Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Individual learn to be Creative? Discover ways to improve creativity personally and organisationally.

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To be creative an individual should:
1. think beyond the invisible frameworks that surround problems/situations
2. recognise when assumptions are being made and challenge them
3. spot blinkered thinking and widen the field of vision (to draw on the experiences of other individuals/businesses)
4. develop/adapt ideas from more than one source
5. practice serendipity (finding valuable and agreeable things when not particularly seeking them) – having a wide attention span and range of interests is important
6. ‘transfer technology’ from one field to another
7. be open/prepared to use chance or unpredictable things/ events to advantage
8. explore thought processes and the key elements of the mind at work in analysing, valuing and synthesising
9. use his/her ‘depth’ mind (the unconscious mind) for example by sleeping on a problem to generate creative solutions to problems
10. note down thoughts/ideas that apparently drop into the mind unsolicited so that they are not forgotten
11. use analogy (to improve imaginative thinking) to find ‘models’ or solutions in ‘nature’, in existing products/services and/or in other organisations – not always reinventing the wheel
12. try, as appropriate, to sometimes make the strange familiar and the familiar strange to spark new ideas
13. make connections with points that are:
 apparently irrelevant
 disguised/buried or not easily accessible
 outside own sphere of expertise
 lacking authority
14. suspend judgement to encourage the creative process and avoid premature criticism – analysis and criticism repress creativity)
15. know when to leave a problem (remaining aware but detached) for solutions to emerge – patience is important here as is the suspension of judgement
16. tolerate ambiguity and occasionally live with doubt and uncertainty
17. stimulate own curiosity (in everything including travel) and the skills of observation, listening, reading and recording.

We should remember that creativity should challenge the status quo to test continuously for improvements, because:
 a thing is not right because we do it
 a method is not good because we use it
 equipment is not the best because we own it

Creativity can be improved by remembering that the creative process has four main stages and each needs to be properly ‘worked’:
1. Preparation (information gathering, analysis and solution exploration)
2. Incubation (letting the mind work to continue the process)
3. Illumination (inspiration – which can come when the individual is not necessarily thinking about the problem but is in a relaxed frame of mind)
4. Verification (testing ideas, solutions, hunches, insights for applicability).

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Short term financial instrument to cover your unexpected expenses

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During difficult economy, you may run into distressed financial situation or cashflow problem. Sometimes, you may need hard cash urgently to cover your unexpected expenses during difficult times. While you are still employed, Cash Advance Loan is one option when you are looking for short term cash. A payday loan is a short term financial instrument intended to help you cover your bills or expenses during a temporary loss of income or during financial duress.

At paydayloansabc, US citizen ( with >$1000 monthly salary and an active checking account) will be able to get online payday loans ( fast, short-term, unsecured loan until your payday ) for up to $1500. Even if you have declared bankruptcy or having poor credit history, you don’t have to worry about not getting the cash advance. You use your job and your paycheck as collateral. You repaid back your loan on your next paycheck day.

This payday loan is only a short-term answer to your immediate cash need. They are not intended for repeated use for solving your ongoing credit or debt problems.
You can learn more about the loan requirement & approval process on their website. In addition, you can get insightful news information on loan related articles.

Pros:
They provide quick and easy way to get short term loan. Sign up in minutes and get approved within 24 hours.
Your personal information are well protected and kept privately confidential.

Cons:
It is for US citizen only.
First Time borrowers are eligible for $500 loan only.


The above is sponsored.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

How to Think Better with Productive Thinking. Generate Insightful New Ideas and achieve Breakthrough Change With TenKaizen Thinking.

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Reproductive Thinking is a way to refine what is known; it aims for efficiency.
Productive Thinking is a way to generate the new; it aims for insight.

Productive thinking is radically different.
Productive thinking is the kind of thinking that leads to new ideas and breakthrough change. In Wertheimer’s words, it is insightful thinking rather than historical thinking. Productive thinking is important for meeting the challenges of changing environments and marketplaces, for differentiating products or services, for envisioning and developing new insights and processes, and for achieving growth. On my other blog, I described reproductive thinking at its best as kaizen thinking. Japanese metaphor describe productive thinking as tenkaizen thinking. Tenkaizen is a composite word deriving from ten, meaning “law” or “tradition,” kai, meaning “change,” and zen, meaning “good.” In other words, you can interpret tenkaizen as “good revolution.” Tenkaizen turns things upside down. Rather than reproducing the old, it produces the new.

Productive, or tenkaizen, thinking changes not only what we do but how we see the world. It is a way of both coping with change and creating change.


The Elements of Productive Thinking
Productive thinking consists of two distinct thinking skills: creative thinking and critical thinking. The overarching principle of productive thinking is this: Creative thinking and critical thinking have to be separate. Our normal approach is not to separate these two skills; instead, we tend to overlap them.

By trying simultaneously to think creatively to generate ideas and think critically to judge ideas, you end up sabotaging any chance of success. It’s like trying to drive with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake: You won’t get anywhere, and you’ll probably burn something out in the process.

