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Monthly Archives: June 2014

The existential crisis (and the other kind)

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For some, crises are existential. The subsistence farmer, the parent without access to medical care, the person living in a makeshift shelter–this crisis might be the last one they ever encounter. Deal with this crisis or cease to exist.

As a result, crisis management became a cultural emergency, something we all focused on. High alert, drop everything, this is do or die, because if we don’t get through this, it’s over.

Now, of course, for those lucky enough to live in a well-off part of the world, insulated from disaster, few crises are actually this black and white—they merely feel that way.

The project might be in jeopardy, but you’re not.

 

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How Financial Spring Cleaning Can Lead to a Richer Long-Term Outlook

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3 Areas to Consider for Increased Savings

One lesson the average American should have learned from the recent financial crisis and gradual recovery is that putting more money into savings is, in general, good.

“When things are fine, most of us are prone to commit less of our money to savings; when the economy is down, however, we realize that having money is far more important than spending it on things we don’t need,” says Gorton, a veteran Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner™, and head of Gorton Financial Group, (www.gortonfinancialgroup.com).

The personal savings rate in July 2005 hit an all-time low at just 2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in May 2009, near the beginning of the recession, the average American’s savings rate hit a high of 8 percent.

“That rate dwindled as the economy recovered, which is unfortunate because you can do more with accumulated money, including benefit from investments yielding compound interest, which means that interest also earns interest in an investment,” says Gorton, who suggests practical ways to trim spending in the short term in order to get your financial house in order and accumulate more money in the long term.

•  Car buying says plenty about how a consumer views their money. For most Americans, the question is whether to buy new or used. The moment you drive a brand new car off the lot after the purchase, the car’s value drastically drops. Many of the benefits you may enjoy in buying a new car can be had with a certified pre-owned car: low miles, good-as-new functionality and, usually, that new-car smell. And, a given model will have a history, so you can avoid cars that have been recalled. Buying a certified pre-owned car will save you several thousands of dollars versus buying new.

•  Summer vacation is an important lifestyle enhancer for many couples, but consider replacing the $400-per-night hotel with a condo rented through a private owner, especially if your vacation will last for an extended period. A condo rental should cost you in the ballpark of $200 per night, which totals $2,800 savings for two weeks.

•  Your home is probably your most significant asset if you’re like most Americans. But with that grand house on the hill comes plenty of costs, many of which you may not need. As with a luxury car, rethinking the amount of luxury for a home can save you big on taxes, insurance and maintenance. The cost of maintaining a large home can be put toward lifestyle activities, such as travel and hobbies.

“Of course, these are all simply suggestions; money plays a major role in how we achieve happiness, and I’ve found through years of working with clients, a few tweaks here and there frequently yields greater satisfaction with their money,” Gorton says. “You don’t have to be on autopilot with your expenses.”

About Jeff Gorton, CPA, CFP®

Jeff Gorton is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner™ specializing in individual tax and retirement planning as head of Gorton Financial Group, (www.gortonfinancialgroup.com). He is also an Investment Advisor Representative under Alphastar Capital Management, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor, and has a life and health insurance license. Gorton works with individuals and their families to create and protect their financial legacies. He specializes in working with retirees in the areas of tax planning, benefits, retirement planning, estate planning and safe money techniques. He received his BBA in Accounting from the University of Oklahoma. Gorton previously worked for 10 years as the Chief Financial Officer for a large retail organization, overseeing their accounting, benefits and 401(k) retirement plans.

 

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Should You Look for the Right Job or the Right Company?

If you are an aspiring young professional – or are advising one – what do you believe is more important: to get into the right job or to get into the right company?

The “right job” is one that will pay well, offer substantive work, put you under the direction of a good boss, and provide prospects for advancement. The “right company” is one that is well known, highly respected – perhaps even cool, offer good training, and where people and other employers will value you based on your association with the brand.

Of course, you want both. And there is a spectrum of just how great or awful the job is and just how prestigious or obscure the organization is. There is obviously no right answer, but I’m asking you to consider where you find yourself directionally.

I asked this same question to thousands of aspiring young professionals in our careers survey and to a cross section of the senior most business leaders across the land. The results:

  • Among young professionals, two-thirds believe it’s more important to get into the right job and a third into the right organization.
  • Among top business leaders, it’s an even 50-50 split.

The fact is this is a challenging question if you’re starting out in your career.

I’ve long had the view that a core principle in career management is to “go blue chip” early. My thinking is similar to wanting to go to the “best” college or university you can – you will always have that as part of your association and that it will create more options from which to choose over the course of your life. And you will have the opportunity to build relationships and friendships with more people who will go onto great things in their lives which will be beneficial to your success. I’ve also had the belief that if you get your foot in the door at a good organization and add value, work hard, and have a great attitude opportunities will open up for you to move internally.

