Monthly Archives: October 2011

Identifying and Conquering ‘Groupthink’

How many times have you sat in a meeting, wondering if you should mention a potential problem with a plan or a more efficient method—but didn’t? How many times have you requested input or ideas from your team or department, only to be met with averted eyes and resounding silence? How many times have you gone along with the crowd because you didn’t want to seem different? You just engaged in or encountered ‘groupthink.’

The term ‘groupthink’ was coined in 1972 by Irving Janis, and everyone has engaged in, been affected by or has seen ‘groupthink’ in action. It identifies the mass or pack mentality through which individuals, often with dissenting opinion or contradictory knowledge, hold their dissension to themselves out of fear—fear of bucking trend, being labeled a non-team-player or being tagged as an anarchist or simply “different.” In a nutshell, engaging in groupthink is equivalent to ‘going along to get along.’ Sometimes, however, shunning ‘groupthink’ is the wiser and more responsible action to take.

Groupthink does not mean the collaborative effort involved in a group of individuals thinking about the same thing. There is real benefit from individuals gathering to pick each other’s brains for ideas. Groupthink is based on our need to belong, to bond and be a member of a pack. People who groupthink aren’t necessarily lemmings either, following without thought and whose instincts are only to follow the pack. A ‘groupthinker’ is someone who doesn’t offer independent view, who goes along with the crowd despite contrary feelings or impulses. Their need to belong is greater than the need to dissent, and that isn’t always a good thing.

One of the best but least-known examples of groupthink revolves around the space shuttle, Challenger, on January 28, 1986. The short-lived flight was historic in several ways: It was the first space flight to include members who were not trained astronauts; it included the first women in space; it was the shortest manned flight in aerospace history, and it killed every member on board.

Engineers knew of design flaws but said nothing until well after the explosion. That groupthink attitude cost people their lives, and those engineers ‘went along with the crowd’ when they should have made their concerns over the design flaw known.

Children drinking, smoking, ‘doing drugs’ and having sex because all their friends are can be examples of groupthink in action. Kids often do know better, but they don’t want to be “different” from their peers, so they engage in activity they know is wrong, simply to bond with others—to be included in a group. These groupthink actions differ from the same actions deliberately taken out of spite, defiance or rebellion.

What differentiates groupthink from other compliance psychologies are the underlying motives and the silent knowledge of wrongness. Silence in groupthink can be capitulation—the lack of a strong sense of independence and giving in to pack instinct dominance.

The other thing groupthink is not is good. It always has a negative aspect, whether it affects goal outcome, reduces self-respect or compromises morals or ethics. You might voice your differing opinion or present contradictory information and still be directed to comply: That’s not groupthink. There is no silence involved. Whether you comply with that directive or engage in the activity depends on the exact situation and morality or ethical guidelines.

Conquer groupthink: Maintain a healthy self-respect; adhere to your higher thought processes, moral and ethical compasses, and never be afraid to speak when it counts.

Article written by Sara Woods, a writer for Coupon Croc, the best resource for discount codes to save on all of your online purchases.


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Don’t Get Distracted!

Homework, Facebook, homework, Twitter, homework, YouTube, YouTube, Facebook, homework, Twitter. Sound like your typical study session? We all get distracted very easily while we work on school assignments, especially with the Internet being so easily accessed in this day and age. I think in order to be better students, you need to work on limiting your distractions. If not, you will find yourself wasting a lot of time!


5. Music

Whether it’s downloading it, listening to it, or even dancing around to it music is a big distraction. While you’re doing your homework, I suggest turning it off, or find some music that isn’t super distracting like Mozart or Beethoven.


Probably one of the greatest websites of all time. Sitting around watching videos all afternoon, when you should be working on a huge group project, is really unnecessary and could result in a bad grade as a result of being woefully underprepared.

3. Twitter

Tweet Tweet! Twitter is a lot of fun to see what your friends are up to, or what your favorite celebrities have to say for the day. It is a great website to find out news and important information. However, when you have a ten page paper due, you should probably steer clear of Twitter for awhile.