Creative thinking has three essential characteristics. First, it’s generative; in other words, its primary function is to make something out of nothing. For different people, idea generation takes different forms: daydreaming, blue-skying, what-iffing, making unusual connections, or just wondering. Regardless of how you go about generating them, new ideas are wispy at best. They are only partially formed, ephemeral. It takes only a moment to forget you even had them.

These fragile new ideas come into being because of the second characteristic of the creative thinking mode: It’s nonjudgmental. You cannot generate and judge at the same time. Your half-formed notions can’t survive the onslaught of your intellect. How often have you judged your ideas out of existence?

The third characteristic of creative thinking springs directly from the first two: It’s expansive. By generating ideas and letting them live by deferring judgment, you tend to get more ideas. Creative thinking, then, is generative, nonjudgmental, and expansive. In effect, when you’re thinking creatively, you’re making lists. Long lists.

Critical thinking is the yang to creative thinking’s yin. Like creative thinking, critical thinking has three essential characteristics, each one a counterpoint. First, critical thinking is analytic: It probes, questions, and tests. When you think critically, you look at things deeply, penetrate below the surface, and unwrap nuance. You seek to understand, look for order, and discover meaning. Second, critical thinking is judgmental. Its job is to help you determine whether ideas meet or do not meet criteria for success or even further consideration. Critical thinking allows you to compare ideas with predetermined standards. Third, critical thinking is selective. It narrows down the long lists of ideas generated by creative thinking, sifting and filtering them to produce a more manageable few. You use critical thinking to identify the best ideas for further development, to converge on those with the greatest potential for success. Critical thinking, then, is analytic, judgmental, and selective. In effect, when you are thinking critically, you are making choices.

Productive thinking separates creative thinking and critical thinking. It is a process of suspending judgment to generate long lists of ideas and then returning to those lists to make choices by judging the ideas against preestablished success criteria: making lists and making choices. the full productive thinking process involves six discrete phases, from exploring the need for new thinking to developing a plan for action. Each of these phases involves creative and critical thinking steps.

The productive thinking dynamic is the ongoing alternation between creative thinking and critical thinking. Imagine a kayak paddle.
One side stands for creative thinking, the other for critical thinking. If you always used the creative paddle, you’d go around in circles. If you always used the critical paddle, you’d go around in circles the other way. The key is to alternate between the two: creative, critical, creative, critical. That way you develop enormous forward momentum. That way you can achieve tenkaizen.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Behavior Checklist of a Jerk. Identify and avoid Jerk behaviour in your Life.

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We don't like Jerk, right? They have negative impact into our life, and also to our society. We find jerk behaviour everywhere, even sometimes inside ourself. This checklist gives some ideas of Jerk behaviour.


Behavior Checklist of a Jerk.

Intimidate
Condescend or demean
Act arrogant
Withhold praise
Slam doors, pound tables
Swear
Behave rudely
Belittle people in front of others
Micromanage
Manage up, not down
Always look out for number one
Give mostly negative feedback
Yell at people
Tell lies or “half-truths”
Act above the rules
Enjoy making people sweat
Act superior to or smarter than everyone else
Show disrespect
Act sexist
Act bigoted
Withhold critical information
Use inappropriate humor
Blow up in meetings
Start every sentence with “I”
Steal credit or the spotlight from others
Block career moves (prevent promotion or hold onto “stars”)
Distrust most people
Show favoritism
Humiliate and embarrass others
Criticize often (at a personal level)
Overuse sarcasm
Deliberately ignore or isolate some people
Set impossible goals or deadlines
Never accept blame, let others take the hit
Undermine authority
Show lack of caring for people
Betray trust or confidences
Gossip/spread rumors
Act as if others are stupid
Have “sloppy moods” (when feeling down, take it out on others)
Use fear as a motivator
Show revenge
Interrupt constantly
Make “bad-taste” remarks
Fail to listen
Lack patience
Demand perfection
Break promises
Second-guess constantly
Have to always be in control

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tips for expanding Employee's Career Options. Job Enrichment, Job Lateral Moves, Job Realignment, Job Relocation, and Job Promotions

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For clues about potential job enrichment opportunities, ask your employees these questions:
? What do you enjoy most about your job?
? What could be added to your job to make it more satisfying? What assignment would advance you further in your current work? Which of your current tasks is the most routine?

Trigger ideas about potential job lateral moves; ask your employees
? Which of your skills can be applied beyond your present job and present department?
? If you make a lateral move, what long-term career opportunities would it provide?
? What three skills are most transferable to another department?
? What other department interests you?

For career exploration ideas, ask your employees the following questions:
? What other areas of the company interest you?
? If you could start your career over, what would you do differently?
? Which of our current organization task forces interest you? Which might give you the best view of another part of this organization?
? Whose job would you like to learn more about?

When considering job realignment as an option, ask these questions:
? If you take an assignment in another area, what will be the new opportunities for growth and development?
? Are you willing to accept the same or a lower salary to make a fresh start in a new area?
? How could a realigned position enable you to use the skills you really enjoy?
? Do you miss the technical, hands-on work you used to do?

