February 2016


Natalie Walters
morris panner and momMorris PannerDICOM Grid CEO Morris Panner says he calls his mom everyday to keep her company and to de-stress.
You're never too old to call your mom. 
Morris Panner, CEO of DICOM Grid, a cloud medical image management solution, says he has called his mom "literally everyday" for the past two years as a small payback for all that she's done for him — and because it starts his day off on a positive note. 
"It's something that both of us kind of depend on," he tells Business Insider. "When you talk every day you kind of have an ongoing conversation, which is nice." 
He says that while there's a certain baseline of love and respect when talking with any member of your family, it's different when you talk to your mom: "That relationship in some ways never changes and that's a nice thing, and as I've gotten older I've been able to integrate her into my own family." 
He says he likes to call when she's alone at the house while his dad is at work to talk about "normal, everyday things," like when she's going to get her hair done, or how the dog is doing. "It's a small way to honor the commitment that she made," he says. 
Since Panner is frequently traveling for work, his mom's first question for him is always, "Where are you today?" He says she likes to hear about warm places like California during the winter because she lives in snowy Rochester, New York. "It gives her a kind of fun postcard of a different moment," he explains. 
Panner says these phone calls have been effective in helping him de-stress because talking with his mom takes him out of his day-to-day concerns and focuses him on something more significant and enduring. When he takes a few minutes to talk with his mom, he says he always realizes that a problem isn't that big of a deal and that he shouldn't take his everyday concerns too seriously. 
Even when he's dealing with company issues, he always answers his mom's phone calls in the office to set the tone that family and friends come before work — and it's been effective. He says his employees aren't afraid to ask if a meeting can be moved because they have a family commitment. "If you want to be a family-friendly company, you have to understand what an important priority family is," he explains. 
In turn, having a culture that encourages a strong work-life balance has made DICOM Grid employees "hugely more productive" because they understand that it's a mutual relationship. "When you care about people and their priorities, then they will care about you," Panner says.


By Lolly Daskal Lolly Daskal is the president and CEO of Lead From Within , a global consultancy that specializes in leadership and entrepreneurial development. Daskal's programs galvanize clients into achieving their best, helping them accelerate and deliver on their professional goals and business objectives.  Lead From Within is a consultancy with global scope, and Daskal's clients value her exceptional commitment to excellence, integrity, and results. @ LollyDaskal President and CEO, Lead From Within @ LollyDaskal
IMAGE: Getty Images
Overthinking doesn't sound so bad on the surface--thinking is good, right?
But overthinking can cause problems.
When you overthink, your judgments get cloudy and your stress gets elevated. You spend too much time in the negative. It can become difficult to act.
If this feels like familiar territory to you, here are 10 simple ideas to free yourself from overthinking.

1. Awareness is the beginning of change.

Before you can begin to address or cope with your habit of overthinking, you need to learn to be aware of it when it's happening. Any time you find yourself doubting or feeling stressed or anxious, step back and look at the situation and how you're responding. In that moment of awareness is the seed of the change you want to make.

2. Don't think of what can go wrong, but what can go right.

In many cases, overthinking is caused by a single emotion: fear. When you focus on all the negative things that might happen, it's easy to become paralyzed. Next time you sense that you starting to spiral in that direction, stop. Visualize all the things that can go right and keep those thoughts present and up front.

3. Distract yourself into happiness.

Sometimes it's helpful to have a way to distract yourself with happy, positive, healthy alternatives. Things like mediation, dancing, exercise, learning an instrument, knitting, drawing, and painting can distance you from the issues enough to shut down the overanalysis.

4. Put things into perspective.

It's always easy to make things bigger and more negative than they need to be. The next time you catch yourself making a mountain out of a molehill, ask yourself how much it will matter in five years. Or, for that matter, next month. Just this simple question, changing up the time frame, can help shut down overthinking.

5. Stop waiting for perfection.

This is a big one. For all of us who are waiting for perfection, we can stop waiting right now. Being ambitious is great but aiming for perfection is unrealistic, impractical, and debilitating. The moment you start thinking "This needs to be perfect" is the moment you need to remind yourself, "Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress."

6. Change your view of fear.

Whether you're afraid because you've failed in the past, or you're fearful of trying or overgeneralizing some other failure, remember that just because things did not work out before does not mean that has to be the outcome every time. Remember, every opportunity is a new beginning, a place to start again.

7. Put a timer to work.

Give yourself a boundary. Set a timer for five minutes and give yourself that time to think, worry, and analyze. Once the timer goes off, spend 10 minutes with a pen and paper, writing down all the things that are worrying you, stressing you, or giving you anxiety. Let it rip. When the 10 minutes is up, throw the paper out and move on--preferably to something fun.

8. Realize you can't predict the future.

No one can predict the future; all we have is now. If you spend the present moment worrying about the future, you are robbing yourself of your time now. Spending time on the future is simply not productive. Spend that time instead on things that give you joy.

9. Accept your best.

The fear that grounds overthinking is often based in feeling that you aren't good enough--not smart enough or hardworking enough or dedicated enough. Once you've given an effort your best, accept it as such and know that, while success may depend in part on some things you can't control, you've done what you could do.

10. Be grateful.

You can't have a regretful thought and a grateful thought at the same time, so why not spend the time positively? Every morning and every evening, make a list of what you are grateful for. Get a gratitude buddy and exchange lists so you have a witness to the good things that are around you.
Overthinking is something that can happen to anyone. But if you have a great system for dealing with it you can at least ward off some of the negative, anxious, stressful thinking and turn it into something useful, productive, and effective.