2. Texting

Having your phone attached to your hip is unhealthy. Try to go a whole day without texting. Too hard? Well, at least leave it at home when you go to the library to work on your nightly homework. If not, you will want to go hang out with your friends and skip out on the school work for the night.

1. Facebook

And now for the number one distractor in the whole wide world! (Well, at least for college students in America, anyway.) Facebook will tell you what your friends are doing along with pictures of their activities. Do you think you will be able to sit through an online quiz with this popping up every few minutes?

Good Bye iPhone

A man wrote an article online about how he just recently dumped his iPhone. On Black Friday, rather than lining up to go get the brand new version, he gave it up and traded it in for a small flip phone with no internet or cool apps. Sam Graham-Felson’s article appeared in Good Magazine. He says he could spend three hours on his phone without even noticing where the time went. It was impossible for him to go through dinner without reaching for his iPhone. As Felson was reading Henry David Thoreau‘s Walden, he came across the line, “Men have become tools of their tools.”

Felson realized that he became so distracted by his phone that he had become addicted to it. He decided to break his habit and that is when he traded in his phone. Felson did something that may of us can’t. I know that none of you will probably want to delete your Facebook or get rid of your phone, but I challenge you to limit your distractions. Have your roommate change your passwords for a week so you can focus on your midterms or finals. Also, you can set goals to only get on Facebook or on your phone for a limited amount of minutes per day! You can do it. If you do, you will find that your study habits improve significantly.

About the Author

Meagan Hollman crafts written pieces My Colleges and Careers gets those who have a business inkling to start searching for the best online masters degree programs. Once they have found them, they are able to acheive their goals like they always wanted.

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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in All


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The Tao Industrial Average and the Art of Deception: Things are Never What They Seem

Have you ever wondered what is in a “chicken tender?”  There is nothing in the name or any other documentation to suggest anything other than it contains parts from a chicken, and that it is tender.  Is there anywhere it says that there is a speck of un-ground breast or that it doesn’t contain every part of the chicken ground up and covered with bread because we are all too dumb to tell the difference?  Pour on the ketchup, or whatever is really in the red bottle, and were all fine.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, but alas that is my fate.  I hear words on the news that after the Greeks were supposedly bailed out financially by (essentially Germany) that they were concerned that they might be losing some of their sovereignty.  Well, gosh.  That is amazing.   To think that someone who has to pay for your financial mistakes might actually have something to say about your actions in the future seems fairly reasonable to me.  When I have to bail out a friend and pay their rent, I think it might occur to me to suggest that they don’t indulge in fine dining for a week or two and that seems to be a violation of ones sovereignty.   The deal is apparently far from done anyhow.  Germany’s highest court ruled that the Bundestag must be given a greater say in euro bailout decisions given the degree to which the common currency rescue could impose on parliament’s right to create Germany’s budget. In response, the Bundestag on Wednesday moved to include provisions for parliamentary co-determination of positions taken by Germany on the euro bailout at European Union summits in Brussels. Under the multilevel process, depending on the importance, the urgency and confidentiality, decisions can either be approved by the entire 620-member Bundestag, by the 41-person budget committee or by the nine-member special panel. ‘The Bundestag Cannot Be Replaced’.”

Warren Buffett has challenged Rupert Murdochto tax return disclosure-off.

The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journalran an editorial asking Buffet, the namesake of a proposed guideline that would ensure that those who make more than $1 million pay proportional tax rates, to make public his tax returns. “No doubt the millions of Americans who could end up paying more because of this claim would love to see the details,” they wrote, urging the Berkshire Hathaway CEO to consider the disclosure an “opportunity to educate the public” on “his secret of tax avoidance.”

When asked during Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit whether or not he would be willing to do so, Buffett said he would be happy to — so long as News Corp’s most superior might join him.

China holds about $1.2 trillion in U.S. government debt, according to the Treasury Department’s latest figures. That’s about 30 percent higher than the previous estimate.

Then there is Obama health care.  What started out as an honest effort has turned into a joke.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds the support for ObamaCare has dipped yet again, with just 34 percent of Americans favoring the president’s signature health care overhaul.

What’s more, just 52 percent of Democrats support the law, a troubling sign for President Obama a year before Election Day. Thirty-one percent of Democrats view the law either “somewhat” or “very” unfavorably.