However, this may be far easier said than done. You need to make a living and you want to develop skills that will establish your foundation. You may find yourself wrestling with this conundrum if, for example, you are offered a minimum wage internship or have the chance to start in a potentially dead-end position in a prestigious company. If this is the case, my advice is to ask some specific questions – politely of course – such as: “Over the past 3 years, how many interns have you had and how many of those were offered full time roles? What is your company’s track record of moving young people laterally from one group to another? How does that actually work?” If the company’s practice and culture is to start in the mail room (literally or figuratively) and move from there (as in the case of talent agencies or at companies such as UPS where almost everyone starts as a driver), that should give you confidence to take the leap. If they cannot give you real examples of how someone starting in the back office moved into a revenue producing role or they have no process for internal mobility then take care.

Alternatively, if you have received a good offer but at a questionable company ask yourself and others you trust a different set of questions: Would you be proud to be associated with this brand? How will you feel going to parties or reunions and talking about what you do? Have people moved from this company to others that you admire? Will the job push you to learn valuable new skills? How will this role help you figure out if this is the right kind of job for you going forward?

In both cases, you can do an analysis on LinkedIn of people from that company to see how they’ve moved internally or where they went afterwards. This will give you real data to inform your view. As with all decisions that you have to make managing your career there are few black and white choices. It’s all about making judgment calls.

Photo: alphaspirit / Shutterstock

 

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Micro marketing and the called bluff

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Just ten years ago, what difference could you possibly be expected to make?

How could you make music without getting picked by a record label, or help the local community garden more than showing up on Saturday to pull weeds? How could anyone expect you to change a conversation, or raise enough cash or move the needle more than a little?

Today, armed with Mailchimp and Indiegogo and Vimeo and Meetup and a dozen other nearly free tools, you can make quite a ruckus.

You can organize a hundred or a thousand people and get them in sync with a weekly newsletter. You can tailor goods or services or a cause to a small group of people that really want to hear about it and really want to spread the word. You can self publish to your thousand true fans, you can host an event or a dozen events, you can enable your work to become famous to the crowd that matters.

Pick yourself.

If you care enough.

 

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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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Excuses stopping the reporting of a potential problem

workplaceviolenceinbody                Far too many times, when I hear an incident of workplace violence (WPV), there is always some talking heads in the media, personalities, psychologists, and others, including security and law enforcement, who are glad to tell you, ‘They just snapped with no warning’. Granted they say those because they make excellent sound bites, which is exactly what the general public and news casts demand (unfortunately).

                There are always warning signs of anyone who is about to go off and start harming people. And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s with their fists, pipe wrench, pencils or staplers, or knives and firearms! There will always be warning signs they are about to hurt someone.

There are numerous instances throughout the recent history of WPV where the shooter either ignored or didn’t shoot people who were right in front of them. In several cases the shooter looked them straight in the eye and continued walking by, or saying ‘I don’t want you’.

 

The Key:

We can either choose to act upon or ignore the warning signs. Which way we decide to act could determine whether someone will live or die. And in reporting the warning signs there are several things that stand in the way of reporting them to a supervisor or manager.

 

Excuses:

So what are some of those excuses that people give for not reporting the warning signs to the proper individual(s)? This is only a partial list. I’m sure you’ve heard many more than these. And before I list them, a quote;

He, who accepts evil, without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • He is just going through a tough time
  • He’s not that kind
  • He’s got problems, who doesn’t?
  • I don’t want to get him in trouble.
  • I don’t want to get involved.
  • It’s not my problem
  • Why should I care what happens to him?
  • I hate this place, why should I warn them?
  • This company needs a wake-up call anyway.
  •  They won’t listen to me.

 

Connecting the Dots:

                I stated above that no one just ever snaps. There are always the warning signs. Unfortunately, it’s as much the companies fault as it is employees that these signs are ignored. In addition, to the excuses above, no one can or is willing to ‘connect the dots’. It is a simple exercise, especially when you know what to look, and train employees in.

And it’s not just that simple either. Supervisors, managers, human resources, security, top management, literally everyone needs to know not to ignore what an employee brings to them. And they need to ‘buy-in’ to the security and WPV prevention program 150%. And demonstrate that fact.

 

Another person’s view:

                Forensic psychologist Robert Fein, PhD, now a national security psychologist, “targeted violence is the end result of an understandable and often discernible process of thinking and behavior,” In other words, people don’t just “snap,” he says.

Specifically, studies found that attackers usually plan for days and months before committing a crime. In addition, while perpetrators don’t often threaten their targets directly, other people usually know enough to be concerned before a plan is carried out. “It seems increasingly clear that when bad things happen, there are people around the person who know enough to have concerns,”

 

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized authority on workplace violence prevention. He has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues. His forthcoming e-book ‘One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence’ will be out in June. You can read more about WPV/security at www.todays-training.com

 

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