4.  SHOW EVERYONE KINDNESS AND RESPECT.

Treat everyone with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are.  There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that deserve to be respected.  Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you would have with your baby brother.  People will notice your kindness.

5.  ACCEPT PEOPLE JUST THE WAY THEY ARE.

In most cases it’s impossible to change them anyway, and it’s rude to try.  So save yourself from needless stress.  Instead of trying to change others, give them your support and lead by example.

6.  ENCOURAGE OTHERS AND CHEER FOR THEM.

Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places – productive, fulfilling, peaceful places.  So be happy for those who are making progress.  Cheer for their victories.  Be thankful for their blessings, openly.  What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you.

7.  BE YOUR IMPERFECTLY PERFECT SELF.

In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.  And when they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same.  Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.  Be your imperfectly perfect self around them.  We are not perfect for everyone, we are only perfect for those select few people that really take the time to get to know us and love us for who we really are.  And to those select few, being our imperfectly perfect self is what they love about us.

8.  FORGIVE PEOPLE AND MOVE FORWARD.

Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the remedy.  It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.  Remember, the less time you spend hating the people who hurt you, the more time you’ll have to love the people who love you.

9.  DO LITTLE THINGS EVERY DAY FOR OTHERS.

Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.  You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to a few people.  Decide who these people are in your life and treat them like royalty.

10. PAY ATTENTION TO WHO YOUR REAL FRIENDS ARE.

As we grow up, we realize it becomes less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.  Remember, life is kind of like a party.  You invite a lot of people, some leave early, some stay all night, some laugh with you, some laugh at you, and some show up really late.  But in the end, after the fun, there are a few who stay to help you clean up the mess.  And most of the time, they aren’t even the ones who made the mess.  These people are your real friends in life.  They are the ones who matter most.

11. ALWAYS BE LOYAL. 

True love and real friendship aren’t about being inseparable. These relationships are about two people being true to each other even when they are separated.  When it comes to relationships, remaining faithful is never an option, but a priority.  Loyalty is everything.

12. STAY IN BETTER TOUCH WITH PEOPLE WHO MATTER TO YOU.

In human relationships distance is not measured in miles, but in affection.  Two people can be right next to each other, yet miles apart.  So don’t ignore someone you care about, because lack of concern hurts more than angry words.  Stay in touch with those who matter to you.  Not because it’s convenient, but because they’re worth the extra effort.  Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.  Paying attention to these people is a priority.

13. KEEP YOUR PROMISES AND TELL THE TRUTH.

If you say you’re going to do something, DO IT!  If you say you’re going to be somewhere, BE THERE!  If you say you feel something, MEAN IT!  If you can’t, won’t, and don’t, then DON’T LIE.  It’s always better to tell people the truth up front.  Don’t play games with people’s heads and hearts.  Don’t tell half-truths and expect people to trust you when the full truth comes out; half-truths are no better than lies.  Remember, love and friendship don’t hurt.  Lying, cheating and screwing with people’s feelings and emotions hurts.  Never mess with someone’s feelings just because you’re unsure of yours.  Always be open and honest.

14. GIVE WHAT YOU WANT TO RECEIVE.

Don’t expect what you are not willing to give.  Start practicing the golden rule.  If you want love, give love.  If you want friends, be friendly.  If you want money, provide value.  It works.  It really is this simple.

15. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY.

Give the people in your life the information they need, rather than expecting them to know the unknowable.  Information is the grease that keeps the engine of communication functioning.  Start communicating clearly.  Don’t try to read other people’s minds, and don’t make other people try to read yours.  Most problems, big and small, within a family, friendship, or business relationships, start with bad communication.

16. ALLOW OTHERS TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS.

Do not judge others by your own past.  They are living a different life than you are.  What might be good for one person may not be good for another.  What might be bad for one person might change another person’s life for the better.  Allow people to make their own mistakes and their own decisions.

