Surprises are fun; the very nature of the word means unexpected joy. But there’s a dark side to surprises, too, and certain unexpected events in the business world can absolutely take you by surprise … in a very, very, very bad way.

So let’s talk about the biggest three issues that you’ll want to prepare yourself for. These are critical items that catch many businesses by surprise.

1. Industry busters

These days, industries are being created and destroyed overnight. If you don’t keep your eyes on the current tech trends and industry developments that apply to your business, you may find yourself on a ship that’s sinking fast, with little or no warning.

For example, when smartphones decided to do what Garmin GPS units did, the stock instantly tanked.

2. Public crises online or offline

Have you seen any stories recently about a popular brand getting hacked, or caught off guard in some other way, while a crisis emerged and gathered steam overnight or across an entire weekend? It’s increasingly common for this to happen with brands who don’t have an active crisis management team and set of procedures.

If this should happen to your firm, you’ll want to make sure all the most popular social media outlets are covered by a customer service representative who will listen, reply professionally, and in every way preserve a positive image of your company and brand.

In the event of a crisis, one person who is actively available to help is perhaps all that will be necessary to save your business’s precious and hard-earned reputation with its current and potential customers!

3. Knowledge transfer

We’ve all heard that employee turnover is a killer of operational efficiency. The knowledge-transfer piece of this problem is the part that’s really difficult to do well. Too often there’s a new trainer, a new employee, a changing policy, and all sorts of urgency to replace an employee who recently left (or a role that’s been newly created).

Luckily there are blogs that supply vital insights into these transitions, and experts who specialize in the unique dynamics of this critical issue in business.

If you’re not ready for knowledge transfer, you might want to get some outside expertise lined up in order to prepare your company for smooth transitions that will make for a seamless and consistent operational flow and continued profitability.


Software has had quite a run over the past few decades, but nothing comes close to the exciting software innovations of today. It’s moved from the old-school desktop programs and into the cloud, our smartphones, and our tablets.

There’s even software in our household appliances, our vehicles, and soon, our eyeglasses.

So how can you use these new innovations to put more money in your pocket? Well, regardless of whether you’re trying to increase profitability at a factory warehouse, or just in your own personal slush fund, there are ways to use today’s tech to increase your revenues.

Below are the top three ways we’re seeing people use today’s tools to do exactly that.

1. Smartphone apps that find work

If we’re talking about personal revenue generation, a new series of mobile apps deal with micro-tasking and crowdsourced small jobs that really add up. If you’re looking for something to do in retirement or just to get by, check out these top task apps!

2. Check in with people without really checking in with people

Whether it’s an email serving program or a customer relationship management system that sends out periodic messages to your top customers and prospects, software can automate the process of reaching out and keeping in touch. That’s incredibly important in business, and will bring you opportunities you otherwise would not have known about!

3. Automation of your operations

Automation is a funny word, isn’t it? Depending on whether you’re a fan of high-leverage, hands-off processes, or prefer hands-on, constantly managed operations, the word “automation” can be either highly appealing or very frightening.

Either way, you’ll love what today’s software is capable of doing now for almost any kind of business management style! Software is exceptional at managing databases, and that means if you work in customer service, sales, or inventory management of any kind, today’s software is going to help you drive productivity to previously unimaginable levels.

If you’re managing inventory at a huge warehouse, for example, there are tools that use RFID technologies and other automated processes and can virtually eliminate the loss or mishandling of items. Imagine how much time, expense, and stress would be saved if nothing was ever lost or mishandled!

That’s what today’s software can do to transform your business and your life.

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Half time shows are like the pickled ginger of major sporting events. A gridiron palate cleanser. Some might consider them a distraction, but when they’re done well, or scandalously, they’re often spoken about more than the game itself. Pepsi thinks it’s unfair, however, that only sporting events get halftime shows and have decided to remedy the situation with a Grammy halftime show of their own. Hall of famers Deion Sanders, Jerry Bradshaw and Shannon Sharpe break down the conventions of a typical halftime show like a… well, like Mike Ditka riding on a football shaped wrecking ball. It also begs the question, if it’s possible to insert a halftime show into a music awards show like the Grammy’s, what happens when it’s the Espy’s? Paradox!


Ready for that next phone interview when searching for a new job? Here are several ways to make sure you will show your best side … even over the phone.

Have notes within reach

A phone interview invites a certain amount of apprehension, but it also gives you an opportunity to arm yourself with tools you might ordinarily not have for a face-to-face interview. Take the opportunity to have both your resume and notes on hand.

Think about common questions you’re apt to encounter and prepare for the interview accordingly. Write notes for the best responses.

Include stories you can tell, specific phrases to use … and reminders about anything that might make you nervous.