By Biz Carson Business Insider
Fears of the oncoming artificial intelligence revolution are rampant and growing in Silicon Valley.
If it comes down to man versus machine, more tech leaders are starting to worry that it will be the machine that will win. Industry leaders from Elon Musk to Peter Thiel to Reid Hoffman have poured money into a Y Combinator-led project to make sure it doesn't happen.
In an interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner for the German newspaper "Die Welt am Sonntag," Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't seem to worry much about it, calling Musk's reaction a little more on the hysterical side of things.
Rather, Zuckerberg argues that the machines will only overtake humans if we program them that way. Those chess-beating computers are designed to be that smart, they didn't just learn it, he argues.
"I think that the default is that all the machines that we build serve humans so unless we really mess something up I think it should stay that way," Zuckberg told Döpfner in the interview.
Here's how Facebook's CEO sees the coming rise of robots and machines, and why it's not as scary as some make it out to be:
Mathias Döpfner: How will Artificial Intelligence change society? 
Mark Zuckerberg: From my experience, there are really two ways that people learn. One is called supervised learning and the other is unsupervised. You can think of supervised learning as they way you read a children’s book to your son or daughter and point out everything.
Here’s a bird, here’s a dog, there’s another dog. By pointing things out, a child can eventually understand ‘oh that’s a dog’ because you told me 15 times that that was a dog.  So that’s supervised learning.  It’s really pattern recognition. And that’s all we know how to do today.
The other, the unsupervised learning, is the way most people will learn in the future. You have this model of how the world works in your head and you’re refining it to predict what you think is going to happen in the future.  Using that to inform what your actions are and you kind of have some model: Okay, I am going to take some actions and I expect this to happen in the world based on my action.  AI will help us with this.
Döpfner: Can you understand the concerns that business magnate Elon Musk has expressed in that context? He seriously fears that artificial intelligence could one day dominate and take over the human brain, that the machine would be stronger than men. You think that is a valid fear or do you think it’s hysterical?
Zuckerberg: I think it is more hysterical.
Döpfner: How can we make sure that computers and robots are serving people and not the other way around?
Zuckerberg: I think that the default is that all the machines that we build serve humans so unless we really mess something up I think it should stay that way.
Döpfner: But in chess, Garry Kasparov was beaten by the computer Big Blue in the end. So there may be more and more situations where a computer is simply smarter than a human brain.
Zuckerberg: Yes, but in that case people built that machine to do something better than a human can.  There are many machines throughout history that were built to do something better than a human can. I think this is an area where people overestimate what is possible with AI. 
Just because you can build a machine that is better than a person at something doesn’t mean that it is going to have the ability to learn new domains or connect different types of information or context to do superhuman things. This is critically important to appreciate.
Döpfner: So this is science fiction fantasy and is not going to happen in real life and we don’t need to worry about the safety of human intelligence?
Zuckerberg: I think that along the way, we will also figure out how to make it safe. The dialogue today kind of reminds me of someone in the 1800s sitting around and saying: one day we might have planes and they may crash. Nonetheless, people developed planes first and then took care of flight safety. If people were focused on safety first, no one would ever have built a plane.
This fearful thinking might be standing in the way of real progress.  Because if you recognize that self-driving cars are going to prevent car accidents, AI will be responsible for reducing one of the leading causes of death in the world.  Similarly, AI systems will enable doctors to diagnose diseases and treat people better, so blocking that progress is probably one of the worst things you can do for making the world better.
This story first appeared on Business Insider
Fears of the oncoming artificial intelligence revolution are rampant and growing in Silicon Valley.
If it comes down to man versus machine, more tech leaders are starting to worry that it will be the machine that will win. Industry leaders from Elon Musk to Peter Thiel to Reid Hoffman have poured money into a Y Combinator-led project to make sure it doesn't happen.
In an interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner for the German newspaper "Die Welt am Sonntag," Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't seem to worry much about it, calling Musk's reaction a little more on the hysterical side of things.
Rather, Zuckerberg argues that the machines will only overtake humans if we program them that way. Those chess-beating computers are designed to be that smart, they didn't just learn it, he argues.
"I think that the default is that all the machines that we build serve humans so unless we really mess something up I think it should stay that way," Zuckberg told Döpfner in the interview.
Here's how Facebook's CEO sees the coming rise of robots and machines, and why it's not as scary as some make it out to be:
Mathias Döpfner: How will Artificial Intelligence change society? 
Mark Zuckerberg: From my experience, there are really two ways that people learn. One is called supervised learning and the other is unsupervised. You can think of supervised learning as they way you read a children’s book to your son or daughter and point out everything.
Here’s a bird, here’s a dog, there’s another dog. By pointing things out, a child can eventually understand ‘oh that’s a dog’ because you told me 15 times that that was a dog.  So that’s supervised learning.  It’s really pattern recognition. And that’s all we know how to do today.
The other, the unsupervised learning, is the way most people will learn in the future. You have this model of how the world works in your head and you’re refining it to predict what you think is going to happen in the future.  Using that to inform what your actions are and you kind of have some model: Okay, I am going to take some actions and I expect this to happen in the world based on my action.  AI will help us with this.
Döpfner: Can you understand the concerns that business magnate Elon Musk has expressed in that context? He seriously fears that artificial intelligence could one day dominate and take over the human brain, that the machine would be stronger than men. You think that is a valid fear or do you think it’s hysterical?
Zuckerberg: I think it is more hysterical.
Döpfner: How can we make sure that computers and robots are serving people and not the other way around?
Zuckerberg: I think that the default is that all the machines that we build serve humans so unless we really mess something up I think it should stay that way.
Döpfner: But in chess, Garry Kasparov was beaten by the computer Big Blue in the end. So there may be more and more situations where a computer is simply smarter than a human brain.
Zuckerberg: Yes, but in that case people built that machine to do something better than a human can.  There are many machines throughout history that were built to do something better than a human can. I think this is an area where people overestimate what is possible with AI. 
Just because you can build a machine that is better than a person at something doesn’t mean that it is going to have the ability to learn new domains or connect different types of information or context to do superhuman things. This is critically important to appreciate.
Döpfner: So this is science fiction fantasy and is not going to happen in real life and we don’t need to worry about the safety of human intelligence?
Zuckerberg: I think that along the way, we will also figure out how to make it safe. The dialogue today kind of reminds me of someone in the 1800s sitting around and saying: one day we might have planes and they may crash. Nonetheless, people developed planes first and then took care of flight safety. If people were focused on safety first, no one would ever have built a plane.
This fearful thinking might be standing in the way of real progress.  Because if you recognize that self-driving cars are going to prevent car accidents, AI will be responsible for reducing one of the leading causes of death in the world.  Similarly, AI systems will enable doctors to diagnose diseases and treat people better, so blocking that progress is probably one of the worst things you can do for making the world better''

This story first appeared on Business Insider.

A late hitch to Foxconn's takeover of Japan's struggling Sharp Corp brought simmering distrust between the two close to boiling point, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

TOKYO/TAIPEI: A late hitch to Foxconn's takeover of Japan's struggling Sharp Corp brought simmering distrust between the two close to boiling point, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The two companies have eyed each other warily since Foxconn founder and billionaire Terry Gou pulled out of a planned capital tie-up and strategic partnership with Sharp in 2012.
Missteps in communication last week, when Sharp's board met and announced a decision to sell a two-thirds stake to the Taiwanese group, ratcheted up tensions, upsetting Gou and causing embarrassment at Sharp.
On the eve of that board meeting, Foxconn had asked Sharp to delay voting on a deal as it had just received "new material information" from Sharp that it hadn't seen before and needed to clarify.
"It seemed Sharp simply ignored Foxconn," said one individual familiar with Foxconn's take on the matter.
The information listed around 300 billion yen (US$2.66 billion) in contingent liabilities at Sharp. The list was pulled together by working level officials at Sharp and forwarded, without top officials seeing it, to Foxconn as a goodwill gesture to make the buyer aware of worst-case scenario risks, sources said. They were not liabilities that required formal disclosure.
It didn't go down well on the Taiwan side.
"They felt violated," said a person briefed on the issue. Another person said Gou shouted at his team for not having discovered these liabilities in the first place.
By late Friday, the mood had calmed and the two companies' CEOs met in China to clear the air, sources said. Sharp and Foxconn have now agreed to extend a deadline for the takeover talks by a week or two, reflecting the importance of a deal, estimated to be worth nearly US$6 billion, to both sides.
Sharp would have a much-needed financial lifeline, while Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co , would get control of technology it needs to strengthen its hand with major client Apple Inc .
RUNNING DEEP
The hitch revives lingering ill-will from four years ago, when Foxconn agreed to take a stake in Sharp at 550 yen a share as part of a broader partnership. Then, Sharp warned of losses, and Foxconn walked away.
Sharp shares sank 74 percent over the next seven months.
Gou, however, personally bought a stake in Sharp's LCD TV panel plant in Osaka, and some at Sharp credit him with improving operations there.
A turning point in the latest deal came when Gou wowed Sharp's board, independent directors and creditors with his presentation of a takeover plan on Jan. 30, according to those briefed on the matter.
"Terry's a very convincing guy ... I've seen him use his magic," said a person familiar with how Gou operates.
Another person familiar with Gou said: "Sharp's blueprint, Terry is very clear about it and knows this stuff like the back of his hand."
But there were still nagging doubts in Japan.
"There are some doubts whether Hon Hai will really keep its promise," one official involved in the negotiations said on Feb. 4, when Sharp's 13-member board decided to prioritize talks with Foxconn over a competing offer from state-backed Innovation Network Corp of Japan. INCJ had been seen as strong favorite to take over Sharp and keep Japan's insular tech industry out of foreign hands.
The next day, Gou flew his team to Sharp's Osaka headquarters and emerged triumphantly waving a document, proclaiming Sharp had granted Foxconn preferred negotiation rights.
Sharp officials said the document actually referred to Foxconn's extension of a takeover offer for Sharp.
"This made (Sharp CEO Kozo) Takahashi and other executives rethink how trustworthy Gou would be," said one of the sources familiar with thinking in the Sharp camp.
That is now in the past.
"From these negotiations and from experience, Terry (Gou) has told his team time and again to be more respectful of and have more understanding of Japan's traditions and way of doing things," said one of the sources familiar with the thinking at Foxconn.
"Through the communication of the last 2-3 days, from the top level to the team level, I hope (the cooperation) will improve," the person said.
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and J.R. Wu, with additional reporting by Taro Fuse; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Ian Geoghegan)

By Jessica Stillman Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in Cyprus with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @ EntryLevelRebel Contributor, Inc.com @ EntryLevelRebel
IMAGE: Getty Images
Fad diets aside, we all know the basic formula for greater physical health -- eat less junk and exercise more. The same can be said for greater happiness. Sure mental health is hugely complex, but the research on how to promote basic, day-to-day well-being couldn't be clearer -- just cultivate gratitude.
All of which is both interesting and useful, but it begs the questions -- why? Why is simply paying attention to the good things in your life so powerful? A new brain imaging study investigated this question with fascinating results.