17. TALK A LITTLE LESS, AND LISTEN MORE.

Less advice is often the best advice.  People don’t need lots of advice, they need a listening ear and some positive reinforcement.  What they want to know is often already somewhere inside of them.  They just need time to think, be and breathe, and continue to explore the undirected journeys that will eventually help them find their direction.

18. LEAVE PETTY ARGUMENTS ALONE.

Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right.  There are many roads to what’s right.  And most of the time it just doesn’t matter that much.

19. IGNORE UNCONSTRUCTIVE, HURTFUL COMMENTARY.

No one has the right to judge you.  They might have heard your stories, but they didn’t feel what you were going through.  No matter what you do, there will always be someone who thinks differently.  So concentrate on doing what you know in your heart is right.  What most people think and say about you isn’t all that important.  What is important is how you feel about yourself.

20. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF.

One of the most painful things in life is losing yourself in the process of loving others too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  When was the last time someone told you that they loved you just the way you are, and that what you think and how you feel matters?  When was the last time someone told you that you did a good job, or took you someplace, simply because they know you feel happy when you’re there?  When was the last time that ‘someone’ was YOU?

 

 

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8 Must-Know Tips to Grow Your Business

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By: Berny Dohrmann

As the chairman of one of the world’s largest business support organizations, I’ve encountered countless prospective entrepreneurs trying to put their ideas into action by launching a business.  My experiences have given me a unique insight into what makes and breaks a business in today’s market.

Here are eight essential tips for shaping a good idea into a great business:

1. “You can’t build a business like a hobby project.”

Entrepreneurship should never be a casual endeavor. Building a thriving business in today’s market means devoting yourself fully to the mission you intend to accomplish via the company.

Setting your business aside for any length of time can lead it down a slippery slope you may not be able to crawl back up from. Keep yourself organized; set clear goals you can accomplish, and dedicate yourself to making sure your ideas come to fruition.

2. “Wrong sequence ends in business failure.”

One of the biggest hurdles to business growth is the lack of a detailed planning system. No matter how big your idea is, expecting overnight success can cloud you to the practical considerations that can quickly grow larger than your ability to deal with them. Move your business forward one step at a time, and more importantly, know where you’re going before you try to get there.

3. “Advertising is naked without PR.”

Flashy ads are no substitute for a well-thought out communications strategy.  In the age of information, every business needs a sensible way to spread its ideas and brand to clients and consumers ready to buy.  An idea is useless without a suitable voice to present it to the world. Build your advertisement strategy around the people best suited to get you to the next step of your objective.

4. “Never say NO to growth.”

In today’s market, you can’t afford to miss the opportunities that can get you from one step to the next. While defining a plan for growth and future investment is necessary to guide your business decisions, nothing should ever be set in stone.

5. “The difference between wealth and income is how many people you benefit.”

All the growth in the world means little if you do nothing to benefit those who helped you get there. Your team and periphery support network need to be included in the rewards in direct correlation with the effort they put into the business’s success. While numbers need to be your first concern when it comes to sustaining yourself and your ideas in the market, make sure you measure your success by more than just a bottom line.

6. “As you grow IT, IT will grow you.”

Don’t get tunnel vision when it comes to everyday business. In today’s business world, every connection you make can be a game-changing opportunity. Never walk away from the chance to shake hands with a potential partner no matter their value to you and your business at the moment. Grow your network every chance you get.

7. “Nothing will grow you more than growing your dreams.”

While it’s important to consider all of your decisions through a filter of practicality, you should never be convinced you can’t achieve what you’ve set out to do. Businesses never fail because a dream is wrong; they fail because they choose the wrong path to achieve it. Remember that the more work you put into getting somewhere only makes the achievement more meaningful in the end.

8. “Competition slows everything down.”