Pay attention to your appearance

Even though it’s a phone interview, you should dress up for it. Spend some time in front of the mirror. Brush your teeth. These small changes will show up in your voice and make you sound more professional.

Also, many employers are opting for video conferencing options these days, so dressing up may be necessary anyway, if a potential employer asks you to Skype.

Remember your environment

Your environment is important. Pick a place that has low or no ambient noise. Choose a location in which you feel both comfortable and professional.

Growing too relaxed or comfortable could become dangerous. If you are video conferencing with an employer, choose a background that’s bland, tidy, and shows you in the best possible light.

Get ready for vague questions

Body language is difficult to read over the phone … and even in a video conference, for that matter. This makes the process challenging even for experienced interviewers, and they may fall back on rote questions and neutral discussion points.

You may have to pick up the slack, so prepare for vague questions and get ready to supply information in enthusiastic ways, even if you aren’t sure what’s being asked or why. Accept long pauses and other hitches in the flow as natural features of phone interviews.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your own

Try to ask questions of your own, both rhetorical and real. This will help the interview feel more like a conversation and allow you to learn more about the employer’s attitude and business. It will also make you seem more enthusiastic.

Don’t forget that the employer is human, too

Sometimes interviewers are uncomfortable with phone interviews themselves. This can lead to errors, frustration, and awkward moments. Do not let these things discourage you; some things will always be beyond your control, and that is as true in a job as in an interview.


Debbie Sterling saw a problem. Too few women were graduating with degrees in Engineering. She did a little research and discovered that most girls lose interest in Science by the age of eight. She came up with a solution. Combine the two things girls love, books and stories with the thing that girls loose sight of and viola a solution, Goldie Blox, the winner of Intuit’s Small Business, Big Game contest. Now girls everywhere will be able to broaden their minds both analytically and creatively, immersing themselves in science and fostering imagination.


When it comes to selling your house, you’ll hear all kinds of advice. Your friends and family will have opinions on how to sell your home quickly, and your real estate agent will have a professional set of opinions. And while nearly all of those tips might be helpful, you might be missing a few things that are obvious to buyers, but not so much to sellers and their agents.

Here is a handful of mistakes we see people make when they’re trying to appeal to today’s savvy real estate buyer. Make sure you don’t commit any of these errors or oversights in your crucially important listing.

1. No photos

No photos imply one thing: this property is probably ugly. What else can the buyer assume? If your place was beautiful, you’d be glad to show it off in pictures, right? Photos are absolutely mandatory when it comes to real estate listings. Without them, you’ll generate little interest.

2. Mentioning the words “as is” in any context

Possibly from the used car industry or used appliance industry, buyers are very wary of the term “as is”. When most buyers read that, they read “there’s something wrong with this property, and I hope you don’t find it”. Don’t use that terminology, ever.

3. Appearing as a non-specialist

Buyers want to know that their agent is a specialist in the area they’re looking for, and sellers should be looking for that as well. When you’re taking a look at your agent’s page and their overall presence surrounding your listing, ask yourself if it looks like the agent is a specialist in your city or neighborhood. If you’re in Reno, does the real estate agent have a page that is focused on Reno real estate listings? This is crucial in the eyes of buyers and sellers alike.

4. Repairs needed

If major repairs are needed, make sure to mention the remedy before the problem. This is known as addressing the objection. If a wall needs repaired, ideally you’d do it before listing the property, but if you can’t, a good way to present this issue is to say “Seller offers a $1,000 repair credit to finish wall in basement.”


So you’re thinking about selling or buying a piece of real estate? Great! Well, maybe it’ll be great. It all depends on how good your agent is, and also a little bit on luck and timing. Let’s take a look at a few things you’ll want to ask your real estate agent, before you take the big leap and put in your offer.

1. Are you a full-time agent?

In certain circumstances, you might be willing to deal with a part-time agent, but it’s always helpful to find someone who does real estate and real estate only. Questions and issues can arise at any point (and any time of day or night), and you’re going to want someone you can reach at a moment’s notice, when the transaction starts to near its completion.

2. How many transactions have you done in the past 12 months?

This is information you can look up, so double-check their answer. Again, you’re looking for a seasoned professional, and if they’re just getting started, you’re going to want to make sure you meet (and trust) their guiding broker. Every agent has a broker (sometimes they are the same person, but not in the case of a new agent), and the intent is that there will be an extra level of oversight and accountability in the transaction.

3. How’s the school district here?

Even if you don’t have children, school districts matter for resale purposes and home values. Regardless of what the agent says, double-check that opinion up against sites that list school data and ask a lot of parents in that district and others. Many quality property listing sites will have that type of data shown on the same page as the real estate listing, which is helpful (and also the sign of a quality agency).