When considering job relocation as an option, ask these questions:
? Do you know people who have left this company and have gone somewhere else? What were their experiences like? Can you talk with these individuals before deciding what to do?
? What is it about this company that’s making you want to look outside? How has the company changed? How does that impact you?
? If you leave here, what are your long-term career opportunities in another organization?

When discussing possible promotions with your employees, ask them questions like these:
? Who is your competition for that next position? What are his or her strengths and weaknesses?
? How has your job performance been during the last year? How has it prepared you for the next step?
? Why should this company promote you? What’s in it for them? What are the satisfactions and headaches that might come with this vertical move?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FIVE KEY ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE MEASURES. Performance Management Metrics commonly used by Enterprise.

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FIVE CATEGORIES OF PERFORMANCE MEASURES

The overall organizational performance construct can be categorized into several distinct groupings. The four primary categories of overall organizational performance variables are:
(i) accounting measures;
(ii) operational measures;
(iii) market-based measures; and
(iv) survival measures.
In addition, measures of economic value creation are popular in practice but are not frequently used in strategic management or entrepreneurship research.

Accounting Measures
Accounting measures are those that rely upon financial information reported in income statements, balance sheets and statements of cash flows. Accounting measures can be further subcategorized into profitability measures, growth measures, leverage, liquidity and cash flow measures, and efficiency measures.

Operational Measures
Operational measures include variables that represent how the organization is performing on non-financial issues. Measuring performance on non-financial dimensions has received renewed attention over the past many years as corporations have adopted a ‘balanced scorecard' approach for the integration of strategy and performance measurement (Kaplan, 1984; Kaplan and Norton, 1992). These variables include market share, changes in intangible assets such as patents or human resources, customer satisfaction and stakeholder performance. Most of the measures in this category require primary data from management in the form of their assessment of their own performance, which may lead to questions of the validity of the responses.

Market-Based Measures
Market-based measures of performance include ratios or rates of change that incorporate the market value of the organization. These variables include return to shareholders, market value added, holding period returns, Jensen's alpha and Tobin's Q. The calculation of these variables requires a market valuation for the company and is generally only available for publicly traded companies.

Survival Measures
Survival measures of performance simply indicate whether the organization remained in business over the time period of interest. Barnard (1938) and Drucker (1954) proposed that survival is the ultimate measure of long-term performance. However, since most empirical research in entrepreneurship and strategic management addresses time horizons of five years and less, survival is rarely used as a measure of overall organizational performance

Economic Value Measures
Economic value measures of performance are adjusted accounting measures that take into consideration the cost of capital and some of the influences of external financial reporting rules. These measures have rarely been used by researchers in strategic management or entrepreneurship empirical studies because the values are not generally reported and most companies do not even calculate them internally. Typical economic value measures include residual income, economic value added and cash flow return on investment.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the use of measures in each of the categories shown above. While each category of measurement addresses performance from a unique perspective, not all organizations can be measured in all categories. It is incumbent upon each researcher to select a set of measures that capture the essence of organizational performance given the environmental circumstance of the individual study.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Developing a Strategic Learning Plan for Workplace Learning Professional. Aligning People to Business for Improved Learning Performance.

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Developing a Strategic Learning Plan

The following will serve as a guide to develop an extraordinary strategic learning plan that links people to the business. It provide a unique route to improved performance.

Creating Awareness
Awareness involves creating a compelling picture that everyone can see.
The fundamental outcome of awareness is focus. Where do you want to be? How relevant is the learning function? Why should the organization not outsource the entire function? What needs to change if you are going to gain trust and respect at the executive level? How are employees involved in providing input and feedback? What do you offer or do better than anyone else, and how is this communicated throughout the organization?

Once you've identified the business need and determined opportunities to create value and positively affect the bottom line, it is important to communicate throughout the organization the purpose and role that the learning function has in solving a problem or contributing to the overall strategy. Even though the titles vary by organization (training, performance improvement, human capital management, and organizational effectiveness), the typical expectation of this role is that people will have the skills to do their jobs, leaders are developed to carry the organization forward, and overall productivity and performance continue to improve. In addition to these fundamental needs, the goal is to expand the expectations to include involvement in broader business objectives like improving core business processes, assisting with entering new markets faster, improving cycle time for product introduction, increasing customer satisfaction, and helping to reshape the culture.

Every learning strategy should answer the "what" and "how" questions at an intellectual and emotional level, so that employees will be more likely to take an active role in the learning experience. Needs first, solutions second!

Creating Alignment
You have alignment when all the system elements are connecting (people, processes, systems, and so forth).
Is everything and everyone focused on the business results? Balancing priorities, eliminating contradictions, removing constraints, and designing systems that support the learning goals can be a powerful contribution to the organization and can eliminate many internal and external customer frustrations. The learning function can play a significant role in eliminating silos. Many of the best practices inside organizations are not shared and, therefore, cause duplication of efforts, unnecessary outsourcing, conflicting messages, and lost revenue. Knowledge sharing and access to content are key factors in establishing a foundation for participatory learning. When people have information, resources, and support, it increases their capability to perform at peak
levels.

