Using Zero Trust Network Segmentation To Protect Your Business From Hackers

Cybersecurity is a major concern no matter what size or type of business you are running, but most people just aren’t doing enough. We don’t tend to think about information security until it is too late – after a breach has already occurred. And those breaches can be costly, often putting small businesses completely out of business within a few months in some instances. Many large corporations have recommended practices in place that should stave off most attacks, but unfortunately since humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity chain ultimately breaches are going to happen no matter how well prepared your company is. The new preferred model for cybersecurity is the zero trust model with network segmentation.

What Is Zero Trust?

In the old way of doing cybersecurity, gaining access to a network was as simple as putting in your username and password. Once you were in, you were in, and you pretty much had access to everything once you were inside. A username and password granted you trusted access to the network. Unfortunately this model has some pretty obvious vulnerabilities – hackers only need to gain access to login data, and that has turned out to be pretty easy to do through social engineering.

In the zero trust model, everyone is assumed to be a hacker. Login info will get you into the front door, but there are many more doors inside once you get there thanks to network segmentation. Activity logs are inspected regularly, sometimes even in real time, to detect any threats as quickly as possible. Employees only have access to what they absolutely need, which leaves fewer open doors for hackers to exploit once they do break into a network. And traffic is monitored so that suspicious activity can be detected quickly and threats eliminated before they do serious damage.

Even the Department of Homeland Security recommends zero-trust segmented networks. Among their recommendations:

Design network segments around need-to-know and zero trust principles

Ensure that sensitive information is segmented, even from other sensitive information

Layer security measures so each segment has its own requirements for access

How Much Do Data Breaches Cost, Anyway?

According to Hackerpocalypse: A Cybercrime Revelation from Cybersecurity Ventures:

“Cybersecurity Ventures predicts global annual cybercrime costs will grow from $3 trillion in 2015 to $6 trillion annually by 2021, which includes damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, post-attack disruption to the normal course of business, forensic investigation, restoration and deletion of hacked data and systems, and reputational harm.”

The individual cost of cleaning up breached records varies by company and by industry. Retail breaches, which are often the most publicized type of breaches because they affect vast numbers of consumers at once, cost millions of dollars per incident to clean up. They also cost the retail outlet in lost sales and reputational damage. But even small data breaches that happen to small businesses that only cost in the tens of thousands to clean up can put a company out of business. After all, how many small businesses have tens of thousands of dollars they aren’t using to put toward cleaning up a data breach?

How To Implement Zero Trust Segmented Networks

Even if you don’t have a large corporation with an information security team and a network architecture specialist there are still ways to get the needed security measures to protect your small business.

Software can automate some security needs

Next generation firewalls can provide greater security

BYOD and password hygiene policies can go a long way

Security consultants often specialize in working with small businesses to find infosec solutions

SaaS and NaaS providers can give your business the same level of security as large corporations

Don’t Let Infosec Get Away From You

Doing something about your company’s information security before it’s too late is crucial if you want to stay in business. Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, so the time to act to make your network safer is now. You are the weakest link and hackers know that. Don’t let them destroy your businesses by not acting to protect it. Learn more about zero trust network segmentation from this infographic!

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How To Overcome Obstacles: 5 Ways On How To Be A Conquerer

To stress you out beyond your normal limits with extreme mental and physical challenges to make you worthy of serving with the world’s most elite fighting force. This is the simple principle of the US Navy SEALS.

But, don’t confuse simple with easy. In order to be one the greatest warriors on the planet, you must conquer the obstacles in front of you. If you only endure, you will become just another failed statistic.

During BUD/S training, the most iconic and demanding event is Hell Week. Candidates are put through extremely rigorous exercises for 5 days straight with less than a few total hours of sleep. Activities will include running, swimming, paddling, push-ups, sit-ups, rolling in the sand and log PT.

Out of approximately 40,000 Navy recruits a year, only 250 (or less than 1%) actually possess the mental and physical toughness necessary to make it through Hell week and become a SEAL.

How To Overcome Obstacles

It isn’t always the largest and strongest men or the fastest swimmers or runners that complete the training. It’s most often those who have the strongest will and a burning desire to not give up. Champions know that the only way to the finish line isn’t going around the obstacle but through it.

And the same goes in the real world.

Obstacles, struggles, and sufferings are inescapable and are very real in the human experience. The simulated harsh conditions of Navy SEAL training parallel the authentic harsh episodes of real life. Successful Navy SEAL candidates feed off of the intensity, employ mental toughness, resist the seeds of doubt and are relentless about finishing.

And like the SEALS, in order to navigate through a real chapter of suffering, you must use obstacles as leverage instead of shackles holding you from success.

In the depth of suffering, it is often the difference between conquering and enduring that determines the outcome of either breakthrough or breakdown. Enduring is passive, indifferent, weak and unintentional. Conquering is meticulous, purposeful and intentional. A champion’s mindset is all about conquering obstacles rather than simply enduring in hopes of making it through.

So, how do you become a warrior? Here are 5 ways to be a conquerer and not an endurer.

Be happy during the bad times as you would the good times

In a speech for the PGA Tour rookies, Tom Kite recapped the idea of “loving what you do all the time” perfectly. From the book, How Champions Think by Bob Rotella, we get a snapshot of what Tom said:

“If you’re going to play on the Tour, you have to love golf all the time,” he said. “It’s not going to work if you can only love it when everything’s going your way, every putt’s going in the hole, and every carom is bouncing into the fairway instead of out of bounds. It’s not going to work if you practice every day and only love it when the ball is going where you’re looking. You’ve got to love it when you practice day after day and you can’t find it. You’ve got to love it when every putt looks like it’s going in and then lips out. That’s what it’s about.” (How Champions Think, Bob Rotella).