The budget debates are enough to give a teenage boy a Boehner.

Have you ever wondered about a “Peppery Zinfandel?”  What does that mean exactly? What is to stop the winemaker from taking a bunch of very average Zin grapes and dumping a pound of ground pepper in the barrel? Who would know?

Life without metrics and accountability is like that.  What we post on the internet is largely without measure or control.  Eventually our Karma will be affected by the crap that we put out if we do that, but really, there are no “thought police” out there.  We all have to be responsible to our audience, and true to our purpose.  There is enough deception out there as it is.


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Considerations to Make When Sending Business Christmas Cards

Business Christmas cards have long been something business owners have turned to during the holiday season to help them show appreciation to their customers and business contacts, all while assisting them in drumming up a little more business. Yet before you buy, sign and stamp your next set of Christmas cards, take some time to consider these important thoughts.

Avoid Being Overly Religious

Even if you are a devoutly religious individual, your customer, client or business contact may not be. This is not the time to be overly religious. Choose a generic greeting, or tailor each card to the recipient. Of course, if your business is religious in nature, this consideration may not apply, but for most businesses a generic card works best. You simply cannot predict the religious preference of every recipient.

Consider Being Cost Effective

At first, holiday cards seem to be a very small expense in your overall business budget. Yet, when you incorporate the time necessary to prepare and send the cards, you may need to stop and consider whether or not you are doing everything as cost effectively as possible.

Etiquette states that it is best for you to personally sign each card. This is not that time consuming for a few hundred cards, but if you have thousands of cards to send it may become so. You may be better off investing in a printed greeting that includes your name, or buying an ink stamp made from your signature. Sometimes, sacrificing etiquette is important when you are trying to run your business efficiently.

Similarly, choosing a card specifically for each recipient, such as a Hanukah card for your Jewish contacts and a religious Christmas card for your Christian contacts, shows your attention to detail and the preferences of your customers. However, this takes time. If time is at a premium in your business, you may want to forgo this in favor of a more generic card that works for everyone.

Benefits to Consider

Sometimes, sending out business Christmas cards seems like an overwhelming task. When you start to feel this way, take the time to consider the benefits of doing so.

When customers and clients receive a Christmas card, it puts your business’s name in their minds. Later, when a customer needs the service that you provide, your name is going to be on the forefront of his or her mind, rather than your competitor that did not send cards. Some customers who have been putting off a call to you may even be prompted to do so when they see their card.

Business Christmas cards also show that your company is financially stable and successful. A struggling business is not going to have the money or time to send cards. Even though it is a commitment of time and resources, sending business Christmas card helps paint your business in a positive light, and this is a tremendous benefit.

Monique Trulson works for, an online retailer of wedding invitations, birth announcements, business Christmas cards and more.


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Fun and Games with an Interactive Whiteboard

An interactive whiteboard is electronic display media that is connected to a computer and a projector to enable a group of people to all view the content of a computer screen at the same time. The whiteboard is placed on a wall or a floor-stand and the computers desktop is projected onto the whiteboard via the projector.

The user controls the computer via the whiteboard using a pen, finger or another device.  This allows the teacher or person delivering the training course a greater degree of versatility and interaction during the lesson or training session with pupils, students or trainees.

In a lot of schools whiteboards have become so popular they have replaced the traditional blackboard. In the work environment whiteboards are used in training rooms, board rooms, work groups and any other situation where it’s important for information to be delivered to a group of people at the same time.

Interactive whiteboards come in a range of sizes and specifications. Some allow use by a single user only, whilst others can be controlled by multiple users at the same time. Most interactive whiteboards include software such as maths tools, sounds, templates, and gesture touch applications. These tools really help to make learning a lot of fun and allow the teacher or trainer to provide immediate feedback to the pupils or trainees.

They also encourage learners to ask questions and can develop good working relationships with each other.

Some whiteboard manufacturers restrict software compatibility so only their own works on their whiteboards. This is not a bad thing, especially in the case of the major companies in the interactive learning sector, but it is something to take into consideration when during the research stage.