This is your brain on gratitude

For the study, a team of researchers out of Indiana University led by Prathik Kini recruited 43 subjects suffering from anxiety or depression. Half of this group were assigned a simple gratitude exercise -- writing letters of thanks to people in their lives -- and then three months later all 43 underwent brain scans.
During these brain scans the subjects participated in a gratitude task in which they were told a benefactor had given them a sum of money and were asked whether they'd like to donate a portion of the funds to charity as an expression of their gratitude. Those who gave away money showed a particular pattern of activity in their brains, but that wasn't the most interesting part of the findings.
What was? "The participants who'd completed the gratitude task months earlier not only reported feeling more gratefulness two weeks after the task than members of the control group, but also, months later, showed more gratitude-related brain activity in the scanner. The researchers described these 'profound' and 'long-lasting' neural effects as 'particularly noteworthy,'" psychology writer Christian Jarrett explains on the Science of Us blog.
The result is interesting for neuroscientists but it's also potentially useful for the rest of us. It "suggests that the more practice you give your brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mind-set--you could even think of your brain as having a sort of gratitude 'muscle' that can be exercised and strengthened... the more of an effort you make to feel gratitude one day, the more the feeling will come to you spontaneously in the future."
In short, practicing gratitude seems to kick off a healthful, self-perpetuating cycle in your brain -- counting your blessing now makes it easier to notice and count them later. And the more good you see in your life, the happier and more successful you're likely to be.
Or as Jarrett sums up the research: "The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it and the more you can enjoy its psychological benefits."
What do you have to be grateful for today?

By Zoë Henry Zoë Henry is a staff reporter at Inc. and a graduate of Brown University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. @ ZoeLaHenry Reporter, Inc. @ ZoeLaHenry
IMAGE: Getty Images
Entrepreneurship is on the rise -- especially among the African-American community. Such business titans are reshaping the fields of the politics, education, arts, and medicine.
Between 2002 and 2007, the number of businesses owned by African-Americans increased by three times the national rate (60.5 percent), according to  the U.S. Census Bureau. Notably, African-American women are the fastest-growing demographic in business ownership.
Last week, Ebony magazine unveiled its annual  Power 100 list of influential black leaders in America. Honorees were divided into categories such as "the players," which included Drake and Empire creator Lee Daniels, and "politics as (un)usual," with nods to Kamala Harris and Loretta Lynch, the attorneys general of California and the U.S., respectively.
As America grapples with the continued prevalence of racism (as seen in recent news of police brutality, and discrimination on college campuses), the importance of having more African-American leaders is especially apparent. These entrepreneurs are doing more than attaching their names to a pre-existing brand; they're also moving society forward.
Below, in no particular order, are the business titans on this year's Power 100 list.

Emile Cambry Jr.

Cambry, a business professor, filmmaker, and serial entrepreneur, is also the founder of BLUE1647. The Chicago-based startup incubator offers work-force development classes, co-working spaces, and other educational resources for the local community. He also created the 21st Century Youth Project, which provides advanced technology courses to low-income middle and high school students.

Jesse Collins

Collins is the founder and chief executive of Jesse Collins Entertainment Company, a Los Angeles-based film and television production firm. He was previously the executive producer and executive VP at Cosette Productions.

Wendy Williams

The American actress and television host is probably best known for her eponymous program, The Wendy Williams Show. Still, in her spare time, Williams has managed to grow both a clothing venture--exclusive to HSN--and a hair accessories line (Hair World Wig Collection), the latter in partnership with Specialty Commerce Direct.

Sabrina Hersi Issa

Issa is something of a technology veteran. She is the CEO of Be Bold Media, a digital agency that leverages technology to assist with humanitarian relief. She's also the co-founder of End Famine, a charity campaign, and the co-director of New/s Disruptors, a media site that aims to bring more diverse voices and perspectives to the fore. 

Jada Pinkett Smith

Best known as a Hollywood actress, director, and film producer, Pinkett Smith is also the founder of Maja, a clothing label, and a partner at Overbrook Entertainment, a film production company. She also co-launched the website Don'tSellBodies.org, and helped to produce Rape for Profit, a documentary about sex trafficking.

Michelle Gadsden-Williams

The former managing director at Credit Suisse, Gadsden-Williams ultimately decided to create her own venture, Ceiling Breakers, in 2015.  Her new firm is dedicated to helping women get ahead in corporate America, and eventually land executive roles. 

Miko Branch

Branch is the co-founder and CEO of Miss Jessie's, a New York City-based hair salon that sells natural products for curly hair. This year, after the death of her sister and business partner, Branch was inspired to publish a memoir, entitled Miss Jessie's: Creating a Successful Business From Scratch -- Naturally.

Gabi Gregg

Gregg is the founder of GabiFresh.com, a fashion blog that she started after graduating from college in 2008. The site later blossomed into an e-commerce platform. She promotes plus-size women and models, and collaborated with Target to re-conceptualize its own premiere plus-size line, called Ava+Viv.

Adenah Bayoh

Bayoh escaped the civil war in her native Liberia at the age of 13. Since then, she's gone on to launch Kapwood LLC, a real-estate development firm with more than $200 million in redevelopment projects, and which focuses specifically on lower-income communities. In 2016, Bayoh plans to launch Cornbread, a chain of soul food restaurants in New Jersey that nods to her own multicultural upbringing.

Lupe Fiasco

In October, the hip-hop artist, along with with Di-Ann Eisnor, launched Neighborhood Start Fund, a non-profit that aims to promote entrepreneurship in underserved communities. Winners of the Neighborhood Start pitch competition will receive $5,000, as well as mentorship and networking opportunities, to help get their venture off the ground. 

Kimberly Blackwell

Blackwell is the founder and CEO of PMM Agency, a brand-consulting firm that works with high-profile clients including Toyota and Macy's. The company has been recognized by Black Enterprise and the National Association of Women's Business Owners, among other organizations.

Nadia Lopez

Lopez is the principal and founder of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a public middle school based in Brooklyn, New York. When an eighth grade student told the popular internet blog Humans of New York that he was most inspired by his principle, Lopez decided to launch a fundraising campaign to give her students a trip to Harvard University, and to provide some with scholarships. The campaign raised an impressive $4 million, well exceeding the initial $100,000 goal

By Empact The Empact Showcase recognizes the impact of the country's top young entrepreneurs with partners like the United Nations and White House. To learn about applying to next year's Showcase, visit https://www.empactshowcase.com . @ iempact @ iempact
IMAGE: Getty Images
Let me tell you the story of two businesses that are exactly the same-except for one simple difference.
Each company starts off with $100 in capital. One has a one-month sales cycle (i.e., people go from prospect to client in one month). The other company has a four-month sales cycle.
Not surprisingly, the slower business brings in less over time. But do you know how much less after one year?
It only brings in $800 in revenue, while the faster business sees sales skyrocket to $204,800.
That's 256 times less, just because it has a slower sales process!
With the slower sales cycle, the owner can reinvest his or her earnings just four times instead of 12 times.

Fast-Sale Versus Slow-Sale Business

In many ways, this is the story of my business. It used to take months to close a $279 sale.
Now, it takes just 48 hours to close a $5,000 to $25,000 sale from a complete stranger.
This sales-cycle difference changed everything!
When I made the shift from a "slow-sales" model to a "fast-sales" model, my business jumped from $120,000 per year to $2.4 million per year.
The fast-sales model is obviously better. No one would choose a slow-sales model on purpose. But many people accidentally end up stuck there.
In my case, I fell into two dangerous and common traps:
1. Content-first marketing.
The belief that I need to create
blog posts, videos, and social-media posts
for months or even years before I can offer my customer anything.
2. Ascension model marketing. The belief that I need to start off selling clients inexpensive products before I can sell them more expensive ones.
Here's what I learned:
  • You don't need to create months of content before someone will purchase from you.
  • You don't need to build a tribe.
  • You don't need to sell a low-price product to eventually get someone to purchase a high-price one!
  • All you need is a properly designed sales system that actually works.
In this article, I share my exact sales system along with specific numbers and hacks you can immediately use to start to get sales fast.
First, to give you context, here is how my sales funnel performs in a typical month. In a given month, we'll spend $15,000 on advertising and bring about 20 to 30 clients into our high-ticket programs. It looks like this:

Problem-First Marketing: My System for Creating Fast Sales of High-Priced Products

One huge disclaimer: Before you can get results from the funnel above, it is absolutely critical that you understand, speak to, and solve the client's core problem in each step of the sales funnel. I explain how to do that in "The Business Philosophy That Grew My Business From $120,000 to $2.4 Million In 30 Days."