When you land your dream job, you have to appreciate the bad days as much as the good days. When you find the greatest person on earth and want to spend the rest of your life with them, you take them in their most pristine condition and weather the storm with them when times get rough.

Know what you can control and what you cannot

thomas edison

In the early hours of December 10th, 1914, an explosion shook the city of West Orange, NJ. Thomas Edison’s factory was immediately engulfed in flames. Despite the joint effort of several fire departments, the blaze was too powerful and decades of work was destroyed in a fiery instant.

And how did Edison respond to this?

According to a Reader’s Digest article, Edison walked over to his son, Charles and said “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.”

Even though Edison was almost 70 years old and a lifetime of work was destroyed in minutes, he told a New York Times reporter that he would start rebuilding the very next day…and that’s exactly what he did. He realized he had no control over the situation and chose to work with the given circumstance and not fight against it.

It’s all about perspective. Edison’s perspective on the situation grounded him in the reality that there was absolutely nothing he could do at this time other than to rebuild. The damage was already done.

See Also: 7 Amazing Success Lessons from Thomas Edison

“It’s impossible to be angry and in a state of gratefulness at the same time.” -A Defined Life

How many times have you been in a situation, where a relatively-speaking, contextual thought should alter how you respond?

If your internet is slow on your phone, at least you have a phone equipped with up-to-date 21st-century technology. If your clothes are wrinkled in the morning, at least you have nice clothes to wear, let alone a job to go to. And if you are late to work and behind a really slow driver, at least you won’t get cited for speeding.

Viewing obstacles and struggles through the proverbial “could be worse” lens allows you to see the situation relative to someone who does not have your luxuries. It also sheds a sobering light on your life by grounding you in gratitude. It’s impossible to be angry and in a state of gratefulness at the same time.

See Also: One Awesome Tip On How To Shift Perspective

Focus on the little things

When the burden seems overwhelming or insurmountable, it is easy to give into the temptation of giving up. But the paralyzing situation you are in is almost, all the time, reducible to smaller parts. When you focus on tackling the fundamental elements of the situation, you can carve out a path to ultimate victory.

Henry Clay, a famous American orator and lawyer, was once approached by an illiterate man after giving a rousing speech. The admiring gentleman admitted to Clay that he could not read, but desperately wanted to be like him. Clay grabbed the young man and pointed to an “A” in his name on a poster and said, “That’s an A. Now you’ve only got 25 more letters to go.”

Defeating the obstacle in front of you is always manageable if you just start somewhere and focus on one thing at a time. Today it may be the letter “A” and only the letter “A”. Tomorrow or even next week, it may be the letter “B”.

We all want it to be over. But, saturating yourself in wishful thinking will cause you to never start the conquest or, even worse, cause you to fail to chisel your character and strengthen your essence. Every micro conflict of the whole is a teachable moment for you to learn and sharpen other areas of your life.

Know there is always a way out. Be an overcomer.

way out

If your relationship is your identity, when it’s gone, so are you. If your job is your identity, when it’s gone, so are you. And if your identity or self-worth is wrapped up in something outside of your own existence or purpose, then you too will perish when those things fail.

Suffering is non-discriminant that it does not care how you came to meet it. There isn’t a more conservative version of suffering. If you want to win the war on suffering, you must first see yourself as an ascendant being with an independent meaning, where everything in your life is your responsibility.

If you approach your suffering knowing that you are an overcomer, you will overcome. It’s all about winning in your mind first and then taking action. As you fight, never forget who you are…an overcomer and nothing less than that.

Here is a way to illustrate the point.

With boiling water, you can create steam. With pressurized steam, you can power engines and turbines through mechanical work. This was part of a composite of revolutionary ideas that literally changed the landscape of our human experience. But, in order for water to turn to steam, it has to reach the exact temperature of 212 degrees. If 212 degrees is not achieved, then there is no high-pressurized steam, no mechanical work, no engine or turbine turning. In essence, there’ll be no Transcontinental Railroad or electricity to power millions of homes. 211 degrees, a simple 1-degree cooler, is really hot, but it won’t bring water to a boil.

The same is true of your identity. If you identify as an overcomer and nothing less, then you are an overcomer. This must be nonnegotiable. You must be relentless in this identity. Any moments of weakness will result in you crumbling and submitting to the obstacle in your life. The overcomer never taps out because they know there is always a way out.

Find meaning in your suffering

What if this thing that keeps you up at night affects how you interact with people, sustains your stress level and negatively influences your self-worth, is actually critical in strengthening you?

When meaning and purpose is found in one’s suffering, the conditions in which the struggle occurs are mutated in your favor. Instead of being held hostage by this ominous scenario, you ransom the situation for a net gain of self-betterment. You’re already suffering, you might as well get something out of it.

Nobody illustrates the need to find meaning in suffering better than Viktor Frankl. As a Holocaust survivor and world-renowned psychiatrist, it was a defined purpose and meaning-through-suffering that literally kept him alive among the prisoners around him who surrendered to the call of death.

For Frankl, the thought of seeing his wife again and finishing his lifework as a psychiatrist motivated and armored him for the battles he would go through each day. Thus, he found meaning in suffering in one of the worst events someone could possibly experience. As the conditions of the camp worsened and those around him gave up, his determination to survive intensified, simply because “the human life, under any circumstances, never ceases to have meaning.” (Frankl)

“Despair is suffering without meaning.” -Viktor Frankl


This is the most important part of the message. If you don’t get anything out of this post, at least marinate on this thought.

You must not lose hope or courage. Fight through the struggle like somebody else’s life depends on it. Somewhere, a spouse, child, relative or someone you don’t personally know is counting on you. It’s not enough to endure the situation; some very important people in your life depend on you conquering it. That’s where you start learning how to overcome obstacles.