There are a number of benefits to using a whiteboard:

  • Learners  easily absorb more information compared to lecture-style teaching/delivery
  • They encourage group participation and discussion which frees concentration from note taking
  • The teacher/trainer can provide quick and rapid feedback to ensure all learners have a full understanding of the topic
  •  They encourage team-work in group situations
  • Lessons/tutorials/presentations can be stored and viewed at any time (useful for providing retrospective lessons/tutorials/presentations)

As well as being an educational tool to deliver lessons and information to people in the room where the whiteboard is situated, they can also be used for long distance learning or communication. The in-built tools of some interactive whiteboards allow users to draw circles or arrows on the screen to highlight points of interest. Some of the more advanced whiteboards allow all users to not only see program documents like Word or Excel, but to make changes to the document too.

Stephen Thomas writes for JP UK, a leading supplier of electrical equipment to schools, universities and businesses.


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Love is the Decision of an Adult

Love is the Decision of an Adult

I don’t remember where that quote came from, so I thought I’d look it up.  Can’t find it anywhere.  It feels good to know that there are some things that one cannot “Google.”  What does manifest itself is that after 6 brief years with my wife,  we love each other more every day.  Why?

An old and dear friend of mine, although she can be somewhat of a brat at times, taught me a cruel and beautiful lesson:  quit looking for the right person, and BE the right person. Love for another, although part of the general universe and the omnipresent Agape Love of The Creator, comes from within.  I am able to love another in direct proportion to my ability to love myself.

After being dismissed from by my ex-wife after 16 years of marriage because she didn’t “feel like” being married any more, I had the obligatory period of mourning.  Aside from the fact that I had been cast out of the house that I had inhabited for some 22 years, it was the loss of my family.  My girls were left in the care and nurturing of my ex’s new boyfriend, and the family holidays no longer required my presence.  It was a great time of self-pity and morbid reflection, followed by a resolve that it was indeed not all my fault, and that there was a self in there somewhere worth saving.

Figuring out that there was something to offer to the world was half the battle.  The next thing that came to mind was that it was imperative that this wonder be shared with a significant “other.”  What wiring the Universe, “God” if you will, put in us to make us feel that we need a mate is a great mystery, but for many it is irrefutable.  To me, life is at its fullest when being shared.  To this end began my summer of love via  I was determined that my life was not going to be lived alone.  It never occurred to me that I was really never alone, and that God, the Universe, and soooooo many wonderful people were all around me, but off I went in search for the “right” person.

Over the course of the summer I met and “dated” probably thirty or forty different ladies.  A couple of times I felt the feelings of infatuation that manifest in the ways of youth:  dizzy dancing way I feel, weak in the knees, etc.  It was the second time that happened that the realization came to me that it was not about the women that I was with, because they were entirely different.  Upon reflection, the women that I have really loved and felt that way about throughout my life have had very few similarities.  That wonderful dizzy dancing way I feel is just that.  It is the dizzy dancing way I feel.

Love for another, although part of the general universe and the omnipresent Agape love of The Creator, comes from within.  I am able to love another in direct proportion to my ability to love myself.  The past couple of days have been very satisfying for me professionally:  I have a couple of clients that are really listening to my advice, and empowering me to be really creative and productive.  That is always a great feeling.  When my wife comes home at night there is no insecurity or self-pity to get in the way or our enjoyment of each other.

Giving of one’s self is the most satisfying aspect of a relationship.  Whether it is knowing your children will finally appreciate you when they “grow up” and not clinging to them when they do, or simply knowing when to say “that’s great dear, you go have fun” in general.   My wife is a senior executive in a global corporate travel management enterprise; therefore travel is a major factor in our relationship.  She also has many close friends and a huge family, all of which is very healthy and great.  I am envious, as both of my parents have long since passes, and my only siblings are half sisters that are a great deal older than I.  Mary is gone lots with her friends, and my life has evolved to be more introspective and solitary.  There are many great friends and activities in my life, just not as often as she is gone.  I still take great pride and joy in seeing her thrive and be able to take advantage of her many outside opportunities.  It is never healthy to have all of one’s eggs in one relational basket.  That is why it is so common to see one spouse pass away almost immediately after the other.