Step No. 1: Target My Exact Customer on Facebook and Twitter

Every month, I spend $15,000 to $20,000 on Twitter and Facebook ads.
There are a million ways to target people on Facebook or Twitter, but what's worked best for me is problem-based targeting. I target people based on whether they have the specific problem that my product solves. I explain the power of the problem-first approach in my previous Inc.com article.
While Facebook and Twitter don't yet have a way to explicitly target customers with the problem you solve, there is a way to do this indirectly. You can target people by the specific Facebook Pages they follow.
Why does this work? If someone follows a niche company that only addresses the exact problem that my company focuses on, then I can be confident that this follower has that problem too. On the other hand, if they follow a very general Facebook page, say a popular musician's, then I don't really know if they have that problem or not.

Step No. 2: Create the Ad

Our focus here is driving people to register for a free webinar.
In order to do this, we focus the ad on the outcome that potential customers want. This could be a goal they want to achieve, a problem they want to avoid or solve, or both. The more attractive the outcome is for that potential customer, the more powerful the ad will be.
Clearly showing what people get is one of the most critical elements of an effective headline. MEC Labs has conducted tens of thousands of headline tests over 15 years, and they came to the same conclusion when they shared their five key findings.
Here is one of my old ads, to show you what one of my Facebook ads looks like:
Note that the outcome is crystal clear: double the number of new clients you get every week. That's a great hook, and it's right in line with what we do for the people we work with.

Step No. 3: Launch a Landing Page


From my advertisement, I link to a landing page for my webinar.
There are four key tactics I use on this page to convert 20 percent of its visitors:
  1. Only one link to click on the whole page.
    Most Web pages provide a navigation bar and lots of different paths for visitors to follow. Good landing pages are designed to get visitors to do only one thing. That one thing could be purchasing a product, providing an email address, or signing up to a webinar.This free Landing Page 101 course walks you through tips on creating a landing page. If you're just getting started, I recommend using LeadPages to create your landing page. It completely automates the process.
  2. Goal-based and problem-based headlines.
    There is no replacement for deeply understanding the problems your audience faces and the goals they want to reach and speaking to them.That's why I use the following formula for headlines:
    How to [AWESOME] Without [SUCK]!
    Or, put another way:
    How to [INSERT GOAL] Without [INSERT PROBLEM]
    Over 10,000 studies by psychologists in the last two decades show the power of approach and avoidance as central drivers of motivation. So, the power of this formula is that it speaks to each of these.
  3. Extensive Testing. I spend weeks testing the headlines on this page. With a tool like LeadPages, you can very easily A/B test different headlines. I'm always surprised at the results of testing. The test that wins is often one that I wasn't expecting. That's why it's critical for even the most experienced marketers to constantly test.
  4. I added a countdown timer. There is a timer that counts down to the next showing of the webinar. This gives a 10 percent to 15 percent bump in conversion for me.The idea of a countdown timer has been adopted in many places on the Web, including the most popular event management system online-Eventbrite-and Amazon's Daily Deals.
    Academic research by respected researcher Robert Cialdini, author of Influence, shows that people value things more highly when they are less available. Having a deadline is one powerful way to create this scarcity.
    LeadPages makes it easy to add a countdown timer to your landing page.

Step No. 4: Hold a Webinar

I first learned about the power of webinars in 2012. I got a call from my friend, E. Brian Rose, author of Millionaire Within. He had seen a sales page I had created for my previous business, and he basically told me, "I think this offer would do much better if you tried to do a webinar. I'll put a bunch of people on it. You can run it, and then we'll split the revenue."
He explained how to do it. He helped promote it.
It drew 110 people.
I remember being really scared. It was the first time I had done anything like it. But I just focused on speaking from the heart. Luckily, it resonated.
Half of the 110 people purchased.
From that day on, I've been totally convinced that webinars are magical. They do the work of an entire content marketing campaign while making a direct offer.
You can't do anything else online and get a 50 percent conversion.
Here's why webinars work so well:
  • Viewers spend more time on webinars than almost any other form of online content.
    The average article takes just a few minutes to read. And that's assuming people read the whole article-55 percent of visitors to articles only spend 15 seconds skimming them. On the other hand, my average webinar is 45 minutes and over 30 percent of people stay to the end and schedule a call with someone on our team. That's the equivalent of 15 articles of time.
  • Webinars help you build a deeper relationship than an article can.
    With a webinar, you can guide listeners with your voice and images, as well as interactive tools like Q&A, group chat, etc.
  • Webinars provide you with undivided attention.
    Most people come to an article because they saw it in their social-media newsfeed. Webinars are different. If they're watching your webinar, it means that they've taken time out of their schedule to show up and pay attention to what you're doing.
All of these factors make webinars the perfect place to educate potential customers and make an offer for your product.
In the webinar, I provide real value. I give away as much of the solution as I can in the time that I have. Great free content will get you in front of more people, and it will build a deeper level of trust with them.
At the end of the webinar, I invite the people in the audience to have a one-on-one phone call if they feel my product is a good fit. People book appointments with us through the scheduling software, Schedule Once. Then, we call them at the time they select.
Keep in mind that our goal isn't to convert everyone. Throughout the webinar, we repeatedly say whom our program is NOT for. We could probably get 60 percent of people to schedule a call if we accepted just anyone. If we did that, though, we'd be wasting our time in meaningless conversations with people who aren't a good fit. That wastes their time and ours.
In a future article, I'll explain my formula to make a high-converting webinar that's extremely valuable for attendees and also powerful enough to drive consistent sales into your business.

Step No. 5: Talk With Potential Customers One-on-One

The 35 to 45 minute conversation serves three purposes:
  1. It filters out people who aren't a good fit.
    Although it's tempting, I've learned the hard way that you never should take money from the wrong people. First, if your product can't truly help someone, then you're doing them a disservice. Secondly, if people are NOT truly motivated to take action, then they're doing themselves a disservice. Finally, if you have a group program, like I do, then even one bad apple can throw off the whole group's dynamics. In the short term, this results in millions of dollars less in revenue per year. However, I have no doubt that it's the right decision.
  2. It provides the additional coaching that we promised in the webinar.
    We help callers determine the ideal price that they should be charging, who their ideal client is, and the best way to reach their ideal client. This shows clients we can solve their problem, which makes them more likely to work with us.
  3. It gives us an opportunity to deliver a sales offer to potential customers who we think are a good fit.
    When we truly believe that we can help someone and they're a good fit, we make a strong case for why they should move forward.