If your definition of progress includes hurting other companies along the way, you’re not on the fastest lane to success. Although the market environment may appear inherently competitive at first glance, a collaborative perspective on business can make everyone’s ideas a reality faster than they could through isolation and bitter fights for market share. Look at your competitors as potential partners and find a way forward for everyone involved.

About Berny Dohrmann

Berny Dohrmann is chairman and founder of CEO Space International, (www.ceospaceinternational.com), one of the world’s largest support organizations for business owners. The inventor of Super Teaching, a Title I technology that accelerates retention for public schools, he is frequently a guest speaker on that topic to various nations, VIP conferences and television programs. As a member of the Dohrmann family, which operated the largest global resort-outfitting firm as Dohrmann Hotel Supply for several generations, he grew up with several business mentors, including Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Walt Disney, Warner Earnhardt, Bucky Fuller, Dr. Edward Deming and Jack Kennedy.

 

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5 Keys to Developing Personal Power

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Working on Emotional Intelligence Skills
 Can Open the Door to Achievement

By: Lynda Chervil

Personal power is a core leadership competency that everyone needs to develop before they can lead others. It has to do with being able to lead yourself.

“Personal power is the ability to achieve what you want,” according to Frederick Mann, a successful entrepreneur and author of The Economic Rape of America. “More than anything else, it is personal power that brings you success and happiness. The biggest barrier to success in almost any endeavor is powerlessness, negativity, helplessness, and inertia. They belong together. The problem is not only our own powerlessness, but also the powerlessness of those around us.”

We can help harness and learn to use our personal power by understanding and working on our Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills.

Not long ago, when I worked in a corporate environment, there was a strong push to incorporate EI into the organization’s leadership training curriculum as an array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance.

EI is “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions,” according to psychologists John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey, who co-developed the concept and were two of the three authors of the Emotional Intelligence Test.

My EI training and its practical applications to my work team environment still resonate in my personal life. They became skills that I now methodically apply to current situations in both personal and entrepreneurial pursuits.

There are several EI models, but the one to which I ascribe is the mixed model introduced by Daniel Goldman, a combination of ability and traits. Here are Goldman’s five main EI constructs, and my views on how each of us can develop them:

1.  Self-awareness: the ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.

In order to become self-aware, you need to conduct an honest self-assessment to determine your strengths and weaknesses, such as powerlessness and inertia, and determine the root causes. You then need to create a plan that will help you overcome your fears, which are barriers to courage and stand between you and your successes.

While I am a big proponent of using my intuition to guide my decisions, whenever it is appropriate, I need to caution that unless your gut feelings are often more right than wrong, you cannot make decisions solely based upon intuition. You need to use a balanced combination of intuition and logic.

2.  Self-regulation: involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.

Simply put, you need to exercise self-discipline and know how to control your emotions and be flexible in order to adapt to changing situations. You cannot continue on the same trajectory or keep the same plans when the circumstances or facts have changed. Your plans need to be modified accordingly.

3.  Social skills: managing relationships to move people in the desired direction.

Your social skills refer to your interpersonal skills or your ability to relate and connect with people, which can motivate them to deploy discretionary efforts to help you achieve goals that are best accomplished via partnership and collaboration.

Here are some tips for improving your social skills:

a.  Pay attention to the feedback of friends and co-workers, good and bad. Train yourself to repeat the behaviors that get positive feedback and work on eliminating those that make people react negatively.
b.  View constructive criticism as just that. When we become defensive, we don’t hear what can be very helpful feedback.
c.  Learn to handle conflict and confrontation from a perspective of compassion and caring.

Personal coaching can be very helpful in learning to be more diplomatic in your interactions with others.

4.  Empathy – considering other people’s feelings, especially when making decisions.

Some people believe empathy cannot be learned, but I believe just the opposite. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see situations from their perspective. Might they be feeling fear? Shame? Guilt? How do those emotions make you feel? Understanding and addressing the concerns of others is essential to EI.

Always consider intent versus impact, and how your actions or decisions may affect the individuals or groups involved.