I have a deathly fear of heights.  I get dizzy at the top of a step-ladder.  It showed its head a few times in my youth, like at the top of the Eifel Tower, but really didn’t manifest itself totally until I suffered a severe concussion in a snowmobile accident (apparently they are not meant to jump 30 foot double motocross hills).  Mary, not keeping my phobia at the top of her mind at all times, got this wonderful opportunity to spend a couple of nights at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco.  Thinking that this would be a wonderful and romantic weekend for us in The City, she never thought to enquire as to the vertical parameters of the event.  Being aware of my own limitations, I made some queries, and found that the Hotel occupies floors 37 through 48 of a tower that looks down on the Transamerica Pyramid in downtown San Francisco.  Needless to say, I had to tell her to have a wonderful time in the five-star accommodations, while my own humble residence for the weekend will be a few blocks (and several hundred feet in elevation) down the street.

The examples could go on and on.  We’re going to visit her parents in Vancouver WA for Thanksgiving, and now were going back again at Christmas because all of her brothers and sisters will be there.  It happens to be a financial burden that was not expected at this time of year, but the joy in her face made it more than worth it.  The list is endless and it couldn’t be any sweeter.  I’m quite sure hers is twice as long with me.  She wakes up every morning before I do and puts a cloth over my eyes so that her reading lamp doesn’t disturb me.  The point is that we made a commitment to love and honor each other, and that is what has made it work.

The more each of us sacrifices and gives, the more we love ourselves.  It is a phenomenon that has existed in fable and fact for eons.  The more we love ourselves, the more we are able to love others, and I love her more every day.


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Dreams: When to Know You’re Stressed Part 1

Dreams are an amazing manifestation of our subconscious thoughts and feelings. Most of the time we think that our dreams are pure nonsense, which can very well be true. But other times they are a reflection of the things we are thinking and feeling. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of books have been written on the subject of dreams. This article won’t be able to do any kind of justice to the great expanse of our subconscious thoughts, but it would be interesting to list a few of the indicators that might show up in our dreams when we are feeling particularly stressed with school, work, or just life in general. Most of the explanations I used below come from 20th century dream expert Gustavus Hindman Miller and his book 10,000 Dreams Interpreted: A Dictionary of Dreams.

Embarrassing. This one is an oldie but a goody. Many people dream about showing up to their first day of school, or to a very important meeting, wearing nothing but their birthday suit. It takes you a minute to finally realize that you aren’t dressed because everyone around you is acting normally. The obvious interpretation of this is that you are feeling vulnerable or unprepared.

Losing Teeth. Sometimes they simply fall out one at a time, other times they will crumble away. According to Miller, teeth falling out represent burdens that could potential crush your pride. Meaning, if you have a job interview the next day, you are worried about not being offered the position and having your pride hurt. Or it could also mean that you are going through a transition in life (as in, losing your baby teeth and having new adult teeth grow in their place). Along these same lines are losing your hair or even fingernails. Storms. Storms can take the form of tornados, hurricanes, or hail in your dreams. The symbolism of this one isn’t hard to figure out. There is obviously something going on in your life that is causing you fear and worry. Possibly you feel like there is so much going on at once that life is a figurative whirlwind of decisions, activities, and emotional turmoil. If you find that each day you have a wide range of emotional ups and downs, then your dreams about storms are easily explained.

Crashes/Falling. Have you ever been on the cusp of a deep sleep and had a dream that you were free-falling towards the earth with no parachute to slow you down? Right as you hit, you are startled awake! Once again, the symbolism is obvious. Crashing/falling dreams show that you fear that your life is heading for disaster. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true, just that you fear it could be. The type of crash/falling experience can also be significant. Airplane crashes can mean you set your standards higher than you could handle, car crashes might mean that you are simply going through a painful experience. While simply falling from the sky out of nowhere can signify that you have a general fear of failure.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll discuss four more dream symbols that could indicate you have a high level of stress in your life, so stay tuned!

About the Author

Natalie Clive writes inspirational pieces for My Colleges and Careers gives people the resources they need to get themselves back to college, and into the careers they want. MCC will also put you in touch with accredited online colleges that will allow you to reach previously undreamed of positions.