Take Action

Over the years, I've helped hundreds of entrepreneurs create sales funnels that are compelling enough to create consistent $5,000 to $10,000 sales. Some of these entrepreneurs have built businesses just as large or even larger than mine. Others have failed to get any traction.
So...what is the difference between the two? It is not intelligence or skill.
It's fear.
Fear of being rejected.
Fear of coming across too "sales-y."
Fear of charging too much.
Fear of saying no to clients who aren't a good fit.
Fear paralyzes people and stops them from taking action and learning from their mistakes.
Fear makes people settle for mediocre profit, mediocre clients, and a mediocre product.
I'm not successful because I'm the smartest guy in any room.
I didn't go to an Ivy League school. I started my career as a bartender, not a venture-backed entrepreneur.
But what I lack in pedigree, I've make up for in boldness.
I spent $61,423 and several months in 2013 only doing full time designing, testing, and refining of my sales funnel. It was only after months of frustration and rejection that my sales shot up from $10,000 a month to $200,000 a month in November 2013.
Over the last two years, I increased my price by 100 times. No one asked me to increase the price. I looked at the value of the information I was providing, and I knew it was worth more.
I turned down $2 million in revenue this year by saying no to potential clients who I didn't think were a good fit. I asked some clients to leave the program and refunded tens of thousands of dollars if I got a feeling that they ultimately weren't a good fit for the program. I had high standards, even when I really needed the money.
Most entrepreneurs simply aren't willing to go through this struggle or make these tough decisions in the beginning.
So, before you get started, ask yourself two questions:
  • Are you willing to face that fear and demand what you're worth?
  • Are you willing to do hundreds of tests until things "click"?
Look yourself in the mirror. Be honest with yourself.
If you're not ready, then stop now. You will save yourself years of false starts and mediocre results.
If you are ready, then start now. Every tough decision and every test will bring you closer to the success you're looking for.
-
Russ Ruffino is the creator of Clients on Demand. Using his methods, coaches, experts, thought-leaders, and service professionals attract the perfect clients, at the perfect price, anytime they want. To learn more, visit his free webinar.


The euro weakened against the dollar on Monday pressured by a return of negative inflation in the eurozone, while the safe-haven yen benefited from a disappointing G20 finance meeting.

NEW YORK: The euro weakened against the dollar on Monday (Feb 29) pressured by a return of negative inflation in the eurozone, while the safe-haven yen benefited from a disappointing G20 finance meeting.
The euro fell to US$1.0876 around 2200 GMT from US$1.0935 at the same time Friday.
Consumer prices tumbled in the 19-nation currency bloc in February, pushing inflation to a negative 0.2 per cent, official data showed, and intensifying pressure on the European Central Bank to announce further stimulus.
"The latest CPI data from the region ... suggests that deflation is only strengthening the region and that ECB will likely need to expand its monetary policy to combat the conditions on the ground," said Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management.
The eurozone inflation rate's negative turn was unexpected, but an 8.0 per cent dive in energy prices was largely to blame.
"The indication of price pressures receding into deflation territory merely confirms what we've known for several weeks now: Markets are fully committed to the belief that the ECB will cut its deposit rate by 10 basis points at its next meeting" on Mar 10, said Christopher Vecchio, currency analyst at DailyFX.
A meeting of the finance chiefs of the Group of 20 big economies in Shanghai ended Saturday with no major plan to address the slowdown in the global economy.
Global markets reacted to the G20 statement "with disappointment as officials stopped short of lending fresh support to a sputtering world economy," said Joe Manimbo of Western Union Business Solutions.
China's central bank on Monday fixed its rate for the yuan currency at a four-week low, despite comments Friday by governor Zhou Xiaochuan that there "is no basis for persistent renminbi depreciation from the perspective of fundamentals."
The yuan finished lower against the greenback at 6.5520 yuan per dollar, compared with 6.5372 on Friday.




By Geoffrey James Geoffrey James , a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author and professional speaker whose award-winning blog, Sales Source, appears daily on Inc.com. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know . To get your sales message critiqued for free, subscribe to his free weekly Sales Source newsletter . @ Sales_Source Contributing editor, Inc.com @ Sales_Source

Every year, I name the best business books in multiple categories and, finally, the best of the best. The categories posted so far are:
This post contains the 10 very best business books of 2015, in alphabetical order. Five of them didn't appear in the previous posts because they didn't fit neatly into any particular category.
Here are this year's winners:

Elon Musk

Subtitle: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
Author: Ashlee Vance
Key Takeaway: The most innovative and intriguing entrepreneur of our time is ushering in a future that's as unexpected and disruptive as the erstwhile future that the PC and then the internet created.
Best Quote: "Musk comes off much more like Thomas Edison than Howard Hughes. He's an inventor, celebrity businessman, an industrialist able to take big ideas and turn them into big products. He's employing thousands of people to forge metal in American factories at a time when this was thought to be impossible. Born in South Africa, Musk now looks like America's most innovative industrialist and outlandish thinker and the person most likely to set Silicon Valley on a more ambitious course. Because of Musk, Americans could wake up in 10 years with the most modern highway in the world: a transit system run by thousands of solar power charging stations and traversed by electric cars. By that time, Space X may well be sending up rockets every day, taking people and things to dozens of habitats and making preparations for longer treks to Mars. These advances are simultaneously difficult to fathom and seemingly inevitable if Musk can simply buy enough time to make them work."
Why It Made the List: There's no single person alive today who is doing more to change the world through technology. Every entrepreneur needs to understand what Musk is doing, not just because he's a role model, but because he's creating our future.

Get What's Yours

Subtitle: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security
Authors: Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman
Key Takeaway: Don't activate your Social Security until you're 70. If you're eligible for auxiliary benefits (spousal, childcare), activate your Social Security at age 66, suspend your own benefits until age 70, and meanwhile collect the auxiliary benefits.
Best Quote: "Social Security is, far away, Americans' most important retirement asset. And that's not only true for people of modest means. Middle-income and upper-income households actually have the most to gain, in total amounts, from getting Social Security right. Toting up lifetime benefits, even low-earning couples may be Social Security millionaires. And except for the Bill Gateses is and Warren Buffetts of the world--whose percentage of the population was exceedingly modest last time we checked--Social Security is a very meaningful income source."
Why It Made the List: Seldom does a personal finance book come along that can literally put an extra $500,000 directly into the wallet of the average reader. This is an absolute must-read for anybody over 50.

Losing the Signal

Subtitle: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry
Authors: Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff
Key Takeaway: A major corporation with a dominating market presence trashes its future due to the hubris and short-sightedness of its executive team.
Best Quote: "BlackBerry changed more than the workplace. We were liberated from offices and homes. Employers, clients, family and friends too, could reach us wherever wireless radio signals traveled. Work was no longer 9 to 5; it never ended. The same is true of socializing--we never had to be alone with our thoughts. BlackBerries meet us fast and efficient, but a little neurotic. The handsets transformed legions of users into addicts. For three days in October 2011, RIM customers were forced to go cold turkey. No BlackBerry. Where did everybody go? When the outage ended, users were as committed as ever to mobile messaging. For Research In Motion, however, it was a different story. RIM was losing the signal to the market it created."
Why It Made the List: Less than five years ago, the BlackBerry was the device of choice for just about everybody in business. Today, it's unusual to see anybody actually using one. Never has a company fallen so far, so fast. This book tells the story of RIM's decline and fall with verve and depth.

Misbehaving

Subtitle: The Making of Behavioral Economics
Author: Richard H. Thaler
Key Takeaway: Traditional economics assume that people are rational and will act in their own best interests, when in fact people are irrational and frequently make very silly and stupid decisions, both individually and en masse.
Best Quote: "The problem is the model being used by economists, a model that replaces homo sapiens with a fictional creature called homo economicus, which I like to call an Econ for short. Compared to this fictional world of Econs, humans do a lot of misbehaving, and that means that economic models make a lot of bad predictions. Virtually no economists saw the financial crisis of 2007-08 coming, and worse, many thought that both the crash and its aftermath were things that simply could not happen."
Why It Made the List: Entrepreneurs need to know that they can't trust governments to do the right thing because politicians and bureaucrats continue to take actions based upon fanciful economic models that don't account for the stupidity of the average human.

Red Notice

Subtitle: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice
Author: Bill Browder
Key Takeaway: A real-life account of an American financier who set out to expose corruption, murder, and a criminal conspiracy in Putin's Russia.
Best Quote: "10:45. I really began to panic. 10:51. How could I have been so stupid? Why would an average guy from the South Side of Chicago think he could get away with taking down one Russian oligarch after another? 10:58. Stupid, stupid, stupid! ARROGANT AND STUPID, BILL! ARROGANT AND JUST PLAIN STUPID! 11:02. I'm going to a Russian prison. I'm going to a Russian prison. I'm going to a Russian prison. 11:05. Two jackbooted officers stormed into the room and made a beeline for me. They grabbed my arms and gathered my stuff and pulled me from the detention room. They took me out, through the halls, up a flight of stairs. This was it. I was going to be thrown into a paddy wagon and taken away. But then they kicked open a door and...."
Why It Made the List: It's just a damn good read. And you learn about international finance and how dangerous Vladimir Putin actually is.