Just like the mission of the US Navy SEALS who are responsible for carrying out the most dangerous operations for the welfare of others, you are responsible for sustaining and providing positive living conditions for others, too.

Failure is not an option.

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How to Increase Your Productivity in a Coworking Space

Public coworking spaces and shared office spaces have become increasingly popular in the last decade. In fact, in over six years, the number of shared office spaces available has jumped from 1,130 to 13,800 — a leap of 12,670 spaces.

This popularity is due to the undeniable benefits of shared working spaces, especially for freelancers and independent contractors. Factors such as energy level, professional ambiance and mingling lend a hand to the success of this office style. However, like working anywhere, shared spaces have their own unique downsides. Sensory overload, random uncontrollable noise and self-management can decrease your work productivity.

Here are a few tips to making this public space work for you!

Invest in Headphones

coworking space productivity

Open work spaces come with a lot of noise. Even with the best efforts to keep quiet, keyboard strokes, coffee sips, small chatter, conference calls and more can quickly become a nuisance.

The solution? Headphones.

Using a personalized music playlist or listening to your favorite podcast is proven to be effective in enhancing your focus. However, make sure to cater to your work. If you’re writing, music is usually a better choice than a podcast as it provides too much word input. But, if you’re designing web platforms, a podcast you enjoy will keep your brain busy while you’re completing tedious tasks.

If music in your ear isn’t your jam (pun intended), consider complete silence with a high-quality pair of noise-canceling headphones. Covering up with a pair of these will block out the chitter chatter and clickety clicks, so you can focus on your workload in peace and quiet.

See Also: This Type Of Music Can Increase Your Productivity

Create Your ‘Office’

cowork space

Much like audio chaos, visual noise is worth reducing for increased productivity. Avoid having anything chaotic or messy within your sight to help maintain focus. Items like trash bins, cluttered tables, washroom hallways and even busy streets are distracting.

Try facing towards a view with simple, clean lines. It can be a garden window or a wall. It seems boring, but Zen tradition suggests this is a great way to stay on task. If possible, include daylight near your workspace. Increased light exposure is proven to improve sleep habits and therefore increase productivity.

Having a plant nearby can also relax the body and foster creativity. If the space doesn’t have plants, consider commuting with your own or bringing a few to leave in the space. Of course, make sure to talk to the owner of the workspace first to ensure that your greenery doesn’t get tossed out at the end of the day.

If your line of work involves a high level of creativity, you may choose to face the excitement head on and use it as your muse. The saying “to each his own” is appropriate for visual decluttering.

See Also: 7 Surprising Benefits of Coworking Spaces

Prioritize Your Time

Most people (64%) who use coworking spaces are better able to meet their deadlines. Time management plays a large role in their ability to do so. To become one of the 64%, it’s suggested that you mute all unimportant notifications. Little beeps for unimportant tasks will take your focus away from larger, more important jobs.

Next, studies show that in order to produce the highest quality of work in the shortest amount of time, people should work intensely for 52 minutes, then take a 17-minute break.

The trick? Staying off of social media, text messaging and the like. Instead, use your break to take a refreshing walk or mingle within the office space. Not only will this help you refocus, but networking never hurts!

Scheduling your own hours is a huge perk that comes along with this style of working. However, if you aren’t disciplined with your time, it’s easy to start working in overdrive. Keeping set hours helps you stay on track, sets the pace for your day and for your potential clients and assures you do not overwork yourself.

One of the reasons shared working spaces are successful is the fact that they provide a structured space to work that is not home. Use this to your advantage and keep work and home time separate.

In addition to these three focus points, maintaining a work-life harmony and keeping procrastination tendencies under control are also important to increasing your productivity in a shared work environment. Once your space is perfected, you will reap the benefits of joining a coworking habitat, including an improved home life, a potential increase in income and added professional flexibility.

Share our awesome infographic on Tips For Getting Work Done.


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7 Not-So-Over-The-Top Romantic Ideas to Keep Love Alive

At a certain point in a relationship, romance seems to fade. You get comfortable with one another and dinners out with romantic moonlit strolls give way to whatever is in the fridge and on TV.

Feeling comfortable without having to make grand, romantic gestures can be a good thing. That level of happiness with just being together is what many of us are ultimately seeking. It’s a slippery slope, however.

Romance keeps the fire burning, so to speak. Without it, the two of you can become distant. Giving up on romance is definitely a relationship mistake you should avoid.

So, what do you do when you want to put a little romance back into the equation? Check out these 7 easy ways to be romantic without being over-the-top.

Make a mixed tape

Or at least the digital equivalent.

Putting together a few songs that remind you of your partner is a personal and thoughtful way to show that you are thinking of him. Surprise him by playing it at an unexpected moment, like during dinner clean-up and then ask them to dance. Not only is it sweet, but it makes a great excuse to get away from the dishes, too. And dancing, especially when you are not surrounded by throngs of sweaty strangers, can be very sensual.

See Also: 4 Original Ways to Be Romantic in the Digital Age

Profess your love to a stranger

Let’s be clear. It’s not your love FOR a stranger, but TO a stranger.

Next time you and your significant other are out at the grocery store or mall, keep your eye out for a friendly face. When you see someone that looks nice enough, tap him on the shoulder and tell him how much you love your partner. Of course, this takes a bit of finesse and humor but, if done right, it is completely flattering and romantic. Not only will your partner feel special, but the stranger you have just spoken to will have the chance to share his story.

Write a note

love letter

It takes less than 5 minutes to write a thoughtful note and place it somewhere unexpected. Notes can be placed in lunch boxes, car visors or underwear drawers. You can place it in your partner’s favorite coffee mug or just about anywhere else your beloved is likely to find them. These little messages will add an unexpected smile to his day.