Creating Accountability
Are the right behaviors being reinforced? Is there accountability in your organization?
Having a shared purpose for learning is what motivates people to actively participate and contribute because they want to, not because they have to. Whether for individual development, team building, or leadership advancement, learning is everyone's business. Creating a culture that promotes, acknowledges, and rewards learning results in committed engagement and high performance rather than compliant apathy.

Creating Adaptation
Are ongoing adjustments made to keep the learning strategy on course?
The way we communicate is changing, technology is constantly changing at warp speed, learners are changing, and our role as learning professionals is changing. Learning is about change, but it doesn't have to be painful. When done well, people change for the better. Relationships change. Organizations change. It's about making appropriate small adjustments as the business evolves and monitoring results. It's deciding what to start, stop, and continue doing. The learning function can assume the scout role in monitoring competitive, trend, and benchmark data that help keep your organization out in front of the competition. What is your organization doing to enable employees to create the ideal customer experience? How does learning help to influence innovative thinking?

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Find good Travel Guides on Borders Jan 2009

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For book lovers like me, I love visiting bookstores to find latest and popular books on sale. Borders is one of those great places I often visited regularly, where I could stay all day browsing their shelves. The store is generally very well stocked for popular items. Browsing through books on comforting environment and greeted by friendly, knowledgeable staffs were good experience.

The online Borders UK Bookstore complements the brick and mortal stores by offering an extensive selection of Books, CDs, DVDs, Magazine subscriptions and more, all with FREE delivery to stores. borders jan 2009 have large collections of Books about Travel Guides. As an adventurous and thrill seeker person, I found World's Most Dangerous Places a worthy book to read.

The online purchasing process is not different from other sites, but I found a little bit confusing. When I tried to buy an item by adding into 'Add to baskets', I got error messages: "Sorry, Titles cannot be purchased". I think there is a room for improvement to fix this confusion.

You can buy their gift cards for personal or corporate use, available in any amount from £5-250, that is redeemable for millions of items including Text Books, CDs, DVDs, Magazine subscriptions and more. Generally, if an order exceeds the amount of the Gift Card, the balance must be paid with a credit card or other available payment method. Their limitation is they are unable to offer a Collect in Store service for Gift Cards. Instead, the Gift Card will be sent to the billing address provided at the time of order.

In general, it is still a good bookstore for everyone to visit and buy. And still my favourite place.

The above is sponsored.

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Resource to online Forex Currency Trading.

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Forex (FX) Trading or Currency Trading involves trading one currency for another. These trades can be made between large banks, central banks, currency speculators/traders, multinational corporations, and governments. Four major currency pairs are usually dominating daily forex transactions. They are: Euro against US dollar, British pound against US dollar, Japanese yen against US dollar, and Swiss franc against US dollar. Transactions on the FOREX market are performed by dealers at major banks or FOREX brokerage companies. Forex Trading has several advantages compared to Stock Trading, as it offers longer trading hours (24x7), lower commissions and 100:1 trading leverage as offered by most trading houses. A trader with a $10,000 deposit can leverage this to $1,000,000. Forex market is almost a pure supply and demand market. With rising demands or falling supplies, prices will rise and vice versa.

To be successful in Forex Trading requires good research, resources and information. Fabforex is a good resource to online forex currency trading. It helps you learn, trade and invest in the forex market and act as your forex guide. It offers collection of articles about Forex trading for all levels of traders and investors. I like this special Two Commandments of Forex Investing Tips that guard you from losing trades. Importantly, they also have reviewed several choices of Online Forex Brokers you can trade with.

Always widen your research resources before conducting your actual trading.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

How Much does your Customer Worth? Develop Strategies to maximize the returns on your marketing investments.

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Individuals, regardless of their particular consumer needs, have different values for companies. Plainly and simply, some customers just offer more profit than others! Whether this is due to their impact on income or on expenses, the maximization of returns on marketing actions will be achieved only when the company takes this dimension into account when developing its communication strategy. It is important to distinguish the most valuable customers and to create differentiated offers and services for them. Treating the base in a homogeneous manner in relation to value means disregarding the different cash flows that result from each profile.


Important Points

 Grouping consumers based on their needs is a common marketing practice. However, individuals with similar needs can provide different financial results for the brand. Therefore, it is essential to map out the most valuable consumers and create differentiated offers and services for them.

 In order to maximize the returns on marketing investments, companies use three main strategies:
1) concentrate on the increase in sales volume,
2) concentrate on the consumer’s spending potential (share of pocket), or
3) concentrate on the consumer’s estimated monetary value throughout the period in which that customer generates income for the brand (lifetime value, or LTV).

 Calculating the LTV for each consumer permits a detailed analysis of the variables that contribute to greater profitability, such as the best products and the most appropriate communication channels.

 There are basically two kinds of consumers: the transactional and the relational. The former are interested in the best prices, regardless of brand, and generally provide very low rates of return for the company. The relational consumers seek trust, personalization of service, and differentiated care. They are more loyal and represent the company’s greatest source of profitability.