5.  Motivation – being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement.

Simply put, what motivates you? What are your benchmarks for success? Once you achieve certain levels of success, you need to consistently set new benchmarks to keep chasing personal excellence!

Practice your EI skills on yourself first, and you’ll develop greater personal power. That can lead to achievements you may never have dreamed possible.

About Lynda Chervil

Lynda Chervil is the author of “Fool’s Return,” http://lyndachervil.com/, a new novel that incorporates valuable life lessons in a page-turning tale that touches on technology, the green movement, and other aspects of contemporary society. She graduated from New York University with a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and has extensive experience in consumer and commercial banking and has held positions in new business development, sales management and executive leadership. Chervil seeks to push the limits of established understanding by exploring alternative forms of spiritual healing, and, through creative writing, to expand the narrative of cutting-edge energy technology to promote sustainability.

 

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Breaking the bloody links in the smartphone supply chain

CONGO COMMODITIES

A tin buyer from Malaysia Smelting Corporation inspects freshly mined cassiterite, or tin ore, at Kanunka mine, Manono Territory, Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Oct. 26, 2013. Since the mid-1990s, when war broke out in eastern Congo in the aftermath of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda, Congolese minerals have acquired a bad name. Rebels, unscrupulous traders and members of the army helped themselves to tin ore, of which Congo is Africa’s biggest producer, gold and columbite-tantalite, or coltan, an ore used in smart phones and laptops.

Blood diamonds. Blood chocolate. Blood smartphones.

Silicon Valley technology companies are racing to comply with new federal rules that require them to disclose efforts to determine if their products contain materials that fund armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

By June 2, companies whose products use tantalum, tin, tungsten or gold — widely used in semiconductors, mobile phones and other electronics — are required by the Securities Exchange Commission to disclose steps taken to trace the origin of those minerals.

Companies must describe their efforts to determine the country of origin of these minerals, collectively known as “3TG.” If they have a reason to believe their minerals come from Congo or bordering countries, they must try to determine the minerals’ complete chain of custody, including the source mine if possible.

The rule is a result of years of pressure from human rights organizations such as the Enough Project, Amnesty International and Global Witness. They hope that increased transparency will pressure companies to make sure their minerals are not funding violence in Congo, where 5.4 million people have died since 1998 due to conflict-related causes according to an International Rescue Committee report.

As of May 29, 60 companies had filed with the SEC, including Intel Inc., considered a pioneer in developing a conflict-free supply chain. The company declared its microprocessors and chipsets “DRC conflict-free” while saying all other products were “DRC conflict undeterminable,” meaning the effort to trace the supply chain went cold at some point.

Thousands more companies are expected to file, including Silicon Valley brand names Apple Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

The challenges companies face in complying with the SEC conflict minerals rules: A long supply chain that can thread from Africa to Asia to North America, a lack of information on facilities in that supply chain, vague language in the SEC rule and of course, the cost of compliance.

Another issue? Some say not all companies are trying hard enough.

“One of the biggest frustrations for us is companies that are lazy,” remarked Bruce Calder, a vice president at Claigan Environmental, a firm that advised the SEC on the wording of the conflict minerals rules. His company has advised 30 firms on their disclosures.

He said he has seen companies fail to do basic research such as searching a refiner’s name and “DRC” in Google to find out if their 3TG could come from one of the 10 Central African countries covered by the law.

“There’s a lot of tracing a high schooler can do that a lot of companies say they can’t do,” Calder said.

That said, Calder points out that in his experience, when companies do find out they’re sourcing from a “negative actor, they cut them out.”

Spansion’s point man

One of the people responsible for finding out who the bad actors are is Rick Lattanzio, vice president of environmental health and safety at flash memory maker Spansion Inc., based in Sunnyvale.

When Lattanzio started work on tracing Spansion’s 3TG in late 2010, the complexity of its supply chain made him pessimistic about his chances for complying with the SEC rules, which were spawned by the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation.