Make a list

Everyone likes to know the things others appreciate about them. Make your partner a list of 3-5 of the things you love and/or appreciate about him. This doesn’t have to be long or too in-depth. It can be as simple as letting the other person know that you love the way he brings you coffee in the morning.

Have a picnic

romantic picnic

It doesn’t have to be an outdoor picnic. You can set something up inside. Just spread out a blanket in the backyard or living room and set-up a spread with foods the two of you enjoy. You can also get adventurous and choose a whole new cuisine that you have never tried. Add special touches like a handwritten card, music or a favorite drink.

If you want to do this outside, you could set up an outdoor movie on a tablet or laptop. If you prefer having picnic inside, you could get cozy with blankets and watch a movie from a new vantage point.

Help with their hobby

Do you know your partner’s favorite hobby or pastime? Maybe he likes to read or collect something. You can pick up something related to what he enjoys and surprise him.

A reader might like some new books. If your partner is athletic or he runs or bikes, he might appreciate a new water bottle, a surprise race entry or a new gear related to his activity. It doesn’t have to be expensive- it is all about the thought.

See Also: 6 Hobbies For Couples That Can Strengthen Your Relationship

Provide a special delivery at work

If your partner is busy at work, show up with a cup of coffee, tea or whatever his drink or lunch of choice may be. If he happens to be busy or away from his desk, you can leave it with a note. In case your drink or meal is hot, you may want to let a coworker know so he can mention the treat before it gets cold.

These little things don’t require much effort or time but the memories they create can last a long time. They can even help you get through the difficult times in your relationship. Whatever you choose, these romantic gestures will surely make your partner valuable and appreciated.

The post 7 Not-So-Over-The-Top Romantic Ideas to Keep Love Alive appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

The Surprising Success Strategy That Will Empower Your Next Steps

You’ve developed some goals- serious, life-changing goals. You’re feeling pretty bad-ass about the future. When you think about making these things happen, you feel exhilarated and energized.

But, perhaps, you are a little intimidated, too.

If that is the case, you could read another self-help book and listen to yet another podcast to get motivated. Or you could try something a bit different by time-traveling to the past to gain wisdom and plan your next move.

Dwelling in the past? Isn’t that super backward and negative?

The good news is that you can use the “how” of past success to move towards future success. Past success provides important clues about how you operate when you’re moving in a positive direction.

How do you usually overcome obstacles? How do you cope when things get rough?

Even if your previous achievements are very different from what you want to do next, they can still provide important clues as to how you can best tackle the next phase. Plus, it can be inspiring to remind yourself that you have and you can accomplish great things.

Here’s how you can do this amazing success strategy.

Write Down Past Successes

writing goals

Take a moment to revel in previous triumphs. Relive the glorious days and be shameless.

Write down all your earlier accomplishments, even the tiny ones you think don’t matter. Think about milestones completed, bad habits broken and times when you truly shone.

My personal example is quitting smoking. I used to smoke a packet of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes a day, wasting brain power and dollars trying to get my next fix. I am proud to say that in 2005, I stopped smoking for good. I didn’t think I ever could do it, but it’s been twelve years!

See Also: Writing Therapy: How It Can Make Your Life Easier

Analyze How You Made Past Goals Successful

Get analytical and deconstruct these past achievements. What did you actually do to make those things happen? What did you have to not do to make things happen?

Be as specific as possible.

What did you tell yourself in order to meet the goal? How did you manage setbacks? What environment(s) helped you to become successful? Who inspired and supported you?

Also, if you are feeling brave, write down all the things that didn’t work.

For example, when I quit smoking, I found the following strategies helpful: reading books about the science of addiction, staying away from “triggering” scenarios and tracking daily progress. What didn’t work: feeling guilty and ashamed, nicotine gum, acupuncture and reading about ill-effects of smoking cigarettes. And watching those anti-smoking ads only made me want to smoke more (go figure!).

See Also: How to Set Personal SMART Goals To Succeed

Develop Strategies Based on Previous Successes To Accomplish Future Goals

thinking strategies

You now have a picture of what has worked for you in the past, so similar tactics are likely to work in the future. This is the premise of “Solutions-Focused Counseling”, a technique whereby you identify “the differences that make a difference”. You recognize what you have been doing right, rather than dwelling on seemingly insurmountable problems and obstacles.

With that in mind, write a list of strategies that will provide the best chance of future success. Here are some ideas:

  • Proximity: What environment(s) will help you thrive? What needs to change in your daily life?
  • Self-Talk: What phrases and stories do you need to tell yourself on a regular basis?
  • Tools and props: What types of gadgets, if any, will help you meet your goal? What apps/newsletters will keep you on track?
  • Support: Who will you ask to check on your progress? What will you require of your groups/social circles? How can family and friends best demonstrate their support?
  • Heroes: Who do you find inspiring? What lessons can you learn from their success?
  • Inspiration and motivation: What resources will keep you motivated during setbacks? What types of books, podcasts or CD’s seem to get you going on bad days?

By now, you will have a list of future goals, past achievements, past goal strategies that did and didn’t work and potential goal strategies for future success. You will also have a greater sense of what makes you tick and what things will make you more likely to be successful.

So, go start doing these things today!

The post The Surprising Success Strategy That Will Empower Your Next Steps appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How Corporate Welfare Hurts Small Businesses

Corporate welfare is one of those things that everybody hates for different reasons, but nobody wants to do anything about it. Big businesses grow too big to fail on government subsidies, contracts and tax breaks. When they get into trouble, they have to be bailed out or the whole economy will fail.

It’s an endless cycle and it puts small businesses on uneven ground when it comes to competition and growth. If you’re running a small business, how are you going to compete with a corporation that gets millions or even billions of taxpayer money?