 According to the Pareto law, the highest percentage of a brand’s income or profit (typically 80 percent) is obtained from a small portion of the consumer base (typically 20 percent). This practical rule demonstrates that in many cases it is possible to achieve high levels of efficiency through the directed allocation of resources.

 To increase a consumer’s LTV, expand the time during which the customer interacts with the brand to the longest period possible by encouraging purchases of new versions of already acquired products or additional categories of the same brand.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Alexa Ranking and Technorati Ranking Updated

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It has been a long time that my Alexa ranking has not been updated ( > 6 months). My mistake was: I didn't install Alexa Widget when I replaced blogger theme. After installing it couple months ago, it takes time to get updated correctly. Today, Alexa ranking was updated to 178,871.

For the Technorati ranking, it was strange that my latest blog posts was not shown/reflected on Technorati system for > 4 months, eventhough I ping them several times using PingOMatic. Couple weeks ago, it started to show my latest blog posts correctly ( I don't know why either). As a result, my Technorati ranking was also updated recently to 482,417. I think it is still a low ranking, right? The puzzle is: why my #Technorati links < #google links?

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Practical Guidelines for Dealing with Difficult People. Transform any conflict into opportunity.

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Here are some guidelines for dealing with those individuals who appear to be especially difficult…

Depersonalize. At the outset of a difficult interaction, remind yourself that the other person's concern or frustration is most likely situational. It's about "something" and not necessarily about you.

Be agreeable. If you can't agree in fact, then agree in principle or agree provisionally. For example, imagine that you're a financial analyst and one of your colleagues says, "The numbers in this report are wrong." Before you react, take another look at the numbers. If there is an error, agree in fact by saying, "Thank you. You're right. Glad you caught that." If you are confident there are no errors, rather than argue, say this, "I agree—if you think the numbers are inaccurate, that's a problem. Can you tell me why these numbers don't look right to you?" Key Principle: A person cannot sustain anger or frustration with someone who has just agreed with them. Had you said, "No, you're wrong, these numbers are dead on. I've checked them many times," you would have begun an argument. When you fight fire with fire, you get ashes.

Be steadfast. Do not allow another person to be abusive or to violate standards of ethics, decency, or personal safety. Calmly remove yourself from the situation and/or escalate such a situation to your boss. If you are the boss, state your willingness to deal with the issue when there is an atmosphere of mutual respect. Ask the person to reconsider his or her approach, at which time you will reconsider his or her concern.

Deal with issues, not personalities. Fix the problem, not the blame. If someone says, "Your accounting department got these numbers all wrong," don't defend the accounting department. Don't make the conversation about them. Simply continue the conversation in this manner: "Can you please tell me which numbers appear to be wrong?"

Let the other person finish his or her story without interrupting. Even if you disagree with what is said, let it be said. Let him get it off his chest. If you interrupt, you will become combative and the situation will deteriorate. We all know this to be true, but it is so difficult to "bite our tongues," as they say. However, once someone has let the steam out, it's mostly out. He or she be easier to deal with.

Deal with specifics, not generalities. For instance, if a customer says, "This is a stupid product design," don't argue. Ask the individual, "So that we can increase your satisfaction with the product, would you please tell me what it is, in particular, that you don't like about the design?" Here's the magic. If there's nothing specific that they can point out, they'll back off. If there is something specific, you'll be glad to know and can address it. "It" is often a relatively little thing that has them "stuck." If it's fixable, why not get them and potentially others unstuck on whatever it is.

Take a break to buy some time. If someone is in an argumentative or combative mode, continue to listen and focus your attention on his or her concerns (versus your likely rebuttal) by taking notes. When he or she has finished, say this: "I've made note of your concerns. Before I give too quick a response that may not address these adequately, I need a little time to think about the situation and get back to you." About 80 percent of the time, she'll reply, "Okay, but when will you get back to me?" Your reply depends on the magnitude of her concerns. You may only need 10 or 20 minutes, but this is sufficient time for you to really collect your thoughts, and enough time to let her cool down and, generally, she will. Your subsequent conversation will be far more constructive.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Restore your credit rating during financial difficulties and crisis.

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Financial difficulties and crisis caused many bankruptcies and foreclosures recently. Not only that, more credit card holders were late with their payment and accumulating more outstanding payments, thus lowering their credit rating. Therefore, Financial Lenders are getting more careful and stricter with their lending assessment and approval. In this situation, it is difficult for debtors with bad credit rating to find new loans or trying to consolidate their debts.

The good news is: For people who have bad/low credit rating and looking for a mortgage loan, auto loan or credit card, you can shop around on Loans for Bad Credit. They provide useful information on various types of loan programs and offer linkage to reputable Lending Companies who offer credit to people with damaged credit rating.

What is interesting, they offer a special bad-credit credit card, which is suitable for people with a really low credit score, to help rebuild their credit rating. To restore your credit rating, usually you need at least 3 or more established trade lines and build good credit history ( with no late payments). The downside is you have to pay higher interest rate due to your bad credit rating. Their Credit Repair Resource will guide you through the necessary process to clean up your credit report.

Remember to exercise great discipline and patient when you try to restore your credit rating.