The Art of the Start 2.0

Subtitle: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
Author: Guy Kawasaki
Key Takeaway: Silicon Valley's top business and marketing guru provides practical step-by-step advice for founding and growing a successful tech startup.
Best Quote: "It's much easier to do things right from the start than to fix them later. At this stage, you are forming the DNA of your startup, and this genetic code is permanent. By paying attention to a few important issues, you can build the right foundation and free yourself to concentrate on the big challenges."
Why It Made the List: This is probably the most useful book ever written for the budding entrepreneur. Every page is crammed full of actionable information, expressed in an easily understood, common sense manner.

Team Genius

Subtitle: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations
Authors: Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone
Key Takeaway: The latest scientific research on team behavior reveals that conventional wisdom about teamwork is wishful thinking. This book provides a blueprint for using that research to create more effective teams.
Best quote: "Teams are not strictly practical responses to immediate challenges and situations. Teams are at the heart of what it means to be human. Put another way, as human beings, we must form teams. It is encoded in our DNA. It has proved to be the critical factor in the rise of civilization. The human drive to form teams is also a survival mechanism for individuals. The archeological evidence suggests that even the earliest hominids always grouped together to live and hunt."
Why It Made the List: Almost everything written about teams and teamwork is rah-rah bullsh-t. This is the real deal, with the real science behind it.

The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition

Subtitle: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
Authors: Bob Burg and John David Mann
Key Takeaway: Changing your focus from getting to giving--putting others' interests first and continually adding value to their lives--ultimately leads to unexpected returns.
Best Quote: "Go looking for conflict, and you'll find it. Go looking for people to take advantage of you, and they generally will. See the world as a dog-eat-dog place, and you'll always find a bigger dog looking at you as if you're his next meal. Go looking for the best in people, and you'll be amazed at how much talent, ingenuity, empathy, and goodwill you'll find. Ultimately, the world treats you more or less the way you expect to be treated."
Why It Made the List: This easily read, highly engaging book teaches lessons that go far beyond the realm of sales and business and into the realm of living a fulfilled life.

The School of Greatness

Subtitle: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy
Author: Lewis Howes
Key Takeaway: You can discover your own purpose in life and build effective strategies for achieving it by understanding how other exceptional people have done so in their own lives.
Best Quote: "A vision is the most important step to getting anywhere and achieving anything you want in any area of life. But we also have to be clear about what a vision is. A vision is not just a dream. A powerful vision emerges when we couple our dreams with a clear set of goals. Without both, we are apt to wander in a clueless and purposeless fog, because a dream without goals is just a fantasy. And fantasies are the bad kind of visions--the hallucinogenic kind, not the real kind."
Why It Made the List: While this book contains no great surprises, it's consistently interesting and helpful. It's particularly useful for entrepreneurs looking for inspirational role models.

Thrive

Subtitle: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder
Author: Arianna Huffington
Key Takeaway: The unrelenting pursuit of success is a trap unless you consciously decide to slow down, create cherished memories, and pursue lifelong passions.
Best Quote: "If we let it, technology can also add a lot of noise and distraction that gets in the way of our most fundamental creative capabilities--instead of freeing us, it can consume us. What we're beginning to recognize now is that success is not always about doing more, but also about doing better--and we do better when we are connected to our inner wisdom, strength, and intuition."
Why It Made the List: As I've said before, nobody ever says on their deathbed: "I wish I'd spent more time at the office."


J. Money, Budgets Are Sexy gardening trimming cuttingShutterstockThe author is not pictured. We did it!! 12 straight months of challenging our bills and stuff, and here we are now with a nice pile of change :) And $5,484.07 at that! Only $15.93 short of maxing out our Roth IRA — woo!
Here’s one last shot of our USAA account for proof:
Screen Shot 2016 02 25 at 2.23.22 PMBudgets Are Sexy
What a ride it’s been too… From battling with cable companies, prying ourselves from our (once) beloved iPhones, hawking stuff on Craigslist every week, scooping up free change thrown on the ground by dummies, stashing away birthday money, slashing insurance rates and more.
And to think it all came out of one simple line of text from Mr. Money Mustache:
“Every permanent drop in your spending has a double effect: it increases the amount of money you have left over to save each month, and it permanently decreases the amount you’ll need every month for the rest of your life.”
I had been on the Earn-Earn-EARN! train for so long that I stopped paying attention to my monthly expenses and needed a kick to get back on track again. Thus, Challenge Everything was born and I started going over all major bills we had on rotation to try and get them lower, while still maintaining our same quality of life. And for three of them we won!
(Unfortunately I kinda stopped there as I got caught up with selling everything in our house and finding other ways to stash away money, but still — we got the main areas out side of healthcare done! (And don’t even ask about healthcare, ugh…)
Total banked by paying attention to just these 3 bills brought in $2,503.73 in 12 months. And two of them just required a single phone call to slash! (Verizon — when we moved our phones over to Republic Wireless saving $100+/mo, and USAA car insurance when we cut back on stuff we didn’t use. In fact, that call literally took us less than 15 minutes!)
But of course we didn’t stop there. Once I got into the habit of re-thinking how we spend money, I started challenging all our “stuff” in the house too. Half of which just took up space and I didn’t care for, but another half I normally would have kept because I *do* actually like, but came to realize I much prefer the cash instead (and space freed up by de-cluttering too).
So every week I did my best to list one item for sale on Craigslist and other places around town, which brought home another $1,027.67 on top. Then I started coming across other random money that would hit us throughout the months (found change, birthday money, refunds, etc) which brought us another $1,952.67 in realized savings. All totaling a whopping $5,484.07!
And since I separated out all this money into its own private account, I knew exactly what I was coming into each month which only motivated me to continue going further. I honestly can’t say enough about how instrumental that was. When you have an account that ONLY GOES UP every month because you’re only adding to it and NOT touching it, it because one of your favorite things to look at :) The only other thing I can compare it to is your 401(k) or IRA account that keeps building up over time since you’d never pull from it or you get penalized up the ass (built-in motivation right there! Haha…).
That’s really all I did! It was all rather simple:
  1. Cut bills, funnel the difference over
  2. Sell stuff online, funnel the profit over
  3. Don’t spend any “extra” money you come into, funnel it all over!

Here’s how it all broke down — for you visual nerds

challenge savings chartBudgets Are Sexy
You’ll see my special column there for all the coins I found on the ground, haha… AND $20.00 bill last month too — that was quite the surprise!
In fact, look at that column for “Random money” — almost $2,000 that went through our hands totally unexpected. That was one of the biggest surprises of the whole challenge. I knew we got extra money here and there, but $2 G’s? Imagine where it would have gone had we not been dutifully setting it aside? Makes you wonder about your own $$ too, right?
Lots of interesting tidbits learned actually, but before we get to that, here’s the final breakdown of our last month worth of challenging stuff — August:
challenge breakdown aug 15Budgets Are Sexy
Of note are the 5 things sold online which felt great (I was in a drought earlier in the Summer), and two of which came from that OfferUp app. In fact, one of the items actually BROKE in my pocket as I was carrying it over to meet w/ the buyer — hah! I was so embarrassed and apologized profusely, and the guy actually STILL offered to pay me full price for it! I was like — “Noooo way man, I screwed this one up — why don’t you just take it for free?” But he wouldn’t have that either, saying he could glue parts of it back together (!!) so we settled on $10 instead of $15 and both came away happy. Though I was still pretty embarrassed and shocked at the same time :)
The other biggie ($180) came from Ebates with my wife apparently shopping through there more and probably recruiting some of her friends too, haha… or maybe from me linking it here too? (They pay $10/referral I believe) In either case, it was unexpected $$ and thus banked into the ol’ pot here. My wife, and others around town, do swear by them though — check it out ;)

Other interesting nuggets from the year:

  • Our savings account accrued a whopping $1.73 all year
  • I forget what it’s like to own an iPhone!
  • Our cable bill went from $170.77 to $131.45 then to $91.02 , $122.63 and eventually back up to $145.97! (Most recent bill we just got hit with)
  • SO WE CUT CABLE ONCE AND FOR ALL!!! (More here for those who missed it)
  • We won two lottery tickets (gifts) in the process worth $4.00
  • We randomly received a Toyota lawsuit check of $29.23 (hah)
  • And a total of $530 worth of gift money (birthdays, Christmas, other)
  • As well as $725.95 in refunds/re-imbursements
  • $237.23 in credit card rewards (we put everything we can on them, and then pay bills off in full)
  • The most I made selling something was $225 (for guitar + amp + accessories)
  • The least I made selling something was $5.00 (used dart board I had picked up at a yard sale)
  • The average I made per item was $33.15
  • The total # of items I ended up selling was 31
  • Which meant I was only successful 60% of the weeks I listed something (31 weeks out of 52)
  • The only month I didn’t sell anything was April
  • 3 of the things I sold were weapons: sword, knife, darts!
  • There’s only one thing I miss (but wouldn’t undo): my wooden dragon
  • And the only months I didn’t find any change on the ground were November, December, and January

And boy did I learn a lot in the process too.