By some estimates, the Federal Government spends $100 billion in corporate welfare each year. But, is it helping or hurting the economy overall?

Corporate Welfare Helped Us Avert A Global Financial Crisis

Back in 2008, when the housing market was collapsing, when the banking industry was imploding and when the auto industry was on thin ice, bailouts from the taxpayers saved the economy from almost a certain ruin. Analyses of how this crisis came to be conflicting, but the analysis that bailouts averted global crisis all seem to be in agreement. What’s more, corporate welfare has helped us to develop certain sectors of our economy that industry couldn’t have developed alone.

Corporate Welfare Is Easily Abused

We often hear about companies that re-incorporate in other countries to avoid paying taxes. But, what you don’t often hear about is the tax incentives, government subsidized loans, contracts and grants they receive while they are doing business in the United States. Corporations literally take corporate welfare handouts and then hightail it to a more favorable tax climate.

In 2012, Eaton received almost $32 million in government subsidies before it relocated to Ireland. In 1983, Texas-based McDermott incorporated in Panama, but it still received $12 million from the Defense and Energy departments between 2000 and 2015.

Corporate Welfare Hurts Small To Medium Businesses

Unless you have a huge corporation, your chances of benefiting from corporate welfare are pretty slim. Two thirds of the $68 billion in grants and allocated tax credits between 2000 and 2015 went to 600 large companies. In that same period, 78% of loans, loan guarantees and bailouts to the tune of $18 trillion went to 12 U.S. and foreign banks. Meanwhile, the yearly budget for the Small Business Administration is only $1.4 billion

The Small Business Administration doesn’t function the same way that corporate welfare does. There are no direct loans for small businesses to get off the ground. Grants are targeted for specific nonprofits and educational entities for research into medicine, science and technology. So, unless your startup is looking for a cure for a new type of cancer, you’re on your own.

See Also: How to Ensure Growth in Small Business

You can still make use of the Small Business Administration’s resources to help grow your business:

  • Talk with a counselor or attend a seminar
  • Find business partnerships
  • Use the website as a valuable reference

corporate welfare seminar

Many Sectors Thrive With Corporate Welfare Assistance

In 2008, banks received $700 billion in TARP funds to avert a global financial meltdown. A later study in 2014 found that banks took on riskier loans after they knew the bailout money was coming. So, in effect, the bailout set the precedent for riskier behavior.

A 2009 study found that the more connected a bank was to Federal Reserve boards and finance committees, the more likely it was to get higher levels of bailout funds.

The agricultural sector is supposed to help maintain our food supply and ensure that farmers don’t go out of business. Unfortunately, it’s not always being used that way.

Fifty people on the Forbes 400 wealthiest people in America list received farm subsidies before the 2014 farm bill was implemented. The largest 15% of farms take 85% of the funds, leaving small farmers in their dust.

Knowing You Aren’t Alone Is Half The Battle

small business

Running a small business can be tough and it’s even tougher when you’re at a disadvantage. Look for other ways to compensate. Join a small business group in your area and pledge to work with other small businesses. Call your legislators at the federal, state and local levels and ask them to work toward a more level playing field. Small changes can add up over time.

Small businesses can compete if they band together. Don’t let an uneven playing field discourage you from following your dreams.

Learn more about corporate welfare from this infographic.

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Warmth or Competence: What Job Interviews Are Looking For

“Coolly competent, the interviewee enters. Her handshake is firm, her gaze unwavering. Her answers are curt and unvarnished. She’s confident. She can get the job done, no doubt about that. But is she a nice person?”

“Warmly incompetent, the interviewee enters. She smiles nervously, but warms to the interview quickly. She speaks in fits and starts, but always with a big smile. She’s a nice person. But can she get the job done?”

Coolly competent, or warmly incompetent?

job interview

According to research done by Amy Cuddy, first impressions are binary. “We look first at two characteristics: how lovable they are (their warmth, communion, or trustworthiness) and how fearsome they are (their strength, agency, or competence)”.

We do this to answer a rather important question: whether or not your new acquaintance is a threat. Threats aren’t so prevalent nowadays. You’re rather less likely to be slain by a marauding tribesman. But our hunter-gatherer brains haven’t caught up. So, when we assess a stranger, we’re looking for danger signs.

Consider the first interviewee. Reading the description, many of you may admire her. She’s certainly got ability. But her lack of warmth triggers the ‘danger’ alarm. The interviewer goes into ‘avoidance’ mode, trying to get away from the threat in front of them. Despite seeing their obvious competence, they begin to find reasons to dislike the interviewee. So, even though the interviewee can do the job well, they don’t get it.

Cuddy advocates the approach of the second interviewee. Being warm and lovable activates the listener’s ‘approach’ mode. They begin to feel kindly towards you and will ignore some of the mistakes you make. You’re more likely to get the job. And if you go on to demonstrate great competence, they will say ‘I knew it all along’.

We think of job interviews as all about demonstrating competence. But they’re not: it’s about demonstrating warmth. That’s why they’re a part of the process: to weed out candidates who might pose a threat to the office environment. But what if you feel that you don’t come across warmly enough?

See Also: 8 Interview Tips For Introverts

The importance of emotion

Here begins the deluge of standard-issue advice. Smile. Make eye contact. Shake their hand with both of yours. Sit with your hands a certain way. Keep your body language open.

The trouble with these pearls of wisdom is they don’t go deep enough. The real way to change from office ‘threat’ to office ‘asset’ is in the way you speak about your experiences.

A quick test. Imagine you’re speaking to someone about your day. If you’re alone, speak out loud. If you’re not, run the conversation through in your head. Talk through what you’ve been up to, what your plans are tonight, and what you’ve got on the docket for tomorrow.