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Saturday, February 7, 2009

How Do People Commit Financial Statement Fraud? Three General Methods for Manipulating the Accounting and Financial Reports.

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How Do People Commit Financial Statement Fraud?

Regardless of method, there are three general ways in which fraudulent financial statements can be produced. By being aware of these three approaches, those who investigate financial statement fraud can be alert for evidence of attempts to manipulate the accounting and financial reporting process, or to go outside it. Financial statement frauds may involve more than one of these three methods, though they will commonly start with the first method and progressively add the other two methods as the fraud grows. The three general methods are as follows:

1. Playing the accounting system. In this approach, the fraudster uses the accounting system as a tool to generate the results he wants. For example, in order to increase or decrease earnings to a desired figure, a fraudster might manipulate the assumptions used to calculate depreciation charges, allowances for bad debts, or allowances for excess and obsolete inventory. To avoid recognizing expenses and liabilities, vendor invoices might not be recorded on a timely basis. Genuine sales might be recorded prematurely. Transactions recorded in the accounting system have a basis in fact, even if they are improperly recorded. There is a documentary trail to support the results reported in the financial statements, though the assumptions shown in some of those documents may be questionable.
2. Beating the accounting system. In this approach, the fraudster feeds false and fictitious information into the accounting system to manipulate reported results by an amount greater than can be achieved by simply “playing the accounting system.” Fictitious sales may be recorded to legitimate or phony customers. Inventory and receivables figures may be invented, with documents later being forged to support the claimed numbers. Senior financial management might determine allowances for bad debts and for excess and obsolete inventory without regard to the formulae or methods historically used in the entity to determine these amounts. Journal entries might be disguised in an attempt to conceal their fraudulent intent (e.g., splitting big round-sum adjustments into many smaller entries of odd amounts), or transactions may be hidden through use of intercompany accounts to conceal the other side of a transaction. Some transactions recorded in the accounting system may have no basis in fact and some that do may be improperly recorded. There will be no documentary trail to support certain transactions or balances unless the fraudster prepares forged or altered documents to help support this fraud.
3. Going outside the accounting system. In this approach, the fraudster produces whatever financial statements he wishes, perhaps using just a typewriter or a personal computer. These financial statements could be based on the results of an accounting and financial reporting process for an operating entity, with additional manual adjustments to achieve the results desired by the fraudster. Alternatively, they could just be printed up using phony numbers supplied by the fraudster. In some cases, the fraudster may go back and enter false data in the accounting system to support the phony financial statements. In other cases, he may not bother or there might be no accounting system. So not all transactions may be recorded in an accounting system and some or all transactions may have no basis in fact. To catch this type of fraud, it is usually necessary to start by tracing the published financial statements back to the output of the accounting system. As in the previous situation, there will be no documentary trail to support certain transactions or balances reported in the financial statements unless the fraudsters prepare forged or altered documents to help support this fraud.


For More Information:
Business Fraud Techniques

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Accounting and Financial Statement Fraud. Who Commits it? Common Reasons why senior management will overstate/understate business performance.

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Recently, many big corporate fraud surfaced after their long-time careful concealment, notably Satyam Computer Services (India), Bernard Madoff (USA). In principle, financial fraud will be hard to detect/surface during booming/prosperous period, where constant revenue always exceed their 'concealed' loss. However, during current global financial crisis, where demand and revenue has been significantly dropped, it is difficult to cook the book to conceal their losses. So, expect more scandals being reported in 2009.

Financial statement frauds are caused by a number of factors occurring at the same time, the most significant of which is the pressure on upper management to show earnings. Preparing false financial statements is made easier by the subjective nature of the way books and records are kept. The accounting profession has long recognized that, to a large extent, accounting is a somewhat arbitrary process, subject to judgment. The profession also indirectly recognizes that
numbers are subject to manipulation. After all, a debit on a company’s books can be recorded as either an expense or an asset. A credit can be a liability or equity. Therefore, there can be tremendous temptation—when a strong earnings showing is needed—to classify those expenses as assets, and those liabilities as equity.

Who Commits Financial Statement Fraud?
There are three main groups of people who commit financial statement fraud. In descending order of likelihood of involvement, they are as follows:
1. Senior management. According to a 1999 study of approximately 200 financial statement frauds from 1987 to 1997 by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), senior management is the most likely group to commit financial statement fraud. The CEO was involved in 72 percent of the frauds while the CFO was involved in 43 percent. Either the CEO or the CFO was involved in 83 percent of the cases. Motives for senior
managers to commit financial statement fraud are varied and are described below.
2. Mid- and lower-level employees. This category of employees may falsify financial statements for their area of responsibility (subsidiary, division, or other unit) to conceal their poor performance or to earn bonuses based on the higher performance.
3. Organized criminals. This group may use this type of scheme to obtain fraudulent loans from a financial institution, or to hype a stock they are selling as part of a “pump-and-dump” scheme.

Why Do People Commit Financial Statement Fraud?
Senior managers (CEO, CFO, etc.) and business owners may “cook the books” for several key reasons:
 To conceal true business performance. This may be to overstate or understate results.
 To preserve personal status/control. Senior managers with strong egos may be unwilling to admit that their strategy has failed and that business performance is bad, since it may lead to their termination.
 To maintain personal income/wealth from salary, bonus, stock, and stock options.