Outside of the shock of how much *extra* money we come across in our lives, as well as how instrumental setting up that separate savings account was, I also learned the following:
I realized just how EASY it is to cut back when you stop and pay attention! And also that most of us still have plenty of fat we could cut from our spending if we really wanted to.
I also learned that I adapt pretty easily to changes as much as I’m sometimes afraid of doing so (like dropping our iPhone for $100+ savings every month, or cutting back cable which I still don’t miss yet after now being 2+ weeks without!). Or for that matter, no longer owning any of those 31 items above. As well as the boxes I’ve since donated and got a tax refund on too (ooooh I should have added that rough # to the savings! oh well…)
It’s also opened up my eyes on how much MORE I still have to go in cutting back and spending less too. While I did do good on those 3 major bills up there, I kinda slacked off from there and didn’t touch other bills I knew would be harder to deal with and more annoying. I also still have a house FULL of stuff I can most likely do without, and I haven’t even touched some boxes in the basement that would have been prime for the picking off/selling on CL!
I also came to the conclusion that some stuff just takes way longer to earn income from than others. For example, anything less than $10-$15 worth on Craigslist probably isn’t worth the time, whereas cutting back just 1 bill 1 time pays dividends every month going forward. Which means I should have paid much more attention to my bills than all that selling I got obsessed with! :)
This $5,484.07 also feels like FREE money!! I had to work for it of course and offload some stuff, but really if everything was status quo the entire year I would have had $5,500 less in my accounts and not even really known. Even if we ended up only at $1,000 by the end it would have been worth the effort!
And lastly, I learned I need to make it “a thing” in order to hold myself accountable :) Without blogging about it to y’all and telling my friends, there would have been an easier chance for me to give up and fade it into the background. Similar to the other habits and experiments I’ve worked on (and succeeded with) over the years. We suck at staying motivated sometimes when we don’t tell people! And y’all just kept egging me on over the months which helped even more — so thank you.

What does the future hold?

Well, I’m not sure I’ll be tracking and blogging about it so diligently every month, but you can bet your sweet cakes the challenge will most def. push on! How could I pass up so much extra money flying around like that? I’ve only gotten started! :)
And while it may look like I spent a lot of time accumulating this $5,500, I honestly didn’t notice it much outside of dealing with the dreaded cable company on and off… In fact, it probably took me more time to type out all 12 of these recaps than it did to earn the money! Hah!
So a mission well worth the effort indeed… And now I get the pleasure of dumping out all that cash sitting there and starting over — woo! If I hadn’t already maxed out my Roth IRA in anticipation of this beautiful day I’d be headed over to Vanguard, but filling back up my Emergency Fund will feel just as good too I’m sure…
I hope you’ll continue slashing and saving along with me! Do let me know how it’s going for those of you following along as well. Some of the emails you’ve sent over were downright inspiring, and I want others to be able to see how easy (and fun!) this stuff can be!
Let’s celebrate together!
PS: You can find all the recaps and more on Challenge Everything here.
PPS: As well as the list of everything I sold throughout the year on Craigslist here.
Read the original article on Budgets Are Sexy. Copyright 2016.

World oil prices surged higher on Monday as China boosted efforts to tackle its slowing economy and Saudi Arabia welcomed cooperative action to stabilise the market.
NEW YORK: World oil prices surged higher on Monday (Feb 29) as China boosted efforts to tackle its slowing economy and Saudi Arabia welcomed cooperative action to stabilise the market.
The US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in April rose 97 cents (3.0 per cent) to US$33.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent North Sea crude for April advanced to US$35.97 a barrel, a gain of 87 cents (2.5 per cent) from Friday's settlement.
Rebounding from losses on Friday, the market was lifted by China's cut in reserve requirements for banks, freeing up additional funds for lending in the world's largest energy consumer.
"The Chinese government is taking action to further stimulate the economy and we all know if the Chinese economy is stimulated the demand for oil will be stimulated as well," said Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group.
While it was the fifth time the People's Bank of China has taken such action in the past year, "that was enough stimulus to give oil traders a little bit of buying appetite," Flynn said.
CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler pointed out that credit expansion in China has been ramping up in recent months. "Credit expansion is not a long-term solution to China's growth slowdown but would likely support growth this year - and remove some of the concern that has been driving oil prices lower," he said.
Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in the 13-nation OPEC, was in focus after suggesting openness to a coordinated solution to market volatility, while insisting it would not cut production despite the global oversupply.
Saudi Arabia said it 'seeks to achieve stability in the oil markets and will always remain in contact with all main producers in an attempt to limit volatility and it welcomes any cooperative action,'" Tim Evans of Citi Futures said in a client note.
"However, while the bulls are taking this as encouraging sign, we note the same statement also said the kingdom plans to spend 'massively' to maintain spare capacity and remains determined to meet a 'larger portion of global demand,'", he said. "In other words, there's no change in Saudi Arabian policy."


Tanza LoudenbackGeorge Washington University mascot studentsFacebook/The George Washington UniversityLocated in the nation's capital, George Washington University is the best college for getting internships.
The best colleges prepare students for a career by helping them obtain hands-on experience through internships, externships, and cooperative education (co-op) programs.
The Princeton Review recently published "Colleges That Pay You Back: 2016 Edition," which includes a list of the best schools for internships. The ranking was determined by students’ ratings of accessibility of internship placement at their school.
From career fairs and workshops to alumni mentorships and shadowing, these 25 colleges give their students all the resources they need to score the perfect internship.

25. St. Lawrence University

25. St. Lawrence University
Facebook/St. Lawrence University
Location: Canton, New York
St. Lawrence's "Shadow a Saint" program matches students with an alum to shadow for up to a week, and through Laurentians in Residence, alumni and parent leaders are invited to campus for class presentations, panel discussions, networking, and mentoring.
Students who secure an unpaid summer internship can apply for the Internship Fellowship Award to offset the costs of living and transportation.

24. University of Georgia

Location: Athens, Georgia
In addition to full-time and part-time job postings, UGA's DAWGLink also lists internship opportunities. The Intern For A Day program allows students to shadow a professional to explore career interests.
Forty-eight percent of UGA students obtain their internship through networking, and top employers include Target, AT&T, Aflac, and Cox.

23. Bradley University

23. Bradley University
Facebook/Bradley University Smith Career Center
Location: Peoria, Illinois
One of Bradley's greatest strengths is assisting students with the job and internship search, according to Princeton Review. "Professors have been excellent resources during [our] college career[s] and have helped land internships," said one student.
The school's dynamic co-op and internship program recognizes five students each year who've had outstanding experiences. Past winners interned at OSF Healthcare, American Red Cross, and SpaceX.

22. George Mason University

Location: Fairfax, Virginia
George Mason is close to the nation's capital, a perk students told Princeton Review “helps immensely with internships.” 
HireMason, the university's extensive job and internship database where employers and alumni can recruit students, is a valuable resource. And each year, more than 450 employers take part in on-campus hiring events like the on-campus interviewing program and two-day multi-industry career fairs.