4. What improvements do you think will increase the odds of selling my home?

This is a question sellers often don’t ask, and agents often don’t mention. For agents, there are many reasons that improvements won’t be recommended. Improvements take time, often don’t result in an increased value to the property, and neither of those factors are appealing to commission-based real estate agents. But if you’re seller, you ‘ll want to ask this. If you’re a buyer, you’ll also want to ask it regarding any property you might want to buy.

Whether you’re buying or selling, there’s a chance you’ll be able to save money by doing these repairs yourself. Perhaps you understand how to fix appliances and machinery, and if your agent tells you that an aging or broken appliance affects the transaction. In that instance, you could find the washers and gaskets you need from a reputable parts supplier that specializes in such things, make the repairs yourself, and have an increased probability of selling your property for top dollar (or acquiring another at a discounted cost).


Kids are suckers for a fun-filled birthday party. Balloons, party favors, and even games are just some of the things that children enjoy when entering a new year of their life.

There are many ways to celebrate your child’s birthday, and they don’t involve an expensive restaurant. Check out the following four affordable and fun ways for the whole family to participate in a little one’s celebration.

1. Party at home

For an alternative way to celebrate your child’s birthday, you can have the celebration at home. The only expenses you’d be looking at are the decorations, food, and gifts.

At home, you won’t have to worry about hidden fees or extra costs; you’ll be in control. If you have a backyard pool and the weather is warm, that will only add to the fun for your child. A pool party can be an absolutely wonderful way to celebrate your child growing a year older.

2. A sleepover

Sleepovers are great fun for a birthday child, especially if the person being honored is a female. Sleepovers or slumber parties can be tremendous fun and very inexpensive to arrange.

Grab a couple of movies, pizzas, and games, and you have a wonderful option to celebrate your child’s birthday.

3. The arcade

Most arcades have birthday party packages that save lots of money. If you utilize one of these packages, you can save money for sure; but if you pay for everything separately, you might save even more.

In some arcades, birthday packages include tokens, birthday cake, pizza, and other small trinkets. If you have your birthday dinner at home and buy your own cake, you can enjoy the arcade element alone, with no extra costs.

This can save you loads of money because you prepare the meal and cake however you like, and probably for a lot less.

4. Amusement parks

If you simply must take your child somewhere extra special, you can select an amusement park. Here, your birthday boy or gel can enjoy rides, games, and carnival-style food.

Children love amusement parks and can stay in them all day long. If you coordinate your business activities in line with your child’s birthday party, you can use conference rooms on the grounds nearby. Amusement parks such as Rainbow’s End may prove to be the perfect conference venue.

However you decide to celebrate your son or daughter’s birthday, you should make it memorable. Be it at home or at the park, if you plan wisely, you can save money and give your child the best birthday ever!


The cost of traditional education has skyrocketed in recent years. Although the jump in those expenses went unnoticed for a long time, the global recession’s dampening effect on wages highlighted the contrast between general income and the cost of formal education.

As a result, the education industry is changing quickly in both the online and offline worlds. Here are our three favorite ways to get a solid education online and offline, by the most affordable methods currently available.

1. Focus on your goals and the path

The first step is to ask yourself two questions:

– What type of work do I want to do?

– Is there a market for this work, and does it exceed the cost of my education?

If you can answer these questions, your route will become more clear. If you’d like to be a physician, for instance, you might find job postings for a $300,000 salary, and the only way to qualify for such a position might be to attend formal schooling for seven years at a cost of $250,000 or more. If that’s an attractive career path, then your course is clear.

Unfortunately, it’s debatable whether many salaries will justify the high cost of traditional education.

If your intent is trade-related, the options are more varied. Say you’d like to teach another language and gain a CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification, or to be a computer programmer; then you’ll find much easier and faster routes, both online and offline. We’ll return to trades in a moment.

2. Research on YouTube

Seriously, YouTube is a good way to educate yourself on the basics of almost any type of job. This video forum has become the world’s second largest search engine; it trails only its parent company, Google.

Thus, you can find nearly anything on YouTube, which will give you a taste of what you’ll need in order to become certified and employable for a particular line of work. For instance, if you’re considering CELTA certification to teach English, search “teaching English” on YouTube, and get a feel for what the position and skill set entail.

3. Offline certifications that have online elements

Online education has come a long way when it comes to technology and effectiveness, but there’s nothing quite like the interaction that takes place in face-to-face education and collaborative environments.

A great example of this is the CELTA certification course, where you can go online to register for offline training, and even get some help finding a job placement. If you’re looking to teach English, it’s an inexpensive and fast way to get yourself certified.

And in today’s economy, time and money are more precious commodities than ever.


How did the first halftime in football begin? Pepsi thinks it had to do with a cold drink and a break for more important things. Check out their take on the first halftime and remember that Pepsi was there at the first – and every – halftime. Get ready for the big game with Pepsi by visiting www.pepsi.com/nfl and youtube.com/pepsi.


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