Now consider two possibilities. In the first, you logically went through everything you needed to do. “I’m writing a blog in the morning, then taking the dog out, then going out to dinner in the evening.” It all made sense, and hung together like a list.

In the second, you emphasised the emotive parts of your day. “So I’m struggling at the moment to get a blog finished: you know how it is. Then I’m doing a little walk with Jasper. Oh, and we’re going out to this Persian place. They do really good meze.”

Notice the difference in the two stories. One is rich with detail, full of images that spring to your mind. It’s obvious that the speaker enjoys what they do, and remembers important details from their day. But the other is bland. It has the bare facts, but no details: nothing is important enough to remember.

Let’s test this with an interview question: “Tell us about yourself”.

Here, it’s tempting to start demonstrating competency. You might speak logically about where you went to school, what you did afterwards, and what you did after that. But remember, it’s all about warmth.

You can use the same logical structure, but fill it with detail. What did you enjoy most about school? What did you learn about yourself from where you worked afterwards? What was important, enjoyable, inspiring, or difficult about the experience you had? What did you learn?

It comes down to empathy. The ‘perfect’ job interview isn’t one where you read off your resume. It’s a communion. It’s an easy friendliness and emotional openness that proves two things: that you’re not a threat, and that you might just be something special.

How Do You Show Warmth?

job interview emotions

Competency is rather easy to demonstrate. You can reel off years of experience and academic qualifications. Warmth is harder. But there are some steps you can take to put you on the right path.

Reframe Your Experience

Anecdotes can be easily abused in interviews. Remember that time you made a discovery that saved the company? Consider how you might share that story in an interview. You might emphasize how important it was to the company and how much money it saved. Imagine the ideal reaction from your interviewer: ‘How conscientious you are! What an asset you are to that company. They must be terrified to lose you: what will happen now that they can’t leverage your competence?’

Try and find the warmth in your experiences. Tell the story of how you found the discovery. How did you feel when you found it? What dilemma did you face? Who did you tell? How did you feel afterwards? What did you learn? These questions invite the listener to consider your motives, instead of just seeing how great you are. They begin to understand you at a deeper level, and you start to build warmth.

See Also: Interview Tips: What Not To Say During Your Next Job Interview

Study Your Habits

It may be your brain that considers what to say, but it’s your body that says it. Sometimes, your body says things you don’t expect. You may feel deeply interested in the subject, but your body may be communicating disinterest. Get someone you trust to assess your speaking habits. Do you speak too quietly? Do you seem bored? Do you seem nervous?

Try to get the simple things right. Make eye contact. Keep your posture upright and your chest relaxed and open. Use energy when you speak to keep your listener interested. And while you’re there, focus on breathing to relax your body and calm your nerves. Tips on diaphragmatic breathing will be invaluable on that front.

Be Present

The trickiest thing about demonstrating competence is that it pulls you out of the moment. It sends you out of the interview room via memory lane. You begin to lose focus on the people opposite you. And as you lose focus, you begin speaking at them, not to them.

Every time you speak, your listeners are giving you crucial information. From their reactions, they might be indicating that they’ve heard what you’re saying before. They might be showing confusion or interest in something that you only explained minimally. They are guiding you.

Demonstrating competence can feel like reading off a list of things by rote, without regard for what people actually want to hear. Keep your focus on the person you’re speaking to. You’re speaking to them, so explain things that mean more to them. You’ll learn more about them, and they’ll learn more about you. And that’s how you make a connection.


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How to Make Objective Decisions

While some folks bandy around the statistic that we each make 35,000 decisions per day, others prefer to level it out at a neat 773,618 per lifetime.

Whatever way you look at it, you are at least aware of making a handful of semi-important to important decisions each day, and at least a couple of major-ish ones each week: and these are the kind of forking-path moments for which we need to be best advised. The wrong choice might wind you up with a heartache, crippling debt or serious injury.

Unfortunately, nobody ever teaches us how to make decisions. We’re just equipped with a ton of information through school, the media, and life, and expected to figure out how best to use it ourselves. This would be fine if we were robots, but when human values come into play we tend to frame the information we have in strange ways – for example, ‘confirmation bias’, where we focus on facts that back up our instincts rather than paying more attention to warning signs that we might be wrong.

What you need is a little objectivity. Let’s take a look at how to get some.

Step outside yourself

A Princeton University study showed that we are more objective when we pro-actively try to make a decision that will appear to be objective to someone else.

To truly shed your personal bias, pick a random figure from your life, or perhaps someone whose opinion you really respect. Imagine yourself explaining your decision-making process on a particular issue to them and see what comes out.

If in doubt, you can always find somebody to try it out on in person!

Make a decision, then decide whether to keep it

One reason it’s so tough to make a decision is because it feels so final. You um-and-ah between two options, never quite willing to opt for one or the other because it feels like a commitment.

In fact, it’s been shown that simply plumping for your favored decision and then deciding whether to keep to it can be a more positive way of moving forward. So, make your decision quickly, without too much thought – and then take a moment to reflect: does this feel right? Suddenly your options will seem less abstract.

Clear your mind

Decision-making moments often seem to come at us like a whirlwind. With new information and new emotions to process, it’s easy to make an overly-subjective choice based on the way you’re feeling in a given moment.

A study by the Association of Psychological Science showed that it only takes a few minutes to let those emotions fade and return to a more objective state of mind. So, next time you’re about to make a decision in the heat of the moment, take ten minutes to go for a walk, do some stretches or close your eyes and listen to music.

clear your mind

You’ll return to the decision-making process with cooler blood and a smarter state of mind.

Be positive

One of the reasons that decision-making is so stressful is that every option seems to be piled up with potential negatives. We want to avoid feeling regretful, so we concentrate on avoiding the biggest downfalls.