21. State University of New York - Maritime College

21. State University of New York - Maritime College
Facebook/SUNY Maritime College
Location: Throggs Neck, New York
A highly-specific skill set enables Maritime students to gain experience in specialized fields that include engineering, marine environmental science, and marine transportation. 
Summer Sea Term — the school's internship equivalent — ships students pursuing a US Coast Guard license out to sea for 60-day trips. On board, students take classes and perform general labor, earning six academic credits and hands-on experience.

20. Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, New York
Cornell students told Princeton Review that many are already looking for internship opportunities as early as freshman year, but the school is on hand to assist.
A slew of summer opportunities are available to students including a 10-week entrepreneurship internship program where students gain hands-on experience at small to mid-sized businesses, and Cornell in Hollywood, which takes advantage of the school's growing Los Angeles alumni network to set students up with film-related internships.

19. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

19. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Facebook/Career Development Center at WPI
Location: Worcester, Massachusetts
WPI is all about "preparing students for successful careers in their respective fields upon graduation through practical applications of the knowledge and skills that are taught," one student told Princeton Review.
To help students land an internship, the school's career center offers counseling, résumé referrals, and on-campus interviews, among other services.

18. DePauw University

18. DePauw University
Facebook/DePauw University Internships
Location: Greencastle, Indiana
Students at DePauw are encouraged to complete at least two internships by graduation. Internships are available domestically and internationally and can be completed during a summer or during the semester. 
The school's spring career and internship fair took place in February this year and hosted a range of employers including City Year, H&R Block, Mutual of Omaha, Peace Corps, Teach for America, and Welch Packaging Group.

17. Stanford University

Location: Stanford, California
Stanford undergrads have ample opportunity to make connections through the school's career center — which offers strategies and digital resources for landing a solid internship. 
The school's Fall Career Fair is the largest, with representatives from about 300 employers. There's also smaller fairs for students interested in specific fields including the Social Impact fair and the Start-up fair. Forty-seven percent of the class of 2014 completed two or more internships by the time they graduated.



16. University of Dayton

Location: Dayton, Ohio
UD has no shortage of job and internship seminars including career-fair prep, networking for introverts, and using LinkedIn.
Students have ultimate flexibility for internships: part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid, during the school year or the summer, and evaluated for academic credit by the school or as part of a student-developed learning plan.

15. Harvey Mudd College

15. Harvey Mudd College
Facebook/Harvey Mudd College
Location: Claremont, California
Students at Harvey Mudd can sift through ClaremontConnect, the job and internship database shared by the five Claremont Colleges. There's also a career fair held twice a year where students can connect with employers in an informal setting.
The school's career counselors are helpful, too, according to one student who noted: An advisor "worked very hard to help me find a summer internship, calling many of his friends and passing around my résumé.”

14. California Institute of Technology

14. California Institute of Technology
Facebook/Caltech
Location: Pasadena, California
Caltech's career counselors are very involved in helping students secure summer internships. Individual workshopping of résumés and cover letters as well as info sessions covering interview skills and follow-ups are all available to Caltech students.
The career center lists internships for dozens of top companies in business, computer science, engineering, national laboratories, and think tanks.

13. Villanova University

13. Villanova University
Facebook/Villanova University Career Center
Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania
Villanova alumni can sign up to take part in the school's Career Connections Advisor Program to offer guidance, ideas, and contacts to current students and recent alumni seeking internships and jobs. 
Each of the six colleges at Villanova facilitate their own internship opportunities. An internship and co-op educational series in the Villanova School of Business offers hands-on action plan and preparation workshops, as well as individual meetings with advisors.

12. Bentley University

12. Bentley University
Facebook/bentleyuniversity
Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
Students at Bentley tout the school's career services department for assisting with job and internship placement. Bentley reports that 24% of students participated in an internship that resulted in a full-time offer.
"I owe [the center] a lot of credit for helping me find a very attractive internship my sophomore year with a large CPA firm,” said one student. Another commented that the school offers "many internships to get a foot in the door with top corporations."

11. Gettysburg College

11. Gettysburg College
Facebook/Gettysburg College
Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
GettysburgWorks is the school's database of jobs and internships posted by alumni, friends, and parents of Gettysburg. The school offers up to $2,000 stipends for students participating in unpaid summer internships.
Gettysburg also has externship opportunities available, which are hands-on shadowing experiences that typically last just one week and are hosted by alumni or parents of current students.

10. Amherst College

10. Amherst College
Facebook/Amherst College
Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Amherst students have access to the Amherst Select Internship Program, a curated collection of more than 150 summer internship opportunities hosted by alumni, friends, and parents of Amherst. 
For any unpaid nonprofit, public service, government, education, arts, and communications internships, students can apply to receive stipends of up to $4,000 from the school.

9. Rhodes College

9. Rhodes College
Facebook/Rhodes College
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Students told the Princeton Review& that they were drawn to Rhodes, in part, for its incomparable internship opportunities. “I get to do cutting edge biomedical cancer research at St. Jude Children’s Research hospital. This is an invaluable internship I got through Rhodes," commented one biochemistry major.
Each year, 75% of students complete internships throughout Memphis in business, finance, healthcare, and nonprofits. There's also an active alumni community that offers mentors and sponsors for students seeking internships in the US and abroad.

8. Dartmouth College

8. Dartmouth College
Facebook/Dartmouth
Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
Dartmouth students can make use of the school's flexible academic calendar to participate in internships year round and even abroad. Not only does Dartmouth's career services department help students land jobs and internships, alumni do as well. 
“Alumni are ... a HUGE resource; they love to stay involved with the college and are often willing to talk to current students about careers (and many have been known to give internships and jobs to Dartmouth students)," said a Dartmouth psychology major.

7. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

7. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye
Location: Needham, Massachusetts
Olin's project-based learning model is great preparation for students looking to gain job and internship experience. “I got a paid internship after my first year here. How many undergraduates can say they made $20/hr right after freshman year?” commented one student.
The top companies where Olin students interned from 2002 to 2015 include Apple, Blue Origin, Boeing, Microsoft, IBM, Google, and GE.

6. Southern Methodist University

6. Southern Methodist University
Facebook/SMU
Location: Dallas, Texas
SMU hosts an impressive career fair twice a year for students of all majors to meet potential employers. Participating organizations this spring include Oracle, Teach for America, Peace Corps, AT&T, and Intel.
And the school's 119,000 alumni — 71,000 in Texas — can offer up great connections for students and employers, too.

5. Wabash College

5. Wabash College
Facebook/Wabash
Location: Crawfordsville, Indiana
Wabash alumni are a great networking resource, according to one student: Many alumni "have high ranking and prestigious positions and love reaching out to the students offering different internship and job opportunities.” 
The school's career center offers dozens of Wabash-funded internship programs that offset the costs of housing and travel.

4. Northeastern University

Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern's career office consistently hosts job and internship prep events, but the school's hallmark is placing students in its "world-class co-op program," according to the Princeton Review.
During a co-op program — which students can prepare for with an internship — students alternate classroom studies with full-time work for six months. Ninety-two percent of students participate in at least one co-op program at Northeastern and 50% receive a job offer from a previous co-op employer.

3. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

3. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Facebook/Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
Rose-Hulman is a top-ranked engineering college that helps students land summer internships by hosting three career fairs throughout each academic year.
Two special internship programs — entrepreneurial and biomedical engineering — funded by a nonprofit called Lilly Endowment place students at Indiana-based companies. "The opportunities for gaining experience in your field of study are endless,” said one student.

2. Claremont McKenna College

Location: Claremont, California
Claremont McKenna connects students with alumni through multiple avenues, including a unique program called Mentor Connect, which allows students to enlist alumni and parents as mentors for a 10-week period. 
The school's Information Technology Advisory Board facilitates the Silicon Valley Networking Trip during winter break every year. During the trip students attend presentations and panels, take tours, and get private meetings with executives at tech companies. Past attendees have secured internships with companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. 

1. George Washington University

1. George Washington University
Facebook/The George Washington University
Location: Washington, DC
For the second year in a row, GW is the top school for landing an internship. Students have thousands of options for DC-area internships in health, tech, nonprofits, the arts, and, of course, politics.
The school offers up to $3,000 to offset an unpaid internship through the Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund. Past students have interned at the Department of Homeland Security, Discovery Communications, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, Google, and the New Yorker.

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