We can better deter and detect fraud if we first understand the different pressures that senior managers and business owners can face that might drive them to commit fraud. If we understand the motivating factors behind these crimes, then it stands to reason we will be in a better position to recognize circumstances that might motivate or pressure people into committing financial statement fraud. We will also increase our likelihood of detecting these crimes by knowing the most likely places to look for fraud on an organization’s financials.
As with other forms of occupational fraud, financial statement schemes are generally tailored to the circumstances that exist in the organization. What that means is that the evaluation criteria used by those with power over management will tend to drive management behavior in fraud cases. For example, during the Internet boom, investors pressured dot-com companies to grow revenues rather than to achieve high profits. This type of pressure might drive senior managers
to overstate revenues, but without necessarily overstating earnings. Some Internet companies did this by recording advertising revenue from barter transactions even where no market value for the advertising could be identified. Tight loan covenants might drive managers to misclassify certain liabilities as long-term rather than current in order to improve the entity’s current ratio (current assets to current liabilities), without affecting reported earnings.

The following are some of the more common reasons why senior management will overstate business performance to meet certain objectives:
 To meet or exceed the earnings or revenue growth expectations of stock market analysts
 To comply with loan covenants
 To increase the amount of financing available from asset-based loans
 To meet a lender’s criteria for granting/extending loan facilities
 To meet corporate performance criteria set by the parent company
 To meet personal performance criteria
 To trigger performance-related compensation or earn- out payments
 To support the stock price in anticipation of a merger, acquisition, or sale of personal stockholding
 To show a pattern of growth to support a planned securities offering or sale of the business

Alternatively, senior management may understate business performance to meet certain objectives:
 To defer “surplus” earnings to the next accounting period. If current period budgets have been met and there is no reward for additional performance, corporate managers may prefer to direct additional earnings into the next period to help meet their new targets.
 To take all possible write-offs in one “big bath” now so future earnings will be consistently higher.
 To reduce expectations now so future growth will be better perceived and rewarded.
 To preserve a trend of consistent growth, avoiding volatile results.
 To reduce the value of an owner- managed business for purposes of a divorce settlement.
 To reduce the value of a corporate unit whose management is planning a buyout.

On the next post, I will share How Do People Commit Financial Statement Fraud.



For More information:
Financial Fraud Resources

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Discover Richer Shopping Experience with interesting Wiki concept.

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Many people already familiar with Wikipedia, which provides a free encyclopedia with millions of articles contributed collaboratively using Wiki software, in dozens of languages.

Do you know another interesting Wiki concept that revolutionizes online shopping experience? That's ShopWiki. They have a big shopping directory of more than 220 millions products crawled from every store on the internet. This means that you will find more products from more stores for your online shopping. Their Wiki Buying Guide are created, edited and moderated by the ShopWiki community. It contains all Product Features, opinions, Product Reviews, Top Rated Models, list of Approved Online Merchants/Manufacturers & their corresponding Product Price to make your shopping experience faster, easier, and more engaging. You can compare and shop for the best deals and savings on the internet.

When I tried to shop for Wireless Routers and Access Points, I can narrow my search by price or particular brand to get the best product I can choose. After I got the desired product - NETGEAR WPN824 RangeMax Wireless Router, the ShopWiki search engine presented me with choices from many Approved Stores with their respective Price and Store Reviews. That makes my shopping much easier and faster indeed.

You can also join the ShopWiki community to gain access to special members-only benefits/features and bring richer shopping experience for everyone.

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How to Prepare for Job Interview. Interview Do’s and Don’ts. How to handle the classic interview questions.

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How to Prepare for Job Interview
What happens when you get an actual job interview?
1) Be prepared to point out your achievements,
2) show enthusiasm for the organization and the job opportunity, and
3) ask relevant questions that let them know how interested you are.

Interview Don’ts
 Don’t complain about anything.
 Don’t criticize anyone.
 Don’t interrupt.
 Don’t give long, confusing answers. A good rule of thumb is that no answer should be longer than a minute. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.
 Don’t be vague or evasive.
 Don’t exaggerate or stretch the truth.
 Don’t discuss any personal problems.

Important Interview Do’s
 Be early or on time.
 Relax.
 Research the company.
 Be a good listener.
 Talk accomplishments and results.
 Look and act like a professional.
 Prepare questions and answers in advance.
 Always be positive. Even with failure experiences, talk about ‘‘ lessons learned’’ and how useful the experience was to you in subsequent similar situations.

Here’s how to handle the classic interview questions:
 ‘‘Tell me about yourself.’’ Interviewers don’t want to know your life history. They don’t care how many brothers or sisters you have or what your hobbies are. This is your chance to give an ‘‘elevator pitch.’’ That’s a thirty-second summary of what makes you so special. It’s as if you were talking to someone on an elevator between floors. Hit them hard and fast with what’s special about you and your work experience.