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Personal Branding as a Virtual Assistan

When it comes to any type of business situation, one of the most important techniques that you can use is known as branding. Virtual assistants always seem to think that they can get away without that, but the reality is that they need is just as much as everybody else. Branding is a method of making either you, your business, your business logo, or your services easily recognizable to the public crowd. A lot of companies do this with their logo, like Coca Cola for example. They have actually trademarked the specific shape of the bottle that They use. You know all of those red and white Coke signs that have the bottle outline in the middle? The sign doesn’t even have to say Coca Cola for you to know what it is.

Other companies brand themselves through the use of a slogan. When you hear the phrase, “I’m loving it,” if you’ve watched a TV in the past 6 years you automatically think of Mcdonalds. Geiko car insurance has done the same thing: “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance.” What these companies are doing is actively branding themselves. They are taking their brand and making it recognizable everywhere based on just a picture or a few simple words. It’s one of the most important keys to success in the world, as advocated by the fact that every single major company has an identifiable logo or catch-phrase. As a virtual assistant, you can do the same thing to quickly spread awareness for your services.

It’s unfortunate that so many entrepreneurs and self-starters neglect to do this very simple thing. A lot of people actually think that the internet has cut back on the importance of branding, but it’s actually the exact opposite. Think of the little “f” used for Facebook, or the blue bird used for Twitter; branding is even more alive today than it was ten years ago.

When it comes to virtual assistants, branding is all about making yourself more accessible to your clients. You don’t want them to just recognize that you are there, you want them to feel like they’re able to reach out and really communicate with you about their needs for a specific project. There are a million different ways that you can brand yourself as a virtual assistant, but what you need to remember is that you don’t want to be completely transparent about what you’re doing. As we all know, everything comes down to money; you want a client because you want the paycheck that they give you. And be completely honest with yourself about that, because if you really, truly, only did it for your love of helping people, you would do it for free.

When you think about it in that perspective, it’s obvious that you should make your personal brand reflect your interests in developing relationships rather than getting a paycheck. It’s obvious, but so many people don’t really think about that when they’re developing their own brand.

Amy Robinson is a content writer. She has a team of Virtual Personal Assistants who help her search the websites as well as manage the many work she has to do online. If you’re interested in Amy’s virtual personal assistant or if you would like to find out more on how her virtual personal assistants work, visit her website.


Repairing Your Credit Isn’t Impossible

Lots of people want to repair their credit reports, but they’re unsure how to go about it. What steps you take definitely depends on what is on your report, so your first step should definitely be to get a copy of your report and review it carefully, checking for negative and incorrect information. This should give you a great place to start.

The easiest thing to take care of on your credit report is inaccuracies. Don’t overlook even small errors, as they may be hurting your credit. If you find errors, submit a credit report dispute to have the incorrect information removed.

It’s a safe bet that most people know that their payment history has the biggest impact on their credit scores. Late payments will hurt you worse than anything else. When repairing your credit report, the single most important thing you can do is to get current on any accounts that are delinquent. You should also negotiate with creditors and debt collectors to remove charge-offs and collection accounts from your report.

The second area where your credit score takes a big hit is your level of debt. Bring your over-the-limit balances below your credit limit to save on fees, and limit the impact these balances have on your credit.

If you have any outstanding judgments, pay them as soon as possible. If you have defaulted on a student loan, talk to your lender to find out what you can do to bring that loan out of default.

If you have a bankruptcy, foreclosure, tax lien or judgment, you really can’t repair them. You can only rebuild your credit – and you do this by adding positive credit history and showing that you can successfully manage credit.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to get a credit card, even if it has a high interest rate and low available balance, and pay the balance due on time, every time. This will go a long way in repairing your credit. If you can’t get any other kind of card, check into getting a secured card, which is a card that you pay a security deposit on. Either way, paying off the balance each month is a great way to rebuild your credit.

Remember that tearing your credit down didn’t happen instantly – it happened over a period of time. Likewise, it will take time to rebuild your credit. But be patient, stay on course, and you’ll soon see your credit history improving and your credit score climbing.

Guest article was provided by Providing consumers instant access to their credit report and credit scores with a simple click of a button.

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