These negative issues also tend to be the most emotive ones, so concentrating too hard on them can lead you away from making an objective choice. Instead of framing your problem as the avoidance of negative outcomes, try listing the pros of each option first – and identifying the positive side effects of the cons.

Know thy own mood

You know intuitively that the way you feel will affect the decisions you make. Yet, particularly when emotions are running high, we don’t tend to slow down to consider these emotions. Before you make a decision, slow down and ask yourself how you’re feeling – and be careful not to make your choice based purely on the power of passing emotions.

See Also: 3 Simple Steps to Balance Your Emotional State

Look at the bigger (and older) picture

Human beings have a tendency to make our choices based on the newest information that we’ve received – often overlooking what we already knew.

Refusing to make snap decisions upon the discovery of new information can give you a chance to let it settle into context. Again, it’s about letting that initial emotion pass before you do something silly.

The 5 Whys

five whys

Perhaps you’ve already heard of the 5 Whys. It’s a process that can be applied to many different tasks in your professional and personal life, from the development of ideas to problem solving.

When it comes to making decisions, the 5 Whys can help you by identifying the underlying mechanics of the situation. Ask yourself a big why – ‘why am I thinking about proposing marriage?’ and then ask ‘why’ to each of your subsequent answers: ‘Because I love her. Why do I love her?’ etc.


There’s no ‘Y’ in GOFER, but this is still a serious idea-interrogation tool. It means making a structured list of five key aspects of your decision:

Goals: What do you want from the outcome of this decision?
Options: What are the possibilities from which you must choose?
Facts: What do you objectively know about the situation?
Effects: What are the potential outcome scenarios of each possible decision?
Review: What do the above answers point towards?

Quantify your options

Decision-making is usually a complex process involving a whole ton of variables. Getting a bird’s-eye view on your opinions in each of these aspects can involve the kind of clarity that’s difficult to find when you’re stressed or hurried.

So, instead of letting those outcomes float around in a cloud, write them down and give each pro and con a score on a consistent scale: for example from -5 to +5, where -5 is a terrible con and +5 is the best pro.

Do the math at the end of it all and you should have a clearer idea of what you really think about each option. If your gut tells you that the math has given you a winner that you actually don’t want, that’s still okay – it just means the process has helped you to clarify your emotions and your inner needs, as well as the objective facts. We’re not robots, after all!

See Also: Why Good People Make Bad Decisions 


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7 Cross-Border Dropshipping Tips Winners Use

Thinking of scaling or taking your dropshipping business overseas? Today is the best time to do that!

E-commerce’s global consumer base continues to expand exponentially and with this type of demand, supply must also rise.

BigCommerce reports that 96% of Americans shop online with 8% of millennials shopping daily. Studies show that more firms, including B2B companies, are now considering dropshipping. In 2011 alone, a Forrester report showed that dropshipping accounted for 34% of products sold on Amazon. That equates to $14.2 billion.

Increased consumer confidence, internet accessibility, multi/omnichannel options, technology, competition and innovation are some major drivers of this upbeat trend.

The Big Question

Is dropshipping for you?

Wisdom says if it is too good to be true, then it probably is. However, just like any business, dropshipping requires time and effort.

Dropshipping is an e-commerce order fulfillment model where a facilitator (dropshipper) receives orders from buyers (shoppers), passes it on to manufacturers or suppliers and delivers those orders direct to customers (D2C).

In other words, you order from a wholesaler or manufacturer only when your customers order from you. There’s no need for you to stock inventory. All you ever have to worry about is marketing and sales as your entire supply chain and logistics are handled for you.

Unfortunately, dropshipping isn’t for everyone. It could be for you if you love to work remotely and independently and if you hate:

  • Warehousing
  • Managing CRM/WMS/OMS
  • Buying and stocking inventory
  • Packaging
  • Printing labels
  • Shipping
  • Handling returns
  • Paper work

If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some of the top-rated dropshipping companies today:

  • Oberlo
  • SaleHoo
  • Worldwide Brands
  • Wholesale2B
  • Inventory Source
  • Vista Wholesale
  • Dropshipping Design
  • Doba
  • Drop Ship Access
  • Sunrise Wholesale
  • Megagoods
  • Dropship Direct

You could start a self-hosted dropshipping store. However, for someone who’s just starting out, you’ll be better off with platforms or companies that already have solutions that seamlessly integrate dropshipping with e-commerce like Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce etc. You can skip this tip if you have the men and means to build one from scratch.

Cross-Border Dropshipping

Cross-border dropshipping is basically you (dropshipper) dropshipping orders to customers beyond your borders. Take a look at the following model to understand the concept better.

Local vs Global Dropshipping

The following highlights some key differences between local and global dropshipping:

1 No customs duties, taxes, levies Custom duties, taxes, levies
2 Known regulated products Different from country to country
3 Single currency Multi-currency considerations
4 Monolingual Multilingual considerations
5 Single time zone Different time zones
6 Cheaper More expensive
7 Limited reach Unlimited opportunities

7 Tips For Better Cross-Border Dropshipping

Now that you know the differences, here are 7 tips to help you nail cross-border dropshipping:

Investigate Your Target Market

You need not become or hire a Sherlock Holmes. Simply look into existing research before you make the leap. Worth over $672 billion, China is the largest e-commerce market. However, issues like distance, customs procedures, government regulation and payment processing are major pain points for non-Chinese businesses.

Do your due diligence and risk assessment before commencing.

Know Your Target Customers

BigCommerce, in a recent report, similarly revealed that 43% of US shoppers shop while in bed. If this group form part or the core of your consumer base, you need to adjust your marketing efforts accordingly.

You need consumer behavior insight when dropshipping abroad.