“It almost looked like an impossible task,” he said.

It’s not an unusual predicament for Silicon Valley companies.

Anywhere from three to nine intermediaries usually separate companies from the smelters who refine their minerals, never mind the actual mine it came from, according to accounting firms PwC and KPMG.

Companies have focused on tracing their 3TG back to the choke point of the mineral supply chain: Smelters where the raw mineral ore is refined.

Companies have been surveying their direct suppliers to establish the identity of their smelters.

While Intel wrote that it directly visited 29 of the company’s smelters to review their chain of custody information, many companies like Spansion have relied primarily on a smelter database put together by two industry groups.

The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) created the Conflict-Free Smelter Program, which lists known smelters as well as those that have been certified as conflict free.

Companies cross-reference their smelters with the database to determine which ones have, or have not, been declared conflict free.

But the database is not yet comprehensive, said Julie Schindall, EICC Director of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement.

A “very rough estimate” of the number of 3TG smelters worldwide is between 450 and 600, Schindall said. Only 300 are listed in the database that companies are working off of.

“It’s very, very difficult if not impossible at this time to say if that information is good,” she said. “That’s an ongoing challenge that we’re working on to try to verify so we know who really is a smelter of these minerals … and who could go through our audit program.”

The smelter program’s website currently lists 87 3TG smelters as conflict-free certified: 43 gold, 28 tantalum, 13 tin, and three tungsten.

Spansion filed its report on May 30, and it listed smelters it sources from that have not been declared conflict-free.

Lattanzio said he’s told customers that Spansion’s goal is to declare its tantalum, tin and gold conflict-free by 2015, but that he can’t make a commitment to tungsten because of a lack of certified smelters.

Incomplete information

Companies also have to contend with incompletely answered surveys from their suppliers.

Bobby Kipp, conflict mineral solution leader at the accounting firm PwC, said a survey his group conducted reported that only 28 percent of companies said they got good responses from 75 percent or more of suppliers they surveyed.

Matt Behan, KPMG leader of conflict minerals practice for the technology sector, said he’s seen suppliers declare themselves conflict free because their smelters are located in China — even though the source of minerals is determined by the location of its mine, not its smelter.

Companies are also not always critically analyzing their supplier’s responses.

“Some companies are just sending out a survey and inspecting what they get back on face-value, which we would not advise,” Kipp said.

Behan, who said KPMG has advised at least 60 companies on the rule, said he’s seen companies misinterpret what due diligence means.

“They think (sending out the) survey (to suppliers) is their due diligence … but it’s not,” he said. “It’s looking at the results that come back from the survey and testing them for reasonableness and following up in various ways … if they feel like they’re not 100 percent correct.”

Vague language has also led to confusion over what companies are actually required to report.

“Believe it or not, even though there are 356 pages in these rules… the rules themselves do not define in detail ‘Well, what exactly is a Reasonable Country of Origin Inquiry,’” said Kipp, referring to a specific step companies must take to determine what country their 3TGs are from.

Contents of filings reflect differing interpretations of what the SEC rules require companies to disclose.

Some filers, such as Hill-Rom Inc., list all known smelters in their supply chains. Affymetrix Inc., on the other, listed only the smelters in their supply chains that are certified “conflict free” by the Conflict Free Smelter program. CAE Inc., which declared its products DRC conflict free, lists none of its smelters.

“Right now it’s a little Wild West,” Lattanzio of Spansion said. “You have some general guidelines and procedures to go with … but they’re not very specific.”

Costs

All these difficulties create costs for companies that must comply with the new rules. When the SEC passed the final rule in 2012, its initial estimate for the total cost of compliance to companies was between $3 billion and $4 billion. That averages $500,000 to $667,000 for each of the 6,000 affected companies.

Claigan Environmental initially estimated costs would be much lower, pegging the total at $387 million.