 ‘‘What interests you in this job?’’ Here’s where you have to make a connection between this opportunity and your career plans. Let them know why it’s the next logical step for you. Or give a more general response about how the job will represent a real challenge for you and why you’re ready for it.

 ‘‘What interests you in this company?’’ Give a prepared response based on the research you’ve done about the company. Tell them about the growth history and the company’s outstanding reputation. Use specifics that you have memorized from the website.

 ‘‘Why should we hire you?’’ There are few times where bragging is the right thing to do. This is one of them. Describe your best qualities and give specific examples of the significant things you’ve been able to do. Say something like, ‘‘I know this company is interested in creative, hardworking people. I’d like to think I fit into that category because I’ve been able to. . . .’’

 ‘‘Why are you looking to leave your current company?’’ Although you might be tempted to rip apart your manager and the fools who are driving the business into the ground, don’t do it. Talk about how you feel it’s time to move on, how opportunity is very limited where you work now and you’re looking for a new challenge. One of the top reasons people don’t get the job is that they come across as complainers. Don’t fall into that trap.

 ‘‘What do you like most about your current job?’’ In answering this question, make sure that you keep in mind what the job is that you’re applying for. Be truthful and talk about the kinds of things you enjoy doing, but always keep it relevant to the job you are applying for.

 ‘‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’’ The first part is a softball-question. Succinctly describe the things you do well and be prepared to give examples of accomplishments. You have to be careful on the second part, however. You have to say something. It would be a worst-case scenario if you said, ‘‘I have no weaknesses.’’ So, offer up a weakness that isn’t really a weakness. For example, you could say, ‘‘I sometimes get impatient with people who don’t follow through on their commitments.’’ A good interviewer will ask you for a recent example of how you handled that type of situation. Be ready to describe what you did and how there was a successful outcome. The ‘‘strengths and weaknesses’’ question is a cat-and-mouse game. Don’t disclose anything that can be used to reject you. If you want to mention a technical weakness, that’s fine as long as you talk about what you are doing to get up to speed in that area or it’s something that isn’t required in the job for which you’re applying.

 ‘‘Do you have experience in . . . ?’’ If you do, describe clearly and succinctly what your experience has been. Never give a ‘‘no’’ answer to this question. Instead, say something like, ‘‘I have done a considerable amount of work in . . . .’’ Then stress how similar that is to what they’re asking about and how easily your skills can be transferred. In short, talk about what you have done rather than what you haven’t done.

 ‘‘What are your salary expectations?’’ This is another tricky question that can be used to eliminate you if you’re not careful. If there was a stated salary range, you can repeat that back to the interviewer. If not, you can respond with what you’re currently earning. A safe response is, ‘‘I’m looking to advance my career, and salary would be only one consideration.’’ In general, the less you say on this subject early in the interview process, the better. Once they’ve decided they want you, then you can start to negotiate compensation.

Interviewing is a lot like selling a product, except, in this case, the product is you! Rehearse what you’ll say, role-play with others, and video yourself for playback and critique. If you’re like most people, you’re probably not as well prepared as you should be to present yourself in the best possible light. You want to maximize your chances of getting the job you want.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Entrecard Top Droppers - January 2009

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I like to thank all my Entrecard Droppers for your active droppings.
In addition, My special thanks to the following January 2009's Top Droppers:



Dropper # of drops
The Path to the Pegasus Letter 24
Theme lib dot com 24
Retro Yakking 22
Pepper Spray, Stun Guns, and Tasers… Oh My! 21
flitting on fiction 20
Arohan's investing life 19
Celebrity Body Gossip 19
Enjoy Work As Leisure 18
Sports 2000 18
Christina's Movie Review Mania 18


If you notice, all of them have High Popularity Rating.
Support them with more visits, and they will return favor generously.

What are the advantages of becoming my Top Droppers:
1) I will Favourite you.
2) I will put your site on my priority drop list from all my blogs. You'll receive first-choice drop back from me regularly from all my blogs.
3) You'll get link back automatically from PR=3 site because I set my post with "DoFollow" setting.


Another Lesson Learned with Entrecard:
1) What happen if you don't make any drop in 2 days?
Definitely, your Popularity Rating will drop. I suffered a whopping 180 Rating Point Drops/day after my 2 inactive days. Then, I took me 3 days to recover that 180 Rating Point.

So, I am thinking that if 2 inactive days can wipe out your 3 day's hard (dropping) work, then this Entrecard system is only suitable for consistent, regular dropper.

For those who can't drop regularly, you can compensate it by doing more advertising. You can buy Entrecard credits (if you don't have enough credits) and use them to advertise on Popular sites ( those with advertising rate >128/day). In the beginning, there will be EntreCard Credit (EC) balance deficits when using this tactics. Just like any investment, you sow first before you reap the harvest. Eventually, you will reach a point where EC balance surplus ( ie: EC Received > EC Spent ) is attained.

Why should you pursue High Popularity Rating? If you notice from all Categories, higher Popularity Rating usually enjoy higher Advertising Rates. The higher your Popularity Rating, more drops you will get naturally (ie: without requiring you to drop cards) & people will tend to advertise to your Popular sites.



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