Some key questions to ask include:

  • What are their age, gender, income level, location?
  • What hours do they shop online most?
  • Who are they?
  • What is their time zone?
  • Which social media or search engine do they frequently use?
  • What products sell more?
  • What device is mostly used?

Answers to these questions will help you streamline your dropshipping services for more efficiency.

Know International Trade Regulations

It is easy to cross the line with cross-border dropshipping if you are ignorant of relevant international trade laws. This is why you need to familiarize yourself with the current business laws before you actually start with your project.

Take, for example, Kenya.

Recently, Kenya banned the production, selling and use of plastic bags, targeting manufacturers and sellers first. This information can help you decide whether to expand into Kenya, considering your product packaging practice.

Follow the Leaders

Follow industry leaders in cross-border dropshipping and not leads. Most e-commerce marketers spend their ad-earned currency chasing and hoping to convert and keep leads. Instead of being like them, you should study dropshippers like Irwin Dominguez who went from zero to over $1 million in one year.

irwin dominguez dropshipping
Via zacjohnson

That’s the kind of guy you should follow and leads will follow you back soon. Follow their strategies on blogs, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and any other places where they hang out.

Optimize Your Dropshipping Website

It is critical to get your dropshipping website right. It is your major opportunity to attract, convince and convert leads.

Retail Dive reports that more than 65% of shoppers browse online before buying offline.

As they interact with your website, online shoppers form opinions about your business. They assess your site’s loading speed, landing pages, ease of navigation, design, UX, forms, product photography/description, and checkout to payment.

If you are unsure how to create one, you can hire freelancers to design one for you on a budget that won’t break the bank.

See Also: A Practical Guide to Hiring and Managing Freelancers

Offer Multilingual, Multi-Currency Support

Language is a core component of social identity and culture. Offering your services in languages local to your international audience is a great way to connect with them.

Currency conversion calculations is another pain point for many cross-border shoppers. E-commerce stores that support multi-currency payments take that stress off of shoppers. It allows them to pay in their local currency while you receive payments in your own currency.

Consider Marketplaces

dropshipping marketplace

Brand recognition and awareness take time to build. It is okay to sign up to popular marketplaces like Amazon or eBay when you are just starting out. They are platforms that support hundreds of thousands of stores. You can gain experience and share valuable insights from forums and community support such platforms provide.

See Also: The 5 Internet Marketing Trends That Will Dominate in 2017

As you cut your teeth and become more successful, you can start considering other options. If you’re on Shopify, apps like Oberlo can make dropshipping simpler by automating everything from product importation to order fulfillment.

What winning tips have you used in your dropshipping business?


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5 Steps to A Happy Beard

A happy, healthy and attractive beard is not just for the rich and famous. All men can have well-groomed facial hair with a little bit of effort and the right beard grooming tips.

If you’ve always wanted to grow beard that is free of beard dandruff, itching and other issues, here are five fast and cost-effective steps to implement.

Realistic Expectations

happy beard

The first thing to realize is that your beard will not necessarily look like another man’s beard. If you have unrealistic expectations from the beginning, you will set yourself up for disappointment no matter how nice your beard looks.

Just as in life, you have to be happy with what you have and stop looking at what others have. Contentment goes a long way in your perception of yourself. Your facial hair is unique to you and it might not grow as thick as another man’s, but it will look masculine and convey vitality.

When you look into a mirror, be happy with the new growth. If you are confident in yourself, others will feel that and will also like your beard.

Wash & Shampoo Your Beard

You’d be amazed at how many people forget to shampoo their facial hair when they shower.

Just the simple act of washing your beard whenever you take a shower will do wonders in removing any dirt or grime that is trapped there. Sometimes, facial hair gets tangled up if it is longer, so take the time to just clean and straighten everything out in the shower.

Washing your face regularly will help exfoliate the skin and open up your pores. This helps to increase beard growth, making it thicker and fuller over time.

A shampoo with a good scent is a great option. If you go for one with lime or aloe vera, it will do a good job of removing the dirt. Beard shampoos are available and you can compare ingredients to see what works for you.

Remember though, you don’t want to overdo it. Don’t wash your beard so often with shampoo that you dry it out. Moderation is best.

Resist the urge to scratch

Some guys scratch their beard so fiercely that they end up with inflammation, which makes the problem much worse.

While it might seem impossible, resist the urge to scratch it regularly. If you must, try gently scratching it with something soft. One great technique is to use your fingertips instead of your fingernails. This way, you avoid the harder end and make scratching gentler.

You can also try massaging your beard. It will help you get rid of the urge to itch while preventing damage to your beard and skin.

Use a nice oil

Controlling the itch that accompanies beard growth can be one of the most challenging aspects of growing a beard. A good beard oil can help you with this.

Immediately after washing, apply beard oil. It will help keep your beard soft, prevent excessive itching and keep it healthy. Beard oil helps to protect and moisturize your beard by conditioning it, keeping it hydrated and giving it a nice shine.

Comb your beard regularly

beard comb
Via beardoholic

Do you own a beard comb? If not, then get one as soon as possible. Beards grow in all directions and length they want, no matter how hard you try to direct them. They can end up looking rough and unkempt.

A beard comb has narrower teeth and will allow you to comb your facial hair more evenly. This helps your beard appear fuller and healthier. Combing also helps prevent tangles and split ends in addition to removing flakes (dandruff or beard-ruff) and reduce obvious patches.

Implement these five simple and easy steps today to have a happy, healthy beard that you’ll feel good about. Be patient with your beard.

At the end of the day, regardless of what you do, genes are an important factor in how your beard is going to turn out. If you take that into account from the beginning, you won’t expect too much and will be pleasantly surprised.

See Also: How To Grow Facial Hair Faster

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