Since then, Claigan has dropped the price and the number of companies that will be affected by the rules. Their most recent estimates put the total cost at $180 million for 2,200 companies, coming out to an average of $82,000 per company.

Claigan’s Calder said projected costs are lower for several reasons: The workload to comply has turned out to be lower than expected. Also, an April 14 court ruling eliminated a requirement for all reports to be independently audited. Other factors? The SEC granted exceptions for retailers, and companies are leveraging off earlier work done by Intel and the EICC.

Lattanzio said he couldn’t give a dollar figure for Spansion’s compliance costs, but he called Claigan’s 2011 estimate of $218,000 for a $1 billion revenue company “not unreasonable.” Spansion posted $972 million in revenue in 2013.

Results

Even before the SEC deadline, some say the ruling has already made a difference.

Lattanzio said he’s seen the number of smelters in Spansion’s supply chain decrease “significantly” from last year, and theorized that it could be because his direct suppliers are moving towards a smaller number of conflict free certified smelters.

“For instance, if we have a supplier, they may (have used) 7 or 8 different smelters,” he said. “And now they may be using for or five.”

Calder pointed to the 2013 defeat of the Congolese rebel group Mouvement du 23 mars, also know as M23, as proof that efforts to clean up conflict minerals have already made a difference on the ground.

According to a January 2014 UN report on the Congo, “The Group found no evidence that M23 was engaged in the minerals trade in 2013.”

The UN report also cites the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as advancing validation of mining sites and improved adherence to conflict-free standards.

But the report specifically noted that the continued illegal smuggling of 3TG out of the DRC to surrounding countries undermined the credibility of international certification efforts.

While only the 3TGs are singled out by the SEC, the whole minerals industry is paying attention to what’s happening, said analyst Simon Moores.

“It’s the first time that (a Western) government has gotten actively involved in … the minerals industries in such a way,” said Moores, who manages niche mineral research firm Industrial Minerals Data.

Moores focuses on minerals such as graphite and lithium, and 3TG don’t fall into his normal beat. But he said he there’s a “pretty high” probability that eventually the rule will be expanded to cover other countries and minerals.

“It’s not unreasonable when you think of things like blood diamonds, the coffee issues, the chocolate,” he said. “There’s a lot of different materials out there that have issues associated with them, these (the 3TG) just happen to be primarily metals that the electronics industry uses quite a bit.”

Interview transcriptions provided by TranscribeMe.com

 

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The tyranny of lowest price

bezosby Seth Godin -

Lowering the price is a one-directional, single-axis choice. Either it’s cheaper or it’s not.

At first, the process of lowering your price involves smart efficiencies. It forces hard choices that lead to better outcomes.

Over time, though, in a competitive market, the quest for the bottom leads to brutality. The brutality of harming your suppliers, the brutality of compromising your morals and your mission. Someone else is always willing to go a penny lower than you are, and to compete, your choices get ever more limited.

The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win. Even worse, you might come in second.

To cut the price a dollar on that ebook or ten dollars on that plane ticket (discounts that few, in the absence of comparison, would notice very much) you have to slash the way things are edited, or people are trained or safety is ensured. You have to scrimp on the culture, on how people are treated. You have to be willing to be less caring or more draconian than the other guy.

Every great brand (even those with low prices) is known for something other than how cheap they are.

Henry Ford earned his early success by using the ideas of mass production and interchangeable parts in a magnificent race to the most efficient car manufacturing system ever. But then, he and his team learned that people didn’t actually want the cheapest car. They wanted a car they could be proud of, they wanted a car that was a bit safer, a bit more stylish, a car built by people who earned a wage that made them contributors to the community.

In the long run, to be the cheapest is a refuge for people who don’t have the flair to design something worth paying for, who don’t have the guts to point to their product or their service and say, “this isn’t the cheapest, but it’s worth it.”

 

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